What to Watch This Week: Burlesque Alice in Wonderland, Michael Urie in ‘Buyer & Cellar’ and More

Are we pivoting away from placeholder programming and reimagining what live performance can be?
| Updated: April 21, 2020
  • Lily Verlaine as the Caterpillar in 'The Burlesque Alice In Wonderland'
Lily Verlaine as the Caterpillar in 'The Burlesque Alice In Wonderland'

On week who-knows of staying at home, with venues closed for who-knows-how-long, I’m finding great joy in seeing our collective idea of how art functions expanding in real-time. While innovation, as a concept, is lauded in the performing arts, it’s (be honest) not implemented all that often, and never before has it been required. Now that companies and artists have to try new things, it’s interesting to see what works and what doesn’t, who has new ideas and who’s trying to force old formats into new realities. (Zero shade here, my point is that no one knows what to do or how long-term to think.) Now, artists and theaters seem to be pivoting away from casual placeholder programming, built on the idea that we'll all be back together soon-ish, and toward a broad reimagining of what live performance could look like, in a future we can't even see yet. That feels both sad and exciting in a way that I’m sure Germans have a word for. So: get to streaming, see what floats your boat this week, and, as always, if you’ve got a great show coming up online, let me know at gemma.wilson@tigeroak.com.

Through 4/22
Buyer & Cellar
Has this solo show cracked the code (or a least a code) of latter-day theater? Performing from home, Buyer & Cellar’s original off-Broadway star Michael Urie recreated his role as a fictional young man hired to work in Barbra Streisand’s very real Olde Timey underground mall, and it works. The format means Urie can play directly to the audience/cameras (two!), and it’s a legitimately fun and funny experience. Broadway.com streamed B&C live last Saturday night (and raised more than $200,000 for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS’ COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund); stream the performance on YouTube.com/broadwaycom through Wednesday night.  

Through the Looking Glass 2020: Wonderland in Quarantine
Every spring for more than a decade, local burlesque producing duo Verlaine & McCann have presented The Burlesque Alice In Wonderland, their seductive spin on Lewis Carroll, at The Triple Door. With audiences sheltering at home this year, they’re transitioning the live show into a three-hour, live-streaming experience, which opens with a half-hour peek behind the curtain as performers get ready, and ends with a post-show cocktail party Q&A with producers and performers. In between, enjoy their sexy take on this fantastical tale, from White Rabbit to Queen of Hearts.    

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Together While Apart
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater was scheduled to perform at the Paramount this month. Sigh. But while these acclaimed dancers are trapped at home, they’re making the most of it—last month, Ailey dancers performed snippets from Ailey’s “Revelations” and Rennie Harris’ “Lazarus” in…whatever space they could find while self-isolating. There are shots from parking lots, dog-filled yards, sidewalks, and New York City rooftops, all cut together into beautiful, amuse-bouche art moments. At under two minutes long each, these videos are another excellent art-break to add to your working-from-home schedule. (Also, if you let YouTube auto-play happen, you’ll end up in videos of full-length Ailey performances, which isn’t a bad thing.)

Café Nordo: Bottle Service
With theaters and restaurants closed, local food+theater crucible Café Nordo is getting hit on two fronts. So, what do you do when your big spring show—in this case, an ambitious, two-part, multi-space adaptation of Alice in Wonderland—is postponed? To keep things moving, Nordo has started a wine delivery service, with bottles selected by their “trusted wine curator” Tom Hajduk, and Nordo co-artistic director and executive chef Erin Brindley has started a delightful cooking series on YouTube. Raise a glass and start practicing your unicorn noodles, babies.  

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