A Cardboard-Cutout Opera About A Building on 66th Street Is A Youtube Hit

Creative Upper West Siders have been stuck inside for months, and their brains have been whir-whir-whirrrring away. Upper West Sider Mary Birnbaum wrote an opera, in collaboration with other artists about a local building where a shocking crime has occurred — disinfectant wipes appear to have been…stolen! Anyway, it’s highly entertaining — the puppetry is phenomenal and it’s really quite funny!

See it below.

Below is the official description:

“Inspired by REAR WINDOW and a long stare-off with a neighbor through our respective windows one Tuesday afternoon, APART/MENTAL grew out of composer Ken Steen, writer Mary Birnbaum and director Anna Pool’s discussions of the people we unknowingly share our lives with and the secrets they may hold.

When visual artist Jojo Karlin sent Mary wry and whimsically crafted paper dolls of each character, our puppet opera concept was born: a remedy for how to film a cast who live across the world, from Hong Kong to Peru.

 Within Ken Steen’s imaginative, foley-infused score, ensconcing each apartment in their own unique sound world, APART/MENTAL asks: what leads to trust in a community? What incentive do we have to take care of each other? Oh, and how many times can you disinfect a doorknob?

Inside 88 west 66th street, someone has STOLEN disinfectant wipes from the basement. Follow concierge Sofia as she determines who is a thief and who has simply lived in New York too long.

Sofia: Gilda Lyons | Theo: Will Liverman | Hope: Anna Laurenzo | Ming: Vivian Yau | Pablo: Santiago Pizzaro | David: Benjamin Rauch | Susan: Jaylyn Simmons | Skye: Britt Hewitt | Nancy: Raehann Bryce-Davis | Electric Guitar: Thomas Shuttenhelm | Violin: Anton Miller | Viola: Rita Porfiris | Celtic Harp: Haley Hewitt | Composer: Ken Steen | Writer/Puppeteer: Mary Birnbaum | Directors:  Anna Pool & Mary Birnbaum | Scenic Design & Puppet Maker: Jojo Karlin”

ABSURDITY, ART | 11 comments | permalink
    1. Vicky Wallace says:

      Very clever and inspiring – thank you. I really enjoyed the creativity. Nice to see people creating together in a time of uncertainty and madness.

    2. Paul L says:

      Love this!

    3. Pat says:

      Marvelous! You have way more fun (and annoyance?)
      in your small building than I in my cavernous and rather empty large one. The stimulation is worth some ruffled feathers.
      Music totally descriptive of characters and situations, and fantastically sung by that singer. They don’t have better high notes at the Met! And the still character sketches and staging—all first class. Bravi tutti!

    4. Susan Barile says:

      wonderful! great work, Dr. JoJo Karlin!

    5. Eileen Ayvazian says:

      Enjoyed this bit of opera. Thank you for your efforts.

    6. Linda says:

      I loved every minute of the voices, the writing and the art. Bravo!!

    7. Who says modern opera isn’t beautiful? Thanks to all who created this very lovely work.

    8. Bobby says:


    9. Morrie Ross says:

      When I wasn’t smiling, I was laughing out loud! Thank you so much for creating this, and for sharing it.

    10. Lorene Farnsworth says:

      That was a nice little trip to Bizarro World, loved it!