What If?

What If?
What If?- our Musical Concert series at La MaMa E.T.C. - www.BriannaLaRoccoPhotography.com

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Review Are Rolling In!

Amazing new play!- American Cheerleader Magazine

I trudged out into the rainy night to go see the opening of a new off-off-Broadway play in NYC yesterday evening. And even though it was blistery outside, inside the studio where The Timing of a Day was showing, things were heating up. Now, being that most of my boyfriends’ friends are actors and the circle he runs in all seem to come back to entertainment, I’ve been dragged to a LOT of off-Broadway productions. I’m not going to say any of them were horrible, but none of them really caught my attention—until last night.

The Timing of a Day is a play written by Owen Panettieri and directed by Joey Brenneman. The cast is a small one, comprised of one girl and three guys, all playing mid-20s young people living in NYC. In the show, the audience follows the lives of three roommates, Doug (played by Nik Kourtis), Paige (played by R. Elizabeth Woodard) and Josh (played by Miguel Govea) who are all sharing a tiny apartment in Harlem. After a tragic series of events, two of the characters are left to question their own relationships with each other as well as that with their former roommate. As the actors take us back in time to show us how their lives became so entangled, we start to realize where and how they each fell in love, got off track and began to ignore the things that were right in front of them.

Though it sounds a bit serious, and at times it does deal with serious situations, the play itself was very enjoyable and entertaining. The writing was clever and real, and the situations the playwright put the characters in were totally believable. Nik Kourits‘ portrayal of a flamboyantly gay guy who’s just beginning to admit to everyone around him just exactly who he is, was genius, endearing and a joy to watch. From his mannerisms to the inflection in his voice and wicked dance moves, you can’t help but fall in love with him.

R. Elizabeth Woodard showcases a compelling yet realistic character, often saying and acting the way I could see myself reacting if put in the same situations. Though tiny in stature, Elizabeth’s presence is huge and she has no problem letting her emotions rip through the venue. Miguel Govea did a good job playing a guy just wanting to find love; everyone can identify with being in love with someone who has no clue how they feel. And watching him work through certain scenes was just heartbreaking (in a good way). And though Matty (played by Justin Anselmi) weaves in and out of the main characters’ lives briefly, Justin manages to leave a lasting impression when he’s through.

I really loved the way they used the stage and created a space where the audience can see the whole apartment. Also, the way the actors moved around the room, picking stuff up and moving furniture to give the viewer a sense that we were changing time, too was very effective. It was done in a seamless way that wasn’t distracting and actually added to the feeling of the show.

All in all, I was pleasantly surprised with The Timing of a Day and would wholeheartedly suggest you go see it if you’re in NYC the next few weeks. Tickets are only $18 which is a total steal for the performance that you get. Lots of thanks to assistant director David “Cougar” Williams for putting this show on my radar—I can’t think of a better way to spend a night out!



The Timing of a Day by Susan Horowitz (aka Dr. Sue)

“The Timing of a Day” is a slice of 20’s life (that’s age, not era) in the big city. The rent is due - which pressure cooks two post-adolescent male roommates - gay Doug (Nik Kourtis) and straight Josh (Miguel Govea) - into inviting Paige (R. Elizabeth Woodard), a fresh-faced, fresh-mouthed female to share their pad, while extracting a promise of that nothing “weird” (aka sexual) is going to happen. Hormones, loneliness, and love in its myriad complexities, including Paige’s semi-boyfriend Matty (Justin Anselmi), complicate matters and provide a fast-paced, entertaining, touching comedy of modern manners. Playwright Owen Panitierri has an ear for snappy dialogue and engaging characters; actors deliver the lines and react with a improvisational flair and emotional honesty, and director Joey Brenneman keeps the emotions raw, the performers on their toes, and the audience alert to swift scene and time changes. Producer Ariana Paganetti (Mind The Art Entertainment) joins forces with Intimation Productions for a show that lives up to its title as “Outstanding New Play for the 2010 Summer Festival Season” at the NY Fringe Festival.

- Susan Horowitz, Ph.D. (aka Dr. Sue) Theatre Critic

For four in their twenties, it’s all in the timing

Playwright Panettieri on Obama and other bitter pills


The apartment in which “The Timing of a Day” takes place is in Harlem, near Morningside Park — and the three twentysomething roommates who are its occupants are ill-tempered Josh (Miguel Govea), temperate Doug (Nik Kourtis), and spunky, spiky, uptight Paige (R. Elizabeth Woodard).

Also on the scene is Matty (Justin Anselmi), Paige’s occasional visiting bedmate and fulltime bore, who in the play’s most mortifying moment bursts out into the living room to scrounge a couple of condoms from the Josh who is, so to speak, Paige’s official lover. As for Doug, who also loves Paige (and vice versa), it has taken him 20 years to work up the gumption to reveal his homosexuality to his suburbanite parents.

If all the above is beginning to sound like a Hemingway short story, well, so much more to the credit of the young writer who won several top awards for this same play in last year’s installment of FringeNYC.

Almost before you’re settled in your seat and have gotten to know those three roommates, one of them, Doug (who has shaken off a bang on the head from a fall on the ice in Morningside Park), collapses and dies across the all-purpose dining table just after Josh and Paige have gone off to work that morning.

There is a wise-guy adolescent’s game called 52 Pickup, in which ordinary playing cards are dropped one by one at random upon the floor. “The Timing of a Day” would seem to have been written that way — except of course it wasn’t. Its eight scenes come to us in non-chronological fashion, jumping back and forth before and after Doug’s death on January 13, 2009. Two weeks later comes the passage, and the line, that made me realize we had a real talent here with something to say and a way to say it:

Josh and Paige are, so to speak (thank you, Horton Foote) dividing the estate. Doug’s parents have already come and gone, taking almost everything of their late son’s with them.

“They took the table?” Paige asks.

“Um, no,” says Josh. “I just kinda left it out on the street. It was gone in 15 minutes….I didn’t wanna keep it. I mean, there wasn’t really anything wrong with it.”

Paige: “Except our friend died on it.”

It is lines like that, and emotions like that — undertones and overtones — that zing all the way through “The Timing of a Day.” And though it’s set in Harlem, color has nothing to do with it.

Well, that’s not true either. Though all four of these people are what is called “white,” at least three of them — I don’t know about Matty — had had a deep emotional stake in the advancement of Barack Obama to the presidency. This morning-after scene late in the play — the day after Election Day 2008, a bare two months before Doug’s collapse and blackout at that table — has its fine haze of exhausted exhilaration shot through with disillusion over Proposition 8, the sidebar California vote against gay marriages.

I went to high school — the Lincoln School of Teachers’ College — on the northern edge of Morningside Park, 425 West 123rd Street. Even back then, somewhat before Owen Panettieri was born, we kids knew better than to go into that park by daylight much less dark.

Not so, Owen Panettieri.

“When I was living up there,” he says, “just a couple of blocks away, I’d wandered through the park at night, by myself.”


“I wouldn’t recommend it, though.”

It was at that same Lincoln School, incidentally, that the senior class two or three years ahead of us put on a play — Sutton Vane’s 1923 “Outward Bound” — that, for its fatality and kismet and linkages (a ship at sea, a barking dog) would affect the whole rest of my imaginative and theatergoing life, up to and including the work under consideration right here. And would do so, be it said, under a somewhat less wooly, more precisioned (and no less poetic) title.

In “The Timing of a Day” the girl named Paige, an aspiring actress, has a day job — as did aspiring playwright Owen — with the NiteStar Health Education Program that goes out into the five boroughs from its base at St. Luke’s Hospital, 114th Street and Amsterdam.

“A friend I worked with,” says Panettieri, “was a woman whose roommate — a man — was hit by a police car and killed, just like that, right in the neighborhood near Morningside.

“This was in the winter of 2005. It was really traumatizing for her. I didn’t know him at all, but I couldn’t get it out of my head, just the idea of being cut down by a freak accident in the prime of your life — or just having your whole life shift,” says the Owen Panettieri who’d been in the prime of his own mid-20s five years ago.

Panettieri was also deeply affected by the delayed-action brain damage death of actress Natasha Richardson from a hit on the head in a 2009 skiing spill up in the Laurentian Mountains.

Is Doug (the sensitive one) really you, the playwright is asked.

“They’re all me,” Panettieri answers, thus preserving his Every Playwright’s Cliché License. “And after the death of my friend’s roommate, the next big thing that put the story into context for me was the election of 2008.”

In the play, gleeful post-election Paige says: “What do you think his [Obama’s] first big change is gonna be?”

“I don’t know. Gitmo, I guess,” says Doug — shorthand for Obama’s promised closing of the Guantanamo detention camp.

“Probably,” Paige says. “And then Don’t Ask Don’t Tell….”

With a sorry smile, Panettieri says: “We don’t get to hear about Gitmo any longer. When I wrote that line it wasn’t meant to be ironic, just a fact. For me, the play is about the errors of timing in our lives, the differences between expectation and actuality. The things we thought were just a dream that we’d never see happen” — e.g., a black American president — “do come true, do happen, while other, smaller things that we just assume will happen in our own lives often do not happen. When you’re approaching 30…” says Wesleyan University graduate Owen Panettieri, whose own father’s life as an air-traffic controller was blown away by Ronald Reagan.

“Well, I wrote that line, and here we are, two years later and it’s just the reverse” — with Don’t Ask wiped out but Gitmo still in place.

And you know what? The “bitter pill” of Proposition 8 may also be reversed — or coughed up — one of these days. It’s all a matter of timing.

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