Dan and Julie Izzo
Dan and Julie Izzo began their theatrical collaboration at the College of William and Mary where they studied theatre and speech. They were founding members of the Virginia Shakespeare Festival and have acted at various regional theatres on the east coast. Between them they have taught English literature, acting, voice, dance and improvisation. For the past 20 years they have directed and designed numerous productions. Most recently they have collaborated on writing original musicals.
BWW Review: NEXT TO NORMAL at Blackfriars Theatre
February 11, 2020
Lights up. Enter the whirlwind. Blackfriars Theatre's production of NEXT TO NORMAL drops its audience smack in the middle of an emotional storm. The 2010 Pulitzer Prize winning rock musical details a family's sixteen-year struggle with trauma, centering on bipolar disorder. Groundbreaking in style and scope, Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey's smash hit garnered eleven Tony nominations and won three. It has been celebrated for exploring hard-hitting subject matter without the dewy-eyed sentimentality that so often infects this theatrical genre. Fortunately, Blackfriars' production delivers with the power and grit of the original Broadway production.
BWW Review: HITMAKERS: ORIGINS OF CLASSIC ROCK at CenterStage
February 3, 2020
If you've got a 'whole lot of love' for rock music or if you are 'reelin' in the years' for that 70's sound, you will want to check out HITMAKERS: ORIGINS OF CLASSIC ROCK at JCC's Centerstage now until February 16th. Previous iterations of the Hitmakers series focused on the individual writers and performers who ushered in the age of rock and roll. This time they zero in on the bands that pioneered rock with a capital R!
BWW Review: QUEEN at Geva Theatre Center Fielding Studio
November 11, 2019
On the surface Geva Theatre Center's Fielding Studio series production of QUEEN examines the potential devastation caused by the dwindling honeybee population due to Colony Collapse Disorder. This first look seems to indicate that Madhuri Shekar's play will be another social drama about the capitalistic monolith and its insidious corruption in greedy pursuit of wealth. Monsanto stands as the corporate boogeyman that needs to be taken down to save the bees and thereby rescue the planet. The plot could be linear and predictable, clearly establishing villain and hero. Thankfully, Shekar's play delivers a much more complex and thoughtful dramatic work.
BWW Review: THE AMISH PROJECT by The Hummingbird Theater Company at MUCCC Wows
November 7, 2019
Hummingbird Theater Company's slogan reads, 'hover in the moment.' That thoughtful pause describes perfectly the theatrical experience director/producer Donald Brian Bartalo creates with his latest venture, THE AMISH PROJECT, at MUCCC. This extraordinary one-person show written by Jessica Dickey fictionally explores the Nickel Mines schoolhouse shooting that fragmented the lives of families in and around an Amish community near Lancaster Pennsylvania in 2006. At lights up, the audience enters an unfamiliar world. There are no introductions or explanations. We meet a young Amish girl sitting at a school desk who is fascinated with hats. The actor then morphs into her older sister thrilled by the beauty of the world, then a non-Amish woman feverishly smoking. These transformations continue for seven disparate characters. Each is a fragment laid out and unexplained like the patches of a quilt waiting to be sewn together, to be made whole. And that is the dramatic structure Dickey deftly stitches over the next 90 riveting minutes. She lovingly and sympathetically presents each character's terror, goodness and beauty. Slowly, these characters, torn to pieces, are inextricably knotted together by chance or fate or God. Jessica Dickey quilts an absolute masterwork that warms with compassion and unflinching fellowship.
BWW Review: DIVISION STREET at CenterStage
November 4, 2019
Kudos and thank you to JCC's CenterStage Theatre and playwright Jason Odell Williams for staging the world premiere of DIVISION STREET in the Rochester area. It is a pleasure to participate as a member of the audience on a work of theatre that has not been curated and delivered here. The firsthand original experience of theatre is exciting, illuminating and authentic. Being an inaugural viewer requires a unique mindset and responsibility. It is the difference between being at a birth and receiving a phone call about a birth. Being one step removed from the situation doesn't dampen the joy but the experience is less visceral, and the emotional response is influenced by the enthusiasm or concern expressed by others. What a joy to be at the delivery! In his author notes, like a proud expectant parent, Williams muses about the birth of his play. He writes, 'I hope the play makes you laugh, makes you think and feel, but most of all, I hope it entertains you and gets you talking about everything the characters address in the play.' From opening night, I am happy to report his hopes fulfilled. The audience responded at curtain with a standing ovation and as they walked out the conversations started.
BWW Review: BOOM at Out Of Pocket Inc.
October 28, 2019
'Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.' Who would have thought Ernest Haeckel's famous and scientifically nerdy maxim would be central to the theme of one of the most performed plays of the early 21st century? But Peter Sinn Nachtrieb's BOOM embraces that theme and explodes it to cataclysmic comic proportions. BOOM is a combination of bedroom farce and locked door mystery. It is ironically a retrospective about 'the end of the world as we know it' (to quote R.E.M.), satirizing science, relationships and the blasé despondency of millennials.
BWW Review: BIBBIDI BOBBIDI CINDERELLA at OFC Production
October 20, 2019
'You never get a second chance to make a first impression.' This old saw still cuts true when considering youth theatre. The importance of introducing children to the wonder of live performance is not only critical to the survival of the art form; more importantly, it is essential to humanity. The communal experiences of love, laughter, fear and compassion as presented on stage, unite us emotionally and ethically. In a world where virtual reality too often supplants authentic interaction, it is critical that children engage as an audience. This is why it is crucially important that the first theatrical experiences that children have are filled with magic, energy and wonder.
BWW Review: FRANKENSTEIN: A LIVE RADIO PLAY at Screen Plays
October 10, 2019
Autumn in Rochester doesn't only conjure dreams of apple picking and cider. With Halloween just around the corner, the fall season delights in nightmares as well. Screen Play's production of FRANKENSTEIN: A LIVE RADIO PLAY delivers a nostalgic introduction to this annual festival of horror. The story told stays true to Mary Shelley's gothic classic, but the twist in this production lies with the style of the telling. Set in the sound studio of local radio station WHAM in the 1940s, Philip Grecian's adaptation comes to life. Music, old-fashioned sound effects and nine voice actors retell the famous tale, which delves into human psyche, hubris and over-vaulting ambition. Many consider the novel by Mary Shelley to be first work in the genre of science fiction as she questions man's role as a caretaker of nature and cautions for a need to make thoughtful decisions regarding scientific progress.
BWW Review: LA CAGE AUX FOLLES at Geva Theatre Center
September 9, 2019
BWW Review: Blackfriars Theatre Celebrates 70 Years With a Sparkling Production of GUYS AND DOLLS
September 2, 2019
BWW Review: AS YOU LIKE IT at Shake On The Lake
July 27, 2019
BWW Review: DISNEY'S NEWSIES at JCC Of Rochester SummerStage
July 22, 2019
The corporate labeling of Disney's Newsies drips with irony. Newsies tells the David versus Goliath story of a strike initiated by the fictional Jack Kelly when newspaper carriers in 1899 took on media mogul Joseph Pulitzer, protesting a hike in the cost of paper delivery. The strike mushrooms into a questioning of unfair child labor practices instituted by corporate greed throughout New York City at the turn of the century. The notion of a children's crusade promoting the rights of the individual laborer against monopolized capitalism should make one question whether Disney is protesting against itself. But Disney often taps into this mythos of impoverished youthful idealism overcoming entrenched, systematized and cynical power, generically elevating the exuberant heroism without promoting the political ideals involved. The book and music for Disney's Newsies is no exception. It swells with emotion but is woefully short on ideas.
BWW Review: MACBETH at Rochester Community Players Shakespeare Program
July 14, 2019
Pack a picnic, take a blanket and some bug spray and commune with nature and your fellow lovers of the Bard at this free 25th anniversary performance by the Rochester Community Players: Shakespeare Program. You will experience Shakespeare as a rich shared experience.