...a rollicking good time and a smashing Broadway debut for composer/lyricist Steven Lutvak, bookwriter/lyricist Robert L. Freedman and director Darko Tresnjak… Gentleman's Guide is a pocket-sized musical that dazzles with lyrical wit, dark comedic fun and bravura showmanship. Intelligent and merry, all the elements work splendidly from start to finish… The riotously versatile Jefferson Mays, not only plays the priggish present earl, Lord Adalbert, but all of the relatives Monty must dispose of in order to replace him… The peppy period score is injected with the cleverest lyrics currently tickling Broadway ears. (Read Full Review)
Without narration or any dramatic thread, Zippel uses tissue-thin relationships between the lyrics and performances to seamlessly glide from one song to the next. And as the evening goes on, the consistently high quality of lyrics Coleman worked with - from the colorful street-wise vernacular of Carolyn Leigh and Dorothy Fields to the intricate wordplay of Zippel himself - becomes startling. But everything about this revue is sublimely first rate. (Read Full Review)
...there is a breathtaking display of theatre magic in director John Tiffany's glimmering production. It's the kind of magic that enthralls an audience when a masterful play is interpreted with sensitive, theme-enhancing imagination and acted to perfection by an extraordinary ensemble.... With beautiful work by set designer Bob Crowley (who also provides the Depression period costumes) and lighting designer Natasha Katz, Tiffany's visuals wonderfully contrast real life and poetic recollections... Cherry Jones is arguably the finest American stage actor of our time... Here she is simply magnificent... Filled with riveting, human moments and graceful imagination, this production of A Glass Menagerie is about as perfect as theatre gets. (Read Full Review)
Fans knowledgeable in the history of pro wrestling will appreciate Diaz's attention to detail in Mace's continual referencing of the famous characters of his profession... Any wrestling fan will tell you that some of the funniest and most memorable moments come when the performers are doing interviews or giving speeches to promote their upcoming matches. Diaz gives his title character a doozey, having him grab a microphone after a win and sternly remind the crowd of what an accomplished man he is by lecturing them on the number of crispers he has in his refrigerator. The totally out-there monologue is beautifully delivered by Archie with the utmost deadpan seriousness. (Read Full Review)
Whereas the buzz about Sleep No More indicates that there's a great deal of luck involved in finding a stimulating evening of theatre in its 100 rooms (I myself, despite my enthused exploring, witnessed only about 15 minutes worth of scene work and little more of interest during my three-hour stay.), The Tenant is a tightly woven ninety minute psychological thriller, played in the compact environs of West-Park Presbyterian Church, where 23 actors are continually tempting spectators to travel from one intriguing scenario to another. (Read Full Review)
Rather than have the couple communicate through traditionally integrated musical theatre songs, the zippy score penned by Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner (who share music and lyric credits) consists primarily of moments that freeze time and musically reveal their inner thoughts. There's the number where they initially size up each other ("There's some Asian symbol tattooed on her wrist. / She's got the kind of look that says, 'Hello, world, I'm pissed.'"), a Fidder On The Roof spoof mimicking "Tevye's Dream," where Aaron imagines his family reacting in horror upon finding out Casey isn't Jewish, and an internal dialogue where Casey, bored by Aaron's niceness and stability, tries confronting her attraction to the edgy, but emotionally unavailable guys from her past. (Read Full Review)
…despite added jokes about Obamacare and Rand Paul, 700 Sundays is a memory piece that pretty much remains the warmhearted, moving and extremely funny night out that it was back in 2004. His impersonations of himself as a child performing for his family (complete with their reactions) are riotous, as is his recollection of being pitifully over-matched in a high school basketball game. But the comedic highlight of 700 Sundays, a masterful display of clowning, is a mime piece of a gruff uncle getting down to the serious business of cooking up a 4th of July barbecue. Additional material is supplied by Alan Zweibel and Des McAnuff's direction keeps the evening moving swiftly and seamlessly, but with all due respect to their contributions you're not likely to leave the theatre thinking of anyone else but Billy Crystal. As a performer who has been welcomed into American homes for decades via television appearances, he's once again returning the favor by inviting you to his home. You may think you've seen all his movies, but you ain't seen nothing yet. (Read Full Review)
There would be far fewer complaints about having too many revivals on Broadway if they were all done the way the Mint Theater Company does them...While a contemporary audience may find it unacceptable to believe that Michael is capable of loving Min after he acts out violently, or that Min can feel the same when she acts in retaliation, Deevy seems convinced that there is something decent and lasting which is being brought out by their moral dilemma. Banks and his actors seem convinced of it, too, and their commitment to this engrossing text makes for a strong and very well-acted production. (Read Full Review)
Director Daniel Sullivan's completely engaging and emotionally troubling production at the Delacorte certainly plays up the comedy. Much of evening is very, very funny, though never at the expense of the Jews. But as the evening progresses, it becomes more difficult to laugh at the romantic antics because the supposed heroes have grown unlikeable, particularly after a horrific silent scene added by Sullivan that brings Shylock's story to a humiliating close. The director buttons the play with an equally chilling visual. (Read Full Review)
...Clifford Odets’ more lethal contribution to the genre was the tense and colorful 1948 drama The Big Knife...The play returns to its old-school theatrical roots in a terrific new staging by Doug Hughes that features a strong ensemble pumping hearty blood into familiar archetypes favored with delectably hard-boiled dialogue. (Read Full Review)
As made clear in the first play, the trilogy takes its subdued style from the plays of Anton Chekhov. Elegantly scripted, thoughtful and humorous, Sweet and Sad is performed with convincing naturalism by a perfect ensemble. While having seen That Hopey Changey Thing would certainly enhance one's appreciation of Sweet and Sad, the evening stands firmly on its own as anything but disposable. (Read Full Review)
[W]hile, under Stephen Wadsworth's direction, Daly delivers the requisite confident haughtiness while the character tries to share the wealth of her experience ("Look at me, I'm drinking water and I have presence."), the wealth of her performance comes as she communicates the woman's loneliness and confusion as she tries to find her new role in life ... The sad reality of Broadway is that, because this is a limited run that will close long before the season's finish, it's unlikely this production will be up for any Tony Awards. But Tyne Daly's performance in this sturdy mounting is certainly bound to be one of the highlights of the season. (Read Full Review)
I could be cynical and call the plots predictable, but Mathias' strong knack for uncomplicated and sincere storytelling through everyday language gives them the quality of familiar folk tales. Alexander's music, played by a bass, guitar and cello, is of the quality that strikes at emotions more than delivering melody, and is memorable in the way it shares dramatic weight with the lyrics to present strong moments.
(Read Full Review)
Family fun is rarely as tantalizingly edgy as when that troupe from of the old days of new vaudeville, The Flying Karamazov Brothers, is in town. Their return engagement of 4Play, an exploration of the rhythms shared by music, juggling and humor, is performed with the ensemble's trademark inspired lunacy and dazzling skill...Unlike the Brothers Marx and Ritz, the Karamazov's share no bloodlines, but they do share a talent for intelligent zaniness that is irresistibly delightful. (Read Full Review)
I won't say director Eric Schaeffer has figured it out with his terrifically acted Kennedy Center transfer, but I'll also say that any negative comment made in this review should not be misinterpreted as an attempt to discourage anyone from immediately putting this show at the top of their must-see list. Moments of Follies that don't quite work are nevertheless more worthy of a theatre-goer's attention than the most perfected moments of any other musical offering currently on the Broadway boards. Parents of ten-year-olds who have been begging to be taken to Mary Poppins or The Lion King should bring them to Follies instead. They won't understand a bit of it, but their lives will have been enriched forever for having heard the words and the music. (Read Full Review)
Clever and engrossing...St. Germain and director Tyler Marchant keep the 75-minute piece lively, interesting and frequently funny...The two actors have excellent chemistry and are individually splendid...Watching the bond between them thicken into real affection, despite their disagreements, is what gives the play an engaging heart. (Read Full Review)
All these circumstances, especially the part about her being all but forgotten, make Wife To James Whelan a natural selection for Artistic Director Jonathan Bank's Mint Theatre Company, those specialists in staging museum-quality productions of fascinatingly obscure works. In a fine and engaging mounting directed by Bank, the play may seem rather quaint on the surface, but it's brimming with undeclared passion and painfully understated emotional conflicts.
The running gag is that a bell rings every time one of them says something that could end the conversation right there and their words are quickly replaced with something more desirable. (When the woman asks if he’s of any “weird political affiliation,” the man responds “Nope. Straight-down-the-ticket Republican. (Bell) Straight-down-the-ticket Democrat. (Bell) Can I tell you something about politics? (Bell) I like to think of myself as a citizen of the universe. (Bell) I'm unaffiliated.”) While you may want to discuss how the playlet is about human communication or the fragility of blossoming relationships, the payoff is really – yes – all in the timing. It’s the rhythms and pacing and word sounds that tickle the ear; perfect material for the off-kilter creativity of director John Rando, performed with New York over-analytical zest by Carson Elrod’s and Liv Rooth. (Read Full Review)
The word "groundbreaking" tends to be overused in musical theatre. So I hesitate to jump the gun and call Lisa Kron (book and lyrics) and Jeanine Tesori's (music) brave and adventurous new musical, Fun Home, groundbreaking, though I can't name another that deals in this kind of subject matter and successfully presents it in such a non-traditional form. [In] Director Sam Gold's beautifully tender and finely-acted production…Tesori and Kron have created a wonderfully conversational chamber score, played by an eight-piece orchestra, that seamlessly blends from dialogue to singing. The lyrics are plainspoken, but engaging and dramatic…Groundbreaking or not, Fun Home demands to be seen by anyone who takes musical theatre seriously.
(Read Full Review)
Hilarious...Features a versatile quartet of Victorian humorists romping through a witty and engaging text; certainly one of the smartest comedies in town...The standout comic performance comes from Ellen Reilly, who uses her lean and angular physique to create a living Victorian caricature as solicitor, Mr. Bunting of the law firm of Bunting, Bunting and Swag...Audiences looking for a fun night out will surely have their greatest of expectations fulfilled by this modest, but exceedingly clever attraction. (Read Full Review)
Nelsonâ€™s characters bring out the mixture of personal events, large and small, that produce a family dynamic. And the superb cast does indeed produce a realistic family dynamic. Previously intended to be a trilogy, the playwright has announced there will be at least one more visit with the Apples, on the 50th anniversary of the John F. Kennedy assassination. Iâ€™ll be sure to clear my calendar. (Read Full Review)
Director J.R. Sullivan keeps the proceedings fast, loud and funny (save for one softer piece that helps set up the rousing finish) and a talented ensemble jumps in with zest and fury. The zestiest (and funniest) of the bunch is Chris Mixon, who feasts on the evening's choicer roles, playing contrasting characters with top-notch comical timing and pathos ... Music and dance quickly segues the company from playlet to playlet, giving The Sneeze an atmosphere that's continually festive and fun. (Read Full Review)
* As a theatre critic, it's not my place to report on the facts of the controversy but to offer my opinion that what was a fascinating evening of activist theatre when it opened last October...now emerges as one of the most living and breathing dramas to be currently seen on a New York stage. (Michael's original review, a B+, is here.) (Read Full Review)
In [MacKinnon's] thrilling and completely engaging mounting, George and Martha are decidedly plain and non-theatrical; a sort of Edward Albee couple if created by Arthur Miller. Itâ€™s a move that ups the chill factor without losing the humor of the scriptâ€™s vicious banter. (Read Full Review)
Douglas Hodge might well make a habit out of successfully injecting rough, working stiff edges into characters traditionally played for their elegance. He pulled the trick with his decidedly unglamorous performance as Albin in La Cage aux Folles and now scores a palpable hit as the title character of Edmond Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac...in director Jamie Lloydâ€™s vivaciously rowdy mounting of Ranjit Bolt's invigorating translation. (Read Full Review)
Love's Labor's Lost, generally not regarded as a top tier Shakespeare effort, might get performed a lot more frequently if more productions were as fun and frisky as director Karin Coonrod's madcap mounting...More than once Coonrod's merry madness reminded me of the Marx Brothers' antics at Huxley College in Horse Feathers. (Read Full Review)
In a week where we've been reminded how even the classics of the American musical stage are rarely revived in Broadway or Broadway-bound productions without their deceased authors' work being anything from tweaked to drastically rewritten, it's very refreshing to see a major revival where the material has been kept as it was and the show has simply been creatively refreshed. Director Michael Greif, who staged the original New York Theatre Workshop production of Rent that quickly moved to Broadway, gives us a new Off-Broadway mounting at New World Stages that looks at the material from a wholly different angle without any noticeable changes to the late Jonathan Larson's text. While still a life-affirming celebration of youthful passions and the need to create, this presentation is grittier and more realistic than the original, performed by an excellent ensemble placing their own interesting stamps on what, after 12 years on Broadway, many would consider iconic roles. (Read Full Review)
A funny, touching and immensely enjoyable new musical embracing loveably imperfect people. Though essentially a light and buoyant comedy, what gives the situation its dramatic oomph is that Dan and Terry apply for open adoption...Anchoring the show through narration is the excellent Christopher Sieber...Smart, funny and warmly human, The Kid is indeed a blessed event. (Read Full Review)
Proving once more that Noel Coward wrote sexier scenes for clothed people that most playwrights could with naked ones, the evening's steamy highlight comes in a moment where Yelland and Sturrock, alone together at last, finally reach the "will we or won't we" point. With the company singing Stu Barker's soft ukulele arrangement of "Go Slow, Johnny" in the background, the tension is elegantly unbearable.
Forbidden Broadway feels like an indispensible part of this town, like the Empire State Buildingâ€¦or at least Marieâ€™s Crisis...While a great love for the theatre is always prevalent, the material can get somewhat nasty when the author addresses those who soil the stage with what he considers to be inferior artistry or overly commercial crassness...Longtime Forbidden Broadway director Phillip George keeps the show at its usual brisk and silly pace and music director David Caldwell, also a vet of the show, provides the peppy on-stage piano accompaniment...Some bits are more smile-inducing than laugh-out-loud funny...but the production is always so meticulously mounted and executed that even during slower moments thereâ€™s always the feel of something very funny about to happen. (Read Full Review)
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this production is the context in which weâ€™re seeing it. How would the inmates at Rikerâ€™s react to Richardâ€™s violent plots? How would the residents at a shelter for abused women respond to Anne spitting in the face of her intended seducer? How would a resident of a senior center, perhaps one who was once a regular theatergoer but has not been able to attend for many years, feel to once again be able to enjoy this level of acting? Sometimes the thing is much more than the play. (Read Full Review)
Though the play never leaves the Winslow drawing room, Rattigan did a remarkable job of keeping suspense and tensions high throughout the evening with detailed descriptions of what was happening in court. This is The Winslow Boy's first Broadway revival since initially visiting in 1947 and Posner's crackling production makes you wonder what took so long. (Read Full Review)
...a dazzling showcase of talent… what remains at its sizzling core is the exhilarating play of Artistic Director Wynton Marsalis' Jazz At Lincoln Center All-Stars, a ravishing collection of brass, woodwinds, strings and percussion under Daryl Waters' baton… this is truly an all-star production, and don't you dare think of leaving right after the curtain calls because the biggest stars of the evening are the sensational musicians taking us a bit closer to the midnight hour with a rousing turn at "Rockin' In Rhythm." (Read Full Review)
Like its predecessor, Closer Than Ever is an intimate revue; a bookless collection of sharp, witty and incisive songs that stress strong storytelling and vivid characters. Though no specific location is mentioned, in spirit and tone you might find yourself reminded of the late 80s/early 90s middle-class urban landscape (For our younger readers, think less Seinfeld reruns and more Mad About You reruns.) as the evening takes a hip, literate look at getting through being a grown-up, with a focus on the big events we expect to change our lives and the little events that unexpectedly do the same. Directed by Maltby and with music direction by on-stage pianist Andrew Gerle, the brisk evening features four familiar musical theatre faces, all sporting fine voices and intelligent lyric interpreting skills. (Read Full Review)
Backwoods 1800s America proves an unlikely, but ideal setting for Shakespeareâ€™s As You Like It in director Daniel Sullivanâ€™s enormously entertaining Delacorte production that mixes dexterous wordplay with rowdy comedy...With catchy tunes throughout and a hoedown finale, this As You Like It is a merry romp from start to finish. (Read Full Review)
To tell more would reveal too much about why The Model Apartment is such an effecting play. Its humor, sweet and familiar at first, evolves into something discomforting as the symbolic nature of Debby becomes more apparent and we see how her parents struggle with their responsibilities. (Read Full Review)
While the issues of Food and Fadwa might suggest a heavily political piece with angry speeches denouncing the Israeli government, Issaq, Kader and director Shana Gold take a lighter approach that might remind older viewers of the Norman Lear sitcoms of the 1970s like All In The Family and Good Times. Like those landmark programs, Food and Fadwa indirectly approaches controversial topics by using dark humor to show how the family is accustomed to dealing with oppressive restrictions...Itâ€™s a sweet and tasty evening. (Read Full Review)
There's been a bit of recasting done in the transfer of director Daniel Sullivan's completely engaging and emotionally troubling production from the outdoor Delacorte to the Broadway confines of the Broadhurst but the most significant presence missing is the greenery and blue skies of Central Park, still clearly visible when the summertime 8pm performances commenced. The last remaining rays of daytime helped lighten the feel of the first act and much of evening was very, very funny. Now, on a smaller stage and with much darker hues supplied by lighting designer Kenneth Posner, the piece is more somber from the start and some of the recasting reflects a more melancholy tone to the proceedings. (Read Full Review)
An uproarious evening of slapstick, music and comical hijinks...Like Zero Mostel in â€¦Forum and Jim Dale in Scapino, Corden is the fast-talking, film-flaming [sic] eye of the hurricane, setting all the stock characters â€“ joyously played by a rip-roaring company under Nicholas Hytner's crackling direction â€“ in motion while taking audience members into his confidence. (Read Full Review)
Director Tony Specialeâ€™s playfully romantic staging of Shakespeareâ€™s tale of earthbound lovers fleeing to the woods to escape an arranged marriage, only to find themselves mixed up in the petty squabbles between a royal faerie couple, features a completely winning ensemble and entrancing visuals.... The combination of wacky humor and soft, lovely moments make this Midsummer particularly dreamy. (Read Full Review)
Every so often a line flies out of director Michael Wilsonâ€˜s gripping, starry production that if you didnâ€™t know better youâ€™d swear must have been added to give the play a contemporary jolt...While designer Derek McLaneâ€™s versatile set smoothly gliding from festive convention locations to hotel suites, Wilsonâ€™s edgy mounting smoothly glides from sharp satirical moments to frustratingly realistic ones. This oneâ€™s a landslide victory. (Read Full Review)
Director Matthew Arbour and his excellent ensemble present a fully satisfying look at a clever theatre piece that may not be especially revelatory to 21st Century audiences, but does offer a humorous example of how little has changed...Bennett's text is full of juicy, sharp-edged dialogue ("You ought to serve a brandy with very copy of this paper.") and set designer Roger Hanna's wood-framed publisher's office, along with Erin Murphy's crisp period costumes give the production a look of traditional Edwardian elegance. No matter what the public may want, this playgoer wants a season filled with more evenings like this one. (Read Full Review)
Joseph doesn't tell us much about the two, letting their relationship be defined by their violence and the type of attention each craves from the other. Through episodes of attraction, dependency, long-term separation and heated resentment, the strongest bonds between them arise when she can touch his wounds or he can find a way to share her experiences. This isn't a love story so much as a need story, with Schreiber and Carpenter doing excellent work as Doug is seen as a puppy yearning to be noticed while Kayleen puts up protective emotional walls. (Read Full Review)
Being a play about two men who knew value of keeping the public entertained, Fetch Clay, Make Man is a frequently funny, enjoyable piece that strikes hard when its themes surface. In the words of The Greatest, the evening floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee. And indeed it's quite a play, a thrilling production directed Des McAnuff, featuring an excellent ensemble of crackling performances. The characters spar and maneuver inside designer Riccardo Hernandez's squared set that resembles a rope-less boxing ring. (Read Full Review)
Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is not a campy musical, but Elliott, Scott and Phillips have fashioned a solidly crafted show about people who live in a world where camp provides both a career and an emotional shield. The merry explosions of color and sound are plentiful, but what makes the evening joyful is the heart that provides a healthy beat. (Read Full Review)
Those who only associate playwright Bertolt Brecht with dense dramas and archly-erotic Weimar musicals should get a delightful kick in the pants from director Lear DeBessonet's freewheeling mounting of John Willett's light and comical translation of The Good Person Of Szechwan. Taylor Mac is an endearing powerhouse as Shen Te, delectably sincere with just a tinge of campiness. The character's on-stage musical transformation into Shui Ta is a fierce rage of empowerment; not for becoming male, but for not being ashamed to look out for her own well-being.
(Read Full Review)
While director David Leveaux has been known to make some interesting interpretive choices with classics like The Glass Menagerie and Fiddler on the Roof, this is a very straightforward production where a very fine cast glides on the wit of Stoppard's dialogue, the richness of his themes and the theatricality of his structure. The design elements, including Hildegard Bechtler's imposing set, Gregory Gale's elegant costumes and Donald Holder's evocative lights grandly add to the proceedings, making this a sumptuous mounting to savor. (Read Full Review)
Peter and the Starcatcher makes for an excellent piece of family entertainment. The youngsters will enjoy the physical comedy and there's a strong central female character. And there's verbal wit a-plenty for the adults. While set in the early 20th Century, there are scattered modern references used as punch lines (Stache describes Molly's trunk as, "Elusive as the melody in a Philip Glass opera."), but the wackiness of the evening embraces such anachronisms just as naturally as audiences will be embracing Peter and the Starcatcher. (Read Full Review)
So the new arrival on 45th Street is a small, one simple set musical based on a modestly popular film, utilizing everyday contemporary costumes and starring two actors whose talents are well-respected within the theatre community but have no recognition factor to the general public. Those braving the unknown will find a lovely, emotionally rich production that has made a very smooth transition to a much larger theatre. (Read Full Review)
Though I admired its rise from festival obscurity to Tony-nominated cult favorite, I wasn't a fan of Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell's [title of show]. Mostly because I found its obscure musical title-dropping style of humor to be - to borrow a phrase from their new show - fake funny. "Fake funny," as Bell explains in Now. Here. This., "is when something sounds like a joke and smells like a joke, but it's not really a joke." Now. Here. This., a sort of musical therapy revue quartet, is real funny. It's also real clever, real interesting, and real fun.
(Read Full Review)
Thoughtful, provocative and funny...Under Dan Sullivan's sharp and textured direction, the superb Linney and James make the slow crumble of their relationship heartbreaking to watch; increased by the fact that Margulies has also made them a smart and clever couple with plenty of amusing give-and-take that makes them seem so right for each other. Eric Bogosian and Christina Ricci give excellent support as a secondary couple. (Read Full Review)
There's great attention to detail in recreating every pause, stutter and verbal overlap that occurred during oral arguments, and while there was undoubtedly a bit of laughter ringing through the halls of justice that day, Collins and his company broaden up their portrayals to achieve a Marx Brothers-like comedic rebellion. Eventually, a character does wind up completely nude and fully exposed to the audience, but perhaps not in the expectEd Manner. The 80-minute show is certainly fast and funny, but, like the type of dancing that's the subject of Arguendo, it can be argued that the piece adds no artistic expression to its historic text and that it simply entertains. No matter. I had a swell time.
(Read Full Review)
hings aren't going well for the title couple of The New Group's terrific revival of Wallace Shawn's scenes from an abstract marriage, Marie and Bruce...By the time the couple has settled at a cafÃ© for dessert, it has become apparent that Whaley's Bruce is more emotionally aggressive than he appears and while Tomei's Marie has a softer, needy side. If the characters they play are intentionally underwritten, the two leads provide traces of empathy that seep out as the evening progresses. But perhaps the most common reaction to the play might be gratitude for not being in that sort of relationship, and for that reason Marie and Bruce could be considered the feel-good show of the season. (Read Full Review)
[A] solidly meat and potatoes sports drama...Teaming up again with director Thomas Kail, who did such an excellent job with Simonsonâ€™s Lombardi, the playwright effectively contrasts the public, professional and private lives of the two men whose dominating play and heated rivalry fueled a newly passionate interest in the National Basketball Association...Kailâ€™s fluid production smartly employs game footage to avoid some of the awkwardness that inevitably occurs when theatre and athletics try to mix...Perhaps Magic/Bird would have been a more interesting play if the issues of racism and HIV were pushed more to the forefront, but as it stands, Simonson offers an appealing duo-character portrait and Kail keeps the drama entertaining until the final buzzer. (Read Full Review)
Though Once is being pushed as a musical...it's really a play that happens to use a lot of songs as a realistic part of the plot...If you do insist on calling Once a musical, it's a rare musical where the spoken moments are the most memorable; particularly at a point late in the story where a climactic scene is played in its entirety for startling effect with just one sentence. But when the music does take over, it's given a ravishing treatment. (Read Full Review)
Its spirit is steeped in Rodgers and Hammerstein decency that propels an evening that's adventurous, romantic and, yeah, kinda hip. That said, the work of Andrew Lippa (score) and John August (book, based on his own screenplay of Daniel Wallace's novel) is not exactly top shelf musical theatre (although on paper Big Fish easily outclasses any original-run Broadway musical currently on the boards) but director/choreographer Susan Stroman, at the top of her game, whips this warmhearted story into a supremely imaginative and heart-tugging entertainment. Stroman's choreography isn't showy, but it's the most character-driven of her Broadway career. Her production is sumptuously enhanced by the efforts of a crack design team... their extraordinary work always serves to support the story with warmth instead of overwhelming it with dazzle... Butz is the vibrantly beating heart of Big Fish, and he responds with the best performance of his New York career... (Read Full Review)
Nicky Silver's hilarious verbal smack-down, The Lyons, arrives on Broadway a little leaner and perhaps even a little meaner...The pitch-perfect performances of Linda Lavin and Dick Latessa help make the evening fly...While the play may not go deeper than giving a glimpse at how bitter, self-involved parents begat bitter, self-involved children (but with an optimistic finish), the clever dialogue, director Mark Brokaw's crisp production and a terrific cast make the surface especially shiny. (Read Full Review)
with Eric Simonson's Lombardi, a solidly written play uplifted by Thomas Kail's distinguished direction and performed by an excellent company, football might finally start getting some respect from the show people ... Nearly walking away with the show is Judith Light, stately and arid as Lombardi's wife, Marie, a New Jersey sophisticate out of water in the tiny community of Green Bay who, between numerous martini sips, protectively watches her husband's back. Her sardonic delivery gives the play some realistic comic bite. (Read Full Review)
Believe it or not, there once was a time, early in David Mamet's career, when he wrote of male characters who weren't foul-mouthed rats ready to stomp on their fellow man for a buck, but actually regarded each other with decency and affection. This kinder, gentler Mamet can be readily embraced in Neil Pepe's funny and bittersweet revival of A Life In The Theatre. (Read Full Review)
Funny and completely winning new Broadway revival, directed with smart and stylish detail by Doug Hughes...A silent scene between Belushi and Arianda, as the two of them are playing cards, is a crackling display of character-driven comic teamwork...Leonard, a fine actor, fails to make his instructor an actively interesting part of the equation...Thus the play's ending, a perfectly satisfactory conclusion for 1946 audiences, rings falsely here. But that's a mere oddball glitch in an otherwise enchanting theatrical civics lesson. (Read Full Review)
Extraordinarily rich and tender...Sets the bar extremely high for upcoming musicals in this fledgling theatre season. With a dynamic and textured character-driven score by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, a provocative and heart-tugging book by Peter Duchan and director Joe Mantelloâ€™s vibrant naturalistic production, Dogfight takes a story that, at first, youâ€™d never believe could sing, and gives it a realistic shot of romance and pathos...Mendez...is giving a remarkable breakout performance in one of the best written roles to hit Manhattanâ€™s musical stages in quite some time. (Read Full Review)
In Transport Group's evocative production, LaChiusa, director Jack Cummings III and their leading lady do a remarkable job of making this dry, serious-minded woman emphatically musical, if not completely empathetic. Testa, an actress whose dramatic skills are often overlooked in favor of her talent for broad comedy, is handed what must be the meatiest role of her New York stage career and delivers a fascinating portrayal..The composer/bookwriter/lyricist supplies numerous opportunities for her powerful vocals to soar with vibrancy and her comic precision to be used just enough to serve the character. (Read Full Review)
Perhaps not content with merely being the best comic actress on the New York stage, Jan Maxwell follows her hilarious turns in last season's revivals of The Royal Family and Lend Me A Tenor by refreshing her dramatic chops a with a riveting, edge of your seat performance in John Doyle's senses-tingling production of Arthur Kopit's 1978 drama, Wings. (Read Full Review)
Even if the story of a chance to elevate one's self from a dangerous, working-class life through art sounds a bit too much like Billy Elliot, Hall's other current Broadway offering, The Pitmen Painters is a far superior piece with a strong emotional pull; its heart pumping primarily from the sensitive Oliver Kilbourn (the excellent Christopher Connel), the most talented of the bunch, who is timid about this new world that is not only accepting him but is offering an opportunity to become a benefactor's fully-supported resident painter. (Read Full Review)
Costume designer Jessica Pabst provides sufficient padding under Charlieâ€™s casual outfit, but itâ€™s the excellent, detailed performance of Shuler Hensley that really makes us see the characterâ€™s weight...Given the circumstances, Hunterâ€™s references to Moby Dick and the Biblical Jonah do stand out as a bit heavy-handed, but the playâ€™s strength is in subtly getting the point across that though the results of Charlieâ€™s emotional problems are evident, the people surrounding him carry deeper, less visible scars. Under Davis McCallumâ€™s direction, the fine cast balances humor and drama, often getting very nasty without turning seriously ugly. (Read Full Review)
You might think a musical based on this odd little story would aim to be a comic celebration of delusional underdogs who dream of rock stardom, but what makes The Shaggs so daring, original and outright fascinating is that bookwriter/lyricist Joy Gregory and composer/lyricist Gunnar Madsen have taken what is essentially a joyless story of a bullying father who takes his children out of school and forces them to spend hours a day writing and rehearsing pop songs with the belief that they can't be any worse than the bands on The Ed Sullivan Show, and whips it into a touching and even loveable evening of smart musical theatre. (Read Full Review)
Paula Vogel weaves several intimate stories of soldiers, escaped slaves, would-be kidnappers and the country's first couple into a comforting evening of holiday storytelling ... A Civil War Christmas can certainly stand some trimming, but is nevertheless an accomplished holiday work that celebrates the spirit of the season while reminding us of national issues we've yet to resolve. (Read Full Review)
...a rollickingly fresh and funny new take on the tale mounted with spirited zest by Mark Brokaw; a little bit campy, a little bit sharp musical satire and a whole lot romantic, but from a different angle... Costume designer William Ivey Long’s gorgeous and often comic creations include a stunner of a quick transformation... [Osnes] more than fills the expected requirements of sweet, pretty looks and a soft lovely soprano, but adds to them admirable assertiveness, maturity and a sly sense of humor... At its best, the contrast between Rodgers and Hammerstein’s traditionally romantic, operetta-like score and the satirical jabs of Beane’s book balance well... but there remain a few awkward moments...
(Read Full Review)
No matter how you buy Talbot's plot, a viewing of The Submission is bound to be one of the most electrically-charged theatre outings of the season. The dialogue is rapid and rhythmic and director Walter Bobbie's excellent ensemble smoothly balances the evening's high tension and thoughtful comedy in a play that insists that sometimes bigotry is what happens to words somewhere between the time they escape someone's lips and land on another's ears.
...a by-the-numbers musical... Kinky Boots is a sweet, fun and flashy enterprise that showcases the sizzling talents of Billy Porter in his first Broadway starring role, but underneath the glitz there’s some heartfelt exploration of a topic La Cage didn’t quite get to... As Charlie Price, Sands’ impressive dramatic chops are rarely tested... a simple evening of solid, professional musical theatre is elevated into a rousing, and even tear-jerking, kick-ass time. (Read Full Review)
With his famous opening lines…delivered in a rowdy, drunken growl, this Richard - though afflicted with the familiar hunchback and a misshapen hand - is played for more laughs than chills. It's a crowd-pleasing interpretation, and probably more authentic than the subtler takes you come across today. Rylance certainly dives into it head-on, but the first half's focus on the actor's antics drains much of the drama out of the second half's tragedy. Still the supporting company, playing it straight, is uniformly excellent; particularly Samuel Barnett's crafty Elizabeth and Joseph Timms as the grieving Lady Anne. But despite any minor quibbles, it's the novelty of seeing these plays as they were originally performed that makes both evenings treasured events. They're only in town until February. After that we can go back to seeing Shakespeare set in dude ranches, punk rock clubs and swimming pools.
(Read Full Review)
Twelfth Night is more of an ensemble affair, though Rylance's physical comedy skills do stand out as the mourning Olivia who flips out for new boy in town Cesario, not knowing he's actually Viola, one of those Shakespearian heroines who travels strange countries disguised as a male for protection. Barnett is assigned the tricky business of being a man playing a woman who is playing a man and looks quite a bit like Boy George in the process. Carroll's staging seems intent on avoiding any glimpses of tenderness or romance and as a result Viola comes off as rather stiff. But the clowns are well-showcased… But despite any minor quibbles, it's the novelty of seeing these plays as they were originally performed that makes both evenings treasured events. They're only in town until February. After that we can go back to seeing Shakespeare set in dude ranches, punk rock clubs and swimming pools.
(Read Full Review)
The dynamic chemistry between the three actors is a pleasure to watch. Baldwin’s Harold is glib, composed and sweetly paternal in his desire help the boys “better” themselves despite the fact that he sees Treat as a caged lion who would take a bullet for him if trained successfully. Foster keeps Treat on the edge of losing control, struggling with his survival instinct to react violently without thinking a situation through. Cheerful and trusting, Sturridge’s Phillip spends much of the play avoiding contact with the floor by leaping from the stairway banister to the furniture like a kid on a jungle gym. He is the empathetic heart of the production. (Read Full Review)
They look a little like Blue Man Group, they sound a little like Toxic Audio and they talk a lot like Andy Kaufman and Carol Kane playing Latka and Simka on Taxi, but while Voca People might give the appearance of being a bit too tourist trappy for we jaded New York theatre types, it's the kind of family friendly, good clean fun that's legitimately clever, catchly and often downright adorable...The briskly played ninety minutes features lively, sometimes unexpectedly complex arrangements by Shai Fishman, funny staging by Kalfo and a highly charismatic group of comedian singers who not only sizzle in harmony, but who each create distinctly humorous personalities using broken English and Voca gibberish...The kids will have a blast at this one, as well as the adults.
Just two little quibbles: A) No matter how charming you are I will not clap along to anyone's chorus of "We Are The World." B) When you're in the theatre district and you want to sing a song about New York, it's best to stick to the one by Kander & Ebb. With the lyrics Liza sings, thank you very much.
(Read Full Review)
Both fellows display crackerjack comic timing and free-flowing command of the text, with the impish Ferguson being the butt of physical gags while Linklater’s erudite characters stammer and bluster in baffled bewilderment. But despite the abundance of pratfalls and knockabout shtick, including a bit involving an exceedingly misplaced serving of spaghetti, the comic highlights come in their handling of Shakespeare’s verbiage; particularly a saucy scene where they describe the cook’s globe-like figure in geographic terms and a masterfully paced monologue for Linklater where he incredulously recaps the insanity of the day. (Read Full Review)
* In a season loaded with name stars giving solo (and almost solo) performances, it was quite an achievement for Michael Urie to nab the most recent Drama Desk Award as the best of the lot. Of course, playwright Jonathan Tolins deserves a big hunk of credit for his funny and outrageous fantasy disguised as a commentary on the cloistered lives of celebrities, Buyer And Cellar. Under Stephen Brackett's direction, and according to the demands of the text, Urie's Alex doesn't give a full-out impersonation of Streisand when she finally visits for a bit of "shopping," but instead creates a subtle essence of a woman who likes to keep her private life private. At only 80 minutes, the play still drags a bit when sincerity gets too soupy. If the play is meant to convey anything significant about the sadder part of celebrity, Tolins doesn't dig deep enough to make it interesting. But as an entertainment, Buyer And Cellar is a charmer and Urie's charismatic performance lifts the evening into something memorable beyond the corners of the mind.
(Read Full Review)
This scrumptious and intimate musical...may have some snags here and there, but they're mostly inconsequential compared with the opportunity to hear Maury Yeston's gorgeous, sweepingly romantic score sung by some of the most thrilling voices currently employed on Gotham's musical theatre stages. (Read Full Review)
Director Gus Kaikkonen's warm, funny and touching production is mounted on set designer Charles Morgan's impressive rendering of a drawing room in the nearly 200 year old Winton Manor, which, like its occupants, shows signs of aging despite its stateliness. One of the delights of the evening is that four well-seasoned actors take center stage for the main roles. While the plot does move slowly - and just when you may think the story is done, there's more - Hunter's elegant language and warm humor, and the lovely pathos provided by the sterling ensemble, make the evening worth savoring. And as the issue of how to best care for elderly parents is unlikely to go away soon, A Picture of Autumn will certainly hit home for many.
(Read Full Review)
The material is consistently of extremely high quality, performed by an excellent cast in a production that director Michael Greif paints with beauteously majestic strokes. If Giant ultimately lacks the emotional completeness that less ambitious musicals have achieved, it nevertheless displays three hours of rapturous musical theatre drama that must be seen by anyone with affection for the art form. (Read Full Review)
While the new cast is energetic and enthused, there are a few pitfalls. Several of the performers spoke a good deal of their lyrics on Tuesday night, a sure sign of vocal fatigue, while others strained for high notes...There is less acting this time around and more performing. But the material is stellar and Paulus' smart staging keeps the trouble spots in check...If Hair returns with the faint whiff of summer stock in the air, it's still a heck of a fun party with a poignant kick-in-the-gut finish. (Read Full Review)
With a fine cast, director Christopher Ashley provides a charming balance of Shear's light comedy and gentle emotions. But the story's predictability, a flaw that is softened by the enjoyable writing and performances, suggests the text can afford a bit of whittling; particularly since Giulia's toe to head progression provides a constant visual as to how much of the story is left. Still, it's the flaws that make beauty loveable, and Restoration is one love of a play. (Read Full Review)
Under different circumstances, the characters of Modern Terrorism might be more easily accepted as anti-heroes. Kern wisely avoids having them discuss any kind of violent radical extremism or hatred toward Americans and the strong ensemble, under Peter DuBoisâ€™ direction, smoothly blends from cute comic scenes to the more serious matters at hand. Daring the audience to laugh and enjoy themselves, the play works because itâ€™s an unconventional premise played very conventionally. (Read Full Review)
It's that full commitment to telling these stories that keeps the 90 minute performance from wearing thin and seeming gimmicky. While specifics of each play will remain a mystery to those unfamiliar with them, Loar and his company do a terrific job of conveying a sense of each piece, even as their antics spoof the material. (Read Full Review)
Henley describes the locale in her script as "a sort of purgatory." As an evening of theatre, The Jacksonian might be described the same way. It pulls you in with its attention-grabbing characters and atmosphere but then leaves you wondering if it's ever going to take you anywhere. (Read Full Review)
While Shaw's politics might be easily spotted on the sleeves of his leading ladies, the eventual clash between mother and daughter sets off theatrical sparks with exciting immediacy. Mrs. Warren's Profession may no longer shock, but Hawkins, Jones and Hughes still provide plenty of electricity. (Read Full Review)
With the emergence of a new generation of adults who have never experienced a world without the Internet, technology has not only changed the way we communicate in real time, but, as explored in playwright/director Regina Taylor's intriguing stop. reset., may have changed the way we remember; whether those memories are of personal tragedy or of the history of a people. As J's involvement becomes more prominent, Taylor shifts the tone from realism to Afrofuturism..."an emergent literary and cultural aesthetic that combines elements of science fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, Afrocentricity, and magic realism with non-Western cosmologies in order to critique not only the present-day dilemmas of people of color, but also to revise, interrogate, and re-examine the historical events of the past." As themes begin to surface, the technical jargon may seem a little dense, but the human survival instincts in action fuel the drama, as we see how technology and biology have begun to expand and redefine our communities and our own personal identities in ways that even Dr. King might never have dreamed of. (Read Full Review)
The circumstances which lead to their original convictions involved combinations of human error, incompetence, inexperience, racism, red tape and, itâ€™s suggested, the pressure to secure a conviction superseding the need to discover the truth. While this could be seen as a one-sided indictment against the legal system â€“ particularly in the smug, unfeeling way authority figures are portrayed by Jim Bracchitta and Bruce Kronenberg â€“ The Exonerated is not a judgmental piece. Facts are laid out before the audience to inform whatever conclusions they may make. (Read Full Review)
Essentially an arena concert boiled down to a cabaret act...There are, thankfully, no attempts to force the songs into the story or to make them illuminate the characters. It's just lighthearted, nostalgic fun and the audience was lapping it up the night I attended; more and more of them singing along as the evening progressed. While there's a lot of good-natured silliness in Power Balladz, the three charismatic, strong-singing leads and the on-stage musicians (Conductor Karen Dryer on keyboard, Jason Bozzi and Sean Driscoll on guitar, Mark Vanderpoel on bass and Brad Carbone on drums) play it straight for the songs; performing with straightforward passion for the genre. (Read Full Review)
The pitch-perfect performances of Linda Lavin and Dick Latessa are the main components that make the evening fly. Lavin's meticulously subtle way with Silver's most hurtful remarks give the impression that Rita believes herself to be administering tough-love nurturing. When her husband expresses disappointment in the way his life turned out, she matter-of-factly explains to their daughter, "He's a very half-glass-empty kind of person, but by most people's standards he's had a very full life." While Ben could easily come off as little more than a funny curmudgeon, Latessa shows the empathetic sadness of a man whose dreams never came true, even as he's bidding a deathbed farewell to his son, Curtis, with sentiments like, "My life is one long parade of disappointments. And you're the grand-fucking marshal." (Read Full Review)
The evening ends with the kind of quiet, character study Foote is more known for. Set in 1952, The Midnight Caller takes us to a boarding home populated by the decidedly girlie â€œCutieâ€ Spencer (Green, in a nice reversal from her previous role), the easily-annoyed moralist Alma Jean (Mary Bacon) and the clever and gregarious retired schoolteacher, Rowena (a happily charming Jayne Houdyshell). (Read Full Review)
Kron's entertaining gathering of smart, funny people of varied degrees of left-wingedness is staged with the best kind of sitcom snappiness by Leigh Silverman...In lesser hands, Ellen would be difficult to sympathize with, but while I can't exactly say they'd love her in Houston, Kron draws her out as an innocent idealist whose passion for saving the world stagnates her ability to fully relate to individuals. Ireland, possessing a unique ability to communicate perkiness and intelligence in the same wide-eyed expression, offers a portrayal that is funny, sweet and painfully foolish...In recent seasons New York has seen a plethora of what might be called anti-Bush theatre. And while his administration is the shadow looming over In The Wake, the play is a refreshingly genuine self-examination from the opposing side. (Read Full Review)
[P]atrons with little concern for theatrical alterations should find director/choreographer Will Pomerantzâ€™s bouncy mounting of this jewel box adaptation â€“ that reduces a lavish West End show to an ensemble piece for an energetic cast of 10 â€“ a satisfying diversion. (Read Full Review)
The plot takes a drastic turn in the third act and the tone of the play shifts from something warmly understated to melodramatic, as it heads for a predictable resolution. Still, that resolution is a satisfying one and the fine ensemble plays the piece with convincing and committed sincerity, leaving one to hope the Mint decides to raid the Crothers repertory again very soon. (Read Full Review)
Sharp, engrossing and superbly acted...[a] soft-spoken play of ideas, performed with an intimate mixture of comic and dramatic pathos by a simply outstanding ensemble...Probably does come with a limited shelf life and will most likely not be performed by regional theatres next season. Heck, it might get severely dated before the end of its current run. But the chance to see a cast this good in a play this interesting dealing with issues this contemporary for the Public LAB's budget price of $15 makes this "disposable theatre" idea seem like something worth holding on to. (Read Full Review)
As the father, Carl Lee Hailey, [Thompson] is a loving, spiritual man who, without anger, truly believes in the righteous of his actions. But you can also sense that his quiet nature is also a survival strategy acquired from a lifetime in racist environments. The underutilized Tonya Pinkins, in the small role of his wife, has little more to do than bravely support him... While the first act does a fine job of setting up the circumstances, injecting dark humor, and leaving us with a kicker curtain scene, the second act proves a bit problematic as the sympathy of the play artificially leans heavily in favor of the defense... But despite the play's flaws, director Ethan McSweeny turns in a tense and energetic production, featuring a tight ensemble that glosses over the rough patches. (Read Full Review)
Intended by the authors to be little more than a lark, Love Goes To Press proves an enjoyable museum piece that cruises on its snappy dialogue but stumbles a bit because the storyâ€™s most interesting moments either take place in the past or off-stage... Heidi Armbruster and Angela Pierce make for a swell pair of smart-talking adventurers...
Director Jerry Ruiz makes some odd shifts in tone, playing for realistic laughs most of the time but overplaying some of the romance, but itâ€™s a handsome production, thanks to the excellent work of Steven C. Kemp (sets), Andrea Varga (costumes), Christian DeAngelis (lights) and Jane Shaw (sound). A frisky and entertaining evening that is, indeed, a lark. (Read Full Review)
The evening begins with a monologue from that major player for Charles Ludlam's Ridiculous Theatrical Company, Everett Quinton. As Lizard Lick housewife Florence Wexler, who, in a state of panic, tells of her encounter with visitors from outer space, Quinton's maddening insistence that, "I am not insane," elongating syllables to bring out overdramatic color, gloriously recalls the Ridiculous style of celebrating the grotesque. He's joined by Theatre-in-Limbo favorite Andy Halliday, as Dottie Primrose, the lusty lady who runs the only motel in town. Their middle-aged out-of-shape husbands have somehow been replaced by young aliens (Riberdy and Mitchell) whose home planet apparently includes free gym membership, as well as a common-sense message for Earthlings concerning the right for all to marry who they love. (Read Full Review)
it's the frivolity of the young lovers that makes Earnest fizz and Bedford has produced a formidable foursome. Fontana's Algernon is a snarky adolescent who matures as he grows more and more in love with Cecily; played by Parry with breezily controlling femininity. Topham's Gwendolyn is a youthful replica of her mother's social-climbing seriousness and much of the fun of Furr's awkwardly proper Jack comes from how the scenes where he courts Gwendolyn mirror those where he tries to win Lady Bracknell's approval. (Read Full Review)
[Michael Friedman and Alex Timbers’] crazily antic new show premiering at the Delacorte certainly elicits guffaws from 21st Century musical theatre nerds, mimicking Shakespeare's text with its frequent allusions to Broadway's past, and also pleases the uninitiated with a rowdy collection of musical moments exploring the youthful battle of mind vs. hormones. With so many characters and relationships to cover, Love's Labour's Lost charges through its 100 minutes, often resembling a revue more than a fully-realized book musical with its entertaining boy band, girl group, marching band and chorus line bits. …Friedman and Timbers might have been better off cutting Shakespeare's final scene, which abruptly changes the tone of the play. As it stands, the elaborately mounted penultimate song tricks the audience into thinking it's the merry finale and the actual end, though loyal to the source, is too much of a downer for this boisterous frolic.
(Read Full Review)
The terse observations of Charles Bukowski, that poster boy for male freedom defined by womanizing, boorishness and unlimited self-centeredness (a lifestyle many would say all men dream of, though few would admit to it) is not the kind of literature one might immediately think of for supplying the text to a dance piece. But what makes Artistic Director Austin McCormick's Company XIV so invaluable to Gotham's performing arts landscape is a healthy passion for the unexpected...Takacs and Careless are both excellent and Gina Scherr's dim, shadowy lighting and McCormick's use of the large, wide playing space keep them from appearing fully as people in the roles they play. (Read Full Review)
Theresa Rebeck provides plenty of mindless fun for the aggressively hip in Seminar, a breezy and enjoyable new comedy that will especially appeal to those who love showing off their urban cultural elitism by laughing very loudly at derogatory references to short stories published in The New Yorker and howling with yuks when a pseudo-intellectual mispronounces Inigo Jones' name while passionately giving a vapid description of the Yaddo artists' colony...Seminar may not be an especially deep play, but it's a sturdy and entertaining one, given a sharp and lively mounting by director Sam Gold. (Read Full Review)
Tops among the charms of Primary Stages' thoroughly engaging production, helmed by Matt Shakman, is the knockout performance of Noah Robbins, whose precociously self-effacing Woody Allen-ish delivery was put to fine use last season in the pitifully short-lived Broadway revival of Brighton Beach Memoirs... Tolins' pithy dialogue and clever stagecraft keeps the evening entertaining as his plot intrigues.
It's a sprawling story that covers ten years and several locales and languages, but director Bartlett Sher neatly fits it into Lincoln Center's intimate Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater...Given the subject matter and the audience's knowledge of what's eventually going to happen in Afghanistan once the events of the play are over, Blood and Gifts is surprisingly funny and entertaining, looking at the situation with a sardonic tone that doesn't undercut the drama. (Read Full Review)
With a plot that is mostly suggested and a theme of transformation as a survival skill that involves events that take place during the twenty year span between acts, the evening seems dominated by Greenberg’s urban wisecracks, particularly those volleyed by Light, who has quickly become Broadway’s go-to lady for playing troubled, intelligent women who quip dryly. (“Water isn’t necessary,” she explains while downing a Valium. “Water is a garnish.”) References to Y2K and the long process of figuring out who won the 2000 presidential election elicit chuckles of reognition. (Read Full Review)
Vividly realized...In a piece that requires actors to believably play its heightened language, Charlayne Woodard excels...The commanding Andre De Shields is put to good use as her main tormentor and, in a small comic turn, the adorable Everett Quinton appears as both a frightened farmer and his wife...The densely-worded text is briskly presented on Anika Lupes' effective set, a dirt pit surrounded by wooden-planked pathways at its perimeter. O'Connor's earthy costumes and Peter West's dramatic lighting add to the deliciously grim moodiness of the production. (Read Full Review)
While no actor should feel obligated to replicate the originator's interpretation, Ashford sends Radcliffe on stage, either by design or by necessity, with a bland non-performance that doesn't stand a chance next to his vivacious and funny colleagues. He speaks, with a fine American accent, rather plainly, sings without energy and perpetually seems more amused than amusing...Aside from all that, this sterling musical comedy sparkles like new...The supporting company is spunky and fun throughout...Despite some bumps, this is an admirable mounting of a top tier show, and those unfamiliar with How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying should definitely make a point of enjoying the best musical theatre material currently playing on Broadway. (Read Full Review)
It isn't just Curtis Moore's action-accenting electric guitar licks that give Richard Thomas a rock star presence in director Barry Edelstein's swift and rowdy production of Timon of Athens, a stinging morality tale attributed as a collaboration of sorts between William Shakespeare and the younger scribe, Thomas Middleton. Though scholars will call the piece incomplete and problematic, the star gives a charismatic performance that glides through the rough patches ... Standouts in the strong ensemble include Max Casella, playing the cynical philosopher Apemantus with a snarky arrogance and Mark Nelson as Timon's loyal steward who tries to warn him of his fate. (Read Full Review)
[A] very funny comedy of manners Maple and Vine...Director Anne Kauffman conveys a tone that mixes dark comedy with tongue-in-cheek wholesome fantasy, but while the humor of the play is spot-onâ€”including a climactic moment that is horrifying to the characters but hilarious to the audienceâ€”the Katha/Ryu story is a bit undercooked, as is the game-changing subplot involving Dean and Ellen which is introduced in second act. But until the rather fuzzy ending, the terrific cast makes this one percolate. (Read Full Review)
While we'll have to take his word for the accuracy of the more personal subjects of his impersonations, Leguizamo's mimicry of the Hollywood celebs he encounters are amusing, if not always flattering. Ghetto Klown gets his name from Al Pacino's criticism of his acting and another anecdote has his To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar co-star Patrick Swayze reminding the inexperienced actor of his place when he tries stealing the spotlight. Leguizamo makes it clear in his program notes that he's fudged a few facts and the chronology of events for dramatic clarity, which is a perfectly accepted practice. However, last season's high-profile, quickly-closing Broadway revival of American Buffalo is too fresh a subject to be completely omitted. (Read Full Review)
Balancing acerbic, clever dialogue with some very funny monologue scenes, Headland's text is smart and energetic, staged by Trip Cullman (Perhaps the best director in New York that hasn't been nabbed by Broadway.) with his exemplary light comedic touch that straddles reality and fantasy. (Read Full Review)
The fun and frisky little show now arrives for a York Theatre revival as quite the curiosity...[It] may have snapped with sharper bites during the Watergate era then it does today...but director/choreographer Bill Castellino's lively production, featuring a tireless ensemble of clowns and comics, keeps the amusement ride rolling. (Read Full Review)
While Godspell was created as something mildly counter-culture, this mounting is aggressively pop culture...The ensemble gives the appearance of having been plucked from a college drama department's musical theatre division; slick, professional and as enthusiastic about vaudeville, high camp and lowdown blues as they are about hip-hop and contemporary Latino sounds...Michael Holland's new streetwise arrangements give the score a little more guts. (Read Full Review)
When the Public Theater premiered Adam Guettel's Myths and Hymns in 1998 - under the title Saturn Returns - it was presented as a simple song cycle using chamber arrangements of pop, gospel and classical styles in a loose theme of exploring the human relationship to faith, utilizing traditional hymns and ancient myths. In the new production presented by Prospect Theater Company, director Elizabeth Lucas, through snippets of connecting dialogue and short, silent scenes, gives the evening a bit of a narrative. The result is too thin to add any dramatic heft, but not so intrusive as to distract from the poetry of the material and the tender and touching performances of her beautifully singing cast. (Read Full Review)
The Anarchist, which Mamet also directs, is a taught, verbal and tense seventy-minute play that, in this premiere production, barely moves physically, but keeps jabbing at the ear with its drops of information that the viewer must piece together to eventually understand the whole back-story and where the plot is going. ... Mamet has done this before, and has done it better. (Read Full Review)
Originally written for a large ensemble, Kulick multicasts a company of nine, centered on the low-key but authoritative Galileo of F. Murray Abraham. Played with tense passion and a sardonic edge, Abraham very effectively shows us a man who delights in his own intellect, whose tragedy is the discovery of how human he is when facing the consequences of his teachings. (Read Full Review)
The context of being a commercial Off-Broadway production, as opposed to being one of dozens thrown at the public with very little preparation during a brief festival, perhaps obligates the show to be more inspired than what's currently housed at Theatre 80 St. Marks... Over-stretched into two acts from its previous ninety-minute incarnation, Silence! still offers a good deal of a fun, mindless parody and outrageously distasteful songs, though Bell's book stays so closely chained to the film that a refresher screening might be in order before you can truly appreciate the details. The Kaplans have come up with a lively collection of catchy tunes, but the score is at its best when the lyrics are at their most scatological...While the evening sputters a bit between the solid laughs, the musical always seems in top form when leading lady Jenn Harris is on stage in the Jodie Foster role... More than just impersonating Foster, she finds the precise degree of overplaying her underplaying to maximize laughs without sacrificing character...Six years after its premiere, Jenn Harris remains the primary reason to see Silence!
(Read Full Review)
Lean, handsome and quick-witted, Boris is not only a master of seduction - as a drinking buddy, a loving brother, a role model or the object of adolescent lust - but he's crafty enough to keep himself blameless when trouble arises by making sure he always has an advantage over the other person involved. Spector does an excellent job of subtly revealing the different roles Boris plays for each family member, hiding a dangerous man beneath a calm and controlled exterior. (Read Full Review)
Director Sam Gold's intimate and very well acted production is staged in and around set designer Paul Steinberg's large, white rectangular frame set at different angles for each scene, emphasizing the theme that what we're watching is a collection of portraits from which we draw the complete story. (Read Full Review)
Without a lot of plot to work with, the songs, which have their clever lyrical charms, serve as brief tangents and interludes into subjects like moving back with your parents, the advantages of self-incorporation and an ode to Harry Hopkins of the WPA. ("His heart pounded to a different beat / He said even artists need to eat!") The episodic show does tend to lose steam in the last half-hour, when the dry, deadpan tone of the evening can't really sustain interest much longer. But then, Lipton has enough humorous observations to offer to keep the proceedings engaging till the finish.
(Read Full Review)
Director Pam McKinnon does a terrific job of not allowing the density of the play's language to hold down the production's humorous buoyancy. Miller and Dollar make for a completely winning couple, with his tongue-tied awkwardness meshing well with her perky exuberance. The play can use some trimming, as the characters tend to get loquacious when they're talking shop and the audience must sit through numerous speeches loaded with technical jargon. There's also a scene late in the evening where the author throws in a theatrical metaphor meant to reflect the state of his protagonists' romance which is just too clumsy and obvious right from the start. But despite these glitches, Completeness is a fun little fling. (Read Full Review)
Whereas Hoffman allows you to suspend disbelief, Garfield, despite a fine presence, rarely conveys the sense of defeat inside a man who sees himself on the same unimpressive path as his father...By design, this is not an inventive production of what many consider the great American play, but an uncomplicated one that attempts to connect contemporary viewers with the way post-war audiences were introduced to the drama. (Read Full Review)
More of a multi-media lecture than a play, Wright's observations are triggered from a 2006 incident where 19-year-old Israeli Sergeant Gilad Shalit was captured by Hamas, who demanded 1,000 Palestinian prisoners (later upped to 1,400) for his safe return; prisoners who, no doubt, will simply rejoin the hostilities once freed. Thus The Human Scale not only analyses the historical, political, social and religious reasons for the centuries-long stalemate of violent exchanges, but places a good deal of blame for the helplessness of the situation on the different interpretations the two cultures have in evaluating the worth of a human life. (Read Full Review)
The North Pool is certainly the most conventional piece to hit New York from imaginative playwright Rajiv Joseph. There are no philosophical tigers, no imaginary Holden Caulfield’s giving advice and no relationships built on mutual physical injuries. But the traditional two-hander is a neatly crafted, tense and juicy theatrical ride. (Read Full Review)
There are generous doses of playful whimsy in this well-mounted CSC production; though the playwright's approach seems to dilute the material's effectiveness a bit...Francesca Faridany, does very well in the title role; believably adventurous and naÃ¯ve as the young Orlando who grows befuddled, curious and ultimately wiser in the ways of gender politics after his transformation. (Read Full Review)
Perhaps the only oddball inclusion to the score is â€œBang!,â€ a number cut from A Little Night Music, where the original showâ€™s dragoon uses the language of war to describe sexual conquest. The songâ€™s formal language and graphically literal staging stands out as just too different from the way the characters are presented in the rest of the production. Then again, itâ€™s been over thirty years since 1980 and many of these once-obscure songs have become better known via recordings, cabarets, concerts and various Sondheim revues. Put a couple of theatre posters on the wall and Marry Me A Little would make perfect sense as two theatre geeks alone in their apartments acting out their favorite showtunes; the musical (Read Full Review)
...we can admire Andromache Chalfant's splendidly detailed work creating a claustrophobic East Village apartment crumbling... Keith Parhamâ€™s shadowy lighting with sharp beams of sun forcing their way in and Christian Fredericksonâ€˜s sound design depicting the war zone outside are also excellent... Rapp keeps our attention by dishing out information about what the heck is going on in tiny morsels... and for the most part, despite lapses of logic, itâ€™s a popcorn-worthy thriller that crosses into B-movie camp... At 100 minutes, Rapp and the strong, committed company provide an enjoyably tense diversion that, as such projects are known to do, warns us of a (hopefully) avoidable future. (Read Full Review)
While director Daniel Sullivan's elegant and witty production doesn't exactly leave you pulling for those two crazy kids to get together and live happily ever after, neither come off as fully reprehensible either...It's such a pleasure to hear the versatile tones of John Cullum speaking Shakespeare's words and as the French king he balances chipper humor with brash forcefulness...Katz's may have the best corned beef in town but Reg Rogers always serves up the tastiest ham...This may not be one of Shakespeare's strongest plays but Sullivan and company do quite well by it. (Read Full Review)
Follows the familiar pattern of intergenerational two-character plays (the colorful and/or crusty older character with a wealth of stories and/or observations finds an excuse to share many of them with a less-interesting younger character), but nevertheless provides sufficient charms for a pleasant interlude...While the play offers little in the way of drama, director Casey Child's company lifts the evening into being a softly played chamber piece. (Read Full Review)
Like The Normal Heart, a great deal of Unnatural Acts' effectiveness comes from knowing that it really happened. The play is at its best when working directly from the transcripts of the hearings, connecting modern audiences with events that were nearly erased from history. (Read Full Review)
Theresa Rebeck provides plenty of mindless fun for the aggressively hip in Seminar, a breezy and enjoyable new comedy that will especially appeal to those who love showing off their urban cultural elitism by laughing very loudly at derogatory references to short stories published in The New Yorker and howling with yuks when a pseudo-intellectual mispronounces Inigo Jones' name while passionately giving a vapid description of the Yaddo artists' colony. (Read Full Review)
ith nearly every moment taking place between two seated actors, director Pippin Parker keeps Sherman's frequently clever and entertaining dialogue gliding at a clipped pace. Though Dishy takes fine advantage of his chance to explore the play's best writing, the rest of the very appealing company is limited to familiar observations and situations. The drama beneath the comedy may still be embryonic but, as a work in progress presented as part of the Public Theater's LAB series, the evening's strengths are certainly worth the bargain ticket price. (Read Full Review)
While Mr. Burns never affected me emotionally, that final scene is certainly going to stick in my memory and, whether positively or negatively, be talked about a lot by those who see it. At the very least, Washburn is to be commended for her originality and audacity, Cosson and his actors are to be cheered for envelope pushing that never falls into silliness and Playwrights Horizons gets a thank you for taking a chance on a type of play that rarely gets seen above 14th Street and giving it a top-notch Off-Broadway production. (Read Full Review)
Under Joe Calarco’s direction, both give dynamic and detailed performances without overshadowing the delicacy of the relationship portrayed. With so little dialogue and interaction between the two characters, The Memory Show may not provide enough of the emotional impact the situation is capable of emitting, though there are plenty of lovely and heart-tugging moments. And the exemplary work of Cox and Kritzer certainly elevate the evening into a memorable night. (Read Full Review)
Part of his challenge is that the text only gives him a tabloid version of the man to play with. Perhaps Ephron would have deepened her portrait (like “a serious paper” would) if she had a chance to make revisions during previews, but Lucky Guy sprints through a dozen or so years like a highlight reel...
...the exceptional work of director George C. Wolfe, best known for painting broad, colorful and atmospheric stage pictures for plays like Angels In America and The Normal Heart, places the evening in a vivid, fast-moving, attitude-infused New York of 25 years ago, particularly realized by David Rockwell’s kinetic set, Scott Lehrer’s period sound and headline-screaming projections by Batwin-Robin Productions, Inc. (Read Full Review)
Unabashedly a check-your-brain-at-the-door entertainment, the lively, toe-tapping production revels in its own hokiness, and while double-entendres may abound, the upbeat cheeriness leans toward the family friendly side of the tracks...Merman and Jordan devour the meatiest of the show's material with hammy panache...The farcical plot starts getting muddy in the second act, which takes place during Big Al's hour-long variety show telecast, but the fun score, silly staging and show-bizzy performances keep Lucky Guy humming along nicely. (Read Full Review)
Sure, in America the guilty have just as much a right to a fair trial as the innocent. But when someone you believe is guilty doesn't get one, is that a wrong you can be all that enthused about righting? That's one of the discussion points that might be mulled over by leftist radicals downing shots of vodka after taking in Amy Herzog's After The Revolution. Unfortunately, this tantalizing moral dilemma is regulated to a throwaway point in a play that teases us with its political content while contenting itself with being a rather formulaic family drama. It's a good one, for sure; well-written (despite an unsatisfying ending) with absorbing conflicts and director Carolyn Cantor's excellent cast is always engaging, but every so often the play reminds us of an interesting direction the author decided not to take. (Read Full Review)
Three years ago I posted a review emphatically praising the Prospect Theatre Company's developmental production of Jim and Ruth Bauer's The Blue Flower...Unfortunately, I find myself less enthused about the higher-profile production of the musical which has now opened at Second Stage...What was once a thoughtful and emotionally thick musical about the emergence of Dada that told its story in a theatrical manner that emulated the movement now comes off as a musical about Dada told more conventionally. But even in this not-quite-peak form, there is enough true brilliance and originality in the evening to capture the attention of anyone interested in the growth of musical theatre as a dramatic art. (Read Full Review)
The difficulty with adapting the complicated Madrid story of crisscrossing affairs and lovers stems from the basic fact that non-musical farce moves much faster than musical comedy, where song and dance slows the pace of the storytelling. Musicals need time to develop empathy, too much of which kills farce, and with so many big names involved, all of whom require a number or two to make their presence worthwhile, the central story of Women On The Verge subsequently gets crushed beneath assorted moments of rather sparkling entertainment.
(Read Full Review)
The surreal tone of the piece manages to charm despite some of the narrative’s horrific details. There’s a scene where a son must identify his dead mother when all that remains is her skull. Another character had her face bitten off by a dog as a child. And another aridly concludes from her lot in life, “Everything happens for a reason. With the exception of anal cancer. Words to live by.” But Schwartz’s involved and entertaining wordplay, elocuted with ping-ponging alacrity, defines characters through loosely connected scenes by the way they communicate. Kate Mulgrew’s annoyingly loquacious real estate executive Rosemary begins the play with a verbal aria at a chance meeting on Madison Avenue with a disinterested old acquaintance, “From a hundred thousand years ago! When the world was in black and white! When the world was in black and white, and I still had a waistline! Remember? Evelyn? Remember my waistline?” (Read Full Review)
The old showbiz adage about always leavin' 'em wanting more isn't always the best advice, as exemplified Adam Bock's fascinating, understated and, in the end, frustratingly incomplete, A Small Fire. In his usual fashion, especially when teamed up, as he is here, with director Tripp Cullman, Bock takes us on an engrossing journey just beyond the outer edges of reality. There is some extraordinary scene work, both in his writing and in the collaborative efforts of the director and his two superlative leads, Michele Pawk and Reed Birney. But while the 80-minute production satisfies in so many ways, the text also leaves out too many delicious details. (Read Full Review)
Hawke is a capable stage actor and, to his credit, he passionately dives into the interpretation with full commitment. And perhaps there is an intentional contrast of his modern spin to the rest of the production, as there are in those contemporary blurts in the text. But nevertheless, the result undercuts what works well in the evening and lays focus on the performer instead of the character. (Read Full Review)
Rx starts off like gangbusters, with solid contributions by the always adorably oddball Marylouise Burke (as a shopper who befriends Meena during one if her crying episodes) and Elizabeth Rich as an aggressively cheery, better-life-through-medicine spokesperson. Director Ethan McSweeny keeps the evening light and quirky, despite the play being made up of too many short scenes to really build up momentum. But there just isn't enough romance or satire to satisfyingly fill the 100 minutes. (Read Full Review)
Although there is enough in The Flick to keep an audience satisfied for a more standard two-hour length, Baker and Gold’s commitment to their interpretation of realism – including repetitious scenes and long silences that do not speak volumes – alienates attention from the sweet, humorous story of the day-to-day lives of three troubled people. This love letter to the movies could afford to incorporate a bit of theatre's elevated reality. (Read Full Review)
The play's strength lies in its cynical humor ("It's a complicated world full of misunderstandings. That's why we have lawyers.") and explorations of the complexities of plotting a defense. But the conclusion, at least in Mamet's world, is predictable, even if the motivation for it is unclear. Race surely entertains, but for an issue-related theatre piece it tells us nothing we haven't already heard. However, those who enjoyed the play the first time around are likely to find a visit to see this new company's take on the material very worthwhile. (Read Full Review)
While the play balances amusing and thought-provoking moments, there isn't enough significant content to justify the lengthy three acts. Anticipating that viewers may need a bit of replenishment by the second intermission, we're invited to partake in free chocolates, nuts, juice and hard boiled eggs, which was rather thoughtful. (Read Full Review)
This is Part II of Shakespeare in the Park's summer of comedies about unlikeable people doing unattractive things that result in "happy endings" where characters are forced into unwanted marriages. Whereas Daniel Sullivan's staging of All's Well That Ends Well, smoothes out the unpleasantness with light comedy and the final traces of Edwardian elegance, here the director teases us with a concept that looks like we'll be having some fun digging into hedonistic subtext. But gradually the concept seems tossed and we're left with a main plot played well, but rather conventionally, while the subplot comics are having a bawdy ball. (Read Full Review)
...[an] awkward and clichéd point-by-point biography... Amber Iman glitters with glamour and ferocity as civil rights activist Simone, but unfortunately her character is a peripheral one...[Eric Anderson's] captivating portrayal... lifts the evening into an experience far more enjoyable than the sum of its parts... The energetic and appealing ensemble is certainly game, but Wise's staging and Benoit-Swan Pouffer's choreography, while competent, lack variety and imagination. (Read Full Review)
Name your musical The Road To Qatar! and in less than five words and an exclamation point you've communicated to your audience what to expect; a zany, lightweight, tuneful fish-out-of-water comedy set in an exotic locale featuring a Bob Hope/Bing Crosby-ish pair with a healthy dose of sex and romance provided by a Dorothy Lamour-ish babe. And for a good deal of their pocket-sized ninety-minute musical, Stephen Cole (book and lyrics) and David Krane (music) deliver as promised. At its best, The Road To Qatar! is a funny, breezy musical comedy hoot with some legitimately toe-tapping melodies. But while enjoyable, the material isn't quite memorable, though the current production at The York has the feel of an early version of something that could be whipped into a pretty terrific show. (Read Full Review)
While the plot is undoubtedly clever, the book is overloaded with genial-at-best jokes. There's a bit about a trying to send text messages with a typewriter, and running gags involving a chap with maggots in his scrotum and the hero's inability to pronounce his potential girlfriend's name. (I'll overlook their choice to name the show's villain General Buttfucking Naked, since it's based on an actual person.) Despite a noticeable number of false rhymes, a higher brand of humor comes from the score, which includes a harsh spoof of "happy villager" rousers, an African unity anthem sung by the white characters and - one of the best theatre songs in several seasons - a sincere ballad where a young Ugandan (Nikki M. James, very charming as a love-interest for Cunningham) imagines how wonderful it must be to live in Utah, which she envisions as an idyllic version of the only world she knows; a place where the warlords are friendly and there are plenty of goats and vitamin shots for everyone. At this point, The Book of Mormon reaches its peak of being both funny and touching. (Read Full Review)
Though the supporting performances, while certainly capable, don't all seem completely organic with the rhythms of the text and there is little consistency as to whether the rhymes should be played up, disregarded or somewhere in between, Patrick Halley and Matthew Amendt do deliver fine supporting turns as Celimene's foppish suitors. And given the strength of the production's second act, it wouldn't surprise me if by the time these words are read the first half has risen to the same level. (Read Full Review)
There are enough funny lines in the script and clever moments in director Jim Simpsonâ€™s production to carry us to the thinly sliced meat of the matter; that Chris was videoed preaching some radical notions and it went viral on the internet, prompting a need to hide him someplace, as they say, for his own safety. (Read Full Review)
While the two and a half hour night boasts its share of charms and thrills, there are far too many stretches that settle for just being lightly amusing...It's the acts of physical finesse that grab the most attention, though performing in a traditional theatre cuts any aerial artists from the bill...Perhaps the low-key nature of Shiner's comedy gets swallowed up a bit too easily in the huge show palace. And with the lack of those higher-altitude acts that typically excite the crowd, Banana Shpeel is certainly pleasant but considerably earthbound. (Read Full Review)
While the set-up works, the development is lacking, as the playwright presents the ill effects the couples have on one another in a manner thatâ€™s too jokey to be empathetic. Her dialogue is often amusing, but it rarely digs deep into the issues sheâ€™s laid out...Detroit, despite being sufficiently entertaining and thought-provoking, feels more like a play of unrealized potential. (Read Full Review)
While Brian Kulick's well-acted production for Classic Stage Company is a worthy mounting, the mystery of the play's origin stirs up more interest than anything left on the written page...Though Double Falsehood does contain its moments of satisfying poetry, the play seems more like an early draft awaiting the details and empathy that would make audiences care for the characters. It may intrigue as an historical curiosity, but not as drama. (Read Full Review)
Motown is at the same time a wonderful idea and a horrible idea for a musical. Wonderful in that the story of how Berry Gordy... created an independent record label that tremendously affected American culture... a horrible idea because there’s too much to it to fit into two and a half hours... The end result not only speaks for the fact that [Gordy] has never written a musical before, it makes me seriously wonder if he’s ever seen one... if you resolve to just ignore the clunky clichés of the dramatically thin book, you can pretty much be infected by joy and exuberance all night... Just shut up and sing. (Read Full Review)
[W]hile the text is too simple and repetitive, director Karen Kohlhaas' production for IRT keeps the evening visually interesting. The modest space is decorated with posters depicting a Mardi Gras skull and strings of light from above suggest we're seated under a carnival tent with an imposing nurse, who occasionally sucks blood out of Paul with an enormous syringe, seated throne-like on a raised platform, observing actors who perform ritualistically in whiteface. The company dives into the material admirably but there just isn't enough there. (Read Full Review)
The repetitious banter, much of it directed at the playgoers, trudges along under Emily Mann's lethargic direction. (You know you're in trouble when pulling a chain of linked hot dogs out of a picnic basket fails to get a laugh.) Dr. advises us that, "A confused audience is not an attentive one." The same can be said for a bored audience. But whenever the old pros take the stage there is at least their admirable skills to watch. Beneath a fright wig and an unflattering nightgown, Ashley is a growling combination of hatefulness and pathos, always fascinating to watch. Playing the blustery, highbrow straight man, Murray brings out his well sharpened arsenal of bug-eyed reactions and double-takes. Hearing the rich vocal variety of these two actors, both melodic and surprising in their own ways, is enough to keep audiences attentive. (Read Full Review)
A little padded and lacking in both humor and bite. Still, director Carl Forsman and the Keen Theatre Company serve up a lively production that boasts its charms, particularly in the performances of the engaging ensemble...While Weston may not have much room to vary Lesley's limited expressiveness, her fearful need to do well is enough to make her performance interesting, especially when her character confronts why she is the way she is. (Read Full Review)
There's much to be admired in director/adaptor Moises Kaufman's staging of Tennessee Williams' unproduced screenplay based on his 1942 short story, One Arm. If not exactly completely satisfying theatre, it is certainly a nobly-intended and well-executed curiosity...Emotional detachment may work well on the written page and on the screen, but it's a tricky business in live theatre. Whereas the attempt to put One Arm on stage proves intriguing, its central character - by no fault of the actor - is never compelling. (Read Full Review)
Owing to the quaint humor of the play and the charismatic energy of the actor, it's all rather amusing at first. Greenspan is especially funny as the family patriarch, a bit of a windbag trying to establish himself as the authority figure of the household. But in portraying the mother's melodramatics in the acting style of the day, he frequently spills into campy female impersonation. The two sisters tend to blend into each other and, when tempers start flaring, volumes rise and the dialogue quickly bounces from person to person it becomes increasingly difficult to tell who is speaking. Despite an admirable effort by Greenspan, the novelty of the evening wears thin by the midway point. (Read Full Review)
John Christopher Jones' perfectly serviceable new translation cuts out the role of the beggar and clocks in at a quick, for this play, two hours and fifteen minutes...And while director Andrei Belgrader's production contains many fine contributions from his ensemble, there are also some oddball directorial choices and clashes of styles that keep the evening from gelling into a satisfactory whole. Dianne Wiest's Ranevskaya may not offer a traditional noble bearing, but her sweet fragility is touching...John Turturro's Lopakhin seems to have arrived at Madame Ranevskaya's via the L train. (Read Full Review)
Though set designer Anna Louizos supplies a realistically grimy subway platform for Primary Stages' mounting of the new a cappella musical In Transit, the characters scurrying underground are disappointingly squeaky clean. Bookwriter/composer/lyricists Kristen Anderson-Lopez, James-Allen Ford, Russ Kaplan and Sara Wordsworth, along with director Joe Calarco, present a rather generically wholesome view of what might be called a collection of typical New Yorkers getting through the day-to-day annoyances of urban living...In Transit truly takes off when its seven-member cast, under music director Mary-Mitchell Campbell, launch into the festive harmonies of its appealing melodies but with its clichÃ©d humor and Up With People-ish tone, you can expect major delays while stuck in blandness. (Read Full Review)
The play is primarily a portrait of a man who matter-of-factly rejects any emotional attachment in his life ("Love is a commodity I can't afford.") and Langella's sly elegance beams a charming, old world manner that slowly crumbles in a young country toying with socialist concepts to climb out of hardship. The evening takes off when Driver's Vassily challenges his father's immorality, while still yearning for paternal affection, but most of the talky, drawn-out production lumbers in Aitken's rather perfunctory staging. (Read Full Review)
Recognizing when the romance of following your dream needs to be replaced with the reality of getting a job is a difficult concept to embrace for half of the quartet of characters in Chad Beguelin's stumbling family dramedy, Harbor. Unfortunately, there's nothing romantic, or the least bit sympathetic, about the two dreamers that propel the action here and sustaining interest, much less emotional involvement, becomes a chore. Despite some questionably believable moments, the story has potential and the cast members do a respectable job in director Mark Lamos' efficient production. But Beguelin spends so much time unsuccessfully trying to emulate clever banter that when things get serious he leaves us with little reason to care about what happens to the selfish Kevin, the controlling Ted or especially the hateful, crass and homophobic Donna.
(Read Full Review)
Packaged with a slick, professional gloss by directorial gagman Jerry Zaks and featuring some solidly enjoyable performances, Sister Act is nevertheless a bland affair with just enough attractive features to keep the evening from turning dreadfully dull. It's about as entertaining as uninspired material can get. (Read Full Review)
Director Dan Wackermanâ€™s genial production is lathered with sufficient froth and style, especially in the scriptâ€™s best scenes where Lunt and Fontanne talk about their craft or are immersed in scene work, but Ten Chimneys tends to get a little tiresome when parallels to The Seagull donâ€™t quite fly. (Read Full Review)
The surprisingly dry and emotionless Chaplin, presented in a respectably strong Broadway production, tries to cram so many facts into its two acts that thereâ€™s little room left for feeling... though it has its moments of charm, [it] comes off as more of a check-list of events than a dramatically propelled entertainment...Thereâ€™s no thrill in seeing what he became if we have no idea from where he started... Though the material is lacking (the revised score felt much stronger at the festival) director/choreographer Warren Carlyle mounts a handsome enough production, smoothly mixing live action with film clips of McClure. Designers Beowulf Boritt (set), Ken Billington (lights) and Amy Clark and Martin Pakledinaz (costumes) nicely dress the evening in monochrome visuals... McClure does an admirable job impersonating the icon, but the gloomy musical he carried on his shoulders offers little opportunity for the actor to shine. (Read Full Review)
Miss Abigail's Guide to Dating, Mating, & Marriage is certainly presented as a "girls' night out" kind of show, best enjoyed as part of an evening that involves plenty of cocktails. But even as mindless fun, the show doesn't work nearly as well as pouring out some drinks and checking out Abigail Grotke's web site. (Read Full Review)
Regrettably, it's the stage-long row of flames that rises from the floor and makes the occasional dramatic cameo that provides any kind of heat in director David Leveaux's soggy production of Romeo and Juliet. Despite the presence of some fine actors who manage to light some sparks here and there, this gimmicky rendering of Shakespeare's tale of adolescent lust gone tragic is curiously lacking in tension, passion, romance and, for some cast members, clear diction.
(Read Full Review)
...the ambiguity of the concept, coupled with the foggy storytelling, does nothing to truly enhance the text. This is one Shakespeare production where the player’s the thing... Despite a game effort, many of the characters blend too easily into one another and being able to follow the plot without already having a decent familiarity with the play seems a lost cause... Ultimately, the evening adds up as a testament to Cumming’s stamina and athleticism, rather than his dramatic chops. (Read Full Review)
Though no one removes a stitch and the lovers are generally more talk than action, Noel Coward's Private Lives gets my vote as the English language's sexiest play...Unfortunately, director Richard Eyre's rather perfunctory mounting of the piece captures only the surface pleasures of Coward's wit and barely registers any sexual excitement...Paul Gross, the best thing about this production, seems perfectly suited for Elyot...Kim Cattrall's Amanda comes off as unsuitably as the product of a rural high-schooler trying her darndest to "act sophisticated." (Read Full Review)
At age 81, Shatner is an energetic, slightly salty-tongued, good guy with a likeable stage presence. He's like the somewhat eccentric relative you get to see on holidays who always has some fun memories to share. And for fans, that can be a perfectly enjoyable way to spend an evening. Just don't visit the Music Box Theatre expecting to see something, well, theatrical. Billy Crystal, Elaine Stritch, Carrie Fisher and especially John Leguizamo have all achieved success with bio-solo shows by approaching them as plays involving serious character study. Shatner's on stage chatting for an hour and a half and not really investing anything especially dramatic. (Read Full Review)
But like the sitcoms of Norman Lear, that were revolutionizing television comedy with the issues and characters they were sending into American homes during those early 70s (All In The Family, Maude, Good Times), what was shocking during That Championship Season's initial run seems a bit quaint and heavy-handed now; particularly when the characters casually blurt out racist, sexist and anti-Semitic remarks. (When Coach mourns over the tragic assassinations that took place in the 60s he rather obviously leaves out Martin Luther King.) (Read Full Review)
The Winter's Tale is a play that seems to be in search of its own personality. Director Michael Grief and his talented company make an admirable go at tackling this problematic text, and the production does feature some attention-grabbing elements and enjoyable performances but the pieces never coalesce into a satisfying whole. (Read Full Review)
Stephanie Wahl, as the ballet-dancing Sister Leo, Bambi Jones, as the wise-cracking, gospel-singing Sister Hubert and Maria Montana, as the street-wise Sister Robert Anne all have their moments, but as the evening wears on it becomes more and more difficult to accept that you're watching the New York company of the first revival of the second-longest running show in Off-Broadway history. They're not bad, but you'd probably get a better impression of how much fun Nunsense can be if you took a quick stroll from the theatre to The Duplex or to Marie's Crisis and asked one or two of the divas in residence to belt out a few numbers from the score. (Read Full Review)
Of course, it only takes a few decades for subversive art to be accepted as family friendly, and Jesus Christ Superstar, like rock music itself, is now widely accepted as suitable entertainment for the masses. Which is a bit of a shame, because the audacity of its very existence is what gave the show much of its original dramatic strength. Without the threat of being offensive, or at least revolutionary, the blurry storytelling of Rice's text - which seems to play under the presumption that the audience already knows the plot coming in - and the lack of variety in Webber's score (that second act vaudeville number is such a relief) rises to the forefront. And while the piece can give the customers a swell time just by playing up its potential for rock concert pageantry, a bit more character work is needed to make it do anything more than merely rock hard. (Read Full Review)
Sincerity can be a valuable resource in musical theatre. When you don't have the budget for an elaborate set or the opportunity [to] bring on a dancing chorus, sincerity can not only warm the heart but distract the brain from noticing that not very much of any consequence is happening on stage. There's quite a lot of sincerity to be found in the Playwrights Horizons/Vineyard Theatre co-production of The Burnt Part Boys.... But ultimately, The Burnt Part Boys doesn't come near its potential. (Read Full Review)
Though the play displays Rabeâ€™s established talent for working class character dialogue, the plotless evening rambles on pointlessly, despite the respectable efforts of director Jo Bonneyâ€™s ensemble. When one character starts a conversation by wondering aloud how Elvis Presley will eventually die â€“ a line that received a good deal of audible disapproval the night I attended â€“ it feels like the talented playwright is grasping at anything to try and make this one work. (Read Full Review)
Daisy Footeâ€™s Him may be set in rural New Hampshire, as opposed to Horton Footeâ€™s preferred locale of East Texas, but there is still the same kind of comic/tragic family politics afoot. And the playwrightâ€™s sister, Hallie Foote, who made a career out of giving memorable performances in their fatherâ€™s works, plays a juicy role very similar to the type sheâ€™s feasted on in the past...Director Evan Yionoulisâ€™ sturdy production is well-played by a strong ensemble, but the play is too slow in introducing and developing its primary conflict and there is a noticeable lack of empathy for anyone in the quartet. Thereâ€™s a bit of humor in the family portrait, but no warmth or dramatic crackle in a story that fails to match its interesting possibilities. (Read Full Review)
Realism is taken to the point where Shepherd's reading of the text is done in a plain, unadorned manner, save for the final half-hour when he seems to have become Nick Carraway. Likewise his co-workers, appropriately, speak their lines simply rather than giving professional acting performances. This would be less of a problem if the piece was done in, say, a more manageable three hours, but Gatz does not add enough to The Great Gatsby to sustain interest for the full length of Fitzgerald's book. While certainly an adventurous and interesting idea, admirable in its execution, Gatz tends to come off more as a fancy parlor trick than satisfying theatre. (Read Full Review)
While Gatz had its plusses, the company's inability to fill the evening with enough inventiveness reduced the night to a fancy parlor trick. Regrettably, Collins' new Ernest Hemingway adaptation, The Select (The Sun Also Rises) offers even less in the way of theatricality to sustain any serious interest. There's little wrong with the execution, but not enough interesting ideas to charge up this... rendition. (Read Full Review)
While the story certainly seems a worthy subject for a musical, composer Sang Joon Oh's derivative work, heavy on theatrical Euro-pop, seems too recycled to stir up any emotions. The text, shown in supertitled translations above the Korean-sung performance, is filled with forced poetics like, "One shot fired today and tomorrow is history."
(Read Full Review)
Calhoun’s competent mounting shouldn’t change anyone’s mind about the piece... Wildhorn’s music starts emotionally big and keeps the star at that level, like he’s singing an evening of 11 o’clock numbers, and Maroulis admirably performs his assignment of singing his face off all night... Teal Wicks also puts in a game effort as the sweet Emma, who certainly deserves a prize as the world’s most understanding fiancé... Much of the time, Calhoun stages numbers with the “stand there and sing” technique, making the musical appear more as a concert than any attempt at drama. (Read Full Review)
Spending two hours and change watching sad people leading miserable lives isn't always as fun as Anton Chekhov made it seem. Proof can be witnessed at 59E59 where Primary Stages presents director Liz Diamond's nicely crisp and lean production of British playwright Lucinda Coxon's dreary and unengaging Happy Now? (Read Full Review)
I will leave it to you, dear readers, if you decide to take in a performance of Jerry Mayer's Dietrich and Chevalier, to determine for yourselves if it's better off being a play peppered with just a few musical moments or a full-out concert with just a smattering of narrative. As it stands now, the two-act piece with a plot that continually gets halted to present its collection of fifteen musical hits trudges along without much purpose...While Mayer's surface telling of their story is rather flat throughout, the proceedings turn downright silly when Dietrich rushes into Chevalier's hearing, demanding a chance to defend her friend. (Read Full Review)
Unfortunately, the telling is not as clever as the story itself. Despite hopes of being college-bound, Louis is written and performed as more of an adolescent. The dialogue goes overboard in trying to appeal to younger audiences ("You're a few heroes short of a Justice League.") and the traditional-sounding musical theatre score, while not unpleasant, is merely serviceable. (Though I can do without rhymes like "Friendetta" and "ham and chedda.") (Read Full Review)
Offers a terrific company of comical pros working hard to inject any mirth possible into ninety minutes of tepid material...Director Daniel Kutner actually does a fine job of pushing the sitcom-style text along at a clipped pace and the talented cast delivers the material so sharply that the evening does have its entertainment value. But without a decent number of big laughs it amounts to little more than being kicked in the nuts without being called "Honey." (Read Full Review)
Unfortunately, Eno doesn't take us anywhere beyond a tiresome series of scenes punctuated by dialogue loaded with lines that seem clipped from one-panel cartoons ("I get these awful panic attacks. They're actually how I stay in shape."). Only Garrison and Engel are able to escape the sluggishness of Ken Rus Schmoll's direction. The first act is capped with a scene showing audience members discussing the play during intermission. One notes that, "everything, in a way, is still going on. Time's going by, in the town, at the library, in outer space, here - all over. In a fictional way, of course, but, at the same time, like, non-fictionally, too." And that's about as perceptive as Middletown gets. (Read Full Review)
Pailetâ€™s music includes a fun moment when the company sings â€œWe are dinosaurs! We are dinosaurs!â€ to a pop-infused version of the film scoreâ€™s main theme, but the rest of the score is a generic collection of theatre rock, pop and hip-hop. But despite the weak material, the production is extremely strong. Pailet and choreographer Kyle Mullin remarkably keep the action fluid and energetic in the cramped quarters of the SoHo Playhouse, especially when Mullin has the company humorously hip-hopping. Dina Perezâ€™s costumes, suggesting dinosaurs without going literal, and Caite Hevnerâ€™s jungle-inspired scenic design add fun visuals.
the play tends to teeter between stale melodrama and homoerotic silliness.... Director Tripp Cullman does his usual quality work with a very good ensemble, but there's little of interest for them to play and what might have been a dark drama of sexual predation turns out to be a big tease. (Read Full Review)
I'm very confident in my assessment that the copious laughter I heard all night at Burning was the laughter of people saying, "We are watching a very bad play that is trying really, really hard to be shocking."...Burning is to be taken as satire. And while director Scott Elliot's company...admirably give honest and sincere portrayals, the play itself comes off as the most ridiculous kind of underwritten melodrama, accented by numerous graphic sex scenes, mostly fully nude, and, aside from the attractiveness of the company members, pretty silly in their deadpan seriousness.
Composer Frank Wildhorn's past musicals have earned him a reputation as being a target for critical venom, but in Bonnie and Clyde his combination of honky-tonk, blues and gospel melodies - pleasant and peppy at their best, innocuous at their worst - are done in by Ivan Menchell's book that trudges through exposition for the entire first act and Don Black's thin, surface-skimming lyrics...While Jordan and Osnes are both fine individually, there is little sexual or romantic chemistry between them. (Read Full Review)
Had me wishing for a safe word to make it all stop...While the plot has its high points, Ives' text is repetitious and lacking in any kind of empathy. Scenes are overwritten and moments are telegraphed through a predictable path...Director Walter Bobbie understandably can't seem to extract any sense of danger or mystery from the piece, so much of it is played for laughs that don't land...Arianda, a ball of energy, frequently overplays the comic aspects of her role and her diction often gets mushy whenever Vonda gets excited or starts to ramble. (Read Full Review)
Underneath the flashy performances of its title ensemble, Newsies is a slow-moving, workmanlike musical that takes an interesting, historic episode in the American labor movement and presents it as the kind of spunky entertainment that takes formulaic aim at the heart without earning any emotional payback through well-crafted storytelling.
If energy and physical commitment equaled craft and technique, Tracie Bennett's performance as Judy Garland in End Of The Rainbow might be considered one of the great triumphs of the season. But Peter Quilter's flimsy play offers her little in the way of support and director Terry Johnson has her playing more highly strung caricature than character, reducing the enterprise to little more than an endurance test for those at both sides of the footlights...The only one who manages to generate any legitimate pathos is the fine stage actor Michael Cumpsty. (Read Full Review)
If Hamlet is the reward an actor gets for showing great promise in his youth, King Lear is the thank you he receives in the latter years of a distinguished career. At age 35, Sam Waterston's Hamlet became one of the iconic performances to come out of the New York Shakespeare Festival. Now, at 71, The Public Theater's gift for his decades of admirable stage work is the opportunity to essay the maddening royal whose rages against a perceived betrayal by the most loving of his three daughters sets in motion the bloody collapse of a monarchy. Unfortunately, the gift has not been wrapped very attractively. (Read Full Review)
The most touching, delicately nuanced and beautifully realized work in...Compulsion is, quite honestly, a wooden performance. Rinne Groff's fictionalized tale of the Broadway dramatization of Anne Frank's diary begins with a life-sized marionette depicting the young girl, pencil in hand, innocently writing down thoughts that she most likely never dreamed would be so immortalized...Unfortunately the rest of the evening seems freakishly overplayed by comparison...Groff has a good story to work with and delivers ear-catching dialogue. But aside from an episode where Silver's wife envisions Anne Frank as the other woman who shares their marriage bed...the play's major flaw is that there's no sympathy developed to pull you into the story...The evening amounts to little more than enduring the rants of a self-destructive artist who should probably start a new project. (Read Full Review)
If actor/playwright Jesse Eisenberg isn’t going to bother much with projecting his lines loud enough to reach row M of the cozy and acoustically fine Cherry Lane Theatre, then I’m not going to bother much with reviewing them. To be fair, I checked with others and the hearing problem wasn’t just mine, and to be doubly fair – since his voice projection skills have nothing to do with his playwriting – I did review a copy of the script before concluding that The Revisionist, though given a fine production by Rattlestick Playwrights Theater and director Kip Fagan, is far too familiar and unpolished to engage, though the presence of Vanessa Redgrave will undoubtedly fill the 179-seat playhouse. (Read Full Review)
Katori Hall has been describing The Mountaintop as her attempt to show Dr. King a normal man with normal flaws. To this end she depicts him urinating (off-stage), smoking, drinking a bit, flirting with a young lady and, the real shocker, having smelly feet. Remarkably, that's about as deep as this flimsy little comedy (It can't seriously be called a drama.) gets... What anyone saw in this script is completely beyond my understanding... Jackson's few minutes alone on stage suggest we might be in for a thoughtful portrayal, but the chances for any kind of satisfying drama fly out the door once Angela Bassett enters... Leon has Bassett buffoonishly overacting the kind of jivey urban soul sister stereotype familiar to fans of 70s sitcoms... If this one is awarded the Tony come June, it will mean we've indeed suffered through a sad and sorry Broadway season.
Director Ken Rus Schmollâ€™s production is filled with stilted pauses and Chalfant is the only actor who finesses around the sluggish staging, but the play itself, with its declarative, fact-filled narration and thin characters, is the primary reason the evening is emotionally empty. (Read Full Review)
...any hope of empathy or, heaven forbid, charm, is buried under the rubble of a bombastic production that seems anxious to divert attention from the fact that, for a show that supposedly celebrates the joys of good storytelling, there’s barely a plot to fill up the two and a half hours plus... While the visuals are certainly expertly executed... this musical about appreciating knowledge stresses spectacle over substance. (Read Full Review)
Some people say the magic of musical theatre comes with the singing and dancing talents of wonderful performers, the dazzle of the sets and costumes and the thrill of, in the case of Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, watching actors soar above the audience in a high-flying death match. They all can be terrific, I agree. But there's a limit to how amusing it is to have your nose tickled by champagne bubbles when they're propelled from a lackluster vintage. For all its elaborate design and unique staging (Maybe "airing" is the more appropriate word.), Spider-Man suffers from that most basic of musical theatre ailments; the dramatically anemic book and score are incapable of generating magic on their own. Peter Pan flies because he's a perpetual child who has never learned limitations. Mary Poppins flies because a change of the wind takes her to where she's needed most. At the Foxwoods Theatre, Spider-Man flies because he's hooked up to cables. (Read Full Review)
The only scary aspect of this moodless production is that the most understated performance is being given by George Hearn. Keeping it low-key as Professor Van Helsing, the mounting's name star escapes with his dignity, as does Timothy Jerome as Dr. Seward. I'll lean toward blaming the director for the performances of the supporting cast, which range from ineffectual to inexplicable. John Buffalo Mailer's drawling Renfield certainly goes for the jugular during his mad scenes and Rob O'Hare, as attendant Butterworth, deserves sympathy for having his big moment undercut by the decision to display his character's fright by having his hair stiffly molded into a standing-on-end cowlick. When Hearn, cradling the lad's head in his arms in an attempt to calm him, tries petting the hair down, you might, if you're like me, detect just the slightest expression in the Tony-winning actor's sorrowful eyes that seems to be trying to say to the audience, "I know. I'm sorry." (Read Full Review)
Viagara Falls is an anaemic sex comedy that wastes [the actors'] talents and the audience's patience.... The intended comic climax is triggered when a character swallows two Viagra pills (blue, diamond-shaped, says "Pfizer" on them), thinking they're aspirin (white, round, says "aspirin" on them). A final attempt to tack some humanity onto the proceedings is presented through another implausible situation. Director Don Crichton doesn't add much more than the expected jiggles and leers and just in case you forgot that Bob Mackie designed the costumes, the plot presents an excuse for the boys to don flashy, sequined jackets, leaving it unclear as to whether they intend to have sex with their hired friend or just sing her an Elton John medley. (Read Full Review)