UglyRhino: Nothing ‘Ugly’ about these shows

Matthew Wise and Lauren Swann star in “Grief,” part of UglyRhino Originals at the Brooklyn Lyceum.

UglyRhino, now presenting a summer season of original productions, promises that your show ticket will go a long way. It might, for example, guarantee you a pass to an after-party. It might get you a drink from the bar or free samosas from Baluchi’s. It might include a free concert after the show.

Regardless of the evening’s fare, be prepared for a night of theater unlike any other.

“A big thing for us is that the social atmosphere is gone from a Broadway show,” UglyRhino’s co-artistic director, Nicole Rosner, informs. “You walk in and the drinks are $12, and you’re just kind of forced to go in, sit down, see the show and step out.”

At the Brooklyn Lyceum, however: “You walk in, music’s playing, and sometimes there’s food being catered. So right away, you’re like, ‘Oh, I can come here a bit earlier,’” Rosner says. “And then afterward, you’re encouraged to stay. That’s a big part of it — theater can be a night out. People will go to the movies or pay money to see a gig, but why not do a little bit of everything and get a different type of cultural experience?”

In its second microseason, UglyRhino is presenting two all-new works: “#nyc” and “Grief.” “#nyc” is an all-too-familiar tale of a politician’s fallout thanks to Twitter. “Grief” follows a man who hasn’t had a good cry in 14 years, and explores his strong reaction to an arbitrary celebrity death.

“For people who are not theatergoers, to just sit down in the theater and think that this doesn’t have to be stuffy, this can be social and something that one can enjoy, that is our company’s mission,” Rosner adds. “It’s really about the experience and hoping that the audience also feels that the quality of work is good — that they will be engaged in the storyline.”

Q&A:?Matthew Wise

We asked Matthew Wise, star of “Grief,” about his experience on-set.

Why’d you want to get involved with this show?

I feel like they have a different voice than what’s happening everywhere right now in the city. It’s really more than just going to see a play. Whatever your interests are, you’re gonna go and have a great time.

You get undressed onstage. What’s that like?

I’ve done it once or twice [before “Grief”]. You don’t really think about it — hopefully it’s just not too cold in there. [Laughs]

Could you relate to your character at all?

Yeah, not to that extreme, but I think there’s something to be said for the public and private faces that we wear. Sometimes the public takes over the private.

Follow Meredith Engel on Twitter @MeredithatMetro


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