“PopSmart NOLA” on WHIV, Ep. 23: Maxwell Williams, No Ring Circus, and “You Don’t Know the Half of It”

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Even though we had folks come in to talk about two shows at Le Petit on this week’s “PopSmart NOLA” we had a lot to talk about.

Maxwell Williams, artistic director of Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carré, which debuted Horton Foote’s “Dividing the Estate” during last week’s Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival, and which continues — with the exception of a break for next weekend’s French Quarter Festival — through April 15.

We also welcomed Daphne Rose Malfitano and Eli Rose — aka Fiddles & Bo — who present their show, “Fiddles and Oboe’s Clown Orchestra & No Ring Circus,” April 6-8 and April 13-15 at the The Fortress of Lushington performance space at 2215 Burgundy St. in Faubourg Marigny.

And finally, we welcomed Cecile Monteyne, creator of the amazing, seasonal improv show, “You Don’t Know the Half of It” along with improviser Lynae Leblanc, and Amanda Wuerstlin of the You Don’t Know the Band — all discussing next Sunday’s show at Le Petit.

SEGMENT ONE: Maxwell Williams
Maxwell Williams is in his second season as Artistic Director of Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carré. He’s directed the company’s productions of “The Glass Menagerie” and “Our Town,” and co-directed the world-premiere adaptation of “Sleeping Beauty (An American Panto).” Now Max is back again in the director’s chair for “Dividing the Estate,” the final Broadway hit for the late playwright and author, Horton Foote.

“Dividing the Estate” is the story of a family in Texas, hit hard by an oil bust in the late 1980s, and whose siblings are anticipating their inheritance from their aging matriarch — all with varying agendas. What starts as a wacky family comedy turns dark in the second act in this play featuring Brenda Currin, Carol Sutton, Harold X. Evans, and Silas Cooper. The New Orleans Advocate says of this show: “What makes ‘Estate’ so charming is the bumbling incompetence of its conspirators. The hilarity of the action increases as the urgency of the circumstances compound.”

Maxwell Williams, it should be noted, served as associate director for the Tony-nominated Broadway production of this play, and he joined us in the studio. 

SEGMENT TWO: No Ring Circus’ Daphne Rose Malfitano and Eli Rose
Our next two guests have been a part of New Orleans’ burgeoning variety scene over the past few years, collaborating with circus, sideshow and burlesque performers in various shows while doing their own touring across the U.S. Now the husband-and-wife team of Eli Rose and Daphne Rose Malfitano are back in New Orleans with a new and fascinating show. Performing as two very different clowns, they will bring us “Fiddles and Oboe’s Clown Orchestra & No Ring Circus” on April 6-8 and April 13-15 at The Fortress of Lushington performance space at 2215 Burgundy St. in Faubourg Marigny. I visited the couple at their own space in the Marigny, and here’s an excerpt from that interview. I’ll also have an extended version in the podcast in this post later in the weekend.

SEGMENT THREE: “You Don’t Know the Half of It”
Our final guests represent several components of the deceptively complicated show that is the 5-year-old “You Don’t Know the Half of It,” in which writers present original comedy sketches — and with actors given half of those lines, and with improvisers are challenged with filling in the other half.

Joining us in the studio:

Creator Cecile Monteyne, a Big Easy Award-winning actress and regular performer with “The NOLA Project.” With her are one of the improvisers, Lynae Leblanc, as well as one of the musicians from You Don’t Know the Band, Amanda Wuerstlin. I should first note the entire lineup for Sunday’s show:

The Writers: James Bartelle, Alicia Hawkes, Helen Jaksch, and Mark Routhier
The Actors: AJ Allegra, Joy Lynn Andersen, Robert DoQui and Mallory Messina
The Improvisers: Chris Kaminstein, David James Hamilton, Lynae Leblanc and Josh Toups
You Don’t Know the Band: Andre Bohren, Michael Girardot, Alexis Marceaux, Stephen MacDonald, Marc Paradis and Amanda Wuerstlin

SEGMENT THREE: Relevant Link
For our Relevant Link this week, I wanted to go back a few years as we note that the downtown Super Sunday will be held this weekend on Bayou St. John – a couple weeks after the Super Sunday on St. Joseph’s Day. Both days are known for amazing suits for all of the Mardi Gras Indians, with their intricate beading and feather work. As you may have noticed a couple weeks ago, it’s a smorgasbord for amateur and professional photographers alike.

On that note, it’s important for those capturing the images of this cultural with deep and historic roots that they are being created by culture bearers who, to put it politely, barely survive from check to check. Too often they don’t see a dime for their professional use of the imagery for which they’re responsible in creating. And it’s like the city is necessarily giving them back money by using their imagery in their marketing. (Are they?) That’s why it’s important to read a “green paper” created by the Mardi Gras Indian Hall of Fame that lays out ways professionals can compensate these culture bearers for any profits gained from the selling of these images. You can check out this green paper, and its context, when the post for this show goes up later today on PopSmartNOLA.com.

Oh, and, the downtown Super Sunday starts at noon on Bayou St. John, with a second line by the New Orleans Bayou Steppers, around 2 p.m. Good luck figuring out the route!

Those are our Relevant Links for this week!

CLOSING
I want to remind everyone that if you like what you hear on “PopSmart NOLA,” we’re here every Friday from noon to 1 p.m. — yes, our new day and time! — right here on WHIV (102.3 FM). You can listen to the archived, podcast version of the show on my SoundCloud account, “dlsnola.” Also, you can visit the website at popsmartnola.com, and like our Facebook page. You can also follow us on Instagram at “@popsmartnola” and I’m always blathering away on Twitter at @dlsnola504.

Also, if you like our show, we’d love your support in the form of underwriting; email me at dlsnola@gmail.com for more info.

Our theme music is “Summertime” by Robin Mitchell.

Up next: Chris Lane with “Eat, Pray, Fight!”

Thanks again for joining us, y’all. For “PopSmart NOLA,” I’m David Lee Simmons, reminding everyone to keep the intelligent discussion going.

“PopSmart NOLA” on WHIV (102.3 FM), Ep. 14: Michael Aaron Santos on “A Few Good Men,” Kathy Randels & Sean LaRocca sing, Damien Moses on “Jelly’s Last Jam,” and Alex Rawls on Jazz Fest

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Saturday’s show the “All the City’s a Stage Episode” to help celebrate so many impressive stage works opening and closing across the Crescent City, which included the openings of:

* “Jelly’s Last Jam” at Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carré. (Read the glowing review by Ted Mahne.)
* “A Few Good Men” at Delgado Community College. (Read my feature preview.)
* “Niagara Falls” at The Theatre at St. Claude
* “On an Average Day” at the Happyland Theater

… as well as the concluding performances of …

* “Billy Elliot” at Rivertown Theaters, including an added Sunday show
* “Disney’s The Lion King,” which I caught Thursday, at the Saenger Theatre
* “Gomela” which we discussed last week, at Ashé Powerhouse Theater
* “White Rabbit, Red Rabbit” at St. Charles Avenue Baptist Church
* … and ArtSpot Productions’ “Sea of Common Catastrophe” at UNO

On “PopSmart NOLA,” we welcomed:

Michael Aaron Santos, who stars as Col. Jessup, speaker of the infamous “You can’t handle the truth” speech in “A Few Good Men,” which is being staged at Delgado Community College’s Timothy Baker Theater and runs through Feb. 11. For more information, visit www.nolaproject.com.

Kathy Randels and Sean LaRocca of ArtSpot Productions, and “Sea of Common Catastrophe“ — which Gambit’s Will Coviello described as “an abstract, figurative work about New Orleans and some of its inhabitants, who are drawn to the sea and affected by it.” While the show closed Saturday, we had Kathy and Sean discuss the production for a final push, and they favored us with a song from the show.

Damien Moses, cast member of “Jelly’s Last Jam,” the Tony Award-winning musical about the life of legendary New Orleans pianist, bandleader and composer Jelly Roll Morton. This is, amazingly, the New Orleans premiere of this work, which, among other things, delivered star Gregory Hines his lone Tony Award. Damien A. Moses is a New Orleans native. His portrayal of Hedley in “Seven Guitars”, directed by Tommye Myricke, afforded him the privilege to perform at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D. C. as an Irene Ryan recipient. His most notable performance as Mister in “The Color Purple The Musical” at Anthony Bean Community Theater, earned him a Big Easy Award nomination. The show runs at Le Petit Theatre through Feb. 12. For more information visit http://www.lepetittheatre.com/.

Alex Rawls of My Spilt Milk paid us a return visit to to help break down the recently announced lineups for the French Quarter Festival and of course the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. My Spilt Milk covers the music and culture in New Orleans. Alex has written for almost every New Orleans-based publication (including our years together at Gambit-then-Weekly), as well as Rolling Stone, Spin and USA Today — AND he guest-edited The Oxford American’s Louisiana music issue. He’s also done some really fascinating work examining the booking choices at Jazz Fest, is here to discuss their recently announced lineup as well as that of the French Quarter Festival, which precedes Jazz Fest this spring.

CLOSING
That’s “PopSmart NOLA” for this week. I want to again thank our guests — Michael Aaron Santos from “A Few Good Men,” Kathy Randels from ArtSpot Productions and “Sea of Common Catastrophe,” Damien Moses from “Jelly’s Last Jam” and Alex Rawls of My Spilt Milk.

Stay tuned for next week’s episode, which include a focus on the upcoming James Baldwin documentary “I Am Not Your Negro,” which hits New Orleans, and this show will include some really exciting guests. Stay tuned on that.

Want to remind everyone that if you like what you hear on “PopSmart NOLA,” we’re here every Saturday from 3-4 p.m. on WHIV (102.3 FM). You can listen to the archived, podcast version of the show on my SoundCloud account, “dlsnola.” Also, you can visit the website at popsmartnola.com, and like our Facebook page. You can also follow us on Instagram at “@popsmartnola” and I’m yammering away on Twitter at @dlsnola504.

Also, if you like our show, we’d love your support in the form of underwriting; email me at dlsnola@gmail.com for more info.

Thanks again for joining us, y’all. For “PopSmart NOLA,” I’m David Lee Simmons, reminding everyone to keep the intelligent discussion going.