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SEX, SHOPLIFTING & ROCK N' ROLL Comes To Theater For The New City

Bringing energy and edge to the stage at a time when theater is returning, harnessing the power of live performance.

SEX, SHOPLIFTING & ROCK N' ROLL Comes To Theater For The New City

Sex, Shoplifting & Rock and Roll, directed by JD Glickman, is in tune with the times, bringing energy and edge to the stage at a time when theater is returning, harnessing the power of live performance.

"It's a play about coming to terms with the past," is the way Claude Solnik, who wrote the script, describes it. "It's about how important it is for us to come to terms with events and what happens when we don't."

In this production, running May 13 to 23 at Theater for the New City's ( 212-254-1109) Community Space, we meet three characters in a claustrophobic world where sex, shoplifting and rock and roll are never very far away.

A cast of three collide and combine, creating a world where conflict is inevitable and compassion, to use a pandemic word, is essential.

In Sex, Shoplifting and Rock & Roll, an exciting new play, we meet a young woman named "Hope" as soon as the lights go up on the stage.

We find out she was born named Nicole around 9/11. She brought "hope" into the world and so, with Hope as her middle name, she found herself called "Hope" and it stuck.

"Think about it, they name you before they know who you are," Hope, played by Emily Vaeth, says. "Wouldn't it make more sense to wait 'til a baby's born? Have a temporary name 'til you see who the person is."

It would be hard to find a play more fitting to be part of Theater for the New City's reopening than this one about three young people seeking to come to terms with problems and each other, set well before the pandemic.

Theater for the New City, at 155 Fifth Ave., between Ninth and Tenth Sts., has presented a wide range of plays over the years, including scripts that have won Pulitzer Prizes and other awards.

"The play isn't about the pandemic. It's set way before that, but it was written during the pandemic," said Solnik. "It's about three people trying to find their place in the world, what we do for and to each other, the price of isolation, of not dealing with what happens to us, and how quickly things can spiral out of control."

In this gritty production under JD Glickman's direction, Emily Vaeth plays Hope, Elisa Tarquinio plays Ringer and Dan Purcell plays Lou. Glickman and the cast mine character and conflict, transforming the theater into the world of the play.

Lights are designed by Marsh Shugart and memorable, original music and poignant, personal lyrics by Mike Borgia. Joanna Newman is stage manager.

"The pandemic has pretty much shattered the routine and the world in general," Solnik said. "This play looks at how we rebuild after more personal events shatter our universe. It's like we live in a Milky Way made of shattered glass."

In Sex, Shoplifting and Rock & Roll, the characters seem to pace around in the cage of the apartment of Ringer (Elisa Tarquinio), a security guard who protects possessions. Hope (Emily Vaeth) has just entered Ringer's life, as a shoplifter at her store - or at least the unnamed store where she works.

"You stole from my store," Ringer says before Hope replies. "I like the way you call it 'my' store."

After Hope moves in with Ringer, we meet Lou (Dan Purcell) who shows up suddenly, prompting Ringer's concerns that she has been "played." The three try to find balance in a world that is off kilter, figuring out whether and how to trust each other when we all can so easily fall off the edge of the earth.

"Trust is at the core of any relationships and our own peace of mind," Solnik said. "Trust in each other and ourselves. We watch these people trust, distrust, betray and care about and for each other."

Early in the play, Hope asks Ringer whether she is a good person. The rest of the show is the answer to that question, reminding us what it means to be good and what the limits are - and how bad things can take a toll much later.

The script under Glickman's direction displays the characters' vulnerabilities, how they get along and deal with each other and threats.

"It's often said that life is in part about what happens to us and in part about how we handle it," Solnik said. "This play is about how something that happens to us can stay with us, unless we figure out a way to rise above it."

For full details and tickets call 212-254-1109 or visit

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