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A CurtainUp Review
The Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players

An accurate assessment of Americana, or humanity as a whole, for that matter. ---Jason Trachtenburg

Picture this: You're a dogwalker by day, club musician by night in Seattle. You become inspired by an old slide projector your wife picked up at an estate sale that happened to include a set of slides entitled, "Mountain Trip to Japan, 1959." As you pluck out your tune about this deceased stranger's vacation, your adorable little six-year-old girl begins to try to sing and play along. Naturally, you teach her how to play the drums, enter yourself and her to perform the song in a talent show, and win. You take this show through the Seattle club circuit, writing more songs, performing to larger crowds, and becoming the talk of the town. Where do you go next? Disneyland? No, New York City.

This family of three has been living and performing in NYC for the past few years, bringing their slideshow-alt rock-performance piece around all the hip spots of the city. In fact, they have procured (a word uttered often by Jason, Head Trachtenburg) a couple booking agents, and have been around the states and a handful of other countries. Currently, they are having a limited run at The Lamb's Theatre, performing a sort of "best of" evening.

The Lamb Theatre's second stage has been set up as a mock vintage living room (courtesy of designer Shawn Patrick Anderson) that makes you feel as if you are watching their family slideshows, perhaps after a lovely meal cooked by mother Tina. The homey feel of this hour-long event comes mostly from the purposeful lack of professionalism on stage. It is all a part of the act.

Since moving to New York, drummer Rachel, now eleven, has gone from an adorable, dry eight-year old, to a soon-to-be-beautiful 'tween who often seems bored and too cool for school. Can you blame her? She just might be the hippest girl I've been in the same room with; when asked what her favorite band is, she nonchalantly answered with Led Zeppelin, and she was the cover girl for the premier TimeOut Kids issue.

A manic, bumbling Jason switches between guitar and piano, keeping himself as the center of the show, while Tina clicks through the appropriate slides at her leisure. Jason Jason tours through slides they have found – procured -- and that he has pieced together to create mostly meaningless songs. He often projects a half-baked theme onto the strung-together images. But the sad jokes, like Jason's grating voice, and the not-so-memorable songs (save "Don't You Know What I Mean" and good ol' "Mountain Trip…") wear you down, and win you over. And when Rachel pays attention, her drumming is right on target, finding the beat surprisingly effortlessly.

The concept of fictionalizing other people's lives through their left-behind images, using rock music and making it a family affair, is still original and even surprisingly perceptive years after it began. However, it could use some new life breathed into it, and not just a fresh batch of slides (in fact, seeing faces appear in more than one song felt like these were now my buddies on screen). Jason could also stand to back away from the limelight a bit, and let both women do more of the talking. But I guess that's just what happens when you are propelled from dogwalker to Conan O'Brien guest faster than you can say "Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players."

The Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players
Starring and created by Jason Trachtenburg, Tina Pina Trachtenburg and Rachel Trachtenburg
Directed by Richard Drutman Set Design by Shawn Patrick Anderson
Lighting Design by Robert Bradely
Costume Design by Tina Pina Trachtenburg
Production Stage Manager: Dana Haun
Running time: 1 hour
The Lamb's Theatre, 130 West 44th Street (Between 6th and 7th ave) 212.239.6200

June 22, 2005 to July 30, 2005varying days and times.
Tickets: $15
Reviewed by Amanda Cooper based on a June 29, 2005 performance.
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