New York City is the center for live theatre, whether it be on a Broadway stage, an Off Broadway stage, or in a loft on West 30th Street. It’s not the place where the performance takes place, heck, no. It’s the performer, and what they do with the material.
Ann Marie Houghtailing has collected some of the most hilarious and poignant moments of her very interesting life and created a 75 minute one-woman show, Renegade Princess. Saying it’s a “show,” would be an understatement. It was so much more, and delightfully so.
Houghtailing begins her tale in Japan where her husband has just landed a job, and the couple has to learn the ways and cultures of the Japanese as they go. From being welcomed into their new Japanese neighborhood, to being hovered over after Houghtailing becomes pregnant, and the fear by her colleagues that despite the extreme humidity and heat at the time, that areas on the mother-to-be’s body were not warm enough and what they suggested. (Got you interested with that one, didn’t I?)
One story blends into another in a relaxed and intimate style. The set-up of the theatre has the stage just a foot or so away from the audience, and one feels that you’re having this really fun conversation, til those around you begin to laugh, and you are reminded it’s a theatre production. And then you’re drawn back into her world.
Houghtailing has a good ear for accents as she mimics the French female OB/GYN, literally a stranger, while she examines her uterus in a rather unorthodox exam, and matter-of-factly suggesting local markets that sell the best cheese. Or the Japanese ladies as they explain their customs, or her young son, Jackson, who plainly lets his mother have it during a low moment in their lives.
Lastly, though I don’t want to give any of the fun away, Houghtailing relays some of her rather bizarre part-time acting jobs she’s had to endure (hence, the show’s title) that has given the show it’s best moments..and I mean, best. The time flies as they say, and soon, the lights begin to lower, and there’s the knowledge that the storytelling is coming to an end; you’re left wanting more, but also very, very glad you came.
From her bio: Houghtailing attended the Drama Studio London in Berkeley, and in true renegade fashion dropped out to attend college and pursue other endeavors. Years later she returned to theater in San Diego where she performed in small theaters for heaps of pleasure and very little pay. In 2011 after spending years writing and collecting stories of her absurd life, Houghtailing has wrtten, rewritten and rewritten her first one-woman show, Renegade Princess, which was a festival favorite in the 2011 Santa Fe Solo Performance Festival.
Stage Left Studio
214 West 30 Street, between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, on the Sixth Floor
Remaining performances at 7:30 p.m., March 4, 7, 8, 9, and 10, 2012