Move over, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog! Scram, you mangy Pets.com mutt! From Rotterdam come 28 life-sized puppets featured in Runt, a look at a dog's life in Paris and St. Tropez. The show ends the season with its last performance at the family-oriented New Victory Theatre Off Broadway, May 21.
Abandoned in a city dump, this pooch wanders from dirty city streets to sunny beaches, all in the hopes of finding a loving home. Co-director Rieks Swarte said in a statement, "During our first rehearsals, I suddenly saw that Runt is not just about a puppy, but about a boy who has been abandoned."
The 14 Ro Theatre performers are costumed as the human counterparts of the canine puppets they manipulate. For example, a snooty French woman manipulates a well-coiffed poodle.
Founded in 1976, Ro Theater is run by artistic director Guy Cassiers and produces six-to-eight productions a year. Runt, based on a story by Daniel Pennac, is co-directed by Swarte and Mark Rietman.
For tickets ($10-$25) and information on Runt, which began May 5 at the New Victory Theatre, 209 West 42nd St., call (212) 239-6200. *
The New Victory was the first theatre to reopen its doors under the multi-million dollar rehabilitation of 42nd Street, which also includes the renovation and 1997 reopening of Ziegfeld's old New Amsterdam Theatre (just across the street from the New Victory) as the throne of Disney's new theatre empire.
In other New Victory news, forget about wondering if the groundhog predicts winter or spring; wonder about surviving "Stagefright" instead! The company debuted their new website, http://www.newvictory.org, Feb. 2, introducing the net not only to their space and schedule, but video games, surveys, horoscopes and links.
Among the practical information available on newvictory.org are show descriptions, schedules, show articles and reviews, special events listings, RealAudio and Video clips, online ticketing and a 3-D virtual tour of the New Victory Theatre.
Less utilitarian, but perhaps more fun are polls, monthly questionaires, ghost stories and Haiku Horoscopes. And then there's "Stagefright." Created especially for the New Victory by Digitalthread Design and Polemic Productions, "Stagefright" is a web-based action adventure game where free-falling objects try desperately to end a player's stage career. Armed only with a bag of rotten tomatoes and quick reflexes, players can peg sandbags and the like before they stop the actor.
The New Victory serves as the 42nd Street host house for national and international productions, mostly geared towards New York City youth. The 1999-2000 season has already featured the Philadelphia Dance Company, Shockheaded Peter, Tomas Kubinek, Suzanne Farrell and the masters of 20th Century Ballet.
-- By David Lefkowitz
and Christine Ehren