Mabou Mines does Song For New York on the East River
Full disclosure: we didn't make it through the entire performance of the Mabou Mines Theater Company's Song For New York: What Women Do While Men Sit Knitting, a five-song celebration of New York City, staged on a barge floating just off a pier in Long Island City. But, really, sitting through the first three pieces—Brooklyn, Staten Island, and the Bronx—gave me more than enough exposure to be able to suggest that, should you be tempted next week, the better idea would be to avoid this show for just about anything else you think of.
I know, that sounds harsh. But believe me, we weren't the only ones walking out early.
The singing voices ranged from barely OK to jarringly off-key. The lyrics to these epic songs about the different boroughs were reminiscent of the stream of consciousness a fifth grader might perform in front of a mirror... or, when they rhymed, recalled a particularly excruciating school play. For example, from The Bronx:
"Lee Harvey Oswald turns ten
But no one sees his hate;
Colin Powell comes from Trinidad,
is later Secretary of State."
Or this bit of civic boosterism:
"Eat jerk chicken and walk through the zoo;
See the flowers bloom, and watch a game, too."
The choreography was virtually non-existent, so that for the majority of the time the performers were just standing around. The barge setting couldn't have been more irrelevant to the staging, and, given its distance from the audience, served only to disengage us further from the actors/singers. All in all, a total disaster.
Song For New York will be performed at 8:00 on September 4, 6, 7 and 9, at the Gantry Plaza State Park (really, a pier) in Long Island City. Admission is free. We arrived at around 7:40 and grabbed two of the few remaining seats, but as the performance went on, plenty more became available.