Tuesday, August 02, 2011

ROBIN'S SHOW RECOMMENDATION: Olive and the Bitter Herbs by Charles Busch

In Olive and the Bitter Herbs, the latest comedy from Tony-nominated playwright Charles Busch (The Divine Sister, The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife), actress Olive Fisher sees a ghost in her mirror, but that’s the least of her problems. Her radiator’s broken, the couple next door stink up her apartment with exotic cheeses, and the highlight of her long career was a sausage commercial in the ’80s. While she’s not the most popular tenant, her neighbors invite themselves over, and she finds herself hosting a Passover Seder. But are Olive’s guests there to see her or the mysterious man in her mirror? Olive and the Bitter Herbs is a comedy about connecting to the people in our lives – those with us and those who have passed on.

I've been a Charles Busch fan for years, and always delight in seeing his new work.  Olive didn't disappoint. Full of laughs and rapid fire comic timing, the cast delivers with wit and charm, and the material is classic Busch.  Intrigue, coincidences, pithy life observations, heartfelt relationships, confessions, you name it, it's all there.

The cast features David Garrison (By the Way, Meet Vera Stark) as Robert , Dan Butler as Trey, Julie Halston (a particular treat in Olive) as Wendy, Marcia Jean Kurtz as Olive and Richard Masur as Sylvan.  The creative team includes Anna Louizos (Set), Suzy Benzinger (Costumes), M.L. Geiger (Lights) and John Gromada (Original Music).  The play was commissioned by Primary Stages.

Directed by Mark Brokaw, Olive and the Bitter Herbs has the following performance schedule: Tuesdays Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:00 p.m., Fridays at 8:00 p.m., Saturdays at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., with Sunday matinees at 3:00 p.m.on August 7, 14 and 21, and Wednesday matinees at 2:00 p.m.on August 24 and 31. Following the public performances on August 18 and 25, there will be a special "Artist/Audience Talkback" for attendees of those performances.

It plays through Saturday, September 3, 2011 at Primary Stages at 59E59 Theaters (59 East 59th Street, between Park and Madison Avenues). Opening night is Tuesday, August 16, 7:00 p.m.

Single tickets for Olive and the Bitter Herbs are $45 for the first two weeks (July 26 – August 7) and $65 for all remaining performances (August 9 – September 3). Tickets may be purchased by calling Ticket Central at (212) 279-4200, online at http://www.primarystages.org/, or in person at the 59E59 THEATERS Box Office. Group Tickets (10+) are $35 each for the first two weeks (July 26 – August 7) and $45 each for all remaining performances (August 9 – September 3), and are available by calling (212) 840-9705, ext. 204. Visit http://www.primarystages.org/, or call (212) 840-9705 for additional information.

For theater patrons 35 and under, Primary Stages offers specially priced $20 tickets (maximum two tickets per valid ID). Advance tickets are available through Ticket Central using code PS35. Failure to present a valid ID will result in an additional fee. All tickets are subject to availability.

The 2011/2012 season at Primary Stages will continue with the New York Premiere of the new play, Motherhood Out Loud, written by Leslie Ayvazian, David Cale, Jessica Goldberg, Beth Henley, Lameece Issaq, Claire LaZebnik, Lisa Loomer, Michele Lowe, Marco Pennette, Theresa Rebeck, Luanne Rice, Annie Weisman and Cheryl L. West, co-conceived by Susan R. Rose and Joan Stein, under the direction of Lisa Peterson (September 20, 2011 - October 29, 2011), followed by the World Premiere of the new comedy, Rx, by Kate Fodor (January 24, 2012 - March 3, 2012). The season concludes with the New York Premiere of the new play, The Morini Strad, by Willy Holtzman directed by Primary Stages Founder Casey Childs (March 20, 2012 - April 28, 2012).

Note: On Friday, September 23, I will be moderating a special talk back with playwrights, co-conceivers, etc. about the show and life as a 35+ mom.  And, there will be a group outing to see the 8pm show for MotherhoodLater.com.  To purchase discount tickets for that evening and sit with our group, including the talkback, use code MOM923.  

Discounted 4-play subscription packages for previews and regular performances priced from $132-$172 are now available by calling Ticket Central at (212) 279-4200 or online at http://www.primarystages.org/.

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