Book and Lyrics by Lily Ali-Oshatz, Music by Lily Ali-Oshatz and Mark Galinovsky
Directed by Madeline Wall; Choreographed by Dara Orland
Produced by Flights of Fantasy East
Part of the 2016 New York International Fringe Festival
Off Off Broadway, Musical
Runs through 8.26.16
VENUE #2: Flamboyan Theater at the Clemente, 107 Suffolk Street
THIS SHOW IS PART OF FRINGE ENCORES, PLAYING AT SOHO PLAYHOUSE FROM 10.20 to 10.29.
FOR TICKETS AND MORE INFO VISIT sohoplayhouse.com.
by Charlotte Arnoux on 8.18.16
Lily Ali-Oshatz in The Extraordinary Fall of the Four-Legged Woman. Photo by Madeline Wall.
BOTTOM LINE: An a cappella musical about the true story of a four-legged sideshow attraction and her fear of giving in to true love.
Ten voices ring in harmony through the Flamboyan Theater as lights come up on The Extraordinary Fall of the Four-Legged Woman. Immediately, I was transported into a strange and intriguing world, where not everything is as it seems.
The show centers around the true story of 19th-century sideshow attraction Myrtle Corbin (Mary Stewart Evans), who was born with an extra set of legs. While performing her voyeuristic act, Myrtle catches the eye of a handsome doctor, Clinton Bicknell (Cody Sloan). When Clinton is invited by “M” the Ringmaster (Ali-Oshatz) to the Opening Ceremony Feast, Myrtle and Clinton begin to fall in love. This love is a dangerous one. Myrtle must decipher the doctor’s true intentions: is it possible he could see her as more than a medical anomaly to marvel at? Throughout the couple’s intimate scenes, the ensemble of Roustabouts provides an eerie a cappella backdrop, directed masterfully by Galinovsky. This musical performance forces us to question whether Myrtle can ever lead a normal life when she is so “extraordinary."
Evans plays the titular character with charming effortlessness and has a crisp, chill-inducing voice. Wall’s direction is inventive and offers just the right balance of reality and magic, and Ali-Oshatz’s “M” is the perfect emcee for the show—bold, charming, and just a little bit twisted.
Interwoven between the love scenes are the entertaining tales of the other sideshow acts. The standout has to be Lola (Sanjana Shukla), the traditional (yet deeply feminist) Indian dancer. In her solo piece, Shukla mesmerizes the audience with her unique timbre and sensual dance moves, choreographed by Dara Orland. Lola’s song urges the audience (and by proxy Myrtle) to “dare to be free” and to resist the allure of romantic love. After all, only stars are “autonomous and eternal.”
Extraordinary Fall resists the urge to let us indulge in the details of Myrtle’s anatomy. Instead, it raises questions about fetishism, gender fluidity, self-acceptance, and fear. This show is a brave and touching exploration of humanity, and of the courage it takes to fall in love. I was reminded of this while taking in these ten naked voices—how vulnerable it is to sing unaccompanied, to expose yourself in such an intimate way. This ensemble and direction team deserve no less than the applause and admiration their characters surely received under the high-top a century ago.
(The Extraordinary Fall of the Four-Legged Woman plays at VENUE #2: Flamboyan Theater at the Clemente, 107 Suffolk Street, through August 26, 2016. The running time is 1 hour, no intermission. Performances are Sun 8/14 at 3:15; Wed 8/17 at 9:45; Sat 8/20 at 5; Thu 8/25 at 4:30; and Fri 8/26 at 8. There is no late seating at FringeNYC. Tickets are $18 and are available at fringenyc.org. For more information visit extraordinaryfall.com. For information about and tickets to this show's Fringe Encores run, visit sohoplayhouse.com.)
The Extraordinary Fall of the Four-Legged Woman has Book and Lyrics by Lily Ali-Oshatz. Music by Lily Ali-Oshatz and Mark Galinovsky. Directed by Madeline Wall. Music Directed by Mark Galinovsky. Produced by Mark Galinovsky and Flight of Fantasy East Productions. Choreographed by Dara Orland. Stage Managed by Nick Probst. Puppetry Director is Kelley Selznick. Set Design by Kelly Petrie. Additional Set design by Amy Pate. Lighting Design by Elizabeth M. Stewart. Assistant Lighting Design by Charlotte Seelig. Costume Assistants are Ashley Doney and Jangle Lawrence. Additional Costume Design by Elizabeth Samuels and Virginia R. Wall.
The cast is Mary Stewart Evans, Cody Sloan, Lily Ali-Oshatz, Brian Falduto, Sanjana Shukla, Mike Hinkle, Mischa Bubnash, Kally Deep, Janelle Lawrence and Kate Mueller.