Pin It

The Riches of The Poor of New York 

click to enlarge Tisha Sloan, Everson Ndlovu, Alyssa Hughlett, David Ferney and Ben Clifton in The Poor of New York.

Photo by Mark Larson

Tisha Sloan, Everson Ndlovu, Alyssa Hughlett, David Ferney and Ben Clifton in The Poor of New York.

Our lives through these past pandemic years have been a little melodramatic — as well as lonely and heart-wrenching at times. It's also been a disappointing five years since the last Dell'Arte International summer show within the now renamed Baduwa't Festival in Blue Lake. Performed in a welcome return to vintage DAI comedic style, this production of melodrama The Poor of New York will lighten your spirits and make you laugh with its skillful political and humorous Humboldt-related references written into the plot that originally premiered in New York City in 1857.

Without revealing all the plot details, Shawn Wagner, playing the greedy, spoiled and manipulative Alida Bloodgood, has said, "The best part of playing a villain is being booed," Her talented, over-the-top performance and that of Evan Grande as her cold-hearted, villainous banker father Gideon Bloodgood earned loud, frequent boos on opening night.

The creative use of the outdoor DAI mainstage set created by Lynnie Horrigan allows entertaining physical theater action from the financially strapped Puffy family, with stand-out performances by Benjamin Clifton, Tisha Sloan and David Ferney. Julie Douglas, DAI head of arts engagement, portrays well the villainous clerk Badger. Tony Fuemmeler, DAI head of training programs, may have set back the use of tight uniform shorts worn by sheriff personnel by decades with his attention-capturing role of the local sheriff.

We can all agree director and actor Michael Fields knows how to direct and act in melodrama. He enters The Poor of New York's stage early as the Captain who entrusts his wealth with the banker — only for the Captain to fall dead after a heart attack soon after. Fields says, "I believe in the seriousness of comedy," an approach that makes the melodrama worth attending. His use of the classic unrequited love interest between Lucy (Alyssa Hughlett) and Mark Livingston (Everson Ndlovu), and the poverty endured by the Puffy family (more boos for banker Gideon Bloodgood) creates perfect literal space on a darkened stage after intermission for Hughlett's serious soliloquy, which entertains without preaching.

And, of course, all's well that ends well with the complex dilemma faced by Lucy and Mark. The same goes for the production, thanks to the talented directing and ensemble cast performances. Great original music is created by The Left Fields band with Tim Randles, Marla Joy, Jeff Kelley and James Forrest/Mike LaBolle. Stage lighting, sound and technical details were handled well by Spike Foster, Brandon Hook and Tony Cogliati (who also filled two minor roles on stage).

Start time is at 8 p.m. under the stars or the fog (bring a camping chair or a blanket and dress warmly). Get tickets to the remaining shows on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays on June 28-30 and July 5-7, and all other 2024 Baduwa't Festival events at


Mark Larson (he/him) is a retired Cal Poly Humboldt journalism professor and active freelance photographer who likes to walk and go to the theater.

Pin It


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

About The Author

Mark Larson

more from the author

Latest in Front Row


Facebook | Twitter

© 2024 North Coast Journal

Website powered by Foundation