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BWW Review: Overwhelming Talent Floods WORK IN PROGRESS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRITERS at Feinstein's/54 Below

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Whether writers, composers, or singers, the most recent installment of this 'new works' series boasted big talents.

BWW Review: Overwhelming Talent Floods WORK IN PROGRESS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRITERS at Feinstein's/54 Below

New works of art are a very important part of humanities, whether the art being created hangs in a museum, rests on a bookcase, or comes to life on a stage. The classics are wonderful and cherished, and there is always a place for them, always a reason that they should be read, witnessed, heard, or performed. The creation of new plays, musicals, and compositions is particularly valuable, though, because their stories, their messages happen in real-time, as an audience looks on. Those tales and morals can resonate loudly for each member of that audience, especially in times like these when so much socio-political change is in the air, and the evolution of shows and songs becomes essential to the telling of stories that are authentic to all of the people of the world.

BWW Review: Overwhelming Talent Floods WORK IN PROGRESS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRITERS at Feinstein's/54 Below
Vaibu Mohan

Theatrical multi-hyphenate Vaibu Mohan has created the 54 Below hosted series WORK IN PROGRESS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRITERS, which just had its second outing at the Midtown Manhattan Supper Club, and if the songs that were presented in the seventy-five-minute long evening are an example of works in progress, then the other writers out there better watch out. This is the kind of evening that has been seen in other clubs around town, indeed, every cabaret room and nightclub should have its own version of a works-in-progress series - a place where the writers can see and hear their work performed live while sitting in the back, observing the audience reaction to their writing. Not one of the thirteen songs performed in the second installment of the series fell into the dreaded what-did-I-just-listen-to category - each composer represented throughout the night, every lyricist whose words were sung should be proud of what they have created, whether their offering was a portion of a new musical, or a song designed to stand alone in its storytelling creation. Every melody a winner, with well-crafted lyrics that ranged from the basic to the poetic, these compositions riled the audience to laughter and cheers, and even a few tears, and that's before the topic of the performers has even been introduced. Only those present at the Freshman episode of WIP know what was showcased on that night, but those in the audience at the Sophomore outing on Tuesday can all verify that the writers on display did their work before the final dress rehearsal: the songs are good... really, really good.

BWW Review: Overwhelming Talent Floods WORK IN PROGRESS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRITERS at Feinstein's/54 Below
Vaibu Mohan, Rachel Lloyd, Sushma Saha and Kuhoo Verma

As for the singing actors cast in the casual variety show, Ms. Mohan made wise choices and a bold statement, for the majority of the performers were members of the MENASA community (Middle Eastern, North Asian, South Asian) - gifted and glorious performers who should be working all of the time, but who are not. In fact, at the conclusion of her group concert, Vaibu Mohan commented on the fact that people in a position to give acting jobs to these artists of color have been heard to say that they are unable to find actors of this specific ethnicity, hence the lack of diversity in the acting field. Mohan, on the other hand, had no trouble at all casting this show, reaching out to friends from her real life, and to friends from the internet that she met face-to-face for the very first time, the day of the show. "It took me two days to put this together," declared the tenacious writer-composer-performer-producer. They were two days well spent because her cast of beautiful (in appearance, spirit, and talent) actors featured a veritable rainbow of skin colors ranging from black to white to every shade of brown. It was a spectacular array of humanity and talent featuring the likes of force-of-nature-on-the-rise writer/actor Cheeyang Ng, whose performances of his own works were a standout, and Kuhoo Verma (who should just be billed as "The Voice" Verma, moving forward) who performed with Cheeyang and in Mohan's first outing as a composer, alongside Rachel Lloyd, Sushma Saha and Mohan herself - a number that was another highlight in the evening, an evening rich with reward.

BWW Review: Overwhelming Talent Floods WORK IN PROGRESS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRITERS at Feinstein's/54 Below
Vaibu Mohan and Joseph C. Townsend

The real reward would be if these artists, the composers and lyricists, the actors, the actors of color, the members of the MENASA community, got the degree of visibility that they deserve, and good for Vaibu Mohan for producing evenings like this, where the entertainment is first-rate and the brotherhood, sisterhood, and siblinghood of our non-binary friends, indeed, the families of artists and people of all colors can come together and join hands in friendship and creation.

BWW Review: Overwhelming Talent Floods WORK IN PROGRESS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRITERS at Feinstein's/54 Below
Rachel Lloyd
BWW Review: Overwhelming Talent Floods WORK IN PROGRESS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRITERS at Feinstein's/54 Below
Jamen Nanthakumar

The really sad thing about a show focusing on works in progress is that the audience will hear wonderful songs like Jameson May's "Confession" or be moved by incredible performances like Jamen Nanthakumar's delivery of the miscarriage-themed "Out Here," and then go home with nothing but a memory of a wonderful piece of theater. For these new works may go for a while without being documented, or (heaven forbid) may never be recorded at all, leaving them to become "trunk songs" - which would be a true tragedy because these are works of art that need to be heard, actors that must be seen, stories that deserve to be experienced. That, though, is one of the main reasons people should produce series like this, and audiences should go to them. These nights of "salon" could be the one and only times one might witness something special that speaks only to them, and it may be available just this one time, and never again; better to go to the show and not risk missing something that special, as special as these thirteen stories and storytellers.

Keep an eye on future episodes of WORK IN PROGRESS, and find other great shows to see by visiting the 54 Below website HERE.

The writers/composers represented at the September 7th WORK IN PROGRESS were Stephen Coakley, Justin Cook, Danielle Koenig, Vaibu Mohan, Cheeyang Ng, Topher Paolucci, Thalia Ranjbar and Ben Ginsberg, Aliza Sotsky, and Caitlin Thomas.

The performers featured at the September 7th WORK IN PROGRESS were Stephen Coakley, Danielle Koenig, Rachel Lloyd, Jameson May, Vaibu Mohan, Jamen Nanthakumar, Cheeyang Ng, Greg Paladino, Sushma Saha, Aliza Sotsky, Caitlin Thomas, Joseph C. Townsend, Kuhoo Verma.

The producers of the September 7th WORK IN PROGRESS were Molly Heller, Vaibu Mohan, and Jennifer Tepper.

BWW Review: Overwhelming Talent Floods WORK IN PROGRESS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRITERS at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: Overwhelming Talent Floods WORK IN PROGRESS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRITERS at Feinstein's/54 Below
Danielle Koenig

BWW Review: Overwhelming Talent Floods WORK IN PROGRESS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRITERS at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Overwhelming Talent Floods WORK IN PROGRESS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRITERS at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: Overwhelming Talent Floods WORK IN PROGRESS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRITERS at Feinstein's/54 Below
Vaibu Mohan

BWW Review: Overwhelming Talent Floods WORK IN PROGRESS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRITERS at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Overwhelming Talent Floods WORK IN PROGRESS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRITERS at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Overwhelming Talent Floods WORK IN PROGRESS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRITERS at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: Overwhelming Talent Floods WORK IN PROGRESS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRITERS at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: Overwhelming Talent Floods WORK IN PROGRESS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRITERS at Feinstein's/54 Below
Jamen Nanthakumar

BWW Review: Overwhelming Talent Floods WORK IN PROGRESS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRITERS at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Overwhelming Talent Floods WORK IN PROGRESS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRITERS at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: Overwhelming Talent Floods WORK IN PROGRESS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRITERS at Feinstein's/54 Below
Jameson May

BWW Review: Overwhelming Talent Floods WORK IN PROGRESS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRITERS at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Overwhelming Talent Floods WORK IN PROGRESS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRITERS at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: Overwhelming Talent Floods WORK IN PROGRESS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRITERS at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Overwhelming Talent Floods WORK IN PROGRESS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRITERS at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: Overwhelming Talent Floods WORK IN PROGRESS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRITERS at Feinstein's/54 Below
Joseph C. Townsend

BWW Review: Overwhelming Talent Floods WORK IN PROGRESS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRITERS at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Overwhelming Talent Floods WORK IN PROGRESS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRITERS at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: Overwhelming Talent Floods WORK IN PROGRESS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRITERS at Feinstein's/54 Below
Rachel Lloyd

BWW Review: Overwhelming Talent Floods WORK IN PROGRESS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRITERS at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Overwhelming Talent Floods WORK IN PROGRESS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRITERS at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: Overwhelming Talent Floods WORK IN PROGRESS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRITERS at Feinstein's/54 Below
Cheeyang Ng

BWW Review: Overwhelming Talent Floods WORK IN PROGRESS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRITERS at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Overwhelming Talent Floods WORK IN PROGRESS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRITERS at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Overwhelming Talent Floods WORK IN PROGRESS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRITERS at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: Overwhelming Talent Floods WORK IN PROGRESS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRITERS at Feinstein's/54 Below
Cheeyang Ng and Kuhoo Verma

BWW Review: Overwhelming Talent Floods WORK IN PROGRESS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRITERS at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Overwhelming Talent Floods WORK IN PROGRESS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRITERS at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Overwhelming Talent Floods WORK IN PROGRESS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRITERS at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: Overwhelming Talent Floods WORK IN PROGRESS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRITERS at Feinstein's/54 Below
Stephen Coakley

BWW Review: Overwhelming Talent Floods WORK IN PROGRESS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRITERS at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: Overwhelming Talent Floods WORK IN PROGRESS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRITERS at Feinstein's/54 Below
Stephen Coakley and Greg Paladino
BWW Review: Overwhelming Talent Floods WORK IN PROGRESS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRITERS at Feinstein's/54 Below
Greg Paladino

BWW Review: Overwhelming Talent Floods WORK IN PROGRESS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRITERS at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Overwhelming Talent Floods WORK IN PROGRESS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRITERS at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: Overwhelming Talent Floods WORK IN PROGRESS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRITERS at Feinstein's/54 Below
Sushma Saha and Kuhoo Verma
BWW Review: Overwhelming Talent Floods WORK IN PROGRESS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRITERS at Feinstein's/54 Below
Vaibu Mohan and Rachel Lloyd

BWW Review: Overwhelming Talent Floods WORK IN PROGRESS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRITERS at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: Overwhelming Talent Floods WORK IN PROGRESS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRITERS at Feinstein's/54 Below
Caitlin Thomas
BWW Review: Overwhelming Talent Floods WORK IN PROGRESS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRITERS at Feinstein's/54 Below
Aliza Sotsky

BWW Review: Overwhelming Talent Floods WORK IN PROGRESS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRITERS at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Overwhelming Talent Floods WORK IN PROGRESS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRITERS at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Overwhelming Talent Floods WORK IN PROGRESS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRITERS at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Overwhelming Talent Floods WORK IN PROGRESS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRITERS at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Overwhelming Talent Floods WORK IN PROGRESS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRITERS at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Overwhelming Talent Floods WORK IN PROGRESS: THE NEXT GENERATION OF WRITERS at Feinstein's/54 Below Photos by Stephen Mosher


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