Anita Hollander, an actress who navigates Manhattan on a single leg and crutches, is Type-A magnetic. Whether she’s shooting through the city’s mean streets in a burgundy blur or performing onstage, her power surge aura is impossible to ignore.
Especially exciting is when she takes the stage in an autobiographical musical of her own creation, her latest being Spectacular Falls, introduced last Sunday (9/22) as part of United Solo’s 10th anniversary festival.
The painful inspiration for this funny, touching, and self-effacing work took place four years ago when Hollander fell and broke her hand in front of Ripley’s Believe It or Not! in Times Square. With time having healed the physical element of this Woman Interrupted moment, she was drawn to the bizarreness of the situation—even beyond the Ripley’s aspect—and the realization that her life has been a tapestry of tumbles. From there, it was a short brainstorm into how the word “fall” pops up in everything from nature to politics.
Hollander’s end product, 17 songs with a bit of banter here and there, runs the gamut from dry humor to nostalgia to…well, let’s just say, she doesn’t leave an emotion unturned and that’s a most amazing and inspirational thing. Her velvety voice is effective whether she’s warning us how life is full of pitfalls and pratfalls in the song “Just a Banana Peel Away” or recalling a breathless moment on her lips in “Kiss on Cornelia Street.”
And, like in her first solo show, “Still Standing,” Hollander celebrates her physicality throughout the performance. Her entrance alone is worth the price of admission, but she also has her way with her prosthetic leg (sometimes on, sometimes off, it’s all good) and shows off her well-honed single-leg balance.
The music and flow of the lyrics are distinctly Anita. You can get lost in her songs, which is clearly what theatergoers experienced last Sunday.
Still, part of the power she brings to the theatre is her determined work and depth of understanding when it comes to shining a light on disabled individuals in the performing arts. And her outreach is reflected in her audiences who celebrate themselves in her vision. (She also happens to be National Chair of Performers with Disabilities.) Which is one of the reasons she was joined onstage by her sister, Rachel Hollander, an expert—and divinely animated—signer for the deaf. Kismet—it happens.
There are only a few more performances. The first is this Friday (9/27) at 7:30pm at Theatre Row Theatres, 410 W. 42nd St. Insider tip: Spectacular Falls may be sold out by the time you log on (unitedsolo.org/us/2019-spectacularfalls) to reserve your tickets. Show up at the box office anyway—last minute cancellations and a waiting list are regular occurrences and considering the uniqueness of this performance, you do not want to miss a chance to see it. Your last chance falls (humor intended) on Saturday, 11/16 at 2pm. Again, small house, limited window, reserve now.
And do check out the entire roster of United Solo 2019 productions—there are many outstanding works on tap through Saturday, November 23rd!