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That True Phoenix

From 3 critic and 28 member reviews
Members say: Ambitious, Clever, Great acting, Entertaining, Confusing

About the show

Team Awesome Robot presents the world premiere of this bio-show about the improbable life of Italian librettist, poet, professor, and priest Lorenzo Da Ponte. More…

Lorenzo Da Ponte is the most interesting man you’ve never heard of. Though he was far more than just the librettist for Mozart’s greatest operas, Da Ponte somehow ended up as a mere footnote in history. Based on his own highly embellished memoirs, 'That True Phoenix' chronicles Da Ponte’s life from exiled revolutionary schoolteacher in Venice, to disgraced court poet in Vienna, to Pennsylvania grocery story owner, to Columbia University professor in New York City. It's the true story of a perpetual immigrant who became the embodiment of the American Dream.

New York Theatre Review

"For a while, it seemed like Kelley’s 'That True Phoenix' would be simply a delightful, freewheeling 18th-century romp...And yet about halfway through the first act, we discover Kelley and director Diercksen are up to something a lot more interesting. Da Ponte is not exactly who he has been telling us...In addition to maintaining a sense of unity among the many design and storytelling elements, Diercksen also draws stellar, energetic, and acrobatic performances out of all of his actors." Full Review

Times Square Chronicles

"The actors are quick, funny and talented. The comedic timing and repetition of the piece is incredibly charming and consistent...If the show has any faults they are in the second act. The second act is not at all consistent with the first act in terms of tone...It redeems itself in the scene between Da Ponte and Mozart...Da Ponte is stripped to his soul and Whitmore does an excellent job of really breaking him down to his core desire...'That True Phoenix' is witty and entertaining." Full Review


"The playwright, Kelley, and the director, Diercksen, report most of this story in a non-linear fashion, using many rapid-fire and humorous scenes and flashbacks...Through many of Mr. Kelley’s lines we get some glimpses of Da Ponte’s poetic use of language. The engaging Curry Whitmire comically plays Da Ponte. Isaiah Tanenbaum is gifted as the genius Mozart...Diercksen capably guides the remaining ensemble cast of four. They energetically play many different roles." Full Review

Enchanting, Clever, Great writing, Funny, Masterful

See it if you like witty, fast-paced and well-staged plays about historical figures, in this case Lorenzo Da Ponte, Mozart's librettist but much more.

Don't see it if you like straight-forward linear plays with a clear beginning, middle and end or dislike actors playing many roles

Also This is a little gem in a small downtown theater that I hope finds an ... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent

See it if You like real histories told in a truly theatrical way.

Don't see it if You need a lot of fancy costumes & huge set pieces.

Maxihybrid storytheatre / standup, Curry whitmire = lovechild genewilder + jon stewart, Dizzying, Hilariously entertaining, Wildly ambitious ride

See it if high octane, non-stop laugh machine, that frappes DaPonte's epic story with story theatre technique & an uber talented company can thrill u

Don't see it if have pre-established rules what a "play" should be, if you can't see yourself in the con, can't appreciate a flight of fancy & new forms

Clever, Creative, Great acting, Quirky, Entertaining

See it if you like stories of little-known historical figures, self-aware plays that toy with timing/staging/characterization, spare but creative sets

Don't see it if you prefer linear/clear/more formal narratives that don't interrupt themselves, get confused by actors playing multiple characters

Also Da Ponte's story is not well-known but truly fascinating. If "necessit... Read more Read less

Too loud, too manic but 100% entertaining

See it if You want to be entertained and you don't mind having to work a little for it. Fascinating story told irreverently but with heart.

Don't see it if You have sensitive ears, you get dizzy from breakneck action. You need sets, scenery and a linear narrative.

Also I initially felt "assaulted" by the volume and "in your face" manic de... Read more Read less

Hilarious, Clever, Great acting, Over the top

See it if You like historical farce or rooting for the underdog.

Don't see it if You don't enjoy a fast-paced show or multi-character actors.

Also It lost me a couple of times but overall a fun and worthwhile producti... Read more Read less

Energetic, Experimental, Creative, Ambitious, Surprising

See it if avant garde bare stage techniques & blind multi-character casting amuse rather then confuse you. The love child of Candide & Hamilton!

Don't see it if you are looking for a true biography of Da Ponte whose embroidery on his complicated life has been further expanded for dramatic effect.

Clever, Masterful, Refreshing, Thought-provoking, Ambitious

See it if You want to see an unusual presentation of characters' lives

Don't see it if You want details presented in a conventional manner

Entertaining, Epic, Refreshing, Thought-provoking, Long

See it if you're up to learning about a real historical figure in musical history; enjoy "trunk" shows (minimal set/props/costumes).

Don't see it if you like your theater with all the bells and whistles; want to see something short and sweet.

Also Lots of laughs to be had here! The cast is very charming.

Clever, Great staging, Fluffy

See it if You want to support a small theatre company with a lot of talent and potential.

Don't see it if You don't like extremely fast-paced storytelling.

Ambitious, Funny, Entertaining, Confusing

See it if You want to learn about a librettist that worked with Mozart, Salieri, among others.

Don't see it if You prefer more mature actors, and less of a farcical approach to the subject at hand.

Ok, wordy, long

See it if an ok attempt to tell a story of a forgotten figure, lead actor was good

Don't see it if long, wordy, confusing

Absorbing, Ambitious, Slow

See it if This show was a bit longer than it should have been.

Don't see it if While learning about this unsung hero was interesting, the non-linear storytelling and over-the-top acting made it difficult to follow

Entertaining, Indulgent, Quirky, Confusing, Uneven tone

See it if You want a modern take on a lesser known historical figure. You want to support a young theatre company.

Don't see it if You value consistency: the writing & direction swing between sincere interest in DaPonte, & mocking, hipper than thou nonsense.

Confusing, Funny, Unconventional, Experimental, Great writing

See it if This play was an ambitious project for the team since it required a bigger budget. Although the storyline was good it was delivered by a ..

Don't see it if you do not like experimental theatre.

Also group of young actors with great energy and enthusiasm, but without th... Read more Read less

Anomalous, Farcical, Frenzied, Chaotic, Overrated

See it if experimental over the top performance with fast paced and shouting dialog. Younger audience may appreciate the avant garde production.

Don't see it if inclined for more traditional presentation . Staging is minimalistic with silly costumed and portrayed Mozart. First act is 85+ minutes long

Also "Access" theatre is 4 floors high walk-up misnomer.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting

See it if you're interested in breakthrough theater about a complex, self-deluded yet culturally important character. Many contemporary parallels.

Don't see it if you think it's going to be about the opera, just because it's about Mozart's librettist. It's not.

During previews
Absorbing, Entertaining, Great acting, Clever, Delightful

See it if I really loved this show. The lead actor was amazing. Da Ponte was very talented. He was the man nobody knew, he was so talented. Must see!

Don't see it if N/A

Also This was a very interesting show as well. It really left me wanting mo... Read more Read less

During previews
Hilarious, Intelligent, Ambitious, Clever, Delightful

See it if You like fun ensemble pieces and learning about history with a farcical take.

Don't see it if You don't like small theatres or farce or actors playing multiple roles.

During previews
Funny, Great acting, Great writing, Entertaining, Intelligent

See it if You would like to see a hilarious, dynamic piece of new theater. Whether or not you know Lorenzo Da Ponte, you will love this.

Don't see it if You're afraid of new things. Because the piece is so new, it is a little long. It felt like it should be a one act. But it's worth your time

During previews
Clever, Edgy, Confusing, Ambitious, Funny

See it if If you like interesting stories,unusual directing

Don't see it if Unusual directing,inconvenient theatre

During previews
Clever, Entertaining, Funny, Intelligent, Delightful

See it if Entertaining history of L. Da Ponte from Birth to his NY opera house; predecessor of the NY Acad of Music and of the New York Met Opera.

Don't see it if No reason not to see this lovely production. The actors have entertaining energy which tell a historical story with strength n passion.

During previews
Ambitious, Quirky, Refreshing

See it if You like new productions, want to experience creativity, like high energy acting.

Don't see it if You don't like experimentation, physical acting or get confused when actors play multiple roles.

Also A fun romp. I like this company and look forward to see more from them... Read more Read less

During previews

See it if You enjoy pieces about the power behind the throne, or the sidekick who made it happen.

Don't see it if you don't want to climb 4 flights of stairs to see something that is not worth the effort.

During previews
Ambitious, Confusing, Disappointing, Zany

See it if You like zany, chaotic romps through history.

Don't see it if You have a low tolerance for silly, loud comedy.

Cast & Creatives (13)