Just Do Art: The ‘EPIC’ Edition - Manhattan Express | Manhattan Express

Just Do Art: The ‘EPIC’ Edition

Travis Burbee (Snoopy), Meghan Ellen Gilson (Marcy), Melissa Jennifer Gonzalez (Sally), Gianluca Cirafici (Charlie Brown), Andrew Kader (Franklin), Samantha Elisofon (Lucy), and Elizabeth Kotite (Peppermint Patty) in EPIC’s production of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” Not in photo: Gideon Pianko as Linus, Brandon Looney as Schroeder, and Andrew Kader as Franklin. | Photo by Charlene Warner.

“YOU’RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWN” | The run of their show is only four days, but this one’s going to be EPIC — as in, another ambitious project from the EPIC Players Inclusion Company. Back in July, when we last heard from the neuro-inclusive troupe (comprised of artists and technicians both with and without developmental disabilities), they were about to present their inaugural production. EPIC could have played it safe, but instead chose to set the bar very high indeed. Their choice of play was “Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead” — Bert V. Royal’s unauthorized, decidedly dark, speculative work that follows the “Peanuts” gang into their (to put it mildly) difficult teen years. At the time, “Dog” director David Bonderoff told us, of EPIC, “Our mission is simply to say, with the right amount of preparation, this population can put on a show that an audience will be invested in and impressed by.” Just a few months later, it’s mission accomplished: EPIC is now an “Anchor Partner” of The Flea Theater (whose spiffy new Thomas St. home ensures the prestigious Off-Off Broadway space will remain a Downtown destination for a very long time — preferably, forever). As for EPIC’s first effort under the canopy of The Flea, they’ve pulled another savvy move that speaks to the source material of “Dog Sees God” while providing a show the whole family can enjoy.

Aubrie Therrien, the group’s artistic director, explained it thusly: “In our first production, we gave some of our actors the chance to explore topics they are normally shielded from, as adults living with developmental disabilities are often times infantilized. They got to talk about sex, drugs, loss, and love with depth and honesty. In ‘You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,’ we get to explore innocence… And of course, who doesn’t want the opportunity to do a fun musical on a New York City stage as well — especially if you’ve never been given that chance before?”

That’s reason enough for us, but here’s one more: Seeing EPIC while they’re still in their formative years will give you “early adopter” status when the neuro-inclusive troupe becomes every bit as iconic as The Flea (whose roots go all the way back to 1996). And, modesty aside, what could be more quintessentially New York than rock solid bragging rights?

At 7pm Thurs., Nov. 16 through Sat., Nov. 18; 3pm matinee on Sun., Nov. 19. At the Flea Theater (20 Thomas St., btw. Broadway & Church). For tickets ($25 general admission, $55 for VIP reserved seating) via theflea.org. Artist info at epicplayersnyc.org. Facebook: facebook.com/epicplayersnyc.

TADA! Youth Theater’s “The History Mystery” takes its own trip into the history books after Nov. 19’s final performance.|  Photo by Chad David Kraus.

“THE HISTORY MYSTERY” AT TADA! YOUTH THEATER | A popular song of the bygone day told us, “Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future.” But here, we have a clear-cut case of time travelers going back into the past, in a show that’s come full circle. With its original run having closed on President’s Day, TADA! Youth Theater recently brought “The History Mystery” back to its W. 28th St. boards fall — the first time they’ve ever revived a previous show for a fall production. Most of the young cast from this winter’s run have returned, to once again tell the musical tale of how good citizens through the ages have taken a stand against injustice. Along the way, our intrepid time travelers meet the childhood versions of Ben Franklin, Martin Luther King, Jr., Eleanor Roosevelt, and other major game-changers. After Nov. 17’s 4 pm performance, a Community Talk session offers audience members the chance to meet the cast, with the whole group engaging in a discussion about how show’s themes of equality and justice relate to modern-day life.

Fri., Nov. 17 at 7pm, Sat., Nov. 18 and Sun., Nov. 19 at 2pm & 4pm. At TADA! Youth Theater (15 W. 28th St., btw. Fifth Ave. & Broadway, 2nd Floor). Tickets start at $15. For reservations, visit tadatheater.com or call 212-252-1619. More info at facebook.com/TADAyouththeater and on Twitter: @TadaTheater.

The Washington Square Music Festival’s Nov. 19 event offers a full plate of cultural enrichment, free of charge. | Photo courtesy of Annabella Gonzalez Dance Theater.

“EXPLORATIONS IN MUSIC/ART/DANCE” | The weather outside might not be frightful (not yet at least), but the Washington Square Music Festival’s delightful summertime outdoor concert series is very far away, indeed, at this point. So warm up to the notion of getting cozy inside the confines of St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery for this celebratory afternoon of performances. Featured works include the world premiere of “Skyscrapers,” Heather Schmidt’s string quartet that takes its inspiration from the Paul Klee painting “Composition 1914.” Dancers from the Annabella Gonzalez Dance Theatre offer an exploration of music by J.S. Bach and György Kurtág, and the Washington Square Chamber Ensemble performs selections by W.A. Mozart and Benedetto Marcello.

Free. Sun., Nov. 19, 3pm at St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery (131 E. 10th St., at Second Ave.). For info, call 212-252-3621 or visit washingtonsquaremusicfestival.org.

— Scott Stiffler

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