Victoria Ordin is a writer based in West Los Angeles and Manhattan. Raised in L.A. around film and television, she developed an early appreciation for Broadway and cabaret from her parents, but particularly her father, whose musical passions ranged from classical to opera to Big Band. After studying English at Yale, Victoria earned her Masters at UCSB and completed coursework for the Ph.D. For the past four years, she has written a bicoastal memoir and culture blog called Victorian Chick Redux. Her work has also appeared in The Weekly Standard, Huffington Post, and Cabaret Scenes. She has just written her first review for the Los Angeles Review of Books and is currently co-authoring a book about finding love through air travel.
THE VIEW UPSTAIRS is a production of the Culture Project, which bills itself as 'New York's home for socially conscious theater.' Seen in that context, the play is not without value. Just don't expect nuance. And at one hour forty-five minutes and no intermission, it's a tough slog. Out of sixteen musical numbers, only a handful are musically compelling. And given the current political climate, it's worth reminding a younger generation what it was like just 40 years ago. Few in this crowd believed Trump would become '45,' or that basic human rights-from freedom of the press to gay marriage-would be in jeopardy. Moreover, before the Pulse Orlando shooting, the fire at the UpStairs Lounge was the deadliest hate crime against gays and lesbians in American history,yet remains unknown outside New Orleans except to activists or students of queer history. Though uneven and often heavy-handed, THE VIEW UPSTAIRS has some nice moments. Given the important subject matter, one just wishes it worked better as a piece of art.BWW Review: Broken Box Mime Theater Highlights the Joys of Subversion in SEE REVERSE February 27, 2017
These are deep philosophical waters but important to understanding the work of Broken Box Mime Theater, whose mission is threefold: 1) 'To activate the imagination of audiences,' 2) 'to contemporize the art of mime,' and 3) 'to remind us all of the power of simple storytelling.' SEE REVERSE consists of ten individual pieces, some of which include some combination of eight enormously talented performers with backgrounds ranging from theater to opera to poetry: Nick Abdeel, Becky Baumwoll, Duane Cooper, Geraldine Dulex, Blake Habermann, David Jenkins, Marissa Molnar, and Matt Zambrano. Surprisingly, not one has formal dance training, which makes the precision of their physical movement all the more remarkable.BWW Review: Siobhan O'Loughlin Plunges Into Politics and Psychology in BROKEN BONE BATHTUB February 20, 2017
In a world with so many peddling-and profiting from--faux inspiration, SILENT NO MORE: A THEATRICAL DOCUMENTARY offers the real thing. Directed by Michele Christie, Ed.D., Executive Director and Founder of No Limits, SILENT NO MORE is by turns heartbreaking and hilarious as it traces the struggles and successes of courageous men and women variously affected by hearing loss. Some three decades after Children of a Lesser God, the conflict rages on in the deaf community between those who (only) sign and those who speak. A major theme of of SILENT NO MORE is that those in and beyond the deaf community need to support, rather than criticize the choices of those with partial or full hearing loss.BWW Review: Yehuda Hyman and The Mystical Feet Company Explore Grief in The Mar Vista, An Ambitious Jewish Historical Drama December 15, 2016
Nothing in the press release prepared me for the power and beauty of THE MAR VISTA, an ambitious autobiographical theater-dance piece by Brooklyn-based Yehuda Hyman which ranges over four countries on two continents in 90 years. This is no one's fault (though a tissue alert would have been nice), as the collaboration between Hyman's Mystical Feet Company and LABA: The Laboratory of Jewish Culture does not lend itself to neat description. A brief review of Hyman's artistic background--choreographer, playwright, poet, translator of poetry, and teacher of dance at Sarah Lawrence (from which he earned his M.F.A), Princeton, NYU, Barnard, and USC, among others-would best, perhaps, indicate the play's epic sweep, both emotionally and historically.BWW Review: HOLIDAY HOUSE: CHRISTMAS BENDS Delves Into Psychic Darkness At Christmas In Cold War America December 8, 2016
HOLIDAY HOUSE: CHRISTMAS BENDS, the latest from Tracy Weller's experimental theater company, Mason Holdings, bills itself as a 'darkly comedic... psychological study of how we experience childhood as outsiders.' A brief perusal of Weller's fascinating website, Tracy Weller Land-a rabbit hole in the best sense--would make clear that this is not a show for anyone under 16, notwithstanding the pre-show holiday party with cookies, egg nog, and a live Santa. And in spite of the star's evident talent, the play is disjointed and incoherent.BWW Review: Gideon Irving Makes His Own Kind of Sense -And Music - in MY NAME IS GIDEON, I'M PROBABLY GOING TO DIE, EVENTUALLY November 25, 2016
Gideon Irving is an original. One-man (or woman) shows are by definition personal, but even by the yardstick of solo performance, MY NAME IS GIDEON, I'M PROBABLY GOING TO DIE EVENTUALLY is unlike anything I've seen in theater or cabaret. The 30-year-old actor born at Roosevelt Hospital on 58th Street (along with his twin brother Isaac, a singing abalone) has performed his musical show in six countries and 504 livings rooms, along with fringe festivals and the occasional theater.BWW Review: A DOG STORY Captures Hearts and Laughs at The Davenport Theater Loft November 23, 2016
A DOG STORY is that rare musical comedy that manages to be sweet but not cloying, accessible but not banal, and light but not unsubstantial. With most of the city still in deep mourning over the election (and facing a logistical nightmare in Midtown for the next four years), this new musical--with a strong book by Eric H. Weinberger and excellent lyrics and music by Gayla D. Morgan-could not have come at a more perfect time. The show was an extended-release happy pill, after which you felt-if only for an hour or two-that everything will somehow be okay.BWW Review: Baby Boomer Sisters Cope With Aging Parents In Joni Fritz's IN THE CAR WITH BLOSSOM AND LEN November 18, 2016
Billed as a dark comedy about 50-something children faced with 80-something parents in decline, IN THE CAR WITH BLOSSOM AND LEN is a semi-autobiographical play by Joni Fritz (and directed by Tony nominee Lynne Taylor-Corbett) making its New York debut at the Queens Theater. 'I write about what I know, and what I know is family,' Fritz notes in the program's poignant note about her own theater-loving father, who did not live to see this play produced.BWW Review: In BLACKTOP HIGHWAY, Performance Artist John Fleck Muses on Simulacra, Animals (Live and Dead), and Trump November 8, 2016
Lynn Henderson delighted a small but enthusiastic audience at Don't Tell Mama in the final performance of her new show, T'AIN'T NOBODY'S BIZNESS IF I DO! With musical director Douglas J. Cohen, a multi-award winning songwriter (including a Drama Desk Award nomination and the Noel Coward Prize), and bass player Bob Sabin (himself the winner of numerous jazz awards, who sits on the music faculty both at the prestigious Hunter College High School and NYU), the veteran big band, choral, and lounge singer combined material from her 2014 CD, If We Only Have Love, with classics from the Great American Songbook (George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Kander and Ebb, among others). Ably directed by 10-time MAC Award winner Barry Kleinbort, the show also included more contemporary material by Billy Joel, Jerry Herman, and Randy Newman. September 23, 2016
The first annual HARVARD-YALE CANTATA at Feinstein's/54 Below, a musical competition modeled on the legendary boat race, was nothing short of electrifying. The sold-out show directed and produced by Tom Toce (Yale '78) was one of those evenings that make you grateful and happy to live in New York among so many brilliant and passionate artists. And if you happened to attend either school, it produced a particular pride in all that is wonderful about institutions fashionable to bash in an age of reverse snobbery. (Full disclosure: I graduated from Yale in 1995.)
While the second CANTATA played to a slightly smaller crowd, the show featured songs by lyricists who have made lasting contributions to popular music in the 20th Century: Alan Lerner (H '40), Tom Lehrer (H '46 and MA '47), and John Forster (H '69). In more recent years, Cambridge and New Haven have produced Broadway composers such as Larry O'Keefe (H '91 HEATHERS, LEGALLY BLONDE) and Bobby Lopez (Y '97, BOOK OF MORMON, AVENUE Q, and songs from FROZEN), the youngest of only 12 people to win an Emmy, Tony, Grammy, and Oscar.BWW Review: Janice Hall Captures the Grandeur and Humanity of Dietrich in GRAND ILLUSIONS Revival September 19, 2016
'Without Dietrich, there would have been no Madonna...and no Gaga,' Janice Hall announced at the outset of her brilliant revival of GRAND ILLUSIONS: THE MUSIC OF MARLENE DIETRICH, the most recent installment of Stephen Hanks' New York Cabaret's Greatest Hits. Co-produced by Father Jeffrey R. Hamblin and flawlessly directed by Peter Napolitano, Hall's show---for which the former opera singer won both MAC and Bistro awards in 2011 and 2012, respectively---seamlessly weaves together the music and life of the enigmatic movie star and international cabaret sensation whose greatest creation, in Hall's words, 'was herself.'BWW Review: Natalie Douglas Brings Glitter and Magic to Birdland in STEVIE SONGS September 15, 2016
For her soulful, imaginative rendering of jazz, pop, and R&B music, Los Angeles native and septuple MAC Award winner Natalie Douglas has earned raves for two decades from American and British critics alike. Superlatives like 'transcendent,' 'heart-stopping,' and '[the] greatest' pepper reviews both of her live performances and work in the studio. Douglas' new show, STEVIE SONGS, which marked her 50th performance at Birdland, made clear why Clive Davis of The New York Times wrote, 'By the end [of a show], you want to her to carry on into the small hours.'BWW Review: Sting Fans Come To Life at Joe's Pub in Rosemary Loar's Imaginative 'STING*chronicity' August 29, 2016
When one describes a meal or a performance as 'interesting,' it's usually a euphemism for awful, or at least deeply flawed. But Rosemary Loar's STING*chronicity, the musical theater and cabaret performer's second show devoted to Sting's songbook, is genuinely interesting---and ballsy. Featuring 13 characters who share little beyond a profound love for Sting (and mutual attendance at the Police reunion tour at Madison Square Garden in 2007), the show presents Loar's highly stylized and unusual interpretations of songs both from the Police era and Sting's forays into jazz as a solo artist.BWW Review: Jeff Harnar Dazzles A Sold-Out Metropolitan Room With An Engaging Revival of His '1959 Broadway Songbook' August 23, 2016
When a show at the Metropolitan Room starts over thirty minutes late because the staff is frantically trying to find chairs and room for the better part of New York's cabaret community, you know you're in store for something truly special. And unless there's a chair thief on the loose in Flatiron who doesn't like Broadway, someone clearly oversold this show and/or lost track of comps; this was extremely vexing with a heat advisory in effect. Still, the mood was festive in anticipation of Jeff Harnar's 1959 Broadway Songbook, the 12th installment in Stephen Hanks' impressive (and increasingly well-known) New York Cabaret's Greatest Hits series. Harnar's show premiered 25 years ago at the Algonquin's Oak Room. Two years later, PBS filmed the collaboration with musical director Alex Rybeck, whose arrangements honor the original compositions but reimagine them in sometimes astonishing ways, making them genuinely creative acts.BWW Review: Like a 'Boss,' Tony Danza Celebrates His Return from Los Angeles to New York in 'Standards & Stories' at Feinstein's/54 Below August 18, 2016
The Illuminati Ball is indeed spectacular, though without divulging details I am sworn to keep secret, I cannot do justice to an experience which began on a rainy Saturday evening at 6PM on the Upper East Side---where a luxury limousine bus picked up 30 formally-attired 'candidates' for the Illuminati, and seven or so hours later, deposited what seemed like old friends to the same location---after a sumptuous eight-course meal by Erin Orr, craft cocktails by mixologist Bootleg Greg, and limitless red wine.BWW Review: Singing (and Writing) Like Her Life Depends On It, MAC Winner Meg Flather Brings 'Carly & Me' to Don't Tell Mama August 4, 2016
Cynthia von Buhler's Speakeasy Dollhouse: The Bloody Beginning grew out of the artist's lifelong fascination with the mysterious death of her Italian immigrant grandfather, Frank Spano, in 1935. Originally conceived as a one-night event, Speakeasy Dollhouse took on a life of its own and since 2011 has become one of New York's most innovative theatrical experiences, spawning other immersive plays including Ziegfeld Midnight Frolic and The Brothers Booth.
Held in historic venues that transport audience members back in time (like Edwin Booth's former Gramercy Park mansion and the Liberty Theater in Times Square), von Buhler's productions are sensuous and visual triumphs which reflect her background in the fine arts. The Bloody Beginning made its Brooklyn debut on July 22 at the Weylin, formerly the stunning Williamsburgh Savings Bank, across the street from the legendary Peter Luger steakhouse.