According to Lincoln Center's new LCT3 project at its slogan, it takes "New Audiences for New Artists." It also takes new critics, hence the establishment of Theater Talk's New Theater Corps in 2005, a way for up-and-coming theater writers and eager new theatergoers to get exposure to the ever-growing theater scene in New York City. Writers for the New Theater Corps are given the opportunity to immerse themselves in the off-off and off-Broadway theater scene, learning and giving back high-quality reviews at the same time. Driven by a passion and love of the arts, the New Theater Corps aims to identify, support, and grow the arts community, one show and one person at a time.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Ryuji Sawa: The Return

Famed Japanese impresario Ryuji Sawa leads a troupe of 11 to dazzle us with comedy, quick change, geishas, kabuki dance, singing, and much more.
Photo caption (L-R): Ryuji Sawa and Ryoki Kiuchi
Courtesy of David Gibbs/DARR Publicity

Reviewed by Cindy Pierre

What were you doing when you were 12? Were you hiding from your teacher behind a kid at school, playing video games until your thumbs were raw, or waiting for your life to begin? If you're Ozora Takami, you're doing your unintentional best to steal the show from Ryuji Sawa with your fan and sword prowess in Theater For a New City's production of Ryuji Sawa: The Return. Not that the acclaimed Japanese film, theater and TV star doesn't put on a show. At 70 years old, he can still thrill with his knee-slapping comedy, singing, and charismatic presence. And he does it with very little dialogue by paying homage to Japan's illustrious past as well as a nod to America's (most notably in a clever rendition of Michael Jackson's thriller). But in featuring this prodigy in two magnificent solos, you can't help but compare the tried and the new, and hope that the latter comes out to give you more. Yet, Takami is also testament to Sawa's ability to groom such a spectacle of talent.

Lips and Lucky Cheng's ain't got nothing on the drag in the form of geishas in this show, but our very own downtowners could show Sawa a thing or two about the art of the imagination. The opening teaser in which Takami comes out as a little dude and transforms into a lady takes too long and falls flat. But if you're the type who likes to know how the trick works before seeing the trick, you'll be wowed just the same. Still, there's enough impressive drumming, skits, kabuki dance, harakiri and swordplay (Kill Bill fans will want a stronger display, not the pretense here) stuffed into 90 minutes to titillate you. Now what will you be doing when you're 70?

Through November 11th.
Tickets (212-352-3101): $30
155 First Avenue (between 9th & 10th Streets)

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