Panoramania; or the Adventures of John Banvard: An O’er True Tale

Photo Source: Tanner Curtis

In the mid-1800s, before motion pictures, photography, or even film, painted panoramas were the spectacle of choice, and John Banvard was a master of the form. His half-mile of theMississippi Riverwas hailed as a work for the ages but has since been forgotten. Funded by aFordhamUniversitygrant, “Panoramania, or the Adventures of John Banvard: An O’er True Tale” attempts to revive Banvard’s story for the stage, but this agonizing research paper set to music should remain in a library.

Opening on an aging Banvard past his peak of fame, “Panoramania” looks back on the painter’s life from his childhood. The plodding book, by David Jackson, is weighed down by dozens of historical references; quotes from period newspapers are frequently read aloud verbatim. In the process, all connection with the characters is lost, a problem compacted by a cast that alternates between wooden and buffoonish.Americanaband PartyFolk contributes bluegrass and folk tunes, but their instrumental talent can’t save the trite lyrics.

Presented by {breathing time machine} as part of the New York International Fringe Festival at the New Ohio Theatre,154 Christopher St., NYC. Aug. 11–26. Remaining performances: Fri., Aug. 17, 2 p.m.; Sun., Aug. 26, 3:45 p.m. (866) 468-7619 or

Critic's Score: D-