Trending: Musings on Fat Asses: The Musical – May 20, 2018

Fat Asses: The Musical has returned to dish out a second helping of sass with a side of empathy and plenty of hilarity to satisfy any theatergoer’s hunger for an original (!) musical with a message. This production, which closed yesterday afternoon, was an updated version of the production, written by Peter Zachari, music and lyrics by Zachari and Damon Maida, which also played at the Theater for The New City in 2013 (check out my blog about that production here).



[Usual disclaimer: Regular readers will know that I’m good friends with Peter Zachari and choreographer Joey Mirabile; I’m also credited in the Executive Producer’s Circle for this production in the playbill. I’ve been a fan and supporter of Peter and Joey for many years and believe in their works, which give those often overlooked (and oftentimes ridiculed) a voice, and present them as complex people, and not as stereotypes. The musings are my own, and will most likely not be as objective as expected.]


The plot remains intact, with new songs and some revisions that comment on current event issues such as gun control, the #metoo movement and the ubiquitous nature of social media. The quartet of Margaux, Candy, Lacey, and Dusty fight for their right to be heard, and to be appreciated as individuals, and while doing so, realize their place in the world. Amid the social commentary are the customary pop culture references (and a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it reference to another Zachari production). A new aspect of the production design lies in the large projection screen that doubles as a backdrop and a window into the outside world. This production’ cast was astounding, playing their role without falling into stereotypes (at least not without a purpose). Emily Jewell (Margaux), Sydney Blair (Candy), Lori Funk (Dusty) and Itanza Wooden (who reprises her role as Lacey) had great rapport with one another, and held their own against Amandina Altomare, who played Meredith with the right blend of contempt and vulnerability.


As with the original production, I enjoyed the show’s originality and the updates addressed current event issues with the seriousness it deserves, without making it overly political. I sincerely hope this show makes it uptown (or more importantly Midtown) off-Broadway or perhaps Broadway someday.



All About Love – Thoughts on One Love

Love is a complex emotion. Whether it’s platonic, romantic, or something in between, the path to finding love is fraught with misconceptions, both from within and without. The perceptions/illusions one has about themselves relative to those around them is and can be a stumbling block along that path, and the task of letting go of those preconceived notions is its own journey towards  self-discovery. These themes are explored in One Love, the latest play written by Peter Zachari, which recently ended its run at the Theater for the New City.


[Disclaimer: Those who have followed this blog will know that I’m good friends with Peter Zachari and Joey Mirabile; who I met 5 years ago when Peter’s first show Parker & Dizzy’s Fabulous Journey To the End of the Rainbow premiered at the New York International Fringe Festival. Since then, I’ve been a (minor) investor to Peter’s subsequent shows, and have written (independently) my musings for all the shows that have played in NYC.]

The play centers on Hunter, an overweight gay man, and his journey of finding (and accepting) love into his life. Due to the emotional baggage he carries from a relationship gone wrong, mixed with a kind of self loathing stemming from his physical appearance, he denies himself any chance of pleasure – even in his fantasies. His roommate Bryce is the antithesis of Hunter, indulging in pleasure wherever he can, with no (apparent) emotional baggage. An impromptu dinner with friends Brett and Tyler, coupled with the unexpected appearance of Logan (Tyler’s cousin) serves as the catalyst for Hunter to reexamine his self-imposed perceptions. He (eventually) learns to confront the demons keeping him from accepting the fact that he is worthy of love and being loved, with the help of Aftodite, an omnipresent and (seemingly) omniscient presence in Hunter’s life.

While I’ve been quite the fangirl for Peter’s shows, One Love is the first play for which I was an unofficial dramaturge, reading an early draft (originally written a few years ago) and providing some (useful) feedback (and pointing out some spelling/grammatical errors (as an aspiring writer, editing was second nature.) The themes set forth in the play are universal and touch upon the media fixation (obsession?) on perpetuating the image of “perfect” (i.e. thin, “beautiful”) people, and the insecurities faced by those who don’t fit the “socially accepted” definition of beauty.

There’s a quasi-meta aura in the set design, as it was modeled (loosely) on Peter’s own apartment, with the walls dotted with photos of Judy Garland, and glitter pop art pieces (created by cast member Joey Mirabile). Other pop culture (and topical) references are sprinkled throughout as well, with notable pop songs (and an original song written by Peter and his long time collaborator Damon Maida) adding to the overall feel of the play. The cast was fantastic, inhabiting the social stereotypes their characters represented, then gradually stripping away that façade to show their true self and learning to be comfortable in their own skin (so to speak). Kudos to Alex J. Moreno as Hunter and Russell Norris as Bryce for the emotional range they traverse, from comic to dramatic (and back), revealing their insecurities before finding a kind of happy ending.


One Love is a play about love in all its forms – platonic love between good friends, romantic love for another person, and love for oneself, overcoming obstacles, both real and perceived. Everyone is worthy of love and being loved, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity or religious beliefs. In a way, love is blind – blind to prejudices of every kind. Or at least real love should be – the trick is to let go of the preconceived assumptions created (and perpetuated to some degree) by what media (social and otherwise) has deemed “normal” and “beautiful”.

Only then can there truly be One Love.


Misinformation and Mistaken Identity: Musings on Under the Knife – March 29, 2015

Clear communication is the key to any relationship, personal or professional, and when that basic tenet breaks down, things can snowball into a great maelstrom before the situation is resolved, hopefully for the better. This breakdown in communication is at the core of any great farce, coupled with mistaken identities, a multitude of slamming doors and the inevitable chase sequence. Such is the case in Under the Knife, the latest play by Peter Zachari, playing at the Theater for the New City located in the East Village, for a limited run from now through April 5th.

Under the Knife poster

[Brief Disclaimer: Once again, I must disclose that Peter is a very good friend of mine, whose shows I have seen (and blogged about), and of which I am a (minor) investor. I am also good friends with cast member Joey Mirabile both of whom I had met roughly four years ago when Peter’s first show Parker & Dizzy’s Fabulous Journey To the End of the Rainbow had its world premiere at the New York International Fringe Festival. So it’s quite obvious that I’ve become quite a fan (groupie?) of Peter and his works – as stated before, the opinions and musings stated in this blog are my own, with no influence from the playwright. This is not a formal review or critique – I’m not a critic, I’m just an average theatergoer.]

Under the Knife cast

The play is set in the waiting room of the Mount Canyon Gynecological Medical Building, where finance-strapped Doctor Roe Wade rents out two office spaces – one to a pair of plastic surgeons and the other to a dentist. Unbeknownst to him, he has personal connection with both tenants – one of the plastic surgeons is his ex-wife Marsha, and the dentist is his mistress Deirdre (who curiously bears a striking resemblance to Marsha), and Roe desperately does his best (with the help of his receptionist Cora) to keep the two women from discovering one another. Meanwhile, Roe and Marsha’s son Budd is engaged to marry Bernadette, and arrives to ask his father to help pay for the wedding; however, Bernadette is a staunch pro-life activist (unaware of Roe’s occupation), and Budd does his best to keep this fact from his fiancée. Hilarity ensues when Deidre is mistaken for Marsha (and vice versa) and Bernadette believes Roy (the other plastic surgeon, who is also a recovering sex addict engaged to Marsha) is Roe; amid this inevitable tempest in a teapot is the arrival of Eyphah, an absentminded Holocaust survivor whose sheer presence adds the chaos that ensues.

As in any great farce, there are double entendres, sexual innuendo, cross-dressing, quick exits and entrances through several doors – there are five in total – yet amid the absurdity and seemingly implausible scenarios, there is some basis of reality upon which the events unfold. Roe’s financial instability (accentuated by a brief appearance by an IRS auditor, somewhat appropriate as Tax Day in America looms over the horizon), and the partly mentioned issue of abortion (there’s a running gag wherein the “A” word never fully spoken aloud) are the catalyst that fuels the action. Another key element in farce is timing, which needs to be precise and run like clockwork – Under the Knife has this in spades, with the audience following (with relative ease) the intricate web of misdirection and complications that arise. There is an abundance of pop culture references, (including a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Star Wars reference) along with the aforementioned double entendres, sexual innuendo (Oprah and O Magazine are utilized brilliantly), and a bit of a cappella singing. There’s also a (probably inadvertent) reference to La Cage aux Folles, in the Budd/Bernadette romance subplot, with Budd (like Jean-Michel) apprehensive of his morally conservative fiancée learning the truth about his father. Perhaps I’m reading more into this than the average theatergoer, or perhaps it’s because of how I initially met Peter and Joey that I picked up this vibe.

The cast is amazing, playing their roles with just the right amount of madcap fervor without it going over the top (well at least not too much) – several cast members appeared in Peter’s previous works and their camaraderie is evident. The most notable performance came from Lori Funk, as both Marsha and Deidre – as the play unfolded, switched between the two roles (each with their unique vocal and physical tics) seamlessly. The clever use of a blackout allowed both characters to inhabit the stage at the same time, and with only the ability of listening to the two characters share the scene, you would have thought there were two different actors on stage, instead of one.

I highly recommend seeing this play – there are only a few performances left – it’s a frantic yet well paced farce with the right balance of melodrama and sincerity amid the usual organized chaos. Adding to the atmosphere is the piped in music from the 1930’s (a common time setting for a farce) – jazz standards and popular hits from that era, giving the play (which is clearly set in contemporary times) a kind of screwball comedy vibe.   For more information, visit

Under the Knife playbill

Hero of This Dream: Musings on Parker & Dizzy’s Fabulous Journey To The End of the Rainbow – January 12, 2014

At the heart of every story is a hero (most often a young man) embarking on a journey that will test his resolve and the relationships with those around him, as he encounters and overcomes obstacles, uncovers hidden truths and ends with the hero gaining a greater sense of self and overall enlightenment. This well-known premise is given a fantastically comedic spin in Parker & Dizzy’s Fabulous Journey To The End of the Rainbow, currently playing at the Theater For the New City, located in the East Village, for a limited run from now through January 26th, music and lyrics by Peter Zachari and Damon Maida, book by Peter Zachari.

Parker & Dizzy1

[Brief Disclaimer: Once more, I must disclose that Peter is a very good friend of mine, whose shows I have seen and also in which I have invested; I am also good friends with cast member (and choreographer) Joey Mirabile both of whom I had met three years ago when Parker & Dizzy had its world premiere at the New York International Fringe Festival. As stated before, the opinions and musings stated in this blog are my own, with no influence from the playwright. This is not a formal review or critique – I’m not a critic, I’m just an average theatergoer.]

The musical is a clever mash-up of Da Vinci Code and Star Wars with a gay twist, as the titular characters unwittingly find themselves on a quest to find and prevent the secret of the gay Holy Grail from falling into the hands of the evil Mentor. A fellowship of sorts is formed when Parker and Dizzy gain allies who help in their quest across the island of Manhattan, deciphering clues and combating the Mentor’s minions. Loss, betrayal, and pithy pearls of wisdom are bestowed as the journey culminates with an epic showdown leading to good triumphing over evil, and a happy ending for all.

Parker & Dizzy Cast

This production of Parker & Dizzy [as the show will be henceforth called, as the title is really, really long to type out repeatedly] is an updated version of the show that was originally presented in 2011, as there were many topical pop culture references scattered about the show, many of which are no longer prevalent in 2013/2014. Moreover, newer songs were added as others songs were removed for various reasons (the fourth wall is broken near the beginning of act two where a song was removed due to the critics’ observation that it was too sentimental. Whether or not that observation is a true statement remains to be seen, but then again, these are critics we are talking/writing about, so who knows?) There is a new Act Two opening, which incorporated a rousing dance number performed with great alacrity and precision by the cast, as well as a new ending (perhaps rewritten at the behest of those aforementioned critics who thought the ending was too sentimental). While the first production’s resolution was a heartfelt and sweet, the revised production’s ending reminded me of the dénouement reminiscent of Spamalot – very tongue in cheek and perhaps more in alignment with the overall spirit of the musical. Having seen both productions, I liked both endings, though the writer in me enjoyed the quiet, sentimental dénouement of the original; neither is “better” than the other, but they are both brilliant in their own ways.

The score contained a dazzling array of catchy songs, both campy and rousing, among which are (respectfully) “GPeniS” and “Hero of This Dream” – the melodies are memorable, and the lyrics are clever. I certainly hope an official cast recording is made at some point – it’s not often these days where a musical has an original score, not derived from pop songs (though a fantastic mix of pop songs plays throughout the theater before, during intermission and after the show, adding to the overall campy atmosphere so prevalent in the plot). As mentioned earlier, there is a smattering of pop culture references, references to other films such as Ghost, Thelma & Louise, and Mommie Dearest, as well as a whole lot of innuendo throughout, risqué yet never (too) vulgar (though I suppose that’s subjective).  The cast was astounding and energetic, one could sense the joy exuded from their every move (more often than not while wearing four-inch stiletto heels). The set design was minimalist, with a long string of Christmas lights framing the stage area, and the band off to one side; the costumes were fantastically campy as well. An added bonus was the small tables set out in the front row (and a few in the second row) adorned with light pink tablecloth, which reminded me of the cabaret tables that had been set up for the most recent revival of La Cage aux Folles (not too surprising, as Joey Mirabile is also known as “CoCo of Times Square”, promoting that aforementioned production of La Cage in Times Square, which is also how I initially met and got to know him).

I thoroughly enjoyed this revised version of Parker & Dizzy as much as I enjoyed the initial production – funny, campy (in a good way) with fleeting moments of seriousness and sincerity, plus a lot of fierceness and ultimately friendship. For all its glitz and glamour, drag queens and divas, in the end it’s about the endurance and resilience of the friendships the titular pair have, and its ability to overcome anything that stands in its way.

For more information on Parker & Dizzy, please visit their website:

Parker & Dizzy flyer

A Question of Identity: Thoughts on The 3rd Gender – August 18, 2013

Debate and discussions pertaining to gender identity and the perception thereof, along with its impact and influence on society is an enduring and omnipresent issue that has united and/or divided people throughout history. Civil rights, equality and the rights of the individual have also been a longstanding issue for society as a whole to address, which is more at the forefront now, with all the debates, discussions and protests occurring in the political, religious and social arenas on a global scale. In the midst of all of this comes The 3rd Gender, a new play written and directed by Peter Zachari currently playing at the Connelly Theater, part of the 2013 New York International Fringe Festival.

The 3rd Gender

[Brief Disclaimer: As always, for the sake of full disclosure, (and as previously mentioned in another blog post) Peter has become and is a good friend of mine; I’ve seen his other productions Parker and Dizzy’s Fabulous Journey to the End of the Rainbow and Fat Asses, The Musical and have been a minor investor for Parker and Dizzy and The 3rd Gender. The opinions and musings stated in this blog are my own, with no influence from the playwright. This is not a formal review or critique – I’m not a critic, I’m just an average theatergoer.]

The play is set far into the future in the year 2397, where humanity has evolved into and is ruled by the third gender, beings with  opposing genders residing in one body – those with the physical appearance of one gender coupled with the spiritual essence of the opposite gender. Those that are identified with the same gender within and without are deemed “heteronormative”, and are considered undesirable within the framework of this enlightened utopia. The play focuses on Manten, a young man identified as a heteronormative who has spent his entire life at Optima Somea, a facility that  exists to correct the abnormality he represents. Disoriented after enduring another operation to “correct” his condition, he awakens with memory loss and strives to learn more about himself and his past; through a series of chance meetings and startling revelations, he discovers more than he ever wanted to know about the Brave New World into which he was born.

This play is quite a departure from Parker and Dizzy’s Fabulous Journey to the End of the Rainbow and Fat Asses, The Musical, which were both lighthearted musicals infused with pop culture references, yet all three share a common theme in the question of identity and society’s unfavorable perspective on individuals who are considered to be “different” from the majority. The 3rd Gender is a powerful allegory that is quite timely at this moment in history, with the political and social discussion and debate about, and protests for and against gay rights around the world, and the standpoint some government leaders take with the issue (or at least the attempts to so). The alleged brave new world depicted in this future is a twist (or mirror universe, for those of the sci-fi inclination) of society (generally speaking) today – where heterosexuals (heteronormatives in the play) are the undesirable minority and the powers-that-be strive to correct this, by meditative conditioning to force them to be like “everyone else” or be eliminated. In many ways, the issues dealt with in this play are akin to the Aldous Huxley novel Brave New World, with its illusions of achieving perfection and purging out all that deviates from the (new) norm.

The staging was sparse yet effective, with added sound effects and voiceovers to provide exposition and insight for the audience to understand the world in which the play is set; the concept of a OCR (Optimal Character Recognizer), a handheld device that stores all data about a person and determines that person’s status is a brilliant one (and an invention I suspect will cross over into the real world some day). The cast was astounding, displaying a range of emotion into presenting a (quite possible) future and the dangers that manifest when an individual begins to question and challenge the status quo. The most notable performance came from JP Serret as Manten, the heteronormative at the center of the play – the confusion, the frustration and eventual anger that manifests and ultimately (and literally) explodes within and without him  as the play unfolds is akin to a ticking time bomb or an erupting volcano. The tension slowly builds and festers until Serret reaches a breaking point and pours out all of the frustration and anger in his penultimate soliloquy – to the point where I could see his face turn a vivid shade of red as he rages at the heavens and with himself (I’ve only seen one other actor achieve this level of anger displayed on stage, and it’s quite a sight to behold).

3rd Gender Cast

The only real critique I have is that the play doesn’t really have a proper ending – the narrative just stops rather than concludes, ending with a dramatic high point after a startling revelation then fades to black. I feel that there should be a proper resolution, but then again, this is a 90 minute show, and I’m not quite sure if there’s a specific time limit on Fringe productions so perhaps there will be a prequel, sequel or expansion to the play if an opportunity arises to transfer this production to a off-off or even off-Broadway venue. There is much left to explore and discover in this future universe (as an aspiring author, I’ve thought up some plausible exposition,  introspective character studies, and alternate ending stories based on this play and its complex characters).

Nevertheless, I highly recommend this play – there are only two performances left at the Fringe (though I do hope it has a life afterwards). To learn more about the play and remaining performances, please visit the show’s website:

Fed Up!: Thoughts and Musings on Fat Asses The Musical – March 24, 2013

Everybody has a fat ass: for some it’s a physical aspect of their body composition, for others it’s the emotional baggage they carry in their minds and in their hearts. Then there are those who have a bit of both – the issues of weight and the stigma attached to it are at the core of Fat Asses The Musical, currently playing at the Theater For the New City, located in the East Village, for a limited run from now through May 31st, music and lyrics by Peter Zachari and Damon Maida, book by Peter Zachari.

Fat Asses the Musical

[Brief Disclaimer: Once again, for the sake of full disclosure, I must state that Peter is a good friend of mine, having first met him two years ago when I saw Parker and Dizzy’s Fabulous Journey to the End of the Rainbow at the New York International Fringe Festival, of which he had not only written, but had also directed and starred. I am also good friends with cast member (and choreographer) Joey Mirabile, who was also in Parker and Dizzy, so my thoughts and musings may not be as objective as in previous blogs, and this is the first time I’m writing a blog for a professional production created by friends I know (though I do hope this will not be the last time, as I do have other friends who are aspiring playwrights.]

This musical revolves around Margaux, Candy, Lacey and Dustine, four overweight women ridiculed and rejected by those around them, who just want to be acknowledged and appreciated for who they are regardless of their size. They decide to make their voices heard by focusing their sights on [fictional] fashion magazine Gaunt and holding its editor Meredith, and her assistant Foster hostage to spread their message. Secrets and plot twists abound and are revealed before all loose ends are resolved, and each finds their own inner peace for themselves. The production was fantastic, with sparse yet effective set design, and inventive choreography. The score was catchy with just the right mix of innuendo (and some profanity) and pop culture references, full of big, brassy showstoppers such as “Check Here”, as well as tender, heartfelt ballads such as “Loving You Is a Dying Art”.

The cast was astounding, bring the right amount and balance of sassiness and emotion to their roles. Central to the ensemble were the quartet of “Fat Asses”: Heather Lee Anderson as naive and non-confrontational Candy, Jane Aquilina as combative, no-nonsense Dustine, Kelly Teal Goyette as world-weary and put upon Margaux, and Itanza Wooden as sassy, brassy Lacey.  Rounding out the cast is Caitlin McGinty as Meredith, Joey Mirabile as Foster, and Elise Castle as various other roles, all of whom brought such energy and heart in their performances.

Fat Asses Cast

I thoroughly enjoyed this show for its originality, a somewhat dying art in theater these days, as most musicals that end up on Broadway and off-Broadway are adaptations of other source material or jukebox musicals and having at its center full-bodied women who are complex characters who are not there to be the butt (pun fully intended) of any jokes. Thoughtful and entertaining, Fat Asses the Musical has the potential to have a life after this off-off Broadway run, especially with such a fantastic score and message of letting go of one’s baggage, whether it be physical or emotional.

For more information on Fat Asses the Musical, please visit their website: