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Andy Propst



Reviews

A+

Once

Bittersweet romance takes center stage in the ravishingly moving new musical Once...Thanks to Enda Walsh's delicately crafted book and John Tiffany's marvelous environmental staging, the piece feels like a work destined for the theater; in fact, Once is a tale that simply must unfold onstage. (Read Full Review)

A+

Giant

With Giant, two natural comparisons to two unquestioned classic musicals come to mind: Oklahoma! which shares the show's southwestern milieu and Show Boat, which was also inspired by a Ferber novel. It's probably too early to place this new tuner squarely into this canon of seminal musicals. Nevertheless, mentioning all three in the same breath feels warranted and supremely natural. (Read Full Review)

A+

Once

Kazee and Milioti share an almost electric chemistry and also imbue the characters with marvelous layers of passion and hurt. He's particularly deft at allowing Guy's vulnerability to emerge from underneath the character's rugged, self-controlled façade, while she imbues Girl with a fierceness and determination that simply pulses with tenderness and warmth.... What may be most impressive about the ensemble is the warmth and loving spirit that permeates their collective work. It simply heightens the central romance, which, by its remarkably pungent conclusion, can provoke tears. (Read Full Review)

A

The Winter's Tale (2009)

An exceptional evening of Shakespearean theater...t by the time the action shifts back to Bohemia, theatergoers have been both moved and amused, and thus, the fairy tale ending that waits in store for Leontes and the rest has an almost inescapable emotional impact. These are characters for whom theatergoers have come to care, almost unquestioningly, and a happy end seems to be the only just thing for them all. It's rare that this romance, one of the trickiest in the canon, can inspire both extremes of emotions in audiences while telling the story in what feels to be a lucid, unified manner, and theatergoers should certainly consider a trip to BAM before this limited engagement ends. (Read Full Review)

A

Avenue Q

The Tony Award-winning musical Avenue Q remains as sharp and funny at its new Off-Broadway home at New World Stages as it did in its previous incarnations at the Vineyard Theatre and Broadway's Golden Theatre. Indeed, the show's clever score (by Jeff Marx and Robert Lopez) and book (by Jeff Whitty) -- about a motley group of New York residents facing life's challenges together -- continue to delight, and director Jason Moore's production still sparkles. (Read Full Review)

A

Lemon Sky

The production, directed with precision by Jonathan Silverstein, boasts a host of exceptional performances and manages to deliver a considerable emotional punch. (Read Full Review)

A

County of Kings

Anderson's narrative—a mix of hip-hop and poetic prose, English, and occasionally Spanish—is neither sentimental nor angry. Instead, it's a heartfelt and honest recounting of growing up with his heroin-addicted mother, her painful decline and eventual death. As he tells his story, he not only infuses it with humor, he also becomes, with precision and specificity, a number of other characters. Perhaps most amusing is his portrayal of a partially blind busybody woman in the apartment complex where he grew up. (Read Full Review)

A

The Night Watcher

The show unfolds on a stage that's outfitted with just a chair (Charlie Corcoran and Thomas Lynch provide the spare scenic design that's augmented beautifully by Tal Yarden's projections), and as it unfolds, Woodard does not so much transform herself into the characters of her stories as indicate their essences. In some instances, her fluid characterizations create an intriguing prism of individuals. This happens most prominently during a segment about a woman who is trying to raise a grandchild -- the fifth that she's been put in charge of. There are moments when it almost seems as if Woodard is portraying the elderly woman playing her son and his girlfriend, and the result makes the tale -- which haunts from the start -- even more discomfiting. There are other moments like this throughout Night Watcher, but more often than not, the show is filled with the warm and comforting glow of a loving woman and the talent of an engrossing storyteller. (Read Full Review)

A

After Midnight

...a joyous new revue... whether it's the orchestra, a swinging, brash brass-rich ensemble that's placed center stage in John Lee Beatty's simply evocative art deco set design, or the ensemble cutting loose in one of Carlyle's imaginatively athletic, yet all the while elegant, dances, the show repeatedly proves itself to be a welcome and worthy conduit for the great entertainers it's conjuring.
(Read Full Review)

A

Temporal Powers

Gently guided by Jonathan Bank and beautifully performed by a fine ensemble...Theatergoers will most likely find themselves surprised how exceptionally contemporary Deevy's writing is...It's a richly conceived drama that's laced with not only intrigue as the origins of the cash are brought to light, but also -- surprisingly -- genuine romance. (Read Full Review)

A

Fun Home

Such contradictory-and complementary-emotions are evoked time and again in Fun Home: a tribute to the delicacy and bravery of the artists involved and a combination that makes the production thrilling…Tesori's work throughout is so thoroughly engaging and smartly conceived that it almost seems to be embarrassment of musical riches. It's little surprise that Kron, who has proven her versatility in crafting deeply felt memory plays...has crafted a book that's both sepia-toned and surreal. As a lyricist, her work is first-rate, often blending directness and cleverness to surprising effect. Sam Gold has directed the show with a terrific blend of delicacy and showmanship: when the production finally makes a nod toward its roots as a graphic novel, the effect is terrifically and pungently timed. He's also elicited immaculate performances from the balance of the company…
(Read Full Review)

A

The Tenant

As with the hit Sleep No More, which also immerses its audience in a self-guided theatrical environment, a successful visit to The Tenant will involve having a fearless willingness to explore and the ability to make some split-second choices about which character to follow as the production progresses. Following Trelkovsky, for at least a good portion of the piece, would be highly recommended. Not simply because of Crane's marvelously intense performance, but also because his central narrative intersects with so many others. (Read Full Review)

A

The Patsy

David Greenspan, as both writer and performer, delivers a terrific master class in the art of bringing characters from a bygone era to life on stage. (Read Full Review)

A

Silence! The Musical

*Theatergoers should prepare to scream -- with laughter -- as they take their seats of Silence! the Musical... a deliriously funny romp in its previous home -- Theater 80 St. Mark's -- but, in this new, and appropriately creepy, venue, the production has moved to a new level: it's the sort of campy theatrical treat that might have theatergoers returning again and again, just to savor its tuneful delirium... There's the matter of Garrison's formidably menacing -- yet nonetheless funny -- turn as Hannibal... With a demented twinkle that occasionally fires in his eye, or a wry turn of the lip, Garrison takes the role to a new level... The addition of Garrison to the company has also sparked Harris' turn. New, gutbustingly funny details have crept into her performance, which continues to amplify film star Jodie Foster's Southern-accented lisp and oxymoronic tough girl naiveté to hysterical effect... It's the kind of silliness that simply satisfies. Andy's original review, a B+, is here. (Read Full Review)

A

Bad Jews

This basic dynamic between ultra-religious Daphna and spiritually unconcerned Liam could give playwright Harmon more than enough fodder to fuel his comedy of bad manners as both characters revert to almost kindergartners railing against each other. But once the two have begun to struggle over one of Poppy's possessions - the small chai that he wore around his neck - the play takes on an entirely deeper dimension. Harmon's not only allowing audiences to savor deliciously bitter comedy, but he is also asking them to contemplate how people carry on the traditions and histories of their forebears. (Read Full Review)

A

The Ugly One

Marius von Mayenburg's The Ugly One, running at Soho Rep in a co-production with the Play Company, may be the breeziest yet most densely packed 60 minutes of theater audiences will have the chance to savor this season. While the work often proves hilarious, before the piece has reached its überly ironic conclusion, it also provides an incisive look at conformity and the way in which society champions homogeneity. (Read Full Review)

A

Lysistrata Jones

It's not only heartstrings that the show plucks, it also inspires gales of laughter, from its utter and gleeful silliness. For instance, the cheerleaders find Hetaira after Jones Googles "whores" on her iPhone, and two of the young men's fascination with Joel Schumacher's Batman & Robin has completely giddy ramifications. And yet, there's also a smartness to the proceedings as bits of Walt Whitman's poetry creep in at the most unlikely places and surprisingly, a quote from Emma Goldman inspires one of the show's biggest laughs. (Read Full Review)

A

King Lear (BAM)

What surprises in Grandage's lucid and emotionally harrowing production is how exceptionally intimate the play feels as it unfolds in the confines of an arc of enormous wooden planks from production designer Christopher Oram. (He also dresses the performers in dark clothes from an amalgam of periods that make the piece seem timeless.) No matter how grand the scale of the story (England ends up at war with France because of Lear's actions), this is a Lear that unfolds like a tragic family drama. (Read Full Review)

A

The School For Lies

Audiences will also find that they quickly succumb to the comedic charms of the company. Not only is Linklater pitch-perfect as Frank, deftly blending edgy bitterness with keen intelligence (and even earnest goofiness once Frank has really fallen for Celimene), Gummer turns in a performance of such blissful control and dryness, which tremendously enriches the character's comic side. Equally enjoyable -- and frequently hysterical -- are the performances from Gambatese and Fraser, whose work captures the other women's dual natures with pinpoint accuracy. As three cartoonish men who are all trying to woo Celimene alongside Frank, Rick Holmes, Matthew Maher, and Frank Harts each turn in performances that amuse, while Steven Boyer delivers a turn as Celimene's much put-upon and abused servant that nearly steals this exceedingly funny and thoroughly enjoyable show. (Read Full Review)

A

Sleep No More

Bring an open mind, a healthy curiosity, and perhaps a decent working knowledge of Shakespeare's Macbeth, and you will have a fascinating time...As for the performances -- which are offered in silence and have been choreographed by Maxine Doyle -- they range from recreating such infamous moments from Macbeth as the banquet scene in which Macbeth imagines that the ghost of Banquo appears at the table to devised ones, tangentially related to the play...Such moments -- some more opaque than others -- thrillingly abound. And given that it's impossible to see everything in one two-hour session, chances are theatergoers will find themselves wanting to return to the McKittrick time and again to dive into this deliciously eerie experience. (Read Full Review)

A

Click, Clack, Moo

While kids will delight in Billy Aronson's clever book, older theatergoers will glean their amusement from the way in which composer Brad Alexander's music echoes Leonard Bernstein's work for West Side Story as the brawl between the groups unfolds. Similarly, the R&B-infused "Get Down" may amuse younger theatergoers with its infectious melody (and Nason's energetic performance), but lyricist Keven Del Aguila's deft handling of the double-meaning of "down" is really best appreciated by adults. John Rando's staging on the brightly colored-cartoon like set from Beowulf Boritt is fleet enough to ensure that even the youngest theatergoers are never bored while his directorial flourishes -- often collaboratively created with choreographer Wendy Seyb -- are truly for the more experienced audience members. Even Lora LaVon's costume design manages to delight all generations, which is no easy feat. (Read Full Review)

A

The Inexplicable Redemption of Agent G

Playwright Qui Nguyen blends the pop culture aesthetic that has been the hallmark of his work with the Vampire Cowboys Theatre Company with metatheatrics and pungent autobiography. It's a little like James Bond and Jackie Chan meet Luigi Pirandello, which prove to be an uneasy hybrid -- albeit one that also proves to be fascinating, occasionally touching, and frequently hysterical...It's a tribute to the fine work of director Robert Ross Parker and the talented ensemble that Nguyen's ambitious and dizzying theatrical mash-up coalesces into what feels like a true theatrical whole. (Read Full Review)

A

An Iliad

[A] sweeping, visceral theatrical event that not only commands attention from start to finish, but can prove to be a touching ode to the tradition of storytelling and an excursion into the magic of simple stagecraft.... Peterson has directed two distinct productions for the two actors who undertake the Herculean task of bringing the challenging work to the stage, giving theatergoers who opt to see both O'Hare and Spinella perform the chance to encounter the script from two unique, and both inherently satisfying perspectives. (Read Full Review)

A

Milk Like Sugar

Simultaneously gritty and lyrical, the show, directed with care by Rebecca Taichman, proves to be an exhilarating and moving experience, filled with a host of fine performances... This scenario, in lesser hands, could easily become the theatrical equivalent of an After School Special, but Greenidge's script consistently resists the preachy and sentimental qualities normally associated with such programming. Instead, she fills the play with satire and exceptional linguistic flights.

(Read Full Review)

A

Invasion!

Khemini's play, translated by Rachel Willson-Broyles, has a curiously moving lyricism, a cutting bluntness, and a grandly subversive sense of humor ... [I]n director Erica Schmidt's always compelling staging, which unfolds with lightning-like rapidity in a sterile industrial environment created by Antje Ellermann, theatergoers find themselves hooked from the show's opening moments, easily following the dizzying barrage of characters and narratives and grasping the unsettling, but never pedantic, commentary that Khemini is offering up about the nature of racial stereotypes and the concept of terrorism in today's world. Equally impressive is the work from the multiply cast four-person ensemble, each of whom shifts between a host of roles with ease, delivering vividly conceived characterizations. (Read Full Review)

A

As You Like It (BAM)

Having an actress who can convincingly play a young man is just one of the hurdles that directors and theatergoers face in Shakespeare's As You Like It, and in Sam Mendes' solid staging of the comedy that's playing at the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Harvey Theatre, Juliet Rylance beautifully fits the bill... Uniting the disparate plot lines is another challenge of the play and in Mendes' lucid production, they seem to fit together perfectly, thanks to the hint of hoar frost that pervades both the court sequences and those in the forest. For the former, scenic designer Tom Piper backs the action with an almost bunker-like wall and lighting designer Paul Pyant cuts the space with steep angled white light, creating a sense of a vicious totalitarian state. After the action has shifted, the forest is barren and fog-filled, though ultimately, a spring of sorts comes. (Read Full Review)

A

Diary of a Madman

A low-level bureaucrat's devolvement from delusion to insanity unfolds as both a gut-busting comedy and a harrowing tragedy in Diary of a Madman, now playing at the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Harvey Theatre. But the play's not just the thing here: Tony Award winner Geoffrey Rush is delivering a performance of such deft physical skill and dazzling emotional intensity that it can be called only one thing: a "must-see." (Read Full Review)

A

Rock of Ages

The most recent transfer to Broadway is the jukebox tuner Rock of Ages, which after a well-received and often extended debut at New World Stages last fall, opened last night at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre. The move has proven to be a wise one; "Ages" has retained all of its goofy innocent charm and has been tweaked perfectly to fit its new venue....This thinner-than-air – and that's okay – musical still rumbles and thunders along under the sure-handed direction of Kristin Hanggi, who, with bookwriter Chris D'Arienzo, have tweaked the piece so that sentimentality and snarkiness now coexist comfortably in the show. (Read Full Review)

A

Hair (2009)

Diane Paulus' revival of Hair, seen last summer at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, burst onto Broadway last night at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre, and much like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon, the production teems with vibrancy and heart so genuine that it seems almost to have been minted during the turbulent days of war protests and be-ins... Claude's fate, ultimately, delivers an almost overwhelming blow to theatergoers during the final moments of Hair thanks to Paulus' immaculate, and sometimes nearly infinitesimal, tweaks to her staging from just under a year ago. Not only are audiences able to understand and feel the ways in which the character is being torn by both his upbringing and his conscience, but also his innate sensitivity. Creel beautifully communicates Claude's need for connection, but inability to achieve it; the young man's fascination with the iconoclastic Berger (once again played with winning devil-may-care sensuality by Will Swenson) borders on homoerotic, even when coupled with his fascination for Berger's sometimes partner, the trust-fund protester Sheila (deftly rendered by Caissie Levy). Claude's involvement in this triangle contrasts marvelously with his coolness toward Jeanie (the goofily charming Kacie Sheik), who dotes incessantly on him. (Read Full Review)

A

Green Eyes

The tight confines of the space mean that there's little margin for artifice in the two performances, and Couperthwaite and Markey navigate Williams' tautly strung and teasingly ambiguous work with dedicated fearlessness. Not only are they willing to embrace the physically brutal way in which the couple assail one another, they also uncover the kind of teenage puppy dog love that might have inspired the two to marry in the first place. (Read Full Review)

A

Newsies

The utterly beguiling and heartwarming new musical Newsies, now playing at Broadway's Nederlander Theatre... may center on events from the turn of the twentieth century, but the story seems tailor-made for our era of the Occupy movement. But the story is not the only reason audiences -- young and old alike -- will gravitate to the show. The production, directed with panache by Jeff Calhoun, bursts with a richly melodic score from Alan Menken and Jeff Feldman, boasts some of the most energetic and cleverly conceived dancing on Broadway right now from choreographer Christopher Gattelli, and features an electrifying turn from its leading man, Jeremy Jordan.
(Read Full Review)

A

Title and Deed

Conor Lovett delivers a marvelously modulated and gently compelling performance in Will Eno's newest play...Directed with care and a beautiful eye for detail by Judy Hegarty Lovett, the piece proves to be an always fascinating and surprisingly moving 70 minutes of theater...What emerges from his humorous, sometimes stream-of-conscious patter (some might say ramblings) is a heartfelt exploration of the transience of everything in this life, from words themselves to relationships to our very existence. (Read Full Review)

A

Our Town

Regardless of how audiences might have experienced this chestnut about life, family, love and death at the turn of the last century in Grover's Corners, New Hampshire, nothing could prepare them for director David Cromer's re-imagining of the work, which remains entirely true to the spirit of the script and delivers a stunning emotional blow. (Read Full Review)

A

The Scottsboro Boys

Now more than ever -- thanks in part to some judicious tweaks from director-choreographer Susan Stroman and the replacement of three cast members -- The Scottsboro Boys grabs audiences as soon as the members of the ensemble burst down the aisles of the theater and never lets go...Like the show's score, which references cakewalks, New Orleans jazz, ragtime, and gospel, Stroman's choreography is a mélange of styles and often surprises with its ability to find humor in even the saddest situations. (Read Full Review)

A

Wings

A bravura performance from Jan Maxwell and a top-notch production by director John Doyle combine to make Arthur Kopit's 1978 play Wings, currently being revived at Second Stage Theatre, one of the first "must-see" productions of the fall. (Read Full Review)

A

My Trip Down the Pink Carpet

Could be a wearisome exercise in self-promotion and -absorption. But thanks to Jordan's gift for spinning a story and his effervescent presence, it charms thoroughly. Make no mistake: The piece, carefully shepherded by director David Galligan, is peppered with stories that begin with "And then I…," as Jordan relates highs and lows of his career...Jordan has the ability to find the meat of a moment and, with the twinkle of an eye or a self-deprecating aside, transform it into comic gold....[A] hugely satisfying show. (Read Full Review)

A

The Boys in the Band

At 43 years old, Mart Crowley's The Boys in the Band, now being presented by Transport Group in a loft on West 26th Street, is looking pretty smart and proving terrifically affecting for its age, thanks to the genuinely sensitive site-specific staging by director Jack Cummings III and his talented cast. (Read Full Review)

A

The Tempest (BAM)

A gentle, subtle magic permeates Sam Mendes' staging of William Shakespeare's The Tempest...Throughout the production, Dillane's magisterial presence and exquisitely musical delivery of Shakespeare's verse create a spell all of their own. But his turn is all the more compelling because of the earthy and common-sense nature with which he imbues the character. Equally impressive is Camargo's turn as Ariel. More leading man than diminutive sprite, Camargo (chicly costumed by Catherine Zuber) effortlessly creates a sense of ethereal lightness in his movements and line readings, fully convincing theatergoers of the presence of an otherworldly creature on stage. (Read Full Review)

A

Potted Potter

You don't need to have much—if any—knowledge of the popular stories and the movies they've inspired about the titular boy wizard to enjoy this show. All you need is a willingness to go along with the duo's goofiness, which brings to mind the work of the Reduced Shakespeare Company, another group of writer-performers that condenses hefty material into gag-fueled theater. (Read Full Review)

A

Slowgirl

It's an engrossing variation on the "buddy play," but one of the factors that makes Slowgirl stand out from other such pieces is the layer of spirituality which runs throughout the play; Sterling has built himself a replica of the labyrinth at Chartes where he attempts to teach Becky about contemplation. Equally important are the two distinct voices that Pierce captures. Impressively, his writing for the halting and frequently stammering Sterling sounds as authentic as the torrent of words that come -- often impulsively and unthinkingly -- out of Becky. (Read Full Review)

A

See Rock City & Other Destinations

Cummings' masterful production, which takes a cue from the stagecraft of Thornton Wilder's Our Town, unfolds on a stage that's nearly bare, except for an enormous piece of scaffolding that's placed at one corner. (Dane Laffrey has provided the spare scenic design as well as the carefully chosen, character-defining costumes.) Locations are defined by R. Lee Kennedy, whose gorgeous lighting design can indicate everything from a murky sunrise in Georgia to a baking mid-day sun on Coney Island. Cummings and Kennedy also employ the seven-member cast to help create mood, who are deployed to manipulate flashlights, fluorescent strips and large lights on wheels. (Read Full Review)

A

Restoration

It's a touching growth process to watch. Shear clearly knows how to deliver each of her zingers to maximum effect and even as the actor/playwright maximizes the comedy in her piece, she also mines the character's more melancholy quality, communicating volumes with a rueful half-smile or with subtle changes in body language. Equally impressive is Cake's performance as Max. The actor exquisitely captures the character's randy teenage machismo, simultaneously tempering it with the regrets of adulthood. By the time Max reveals his own special connection to the statue that he guards, theatergoers are cheering for him as much as they are Giulia. (Read Full Review)

A

Venus In Fur

Two exceptional performers -- Nina Arianda and Hugh Dancy -- square off like prize fighters...Everything about the vibrant and provocative piece seems to have been enriched by its transfer from the intimate thrust venue downtown to the larger proscenium house uptown...Arianda's work, riveting in the play's first outing, has only deepened...Dancy, in addition to sharing a remarkable chemistry with Arianda, delivers a keenly felt and sharply observed turn. (Read Full Review)

A

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

The journey sparks with not just robust, feral intensity, but also a remarkably moving sensitivity...Throughout, both [Letts and Morton] deliver performances that are a marvelous balance of blistering rage and deep compassion that's accompanied by the rigor of two individuals steeped in academics. (Read Full Review)

A

Parents' Evening

Bathsheba Doran's absorbing new dramedy..., [d]irected with brisk sensitivity by Jim Simpson... [is] the sort of play that could prove to be a wearisome 80-minute exercise in lesser hands, but thanks to Nicholson and Waterston's meticulous performances, the piece is never less than a compellingly intimate portrait of two troubled individuals. Waterston tackles his role with impressive abandon. He thoroughly embraces Michael's neuroses, jealousy and neediness -- and yet, despite this trifecta of unattractive qualities, the actor manages to make the character warm, humorous, and even likable. Similarly, Nicholson carefully blends Judy's businessperson intensity with her more sensitive maternal instincts, and it's Nicholson's ability to balance these two often dichotomous sides of the character that makes Judy's worries about what sort of mother she's been particularly affecting. (Read Full Review)

A

Ovo

At this juncture, the types of acts that are part of a Cirque production are exceedingly familiar, and yet, there's a freshness to them in Ovo. Part of this sense of newness comes from the incredible design elements for the insect-inspired show: Marjorie Nantel's aerial silk routine, for instance, depicts a butterfly emerging from a cocoon. As she weaves herself within the diaphanous fabric that dangles from the ceiling of the tent, and then emerges from it with the cloth draped from her arms like wings, the sense of having seen this graceful creature come to life on stage is complete. This impression is enhanced in no small measure by the astonishingly vibrant and delicate lighting design. (Read Full Review)

A

Hugh Jackman: Back on Broadway

More astonishing than anything that Hollywood's special effects could ever accomplish. Jackman delivers a high-octane two-hour singing and dancing extravaganza and barely seems to break a sweat...Jackman holds the stage with an ease so natural that it becomes almost eerie. (Read Full Review)

A-

Lucky Guy (Musical)

While this corny tuner has the potential to be a wearisome excursion into camp, it boasts a comic zestfulness that's as refreshing as a cool glass of lemonade on a hot summer day and a heart as big as a stretch of a Midwestern plain, ultimately winning theatergoers' hearts and earning their laughter...Truth be told, it's a little rough to initially accept the show...Beckham's book may require some audience forbearance...It doesn't hurt that Beckham's also written a host of toe-tapping country western numbers that are fitted with lyrics that can be both heartfelt and punningly funny. Additionally, he's directed the production so that it moves like a house afire from beginning to end. (Read Full Review)

A-

A Celebration of Harold Pinter

What emerges is a portrait of the world-renowned playwright that goes well beyond the works he wrote for the stage. For instance, theatergoers learn about Pinter's work as an actor in the early 1950s, when he toured Ireland performing Shakespeare with one of the U.K.'s last actor-managers, along with Pinter's personal life (several pieces focus on his marriage to Lady Antonia Fraser), and his political activism. (Read Full Review)

A-

The Old Friends

In bravura turn, Buckley seems to literally ricochet through Gertrude's wildly vacillating mood swings, creating a portrait of crass entitlement and pained denial. It's impressive work, particuarly as she never allows the character to turn into a Southern Gothic caricature (think Bette Davis in Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte). Alongside Buckley's fierce performance is Hallie Foote's delicately modulated turn as Gertrude's chief rival for Howard's affection, Sybil Borden, who's just returned to Harrison, widowed and penniless. She and Howard were once sweethearts, but she married another man when Howard refused to capitulate to her demands for a planned existence together. (Read Full Review)

A-

A Boy And His Soul

Once the performer settles into a memory, Boy truly flies as he assumes a host of characters, delivering each with remarkable specificity. Particularly enjoyable are Domingo's renderings of his good ole boy stepfather, his sassy sister, and his somewhat thuggish brother. Domingo often shifts between these characters within the blink of the eye, and he's even able to create with remarkable ease his brother and sister sharing an imagined phone call. He brings these characters to life in a variety of "snapshots," including a particularly moving childhood memory of sitting in the backyard with his mother -- a sequence enhanced enormously by Marcus Doshi's gorgeously atmospheric lighting. Similarly, his memory of attending an Earth Wind and Fire concert delivers goosebumps. Meanwhile, a trip to a gay bar proves to contain one of the biggest laughs in the piece. As Domingo begins to come out to his family, the production develops some true emotional heft even as it retains his deliciously self-aware sense of humor. (Read Full Review)

A-

The Pretty Trap

Theatergoers get the rare chance to see an undisputed masterwork as a work-in-progress...The brief one-act offers a loving, sepia-toned, and surprisingly comedic, portrait of the Wingfield family...On some levels, the piece is a mere squib from a young author still finding his voice...yet, thanks to director Antony Marsellis' solidly staged production and a delightful performance from Katharine Houghton as the Wingfield matriarch Amanda, there's also something that is undeniably charming about the piece...While The Pretty Trap may not carry the same emotional weight of the play into which it evolves, theatergoers will find that it thoroughly satisfies. (Read Full Review)

A-

Red

For 90 largely plotless minutes, theatergoers are riveted to this play, unable to extricate themselves from both the performances and the show itself...Even as the performers' work together fascinates, their work individually scintillates. Molina, head shaved and eyes often hidden behind heavy black glasses, plays Rothko with ferocity and a level of tunnel-vision that borders on frightening. He strides the stage with leonine intensity and the artist's volcanic outbursts consistently startle. The performer also manages to capture the man's dichotomous moods of exhilaration and despair with not only controlled maniacal energy, but also genuine sensitivity. (Read Full Review)

A-

The Jacksonian

It's a universe that filled with gallows humor and violence, and though it's no place any one would really want to live, it's a terrific place to visit for an evening in the theater. (Read Full Review)

A-

In Acting Shakespeare

DeVita's felicitous delivery of Shakespeare would be more than enough to fill an evening at the theater, and on some levels, In Acting Shakespeare might be more successful if it contained only selections from the Bard's plays. (Read Full Review)

A-

God of Carnage

A thoughtful premise that can invoke gales of laughter. In Matthew Warchus' stylish production...Reza's quartet of outer borough combatants are impeccably brought to life by four stage and screen veterans...As much fun as there is to be had in "Carnage," the piece has its darker message and there are some questions or issues that it raises that feel under-developed or explored...Overall though, theatergoers will most likely not quibble with the former details as there's just too much fun to be had "Carnage," where four consummate actors are working at the top of their game. (Read Full Review)

A-

West Side Story

To say that the world, or the show, "went away" – to borrow from one of Sondheim's lyrics for "West Side" – after Scaglione and Cavanaugh delivered a ravishing "Tonight," would not be entirely accurate, but I will admit to tearing from Scaglione's first notes, and eagerly anticipating the next moments in which Maria would sing. Before and after this duet, the pleasures of "West Side" are considerable and even if Scaglione were less movingly impressive, this revival is vital and vibrant. From the moment the curtain rises on James Youmans' black and white rendering of city buildings and the old elevated train tracks – expressionistic to start but made more so by Howell Binkley's striking lighting design – the production captivates and the menace that dooms Tony and Maria's sweet love is palpable. (Read Full Review)

A-

The Coward

The show's a giddy romp that's been staged with flair by the increasingly indispensible director Sam Gold, who evinces a bevy of cunningly comic performances from his ensemble. (Read Full Review)

A-

The Lyons

Deliciously dark and hilarious...Silver's ability to find both the humor and pain in this ghoulish scenario proves to be a hallmark of the piece. (Read Full Review)

A-

Year Zero

From this scenario, which resembles a particularly thoughtful ABC Afterschool Special, Golamco spins a delicate portrait of lost souls attempting to discover their roots and navigate awkward relationships with one another. Director Will Frears has staged the episodic play with a gentle hand and elicited finely crafted performances from his ensemble....Although Golamco has overwritten the first half of "Year Zero," the second half proves to be incisive, both dramatically and thematically, leading to a haunting and hopeful climax. (Read Full Review)

A-

Middletown

[I]n this immaculately staged production from director Ken Rus Schmoll, this modern-day equivalent to Thornton Wilder's Our Town proves to be a richly engaging and satisfying theatrical experience ... Eno can indulge in preciousness, particularly just before the first act curtain, employing a bit of metatheatrics to turn the tables on the audience. And, although it's delightfully off-kilter, a scene involving two demanding tourists (Ed Jewett and Cindy Cheung) and a somewhat jaded tour guide (McKenna Kerrigan) overstates the play's themes. (Read Full Review)

A-

A Christmas Story

[D]evotees of the film, as well as theatergoers who have never seen (or even liked) the movie, will be pleased with what they find on stage. (Read Full Review)

A-

The Hunchback Variations

Messing's accomplished score is an aural smorgasbord that deftly revels in and fuses wide-ranging musical styles, from opera buffo to contemporary musical theater, from alternative jazz to musical minimalism. Paul Ghica (cello) and Christopher Sargent (piano) play it with beautiful delicacy, while the graceful tenor Wolff and the commandingly powerful bass-baritone Adams glide with precision over some exceptionally tricky melodic lines. (Read Full Review)

A-

Another Part of the Forest

For anyone who's ever wondered what the venomous characters in Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes might have been like when they were younger, the Peccadillo Theatre Company's delectable revival of Hellman's Another Part of the Forest, playing at the Theatre at St. Clement's, provides some answers. The play, originally produced some seven years after the success of Foxes, may not be as assured as its predecessor, but it is, nonetheless, a satisfying potboiler, served up with zest in director Dan Wackerman's generally taut staging. (Read Full Review)

A-

Uncle Vanya

Baker has crafted a sharp, modern-sounding text that's matched by the decidedly contemporary look of Soho Rep's production. Directed with leisurely care, albeit to sometimes-languorous extent, by Baker's frequent artistic partner Sam Gold, this Uncle Vanya gives audiences the chance to savor the work of a top-notch cast gloriously inhabiting Chekhov's ennui-filled characters. (Read Full Review)

A-

These Seven Sicknesses

Michael Wieser provides the fight choreography that ranges from testosterone-driven fisticuffs between Creon and Oedipus (Jeff Ronan) to the brutal murder of Clytemnestra (Akyiaa Wilson) by her children Elektra (played as a tortured punk teen by Betsy Lippitt) and Orestes (made a kind of disturbed cherub by Erik Olson). The pinnacle of Wieser's work is an astonishingly brutal, high energy battle sequence in which a delusional Ajax (Grant Harrison) slaughters a flock of sheep that in a fevered, angry delusion, he believes to be his enemies. (Read Full Review)

A-

Love Goes To Press

If one were to cross the classic newspaper comedy The Front Page with Noel Coward's Private Lives and an episode of the vintage television series M*A*S*H, they might end up with something very much like Martha Gellhorn and Virginia Cowles' delightful 1946 play... feels as light and airy as the wisecracks and zingers that fly alongside in this welcomely resurrected comic gem. (Read Full Review)

A-

The Lyons

Silver brings his titular clan together at the hospital bedside of patriarch Ben (given a perpetual sneer of desperation by Dick Latessa), who lies waiting for the moment when he will pass away from the cancer that has riddled his body. He's not going quietly though: he's decided to let loose with any expletive that suits him, much to the chagrin of his wife Rita (Lavin), whose chief concern, as the play opens, is how she will redecorate their home after she's widowed. Silver's ability to find both the humor and pain in this ghoulish scenario proves to be a hallmark of the piece. Lavin serves up the comedy with aplomb, and in a turn where each shift in vocal inflection and arching of a thin, sharply penciled eyebrow can speak volumes, she has the ability to make quips like "The chairs are the color of disgust. And the carpet is matted down with resignation." simply zing. Similarly, when the piece becomes more serious, her performance proves to have remarkable emotional depths. (Read Full Review)

A-

Misterman

Murphy plays Thomas Magill, a denizen of the small Irish town of Inishfree, who has sequestered himself inside a garage (production designer Jamie Vartan makes full use of the gargantuan space, creating a two story junk-filled labyrinth). In this cavern, Magill ritualistically revisits a cataclysmic day in his life (seemingly in perpetuity) with the assistance of reel-to-reel tape players scattered throughout the space, which allow him to bring his encounters with his "Mammy" and his neighbors from the time in question to life. (Read Full Review)

A-

Neighbourhood Watch

The intricate (and sometimes clandestine) relationships of this octet sends the committee and the play spiraling into hilarity and then, a bit out of control. In fact, there comes a point, after Hilda sets a plot in motion to save her brother from himself, that the play actually derails for a few minutes.

But ultimately -- thanks in part to the sprightly ensemble -- the work all rights itself, and the play ends with a decidedly wicked sight gag (courtesy of designer Pip Leckenby) that audiences should remember for some time to come, even as they ponder the deeper meanings of the play. (Read Full Review)

A-

The Scottsboro Boys (Off-Broadway)

Immensely satisfying...The inventive, consistently thought-provoking musical is performed as if it were a traveling minstrel show, presided over by the white Interlocutor (a winningly smarmy John Cullum)...The show-within-a-show conceit occasionally keeps theatergoers at a remove from the piece, but repeatedly audiences are sucked back into the men's harrowing tale...The score, which references cakewalks, New Orleans jazz, and gospel, may be one of the songwriting team's jauntiest and most instantly accessible. (Read Full Review)

A-

The Zero Hour

Rebecca and O's strained partnership and maternal baggage could be enough for one play, but George layers the proceedings with an additional level of fantasy. Rebecca is at work on a middle-school textbook about the Holocaust, and as tensions rise at home, she begins to imagine encounters with Nazis (all played by Cabell).... Guided by director Adam Greenfield, Cabell and Goethals turn in marvelous performances in their primary roles. Goethals is particularly notable for embracing all of Rebecca's increasingly angry and unattractive qualities. "The Zero Hour" is a work to savor. Even when George's writing falters, it fascinates. (Read Full Review)

B+

A Streetcar Named Desire

Theatergoers lucky enough to catch Cate Blanchett's astounding performance as Blanche DuBois in Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire, now playing at the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Harvey Theatre, will find the Academy Award-winning actress has cast this iconic role in an entirely fresh, and ultimately harrowing, light. (Read Full Review)

B+

The Bacchae

In JoAnne Akalaitis' measured and often compelling staging, the play's still-timely message about the danger of going to extremes is brought strikingly to life.... the greatest tragedy belongs to the spellbound Agave, who returns to the city proudly holding her son's head, announcing that she has killed a young lion. It's a horrific moment, made all the more so by MacIntosh's fierce commitment to the woman's wild delusion. Agave's dementia stuns as compared to the refinement of the other women revelers, portrayed as a Greek chorus, who gorgeously intone Philip Glass' majestic, dissonant melodies that are beautifully fitted to the lyrics in Nicholas Rudall's elegant translation. This group also performs David Neumann's precise choreography, which is filled with visual references to East Asian dance. (Their sequences, as well as the entire production, are lit with atmospheric eeriness by Jennifer Tipton.) (Read Full Review)

B+

Lenin's Embalmers

It's a tribute to both Thiessen's writing, which frequently gives a comic nod to the presentationalism of socialist theater, and director William Carden's production, that the play, which begins as farce and ends as tragedy, feels almost completely unified. The slow progression from a giddy, sometimes silly, portrait of early Communist Russia to a more dark and dangerous Soviet society is slow and subtle. Yet, even when it is at its most dark, there's a certain comic flair at work. Stalin's dictation of the telegram that results in the assassination of Trotsky (the multiply cast Michael Louis Wells shines as the doomed revolutionary) is a comic highpoint of the show, as is the arrival of the man (Steven Boyer), who carries out Stalin's death sentence. (Read Full Review)

B+

Unnatural Acts: Harvard's Secret Court of 1920

Theatergoers get a glimpse into a frightening and shameful chapter in Harvard University's history in Unnatural Acts, now playing at Classic Stage Company. And while the script, co-authored by some members of the ensemble, along with director Tony Speciale, has its uneven moments, the stylish production has a tremendous emotional impact. (Read Full Review)

B+

Into the Woods

Brims with playful inventiveness...At times, the effect is truly awe-inspiring, as when a group of performers with umbrellas ascend the central spiral staircase to gorgeously create the effect of the giant beanstalk...Even more impressive than [Murphy's] physical performance in the costume is the rich comic spirit, decidedly touching humanity, and ominous bitterness that are adroitly part of her portrayal of the crone...Unfortunately, it's difficult to not wish that there was more uniformity in the rest of the company. While O'Hare and Adams bring comic zest and emotional spark to their scenes, they are not always up to the vocal demands of the score. (Read Full Review)

B+

Amerissiah

While this scathing and frequently hilarious portrait of the American Dream gone horribly wrong ultimately veers into mawkish sentimentality, this lopsided theatrical experience is truly thought-provoking...Throughout, the writing in this Amoralists production is zestful, filled with scatological zingers and trippy non sequiturs, which the company delivers with gritty, though shrill, aplomb. Their work ensures laughter. It also forces theatergoers to contemplate the deeper meaning behind Ahonen's screwy comedy, and almost makes the play's unconvincing redemptive ending forgivable.
(Read Full Review)

B+

Baby It's You!

While Greenberg's history has the potential to be dramatically compelling, Floyd Mutrux and Colin Escott's clumsy book immeasurably undermines her story -- and the show is only truly enjoyable when serving up nearly 40 tunes from the period. (Read Full Review)

B+

Galileo

[W]hile a play about the famed astronomer's battles with the Catholic Church over his discovery that the earth rotates around the sun could make for a heavy evening of theatergoing, Brian Kulick's gently naturalistic staging, starring F. Murray Abraham in the title role, makes the work an easily digestible, and sporadically provocative, bio-drama.
(Read Full Review)

B+

The Human Scale

In The Human Scale, which the Public Theater is presenting at 3LD, Pulitzer Prize winner Lawrence Wright delves with a scholar's clinical precision into the recent, semi-distant and ancient history of the Gaza Strip and the ongoing hostilities that roar in the region. He's an even-handed observer, and his writing and performance are both thought-provoking and occasionally illuminating, if never truly theatrical. (Read Full Review)

B+

Creditors

Directed with precision by Alan Rickman who uses an eminently colloquial and performable new version by David Greig, the production consistently intrigues from start to finish. (Read Full Review)

B+

Love's Labour's Lost

At its very best, the new musical adaptation of Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost…exemplifies the kind of freewheeling, populist approach to the Bard that Public Theater founder Joseph Papp advocated and promoted. This show…is sexy, irreverent, oh-so-au courant. It's also a tuner that's slapdash, self-consciously referential, and even a little annoying. The company's bravura…is what ultimately transports audiences, and captures the nervous, pent-up energy underlying all of the nonsense. These are characters who are struggling to figure out not one, but two, age-old questions: "What do I want to be when I grow up?" and "How do I know if I'm really in love?" As in Shakespeare, the definitive answers never actually come in this new musical, nor is the sometimes patience-straining route to the non-answers a smooth one. Nevertheless, if you can just sit back and enjoy the merry ride, it's one that has its rewards.
(Read Full Review)

B+

Double Falsehood

To Kulick's credit, the play's varied tones and its sometimes disjointed storytelling blend into one satisfying whole, which seems both at once modern (thanks to Oana Botez-Ban's 1930s inspired costume designs) and other worldly (a sense reinforced by Christian Frederickson's soundscape and original score, which has an ethereal music box sound).
Equally impressive is the work of the company. Not only do the multiply cast Gill and Goodwin offer distinct portrayals of Henriquez' royal relatives, they also turn in individualized performances as shepherds and other secondary characters. The charismatic Holmgren makes Henriquez a distastefully likeable villain, while Apgar's Julio makes for a passionate if pitiable hero. As Leonora's passively aggressive father, Devries finds a terrific balance between gentle love and stern, often cruel, paternal totalitarianism. (Read Full Review)

B+

Don't Go Gentle

Belber mitigates the predictability through distinctly uncomfortable yet profoundly telling barbs from the characters, and director Lucie Tiberghien’s taut staging and the actors’ terrifically nuanced turns consistently command attention. The exceptional work extends from Cristofer’s deliciously ambiguous yet never confusing turn as the patriarch, who is attempting to atone for what he now perceives as a misdirected life, to Lewis’ gently crafted performance as a woman maturing into a sure self identity and Barnes’ work as the simultaneously sympathetic and loathsome Ben. (Read Full Review)

B+

Timon of Athens

It's a sad tale that unfolds in one of the Bard's most disjointed and pedantically moralistic plays, but thanks to director Barry Edelstein's robust and exceptionally lucid staging and Richard Thomas' intelligent and frequently affecting performance, the production sparks with life with surprising regularity ... The sense of the play's timeless message about the nature of true friendship and the tenuousness of affluence is underscored beautifully by a top-notch physical production. Neil Patel's scenic design encompasses both contemporary chic and a sense of urban homelessness (in the play's second half) with the use of a huge blue tarp and panels from cardboard packing crates. Russell H. Champa gives the production a distinct edge with his dramatically shifting lighting design as does Curtis Moore's jagged and terrifically conceived original score for electric guitar. (Read Full Review)

B+

Marry Me A Little

At one point during "Boy, Can That Boy Foxtrot" (a tune dropped from Follies) – which the female character launches into after receiving a text – the show even includes a bit of playful sexting. While that sort of specificity -- which is also seen in Tam's character's delivery of "Ah, But Underneath" (written for the London production of Follies and one of the new songs in this show) which is inspired as he gazes at an engagement ring that's either never been given or been returned -- creates certain expectations of similar naturalism, Silverstein's sometimes overly fussy production too often shifts into a less concrete and more dreamlike reality. At those moments, audiences may find themselves struggling to understand why Him and Her have broken into songs like "Your Eyes Are Blue" (cut from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum) or "Rainbows" (written for the film version of Into the Woods and never-before performed until this production.) (Read Full Review)

B+

Heroes

Goes down pretty smoothly...Translated with a sort of amiable colloquialism by Tom Stoppard...Under the steady hand of director Carl Forsman, the trio of Broadway veterans turns in solid performances that are filled with delightful quirks and moving nuance. And, though the play evaporates like a gentle wind that might blow through across the terrace where these distinguished veterans pass the time, the opportunity to see these three men exert their not insignificant talents alongside one another is a grand one. (Read Full Review)

B+

Penelope

Directed with precision by Mikel Murfi, it's haunting and hilarious stuff, and theatergoers may find it difficult to forget either the play's comic opening scene, in which Quinn roasts a sausage with a blowtorch, or its final one, after more blood has been spilled.
(Read Full Review)

B+

Job

Playwright Thomas Bradshaw takes audiences on a simultaneously unsettling and exhilarating journey through one of the best known tales from the Old Testament...Directed with impressive felicity by Benjamin H. Kamine in the Flea's tiny basement venue, and featuring a company of 21, the show riffs on its source material in ways that are concurrently hysterical, cringe-inducing, and thought-provoking throughout its 60-minute running time. (Read Full Review)

B+

Blood and Gifts

Directed with understated theatricality by Bartlett Sher, the production, both swirling and static, is filled with a host of fine performances...There's a certain Shakespearean quality to the play, where themes of procreation and sacrifice intertwine like verbal leitmotifs, that is mirrored in Michael Yeargan's handsomely spare scenic design. (Read Full Review)

B+

After the Revolution

A young woman attempts to make sense of her present and plan for the future all the while confronting the past in Amy Herzog's thoughtful After the Revolution, playing at Playwrights Horizons. The work shines in large part, because Carolyn Cantor's sensitively directed production is filled with a host of exceptional performances, which often mitigate some of the excesses in the piece's overly convenient plotting. (Read Full Review)

B+

Peter and the Starcatcher

Even as theatergoers enjoy the production's many fancies, they must also endure the ungainly collision of innocent whimsy, hip sarcasm, and sophomoric humor that pervades the evening, causing hairprin shifts in tone...The show's scene stealer remains Christian Borle, playing Black Stache, the pirate who will become Captain Hook. Looking and acting a bit like a foppish villain from a 19th-century melodrama who's been crossed with Charlie Chaplin, Borle continues to attack the role with comedic abandon, although he has modulated his turn gently, so that it often seems funnier than it did originally. (Read Full Review)

B+

Lysistrata Jones

Anyone who worried that the charms of the delightful musical Lysistrata Jones, now playing at Broadway's Walter Kerr Theatre, might be diminished by its new, more capacious venue, can rest assured that the production -- directed and choreographed by Dan Knechtges -- is even more zestful in its new home. (Read Full Review)

B+

Olive and the Bitter Herbs

Throughout the first act, and part of the second, director Mark Brokaw's production zips merrily from scene to scene. But during the piece's final moments in which the characters reveal long-held secrets and buried memories that reveal how truly interconnected they are to one another -- and, perhaps, the specter -- the play simply feels manipulatively forced.

Still, audiences are apt to forgive Busch's misstep, since the show is simply too lovable to hold a grudge against for long, sort of like Olive herself. (Read Full Review)

B+

The Wiz

Korins' framework for the Kansas farmhouse that's blown away by a tornado shatters with amazing grace and beauty (with some assistance from the dancers performing Andy Blankenbuehler's frequently clever and surprising choreography). When Dorothy (Ashanti) and her pals -- Scarecrow (Christian Dante White), Tinman (Joshua Henry) and Lion (James Monroe Iglehart) -- stumble upon the poppy field that threatens to put them all into an opiate-induced sleep, a swath of green fabric transforms with a lithesome group of dancers whom Tazewell has clad in green leotards with wispy red headdresses... Under the circumstances, it's difficult not to wish that Ashanti provided a similar luminescence. The young R&B star has a powerhouse voice that's well suited for Charlie Smalls' songs; but the gusto which she displays while singing rarely carries to the show's book scenes, where her work is sweet but unremarkable. Thankfully, Dorothy's compatriots are more engaging, particularly White's rubber-jointed and often hilarious turn as Scarecrow; he seems to channel Ray Bolger from the MGM film and Eddie Murphy simultaneously. Equally impressive is Henry, who brings a heartfelt smoothness to Tinman's lush ballad "What Would I Do If I Could Feel?" (Read Full Review)

B+

In the Footprint: The Battle Over Atlantic Yards

Likely to...move not only those individuals who live in the potentially affected area but any New Yorker with a sense of pride about his or her neighborhood. Steve Cosson and co-writer Jocelyn Clarke have expertly curated the views and feelings (taken from interviews and the public record) of a wide array of people about the plan to use eminent domain to secure the land for the development. As director, Cosson proves equally deft at deploying his six-member ensemble in the cleverly chosen space that's not only a stone's throw from the spot where the development is to take place but also a converted gymnasium ripe for a game of hoops. It's impossible not to feel the irony of it all as the company moves like a drill team through the show, rapidly switching between roles...The company (Matthew Dellapina, Donnetta Lavinia Grays, Billy Eugene Jones, Greg McFadden, Simone Moore, and Colleen Werthmann) consistently delivers these individuals' words with passion, but a lack of specificity in characterization sometimes leads to confusion. (Read Full Review)

B+

The Great Game: Afghanistan

Offers a fascinating series of snapshots of events -- both public and private -- in the country's history over the course of nearly 170 years. And while the writing for the epic works proves uneven, there is a sweep to the event -- which Nicholas Kent and Indhu Rubasingham have directed jointly with impressive economy -- that proves to be unquestionably compelling. In part, the credit belongs to the superlative work of a company that switches between roles with the skill of human chameleons. (Read Full Review)

B+

Water by the Spoonful

It's tough not to walk into Quiara Alegría Hudes' Water by the Spoonful at Second Stage Theatre with some pretty high expectations. After all, the show picked up the 2012 Pulitzer Prize. And, while audiences' anticipation for this sometimes meandering and overstuffed drama might have been raised a bit too high by the imprimatur of the award, the piece, and production staged by Davis McCallum, has its share of rewards, proving both touching and moving. (Read Full Review)

B+

Russian Transport

Under Scott Elliott's direction, the company handles the bilingual demands of the script, the Russian accents, and the way in which character must carefully reveal themselves and their true intents with varying levels of success. Garofalo, though sometimes thrown by the technical demands of the piece, delivers a passionate turn as matriarch Diana. Some of her finest work comes when she's playing off of Oreskes' portrayal of Misha, which deftly combines rage, helplessness, and intense patriarch love. (Read Full Review)

B+

Now the Cats With Jewelled Claws

Thanks to the surehanded staging from director Jonathan Warman and a fine cast, this mere squib of a play provokes both laughs and thought...The company blithely and gamely rises to each increasingly curious turn in the play. (Read Full Review)

B+

John Gabriel Borkman

Any staging of Henrik Ibsen's rarely performed John Gabriel Borkman now at BAM is is a welcome treat for theatergoers. And director James Macdonald's uneven new production, which originated at Ireland's Abbey Theater, boasts two powerful and often frightening turns from British stars Lindsay Duncan and Fiona Shaw. When the two actresses share the stage, the production not only sparks with unexpected humor, but brilliantly catches fire... As the faded, yet still vital, Borkman, Rickman delivers sturdily, but never as intensely. The performer's deep voice certainly demands attention, but somehow in portraying this man who has convinced himself that he has wronged no one but himself, Rickman turns in a performance that is overly muted (particularly under Jean Kalman's overly dim lighting design). (Read Full Review)

B+

Pants on Fire's Metamorphoses

To be sure, there are some misfires, including the heavy-handed ending, in which Tiresias predicts a new kind of war. Similarly, the sequence involving the battle between Theseus (Alex Packer) and the minotaur, which casts the hero as a soldier recuperating from war injuries, derails despite a promising underlying conceit about the injuries a soldier has sustained while fighting. It's difficult, though, to fault this misstep, given what follows, a bittersweet musical rendering of Ariadne's transformation into an island, featuring the classic "Am I Blue?" And, it is certainly to composer Lucy Egger's credit that the balance of the songs in the show sound just as authentic to the period as this familiar torch song standard. (Read Full Review)

B+

The Big Meal

It's a swift, frequently humorous, and occasionally touching work filled with challenges that both director Sam Gold and a nine-member ensemble meet with aplomb. (Read Full Review)

B+

Blood From a Stone

Plays don't get more brutal -- for both the characters and audiences -- than Tommy Nohilly's Blood From a Stone, now being presented by The New Group at Theatre Row. Directed with an astute matter-of-factness by Scott Elliott and performed with electrifying ferocity, this unflinching portrait of familial dysfunction sets theatergoers reeling in the most satisfying of ways...What's perhaps most remarkable about the work are the surprising insights into the warmth and humanity that lives underneath the characters' flaws and cruelty, which makes it all too clear why Hawke's deftly crafted and nuanced Travis finds it so difficult to distance himself from them. Dowd, a spitfire throughout, displays it when Margaret shares a silent exchange with Travis as he opens a comic Christmas card from her "friend" Jerry. Theatergoers witness this side of the character later in the play, too, when she attempts to make amends with Matt, a heartbreaking man-child in Guiry's careful turn. (Read Full Review)

B

Oliver Parker!

Elizabeth Meriwether's Oliver Parker!, which stageFARM is currently producing at the Cherry Lane Theatre, brings to mind Joe Orton's plays as it finds comedy in some of the darkest corners of our contemporary world. It's a bracing, yet only fitfully satisfying, black comedy that's enhanced immeasurably by four remarkably daring performances. (Read Full Review)

B

Three Pianos

Metatheatrics collide with schoolboy humor and classical music...The show is an ambitious mash-up, and can be, by turns, touching and illuminating. But at two-plus intermissionless hours, it also feels overextended, despite the trio's impressive musicianship, a truly gorgeous physical production that's been guided by Rachel Chavkin, and the free wine that flows copiously throughout the audience...Whenever theatergoers' patience with the show wears thin, the music returns, and when this happens, the guys consistently triumph...Additionally, the piece looks gorgeous. (Read Full Review)

B

Still Life

Despite Dinelaris' shrewd characterizations and the cast's carefully considered performances, stretches of Still Life seem forced and hollow. The back story and ramifications of Joanne's relationship with Carrie Ann and her father never ring true. Similarly, Terry's brazen come-ons to women seem like pale imitations of macho behavior for the 1990s rather than the behavior of a desensitized man in the early 21st Century. Yet despite its flaws, the play remains interesting, thanks to its sometimes sharp insights and frequently crackling dialogue. It's a series of theatrical snapshots that simply need to be more cohesively ordered. (Read Full Review)

B

The Witch of Edmonton

The work...is so rarely staged that any opportunity to see it is welcome, and while director Jesse Berger's production is unevenly performed, there is much to savor in this latest offering from the Red Bull Theater...Berger's production...unfolds briskly on Anika Lupes' unique set...Not only does Berger ensure that theatergoers are able to rapidly grasp the intricacies of the relationships between the characters, and the varying social classes from which they come, he also handles many of the flights of fancy in the script with aplomb, including several apparitions and the bizarre appearance of a mad woman (a grand cameo turn by Everett Quinton). Given Berger's surehandededness with an unwieldy text, it's unfortunate that he has not managed to elicit more satisfying performances from many of the actors featured in the marriage-plot sequences. (Read Full Review)

B

Black Tie

As directed with efficiency by Mark Lamos, Black Tie is never really any more filling than one of the hors d'oeuvres that might be passed during cocktails at the offstage party, but even so, it proves to be a beguiling theatrical experience. (Read Full Review)

B

Magic/Bird

Basketball fans will find themselves reliving some thrilling moments in the game's history...While the play may not be as successful in delivering the story of the years-long relationship between Los Angeles Lakers star Earvin "Magic" Johnson (Kevin Daniels) and Boston Celtics great Larry Bird (Tug Coker), the work of a tireless company makes the production a pleasant -- and sometimes even touching -- theatrical experience. (Read Full Review)

B

The Age of Iron

Kulick guides many of his actors to strong performances. Benko's work deepens remarkably as the play moves forward; a moment when she must face both Menelaus (Luis Moreno), the husband she's deserted, and her lover is quite powerful. Steven Skybell offers a gorgeously spoken and exceptionally intelligent turn as Ulysses, and Elliot Villar serves up a commanding portrayal of Hector, which brings to mind a preening sports star. In an intriguing bit of cross-gender casting, Xanthe Elbrick plays Achilles' best friend Patroclus, and she also proves exceptionally moving as Hector's wife, Andromache. Bill Christ as Ajax, the most thuggish of the Greeks, soars to almost heartbreaking heights as this soldier realizes how his compatriots have turned on him. Only Dion Mucciacito's confusingly vague interpretation of Achilles and Graham Winton's one-note rendering of Agamemnon disappoint. (Read Full Review)

B

The Temperamentals

Jonathan Silverstein’s staging can be hurriedly fussy, attempting to create a sense of whirlwind in the group’s clandestine activities. But when the production slows down, it’s impossible not to be moved by events as diverse as the trial of a man entrapped in a public bathroom and Hay and Gernreich’s awkward longing to hold hands as they sing a Christmas carol at a family gathering. The work offers satisfying theatergoing that enlightens and also instills a desire to learn more about this unheralded slice of gay American history. (Read Full Review)

B

Completeness

While there might be some ponderous moments as the characters wax eloquent on the theories of protein-protein interaction or on the finer points of computer algorithms, the show is grounded by two enormously appealing performances by Karl Miller and Aubrey Dollar that make any of the show's languors almost inconsequential. (Read Full Review)

B

Circle Mirror Transformation

Classes in creative dramatics reveal more than talent for a group of relative strangers in Annie Baker's charming, but never completely satisfying, Circle Mirror Transformation, now at Playwrights Horizons' Peter Jay Sharp Theatre ... For anyone who's been involved in theater, Baker's play will provide no real revelations about the power of theater games. But anything that the work may lack in terms of insight into this subject is more than compensated for by the subtle challenges it provides the performers, whose main job is to create the inner lives of their characters ... Thankfully, the performers rise to the challenge in director Sam Gold's detail-rich production, ultimately providing theatergoers with a certain voyeur-like experience. (Read Full Review)

B

Banished Children of Eve

There's a Dickensian sweep to Kelly Younger's Banished Children of Eve...It's an electrifying piece of history that director Ciarán O'Reilly and his fine ensemble bring to the stage with flair, even as Younger's script proves problematic in its ability to balance history and fictional narrative...The show takes flight when Younger becomes less concerned with these social issues, and it's difficult to not worry along with the women about Squirt's well-being on the streets and to not hope that perhaps there's a happy ending in store for Jack and Eliza. Younger also stumbles in his integration of composer Stephen Foster (Malcolm Gets) into the play. (Read Full Review)

B

The Maids

The action for this energetic revival unfolds within the confines of a plywood cube containing an ornate, mirror-dotted, incarnadine boudoir into which the audience peers from four sides. It’s a handsome and rather ingenious creation from set designer Dane Laffrey, one that underscores the inherent theatricality of the script and its characters’ role-playing games. Concurrently, it’s a design and conceit that also proves to be the production’s undoing, because in its intimacy the performers’ strengths and weaknesses are put into sharp—and not always flattering—relief. (Read Full Review)

B

House For Sale

The work falters, though, when Fish's direction becomes heavy-handed, such as the sequence when the company is all running in place while the narrator expresses the pressure he feels (from his other siblings, as well as from himself as he thinks about what his deceased mother would want) to make a quick, profitable sale.
Nevertheless, being on the roller coaster of Franzen's emotions and memories in this discomfiting, but strangely satisfying show, is a mostly worthwhile ride. (Read Full Review)

B

Empire

Audiences who have come to expect a certain giddy raunchiness in Spiegelworld’s productions—presented in an early-20th-century Belgian wooden structure known as the Spiegeltent, which the company has pitched in various Manhattan locations over the years—may find “Empire” a trifle tame. Yes, there are flirtations with striptease and one full-monty gag from a guy, but now that the intimate Spiegeltent is in Midtown, the show seems to have been curated to inspire gasps of awe from tourists. (Read Full Review)

B

Kin

The play is filled with smart, staccato dialogue that the expert company brings to life with sensitivity, and some hilarious zingers, which never sound as if they've been ripped from sitcoms. However, the episodic (and intermissionless) play feels overwritten at times, which can lead to impatience on the part of some audience members, and director Sam Gold's staging leans toward the overly busy, utilizing the spare ever-shifting scenic design from Paul Steinberg. (Read Full Review)

B

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Loyacano and Stanek work assiduously in both halves of the show. Early on, they find the sweetness in the couple's impetuous early days, only occasionally allowing their performances to turn saccharine. And, as the marriage fails and life becomes increasingly difficult for Katie, Loyacano's performance takes on a decided hardness that can be chilling. Equally effective is the sadness that creeps into Stanek's turn as Johnny's dreams of fame as a singer disappear into the bottom of his bottle. There are also several fine performances from the ensemble, particularly from Lianne Marie Dobbs, who plays the woman whom Johnny jilts for Katie, and Timothy Shew, who's lovable as Sissy's put-upon live-in boyfriend. (Read Full Review)

B

Suicide, Incorporated

Early on, it seems as if the play belongs to Jason, but once the reasons for his actions are made clear, the play becomes increasingly about Norm and what has pushed him to the brink. But even after this shift has occurred, the playwright keeps ratcheting up the drama surrounding Jason in vain, and ultimately overloads the brief 85-minute piece. Nevertheless, Ebert proves exceptionally appealing, delivering a performance that's both gentle and intensely felt, and McMenamin's turn as hangdog Norm provokes both bemused smiles and waves of empathy. (Read Full Review)

B

The Jackie Look

It's an intriguing, decidedly intelligent and humor-filled discourse, but it also rambles, contains only intermittent sparks of revelatory insight, and feels decidedly anti-theatrical. But the looseness of the script and performance is deceptive, because by the time Finley reaches her conclusion—a passionate and shrewd appropriation of daughter Caroline Kennedy's frequent use of "you know"—the show has built to a keenly felt emotional, and frighteningly admonishing, climax. (Read Full Review)

B

Chimichangas and Zoloft

A chief problem is that Sonia's monologues, which Guevara delivers with a cunning combination of bluntness and vulnerability, stall the dramatic momentum. Further, the characters' problems are an uncomfortable mixture of adult nighttime serial drama and afterschool special. Nevertheless, Coppel's rich use of language—which matches quick, unexpected zingers with poignant uses of lyricism—and the terrifically detailed and deeply felt performances exert a pull. In addition to Guevara's fine work, Zilles' sharply etched turn is a standout, bringing Jackie's insecurities and almost unnatural maturity to life with remarkable skill. When daughter finally confronts staid father, it's difficult to tell who is the parent and who is the child. (Read Full Review)

B

The Philanderer

It's a merry lark that brims with laughs and thought-provoking ideas, and though there may be a few barren stretches in which director Gus Kaikkonen and his talented cast find themselves stymied by some of the playwright's contrivances, the production ultimately proves terrifically satisfying...The play proves most satisfying when old-world behavior conflicts against that of the new. (Read Full Review)

B

The Temperamentals

* Jonathan Silverstein’s staging can be hurriedly fussy, attempting to create a sense of whirlwind in the group’s clandestine activities. But when the production slows down, it’s impossible not to be moved by events as diverse as the trial of a man entrapped in a public bathroom and Hay and Gernreich’s awkward longing to hold hands as they sing a Christmas carol at a family gathering. The work offers satisfying theatergoing that enlightens and also instills a desire to learn more about this unheralded slice of gay American history. (Read Full Review)

B

Fly Me to the Moon

Tumelty imbues Frances with an edge of desperation that's tempered by a softness that helps to make each of the character's designs for enriching herself and Loretta seem almost entirely necessary, but never mean-spirited. The actress also proves to be a deft physical comedienne during a hysterical sequence in which Frances must maneuver the late Davy's wheelchair across the stage using only one arm (as she pretends to be her semi-paralyzed charge). O'Neill, a queen of the double and triple take, makes Frances a sweet, and initially guileless, charmer and shades her performance with a fluttery earthiness that's a terrific compliment to Tumlety's wilier turn. And when Loretta explains the truly dire straits she's facing at home, O'Neill's work has a depth of emotion and sadness that's undeniably touching. (Read Full Review)

B

The Submission

Racial stereotypes and bigotry are boldly addressed -- to both uncomfortable and comedic effect -- in Jeff Talbott's The Submission. It's a daring piece of writing that doesn't always succeed, but the production, directed with hard-hitting flair by Walter Bobbie and featuring exceptional performances from Jonathan Groff and Rutina Wesley, nevertheless proves to be a riveting affair.

(Read Full Review)

B

When We Go Upon the Sea

Blessing's writing is mercifully subtle ... It makes for a thought-provoking look at what guides the man's decision-making processes. But, as refreshing as Blessing's approach is to Bush, it's never entirely clear what he may want audiences to glean from the play, which could be interpreted as some sort of hell-like or purgatorial experience for George ... Regardless of intent or meaning, the piece has been staged with economy and gentle flair by Paul Meshejian and is filled with a trio of truly enjoyable performances. McCarty, who distills an essence of Bush, proves to be a commanding presence, surprisingly likeable and even a little endearing as the former commander-in-chief. Schmitz's work as Piet is creepily riveting and Carson's beautifully crafted turn as the seductress, who proves to be something of a tormentor as well, is rich in nuance. (Read Full Review)

B

A Minister's Wife

The score, which also communicates the characters' deep emotions, is certainly not an easy one for artists to perform. The music intersects and interrupts Shaw's original (which has been shrewdly pared down and reshaped by bookwriter Austin Pendleton and is heard in Jan Levy Tranen's lyrics) and the melodic lines can have a tricky art song-like quality. And yet, at each turn, the cast, guided surehandedly by director Michael Halberstam, never wavers vocally, even as they bring the story and characters into sharp focus. (Read Full Review)

B

Bloodsong of Love

While there are laughs to be had in Iconis' book, too often he dulls them. For each precisely aimed jab at the genre or at society in general, there are a bushel of ideas and jokes that only reiterate what the audience has already heard. This failing extends to Iconis' pleasantly tuneful country-western rock songs, which latch on to an intriguing or even hilarious conceit and then belabor it...The action unfolds with flair and rapidity, thanks in no small part to Michael Schweikardt's clever set design. And while Chris Dallos' lighting creates a warm and occasionally surreal atmosphere, the real glow comes from Iconis' and the show's promise—which could be fulfilled with the right revisions. (Read Full Review)

B

The Little Foxes

Yet, even as the production causes the heart to race, theatergoers can't help but escape asking themselves about some of the director's choices. On one level the physical violence against the women certainly underscores their powerlessness at the turn of the last century, but as the violence extends to man-against-man, this interpretation feels incomplete. Perhaps van Hove hopes to make the aggressiveness of the characters' avarice physically palpable, but on many levels, such a choice feels curiously unnecessary: Hellman's vipers' words and deeds are cruel enough. Some may also question the show's drop-dead chic contemporary fashions (costume design by Kevin Guyer) and its lack of Southern accents, as well as of van Hove's customary use of video, all of which is likely merely meant to underscore how the family's greed mirrors our world today. Fortunately, the production is blessed by a number of meticulously executed performances. (Read Full Review)

B-

Oohrah!

These quirky characters all collide in ways that should, theoretically, amuse and touch, but unfortunately, Brunstetter's unfocused script means that a potentially charming slice of Southern life becomes an often less-than-satisfying theatrical experience...This sense of aimlessness is only exacerbated by director Evan Cabnet's overly speedy and often too broad staging within the awkward and claustrophobic confines of Lee Savage's two-level scenic design...Nevertheless, there are glimmers of poignancy and terrific humor in both the writing and performances, particularly whenever Mudge and Beck share the stage together...With some judicious revisions, OOHRAH! might be something to cheer about.

Talkin' Broadway C+
(Matthew Murray) Well-constructed but ungrounded evening...pretends it’s a mild-mannered glimpse at American ennui but gradually reveals itself as little more than a tightly controlled rant...Brunstetter is at her strongest when she’s focusing on the seeds of separation the seven are sowing - you can imagine most enemy combatants would inflict less pain on Ron than Sara when she suggests he become a manager at Krispy Kreme...But Brunstetter’s skill at plumbing family discord doesn’t translate to larger-scale storytelling. Her second-act attempts to tie everyone’s anger and unease to the country itself seem politically desperate, and transform Oohrah! from a sensible, house-bound study of suburban agitation and into a roiling apologia most of the scenes are too flimsy to support. (Read Full Review)

B-

The Illusion

A rich play -- and one that would benefit from a more even production than the one being seen here...It's a concoction that requires more than a little forbearance from theatergoers, particularly due to Michael Mayer's loving, but too leisurely, staging. But even when audiences find their patience with the piece's high-blown and fractured dramatics have become strained, Kushner's script bursts with a wondrous piece of linguistic imagery or a truly fanciful performance takes center stage, and one is instantly pulled back into the production. (Read Full Review)

B-

The Shaggs: Philosophy of the World

It's an ambitious new musical that inspires almost consistent admiration, while also proving to be curiously distancing...Composer Gunnar Madsen ably matches the group's curious musicianship in his score, simultaneously echoing the sounds of the period, while also pursuing an atonality similar to the The Shaggs' disharmonies...Similarly, the lyrics -- penned by Madsen with bookwriter Joy Gregory -- have a bluntness that also echoes the work heard on the recording...A similar sketchy, descriptive quality applies to Gregory's book...While all three actresses sing the difficult score with gusto, they rarely further illuminate the characters. (Read Full Review)

B-

Is Life Worth Living?

Director Jonathan Bank has given Living an appropriately breezy staging but has elicited a surprisingly divergent array of performances from the company. As Hector and Constance, the unwitting forces of change in this Irish hamlet, both Kilner and Baker seem to relish the opportunity to play hams of a theatrical era long-past ... While Daly's portrayal of the fussily scattered Lizzie and Outerbridge's sensitive rendering of Eddie are delightful, the rest of the cast can be curiously uneven. For example, after an almost wooden initial appearance as Annie, Dowling delivers a charmingly sprightly performance during her later scenes. In supporting roles, Erin Moon and John Keating find nuance and humanity in the stereotypically written characters of servants at the hotel, but Jeremy Lawrence, as a doddering elected official, and Grant Neale, as an ambitious reporter who descends on the town to investigate a rash of aberrant behavior among the Inish populace, hew pretty closely to clichés in their work. Scenic designer Susan Zeeman Rogers provides the cheerful (and somewhat stylized) floral sitting room in which the action unfolds and Jeff Nellis' lighting design manages to get one of the biggest laughs in this amiable play about the sometimes unexpected power of theater to transform its audiences. (Read Full Review)

B-

Side Effects

Like its predecessor, Fifty Words, this new play brims with emotional pyrotechnics even as it sheds light on a pivotal (but unseen) character in the earlier work. But despite fiercely committed performances from stars Joely Richardson and Cotter Smith, this melodramatic and sometimes sketchy play, directed by David Auburn, strains theatergoers' credulity. (Read Full Review)

B-

A Lifetime Burning

Cram's play is about much more than falsifying one's past in print, but even as the piece engages and amuses, it also strains under the weight of Cram's ambitiousness ... Burning becomes a distaff American riff on Irish plays where alcohol spurs the revelation of secrets and long-simmering resentments. Perhaps best of all, the play is also a terrific indictment of the reality-obsessed culture in which we live ... Unfortunately, Cram stumbles with her rich mixture of themes and stories; the play also tackles Tess' disintegrating marriage, the nature of opposites attracting, and eventually, the reality of the childhood that the sisters shared. While Pam MacKinnon's direction is zestful, it never successfully unifies the sometimes bewildering array of ideas and themes Cram has included in the piece. Still, the cast's grand performances make it almost possible to overlook Cram's excessive writing. (Read Full Review)

B-

All's Well That Ends Well

The play is perhaps one of Shakespeare's most tricky to perfectly calibrate in performance, and although director Daniel Sullivan offers up a lucid, crowd-pleasing production, there is also a sense of shallowness to the bitter love affair at the show's center...While audiences may see this romance as a somewhat resistible love affair, the production's comedy shines remarkably, thanks to a show-stealing turn from Reg Rogers. (Read Full Review)

B-

The Winslow Boy

A pair of masterful performances from Tony Award winner Roger Rees and his co-star Charlotte Parry are just enough of an anchor to stabilize Lindsay Posner's rocky revival of Terence Rattigan's The Winslow Boy, which opened last night at Roundabout Theatre Company's American Airlines Theatre. (Read Full Review)

B-

Carrie

This new production, directed with swift precision by Stafford Arima, benefits remarkably from the framing device by book writer Lawrence D. Cohen, with the story now told as a flashback as Sue is interrogated by unseen police about the events at the prom. (Conversely, there's now a tentativeness about the show's timeframe; a smattering of cell phone and Facebook references are not enough to make the show feel as if it's taking place in the present and not the 1970s.) Further, the production unfolds within the creepy confines of a badly charred gymnasium (scenic design by David Zinn). There's something genuinely unsettling about the space, particularly before the show begins in earnest and the ghostly sounds of a school in happier times are heard (excellent sound design by Jonathan Deans). (Read Full Review)

B-

Death Takes a Holiday

It's not the specter of the grim reaper that hangs most prominently over the new musical...it's the production's tenuousness and uncertain theatricality. ...Doug Hughes' staging alternates between efficiency and fussiness, which only underscores the musical's weaknesses. ...The show [has] a frequently glib, almost screwball comedy-like, patina that's at odds with Yeston's lush, romantic, and often operetta-like, score. ...Ovenden's charismatic, gently playful, and often sensual [Death] ...shares a remarkable chemistry with a terrifically poised Paice...
Audiences will savor all of these performances... [in] this imperfect show. (Read Full Review)

B-

All New People

Braff inexorably weighs the show down with dark backstories for the characters, which are awkwardly revealed in video flashbacks. (Projection designer Aaron Rhyne has expertly crafted these sequences, which feature grand cameos from Kevin Conway, Tony Goldwyn, and S. Epatha Merkerson.) Even more cumbersome—and implausible—is the way in which Emma and Myron turn on one another to reveal their histories to Charlie and Kim. To their credit, director Peter DuBois and the ensemble traverse the show's vagaries with aplomb, serving up Braff's sitcom-inspired jokes with precision and making the most of asides, which in their obliqueness are funnier than the easy gags. And even when the script hits its bleakest points or awkwardly turns to the characters' spiritual beliefs (or lack thereof), there is a buoyancy to the production. (Read Full Review)

B-

First Date

It's the sort of encounter, culminating with Aaron and Casey's goodnight to one another, which could provide the fodder for maybe the first two scenes of a musical, not much more. So, to fill out 90 minutes of stage time, the show's creators have packed it with fantasy sequences in which the central characters imagine possible outcomes to their relationships, are visited by loved ones, and remember previous lovers. The result is a book musical that feels a more like a revue. There's no doubt that songwriters Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner provide some delicious material for these moments. A crowd-pleaser early on is a electro-rap that's delivered by Casey's gay BFF Reggie as he makes a bailout phone call to her. Unfortunately, Reggie - and the song - make two more appearances, sadly diminishing the impact of the character and the tune. (Read Full Review)

B-

Julius Caesar

There's a visceral and even sometimes thrilling savagery inherent in Lucy Bailey's staging of Julius Caesar, which the Royal Shakespeare Company is now performing in rep at the Park Avenue Armory as part of the Lincoln Center Festival. It's certainly a robust interpretation, but in overly concentrating on the ambience of the production, Bailey and the company often lose sight of the human drama that propels the Bard's Roman tragedy.
(Read Full Review)

B-

Peter and the Starcatcher

The drama unfolds within the confines of a lavishly gilded false proscenium arch from scenic designer Donyale Werle, whose inventiveness for the piece's many locales, sumptuously lit by Jeff Croiter, seems to know no bounds. It's equally enjoyable to slowly discover the questions the story attempts to answer, including how Peter came to be able to live without a shadow and how Captain Hook came to be missing his hand. Even as theatergoers enjoy these fancies, they must also endure a certain sense of whiplash in the show -- and may even find themselves growing extremely weary from the script's dichotomies -- and yet, it remains impossible to not savor the absolutely charming and often fearlessly committed performances. (Read Full Review)

B-

Vieux Carre

Just as these visuals evoke the sexual liberation that surrounded Williams in his late life, Jane's off-the-shoulder top and tight skirt bring to mind films from the early 1960s, which seemed to be humorously invoking Williams' and other writer's depictions of the South. Elsewhere, the house's black maid Nursie (Kaneza Schaal) is a cross between a Valley girl and crude stereotypical Topsy -- an intriguing blend of 1980s aural cues and 1930s visual ones. Each of these choices -- as well as the increasing use of projected text as The Writer bangs away on his typewriter, giving the sense that he is composing the scenes as they unfold -- can't fail to provoke or intrigue theatergoers' imaginations. Yet, after one has come to appreciate LeCompte's multi-tiered approach, the show plateaus dramatically, undermining much of what had been so previously riveting.
(Read Full Review)

B-

Killers and Other Family

McRae makes Danny captivatingly sexy and feral ... Similarly, Soule seamlessly navigates Lizzie's complex relationships with her brother, old friend, and partner, as well as the twists and turns in Lizzie's behavior as her old life and new life crash together. It's an enormously powerful and deeply moving performance. Director Caitriona McLaughlin's fine work with her ensemble -- which includes solid and often affecting turns from Eaves and Cash -- is to be commended. The characters' often unpredictable behavior never seems unnatural, which helps immensely in mitigating the sometimes formulaic nature of Thurber's play. At the same time, though, McLaughlin's ültra-naturalistic approach to the material makes some of Thurber's absurdist flights difficult to accept ... As with the flourishes in Thurber's writing, [some of the] design elements don't gibe with the overarching realism of the production, and as a result, Lizzie's journey to her past and through her present never fully convinces. (Read Full Review)

B-

Gruesome Playground Injuries

Joseph's metaphor is self-evident. The physical injuries that bring them together in hospital emergency rooms (and even a visit to a psychiatric institute) are overt manifestations for the emotional and psychological traumas they suffer as they move through life. Unfortunately, it's not until late in the 80-minute piece that theatergoers learn any concrete details about what may make Doug and Kayleen behave as they do, and Joseph's deliberate omission of any context for the couple's interaction often makes it difficult to understand their incredible need for one another. What pulls audiences are Carpenter and Schreiber's detailed and shrewdly observed turns. (Read Full Review)

B-

The New York Idea

It's a frothy, sophisticated scenario that Auburn has both streamlined and embellished to varying degrees of success. Perhaps most intriguing is how he adds layers of romantic entanglements into the central characters' lives. There's almost an incestuous feeling to the ways in which these couples are involved in one another's worlds. At the same time, though, Auburn's decision to omit one character from Mitchell's original script -- Philip's staid sister, whose demeanor and beliefs pointedly contrast with Cynthia and Vida's -- creates an imbalance in the action, compelling Newman and Faridany to create polar opposites of determined women. And while Newman's spunky, albeit overly contemporary, turn as Cynthia can charm, Faridany's broad caricature of Vida's languidness and pretentious manner often grates. (Read Full Review)

B-

The Lapsburgh Layover

Surprisingly smart goofball humor gives way to sophomoric silliness...It inspires both guffaws and groans...It's really difficult to not wish that the co-creators and performers had found a more elegant way to conclude their giddy romp overseas. (Read Full Review)

B-

There Are No More Big Secrets

Playwright Heidi Schreck infuses a naturalistic marital drama with mystical elements to uneven effect in There Are No More Big Secrets, now at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater. And while Kip Fagan has staged the play handsomely and there are several performances of note, the piece never sparks to life with the chilling piquancy that one suspects Schreck might have intended. (Read Full Review)

B-

Elf

Packed with some terrific performances -- most notably, the lovably gawky, clarion-voiced Sebastian Arcelus, who makes for a winning hero -- and plenty of holiday spirit...But while the musical often proves to be amusingly diverting, it somehow never manages to win theatergoers' hearts or imaginations as thoroughly as one might hope...Much of what's best in the show actually centers on Walter's neglected family. In the first act, composer Matthew Sklar and lyricist Chad Beguelin serve up a gorgeously bittersweet tune, "I'll Believe in You," which Leavel and Gumley deliver simply and sweetly as mom and son write a letter to Santa...Nicholaw's staging and dances have a showman's sense of razzamatazz to be sure, but it often feels as if he is attempting to invoke memories of Christmas television variety shows from the mid-1970s...Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin's book, while admirably streamlining the film's story for the theater and setting the stage for songs, has some wincingly hoary jokes and a strained self-referential quality. (Read Full Review)

B-

Volpone, or the Fox

What could be more contemporary than greed? It's certainly at the heart of Ben Jonson's delicious 1606 comedy, Volpone, or the Fox, but theatergoers these days aren't given many chances to see the work these days. This unfortunate circumstance is being remedied by Jesse Berger and the Red Bull Theatre with a mostly flavorsome new production of the piece at the Lucille Lortel Theatre. Even if this production of this lesser-seen comedy has its flaws, it's a welcome alternative to the too-often-produced Shakespearean works of the same period, and a fine introduction to a play more theatergoers should become familiar with. (Read Full Review)

B-

Roadkill Confidential

While the piece, which Kip Fagan has directed with flair, initially proves laugh-inspiring and thought-provoking, it ultimately runs out of steam before final curtain...It's all incredibly thoughtful, and there are moments when the play, which unfolds within the confines of a sterile diorama bordered by tiny TVs overhead (scenic design by Peter Ksander), proves truly amusing. The difficulty is that Callaghan's balance of noir, parody and satire is terribly uneven, and Fagan's production never manages to unite the play's varied tones. (Read Full Review)

B-

Triassic Parq The Musical

In the midst of this high-energy, but unfocused, staging, a few moments do stand out as laugh-out-loud funny. When T-Rex 1 (Shelley Thomas) expounds on "chaos theory," her unexpected demonstration proves hysterical. Similarly, the show's use of puppets (expertly designed by Michael Mulligan) to represent goats that the unseen humans place on platforms and raise into the dinosaurs' habitat are put to ingenious comic use. However, alongside these gems are hosts of jokes that prove to be clunky gimmicks. This is particularly true of the running gag about the show's narrator "Morgan Freeman" (imbued with appropriate deadpan dryness by the Caucasian actor Lee Seymour), whom the characters keep referring to as Samuel L. Jackson. And while the jokes about T-Rex 2's over-estimation of her phallus incite initial giggles, they eventually become strained, as does Pailet's uneven rock-pastiche music. (Read Full Review)

B-

The Irish...and How They Got That Way

[T]here's an overall one-note reserve to the evening, which inspires respect and admiration but never total enjoyment. Theatergoers' distance from the piece stems not only from the material but also from Charlotte Moore's largely static staging. While there is some exuberant choreography from Barry McNabb, the performers, more often than not, are stationary on the stage, where set designer Shawn Lewis has piled high a panoply of steamer trunks and old suitcases. Ultimately, the overall effect is that the show often feels like a lecture that's supported by song. Thankfully, the performers often lighten and enliven the material, particularly Ciarán Sheehan, who uses his gossamer Irish tenor to blissful effect, not only in the ubiquitous "Danny Boy" but also in the little-known "Skibbereen." (Read Full Review)

B-

Nymph Errant

Boasting a bevy of tunes by Cole Porter, the show couldn't be more buoyant musically, but a new libretto, which attempts to fuse sentiment and winking comedy, from Rob Urbinati, and some curiously somber moments in director Will Pomerantz's staging undermine the piece's inherent merriment. (Read Full Review)

B-

Serious Money

Unfortunately, the company, directed by Cheryl Faraone, meets the challenges of this sprawling piece with uneven success.Perhaps most notable is Jeanne LaSala Taylor, who plays Jacinta Condor, a Peruvian businesswoman with ties to drug trafficking. Her delivery of a monologue that outlines Jacinta's cutthroat and self-obsessed worldview proves both riveting and intriguingly sexy. (Read Full Review)

B-

Can You Hear Their Voices?

It's theater with a message created on the fly, supported admirably by polished work from lighting designer David Castaneda and Seth Bedford's haunting original music. Unfortunately, the performances in Voices are often as obvious as much of the production's stagecraft, which only emphasizes the piece's polemics at the cost of the play's drama, which, admittedly, is slim. There are certain sparks in the actors' work which ameliorates some of the didacticism. Notably, Patricia Drozda, in one of the production's few lucid gender-blind casting choices, brings arrogant fire to the role of Purcell, the man who owns the land the tenant farmers till. Catherine Porter delivers a surprisingly understated performance as Ann, a farmer's wife who's hoping that her predictions of government support will come true for her husband and small boys. Derek Jamison has true passion as one of the farmers, but he also must inexplicably play one of the debutantes at the fete in DC. Fine work, too, comes from Rebecca Servon and Sarah Elizondo, who give performances that blend presentational and naturalistic styles with grace. (Read Full Review)

B-

Through the Yellow Hour

Audiences are dropped into a war zone from the moment they enter the Rattlestick Playwrights Theater... It’s an exhilarating plunge into the world that Rapp’s imagined for his newest play, which, under his direction, sustains its richly ominous atmosphere for all of its 100 minutes but proves too often to be dramatically inert... Rapp lays some terrific groundwork for a two-hander with the women’s encounter. Furstenberg and Slavick’s carefully calibrated performances make the characters’ time together so engrossing that it actually comes as a disappointment when Hakim (Alok Tewari in an intense turn) arrives to interrupt them... To her credit, Furstenberg delivers a richly textured performance as the woman visited by so many, and the vulnerability that she brings to the play’s overly saccharine conclusion both surprises and impresses. It’s a turn that would shine even more brightly in a more dramatically gripping play. (Read Full Review)

B-

Golden Child

Bitchy is hardly the word you might associate with a play about the tumult created when a forward-thinking business man in 1918 China brings Western gadgetry and Christianity into the home he shares with his three wives. Yet, for much of the first half of David Henry Hwang's semi-autobiographical Golden Child...you'll find crisply constructed linguistic catfights taking center stage. Both the play and production stumble, however, when the action shifts from the distaff members of the Eng household...the combination of styles remains disorienting, leaving Golden Child feeling like a bit of a tarnished experience.
(Read Full Review)

B-

The Forest

Given how infrequently this 19th-century playwright's work reaches New York's stages, the production is a notable one, even though a host of excellent performances never fully mask the play's ungainly tonal shifts...These plotlines, however, refuse to live comfortably next to one another or other elements of the play, such as long discussions about local politics (particularly tiresome in Kathleen Tolan's often stilted adaptation)...Unfortunately, director Brian Kulick's languorous staging never creates the necessary sense of unity between the play's disparate parts or the company's performance styles...Some of the other performances, while well-crafted, seem to be suited for completely different productions. (Read Full Review)

B-

Lombardi

Theatergoers do not need to be football fans to enjoy Eric Simonson's biodrama Lombardi, now playing at Broadway's Circle in the Square. In fact, the true joy in the unevenly crafted play, directed with sturdy proficiency by Thomas Kail, is savoring the portrait of a marriage that emerges thanks to Dan Lauria's turn as the title character, legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi, and Judith Light's sterling performance as his understanding, football-widowed wife, Marie ... While Simonson's play is very effective when it's focused on the Lombardis' marriage, it falters on other counts. The presence of Michael certainly affords Simonson with a convenient way of providing factual details as narration, but it ultimately feels likes a strained dramaturgical device. So too does an awkwardly staged scene during which Lombardi and Michael share late night confidences in the Lombardi home. (Read Full Review)

B-

EST Marathon of One-Act Plays 2010: Series A

Series A in Ensemble Studio Theatre's Marathon of One-Act Plays 2010 concludes with two pieces that capture audiences' imaginations and hearts, grandly compensating for the less-than-satisfying trio of works that begin the evening of new short plays ... A truly surprise ending for Robert Askins' Matthew and the Pastor's Wife gives the first half of Series A, a terrific first act curtain. Both Scott Sowers and Geneva Carr, under the direction of John Giampietro, turn in shrewdly crafted performances in this piece about a minister's wife who provides a perpetual adulterer a lesson he won't soon forget. The second half of the series begins with Daniel Reitz's wise Turnabout, a pungent comedy about ex-lovers Dennis (John-Martin Green) and Josh (Lou Liberatore). What begins as a leisurely exploration of the men's relationship (particularly in Moritz von Stuelpnagel's understated staging) turns into a thoughtful -- and hysterical -- meditation on gay identity and self-awareness when Josh meets Dennis' terms to gain the cash he desperately needs. Green, Liberatore, and Haskell King turn in sterling performances in this delicious work. (Read Full Review)

C+

She Kills Monsters

It's a sweet premise that pungently deals with many issues facing teenagers today (principally the bullying of young gays and lesbians), but the show, directed by Nguyen's frequent Vampire Cowboys Theatre Company collaborator Robert Ross Parker, can't escape feeling like a souped-up ABC Afterschool Special...What impresses most consistently are the contributions of costume designer Jessica Pabst, whose work deftly brings a wide variety of creatures to life with witty panache, and puppet designer David Valentine, whose vision of a multiheaded dragon in the final scene is astounding. (Read Full Review)

C+

Dancing at Lughnasa

Even the revelation of certain sad details about the women's lives in the show's narration, delivered by Chris' son Michael (an almost brutally unsentimental Ciarán O'Reilly), who looks back from an adult perspective on the action he witnessed as a boy, fails to startle. Moore's production certainly beguiles, but it's never moving. (Read Full Review)

C+

Blind Lemon Blues

once you get past the cheesy choreography and the irritating conceit of having the ensemble repeat certain lines and musical phrases almost as if this were a call-and-response revival, you find that the creators have brought back some extraordinary music that’s lapsed into obscurity. What’s more, the tunes are delivered with power and passion. Babatunde uses his tremulous falsetto and mellifluous bass to excellent effect, and Inga Ballard, Carmen Ruby Floyd and Alisa Peoples Yarbrough are fierce when they metamorphose into female singers of the 1920s. These performances give us no reason to sing the blues, but the production surrounding them is a low-down crying shame. (Read Full Review)

C+

Relatively Speaking

A few hearty laughs can be found...But given the estimable writers of the pieces...and the proven talents of the high-profile ensemble, it's difficult to not be disappointed by the production, which should be the comic pinnacle for the Broadway season. (Read Full Review)

C+

Play It Cool

Sally Mayes knows her way around a jazz tune, and in Play It Cool she has the opportunity to serve up songs that are both hot and cool while also getting to demonstrate her skill as a scat artist. It's an exceptional turn in a rather underwhelming musical...It's potentially steamy stuff, and yet the show, as directed by Sharon Rosen, seems incredibly tepid...Fortunately, the abundant score—music by Phillip Swann, with additional work by Jim Andron, Michael Cruz, Marilyn Harris, Emilio Palame, and Larry Steelman, and lyrics by Mark Winkler—is consistently excellent and smartly conceived. (Read Full Review)

C+

Cymbeline

* Co-directors and performers Noah Brody and Ben Steinfeld have taken an almost story-theater approach to this play that brings a happy ending for all of its "good" characters, but the staging and production prove too uneven to be considered ultimately satisfying. Perhaps most notable is Jessie Austrian's immaculately layered turn as Imogen...Austrian delivers a performance that's by turns spunky, intelligent, infinitely graceful, comic...Equally impressive is Steinfeld's rendering of Iachimo...Less successful are Brody, Grotelueschen, and Young, all of whom give sadly two-dimensional, almost cartoonish performances. Their work does, however, serve one purpose: It anticipates the overly (and annoyingly) comic approach that the directors have taken to the play's conclusion. (Read Full Review)

C+

King Lear

[T]his unevenly acted and directed production often undermines the emotional potency of the play. In the title role, Greg Hicks delivers a beautifully spoken and remarkably hale performance. Even as Lear sinks to his lowest --- and most mentally unstable -- this Lear retains a certain physical robustness. Early on, particularly as Hicks' hawk-like Lear bursts into a fury when his youngest daughter Cordelia (played with a steely sweetness by Samantha Young) cannot soar into flights of hyperbole about her love for him, the actor's heartiness is an asset to the production: he's both a frightening ruler and father. But, as the play progresses, Hicks' vigorous portrayal undermines the tragedy, particularly as his given his interpretation of Lear's madness, which often seems overly calculated. (Read Full Review)

C+

Through a Glass Darkly

Never has the harrowing impact of the work that inspired it. That's not to say there aren't moments of exceedingly affecting acting or technically assured stagecraft. Carey Mulligan, as Karin, a woman besieged by a mental illness that causes delusions as well as violent mood swings, delivers a performance that is by turns warmly endearing and frighteningly volcanic...Alongside Mulligan is Ben Rosenfield, who delivers a superlatively committed and beautifully nuanced turn...Exemplary design work doesn't disguise the fact that the play is ultimately a pale theatrical incarnation of Bergman's classic movie. (Read Full Review)

C+

Myths and Hymns

Given that Guettel contextualized his modern-day hymn in this way, it's easy to understand Lucas' instinct to place all of the numbers within the confines of a family drama. But attempting to fuse Guettel's musicalization of the myth of Icarus with a battle between Son (Lucas Steele) and his dad, after the elder man has discovered his child is gay, or using the song that centers on Sisyphus as a means of bringing Husband's fatal heart attack to the stage, is reductive to Guettel's work. (Read Full Review)

C+

MilkMilkLemonade

Conkel's very adult kiddie play is thoughtfully enhanced not only by a particularly shrewd soundtrack but also by director Isaac Butler's cross-gender casting of Nanna and Elliot (a choice that beautifully underscores the play's themes of sexual identity). MilkMilkLemonade also benefits from a winning performance from Andy Phelan as Emory. But a surfeit of cutesy gimmickry—such as the performance artist–like narrator who translates chicken clucks and plays the evil twin in Elliot's leg—is cloying and, ultimately, undoes this potentially incisive and entertaining glimpse into how some gay kids come of age in America's heartland. (Read Full Review)

C+

Slipping

Talbott’s writing can be sensitive and touching; Jake’s early, awkward encounters with Eli are a particular treat. Elsewhere, though, the language is exceedingly self-conscious, particularly during Eli’s pretension-filled monologues. Kirsten Kelly’s direction of the staccato, episodic piece exacerbates the play’s weaknesses and excesses, alternating between being languidly portentous and overly frenzied. Similarly Numrich’s performance as Eli—passionate, but lacking nuance—undermines the script. Andrews gives a more satisfying turn, easily navigating the intricate twists of Jake’s coming-out while also making a credible romantic leading man. Jake and Eli’s relationship plucks heartstrings, and the satisfying aspects of Slipping signal that Talbott is a playwright to encourage. Given time, he may mature into a fine writer. (Read Full Review)

C+

Love Song

Determinedly quirky...It's a piece that could charm audiences -- were it not for its lapses into pretentious stylization and self-conscious dialogue...Kolvenbach has directed this production, and he generally keeps things moving briskly. But he stumbles with three stylized sequences that unnecessarily bring to life the claustrophobia that Beane feels in his world...Thankfully, the production's shortcomings are ameliorated by Pastides' utterly delightful turn as Beane. (Read Full Review)

C+

Vanities

After a brief prologue, Vanities transports audiences to November 22, 1963 and the gymnasium of a small town high school near Dallas, one of the many settings marvelously created by Anna Louizos' elegant scenic design. It's where we first meet our three heroines. Cheerleader Kathy (Anneliese van der Pol, who gracefully tracks the character's arc from self-assurance to hopelessness) struggles to get her best friends Joanne (whom Sarah Stiles plays with surface cuteness, but a steely determination), and Mary (imbued with cleverness and later a devil-may-care demeanor by Lauren Kennedy) to concentrate on an upcoming pep rally, but boys and other social issues keep getting in the way. Here, Kirshenbaum's music shrewdly reflects how tight this group is; rarely during the first scene do any of the women sing solos, instead, they perform a variety of girl group-like songs. (Read Full Review)

C+

Beautiful Burnout

It's not that the piece doesn't have high-octane moments as five young people practice, under the guidance of their demanding trainer Bobby Burgess (Ewan Stewart), in the hope of finding fame through their pugilistic endeavors. Each time the performers crisply executed Graham and Hoggett's marvelously conceived routines, which combine the athleticism of calisthenics and punching drills with the grace and delicacy of dance, I did feel a bit of a rush... The chief problem with the episodic play is Lavery's generic script and characters. The young male boxers, though differentiated by temperament and dynamically rendered by Ryan Fletcher, Eddie Kay, Taqi Nazeeer, and Henry Pettigrew, are all essentially interchangeable, and we never learn what has drawn them to the sport or the gym. (Read Full Review)

C+

Next to Normal

Diana's return to "normalcy" or at least a state "next to normal" is made all the more difficult by not only the severe memory loss caused by the ECT, but by one of the other factors in her illness. She's not only bipolar and depressive, she also suffers from delusions, and one in particular regarding the loss of a child early in her marriage to Dan. And it's in the depiction of this aspect of Diana's journey to health that the musical truly stumbles. The manifestation of Diana's illusions seems almost too gimmicky and manipulative. Further, the logic behind the phantoms that plague Diana don't always add up; if they're of her own creation, it stands to reason they have no psychology of their own or the ability to act independently, yet, in "Normal," such anomalies exist. Initially, theatergoers may be willing to set such thoughts aside, but as the piece progresses, it becomes increasingly difficult to do so. One reason may be that musically, the show does have something of a wearying effect. Although Kitt's score is diverse – there are moments when the range of musical idioms that the characters have is a direct result of their own unique tastes in music – it relies almost exclusively on thundering rock anthems for the moments in which characters express their anger. The result is that many of the most emotionally intense sequences become repetitive in sound and tone, if not in thought. (Read Full Review)

C+

No Place To Go

The narrator's tale unfolds in a mixture of song and dialogue, both of which Lipton delivers in an utterly deadpan and self-satisfied manner that is initially successful, but soon becomes wearyingly one-note. In addition, Lipton's digressions -- both humorous and on point, even as they're tangential -- are offered with the same weight as the primary narrative. The music, written with bandmates Ian M. Riggs and Vito Dieterle, proves slightly more varied, spanning blues, country-western, and classic rock. He also has an ear for a catchy lyric and can integrate even the trickiest subject into song. (Read Full Review)

C+

Cymbeline

Co-directors and performers Noah Brody and Ben Steinfeld have taken an almost story-theater approach to this play that brings a happy ending for all of its "good" characters, but the staging and production prove too uneven to be considered ultimately satisfying. Perhaps most notable is Jessie Austrian's immaculately layered turn as Imogen...Austrian delivers a performance that's by turns spunky, intelligent, infinitely graceful, comic, and above all else beautifully spoken. Equally impressive is Steinfeld's rendering of Iachimo...A third standout is Paul L. Coffey, who's been quadruple-cast...Less successful are Brody, Grotelueschen, and Young, all of whom give sadly two-dimensional, almost cartoonish performances. Their work does, however, serve one purpose: It anticipates the overly (and annoyingly) comic approach that the directors have taken to the play's conclusion. The reading, though a valid one, completely undermines the genuine emotion that the play and Austrian's performance has inspired. (Read Full Review)

C+

Alice in Slasherland

[W]hile there's a certain gleeful loopiness to the proceedings, the piece is unfocused and at times seems sadly recycled ... The mayhem begins when Lewis (played sweetly and with crack comic timing by Carlo Alban) inadvertently opens a conduit to hell, unleashing a host of bloodthirsty demons as well as the creepy goth girl Alice (the imposing and wryly amusing Amy Kim Waschke) ... The company is rounded out by the multiply cast Tom Myers and Andrea Marie Smith, who each find moments to shine as both living and undead characters; he is especially memorable as a Frenchman who inhabits a daft sheriff's body. But despite such merry moments, "Alice in Slasherland," as a whole, never quite cuts it. (Read Full Review)

C+

Murder Ballad

Audiences can belly up to the onstage bar, order a drink, then take seats either in the onstage seating (banquettes and cocktail tables) or in more traditional seating around two sides of the stage. It's an intoxicating downtown-style environment from scenic designer Mark Wendland (and lit to perfection by Ben Stanton) -- and, sadly, the only aspect of this production that fully succeeds. (Read Full Review)

C+

Trust

Weitz's set-up, from the brilliantly played opening scene in Prudence's dungeon to the moment when she and Aleeza discover that they might have more in common than either of them might have imagined, proves to be not only intriguing, but also the stuff of jaunty contemporary comedy. However, once Morton, who often seems as if he has stepped out of a play by David Mamet, has been introduced, Trust falters, and as Weitz schematically demonstrates that each of the characters is not the sort of person that they believe themselves to be, he also compounds the play with an unconvincing blackmail plot, tortured childhood secrets, and the inevitable romance between Harry and Prudence. (Read Full Review)

C+

The Memorandum

While this is potentially chilling and hilarious material, director Jenn Thompson opts to emphasize neither the menace nor the comedy of the play, so the production merely inspires tepid appreciation rather than any real enjoyment. (Read Full Review)

C+

Lascivious Something

It's possible to get a little tipsy from Sheila Callaghan's heady language...Unfortunately, Callaghan's theatrical gimmickry undermines the play, which could be an intoxicating investigation into failed love and dashed activist aspirations at the dawn of the Reagan era...Callaghan's seemingly willful determination to keep us at arm's length means it's almost possible to miss the carefully crafted performances filling director Daniella Topol's delicately guided production...Christopher Akerlind's gorgeous lighting certainly transports audiences as it bathes the stage in lush oranges and gentle greens, and the show's soundscape, from Broken Chord Collective, creates eerie atmosphere. But even as one savors these elements and the performances, it's easy to feel disappointed by this intriguing work that never fully satisfies. (Read Full Review)

C+

Chaplin: The Musical

McClure proves to be not just a triple threat, but a quadruple one, adding physical comedian to the usual actor-singer-dancer hyphenate... Sadly... the musical unfolds with workman-like efficiency. Curtis and Meehan's book expeditiously details his life... Director/choreographer Warren Carlyle keeps the action moving briskly... The show's black and white color palette... gracefully brings Chaplin's celluloid world to life on stage... [a] merely serviceable musical... (Read Full Review)

C+

Tigers Be Still

Rosenstock crams a lot into her 90-minute dramedy, displaying an impressive knack for zestful dialogue and fanciful metaphor. The play, however, strains under the weight of her ambitions. And even though Sam Gold has directed with fleetness and imagination, and the ensemble delivers impeccably, the piece proves to be merely charming rather than a sharp-toothed portrait of parental impotence and young adults adrift. (Read Full Review)

C+

In Transit

Fuses topical revue material with the interlocking stories of four New Yorkers, as they go about their business in the city's subway system. But the combination proves to be an uneasy one, and ultimately the revue material saps the plotline of any forward momentum...The coincidences are charming, and not unlike the kinds of random interactions that New Yorkers find themselves having on a daily basis. But the stories feel shoehorned onto one another, particularly when they are punctuated by comic interludes featuring Boxman (Chesney Snow, who also provides a wide variety of "orchestrations" just using his voice), an itinerant subway musician. An additional problem is that the stories themselves often feel generic...Ultimately, it's the incredible vocal skills of the performers that pull the show...Moreover, many of the songs stand out for their cleverness and musicality. The show's physical production is also an asset...They help make In Transit's journey more pleasant, even when one is longing for the end of the trip. (Read Full Review)

C+

Capsule 33

There's no lack of fanciful storytelling in Thaddeus Phillips' solo show Capsule 33, now playing at the Barrow Street Theatre, nor is there any lack of theatrical ingenuity involved in the solo show, which is literally powered by sustainable energy. (Audience members are asked to pump small generators as they enter the theater to make sure the stage lights run). But, despite the cleverness and good intentions behind the show, Phillips' tale is so slight that it rarely seems to merit the painstaking work that goes into its telling ... It's rough not to be charmed by Phillips' energetic and quirk-filled performance ... Unfortunately, however, the piece -- and its use of clever effects -- wears thin well before its conclusion. The fact remains, however, that underneath all the whimsy are some shrewd points about big business and the impact that it has on our environment. (Read Full Review)

C+

The Train Driver

Theatergoers will find Fugard working at his usual leisurely pace. But while the two-character drama is solidly performed and has been surely directed by the playwright, it never reaches the stirring heights of some of Fugard's other pieces...Fugard has directed his two-character play with a careful hand, and both Brown and Coster turn in performances that are filled with remarkable – and often telling – details...The actors also infuse their performances, filled with chilly reserve as the two men meet, with a growing warmth and bonhomie as the play progresses. Still, theatergoers may find themselves wishing that Coster evinced a wider range of shading in his rendering of Roelf's benumbed acrimony. Brown, in the less showy of the two roles, seems somewhat shackled by Simon's often silent complacency. (Read Full Review)

C+

An Error of the Moon

Director Kim Weild, with the assistance of a topnotch design team, has certainly given the show a visually sumptuous staging. Sadly, the lackluster performances of its lead actors ultimately undermine this potentially dynamic excursion into speculation...The most fascinating pieces of the show are its production elements. (Read Full Review)

C+

Freud's Last Session

Thought-provoking yet schematic...Both Rayner and Dold deliver solid, yet never entirely remarkable, performances. Rayner, surprisingly spry as the aging and cancer-ridden Freud, handles the crowd-pleasing zingers in St. Germain's script with aplomb, but his best work comes in the play's less obvious moments, when Freud turns subtly wry...Dold, who cuts a matinee idol figure in an elegant period ensemble by costume designer Mark Mariani, proves most satisfying when Lewis turns the psychoanalytic tables on his host. (Read Full Review)

C+

Little Miss Sunshine

Unfortunately something has gone awry in the union, and the result is an often dour 100 minutes of theater. Part of the problem with the show is that Lapine and Finn have focused on how broken and beaten down the characters all are… There does come one moment when the production captures the film's unusual duality of desperation and the unbending will to move forward that it inspires… Lapine and choreographer Michele Lynch conspire to create something exhilarating… To be sure there are moments that amuse… There are also a few moments in which Lapine's book has a gentle poignancy… Elsewhere though, Little Miss Sunshine settles into a sort of emotional middle-of-the-roadness (pardon the expression) that only makes one long for the richness of the collaborators' other shows. (Read Full Review)

C

Love's Labour's Lost

There's something charming about the freeness of this Shakespeare play, but in director Dominic Dromgoole's production, the quality is so over-emphasized that the piece becomes bewilderingly tedious. Indeed, audiences must endure too much physical comedy that inspires not guffaws, but incredulity...There are other pleasures to be found here, notably from set and costume designer Jonathn Fensom; his gorgeous scenic design mimics the configuration of the Elizabethan theaters and features handsomely painted drops that evoke the imagery of medieval tapestries. A host of fine secondary performances are also on view...Alas, these characters are too seldom at the fore of this labored production. (Read Full Review)

C

Looking at Christmas

In Steven Banks' Looking at Christmas, playing at the Flea, a man and a woman embark on a journey through Manhattan to take in the seasonal displays in department store windows after meeting cute in front of Bloomingdale's on Christmas Eve. However, after the incipient couple gazes at the tableaux that celebrate the season, the figures in each of the windows come to life, offering commentary on their existence and the vagaries of their legacies. Unfortunately, this exercise in holiday-time revisionism often proves to be anything but merry, given Banks' strained attempts at humor (Read Full Review)

C

Dietrich and Chevalier - The Musical

In Jerry Mayer's workman-like Dietrich and Chevalier - The Musical...the couple's passion -- and the tension of the times they lived through -- become merely the window-dressing for the songs the performers made famous...Sluggishly directed by Pamela Hall...It's almost as if Mayer has written both a revue and a book musical and then, compressed the two very different shows into one. Thankfully, the show is blessed with three gifted performers...What's more, Stevens and Cuccioli deliver the songs without aid of amplification -- and the opportunity to hear some early 20th-century tunes delivered as they were intended may be the best recommendation for seeing this problematic show. (Read Full Review)

C

Hard Times

Often heavy going...Stephen Jeffreys' adaptation and director J.R. Sullivan's consistently lucid production settle into a story theater-like mode...The conceit gives the production a numbing repetitive quality that's only alleviated by some highly animated, carefully-crafted performances.
...There's rarely any magic to this work. (Read Full Review)

C

Two Unrelated Plays By David Mamet

Despite the handsome physical production and the well-crafted performances -- particularly Murray, Pankow, and J.J. Johnson, who plays a hard-nosed Roman soldier with panache -- these amiable plays really only serve to whet the appetite for the more substantial Mamet plays (Oleanna and Race) being presented in New York this season. (Read Full Review)

C

Romeo and Juliet

Theoretically, the coupling of these two performers seems ideal and the sort of casting that would make any staging of the brim with fiery tension. Alas, the only fire that emanates from the Rodgers stage in director David Leveaux's fussy production is quite literal. In fact, Leveaux appears to have spent so much time coordinating these aspects of the show that he's left the actors to their own devices, making for a wildly erratic and terribly unsatisfying theatergoing experience…Leveaux's contemporary-dress production begins with an underlying premise of racial tensions. Having cast Romeo, his family and friends with Caucasian actors and Juliet, along with her kin, with African-Americans, Leveaux sets the stage for a production that might kindle passion among both Shakespearean enthusiasts and those who are encountering the play for the first time. But, there's no real conflagration as innocent love and bigotry clash in this Romeo and Juliet. Just a minor fizzle. (Read Full Review)

C

I Married Wyatt Earp

[W]hile Cara Reichel does an admirable job in marshalling a large company within the confines of a too-small stage, she has elicited keenly uneven performances from the company, which range from Mignini's wooden performance as the older Josie, to the more accomplished and flavorsome turns from Palumbo as the younger Allie and Morgenstern as the spitfire Kate. (Read Full Review)

C-

In the Wake

The show has the potential to pack an intellectual and emotional wallop. Yet, despite a top-notch ensemble working under the sure-handed guidance of director Leigh Silverman, and a fair share of zesty dialogue, the play proves to be a strangely unmoving experience...Like the world events that are seen in some exquisitely chosen and assembled video montages from designer Alexander V. Nichols, most of the meaty action in In the Wake takes place offstage, whether it's Kayla's supposedly gut-wrenching decision to commit to a placid life of domesticity or the tumultuous events that transpire for Judy and Tessa after they've moved to Washington. Theatergoers hear about these occurrences -- and a lot about what Ellen is feeling or thinking about them -- but are too rarely shown them. What remains, sadly, are increasingly tiresome diatribes and debates about the political landscape surrounding them...The always reliable Ireland bears the brunt of having to deliver the polemics of the script and, unsurprisingly, she does so with flair. (Read Full Review)

C-

Love's Labor's Lost

Filled with rambunctiousness and antic buffoonery, Karin Coonrod's new staging...proves to be a genuine crowd-pleaser, delivering easy laughs through broad physical comedy. Unfortunately, the show's elegant lyricism, as well as its more bittersweet elements, are regrettably ignored...Cuts to the text -- notably a few lines that set up a reversal at the end -- rob the lovers' final moments of real meaning, and ultimately, the grins that the labored show has induced prove to be mere passing fancies, not the real deal. (Read Full Review)

C-

Jack's Precious Moment

Impressively audacious, but never truly successful...Theatergoers can certainly appreciate the piece's various elements...But these amusing—and thoughtful—strands never coalesce into meaningful or moving theater in director Kip Fagan's ungainly production, and by the time the play reaches its contrived, sentimental ending, audiences might regret the precious moments they've spent with the show. (Read Full Review)

C-

Spirit Control

On its surface, Beau Willimon's Spirit Control, playing at New York City Center Stage I, chronicles how a man's seemingly picture perfect home life crumbles after a tragic event. But Willimon's contrived script and director Henry WIshcamper's pedestrian staging combine to make the piece little more than a confusing theatrical muddle. (Read Full Review)

C-

White's Lies

Thankfully, director Bob Cline has at his disposal a cast that dives unabashedly into the script's silliness. Buckley makes Mrs. White humorously brittle, and Watkins has just the right combination of good looks, charm, and oiliness to make Joe a vaguely likable cad. And though Peter Scolari, as Joe's partner, uses his pitch-perfect timing and gift for physical comedy with gleeful abandon, it's Jimmy Ray Bennett who proves to be the show's scene-stealer, playing, among others, Joe's fey, put-upon junior associate. Rena Strober also proves memorable as all of Joe's jilted one-night stands. Their work enlivens Andron's tedious, forced script. (Read Full Review)

C-

My Scandalous Life

While the piece is more straightforward about the facts regarding Douglas' life with Wilde, it contains similar reversals with regards to his wife Olive's relationship with their son. The piece is further undermined by Kilroy's inelegant handling of the confessional nature of the play, which begins with Keogh looking at the audience and engaging them with "Oscar Wilde did you say?" There's almost a camp quality to the mock surprise and disdain that comes with this answer to an unheard question. Indeed, the play's use of direct address is consistently jarring. Ultimately, the play doles out just enough factual data -- including tantalizing details about Douglas and Olive's reversed gender roles -- to give those not familiar with the subject a sense of having been introduced to a compelling historical figure, but it's not enough to make the evening genuinely satisfying or warrant the piece's curiously abstract ending. (Read Full Review)

C-

Mahida's Extra Key to Heaven

... Mahida rarely proves to be more than fitfully engaging, despite a fine cast and Will Pomerantz's sturdy direction ... There's a powder keg of conflict in Mahida from the potential conflagration between Edna and Ramie to the simmering hostility, brought on by different worldviews, between Edna and Thomas. There's also a strong romantic and philosophical current flowing between Thomas and Mahida. And given all of this, it's surprising that so much of the play fails to spark to life. Part of the problem is that portions of the work are just overwritten and overly symbolic, such as when Mahida decides that a small bench on the pier can act as "the border" between herself and Thomas. And, when fireworks do eventually arrive, the play borders on cliche. (Read Full Review)

C-

Abraham Lincoln's Big, Gay Dance Party

The interlocking pieces of the play bring to mind Alan Ayckbourn's lengthier trilogy, The Norman Conquests, while dance breaks, in which the entire ensemble is sometimes clad in black topcoats, stovepipe hats and fake beards, bring to mind the absurdism that's found in the trial sequences of the musical Chicago. There are even moments when Loeb's work seems to be inspired by Tony Kushner's soaring fantasia, Angels in America. Unfortunately, the story has a cartoonish soap opera quality that feels stretched thin during the course of the two and a half hours of the play. Smith's staging -- which, despite Bill English's clever scenic design, unfolds awkwardly as the play shifts from location to location -- only enhances theatergoers' sense of how overextended the play is. (Read Full Review)

C-

Enjoy

The neurotic angst, aimlessness, ageist bigotry, and navel-gazing egoism of contemporary Japanese twenty- and thirtysomethings is shown in painful relief in the inarticulate sputterings of Toshiki Okada's Enjoy, now being presented by The Play Company at 59E59 Theaters ... Some of the tales have true emotional heft, such as the brutal breakup between Mizuno, one of the store's employees, and his girlfriend Maeno after he's bumped into a grade-school friend, now seemingly a successful businessman ... The characters' scattered thought and speech patterns (brought to life with colloquial and American specificity in Aya Ogawa's translation) ultimately grates ... Thankfully, the 10-person ensemble brings a zealous commitment to the play. Mary McCool is particularly deft at playing Mizuno during the early part of the breakup scene; Alex Torra ably switches between playing Mizuno and his long-forgotten school chum; Steven Boyer and Joseph Midyett imbue two characters with appropriately stinging youthful arrogance; and Jessica Almasy portrays a sweet innocent with decidedly heartfelt -- and incredibly welcome -- charm. (Read Full Review)

C-

Figaro

The production's cartoonish tone is underscored by scenic designer Jo Winiarski's garish recreation of an ornate French interior in which Dayglo fuschia, lemon yellow, and bright turquoise brush up against one another painfully -- and are ill-complemented by a puce glow (courtesy of lighting designer Stephen Petrilli) that frequently emanates from behind the set. (Read Full Review)

C-

Checkers

Nevertheless, McGrath's play -- which is framed as a flashback as Nixon considers entering the presidential arena himself in 1966 -- only occasionally sparks to life as it traces the aftermath of the "scandal" of a secret fund that threatens to derail Nixon's place on Eisenhower's ticket. (Read Full Review)

C-

Play Dead

Though the interesting tales are complemented by some amazingly devised illusions (magic design by Johnny Thompson and magic engineering by Thom Rubino), the show has a determinedly cheesy tone that eventually becomes tiresome and undermines the genuine fright the production attempts to engender. (Read Full Review)

D+

Scandalous

...my purpose is to warn theatergoers off of this woefully undercooked bio-tuner... the creators consistently undermine Aimee's tale. First there's Kathie Lee Gifford's by-the-numbers book and schmaltzy lyrics. Composers... only make matters worse with a generic, bombastic score. Director David Armstrong's lackluster staging only underscores the mediocrity of the writing. The one person who is certainly not at fault in the musical's failings is Carmello. She delivers a passionate and rousingly sung performance...

(Read Full Review)

D+

666

There's no limit to the puerile and sophomoric depths to which the performers in the Spanish import 666, now playing at the Minetta Lane Theatre, are willing to sink as they strive to create hilarity. They rarely succeed, though; there are perhaps 10 truly amusing minutes in this seemingly interminable 70-minute show by the group Yllana ... while the mostly non-verbal proceedings, directed by David Ottone, cause theatergoers to cringe in their seats, the action is filled with an indefatigable energy and commitment that warrants a certain level of appreciation. (Read Full Review)

D+

A Cool Dip in the Barren Saharan Crick

By turns, exhilarating and bewildering. Corthron has created an intriguing group of characters who come together in some fascinating ways, but before the play has run its course, her invention has run dry, and theatergoers are left not with drama but with didacticism. (Read Full Review)

D+

3C

While there are a few chuckles to be had in this show, directed with feverish intensity by Jackson Gay, the result is more tiresome than inspired. (Read Full Review)

D+

Little Doc

The sex, drugs and rock-n-roll culture of the late 1960s proves to be no refuge for a group of late twentysomethings in the mid-1970s in Dan Klores' wearying new play Little Doc, running at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater. Neither Klores' cluttered writing and contrived storytelling, nor, director John Gould Rubin's almost casual staging abate theatergoers' frustration with the meandering if potentially interesting play.... Thankfully, two performances do spark the piece from time to time. Driver combines a wonky intensity with natural intelligence and gentleness to interesting effect, and Tucker's work as Peggy brings an unexpected warmth and humor to the grim proceedings. (Read Full Review)

D+

Happy Now?

An uncompromisingly bitter portrait of two unhappy marriages...While the production is filled with outstanding performances, it is directed with a heavy hand by Liz Diamond, and the work ultimately proves to be too unpleasant to be deemed enjoyable or truly satisfying. (Read Full Review)

D+

This Side of Paradise

[J]azz-age flair is barely in evidence in the new musical This Side of Paradise....
The seven-performer piece unfolds in a flashback, as middle-aged Zelda remembers her heyday with her golden-boy husband. The familiar biographical details are here—his early success to her first snaps with reality—but the writers seem to be working from a checklist. Similarly, the couple's famed friends appear (Ernest Hemingway, Maxwell Perkins, etc.), but only in two-dimensional renderings. The production, which Pomerantz also directed, does occasionally spark to life, thanks primarily to Maureen Mueller's smoky-voiced, pitiably deadened turn as the elder Zelda. Her work, however, never elevates this sadly shallow recounting of squandered potential in a fabled, bygone era. (Read Full Review)

D+

Treasure Island

Jim’s journey between shore and sea is made palpable thanks not only to a quartet of roughly planked rolling platforms from scenic designer Tony Straiges, but also Stewart Wagner’s atmospheric lighting and Will Pickens’s evocative soundscape. And co-adaptor /director B.H. Barry has devised some invigorating fight choreography. Alas, all these theatrical assets are often submerged, like Davy Jones’s locker, by a play that brings Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic to the stage without any sustained dramatic tension. (Read Full Review)

D+

Him

Unfortunately, the younger scribe’s labored, sometimes clichéd dramedy suffers when placed alongside her father’s gentler, more nuanced work...Under the direction of Evan Yionoulis, both Hallie Foote and Hopper deliver graceful performances, capturing their characters’ determined grit and delicacy, and it is remarkable to watch how each actor transforms into the titular character within a breath. But despite the cast’s fine work, Him fails intellectually and emotionally, leaving us curiously unmoved at its ironic conclusion. (Read Full Review)

D+

Wildflower

Nothing in this play about summertime love and teens coming-of-age happens because of human nature or psychology; instead, characters act in ways that are expedient for moving the piece's contrived plot forward...Theatergoers' patience with such machinations in the plot is only shortened by the ways in which Kaplan contorts the characters' behavior. James, whose homophobic baiting of Mitchell borders on assault, demonstrates a vulnerable and sensitive side at moments that can only be described as dramatically expeditious. Randolph, who's characterized as having an above-average IQ, never really exhibits any sort of true intelligence, or even common sense. When he turns to Mitchell for guidance about sex, he seems not so much naively innocent about the awkward position into which he's placing the older man as callously teasing. Further, Randolph's actions that lead to the play's denouement are simply ludicrous. (Read Full Review)

D

Wonderland

There's little rhyme or reason to Wonderland, the splashy, high-tech new musical extravaganza now playing at Broadway's Marquis Theatre. Given that the show is a contemporary variant on Lewis Carroll's fantastical stories about Alice's trip down the rabbit hole and through the looking glass, this may seem like a compliment. But, unlike these deliberately crafted classics, there's nothing precise or controlled about this show's randomness...Frank Wildhorn's bombastic anthems and lung-ripping power ballads are as patchwork as the costumes and storyline. (Read Full Review)

D

Mother

[D]irector Andrew Rosso has staged Mother with an almost lackadaisical hand. He allows the action to unfurl casually and without a sense of tension, which only accentuates the wandering nature of Ebersole's writing. Taylor, who looks terrific in a tailored cocktail dress from costume designer Becky Lasky, and Henry both do their best to infuse Mother with comedic pungency and drive, but even these two A-list performers can seem as adrift as the material they've been given. And King and Ebersole deliver almost colorless, one-note performances as the younger members of this tiresome and frequently unpleasant group -- which, by the end of the play, still remains a curiously distant cipher. (Read Full Review)

D

The Burnt Part Boys

After establishing the principal characters' backstories and their defining characteristics, Elder never allows them to evolve, and Tysen and Miller share fault in this lack of progression to the piece by rarely providing any character numbers. Instead, the twangy tunes are merely a succession of numbers that provide color and atmosphere rather than substance. There are two theatrical conceits that do spark the show occasionally to life. The ghosts of the miners who were killed in the accident, including Pete and Jake's dad (Michael Park), have a presence in the piece, and while one's never entirely sure of their purpose, it ultimately becomes clear that it's both metaphysical and dramaturgical. Equally intriguing are appearances by Pete's movie heroes (all played with panache by Park), who offer advice and guidance in times of need. (Read Full Review)

D

Modern Terrorism

This meandering, shrill comedy about a group of terrorists ineptly planning to bomb the Empire State Building proves to be a tiresome and frequently baffling experience...Rather than being an ever-accelerating, laugh-filled rollercoaster ride, Kern's play bogs down in sentimentality and unnecessary tangents. (Read Full Review)

D

Golden Age

Despite the assured work of a talented A-list cast led by Lee Pace and Bebe Neuwirth, and McNally's unquestionable familiarity with this milieu, proven by such previous works as Master Class and The Lisbon Traviata, there's little harmony to be found in the disparate elements of this historical night at the opera. (Read Full Review)

D

The Sneeze

The works, like the playwright's longer ones, blend comedy with the sad realities of everyday life, but J.R. Sullivan's heavy-handed production emphasizes only the former, with a host of broad, caricatured performances that result in a mostly unfunny evening of theatergoing. The proceedings get off to a fairly promising start with Drama, a short work about a famous writer (Chris Mixon) who's visited by a woman (Rachel Botchan) with literary pretentions. She insists on reading her five-act epic to him, and as she does, he cringes, dozes and contemplates the ways in which he might escape. Mixon, who has a face seemingly made of rubber and a deftness for physical comedy that serves him well throughout the production, amuses as Botchan sweeps comically and melodramatically around the stage. Little that follows, though, manages to match this theatrical amuse bouche. (Read Full Review)

D-

Prophecy

Not even the efforts of these A-list talents can elevate or enliven this overly artsy and badly written soap opera...Chalfant is at her best during Sarah's reveries about theater, but she does [not?-Ed.] inspire admiration as she imbues Sarah with appalling selfishness...And although Malpede attempts to end the play with a tragic crescendo, the overlong work merely sputters to its sad conclusion. (Read Full Review)

D-

Dracula

Paul Alexander has served up a horribly anemic if decidedly earnest production of the play, one that's neither atmospherically spooky nor campily funny. To be sure there are moments in the piece that are unintentionally -- and sadly -- amusing. What appears to be a crepe paper bat bobs down outside one of the windows of Dana Kenn's workman-like interior settings for the show, bringing to mind the sort of silliness that one might encounter in a haunted house at a country fair ... In the title role, Altieri brings to mind the images on the covers of romance novels that can cause some women's hearts to flutter. His long jet black hair trails down to his mid-back, sometimes slicked into a neat ponytail and sometimes cascading around his face, and his thick Italian accent certainly gives this Dracula an exotic sound. But he rarely generates any real sexual heat, and there is absolutely no chemistry between him and the wan Bridges, particularly as Dracula's fateful and almost final seduction of Lucy transpires. (Read Full Review)