This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001

FASHIONS FOR MEN / ROCKET TO THE MOON

(photo by Richard Termine)

Peter Juhász (Joe Delafield) gets quite a surprise from his wife, Adele (Annie Purcell), in Mint revival of FASHIONS FOR MEN (photo by Richard Termine)

FASHIONS FOR MEN
Mint Theater
311 West 43rd St. between Eighth & Ninth Aves.
Tuesday - Sunday through March 29, $27.50-$65
866-811-4111
www.minttheater.org

A current pair of off-Broadway revivals, one a 1917 Hungarian comedy, the other a 1938 American drama, tackle remarkably similar topics, albeit in very different ways. Written by extremely successful playwrights, each follows an overly kind business owner dealing with relationship issues and financial problems, featuring a number of similar characters and situations, but whereas one ends up stumbling to the finish line, the other reaches it with head held high. The Mint Theater, which resuscitates forgotten, neglected works, breathes fashionable new life into Ferenc Molnár’s Fashions for Men, which could alternately be called The Haberdashery Around the Corner. Joe Delafield stars as Peter Juhász, the tall, proper owner of a reputable clothing shop catering to a wealthy, annoying clientele. He has such a gentle, forgiving nature that he can’t get angry when one of his employees, Oscar (John Tufts), steals his wife, Adele (Annie Purcell), and they take off with a hefty sum of cash Peter had set aside in an account for her. Peter doesn’t want to go back to his primary backer, the fabulously wealthy, playfully pompous Count (Kurt Rhoads), an older gentleman who has his eyes on Peter’s beautiful young employee Paula (Rachel Napoleon). Meanwhile, another of Peter’s salesmen, Philip (Jeremy Lawrence), watches all the shenanigans with knowing glances. The second act, which takes place in the Count’s extravagant estate, gets bogged down in repetitive slapstick as Peter is determined to protect Paula’s purity, but the first and third acts, set in Daniel Zimmerman’s wonderfully designed haberdashery, are a joy. The cast, dressed in appropriate finery by costumer Martha Hally, is uniformly excellent, with particularly keen turns by Rhoads and Delafield, who is so up-to-snuff playing the absurdly good Peter you’ll want to slap him around to get him to finally face reality and stand up for himself. Director Davis McCallum (London Wall, The Few) keeps it all flowing smoothly in a way that would make Ernst Lubitsch proud. Mint artistic director Jonathan Bank has tweaked Benjamin Glazer’s 1921 translation with the help of Agnes Niemitz and Gábor Lukin, Molnár’s great-grandson; the original English-language version opened on Broadway in December 1922. Molnár might not be a household name, but several of his works are, adapted into such films as Carousel, The Guardsman, The Swan, The Devil, and One, Two, Three.

(photo by Carol Rosegg)

Dr. Stark (Ned Eisenberg) has quite a surprise for his wife, Belle (Marilyn Matarrese), in Pecadillo revival of ROCKET TO THE MOON (photo by Carol Rosegg)

ROCKET TO THE MOON
Theatre at St. Clement’s
423 West 46th St. between Ninth & Tenth Aves.
Tuesday - Sunday through March 28, $75-$95
www.thepeccadillo.com

Another troupe that rediscovers classic works, the Peccadillo Theater Company, has brought back Clifford Odets’s Rocket to the Moon in a solid production that ultimately reveals the play’s severe flaws. One of America’s most important and influential writers, Odets penned such plays as Golden Boy, The Big Knife, Awake and Sing! and The Country Girl and such films as None but the Lonely Heart, Humoresque, and Sweet Smell of Success. In Rocket to the Moon, which debuted on Broadway in 1938 with Luther Adler, Morris Carnovsky, Leif Erickson, and Sanford Meisner, Odets tells the sad-sack story of Dr. Ben Stark (Ned Eisenberg), a mensch of a dentist with a shrewish, overbearing wife, Belle (Marilyn Matarrese), who is none too thrilled with the sexy new office girl, nineteen-year-old Cleo Singer (Katie McClellan). Belle is also not happy that her husband is letting his fellow dentist, dour tenant Phil Cooper (Larry Bull), fall well behind on his rent. Despite their financial problems, Belle does not want Ben to accept a generous offer from her dapper, estranged father, Mr. Prince (Jonathan Hadary), to set him up in a fancier office in a better location and with more modern technology. At the same time, Ben is none too thrilled that the fabulously wealthy, playfully pompous Mr. Prince has his eyes on Cleo, as does one of Ben’s patients, a hotshot swinger named Willy Wax (Lou Liberatore) who is zeroing in on her as his next conquest. Meanwhile, Ben’s podiatrist neighbor, Frenchy (Michael Keyloun), watches all the shenanigans, sharing his perverse opinion seemingly without a care in the world. The cast is uniformly excellent, with particularly fine turns by Bull, McClellan, and Odets veteran Eisenberg, who excels as the infuriatingly indecisive Ben — getting Ben to stand up for himself is like pulling teeth. Precisely directed by Dan Wackerman (Ten Chimneys, The Man Who Came to Dinner), Rocket to the Moon soars in the first act, but the second act gets bogged down in a dreary battle between Mr. Prince and Dr. Stark over Cleo that is dated, misogynistic, and just plain tiresome. Odets tries too hard to make grand statements about family and responsibility in an America that is still rattling from the Depression and soon to get involved in WWII; the play works best when it gets right down to business, delving into the very human need for intimacy, understanding, compassion, and, most of all, love. But that’s precisely what you’ll find, along with a wry sense of humor, at the Mint’s stellar revival of Fashions for Men.

AT THE TOP OF THE PYRAMID

AT THE TOP OF THE PYRAMID (Lawrence Jordan, 2014)
Anthology Film Archives
32 Second Ave. at Second St.
March 4-10
310-630-7563
www.anthologyfilmarchives.org

It’s hard to figure out the new teen flick At the Top of the Pyramid. Is it a campy parody of the high school coming-of-age movie? An homage? A serious take on the genre? Just when you think you might have it figured out, the appearance of Steve Guttenberg only adds to the confusion. (And hey, isn’t that other dude Dean Cain?) Oh, and what’s the deal with it screening at Anthology Film Archives, home to cutting-edge avant-garde and independent cinema? (It turns out that the production company rented a theater at Anthology; it’s not part of their regular curatorial programming, and you won’t find it listed on the official calendar.) And finally, why is it so difficult to find an official website or social media presence? The main site seems to be a Twitter page with thirty followers that has been silent since September 2013. Anyway, At the Top of the Pyramid stars Elle McLemore, who originated the roles of Heather McNamara in the off-Broadway Heathers the Musical and Eva in Bring It On: The Musical on Broadway, as Jamie Parker, a cheerleader in Centreville, Virginia, dealing with a terrible fall and the tragic death of her father (Cain). She is in a perennial battle with villainous fellow cheerleader Diana (Jessica Luza), has a viciously dedicated coach (Vanessa Vander Pluym), and has a strong relationship with her caring mother (Kathleen Randazzo). The poorly edited film features hip-hop montage scenes and an overriding, often just plain silly PG sensibility, but then it comes along with such gems as the locker-room declaration, “She’s all neighbor, but no hood.” So yes, from March 4 to 10, as film enthusiasts file into Anthology to see “Avant-Garde Cinema from Ex-Yugoslavia, 1950s-80s,” “Screenwriters and the Blacklist: Before, During, and After — Part 3: Post-Blacklist,” and Essential Cinema works by Stan Brakhage, a whole different crew will be there to see a heartfelt movie about high school cheerleaders. “Is cheerleading the only thing?” Jamie asks at one point. “It’s the most important thing . . . to a cheerleader,” her coach responds.

FIRST SATURDAY: WOMEN CHANGEMAKERS

Curator tour of “Judith Scott: Bound Unbound” is part of free First Saturday program at Brooklyn Museum (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Curator tour of “Judith Scott — Bound and Unbound” is part of free First Saturdays program at Brooklyn Museum (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Brooklyn Museum
200 Eastern Parkway at Washington St.
Saturday, March 7, free, 5:00 - 11:00
212-864-5400
www.brooklynmuseum.org

The Brooklyn Museum celebrates women in the March edition of its free First Saturdays program. “Women Changemakers” will feature live performances by Alissia & the Funketeers, Princess Nokia, and the DJ duo JSMN and MeLo-X; a curator talk by Catherine Morris about the exhibition “Judith Scott — Bound and Unbound”; a Colored Girls Hustle mix tape workshop; a sketch class in which participants will draw from a live woman model; a book club talk with Dao X Tran, author of 101 Changemakers: Rebels and Radicals Who Changed U.S. History; screenings of Julianna Brannum’s LaDonna Harris: Indian 101 and Rahwa Asmerom’s Didn’t I Ask for Tea?; a healing space with tarot readings, herbalism, acupressure, and more led by Harriet’s Apothecary; and a discussion with Tavi Gevinson about her online Rookie magazine and the print companion Rookie Yearbook Three. In addition, you can check out such exhibitions as “Revolution! Works from the Black Arts Movement,” “Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic,” “The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago,” and “Chitra Ganesh: Eyes of Time.”

THE ADAM CAROLLA SHOW PODCAST AND FILM PREMIERE

Adam Carolla will be at Carolines this week for live podcasts and the NYC premiere of his new film, ROAD HARD

Adam Carolla will be at Carolines this week for live podcasts and the NYC premiere of his new film, ROAD HARD

Who: Adam Carolla and special guests
What: Two-night stand in Times Square
Where: Carolines on Broadway, 1626 Broadway between 49th & 50th Sts., 212-757-4100
When: Live podcast March 4-5, $54.50 - $125.25, 7:00/7:30; film premiere March 5, $22, 9:00
Why: In his most recent book, President Me: The America That’s in My Head (It Books, May 2014, $26.99), podcast king and former Man Show cohost Adam Carolla writes, “Consider this book my official campaign platform. As you’ll see, I have an assload of opinions and a dump truck full of ideas on how to make this country better.” Carolla continues his presidential aspirations this week at Carolines, where on Wednesday and Thursday he’ll host live editions of his ferociously popular podcast, The Adam Carolla Show, joined by David Alan Grier on March 4 and Alec Baldwin on March 5. The March 5 podcast will be followed by the separately ticketed New York City premiere of his directorial feature debut, Road Hard, which Carolla wrote with Kevin Hench (The Hammer) and stars in alongside a bevy of actors and comedians, including Grier, Diane Farr, David Koechner, Illeana Douglas, Howie Mandel, Jay Mohr, Dana Gould, and Larry Miller.

COMMITTED: SHOCK CORRIDOR

SHOCK CORRIDOR

Reporter Johnny Barrett (Peter Breck) gets into more trouble than he bargained for in Samuel Fuller’s SHOCK CORRIDOR

ONE NITE ONLY: SHOCK CORRIDOR (Samuel Fuller, 1963)
Nitehawk Cinema
136 Metropolitan Ave. between Berry St. & Wythe Ave.
Wednesday, March 4, $15, 7:30
Series runs March 4-29
718-384-3980
www.nitehawkcinema.com

On the surface, Samuel Fuller’s Shock Corridor is about a reporter’s unyielding determination to win a Pulitzer by playing a unique game of Clue: He gets his girlfriend and his publisher to help commit him to an insane asylum so he can get a big scoop by answering the question “Who killed Sloan with a knife in the kitchen?” But the tense psychological drama is actually about so much more, a treatise on the state of mid-twentieth-century America as well as the nature of storytelling itself. A former crime reporter, Fuller was inspired by Nellie Bly’s Ten Days in a Mad-House when making Shock Corridor, but his film is not so much an expose on the treatment of the mentally ill as an investigation into such prevalent societal ills as racism, war, communism, nuclear annihilation, and, er, nymphomania. Desperate for a big story, Johnny Barrett (Peter Breck) gets a lesson in how to act insane from Dr. Fong (Philip Ahn); they’ve decided that Johnny’s “ailment” will be incest, and he must pretend that he is in love with his sister, a role that will be taken by his girlfriend, Cathy (Constance Towers), a burlesque performer who is uncomfortable with the whole plan. The only other person who knows of the scheme is Johnny’s editor, old-time newspaperman Swanee (Bill Zuckert). Once locked inside the mental hospital, Johnny seeks out the three witnesses to Sloan’s slaying: Stuart (James Best), who thinks he’s a Confederate general still fighting the Civil War; Trent (Hari Rhodes), a black man who believes he’s a white supremacist; and Boden (Gene Evans), a scientist who has reverted to being a child because of the misuse of nuclear power. Keeping a close watch on everything are two attendants, the amiable Wilkes (Chuck Roberson) and the mean-spirited Lloyd (John Craig), along with Dr. Cristo (John Matthews), who has a thing for electric shock therapy. As Johnny keeps getting closer to the truth, however, the cost might be his own sanity.

shock corridor 2

The multiple levels of the characterizations in Shock Corridor are best represented by a patient played by Larry Tucker who thinks he is Pagliacci, a fictional character in the Leoncavallo opera who is portrayed by a tenor named Canio. Like Pagliacci, Fuller’s Shock Corridor is built around stories within stories (within stories) and actors playing characters pretending to be someone else. The film, which evokes The Snake Pit while presaging Miloš Forman’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, including an important use of gum, is shot by Stanley Cortez in noirish black-and-white, but Fuller adds several full-color dream sequences taken from footage he photographed for other projects, further blurring the lines between fiction and reality within the context of this original drama. As with so many of Fuller’s works, the film is highly influential, although more beloved and known by fellow filmmakers than mainstream audiences. And it does no favors for the treatment of the mentally ill, either on the doctor or patient side of things. But it’s all worth it for the amazing rain scene that will blow your mind. Shock Corridor is screening in a 35mm print on March 4 at 7:30, kicking off Nitehawk Cinema’s March Brunch “Committed” series, with a special guest to be announced. Yes, 7:30 pm is an odd time to have brunch, but maybe the programmer had temporarily lost his marbles. The series continues on March weekends — at the more normal brunch times of either 11:30 or 12 noon — with Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s Suddenly, Last Summer, Robert Wiene’s The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, and James Mangold’s Girl, Interrupted.

IT CAME FROM BALTIMORE — 40 YEARS OF CINEMA FROM THE CHARM CITY: PUTTY HILL

Matt Porterfield directs the cast in a scene from PUTTY HILL

Matt Porterfield directs the cast in a scene from PUTTY HILL

PUTTY HILL (Matt Porterfield, 2011)
Museum of Arts & Design
2 Columbus Circle at 58th St. & Eighth Ave.
Thursday, March 5, $10, 7:00
212-299-7777
www.puttyhillmovie.com
www.madmuseum.org

The city of Baltimore has not exactly been depicted kindly in film and on television, with such series as Homicide: Life on the Street, The Wire, and The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood focusing on the rash of drugs and violence that have devastated the community, while native son John Waters has shown its wackier side in such films as Polyester and Hairspray. Born and raised in a suburb just inside the Baltimore city line, writer-director Matt Porterfield (Hamilton, I Used to Be Darker) has taken a different view in his second feature film, Putty Hill. When financing for his coming-of-age drama Metal Gods fell through, he decided to keep the cast and crew together and instead shoot a cinéma verité story about the after-effects of a young man’s drug overdose on a tight-knit community inspired by the one he grew up in. Not much is revealed about Cory as his funeral nears and life goes on, with his younger brother, Cody (Cody Ray), playing paintball with Cory’s friends; his uncle, Spike (Charles Sauers), tattooing customers in his apartment; and Spike’s daughter, Jenny (Sky Ferreira), returning to her hometown for the first time in several years and hanging out with her old friends like nothing much has changed. Working off a five-page treatment with only one line of scripted dialogue, Porterfield and cinematographer Jeremy Saulnier capture people just going on living, taking Cory’s death in stride; Porterfield interviews much of the cast, who share their thoughts and feelings in relatively unemotional ways. Shot on a minuscule budget in only twelve days, Putty Hill uses natural sound and light, nonprofessional actors, and real locations, enhancing its documentary-like feel, maintaining its understated narrative and avoiding any bombastic or sudden, big revelations. It’s a softly moving film, a tender tale about daily life in a contemporary American working-class neighborhood. The film is screening at the Museum of Arts & Design on March 5 at 7:00, concluding the series “It Came from Baltimore: 40 Years of Cinema from the Charm City,” which previously showed such gems as Waters’s Pink Flamingos, Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys, and David Simon’s The Corner.

PETER REGLI: RH NO. 320 (SNOW MONSTERS), 2015

(photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Peter Regli hacks into Flatiron reality with twelve marble snowmen (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Who: Peter Regli
What: “RH No. 320 (Snow Monsters)”
Where: Flatiron Plaza, intersection of Fifth Ave., Broadway, and 23rd St.
When: Daily through March 13
Why: It’s been a monster of a winter, so Peter Regli’s “Snow Monsters” look right at home on Flatiron Plaza, a dozen marble snowmen hanging out in the shadow of the Flatiron Building next to Madison Square Park. This 320th installment of Regli’s Reality Hacking series, realized and pending public-space interventions that began back in 1995 in Zurich, follows such other New York City projects as 1999’s “Wall Clocks,” 2000’s “Walk/Talk” and “Post No Bills,” 2002’s “Tempo,” and 2009’s “Flag.” A collaboration between the Dominique Lévy Gallery, the New York City Department of Transportation Art Program, and the Flatiron 23rd Street Partnership, “Snow Monsters” invites curiosity not only because the snowmen look real from a distance (and remain in the exact same position no matter the weather) but because they are on a median that often is home to corporate-sponsored initiatives, but these sculptures are not selling anything, instead just helping New Yorkers pay closer attention to their surroundings and, as Regli says, helping to “put question marks into the everyday world. . . . I chose the snowman because of its Buddha-like nature. They appear briefly in the world, bring joy and evoke memories of childhood, then disappear again, melting away without complaint.”

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