Get Thee to the Kitchen!
Ithaca has its own little Off Broadway theatre, the intimate space at the Kitchen Theatre, has just entered its 25th season. This is indeed a landmark anniversary for any theater. Let alone a small, cutting edge, non-profit such as the Kitchen. The quality matches anything, anywhere: one certainly imagines they are in the theater district of New York when sitting in the ‘Kitchen.’
The anniversary season has opened with a powerhouse kick-off. Buyer & Cellar brings together talented playwright Jonathan Tolins with my favorite director, Wendy Dann, and Ithaca audience favorite actor, Karl Gregory, in a one-man show. The title is obviously a play on words and I entered the theater knowing nothing about it, curious to see what would be revealed – what the joke might be, let alone the theme. I love going to theater this way – walking into a blank canvas and surrendering to a surprise, and in this case I was not disappointed.
I am tempted not to give anything away, so that the reader may experience what I did. But I cannot expect one to run to the Kitchen because I said “Trust me!” And run you should for an evening of wit, hilarity, and pure joy. So I will drop a hint or two.
Imagine a stereotypical obsession with a female diva persona from a gay man’s perspective. At least start there and let yourself think, Ah..so this is where this is going! We begin with a book- a real, true life book published by a true life icon about her home in Malibu – Barbra Streisand’s Passion for Design. The book itself is testimony to another obsession, Barbra’s passion for details, and provides the scenario of her cellar for a creative, imaginative foray into numerous personalities.
Yet these personalities leave the stereo types far behind, as they peel layers, weave relationships, and reveal the stuff of raw life through Gregory’s ability to glide seamlessly between characters. All the while the humor never stops or wavers.
The genius of the writing, acting, and directing is supplemented by a perfect set from Scenic & Lighting Designer Steve Teneyck. Buyer & Cellar runs through September 27th and is followed by The Mountaintop October 11-25. Give yourself the gift of experiencing the Kitchen while in town. It is one of Ithaca’s precious commodities.
The Kitchen Theater is located at 417 W. Martin Luther King Jr/State Street Ithaca, NY 14850. www.kitchentheatre.org. 607-272-0403