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Brian Scott Lipton



Reviews

A+

Beautiful—The Carole King Musical

...one of the most entertaining Broadway shows in years. All of the necessary elements have come together here, from a surprisingly smart and witty book by Douglas McGrath, smooth direction by Marc Bruni, lively, period-feeling choreography by Josh Prince, and the work of a consistently top-notch cast led by the extraordinary Jessie Mueller as King... A Tony Award nomination [for Mueller] (and possibly the statuette itself) are definitely in order. (Read Full Review)

A+

The Glass Menagerie

[This production is] the exquisitely calibrated work of four remarkable actors, led by two-time Tony Award winner Cherry Jones, that bring a fresh dose of both poignancy and humor to this enduring masterpiece... Faced with one of the most talked-about roles in the theatrical canon, Jones smartly puts her own spin on Amanda... sublime... Jones is simultaneously heartless and heartbreaking. She deserves another Tony Award just for those few moments. Quinto, who has admitted basing his portrayal of Tom directly on the young Williams, is a revelation... Watching the wonderful Keenan-Bolger slowly bloom like a flower is simply mesmerizing... [a] stunning production. (Read Full Review)

A+

Twelfth Night

If one devoutly wishes that this amazing company could have delivered two home runs, well, alas and alack, one must settle for a grand slam -- the absolutely stunning Twelfth Night” -- and one solid double. That said, either production is worth a visit simply for the rare attempt by director Tim Carroll and his remarkable company to present the Bard’s work as it might have been done five centuries ago. Mark Rylance, who is the marquee attraction…In “Twelfth Night,” the always showy and technically brilliant actor gives an extravagant comic turn as the Countess Olivia… it’s impossible not to crack up…However, there’s great heart in his Olivia as well. Indeed, what’s so incredible about this production is how sublimely it balances the show’s romantic and comical elements… the superb Samuel Barnett is heart-wrenching. With the cost of going to England as prohibitive for many, the purchase of even a full-priced ticket to either one of these spectacles is a relative bargain! (Read Full Review)

A

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

This brilliant, often absurd comedy, now somehow deeper and funnier than it seemed just a couple months ago at Lincoln Center's Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater, proves to be one of the highlights of the theatrical season. But as in much of Christopher Durang's best work, it's the heartbreak that is as memorable as the hilarity. In the end, Durang leaves us with a message about the importance of family (much as Chekhov did) and a reminder that even for the heartsick, laughter is truly the best medicine. (Read Full Review)

A

Follies

Without question, this version delineates the spiritual dilemma of Follies' four central characters more sharply than any of the four previous productions I've seen. But it's part of the inherent genius of Follies is that we physically see the quartet's much-different youthful selves (the excellent Kirsten Scott, Lora Lee Gayer, Christian Delcroix, and Nick Verina), full of hope, ambition, and sheer stupidity -- making it easy to mourn the bitter, unhappy people they've become. The foursome's inner selves are laid out in excruciating detail in the show's "Loveland" sequence at the end of act II, where each performs a vaudeville-like number that spells out their feelings. As might be expected, it is the production's high point. (Derek McLane's unexpected, lavish set design and Gregg Barnes' wonderfully evocative costumes add immeasurably to the proceedings.) (Read Full Review)

A

The Great God Pan

...one of our most intelligent, probing playwrights... a gorgeously-acted world premiere... directed with extraordinary sensitivity by Carolyn Cantor... Herzog's finely-tuned ear for how people actually speak and react in difficult situations is always in evidence, as is her keen understanding of human behavior... Both Strong, whose layered performance lives up to his last name, and Goldberg, who impresses with her combination of vulnerability and inner strength, get sufficient time to make an impression on audiences, and rarely waste a moment. But the other actors have the harder task, as Baker, Friedman, Van Patten, Wilhelmi, and Nobbs each only have a few minutes to create a fully realized character. Remarkably, they do so in a seemingly effortless manner, which is a true testament to both their skill and Herzog's sharp writing.
(Read Full Review)

A

The Night Alive

The ghosts, spirits, and ghouls that often haunt the characters of Conor McPherson’s plays are absent from “The Night Alive,” an extremely moving, often funny work…McPherson proves the rare playwright who does justice as director of his own work, emphasizing the gorgeous language that provides continuous pleasure, reveling in the carefully chosen details…and guiding his cast with utmost care.
(Read Full Review)

A

What's It All About? Bacharach Reimagined

...Kyle Riabko is putting his own spin on these superlative songs in “What’s It All About? Bacharach Reimagined,” a thoroughly engaging 90-minute theatrical revue...And even if the show doesn’t exactly live up to its subtitle, Riabko’s mostly stripped-down arrangements of two dozen of Bacharach’s hits-as performed a septet of very talented singer-musicians–are there to remind us just how gorgeously crafted Bacharach’s melodies and Hal David’s lyrics truly are. While the show is essentially a concert, it has been given some theatrical trappings by choreographer-director Steven Hoggett, who utilizes some of his signature movements (a la “Once), and an elaborate set design by Tony winner Christine Jones and Brett J. Banakis that occasionally comes into play…it’s Bacharach and David’s aching ballads that achieve maximum impact…And, in the end, no matter what you do to the Bacharach-David catalogue, the answer to the musical question “What’s It All About?” always remains the same: Love, sweet love. (Read Full Review)

A

The Other Place

They say a mind is a terrible thing to waste, but as Sharr White's The Other Place proves, it's an even more terrible thing to lose. Especially a mind as brilliant as the one that belongs to Juliana Smithton, a scientific researcher who begins to develop "episodes" while delivering a sales pitch for a dementia drug. It soon becomes abundantly clear that we can't believe everything (or maybe anything) Juliana tells anyone. And as Juliana faces an uncertain future, audiences can be certain they're witnessing one of the season's greatest performances. (Read Full Review)

A

How I Learned What I Learned

Unsurprisingly, this consummate actor, under the direction of co-conceiver Todd Kreidler, brings Wilson’s prose magnificently to life, giving us both a greater understanding of the playwright and providing audiences with a dynamite 80 minutes of entertainment. (Read Full Review)

A

The Heiress

...it can be a little hard to swallow all the chatter about Chastain's character being "ugly" and "unlovable" in Moises Kaufman's otherwise sterling revival...
(Read Full Review)

A

Passion

... [a] musical masterpiece... John Doyle's bare-bones production at Classic Stage Company succeeds splendidly, in part by in uncovering the humanity of its three main characters, Fosca, Giorgio, and Clara, all superbly embodied here by Judy Kuhn, Ryan Silverman, and Melissa Errico, respectively... While it's possible some people still might not find this musical's denouement convincing, I suspect most audiences will fall head over heels in love with this Passion. (Read Full Review)

A

Small Engine Repair

Truth be told, John Pollono’s Small Engine Repair…is the kind of play that you should know as little about as possible. So why write a review (or read one)? Because I want our readers to see this twisty, often hilarious 75-minute thriller, since it proves to be an extraordinarily satisfying theatrical work. The play…gets a first-rate production here, especially thanks to Richard Hoover’s spot-on re-creation of Frank’s shop and Jo Bonney’s taut direction. All four actors do exemplary work, including Allen, who quickly proves he’s more than a pretty face, nailing Chad’s mixture of arrogance, entitlement, and immaturity. Once this “Engine” starts, it just keeps going. And, better still, Pollono wisely knows when to shut it off.
(Read Full Review)

A

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (Off-Broadway)

Remarkably inventive and often hilarious...For all its sometimes dizzying, post-modern, meta-theatrical approach to American history, the musical does a remarkably smart job at illuminating some of the challenges the actual Jackson faced in his life...While most of our education about "the man who put the man in manifest destiny" comes from Timbers' clever script, Friedman's propulsive, emo-influenced score is an invaluable component of the show's success...Equally valuable is the hard-working, often-multi-tasking cast. (Read Full Review)

A

Brighton Beach Memoirs

As he's proved with his recent acclaimed productions of Elmer Rice's Adding Machine and Thornton Wilder's Our Town, Cromer's particular gifts as a director are to bring even the most theatrical characters to recognizable and fully-dimensional life and to establish a particular rhythm for the world they inhabit. And here, even when Cromer must embrace the occasional over-jokiness of Simon's mostly heartfelt script, he wisely downplays the work's sitcom-like qualities to focus on the human drama. In the production's best moments, there's a sense that we have dropped in, unobserved, on an endangered species in their natural habitat. (Cromer even encourages the actors at times to talk over each other or turn their backs to the audiences.) (Read Full Review)

A

Closer Than Ever

Marriage, dating, parenthood, sex. These subjects -- and the panoply of stories behind them -- remain constant through time, which is why Richard Maltby, Jr. and David Shire's deliciously tuneful, often pungent musical revue Closer Than Ever, now at the York Theatre Company, feels just as fresh as it did when many of us first heard it 23 years ago. But there are number of equally compelling reasons -- aside from the pair's instantly memorable melodies and smartly crafted lyrics -- for the enterprise's current success. To begin, there's Maltby's simple but sprightly direction in which he guides his exemplary cast -- Jenn Collela, George Dvorsky, Christiane Noll, and Sal Viviano -- smoothly across James Morgan's simple, door-filled set for a little over two hours. (Read Full Review)

A

The Merchant of Venice (Central Park)

Audience members -- even those who had to wait in line for hours for tickets -- won't be disappointed in Al Pacino as Shylock, the marquee attraction in Daniel Sullivan's extremely memorable production of William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, the first offering of the Public Theatre's Shakespeare in the Park season at the Delacorte Theatre. But it's the sublime Lily Rabe, as his unlikely adversary Portia, who walks off with the evening's highest honors, proving (yet again) that she may be the finest stage actress of her generation. (Read Full Review)

A

Machinal

...the power of the Lyndsey Turner’s breathtaking production of Sophie Treadwell’s expressionistic 1928 play, Machinal…After 100 minutes watching this bleak, wrenching drama…you may need a few minutes to even get up from your seat. That visceral reaction is due in large part to the incredible, award-worthy performance of British actress Rebecca Hall in the central role of Helen…If the production does falter slightly, it’s when Turner amps up the proceedings a bit too much in the show’s courtroom sequence…But the aftermath of the trial, as Helen awaits her fate in jail, is both moving and harrowing, and Hall’s emotional vulnerability in this final segment is beyond stunning. The director also deserves major kudos for her remarkably inventive use of Es Devlin’s constantly revolving, continually changing set, and for her keen eye for creating evocative visual tableaux utilizing the large ensemble. In a spring Broadway season that is about to be dominated by musicals, Machinal is a cold, wintry blast of air–yet one that turns out to be remarkably refreshing. (Read Full Review)

A

Fun Home

This provocative story has been bravely explored by Bechdel in her celebrated graphic novels. Now, it has been translated to the stage in the ambitious, extremely moving musical “Fun Home” at the Public Theater. Director Sam Gold and his first-rate design team (notably David Zinn, who is responsible for the extraordinary set and costumes) perfectly capture the various periods of the piece, including showing vintage television shows. (He even throws in a few amusing set pieces, including a virtual re-creation of a Partridge Family song!). However, Gold does his best work in bringing out the show’s quietest moments.
(Read Full Review)

A

Uncle Vanya

The sense of living on top of another, with no room for escape, has always been central to Anton Chekhov's masterpiece Uncle Vanya, but it's never been as brilliantly conveyed as in Sam Gold's highly affecting production of this seminal work...The effect is slightly voyeuristic at times (especially since an actor might be standing right next to you or at your feet), but also makes the audience feel intimately involved in the group's trials and tribulations...As much as the set lends the play its needed atmosphere, it would be hard to stay uninvolved in any case, given not just the committed work of the cast (which also includes fine turns from Rebecca Schull, Matthew Maher, and Paul Turreen) -- but Annie Baker's strikingly colloquial (yet remarkably faithful) translation. (Read Full Review)

A

Buyer & Cellar

In a theatrical season full of boldfaced names taking center stage…perhaps it's not altogether surprising to find ourselves in the presence of the one and only Barbra. What is admittedly a bit more shocking is that La Streisand is the secondary, and arguably, less interesting character in Jonathan Tolins' hilarious new piece, Buyer & Cellar, now at the Rattlestick Playwrights Theater under Stephen Brackett's sure-handed direction...[R]ecently unemployed actor Alex More — a person we're assured early on is a complete work of fiction — steals the show and our hearts…played with consummate skill by the consistently marvelous, deliciously endearing Michael Urie.
(Read Full Review)

A

The Merchant of Venice

As one of the theater's most respected directors, Daniel Sullivan has nothing to prove to anyone. But with his meticulous and often brilliant Broadway production of William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, being presented by the Public Theater at the Broadhurst Theatre in an even better version than was seen earlier this year in Central Park, Sullivan proves that the Bard wrote a far more balanced and mult-layered play than its critics claim, leaving audiences to consider a great deal about both the eternal war among religions and the battle between the sexes, as well as the foibles and generosity of human nature. He also proves two equally important, if less surprising, things: that Al Pacino can still deliver the kind of thoughtful, beautifully complex performance that has made him one of the greatest actors of all time; and that the sublime Lily Rabe may well be the finest stage actress of her generation. (Read Full Review)

A

Clybourne Park

Often-scathing, hilarious, and thought-provoking...Pam McKinnon's expertly directed, thrillingly acted production does this extraordinary work full justice...What's so brave about Norris is that he's not worried about pushing the envelope; in fact, he shoves it so hard that the audience has no choice but to gasp in both horror and amazement. (Read Full Review)

A

The Normal Heart

The political and the personal collide with devastating effect...While some may feel that its debut on the Great White Way is long overdue, all can rejoice in this impeccable production, directed with enormous sensitivity and clarity by Joel Grey and George C. Wolfe and performed by a remarkable ensemble led by the brilliant Joe Mantello...If Kramer's work occasionally feels overly didactic -- spouting facts, figures, and accusations at sometimes dizzying speed -- it is consistently truthful. The play is also unforgiving in spreading blame -- which Kramer also heaps on himself...Fortunately, though, Kramer balances his anger with humor and empathy, serving up rounded portraits of his one-time friends and lovers. (Read Full Review)

A

Bad Jews

If Harmon's gift for the stinging barb consistently impresses, so does his feel for the complexity, of family dynamics. From the cousins' shared hilarity over a long-ago dinner at Benihana to the resentments over money and family favoritism, Harmon captures all of those moments that bond people who share blood and memories. Equally important, Harmon asks us to think about the courage of our own convictions, and the cost of cowardice, jealousy, and sheer pettiness. (Read Full Review)

A

All the Way

...these characters, and dozens more, come strikingly to life in Robert Schenkkan’s mesmerizing three-hour drama All the Way... [LBJ's] portrayed with extraordinary verisimilitude and unflagging energy by Emmy Award winner Bryan Cranston... Director Bill Rauch manages to pace these complex proceedings both swiftly and clearly... there’s equally fine work by the entire ensemble... Still, the show belongs to Cranston. (Read Full Review)

A

Cornelius

Cox's broadly entertaining, carefully conceived turn is a marvel, showing off the many facets of Cornelius' personality as the three-act play evolves. He's part-pragmatist and part-dreamer; part world-weary soul and part eternal optimist. (Read Full Review)

A

The Cherry Orchard

Belgrader zeroes in on the messy hearts and minds of these troubled Russian folk...While the shortened translation gives some of the play's secondary characters less to do than usual, the entire cast delivers completely committed performances, most notably the ever-amazing Alvin Epstein as the elderly servant Firs; the sublime Roberta Maxwell as the sardonic governess Charlotta (men in the first row beware, you may become her accomplices); the delicious Michael Urie as the bumbling servant Epikhodov; and the sexy and menacing Slate Holmgren as the selfish servant Yasha. (Read Full Review)

A

The Weir

[A] highly accomplished revival ... Under Ciarán O'Reilly's sensitive direction, this troupe of fine actors delivers the goods, keeping us rapt, occasionally amused, and decidedly chilled ... McPherson's play is, on one level, a cautionary tale about the dangers of loneliness and the need to connect with other human beings. But The Weir is also a grand testament to the power of storytelling and imagination. Even if you're not inclined to believe in ghosts and fairies, you might reconsider your prejudices by the end of this 90-minute work. (Read Full Review)

A

What Rhymes with America

It may be true that nothing rhymes with America, but this very fine play has more than enough poetry of its own. That philosophically-packed query, posed at the show's end by 16-year-old aspiring songwriter Marlene (Cartoon Network star Aimee Carrero), is just one of the many piercing questions consuming all four of Melissa James Gibson's richly drawn characters, each of whom is desperately searching for his or her place in an increasingly confusing world. (Read Full Review)

A-

Bull

In lesser hands than this thoroughly committed cast, the material might seem considerably slighter than it does here. (Read Full Review)

A-

Pippin

There are so many magical doings…in Diane Paulus' superlative staging of…Pippin, you often don't know where to look. Gorgeous tumblers and hoop jumpers compete for our attention with stunning dancers. And let's not forget a troupe of thespians so talented...they practically beg for applause while singing Stephen Schwartz's ultra-tuneful score…But the real magic here is how Paulus actually makes us care about…[n]ever before has [the] gossamer book about a callow young man actually seemed so substantial. But when everything comes together in its fresh and fantastic new way…there is nothing quite like it currently on Broadway. As for the promised finale "you'll never forget," Paulus finds her own way of making the show's ending sufficiently memorable.In its own way, Pippin will always be a piece of its time...but Paulus' crowd-thrilling, award-worthy production is likely to keep audiences flocking to see it for years to come.
(Read Full Review)

A-

I'll Eat You Last: A Chat With Sue Mengers

There's a lot less eating on the stage of the Booth Theatre by the voracious Hollywood agent Sue Mengers than one might expect in Tony Award winner John Logan's delicious new bioplay…Instead, it's the audience who is eating — right out of Bette Midler's hands before she even opens her mouth. Under Joe Mantello's almost invisible direction, the actress mostly sounds like herself as she deftly captures Mengers' vicious tongue, razor-sharp wit, and periodic forays into self-pity. Maybe that's why we laugh so hard at everything she says, especially the barbs that are notable for their desire to shock. So what if I'll Eat You Last leaves you hungry for more? When the server is as irresistible as Bette Midler, you're willing to make a meal out of dessert.
(Read Full Review)

A-

Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812

The show, which runs nearly three hours, is mesmerizing. Dave Malloy's greatest musical triumphs may be his witty, infectious group numbers, such as the "Prologue" that lays out how everyone in the story is related to everyone else, the delicious act-two opener, "Letters," and the raucous sequence celebrating carriage-driver Balaga (Paul Pinto), who is charged with helping Anatole and Natasha escape Moscow. In these songs, as well as throughout the show, the superb eight-piece band and spirited ensemble lend exceptional support. (Read Full Review)

A-

The Trip To Bountiful

Like many of Foote's plays, The Trip to Bountiful can seem slight and even meandering in its first act. But by the end, it's a journey you wouldn't haven't missed taking. (Read Full Review)

A-

Tribes

Affecting if slightly overstuffed...now receieving a beautifully acted production...Even when the play threatens to drift into melodrama, Cromer consistently guides his cast into truthfulness and clarity...Cromer also cleverly, if sparingly, uses Jeff Sugg's projections and Daniel Kluger's sound design to reinforce Raine's points about what we hear, how he hear, what we choose to hear, and ultimately what we understand -- about our families and ourselves. (Read Full Review)

A-

The Assembled Parties

One is constantly aware that much of what happens in the first hour will reverberate in the show's second half, set exactly 20 years later. Forthcoming happenings range from Morty's insistence (through underhanded means) in gaining back his mother-in-law's ruby necklace to hints that Scotty has a serious illness. Fortunately, the plot's slightly creaky mechanics take a back seat to Greenberg's dazzling array of quips and one-liners, which may remind theatergoers of Simon's. In addition, as in such Simon plays as The Prisoner of Second Avenue, many of these jokes — ranging from topics as the dangers of parking in the Roosevelt Field mall or college students protesting for divestiture — will resonate more strongly with Jewish people, New Yorkers, and those who lived through 1980. (And yes, I fall into all three demographics.) But anyone who has felt like an outsider in their own family will understand the pain, whether well-hidden or overtly exposed, that all of Greenberg's sharply drawn characters carry with them. (Read Full Review)

A-

The Nance

No custom-made suit could fit Nathan Lane quite as beautifully as the role of Chauncey Miles in Douglas Carter Beane's ambitious and affecting new play, And just like a supermodel, Lane returns the favor by showing off every detail of this tailored garment. His multilayered performance may be the finest of this brilliant showman's long career.…for much of The Nance, Beane wants us to laugh, cry, and think, often at the same moment, which is not always an easy task... the political rhetoric occasionally gets a bit heavy-handed, and a few of the jokes, no matter how hilarious, seem anachronistic. Fortunately, ace director Jack O'Brien knows just how to modulate the proceedings. Perhaps Beane's greatest triumph is that Chauncey and Ned develop into an odd couple you actually root for, even as you know deep down that this story is unlikely to end with the words "they lived happily ever after." The Nance is a far different type of fairy tale.
(Read Full Review)

A-

Mistakes Were Made

Wright has long proven himself one of the theater's best dialogue writers, and the script is filled with many a gem worth remembering and repeating. (The four-way call between Felix, the writer, the agent, and the star is particularly hilarious!) It must be noted, though, that the work will resonate far more strongly with anyone who works in theater than most of the general public. Moreover, trimming about 15 minutes wouldn't hurt, as the play's sketch-like set-up occasionally becomes apparent. Still, it would be a mistake to miss Mistakes Were Made and the extraordnary performance at its center. (Read Full Review)

A-

Colin Quinn Long Story Short

While he may not totally accomplish that obviously impossible goal, Quinn nevertheless provides an exceedingly clever, surprisingly informative, and often hilarious look about how our current behavior is informed by the various civilizations where we've come from -- and in doing so, provides a welcome addition to the Broadway season ... he also displays a facility for foreign accents that might even make Meryl Streep a tad jealous. Yet Quinn -- who seems more comfortable with this material on Broadway than he did downtown --isn't out to give some dry or didactic diatribe. He engages the audience at every turn by constantly drawing parallels to modern-day society and our everyday behavior. (Read Full Review)

A-

A Night with Janis Joplin

If Mary Bridget Davies doesn’t break a piece of your heart in A Night With Janis Joplin, the accomplished bioplay-cum-rock concert now being smartly staged at Broadway’s Lyceum Theatre, your central organ is probably made of stone. And if she and her crackerjack band don’t get your hands clapping or feet stomping – well, then you’re definitely a statue... for much of the work, Janis is almost overshadowed by her blues idols... Still, for the few things “A Night With Janis Joplin” gets wrong, it gets plenty right For one thing, unlike some of the recent, cheesier exercises in 1960s nostalgia, the show offers a first-class physical production, from the clever lamp-filled set by Justin Townsend to Amy Clark’s beautiful, spot-on costumes and Darrel Moloney’s evocative projections. Most of all, it introduces many of us to Davies, whose career should hopefully expand beyond recreating Joplin (which she previously did in “Love Janis”) into even brighter territory. (Read Full Review)

A-

The Jacksonian

But, honestly, everyone will be shocked at times during this creepy – and sometimes creaky – Southern Gothic drama that owes debts to everyone from Tennessee Williams to Stephen King. Luckily, even in its most puzzling passages, a brilliant cast of five under Robert Falls’ direction rarely fails to command our attention. (Read Full Review)

A-

Lucky Guy

And whether it's Wolfe's doing or not, Hanks is to be commended for knowing when to simply blend in to this ensemble (even his "star entrance" doesn't really lend itself to prolonged applause) and when to rightly stand front and center in the spotlight. We should all consider ourselves lucky that this megatalent has finally decided to grace the Great White Way. (Read Full Review)

A-

700 Sundays

…revisiting this very special solo show is like reconnecting with an old friend who has the uncanny ability to tell you the same stories you heard the first time –and still make you double over with laughter…it’s not altogether surprising the show’s second act takes a more sentimental turn as the teenaged Billy struggles to cope with the aftermath of his father’s sudden demise. While this section is often touching, and even occasionally quite humorous…it also becomes oddly mawkish at moments. Moreover, Crystal’s decision to extend the show for another half-hour or so after he goes to college…strikes me (once again) as misguided. It may complete the story, but the tone is so different than what has come before – a problem the brilliant director Des McAnuff simply can’t solve – that it undercuts a little of our goodwill toward the performer. Still, you could do far worse things than spend 2 ½ hours -- or even an entire Sunday – with this peerless storyteller and comedian. (Read Full Review)

A-

Talley's Folly

Just as books should not be judged by their covers, stage productions are not always reflections of their set design. Take Jeff Cowie's almost-too-grand recreation of the rococo Victorian boathouse that provides the sole locale for Lanford Wilson's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Talley's Folly, now being revived by the Roundabout Theatre Company at its Laura Pels Theatre. What's with those huge painted flowers at the top? Should there really be so much bric-a-brac strewn about? Is it a sign that director Michael Wilson will place too heavy a hand on this delicate romantic valentine?
Fortunately, such fears are quickly allayed by the nimble rhythm that three-time Tony Award nominee Danny Burstein (Follies) finds in the quirky opening monologue the playwright has crafted for the show's protagonist, Matt Friedman. (Read Full Review)

A-

Equivocation

Not even the most sophisticated GPS system could possibly navigate all the twists and turns of Bill Cain's inventive and remarkably clever Equivocation, which is now getting its New York premiere at Manhattan Theatre Club in a gorgeously fluid production helmed by Tony Award winner Garry Hynes. Still, it is perhaps only fitting that a play about William Shakespeare feels as unnecessarily overstuffed as the Bard's later plays, full of too many themes and plot digressions to be easily digested in one sitting...An often bewitching experience. (Read Full Review)

A-

Clybourne Park

With his often-scathing new satire, Clybourne Park, now getting a thrillingly crackerjack production at Playwrights Horizons, Bruce Norris once again proves he's no mere provocateur...In the end, Clybourne Park proves a place very much worth visiting for two hours; you just wouldn't want to live there. (Read Full Review)

A-

Bad Jews

Tracee Chimo is stupendous in Joshua Harmon's disturbingly funny play about a family fighting over a religious heirloom ... this human maelstrom does more damage to the inhabitants of an Upper West Side apartment than any real hurricane ever has. In fact, given the intimacy of this black-box theater, you may want to tape yourself up with wooden boards before entering. True, a situation here and there rings false (Read Full Review)

A-

All In The Timing

And while the entire ensemble (which also includes Eric Clem in a trio of brief appearances) dives headfirst into the material with brio, it is Elrod, whose enthrallingly endearing mix of vulnerability and slight smarminess, allows him to shine brightest. Switching characters with ease during the briefest of scene changes, Elrod manages to inhabit each of Ives' creations, fully relishing their linguistic and physical challenges. All in the Timing proves to be the sort of showcase that could – and should – vault this hard-working actor into stardom. So SNL, pick up your phone and start dialing his number now. Remember, timing really can be everything. (Read Full Review)

A-

Ivanov

[D]irector Austin Pendelton and his incredibly committed troupe, led by the blazing Ethan Hawke, have treated the material as something close to farce, albeit with the requisite moments of tragedy properly integrated. The result may sometimes feel seriously (or should I say unseriously) unbalanced, but thankfully it's rarely boring. (Read Full Review)

A-

The Vandal

Like many brand-new plays, The Vandal would possibly benefit from another draft or two; some transitions could be smoothed out and a little bit of rethinking could be used to eliminate its less believable moments. But even with its imperfections, the show's sharply-drawn characters are apt to steal your heart. (Read Full Review)

A-

Picnic

(Director Sam Gold) proves he knows when it's best to stick to the tried and true, using both Andrew Lieberman's super-simple set of a Kansas backyard and a finely chosen, well-calibrated cast to shake the dust free from Inge's potentially musty play and bring out its humanity. While Stan and Grace ably anchor the show, this Picnic's true treats lie in many of its supporting performances. Indeed, even if the world of Picnic remains both miles and decades away, Gold and his accomplished cast have discovered how to make this underappreciated play feel like a feast for contemporary audiences. (Read Full Review)

A-

Hair (2009)

in the remarkably sure hands of director Diane Paulus and a committed cast of young Broadway talent, the landmark 1967 work not only retains its political and social relevance, but remains a remarkably joyous and occasionally heartbreaking piece of theater. The result is the year's best Broadway musical revival. (Read Full Review)

A-

Let Me Down Easy

The middle section -- and the most impressive part -- of Let Me Down Easy is primarily concerned with America's health care crisis, as seen and experienced first-hand. For example, Ruth Katz, an associate dean at Yale University Medical Center, tells of how she was treated badly as a cancer patient at Yale New Haven Hospital until a resident is informed of her position. Most poignant is the recollection of Kiersta Kurtz-Burke, a physician at New Orleans' Charity Hospital, who reminds us of FEMA's neglect of this country's poor in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Under Leonard Foglia's savvy direction, Smith wisely incorporates a great deal of humor into the proceedings, which also helps undercut any hint of didacticism. Not every section seems necessary -- and I think Smith might have been wiser to reshuffle some of the segments' order -- but every word and gesture presented by Smith appears to have been carefully considered. (Read Full Review)

A-

Hair

Even on my fifth viewing, Diane Paulus' extraordinary handling of Hair...impresses. Her thoughtful staging simultaneously retains its political and social relevance, while remaining an ultimately heartbreaking yet joyful piece of theater. And once again, a extremely talented "tribe" of performers -- some admittedly better cast than others -- are bringing this always-welcome show to life. (Read Full Review)

B+

This

While each of the actors adds an invaluable element to the production, This does rest on Nicholson's slender shoulders. There are a few times when one isn't entirely sure if the actress is skilfully underplaying the part and showing us Jane's disconnectedness or if she hasn't grasped the import of what Gibson is trying to convey. Still, she handles the character's most crucial moments with a true sense of what it means to be a human being whose moral compass may have temporarily pointed in the wrong direction, but which is sure to return to its correct position. (Read Full Review)

B+

The Cripple of Inishmaan

…in its belated Broadway debut…directed by Tony winner Michael Grandage, this 1996 play often elicits the kind of uproarious laughter one might expect to hear at a vintage Neil Simon comedy. In fact, Grandage and his all-British cast, led by film and stage superstar Daniel Radcliffe, play up McDonagh’s gimlet-eyed humor in exploiting the eccentricities of the residents of a small Irish village–occasionally sacrificing a bit of the piece’s melancholy undertone in the process. Fans of Radcliffe should be aware that until the second act of the piece, Billy is rather a minor character in the play. And to his credit, Radcliffe doesn’t treat this show as a star vehicle, blending seamlessly into the top-notch ensemble. However, when his major scenes come towards play’s end, Radcliffe displays his considerable acting prowess and innate charm to make us realize why Billy is, in fact, the show’s title character. (Read Full Review)

B+

Somewhere Fun

Most of all, though, Somewhere Fun is a sterling showcase for two great actresses. Mulgrew handles Rosemary's breathless first-act arias with operatic skill. Equally impressive, she allows us to feel sympathy for Rosemary, even as she embraces her bitterness and lack of compassion. (Sadly, Mulgrew disappears after the first act until a brief reappearance in the third as Chalfant's doctor.) Chalfant, per usual, is consistently compelling and ultimately heartwrenching. True, there are shades of Wit's Vivian Bearing — Chalfant's most notable stage role — in both Evelyn's situation and intelligence, but this glorious performer creates another unique human being, one tinged with sorrow and sarcasm. (Read Full Review)

B+

The Comedy of Errors

As might be expected, the troupe is in uniformly fine form, notably Linklater, who receives a well-deserved mid-show ovation for breathlessly delivering one long expository speech. Moreover, there are small but notable contributions from such expert players as Becky Ann Baker, Skipp Sudduth, Robert Creighton, and De’Adre Aziza. In fact, for much of this “Comedy,” the entire cast seems to be having as much fun as the audience! (Read Full Review)

B+

The Performers

Add a lot of raunch, a small amount of flesh, and a surprisingly generous helping of feel-good sentiment, and what do you get? One answer is the Great White Way's megahit, The Book of Mormon. So who can blame playwright David West Read for trying to replicate the same formula for his Broadway debut, The Performers, now at the Longacre Theatre? While nine Tony Awards probably aren't in the show's future, the laughs are plentiful enough here to ensure a great time for theatergoers receptive to Read's brand of decidedly off-color humor. (Read Full Review)

B+

Assistance

The show -- which transpires over three years -- shines its primary focus on Nick (the ever-engaging, ever-heartwrenching Michael Esper), a slackerish, jokester type with vague (and seemingly vain) hopes of getting promoted from assistant to manager, and Nora (Virginia Kull), whom we meet on her first day -- which starts at 8pm on a Friday, after she's been kept waiting in the lobby for four hours by the just-promoted Vince (a suitably obnoxious Lucas Near-Verbugghe). Kull, in her finest stage performance to date, beautifully delineates Nora, a clearly bright girl who seems cut out for better things, even if she doesn't believe it. She quickly admits she's taken the demanding job because of a Washington Post story she read on Daniel when she was a teen, and aspires to a similar career -- but her dream will not only be deferred, but possibly destroyed. (Read Full Review)

B+

4000 Miles

Plot manipulations aside -- and there are one or two that don't feel authentic -- Herzog's strength is her ability to deftly capture the truth of the characters' relationships, even Vera's love-hate friendship with her (unseen) neighbor, Ginny. Indeed, the show's strongest scene is Leo's delayed reunion with Bec, which is full of confessions, recriminations, and genuine love. She also gets a fair amount of laughs -- and some genuine emotion -- from an extended scene in which Leo brings home Amanda, a kooky, somewhat drunk Asian girl (the fine Greta Lee) whom he hopes to sleep with. (Read Full Review)

B+

Love's Labour's Lost

About three-fourths of the way into Alex Timbers and Michael Friedman’s go-for-broke musical adaptation of William Shakespeare’s bittersweet romance Love’s Labour’s Lost…I wouldn’t have been surprised to see aliens descend onto John Lee Beatty’s set…[from] these always inventive if not always successful theatrical innovators...What there isn’t on stage is a whole lot of the Bard’s original play, which Timbers and Friedman use mostly for its boys-versus-girls conflict and occasional commentary on class differences…[but] [s]natches of Shakespeare’s poetry do sometimes come through intact. More problematically, there’s not quite enough for the ladies of the cast to do, despite [their] considerable talents. Ah well. Although I doubt this “Love’s Labour’s Lost” would work even half as well in a traditional theater, it’s perfectly suited to the Delacorte: a crowd-pleasing, midsummer night’s tonic that leaves a smile on your face, a time-step in your feet, and even a tiny tingle in your heart. (Read Full Review)

B+

Matilda the Musical

...Matthew Warchus' rather ingenious solution is to attack this slight tale — faithfully adapted by Dennis Kelly — with relentless theatricality... Thanks to this magic, it is often easy to forget that there's not much at stake in the story or that Matilda (the steely Oona Laurence at my performance) isn't totally sympathetic... using Carvel, a man, to play the female Trunchbull proves to be a stroke of genius... In the end, Matilda may not prove to be every adult's (or young boy's) cup of tea, but there are more than enough young girls — and mothers — to keep this musical on Broadway for years to come. (Read Full Review)

B+

Dogfight

A very fine musical...A surprisingly moving experience that, by and large, transcends its sometimes clichéd and predictable plot...Mantello's signature gift for cutting through to the emotional truth of each scene is heavily on display here, especially in the second act and in the scenes between the three young Marines...None of this would be quite so affecting without the work of Klena, who keeps us engaged with Birdlace even in his most despicable moments, and especially Mendez, blessed with a glorious voice and an unerring instinct for veracity that combines for a truly star-making performance. (Read Full Review)

B+

Don't Go Gentle

Like much of Belber's previous work, Don't Go Gentle feels a draft or two away from fulfilling its dramatic potential, but it remains a deeply felt, well-crafted piece of theater, which is nothing to dismiss in our current landscape. (Read Full Review)

B+

Long Story Short (Off-Broadway)

Far from being dry and didactic, Quinn engages the audience by constantly drawing parallels to modern-day society and our everyday behavior. (There's even a funny and unexpected Jersey Shore reference in one segment.) While some of the humor is topical, very little is geo-specific, so that the show will appeal to both New Yorkers and tourists alike ... Without question, the show is still a work-in-progress; there are clearly moments when Quinn seems like he's still struggling to remember a line verbatim and the writing could occasionally use a bit more sharpening. Nevertheless, Long Story Short is a tale worth attending. (Read Full Review)

B+

Richard III

If one devoutly wishes that this amazing company could have delivered two home runs, well, alas and alack, one must settle for a grand slam- the absolutely stunning Twelfth Night”--and one solid double [in Richard III]. That said, either production is worth a visit simply for the rare attempt by director Tim Carroll and his remarkable company to present the Bard’s work as it might have been done five centuries ago. Rylance finds some unexpected humor in the usually pitch-dark “Richard III”…especially in the king-to-be’s famous opening monologue. Yet, for all his considerable expertise, the star’s slightly eccentric portrayal of the deformed, power-hungry Richard is sometimes as oft-putting as it is breathtaking. It’s an interesting interpretation–and far different from the conventional Richards whose single-minded pursuit of the throne makes him the embodiment of “pure evil.”...Carroll’s telling of the complex goings-on...is blessedly lucid, if sometimes also deadly dull. Happily, the show’s second-act is considerably livelier and more absorbing than the first, thanks in part to Richard’s dealings with the steely Queen Elizabeth {Barnett… stealing the show}…With the cost of going to England as prohibitive for many, the purchase of even a full-priced ticket to either one of these spectacles is a relative bargain! (Read Full Review)

B+

The Whale

[An] often remarkable new play...under the piercing direction of Davis McCallum...In the end...the big question Hunter asks so sharply of his precisely defined characters is not who they are, but who wants to be saved, and, just as importantly, who feels they deserve to be. And even if it's never 100 percent clear why Charlie chooses his particular path, Hunter makes us realize that for some people, life is a game where losing seems the most reasonable, rational option, while others will keep playing until the timer runs out. (Read Full Review)

B+

The Winter's Tale

David Farr's clearly delineated and exceedingly well-spoken rendering of this work, one of the Bard's so-called "problem plays," serves as a first-rate introduction to those who have never seen the work, while offering enough pleasures to satisfy those audiences who are familiar with it. (Read Full Review)

B

This Wide Night

The plight of two female ex-cons struggling to adapt to life on the outside is the subject of Chloe Moss' This Wide Night, now getting an earnest U.S. production from Naked Angels at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater -- one that benefits greatly from thoroughly believable performances by Edie Falco and Alison Pill. For better and worse, Moss -- who wrote the play on a commission after spending time talking to female prisoners -- forgoes giving audiences any sort of educational lesson or indulging in social criticism, and instead focuses on the interpersonal relationship between ex-cellmates Lorraine (Falco), and Marie (Pill).... Anne Kauffman's surehanded direction does what it can much of the time to downplay the essentially static nature of the script -- a task aided by Matt Frey's detailed lighting and Robert Kaplowitz's excellent sound design. But a one-room play is a one-room play, and there are many moments where one feels as trapped as its inhabitants. (Read Full Review)

B

Through a Glass Darkly

While the piece is ultimately devastating, there are some dangerously slow-going moments in the first half of David Leveaux's production...Only when Karin's illness comes into full focus -- and her delusions start to result in some terrifying actions -- does the piece become riveting. As a reaction to her condition, every character's layers are peeled away to reveal some surprising truths, and Karin's actions have some unexpected consequences. Still, even in its finest moments, Bergman's larger philosophical questions about God and the nature of certainty, embodied in Karin's visions, come in a distant second to the familial drama...Mulligan is simply stunning. (Read Full Review)

B

The 39 Steps

* A highly amusing theatrical event that will both satisfy those audience members who have never seen the film and delight those who are familiar with its cinematic predecessor...Now nestled comfortably into New World Stages, where it feels nicely intimate...More often induces smiles than real guffaws. Still, there are numerous moments of sheer physical genius. Brian's review of the original production, also a B, is here. (Read Full Review)

B

The Mound Builders

As is so often true at Signature, the production values are first-rate, including Neil Patel's spare-yet-vivid rendering of the house, Rui Rita's atmospheric lighting, and Darron L. West's evocative sound design. Most important, the company is to be commended for living up to its mission by celebrating the work of one of America's most important playwrights and resurrecting one of his seldom-produced pieces with care. (Read Full Review)

B

A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder

...everything about Darko Tresnjak’s clever, gorgeously costumed production... is designed to make us revel in the dastardly doings of the charming, cunning, and cutthroat Monty Navarro (the slyly seductive Bryce Pinkham). [Lutvak's] work here is less memorable than I’d hoped... And for all of Mays’ brilliant acting talent, he’s not much of a vocalist and has a bit too much to sing here. Still, if you want two-and-half-hours of mayhem and merriment, guide yourself over to the Walter Kerr Theatre. The only danger you’ll be in for is having too good a time. (Read Full Review)

B

4000 Miles

As might be expected, Leo learns to take responsibility for his life and his actions during his stay with Vera. But to both Herzog's credit and detriment, the reasons for this transformation aren't particularly spelled out. It doesn't appear to have anything to do with Vera's influence or any noticeable outside force; it merely happens. (Read Full Review)

B

Annie

Sadly – and it's the one glaring flaw in Thomas Meehan's superbly-crafted book --Finneran never gets to go womano a mano against the superb Australian actor Anthony Warlow, whose full-bodied, full-voiced turn as Oliver "Daddy" Warbucks anchors the production once he finally arrives onstage. His gruff, yet slightly tender bachelor billionaire is completely believable, yet the actor has enough musical comedy elan to light up songs like "NYC" and "I Don't Need Anything But You."
The only thing Warlow can't seem to do is find any romantic chemistry with the lovely Brynn O'Malley as his secretary Grace Farrell. She's so officious – and almost sexless -- that this is the first Annie where I was left wondering if she and Warbucks "live happily after." (Read Full Review)

B

Come Fly Away

This consistently diverting, sometimes intoxicating, and beautifully performed dance-theater piece is likely to please long-time Tharp and Sinatra devotees, and perhaps even turn one's followers into the other's fans...Tharp has smartly tailored the work to the strengths of her cast -- all of whom are longtime associates of the choreographer excerpt Farmer (who spent 23 years with Merce Cunningham)...Some of the vignettes work better with the lyrics than others...If there's a larger problem here, it's that the show's choreographic concept -- which leans heavily on pas de deux and solo turns -- rarely allows Tharp to show off her greatest gift: her use of patterning. (Read Full Review)

B

End of the Rainbow

It's hard to say what's more impressive about Bennett's crowd-thrilling work: her extraordinary commitment to the role of Garland or her unbelievable stamina...What Bennett has been asked to do, under the direction of Tony Award winner Terry Johnson, may sometimes seem like mere impersonation -- and she imitates some of Garland's most well-known characteristics, including the famed raised arm gesture and cross-legged stance, much like many who have played the legendary icon. (Arguably, others have done it better.) But it's her undeniable attempt to fully convey the tortured Garland that separates this performance from so many that have come before. (Read Full Review)

B

Cheri

While some viewers will find that the 65-minute piece feels much longer, others will take great pleasure in watching Clarke’s balletic choreography performed by two of the world’s greatest dancers, the legendary Alessandra Ferri and American Ballet Theatre principal Herman Cornejo, and listening to the haunting (uncredited) score beautifully played by Sarah Rothenberg. Clarke often relies on minimal movement, rather than virtuouso dancing, to express the piece’s inner feelings, and the result can sometimes be too static. However, when she allows the sublime, athletic Cornejo to finally display all his gifts…the effect is thrilling. For her part, Ferri…remains a remarkably supple and expressive dancer who lets us inside Lea’s emotions. Unfortunately, there’s far too little of the delectable Irving, who comes and goes infrequently with snippets of narration and observation. She perfectly captures Charlotte’s brittle, often condescending tone towards everything and everyone around her, while also capturing our sympathy for this obviously unhappy woman. (Read Full Review)

B

Orphans

As Harold natters on about Treat being a "dead-end kid" — a reference to the young hoodlums in old-time movies — the audience laughs loudly at these statements. And Baldwin's sardonic delivery certainly encourages us to do so. Yet as the first act turns darker, especially after Harold turns the tables on Treat, the loud guffaws that greet every utterance emanating from the former 30 Rock star rob the dialogue of its intended underlying menace. We've become so used to Baldwin being funny, it's as if we can't imagine he's not trying to be hilarious. Fortunately, the proper equilibrium is finally restored in the second act in which Harold (an orphan himself) becomes the de facto father in this dysfunctional household, but the show never coheres the way it should. (Read Full Review)

B

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

A working knowledge of the plays of Anton Chekhov will come in handy to get the myriad in-jokes embedded (and on the surface) of Christopher Durang's wonderfully offbeat new comedy ... While the piece is somewhat scattershot and a bit too drawn out, the copious laughs come from the many zingers, referential gags, and brilliant non-sequiturs that Durang sprinkles liberally throughout the two-plus hours. (Read Full Review)

B

Dreamgirls

There's no doubt that the role of Effie White in the Henry Krieger-Tom Eyen musical Dreamgirls, now launching its national tour at the Apollo Theatre, is a star-making one. Just ask Jennifer Holliday, Lillias White, and Jennifer Hudson! But there's no guarantee that whoever portrays the fiery singer will end up as a lasting luminary in the firmament. Still, my money's on relative newcomer Moya Angela, whose intense, deeply-felt performance as Effie is the red-hot center of Robert Longbottom's enjoyable if slightly too cool revival of this timeless backstage musical. (Read Full Review)

B

The Call

Under Leigh Silverman's sensitive direction, Butler deftly navigates Annie's frequent emotional swings, even when the character goes from cheeriness to despair in 60 seconds flat. (Read Full Review)

B

Zarkana

True, this newest offering from the Canadian-based entertainment conglomerate, written and directed by Francois Girard, isn't Cirque's finest show -- either in execution or conception. (I still have no idea about most of what the magician Zark, played by the soulfully-voiced Paul Bisson, or sultry female vocalist Meetu Chilana were singing about.) But the two hours fly swiftly by. (Read Full Review)

B

Reasons to be Happy

Even though four years have passed since the end of Neil LaBute's Reasons to Be Pretty, it appears little has changed for these troubled souls at the beginning of LaBute's sequel, Reasons to Be Happy…Yet, we soon find ourselves hoping that the title of LaBute's work lives up to the implied promise that these characters will quickly discover some sort of inner peace. How well Reasons to Be Happy fully resonates to those theatergoers who didn't see the previous play is a question I can't honestly answer. I will say that LaBute (who also directs here) has created a story that can be taken on its own merits. However, its central love triangle is somewhat problematic, especially for those with no knowledge of the characters' backstory.
(Read Full Review)

B

Glengarry Glen Ross

What should get anyone's blood pumping in a pitch-perfect rendering of any Glengarry--and what one firmly expects from Sullivan--is a continuous display of flawless ensemble acting, and that display is simply lacking here. Yes, Bobby Cannavale turns in an almost predictably sublime performance as Richard Roma, the oil-slick salesman who lives by his own rules and changes his outward behavior more often than he changes his designer underwear. But Al Pacino alternately mesmerizes and confounds audiences in the primary role of Shelley "The Machine" Levine, and the rest of ensemble–with the notable exception of John C. McGinley, who fumes and foams with expert ease as the hot-tempered, despicable Dave Moss–struggle to make their parts feel like little more than glorified cameos. Nonetheless, the production still provides numerous moments of crackerjack entertainment in the second act, especially for those viewers not repulsed by these reptilian, if pathetic, creatures. (Read Full Review)

B

A Raisin in the Sun

[A] mostly sterling new production...filled with incisive characterizations and a deft balance of humor and sorrow that reminds us why this work is such an enduring piece of dramatic literature. And yet this production would soar into the stratosphere if it hadn’t been for the central miscasting of Oscar and Tony winner Denzel Washington as Walter Lee Younger...There’s no getting around the simple fact that the 59-year-old Washington is far too old – and emotionally strong – to effectively play Walter...Washington’s age and presence also throws off the balance with two of the play’s central characters – his strong-willed mother Lena (LaTanya Richardson Jackson), and younger sister, Beneatha (Anika Noni Rose), a medical student...Nonetheless, Jackson (who is a mere five years older than Washington) gives a wonderfully realized performance as the pragmatic, somewhat stern yet loving Lena, and Rose does the best work of her considerable career as Beneatha...Even with the less-than-ideally suited Washington at its core, this “Raisin” still has plenty of juice. Indeed, it’s one of the season’s few must-see shows. (Read Full Review)

B

Breakfast at Tiffany's

...what ends up on stage is a sometimes plodding, sometimes diverting work that succeeds far more in having us invest in what happens to our narrator — due in large measure to Smith's sensational Broadway debut — than the aptly named Miss Golightly... For all [Greenberg's] fidelity, these choices nonetheless rob the play of some potential dramatic momentum... The production could be a little more lavish, as well, though the designers have done their jobs well... Clarke's Holly is too clearly a phony-phony... compelling are the rare heart-to-hearts and tete-a-tetes between Holly and Fred...Clarke does a superb job of showing us the bruised, frail interior hidden beneath Holly's glamorous exterior... And yes, the feline (Vito Vincent at my performance) does just fine, but it would take more than a cute face and furry body to steal the show from Smith. His emotionally (and physically) naked, deeply felt performance not only gives the show its true heart and soul, but proves to be the crown jewel of this Breakfast at Tiffany's. (Read Full Review)

B-

Golden Boy

If the production isn't always a knockout, it lands plenty of powerful punches. The production is full of canny, evocative performances, most notably one by an almost unrecognizable Tony Shalhoub (Monk) in a Tony-worthy turn as Joe's old-world Italian father, who does his best to support his son while never blinding himself to the dangers of his boy's career path. Particularly heartbreaking are the scenes when Joe's father refuses to watch him fight, but shows up at the arena nonetheless, just to talk to him. (Read Full Review)

B-

If/Then

[H[ere’s the bad news: “If/Then” isn’t “Gypsy”. Nor is it Kitt and Yorkey’s flawed but fascinating musical, the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Next to Normal.” In fact, I’m not completely sure what propelled these talented men to create such a surprisingly repetitive, dramatically muddled show. Do we really need to be reminded -- over and over (and over and over) -- that life is a series of split-second decisions, random encounters, and taking chances, and that we should live in the here-and-now. As the kids say: duh! Fortunately, the show’s creators have put the ultra-appealing Menzel center stage to make us care (at least somewhat) about the ultimate fate of Elizabeth. (Read Full Review)

B-

Tales From Red Vienna

A current playwright pens a period piece, a la Ibsen, but the acting and dialogue are way too contemporary, leaving audiences puzzled as to the work’s intent. If this description sounds familiar, you probably saw Sharr White’s disappointing “The Snow Geese,” earlier this season at Manhattan Theatre Club’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre. Unfortunately, it applies just as equally to David Grimm’s “Tales From Red Vienna,” now at MTC’s City Center I stage. The good news, however, is that for all its many anachronisms and odd plot twists, the play is nonetheless consistently watchable...It’s a good story, if a tad melodramatic. But Grimm’s dialogue is so 21st-century – as is Arianda’s often fascinating yet never completely convincing portrayal of Helena – that it’s hard to figure out why the playwright just didn’t find a way to set his not really timeless tale in the here and now. (Read Full Review)

B-

Bronx Bombers

The 2013 season may be over for the New York Yankees, but fans of the boys in pinstripes can still get their fix thanks to Eric Simonson’s “Bronx Bombers,” now playing at Broadway’s Circle in the Square. As with his previous sports-themed plays, “Lombardi” and “Magic/Bird,” Simonson exhibits an extraordinary passion for his subject, as well as a treasure trove of trivia and knowledge about the famed baseball team. But once again, the show is more of a solid double dramatically than a home run.
(Read Full Review)

B-

Ordinary Days

But for better and worse, these folks' smaller-than-life travails end up being only modestly engaging ... Early on, in a very fine song called "Let Things Go," it's hinted that Claire's failure to fully love the remarkably patient Jason is tied to some past trauma. And it turns out to be a mistake for Gwon to wait until the penultimate number in the show, a beautiful and haunting ballad called "I'll Be Here," to further reveal Claire's tragedy. While he succeeds in creating a true "aha" moment, our sympathy for and understanding of the pair's dilemma would be much richer if we knew earlier about their particular dynamic. Marc Bruni's simple production keeps the focus on Gwon's songs (played simply on the piano by the excellent Vadim Feichtner), which are consistenly listenable. Still, Gwon's music lacks some originality, as it often echoes the sound of both Jason Robert Brown and Stephen Schwartz in their pop-theater mode. (Read Full Review)

B-

Fuerza Bruta: Look Up

But you can go to Stereo or Cain to shake your booty; you come to the Daryl Roth to see a fearless group of performers seem to take their lives in their hands by performing stunts like falling off a 15-foot-long treadmill, climbing around impossibly high mylar curtains, or balancing themselves on a huge, shaky contraption that looks like it's made out of aluminum foil… One wishes the bag of tricks in "Fuerzabruta" was a little more full -- more than one sequence gets repeated -- and that the segues between acts were a little more seamless. But there are far worse ways to spend an hour in New York City. (Read Full Review)

B-

The Commons of Pensacola

Seeing how the sins of the father (and maybe the mother) have altered this family dynamic, while perhaps somewhat well-tread territory, is the worthy crux of this 80-minute play. What doesn’t work nearly as well is the far too many completely unbelievable plot twists…as well as a few too many Neil Simonesque one-liners. These zingers add some needed humor to piece, but rarely feel organic. Rising above any of the work’s flaws is Danner, who hands in a truly terrific performance under Lynne Meadow’s direction. Her authentic rapport with Parker (with whom she previously co-starred in MTC’s “Sylvia”) is equally crucial in giving the play some additional depth. While Parker may be the bigger draw, this uncommonly great actress is really the prime reason to visit The Commons of Pensacola.
(Read Full Review)

B-

Luck of the Irish

Like Clybourne Park, Luck of the Irish takes place during two time periods in the same house set 50 years apart. The scenes set in the 1950s prove to be Greenidge's forte, expertly capturing the uneasy relationship between the two couples, which is charged not only by race, but by financial and class differences. Unfortunately, most of the scenes set in the 2000s, which seem designed to underline Greenidge's point about how racism still exists, suffer from a lack of detail or even mere believability. (Read Full Review)

B-

Detroit

Savvy, frequently poetic, and ultimately bittersweet...Mind you, while D'Amour's characters and language practically sing on the page, they're less memorable on this particular stage. The often excellent director Anne Kauffman can't quite get a handle on the piece's tricky tonal challenges, and has miscast two of the central roles, blunting the work's impact. (Read Full Review)

B-

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson

Timbers' cleverness in telling this tale -- and making it relatable to present-day circumstance -- is balanced by his brash cheekiness, which relies primarily on anachronism to get laughs. Who knew Martin Van Buren (the absolutely hilarious, deliciously fey Lucas Near-Verbrugghe) was practically addicted to Twinkies or that the troubled Jackson once indulged in one of his ritual self-bleedings while Cher's "Song for the Lonely" played in the background? Yet, there's no denying that the creators' meta-theatrical, anything goes approach worked better downtown; much of the show simply comes off as a hit-and-miss affair. For example, despite Kristine Nielsen's considerable comic gifts, the brief role of the storyteller feels now completely superfluous. (Read Full Review)

B-

Bronx Bombers

The 2013 season may be over for the New York Yankees, but fans of the boys in pinstripes can still get their fix at the Duke on 42nd Street thanks to the Primary Stages’ world premiere production of Eric Simonson’s “Bronx Bombers”. As with his previous sports-themed plays, “Lombardi” and “Magic/Bird,” Simonson exhibits an extraordinary passion for his subject, as well as a treasure trove of trivia and knowledge. His skills as a dramatist (and director), however, are still rather minor-league. (Read Full Review)

B-

Much Ado About Nothing

Jonathan Cake is outright delicious as Benedick in Arin Arbus' mostly solid production of Shakespeare's comedy. This new and improved Benedick should help his Beatrice's (Mad Men's Maggie Siff) inner softness come to the outward fore without effort. But while Cake melts marvelously, Siff barely thaws no matter the circumstance. Perhaps I'm making too much ado about Siff's miscalculated performance. This time, however, Shakespeare's fairytale seems destined to have an unpleasant chapter or two in its epilogue. (Read Full Review)

B-

The Revisionist

If The Revisionist doesn't quite have the impact it should,the blame belongs mostly in Eisenberg's hands. As David confesses a nightmare of being in a fallen elevator, asks Maria repeatedly if he's a terrible person, or even offhandedly relates his distance from his immediate family, we are clearly meant to see the "lost boy" underneath the gruff exterior, yet Eisenberg gives such a surprisingly charmless performance that whatever sympathy we might feel evaporates the second after we feel it. One must applaud Eisenberg for presenting Redgrave, as well as audiences, with the delicious gift of the role of Maria. But while The Revisionist goes down easily enough, once you've swallowed it, you may wish that you could have exchanged it for something more substantial. (Read Full Review)

B-

Donnybrook!

Burke's original score has a couple of pretty ballads, such as Mary Kate's "He Makes Me Feel I'm Lovely," but it is most notable for its comic duets for Mikeen and Kathy, "I Wouldn't Bet One Penny" and "Dee-lightful is the World," both delivered with great panache by the big-voiced Fitzgerald and the adorable Cohen ... some of what might make Donnybrook! feel more full-bodied simply can't be accomplished here due to the small Irish Rep space ... But I'm not sure if bigger would make this quirky musical worth fighting for. (Read Full Review)

C+

The Madrid

While the work is full of heart, ambition, and intelligence, its characters don't always behave in believable ways, and Flahive's preference for short scenes makes for a choppy rhythm that director Leigh Silverman cannot always successfully navigate. (Read Full Review)

C+

The Talls

...despite Kerrigan's intelligence, some sharply observed details and an obvious desire to explore complex issues, the 80-minute work, unevenly directed and cast by Carolyn Cantor, is a bit small for its subject matter and ends up seeming somewhat underwritten... Like Isabelle, Kerrigan (who graduated from college in 2004) may just need more time to find fully her voice. And like her protagonist, I suspect it's one that will eventually be worth listening to.
(Read Full Review)

C+

Nikolai and the Others

Russian intellectuals are hardly a new sight onstage at Lincoln Center, but audiences expecting the skillfull melding of fact and fiction that were the hallmark in Tom Stoppard's three-part The Coast of Utopia will be disappointed by Richard Nelson's Nikolai and the Others…Like Stoppard's masterwork, this ambitious play has much to say about the nature of making art, the difficulties of living abroad, and the meaning of friendship. But the 2 ½-hour piece hopscotches around these subjects so quickly, and sometimes so clumsily, that it never fully settles at a central dilemma onto which we can grasp. With 18 speaking parts, these top-notch actors only get to present brief outlines of their characters, even under the extremely capable direction of David Cromer. Still, the strongest impressions are made by Cerveris as the imperious and inscrutable Balanchine and Glover as the appropriately pompous Stravinsky.
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C+

Forever Dusty

The life of British pop goddess Dusty Springfield gets put through the blender ... and the final concoction is like a semi-successful smoothie: often tasty but sometimes difficult to digest. The piece – like many a docudrama -- plays a bit fast and loose in covering four decades of Springfield's turbulent life, including inventing characters and rewriting history. Though I hope Dusty Springfield's music lives on forever, it's ultimately more satisfying to listen to her CDs than see her life reenacted in this shaky vehicle. (Read Full Review)

C+

Play It Cool

Boasts an infectious jazz-tinged score, with lyrics by Mark Winkler set to the music of Philip Swann (and a few other composers), sung by a stellar five-person cast led by the sensational Sally Mayes. Unfortunately -- and despite years of tinkering and redrafting -- the piece still disappoints dramatically...There's a lot that could be more fully developed here, but the characters remain slightly stock, and the dialogue is too often less than inspired...Fortunately, the show's flaws hardly matter when Mayes is front and center. (Read Full Review)

C+

Macbeth

If you don't know the play at all, the helpful synopsis in the program may be your only chance of completely following the plot... Cumming's approach doesn't really lend a new understanding to the tale. It's not just cuts to the text that lead to some confusion. Cumming switches characters so quickly that even his skillful attempts to differentiate them can fail... Still, there's no denying that Cumming knows how to plumb the depths of despair as few actors do... Moreover, codirectors John Tiffany and Andrew Goldberg have found plenty of showy moments for Cumming...
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C+

Tin Pan Alley Rag

If such a tete-a-tete did occur, let's hope it was more compelling than the one Saltzman has imagined for this occasionally entertaining if dramatically unfulfilling play...Mostly, the two bicker -- often in dialogue reminiscent of imitation Neil Simon -- as well as share their music (a particular treat for Berlin lovers), and ultimately bond over their peculiar shared fate...Beyond presenting these mini-bios, Saltzman has a seemingly larger goal, as the mysteriously ill Joplin is actually on hand to inspire Berlin to move beyond his Tin Pin Alley successes into creating great art. Unfortunately, these conversations often have the unpleasant whiff of Obi-Wan Kenobi advising Luke Skywalker...Fortunately, the piece does benefit from the efforts of its hard-working cast.

Variety C-
(David Rooney) Despite Stafford Arima's fluid direction, polished design contributions and an able cast, the material is ploddingly episodic and way too elementary in its presentation, never shaping the two composers into three-dimensional figures...To suggest, however fancifully, that one of the greatest composers of the classic American Songbook only evolved from commercial success into work with a more enduring artistic legacy because Joplin nudged him in that direction is reductive. Dramatic tension is minimal...Many of the episodes are entertaining, and there are charming moments particularly in Joplin's recollections. But the halting momentum of each man's story means neither one of them develops much as a character. (Read Full Review)

C+

Memphis

Practically dares you to love it...Whether one is willing to fully embrace the show or simply give it a little hug will depend on one's willingness to overlook the project's tonal inconsistencies and reliance on cliche...Joe DiPietro's patchwork book not only too often recalls better musicals, specifically Hairspray and Dreamgirls, but never seems entirely clear what kind of story it wants to tell...Faring better than the book is Memphis' score...which is consistently melodic and often catchy...But ultimately there's far too much music here...Ashley's smooth if occasionally frenetic direction almost allows you to overlook the show's rougher spots, and he's been well-served in his mission by David Gallo's excellent set and projection design, Paul Tazewell's colorful costumes, Howell Binkley's effective lighting, Sergio Trujillo's energetic choreography -- and, above all, the top-notch and extremely hard-working cast.

The New York Times C
(Charles Isherwood) This slick but formulaic entertainment, written by David Bryan and Joe DiPietro, barely generates enough heat to warp a vinyl record, despite the vigorous efforts of a talented, hard-charging cast. While the all-important music, by Mr. Bryan of Bon Jovi, competently simulates a wide range of period rock, gospel and rhythm and blues, the crucial ingredient — authentic soul — is missing in action. Dare I suggest that “Memphis” is the Michael Bolton of Broadway musicals? I do...Despite all these obvious drawbacks, the show holds the attention through the efforts of its appealing cast...All the performers do their best to infuse Mr. Bryan and Mr. DiPietro’s score with the earthy vibrance it fundamentally lacks. (Read Full Review)

C

Chimichangas and Zoloft

To her credit, Coppel is clearly interested in exploring the issue of identity -- ethnic, sexual, societal, and familial. Particularly noteworthy is Alejandro's unwillingness to accept his sexuality and his anger at the way his bar customers perceive him -- Narciso does a very fine job of taking a potentially unlikeable character and providing the right amount of empathy -- while Ricardo and Jackie are far more comfortable in their own literal and figural skins. Moreover, the dialogue often rings true, even if hearing two girls say the word "dude" to each other dozens of time in three minutes can be annoying. What does undercut their veracity, however, is that Ziles and Romero are clearly too mature to be fully believable as quasi-naive teenagers. (The actresses are both in their 20s.) (Read Full Review)

C

Cinderella

Will you have a lovely night at the of Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella, now at the Broadway Theatre? Sure... But, truth be told, the more-is-more approach of Mark Brokaw's 2 ½-hour production often makes this first-ever Broadway rendition of the show far harder to fall in love with than its adorable heroine... By the end of the evening, there is simply too much political and sociological blather (is an election really necessary?) slathered on top of what remains, essentially, a slim children-centric fairytale. This Cinderella too often resembles the kind of overstuffed, over-intellectualized sandwiches found in trendy Tribeca eateries--they sound great on the menu, but once they arrive on the plate, you realize they're far less appetizing than imagined. (Read Full Review)

C-

Burn The Floor

Oddly, there's little question that choreographer and director Jason Gilkison is aiming for non-stop steaminess in this two-hour revue, as routine after routine is filled with shakes, shimmies, leg lifts, full splits, and other blatantly erotic movements. But despite his attempts, true sensuality rarely emerges from these endlessly proficient -- if rarely innovative -- variations on classic ballroom dances, including cha-chas, rumbas, waltzes, and paso dobles. (Definitions and histories of these dances are provided in the program, although a little onstage education might have been welcome.)... Ultimately, though, what makes the show so shockingly tepid is that the hard-working troupe of champion dancers, culled from numerous countries, rarely emit much personality or even find significant ways to connect to each other or the audience. They're all quite attractive, technically adept, remarkably swift -- and willing to bare much of their bodies (even when clad in Janet Hine's provocative costumes); but one wants to witness more individuality from each ot fhem. Indeed, only the consistently fiery Giselle Peacock and the Amazonian Peta Murgatroyd manage to stand out from the crowd -- and make you feel the burn. (Read Full Review)

C-

Intimacy

...I think Nudity would be a more apt title. Or Titillation. Or even Ejaculation. Because there’s a lot more of all three happening on stage [than intimacy]… While one wouldn’t see this kind of play on Broadway, it’s ultimately not that different from some of the fare now on HBO or Showtime. While Bradshaw does have some smart observations on how people connect – or fail to connect – or how we often substitute sex for intimacy, even his best points (and funniest lines) are hard to remember amid the copious visual displays of often gratuitous nudity. All the cast members disrobe to some extent or another, with Anzuelo showing off the most impressive goods. (However, Caldwell deserves points for being the most adventurous.) And stage veterans Gerroll and Esterman manage to give highly nuanced performances, even while talking about unusual sex acts. Perhaps there needs to be a special award at the end of the season just for that. (Read Full Review)

C-

The Atmosphere of Memory

Despite the work's many shortcomings, the extraordinary performances of Ellen Burstyn and John Glover make the play a worthwhile theatrical experience. Their exquisitely detailed, thoroughly beleivable renderings of Claire, a venerated actress who radiates deep feeling (even when it's not there) and Murray, her narcissistic, insensitive, but ultimately truth-telling ex-husband, are practically master classes in the art of stage work. (Read Full Review)

C-

The Master Builder

What propels him to that final, horrible moment, both metaphorically and literally, is a question that never receives a truly satisfactory answer in Andrei Belgrader's off-kilter production at BAM's Harvey Theater. (Read Full Review)

D+

Motown the Musical

The music business is full of people who might say that Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr. is his own worst enemy, and based on Broadway's Motown: The Musical, I'd be inclined to agree... As huge chunks of time go by in a blur, David Korins' series of swiftly changing sets, Daniel Brodie's evocative projections, and the mass of period-authentic costumes by ESosa let us know where we are, even when the script doesn't. Rather than giving us a complex portrait on this fascinating businessman, the show's shoddily written book is essentially a self-serving theatrical memoir.. (Read Full Review)

D+

Clive

Fortunately, Hawke brings total commitment to the role, baring Clive's inner and outer ugliness with the same ease (and frequency) as he bares his pretty, tattooed chest -- which helps to make the often-meandering show somewhat watchable. (Read Full Review)

D+

Me, Myself & I

As is his wont, Albee touches on any number of philosophical topics over the course of two hours -- most notably, the meaning of identity. But his serious subject matter is buried, perhaps too deeply, beneath a slew of absurdist situations, quasi-vaudevillian banter, unnecessary repetitions, overuse of breaking the fourth wall, reliance on meta-theatrical devices, and the playwright's typical fondness for wordplay. Often, it feels as if Albee is practically daring the audience to pay attention to what he really wants to say instead of what his characters are actually saying. (Read Full Review)

D

The Anarchist

Winger looks remarkably fit and youthful--so much so that you half-expect her at play's end to let down her hair and go running into a field. However, Mamet has a far different, almost Neil LaBute-like ending in store. It may satisfy a few audience members, but many others will yearn for a meatier payoff given their investment of time and money. In fact, the only revolution The Anarchist is likely to spark is one where some particularly angry theatergoers storm the box office asking for a refund. (Read Full Review)