THEATER REVIEW: Babes In Toyland @ the Ohio Theater, 7/22/09

(L-R): Laura von Holt as Contrary Mary, John Kurzynowski as Fleecy and Sofia Jean Gomez as Alan Photo credit: Yi Zhao

As far as I have been able to determine, there are three ‘types’ of live theater in NYC. Broadway’s current crop of Disney pageants, movie adaptations and remakes; off-Broadway ‘ultra hip’ houses where often times shows get an airing before they move uptown and the ‘off off’ scene where warehouses, lofts, drawing rooms and even backyards are converted into interesting, often stuffy spaces presenting edgy, if not downright lively odd pieces that can be called experimental in the best sense of the word. I like all three types of theater, but I got to tell you, Wooster Street’s Ohio Theatre, is holding its 16th annual Ice Factory Summer Festival, and it is rockin’ the sticky summer night air.

The show I saw was a 90-minute retelling of Babes in Toyland, an über campy version that swooped, pranced and generally used that odd but interesting Ohio Theatre space to its utmost. I admit I was pre-interested in this production because of David Greenspan, one of the most talented actor/writers in the downtown scene, but along with Mr. G. as Mother Goose and the Master Toy Maker, other notables of the supremely talented Little Lord Fauntleroys are Rodney Pallanck as “Mother Goose” and “Antoinette the Toyland Doll” (and keyboard player), Michael Levinton as “Barnaby” and “Spider” (he’s also the director of this play) and Laura von Holt as “Mary.” Previous Ice Factory shows have gone on to the Joyce, PS 122, the Edinburgh Fringe among others and won Obies and I can see why. “Babes” is a solid evening and while I’m not so much taken with camp for camp’s sake, there was enough fun moments and self deprecation, plus the wild David Greenspan, that I say go see “Babes” or whatever else the Ice Factory’s got going on to cool you in the upcoming weeks.

The Ohio Theater, at 66 Wooster Street (between Spring & Broome Sts.) is a great space with high ceilings, tight yet comfortable seating and what is claimed to be…the cheapest bar in Soho!

The schedule for the festival is:
Wonderland: Wed 7/8, Thu 7/9, Fri 7/10, Sat 7/11
Lavaman: Wed 7/15, Thu 7/16, Fri 7/17, Sat 7/18
Babes In Toyland: Wed 7/22, Thu 7/23, Fri 7/24, Sat 7/25
Conni’s Avant Garde Restaurant: Wed 8/5, Thu 8/6, Fri 8/7, Sat 8/8

Ralph Greco, Jr.

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