The real reason Foote's drama is so big and important is because it's so exquisitely realized â€” the writing, acting, direction and design. So far, it's a home run for its presenters, the Signature Theatre Company and Hartford Stage. (Read Full Review)
So it goes in “Fun Home,” the achingly beautiful musical at the Public Theater. It speaks to one family and all families torn by secrets and lies. Drawing from Alison Bechdel’s autobiographical graphic novel, composer Jeanine Tesori...and book writer and lyricist Lisa Kron...have made something special. The show is unconventional in its subject matter and uncompromising in its intelligence and emotionality. Songs are revealing and personal — whether it’s a break-your-heart ballad (there are a few) or fantasy numbers to lift the mood. Director Sam Gold... as always, makes every moment — light, dark, disturbing — totally honest and creatively staged. He has assembled a great cast. The three Alisons are wonderful, Michael Cerveris is a marvel as the tormented Bruce, and Judy Kuhn is lump-in-your throat poignant as his long-suffering wife. Be glad you didn’t live there. But this “Fun Home” is an unforgettable place to visit.
(Read Full Review)
Marksmanship matters in satire. The new edition of the popular lampoon Forbidden Broadway hits one bullâ€™s-eye after another...Itâ€™s punchy, packed with laughs and boasts a super quartet of singing comic chameleons...Daffy costumes by Philip Heckman and delightfully awful wigs by Bobbie Clifton Zlotnik are their own special treat. For theater lovers, itâ€™s like Halloween and Christmas both came early. (Read Full Review)
What makes this impeccably acted and designed production so extraordinary is Bartlett Sher's meticulous and dramatic direction. The physical production is created on a grand scale...Against that Cinemascopic grandeur, performances are on a human scale. The show is filled with fantastic and familiar songs that are presented here like musical conversation, making them sound fresh and exciting. Characters are played with such intimacy you practically hear hearts flutter as people fall in love...As the Polynesian peddler Bloody Mary, Hawaiian actress Loretta Ables Sayre is the find of the season, completely convincing and hilarious. (Read Full Review)
Shakespeare done as in Shakespeare’s day — how obvious, and how revolutionary. Enter Broadway’s elegant and eloquent “Richard III” and “Twelfth Night,” which are being presented in reperatory and doing it old school. Really old school. Directed by Tim Carroll and designed by Jenny Tiramani, the plays come from Shakespeare’s Globe in London. They were custom-built for the talents of British actor Mark Rylance. And in both, he’s on his game…everything else about Rylance’s Richard defies expectations. He plays Richard with a jokey and demented good humor and punctuates fatal orders with a cheeky-creepy giggle. The outer goofball makes Richard’s inner devil all the more chilling. But it takes more than one great actor to make Shakespeare really click. Rylance is surrounded by a sublime company, who move seamlessly between the plays.
(Read Full Review)
Shakespeare done as in Shakespeare’s day—how obvious, and how revolutionary. Enter Broadway’s elegant and eloquent “Richard III” and “Twelfth Night,” which are being presented in reperatory and doing it old school. Really old school. Directed by Tim Carroll and designed by Jenny Tiramani, the plays come from Shakespeare’s Globe in London. They were custom-built for the talents of British actor Mark Rylance. And in both, he’s on his game. In “Twelfth Night,” as Olivia, the princess who goes from mournful to boy crazy, Rylance creates a delightful concoction of movement and emotion. His Olivia, cocooned in a billowing black gown, appears to float above the stage—a monarch butterfly. Olivia’s wit is just as irresistibly fleet-footed. But it takes more than one great actor to make Shakespeare really click. Rylance is surrounded by a sublime company, who move seamlessly between the plays. Faced with good fortune that has magically been multiplied by two, Olivia expresses her sheer joy this way—“Most wonderful!” Same goes for this double-decker delight. (Read Full Review)
The most blissfully entertaining and inventive show in town isn't running on or off Broadway. Or anywhere near it, for that matter. It's in DUMBO at St. Ann's Warehouse, where "Brief Encounter" opened last night. Whatever gifts come my way at Christmas, none could make me smile more broadly or longer than this beautifully realized charmer by Britain's Kneehigh Theatre Company. (Read Full Review)
Director Daniel Sullivan's audience-friendly mounting is an all-too-rare take on Shakespeare â€” one that's not overly stylized, petrified or simply memorized. Even with an occasionally finicky sound system making for a couple of murky passages, there's an invigorating sense that the events are unfolding spontaneously, right here, right now...Hathaway is the main attraction, but the revival bursts with star-level performances. The cast, chosen and guided with exceptional care, is a who's who from theater, TV and film. Standing out are two incredibly versatile actors. Four-time Tony winner Audra McDonald ("Private Practice") plays Olivia and it's exhilarating to watch her trade unsmiling despair over her dead brother for girlish excitement as she falls for Viola in drag. David Pittu is invaluable as Olivia's clown, Feste. A Broadway vet, he's got the keenest comic chops in town and a fantastic way with a tune...The Brooklyn-based folk-rock band Hem wrote the melodies to go with the Bard's text; like the show itself, they're a dreamy mix of melancholy and merry. (Read Full Review)
The stories are joyful, amusing and sometimes harrowing as she recalls an illiterate teenager whose ripe sexuality spells trouble for her, a bratty 11-year-old shopaholic who needs to buy some manners and a boy made so unhinged by his volatile father that he can't sleep, which gives the play its title. With flashing eyes, gifts for impersonation and unbounded dynamism, she brings adults and children to vibrant life. Daniel Sullivan, who has directed three of her earlier solo shows, gives the staging a strong emotional flow. (Read Full Review)
The brilliant new production of “Pippin,” a 1972 coming-of-age tale, boasts everything you could dream of in a musical — including Stephen Schwartz’s terrifically tuneful songs — and a few things you couldn’t even imagine. Credit director Diane Paulus, who has…raised the bar on her work to dizzying heights of imagination, integration and artistry in coming up with a new approach to the show. Life is about delicate balances, death-defyting leaps, juggling acts and improbable lifts. Gypsy Snider, of Les 7 doigts de la main, created the awesome circus stunts. The cast of actors merges seamlessly with the seasoned strong men, acrobats and aerialists. The final show to open before Tony Awards consideration, “Pippin” punctuates the Broadway season with a big, bold exclamation point.
It is that extraordinary.
(Read Full Review)
Finally, a new musical that's so exhilarating and such a great time that it's easy to recommend it without hesitation. Comparisons to "Evita" are likely. But "Here Lies Love" stands on its own. The show boasts an irresistible pop and disco-dappled score by David Byrne of Talking Heads, and Fatboy Slim, and a giddy-making 360-degree immersive production. The pulsating setting, complete with wild projections, a deejay and piped-in music to which performers sing live, gives the songs a context and unifying background. The songs make more sense and come to life in a whole new way. (Read Full Review)
The men and women in McCraney's world constantly break character, as if to provide running comment on their actions. The device takes you by surprise at first, then becomes part of the fabric that the author weaves. Moments of exuberant music and dance pop up and flow through the show, giving it a fantastical feel. Director Tina Landau ("Superior Donuts") has expertly guided all the various storytelling elements into something rich and atmospheric. (Read Full Review)
The Signature Theatre Company has done it again. Although it seemed unlikely that they could match last year's Horton Foote trilogy, The Orphans' Home Cycle, they've accomplished that with a dazzling revival of Angels in America. Credit playwright Tony Kushner for his heady and heartbreaking drama, and Michael Greif, a director who knows his way around complex works, for a gorgeous production. It's great to see Angels fly so high and so potently again. (Read Full Review)
...spiky and lavishly inventive... Tim Minchin’s score is a jaunty and agreeable mix of ditties, doodles and jingles that feel right for “Matilda”’s cartoonish qualities... The production design is an eyeful, thanks to Rob Howell’s clever costumes and scenery that’s crammed sky-high with Scrabble tiles, blocks and books. Hugh Vanstone lights it with style... As written, Trunchbull is one-note mean, and master comic knockout Carvel relishes every nasty minute... the solemn-eyed and sweet-voiced Milly Shapiro delivered a performance that was grave, gutsy and go-girl winning.
(Read Full Review)
An uneasy mix of dark tragedy, boisterous comedy and magical fantasy, The Winter's Tale is deemed one of Shakespeare's "problem" plays. But Sam Mendes' elegant production at the Brooklyn Academy of Music so skillfully reconciles jarring moods and jumps in time, you're apt to wonder, what's the problem? (Read Full Review)
The showâ€™s creators deserve kudos for staying faithful to the movie without taking a tracing-paper approach in retelling it. Book writer Enda Walsh (â€œThe New Electric Ballroomâ€) found smart ways to expand the narrative. Director John Tiffany and movement specialist Steven Hoggett â€” who worked together on the acclaimed war drama â€œBlack Watchâ€ â€” make songs and story flow in an imaginative fashion that can only be achieved on stage. All the actors are hugely talented and sing, play instruments and move furniture. The two leads are just plain spectacular. (Read Full Review)
Old show, fresh delights. That's the aim of any revival and "Finian's Rainbow" hits the mark...The fine-tuned production carries you away on a cloud of melody, magic and make-you-swoon performances. Admittedly, this 1947 musical fable isn't an elegant construction. It's more of an odd-lot stew...Yip Harburg and Fred Saidy jammed their script with jabs at prejudice, greed and the political establishment. The barbs still grab and a subplot about a bigoted white senator (David Schramm) who turns into a black man (Chuck Cooper) has the satirical saltiness of "South Park." What makes the show a gem is the beautiful score by Harburg and Burton Lane. It's wall-to-wall ear candy and director/choreographer Warren Carlyle's witty staging, joyful dancing and fine cast showcase the music to the max. (Read Full Review)
[A] rapturously tender and touching musical adaptation...The stage teamâ€™s romantic streak is wider than the River Liffey cutting through Dublin, where the bittersweet love story unfolds...Every drop of beauty in the conversational pop songs by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, stars of the film who won an Oscar for the tune â€œFalling Slowly,â€ is preserved on stage...The story plays out realistically on film, but assumes a dreamier and more textured quality Off-Broadway...As characters move in unison it feels more like a fairy tale. The leads are certainly enchanting. (Read Full Review)
Clocks in as the shortest revival of the tragicomedy in memory...No matter. Thereâ€™s nothing compact about the riches in this glowing production anchored...Working from John Christopher Jonesâ€™ crisp and deftly colloquial translation, director Andrei Belgraderâ€™s staging magnifies the humor and warmth without sacrificing dark tones...If youâ€™ve doubted that the 1904 play is in any way a comedy, CSCâ€™s version will be eye-opening. Summoning lightness has everything to do with tone and this ensemble is on-pitch like a tuning fork. (Read Full Review)
Give it up to director John Rando (“Urinetown”) and his cast of five for not missing a beat and for making the minutes in this 20th anniversary production that opened Tuesday at Primary Stages pure pleasure. Ives’ recent plays include the S&M-themed “Venus in Fur” and the Moliere update “The School for Lies.” Like them, wordplay and wit are central to “Timing.” Ives loves language — and knows how to use it. He’s also a sharp observer of human nature and contemporary culture. (Read Full Review)
As rowdy as it is rousing...Blends irresistibly catchy music, explosive dance and a dramatic personal journey to tell the story of a songwriter and political activist who died at age 58 in 1997. Since its run at 37 Arts, writers Jim Lewis and Bill T. Jones, who also directed and choreographed, trimmed about 15 minutes but have kept its ferociously infectious spirit intact. And, wisely, the same dazzling actor Sahr Ngaujah, who makes a big, bold and ridiculously sexy Broadway debut as Fela (as he came to be called)..."Fela!" doesn't unfold in a neat, linear narrative. It's more freeform, like Afrobeat itself..."Fela!" is one of the most original and exciting shows to come around in a long while. It deserves its berth on Broadway â€” and that exclamation point. (Read Full Review)
There's not a comic monologuist out there who is funnier when it comes to fluffing personal foibles and foulups into endearingly amusing tales. Over 80 minutes, Birbiglia spills about being a terrible kisser and about women he's dated who openly kept a standby boyfriend while going out with him. Birbiglia has made a name out of self-effacement and circumlocution. He has a point to make, but he likes taking side roads before he gets there. No matter. His detours are delicious. Birbiglia is no Scrambler. He spins you gently and silky smooth. (Read Full Review)
The production at Playwrights Horizons delivers on the promise Baker showed in 2008 in "Body Awareness," her Off-Broadway debut. Just 28, she's got an original voice, appealing quirkiness and an astute sense of what makes people tick ... It's a somewhat familiar story, but the writer's approach makes it fresh. The contributions of director Sam Gold can't be overstated. The cast inhabits their parts so completely it's like you're peeping on the actual class. (Read Full Review)
The new production of the Cole Porter classic "Anything Goes" sailed onto Broadway last night, and it's as cool and intoxicating as a fresh ocean breeze. Credit two bright talents for such a snazzy, jazzy affair: Sutton Foster, who stars as the saucy singing evangelist Reno Sweeney, and director-choreographer Kathleen Marshall, who's at the helm of this buoyantly dance-happy production.
(Read Full Review)
Tucker Green tackles well-worn themes, including a dysfunctional family in misery and the malleability of memory. But her fast and furious storytelling and blazing verbal free-for-all hits like blunt-force trauma. The work is exhilarating and disturbing all at once...Tucker Green's brief and pungent 14 scenes come to vivid life in director Leah C. Gardiner's fast-paced and impeccably acted production. Playing a fractured and fractious family, the six ace actors are in perfect harmony. (Read Full Review)
... strange but stirring... just plain gorgeous — a feast for the ears and the eyes. No, this vision by Scottish director John Doyle doesn’t smooth out the jagged edges and heavyhandedness of Lapine’s story about a hag and two hotties. But between the ace cast, including its three leads and ensemble, and Doyle’s intimate and elegant staging, flaws recede... musical-theater scores don’t come more glorious...
(Read Full Review)
CAN A MOVIE STAR on the stage transcend his film performances and even rise above the gossip pages? The answer is yes when it comes to Jude Law, who's giving a spine-tingling and richly layered performance in a new version of "Hamlet" that makes you forget about his past roles and bad-boy melodramas...What sets this three-hour-plus interpretation apart isn't just Law's performance, but Michael Grandage's excellent direction...Grandage's "Hamlet" is lean, focused and electrifying...There's no artificiality or fussy frills, and the bard's characters and their relationships seem vivid and real...The company of players from London is filled with topnotch actors who deliver the text with bell-like clarity. (Read Full Review)
This lewd, lyrical and laugh-your-butt-off musical parody of The Silence of the Lambs shines bright... The melodies are catchy, even though the lyrics are too profane to print... As Lecter, David Garrison (â€œMarried With Childrenâ€) has the perfect creepy composure. In her star turn as Clarice, Jenn Harris is ridiculously funny as she sends up Fosterâ€™s manners and fizzy diction, turning each â€œsâ€ into an â€œesch.â€ Itâ€™s schilly but exschtremely funny... Factor a fantastically nasty dream ballet and a chorus of lop-eared singing-and-dancing lambs, and youâ€™ve got yourself one rib-tickling roast.
Ambition is the fatal flaw in Macbeth, but it's the key to the success of Sleep No More, a sensational interactive theater piece inspired by imagery from the Scottish play and Alfred Hitchcock thrillers...What rouses Sleep beyond any old haunted house is the meticulous detail everywhere...As you wander, you'll cross paths with actors playing various characters. Follow them, and they'll lead you to vignettes that are erotic, violent or both. Not a word of Shakespeare's text is spoken, so knowing who's who is tricky. But the naked woman in a bathtub frantically washing her hands had to be Lady Macbeth. Who was the naked guy writhing in a goat mask to throbbing techno music while a woman breastfed a gory baby? You got me. (Read Full Review)
Devoted Busch disciples and novices will laugh themselves silly at this always irreverent comedy that finds him rocking a habit and working his signature facial expressions and vocal growls as the Mother Superior in a 1960s Pittsburgh convent...Director Carl Andress' staging zips by in 90 minutes. The whole cast and B.T. Whitehill's low-budget, winking scenery merit an amen. (Read Full Review)
In a season flush with new plays and musicals, who would have figured that the odds-on favorite for being the most emotionally resonant story â€” at times overwhelmingly so â€” would be the one whose main character has four legs and is played by a puppet?...This spellbinding show from London's National Theatre runs full gallop with theatrical magic. It is by turns epic and intimate and compels you to hold your breath in anticipation...Melodramatic? Yes. Sentimental? Sure. And the characters and dialogue are etched in clean, if broad, strokes. (Read Full Review)
A caustic and canny comedy about family dysfunction packed with surprises that are alternately hilarious, tragic and absurd. Emerging just as big as the Grim Reaper in her ferociously funny and constantly compelling star turn is Linda Lavin, who plays a wife (and soon-to-be-widow) and mother whose bark and bite can wreak havoc. And has...Dexterously directed by Mark Brokaw...Everyone is at the top of their game. (Read Full Review)
Issue-oriented docudramas culled from interviews with real people always run the risk of being more preachy than provocative, more earnest than eye-opening. There's even something about the title Aftermath suggesting that it's theater that's supposed to be good for you. But such reservations fade minutes into this graceful and gripping work...The stories unfold bit-by-bit over 80 minutes and are haunting and harrowing, but there's also room for humor. The staging, by Blank, is fluid; the performances excellent across the board. (Read Full Review)
Like a flash summer storm, Kenneth Linâ€™s intriguing new play Warrior Class takes you by surprise... This smart, tight, topical 90-minute tale of political maneuvering reveals its plot and three characters bit by bit. When you think all has been said and done, it delivers a final surprise move... Scenes move between a restaurant and Leeâ€™s apartment to the beat of tribal-like drums in director Evan Cabnetâ€™s fluid, well-paced staging. The three juicy characters come with complex back stories that keep us alert for what comes next. What makes rising talent Linâ€™s play resonate is the subtle manner in which he weaves recent events into the plot... For this tale of gamesmanship, Cabnet assembles an ace cast... This Second Stage Uptown production makes me want to see what Lin writes in his next move. (Read Full Review)
Ciaran O’Reilly’s banner revival at Irish Rep mines the text for all its riches. The story unfolds in real time in a rural Irish pub — scrupulously designed by Charlie Corcoran ... filled with excellent performances. Butler, who played Bulldog on "Frasier," skillfully goes from gruff and blustery to understanding. And Klein is spooky good — believable and natural at every moment. "The Weir" — the title refers to a hydroelectric dam on a nearby river — has a power that sneaks up on you like a stealthy specter. (Read Full Review)
A blessed event has landed on Broadway. Sister Act...is a feel-good crowd-pleaser worth celebrating...It doesn't break new ground and hews close to the film, but what it does, it does very well...Patina Miller, as Delores Van Cartier, the Donna Summer wanna-be taking refuge in a church from her mobster boyfriend, is full of funk and spunk and has a voice thatâ€™ll knock you off your feet...The score by multi-Oscar winner Alan Menken (music) and Glenn Slater (lyrics), inspired by the sound of Philadelphia, flows with blues, soul and disco. Itâ€™s infectious, inviting and has take-home tunes...The book by Cheri and Bill Steinkellner...has more snap than a clutch of nuns with clickers...Jerry Zaks' direction is swift, efficient and smart. (Read Full Review)
The play is small — just 65 minutes long — but ambitious as bite-sized scenes ping-pong from present to past. Although the script stretches credulity and lays on poetics thickly, the fine-tuned performances and Sheryl Kaller’s sensitive direction add up.
(Read Full Review)
That's what I call a rebirth. A new face has breathed fresh life into Born Yesterday...Not that Garson Kanin's 1946 comedy was even a little tired. It is as deliciously witty and pungent as when it was born. But it takes a special actress in the key role of Billie Dawn â€” the dumb blond who outsmarts her junk-dealer tycoon boyfriend â€” to make the play more than funny and to make you fall in love. With the knockout newcomer Nina Arianda center stage, be prepared to fall hard, fast and completely...Director Doug Hughes' swell-dressed and richly appointed production evokes the best that money can buy, circa 1946. (Read Full Review)
From the instant you enter the armory, Mnouchkine envelops you in a theatrical universe, one in which the large, wonderful cast can be seen reading and putting on makeup as you make your way into the theater, whose look is part of the grand design. Walls are draped in red fabric; the seating arrangement recalls both an operating theater, with its birdâ€™s-eye views, and a church, with its wooden pews. Even the intermission, where treats and water are served to the audience onstage, in the communal spirit of Soleil, is special. (Read Full Review)
He's an actor known for big whoo-ha-sized portraits, but Pacino is a study in control on stage. He makes his shaggy Shylock dynamic and believable. He's slightly eccentric, always compelling, right down to deliberate a singsongy cadence that seems intended to irritate. Rabe, the late Jill Clayburgh's daughter, is just as intriguing as Portia, who goes from sweetly girlish as she laments her lame suitors to ferocious as she engineers Shylock's destruction. She makes Portia's famous speech about mercy into a conversational aria. Language is always key when it comes to the Bard. But Sullivan's excellent production finds eloquence between the lines, too, in two silent scenes. One imagines Shylock's conversion to Christianity as an act of brutal violence. (Read Full Review)
No need for faking it during “700 Sundays,” Crystal’s big-hearted and seat-shakingly funny one-man memoir. The laughter and poignance he generates are the real deal. That’s just like it was in the show’s original 2004 run, which won Crystal a Tony. Back on Broadway, Crystal has so much energy and enthusiasm it’s as if he’s unwrapping a world premiere, even though it’s the same show, lightly tweaked with tangy, topical references to Obamacare, Rand Paul’s plagiarism and Osama bin Laden. But the real focus is his father, whom Crystal adored and lost too soon. Directed by Des McAnuff (“Jersey Boys”), Crystal nails a perfect balance of funny and touching, never letting things get syrupy. The second act, which concentrates on his mother and her failing health, drags slightly. But that’s nitpicking. “Give it your best shot,” Mom would tell her baby boy. Crystal does here — and it’s more than enough.
(Read Full Review)
* Mazzie's singing is gutsy and gorgeous (more polished than Tony-winning predecessor Alice Ripley), and her acting is etched with emotion. Minus Ripley, the show feels more of an ensemble piece. Jason Danieley, Mazzie's real-life husband, brings clarity and pathos as Di's husband, Dan. Meghann Fahy and Kyle Dean Massey make deep impressions as their children. As the daughter's boyfriend and Di's shrink, the invaluable Adam Chanler-Berat and Louis Hobson are rock-steady. Joe's original review, an A+, can be read here. (Read Full Review)
Now open at the Delacorte, the production is eloquently acted and crafted and balances the play's light and dark tones, along with its stinging anti-Semitism. The handsome design work is by Mark Wendland (scenery), Jess Goldstein (costumes) and Mark Posner (lighting). Beginning in a 19th century Venetian Wall Street-style trading floor (a canny move since every exchange in the Bard's play is tied to money), the action glides briskly to various locales on a set of movable circular metal walls that are both airy and confining. (Read Full Review)
Christopher Durang mashes up Chekhov characters into a fun pulp ... a sure-handed, good-looking staging by Nicholas Martin ... Durang's 3-D cartoon puts a modern spin on classic mopes and gives David Hyde Pierce, Sigourney Weaver and Kristine Nielsen tasty roles to sink their teeth into. Everyone in the cast gets a zinger or two or more. (Read Full Review)
A breathtaking achievement. Period...The play has always been somewhat controversial, and not just for its unabashed ranting and finger-pointing. Kramer's ego also holds center stage, as his avatar maintains that aggressiveness was the only way to rattle an apathetic establishment. But those shortfalls recede as this production unfolds. Much of that owes to its leading man...Mantello not only summons the jangled nerves and manic energy that drive Ned, but locates and exposes the insecure heart beneath the man's raging exterior. He's outstanding. His co-stars match him. (Read Full Review)
It's fresh and frisky and jammed with playful theatricality and music to match. Simplicity and savvy emerge as hallmarks of this four-year-old company, whose six members are grads of Brown University and Trinity Rep's MFA program...The streamlined tale moves crisply and clearly...Besides being talented actors, they're all terrific musicians who serve up pretty a cappella chorals, guitar-strumming ballads and a foot-stompin' bluegrass ditty, washboard included. (Read Full Review)
Lanford Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 1979 play, “Talley’s Folly,” is a valentine to unlikely love. Sweet stuff, to be sure.
But valentines are delicate and demanding.
One misstep — too sentimental, say, or too cute — and the spell is broken. Happily, the Roundabout Theatre Company’s heart-stirring revival gets it all so right — acting, direction, design. (Read Full Review)
Because the story is set in the early 1900s, it's easy to conjure period-postcard quaintness. But the riveting new production at the Barrow Street Theatre trades nostalgia and Whitman Sampler sweetness for an unsentimental reading. Without overhauling the text, it effectively wipes dainty images from your mind. It's a tougher "Town," and more relevant and urgent for it...Though the plot is familiar, this production makes you curious about what might happen next...Indeed, there are a couple of surprises, including an amusing grace note that lets the audience in on the act. The other is a doozy that stirs the imagination and the senses and sends you out on to the streets of Grover's Corners, oops, sorry, the West Village, deeply touched. (Read Full Review)
Fierce and funny play about faith and family. Though it's early in the season, Tracee Chimo's pitch-perfect performance is sure to be an acting highlight. Under Daniel Aukin's astute direction, the production flies by and all the actors have great moments. Consistently impressed by this fast and funny, pungent and poignant comedy by Joshua Harmon. (Read Full Review)
Seen Off-Broadway at Lincoln Center last year, the play opened Thursday on Broadway with ample yuks, snazzy design and a six-actor cast, led by David Hyde Pierce and Sigourney Weaver, intact. But as in the show's earlier run, the only downsides of Christopher Durang's gleefully silly, if mostly empty-caloried, Big Gulp of a comedy are smile lines and overstimulated funny bones. And maybe mild orbital ache from rolling eyes at the sheer scope of the mugging. This riff on the Russian writer's mopes and dopes isn't subtle. (Read Full Review)
His 90-minute fable, seen in 2004 at the New York International Fringe Festival, is fast and feather-light with a fine cast of nine. The ever-reliable Jeanine Serralles is out-of-this-world funny as Jack’s trampy teammate.
Equally irresistible is director Jackson Gay’s clever staging. It blends spry actors and cheesy cardboard cutouts in down-and-dirty derby sequences. That’s the moral: Jam a show with imagination and you don’t need pricey effects. (Read Full Review)
Enormously entertaining...Nottage maintains a broad, at times cartoony, tone, even in the semiserious second half. But her play has fangs. It gnaws at racial typecasting and at smarty-pants who build myths and think they understand all there is to know about someone by reviewing films. She has a perfect ally in director Jo Bonney. Her stylish production moves effortlessly, just like the cast, many of whom switch-hit and play dual roles...Lathan gives a gorgeous star turn. Vera Stark is one of the juiciest roles to come along all season. As the spirited young Vera and the cynical (and probably drunk) old one, Lathan squeezes her for every last delectable drop. (Read Full Review)
A satisfying slice of kitchen-sink realism, "This Wide Night" follows Lorraine (Edie Falco) and Marie (Alison Pill), who are trying to get on with life after being released from an English prison.... Moss' dialogue always rings true, except for having Marie ask about Lorraine's crime â€” a point that would have come up in prison. Otherwise, she peppers the play with smart, telling details.... Guided with a firm but not overbearing touch by Anne Kauffman, who directs the Naked Angels production, the actresses play off each other beautifully. Pill, seen recently in "The Miracle Worker," is much more at home in this contemporary setting. There's no one better at playing wounded young women. (Read Full Review)
In his stirring and stylishly told drama “Choir Boy,” Tarell Alvin McCraney cannily... explore[s] race and sexuality and the graces and gravity of history... As in his Off-Broadway shows “Wig Out!” and “The Brother/Sister Plays,” McCraney thinks big. “Choir Boy” is his crispest and most confident work. If the school’s headmaster is too wishy-washy and naive (and he is), McCraney has seen to it that Pharus is realistically complex... Trip Cullman directs the Manhattan Theatre Club production with a steady and sturdy hand. In his uniformly strong cast, newcomer Pope shimmers with charisma. Beltran expertly navigates his character’s dramatic shifts. David Zinn’s shapeshifting set goes from classroom to dorm room to shower to office and neatly underlines the boys’ compartmentalized but overlapping lives. And Jason Michael Webb’s arrangements for several a cappella gospel songs threading throughout the 90-minute work are, like the play itself, expertly tuned.
(Read Full Review)
Clear, classy and rich in emotions. It's also easy on the eyes. Scott Pask's arched set is airy and elegant, Jane Greenwood's suits, gowns and military uniforms convey time and place, and Peter Kaczorowski's lighting lends drama. Tom Kitt's moody music adds its own urgency and beauty...Sullivan's production covers virtually every inch of the open-air theater. (Read Full Review)
Itâ€™s chatty and preachy. Itâ€™s also consistently engaging in Brian Kulickâ€™s airy revival at Classic Stage Company.... With the Academy Awards days away, itâ€™s a treat to see Abraham, who won his for â€œAmadeus,â€ work on stage. His Galileo is a gruff and world-weary realist who strikes all the right notes. (Read Full Review)
It’s an exhilarating joyride all the way… Numbers have been assembled with loving care and smarts by music director Wynton Marsalis. In the ensemble of 25 vocalists and dancers, it’s easy to pick a favorite: It’s whoever is on stage at any given moment… The Jazz at Lincoln Center All Stars orchestra cooks hot. Fittingly, it gets the last showcase to send the audience out on a high note. (Read Full Review)
As in 2006's "The Pain and the Itch," Norris shows a great gift for storytelling, pacing and dialogue. This play is more focused, and it's getting a superb world premiere, courtesy of director Pam MacKinnon and a dynamite cast that glides between humor and tragedy, and eras, without a bobble. (Read Full Review)
On paper, then, it sounds like a knockoff. But on stage at Playwrights Horizons where it opened Tuesday, the 85-minute one-act is a small-scale knockout â€” fast-paced, gutsy and good-looking. It makes the familiar seem fresh. Itâ€™s a welcome follow-up to â€œBachelorette,â€ Headlandâ€™s 2010 New York play (and now a movie), which concerned bridesmaids acting badly. (Read Full Review)
No ifs, ands or buts — “The Glass Menagerie” should break your heart.
The new Broadway revival starring Cherry Jones and Zachary Quinto cracks it wide open. The striking production also opens your eyes to fresh insights in Tennessee Williams’ mid-’40s breakthrough.
It’s a remarkable achievement... In keeping with the strong, spare scenery, performances are lean and natural. Jones endows Amanda with potent vitality... Quinto, of the “Star Trek” reboot, streaks Tom, the stand-in for Williams, with exasperation and surliness. His cruel abandonment of his family in the dark is all the more credible.
As the delicate Laura, Celia Keenan-Bolger draws you in with her transparent honesty... She has lovely chemistry with Brian J. Smith, who brings easygoing charm as Jim, the gentleman caller. The fall Broadway season has just begun. This shattering and shimmering “Glass Menagerie” is the first must-see.
(Read Full Review)
Drag artist Taylor Mac’s alternately tender and tough gender-bending star turn — he’s a man playing a woman who plays a man — is but one of the joys of the Foundry Theatre’s entertaining take on “Good Person of Szechwan”…the production conveys Brecht’s political sting but not as a dry and detached lesson. Instead it’s invigorating and exuberant, buoyed by lively original songs by the Lisps and fine supporting performances…Despite a few dips and sags over 2 3/4 hours, director Lear deBessonet’s deft vision appeals to the eyes, ears and hearts. Feelings generated in this bittersweet show are the real deal.
(Read Full Review)
Pole dancing gets more than respectable â€” it ascends to dazzling heights in the sexy mindblower, Traces...Effortless athleticism, balletic grace and youthful cool are hallmarks of this 90-minute entertainment that puts a fresh coat of thrilling on the notion of circus...The title Traces suggests something left behind. In the case of this eye-popping work, it's jaws, dropped by gobsmacked audience members. (Read Full Review)
Pierce shows great instincts. Heâ€™s a fine storyteller and has an ear for the halting rhythms of how uncle and niece would speak to each other after nine years. He touches on the issue of bullying, but avoids making this a simple hot-topic play. Heâ€™s chasing broader issues about the murky boundary between guilt and innocence. The author has a strong ally in director Anne Kauffman, who guides a thoughtful staging and two excellent performances.
How great it is that the Roundabout revival — Broadway’s one and only — gets things so right.
Credit director Lindsay Posner, who staged the play at London’s Old Vic and recast it for New York. Scrupulously acted and handsomely designed, the show vibrates with humor and genuine emotion. (Read Full Review)
Though it tackles serious issues, the two-hour two-act is packed with snappy dialogue that fits characters who've carved out Hollywood careers. It also leads us through unpredictable detours and smart insights into how families work and how they don't, and why relatives can never completely know each other. If the play loses points for dipping into melodrama, the impeccable acting and direction compensate. As played by this ensemble, the Wyeths are people you want to spend time with, as troubled as they are. Channing makes Polly's quick wit, sharp tongue and, finally, longstanding pain seem effortless. Keach is a sturdy presence as her even-tempered husband, while Sadoski's easygoing charm works for the baby of the family. In a relatively small part, the delicious Lavin makes every line, gesture and glance memorable. And Marvel lives up to her surname while navigating the most emotionally tricky part. (Read Full Review)
David Cromer, who directed the current "Our Town" and the short-lived Broadway revival of "Brighton Beach Memoirs," proves an excellent fit for this intricate work. He has guided a stark and stirring production filled with excellent performances. Topol is particularly moving as a man whose deviant desire sets off a multigenerational chain reaction of sadness. And Tony winner Victoria Clark ("The Light in the Piazza") adds notes of hysteria and heartbreak as an older Gabrielle, who has lost a brother, both parents, a lover, a son and seems to be losing her mind. In the beginning, "Rain" is confounding enough to make you question your own sanity. But hang in there. In the end, the jigsaw comes together satisfyingly â€” even poignantly. (Read Full Review)
Strikes stirring and memorable chords. And not just when it comes to the twangy bluegrass melodies by Steve Martin...Director Daniel Sullivanâ€™s staging â€” the first of two shows toasting the 50th anniversary of the Delacorte â€” is uniformly well-acted (a rarity) and always accessible. It also boasts some thoughtful surprises. (Read Full Review)
This terrific new play presented by Second Stage Uptown more than measures up... a Kerrigan's story relies on familiar ingredients, including a brittle matriarch, and doesn't break much new ground. But Kerrigan's work is filled with insight and authenticity, along with clever surprises... The author gets invaluable assistance from Carolyn Cantor's keen direction, period-perfect design work by Dane Laffrey (set) and Jenny Mannis (costumes), and a spot-on ensemble who looks, acts and feels like a real family... Picking a favorite in the cast is simple; it's whoever's in the scene at that moment.
(Read Full Review)
Director Michael Grandage, who staged Jude Law's "Hamlet," guides the action and actors beautifully. Redmayne... moves nimbly from obedient underling to defiant individual in his Broadway debut. Molina mesmerizes from word one. Head shaved and bespectacled, the film and stage vet brings ferocity and subtle shading to his Rothko. He and the play hit a zenith as the artist delivers a dazzling tirade about the Four Seasons and its rich and clever "monkeys" and "jackals." (Read Full Review)
Dramatic actor Anthony LaPaglia proves himself a deft comic as skirt-chaser Tito and Jan Maxwell is living laughing gas as his hissing, howling hellcat of a wife, Maria. She outdoes this season's earlier standout female comic turn - also hers, in "The Royal Family." The evening's great surprise: Justin Bartha, known for adorable sidekick roles in "National Treasure" and "The Hangover." He's fall-down funny and owns the show as mild-mannered-turned-manly Max. (Read Full Review)
When Walken isn't onstage, the play does seem to spin its wheels. There's time to notice the rampant profanity turning into slush, the gaping holes in the plot and gaps in logic. For instance, would a white-trash dope dealer like Marilyn use a dainty word like "mightn't"? Think not. Best just to sit back and let this raucous ride directed by John Crowley take you along. And to accept that McDonagh is a writer who likes exploring disconnects in people. Like the cat-loving, cold-blooded terrorist of "Inishmore," Carmichael is a whacked-out creep, but he's also a devoted son. Humanity lurks in the oddest places. McDonagh noted that in his Irish comedies. Now, he's done it in this unruly American gothic. (Read Full Review)
A dizzy delight. This slight but ingenious spoof retells the classic 1935 spy movie using only four actors and a mix of mime, slapstick, sight gags, melodrama and, in one particularly amusing scene, puppets...It's great fun to watch classic Hitchcock scenes come alive through nothing more than simple props and theatrical magic. A high-speed chase aboard a whizzing train is brilliantly re-created with four crates, puffs of smoke, flashing lights and actors game for anything...If "The 39 Steps" makes a misstep, it's having an intermission. Once this fast-paced fun ride leaves the station, you don't want to get off. (Read Full Review)
â€œThe One-Armed Manâ€ shifts to a darker and tenser tone in another short from 1985 set in 1928. It concerns cotton mill exec C.W. Rowe (Jeremy Bobb) and his encounters with a lackey, Pinkey (Abner), and McHenry (Alexander Cendese), a laborer whose arm was lost in the jaws of a cotton baler. Itâ€™s a tiny work that spotlights Rowe, a success story with everything going for him except empathy.
A smart, funny and lightning-paced look at feminism â€” past and present...Itâ€™s a bit contrived, but Gionfriddo (Becky Shaw) writes dialogue thatâ€™s so savvy and crisp and conjures characters so complex and psychologically dense (such as Catherineâ€™s Looking for Mr. Goodbar bad streak) that you look beyond the gimmicks and well-worn themes. It also helps that the cast is top-to-bottom terrific, with Kull particularly fine as the free-spirited Avery. (Read Full Review)
The Transport Group has made something pretty terrific with its intimate revival...At age 42, Crowley's script holds up surprisingly well, capturing a paranoid period before rainbow flags. Self-acceptance is a chief theme. "Who is she? Who was she? Who does she hope to be?" asks Harold at one point â€” a universal query if ever there was one. Before things stall in the dull tough-love session near the end, countless zingers and stingers hit their mark (Read Full Review)
Elegantly acted, directed and designed, the drama is showcased in a knockout production at New York Theatre Workshop. The stage is a gleaming white square, empty except for a silver chair, bench and desk. The space is lit above and below, surrounded on three sides by the audience. If there's a bone to pick with the author, it's that he teeters on the brink of overstatement. But that's a minor complaint about an evening that delivers such a potent and satisfying wallop. (Read Full Review)
[A] compelling new play...Spiced with comedy and leavened with drama, itâ€™s a contemporary group portrait of life under occupation. But the co-authors set politics and the ever-present barrier wall simmering on the back-burner...Itâ€™s a West Bank melodrama with all the family tensions and complications youâ€™d expect...[It is] moody and spirited and makes its points about finding joy amid any circumstance. The dialogue is easy to digest and mostly flows naturally, with a few detours to heavy-handedness...The cast, guided with finesse by director Shana Gold, is uniformly fine. In the key role, Issaq is touching and funny or, as Fadwa might put it, sweet and savory. (Read Full Review)
Between Athol Fugardâ€™s potent script and the cast that brings it vividly to life, Signatureâ€™s new production of My Children! My Africa! packs a one-two wallop. It deserves both of those exclamation points...A Fugard play is always a talky affair. Frankly, the 90-minute first act could be pruned. Director Ruben Santiago-Hudsonâ€™s excellent production doesnâ€™t pause for even a beat between scenes and that helps move it along. (Read Full Review)
MTC head Lynne Meadow directs and skillfully guides the cast through Margulies' conversational and emotionally charged dialogue. Lavin is brilliant. She's a marvel to watch breathe life into Ruth as she goes from standoffish star writer to insecure and heartbreakingly vulnerable wreck. Paulson convincingly shifts from insecure hesitant, unpublished ugly duckling to a confident, if ruthless, literary swan poised to eclipse her hero. Though very well-made, the play gets too tidy, if even contrived, at times, as when Ruth admits to fibbing. It conveniently paves the way for Lisa's subsequent more egregious behavior. (Read Full Review)
Four young men resolve to give up sex in Shakespeare’s “Love’s Labour’s Lost.” But the Public Theater’s rocking new take on the classic is no cold shower, it’s a crazy hot night in Central Park. The everything-goes musical vision comes from…Michael Friedman, who wrote the songs, and Alex Timbers, who tweaked the text and directs, are on their game here. The same goes for the cast of rising stars and fresh faces and the designers behind the collegiate playground set, fetching costumes and photo-shoot-flattering lighting. Purists, beware. It’s not your grandma’s Bard. But the show captures the spirit of the comedic cautionary story about immersing in, not retreating from, life’s adventures. Some lyrics suffer from predictability and a few tunes feel undernourished. But standouts like the smart and snarky “Rich People” and the scorching “Love’s a Gun” compensate. All the songs are expertly performed. Timbers’ imaginative production is fast, fun and fluid. Beyond the goofiness, there’s great big heart. That’s what “Love’s” all about.
(Read Full Review)
The comedy's first half consists of one long scene, the second is chopped up into three short ones. Director Mark Brokaw skillfully knits it together and keeps things moving at a brisk clip. He has cast it with just the right actors, including Brenda Pressley, as a no-nonsense nurse, and Gregory Wooddell, as a real estate agent who collides with Curtis in a scene that takes an unsettling turn. Esper stands out for making a character who's never all that likable consistently believable. And seeing Lavin is always a special treat. As the self-serving wife and mother from hell, she's constantly hilarious, nudging big laughs with a small purse of her lips or roll of her eyes. Her performance is the color of delicious. (Read Full Review)
You donâ€™t need high-tech gizmos when youâ€™ve got five terrific performers, including the menschy Lenny Wolpe, irresistibly low-key Todd Susman and fiendishly madcap Marilyn Sokol. Her joke about D batteries is a lewd and hilarious highlight. Representing a younger generation are the appealing and energetic Audrey Lynn Weston and Bill Army. Read between the punch lines and â€œOld Jewsâ€ has a message about humor getting us through tough times. But the show really just wants to crack audiences up â€” and does. Whatâ€™s not to like?
(Read Full Review)
Plays as caustic as “Domesticated” ought to come with a warning label: Will cause burns. Everybody in this sex-charged saga walks away with second-degree blisters or worse in this blunt and blackly hilarious button-pusher by Bruce Norris. In 2011, Norris’ look at race and real estate, “Clybourne Park,” won him a Pulitzer Prize. Now he takes on modern mating and monogamy with the same keen eye and smarts. As the Pulver portrait comes into focus in director Anna D. Shapiro’s brisk and bracing production, a cauldron full of ideas bubbles. These topics aren’t fully developed, but they’re tasty talking points that broaden the play’s scope. In the first act, Judy does the talking — and Metcalf is ferociously funny while she’s at it. After intermission, Goldblum, who’s terrific as he goes from contrite to angry, has his say. It’s she said, he said at its barbed best.
(Read Full Review)
Belber (â€œMatchâ€) has a knack for characters and dialogue that ring true. While heâ€™s not out for resolutions, he stirs thoughts about racial and family divides.
Directed by Lucie Tiberghien, the ensemble in this MCC production delivers. Cristopher makes a convincing crusty conservative at a crossroad. (Read Full Review)
[A] deeply affecting and piercingly amusing play about guilt and connection as seen through the eyes â€” and gut â€” of a reclusive man on a mission to eat himself to death...Hunter (A Bright New Boise), a young writer from Idaho who lives in New York, has given all of these funny-sad lost souls details that emerge bit by bit and twist and expand the story in compelling ways...There are some issues. Not all of the psychology squares...But thatâ€™s nitpicking compared to the emotional wallop director Davis McCallumâ€™s production of The Whale leaves in its wake. (Read Full Review)
Nobody does magical entertainment like Disney - except Cameron Mackintosh. The two have teamed up for the musical "Mary Poppins," which opened last night on Broadway and won't be going anywhere for a long time. It is a roof-raising, toe-tapping, high-flying extravaganza...Brown had me from hello - well, from, "Jane, don't stare, and close your mouth, Michael. We are not a codfish." She plays Mary as stern and steely, but always has a bewitching twinkle in her eye. She sings, acts and dances gorgeously. (Read Full Review)
The most breathtaking scenes play out in a huge, rectangular, clear-bottomed pool that hovers high above the floor. As four nymphs splish, splash and smack their hands in the thin layer of water, the audience below has a pool-floor view. In a moment of inspired whimsy, one woman toys with a puddle as if it were an obedient puppy, following her wherever she paddles. When the pool came down, the audience reached up to touch the underside, as if to connect with the magic. And they did. At $70 for 60 minutes of entertainment, "Fuerzabruta" is pricey. But not many shows can boast that they deliver something you've never seen before. This one does. (Read Full Review)
In this piercingly provocative and stingingly funny piece at the Public, Daisey charts the profound and not-always-pretty impact that Jobs and Apple, the company he co-founded, have had on the world in both digital and human terms...His writing has never been more vivid, and his techno expertise gives Agony a persuasive authority...At two hours, Agony has flab. That includes a long-winded section about Chinese business cards, which even Daisey admits "you had to be there" to appreciate. So cut it. At times, a preachy tone blurs the line between monologue and a muckraking sermon. (Read Full Review)
Billy Elliot occasionally stubs its toeshoeâ€”a too-cute chorus line of dancing dresses and, more egregiously, a coda that subverts the bittersweet tone the story has rightly built over nearly three hours. But even a few stumbles can't spoil a show that's so sweet and exhilarating that at times you feel like leaping. Best leave that sort of razzle-dazzle to the limber Alvarezes and Hannas of the world, who can do itâ€”and shine. (Read Full Review)
Itâ€™s sort of a â€œWhoâ€™s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?â€ meets â€œSurvivor.â€ Once rum starts flowing, it gets louder, uglier and funnier. Which isnâ€™t to say that â€œGodâ€ is especially deep. We know people are savages at heart. And Reza relies on creaky devices to push the plot, like convenient calls from Michaelâ€™s mom. But working from a shrewd translation by Christopher Hampton, director Matthew Warchus, who staged last seasonâ€™s rollicking â€œBoeing-Boeing,â€ keeps the fur flying and the laughter landing. (Read Full Review)
The production has been tweaked and is tighter and brighter in its new home...Loose intimacy is key to the show. Diane Paulus' exuberant staging lets it all hang out, and Karole Armitage's choreography is colorfully kinetic...As an anti-establishment revue, this creation...has been declawed by time and cultural tides - it's as edgy as "Cats." But as a smile-inducing celebration of life and freedom, it's highly communicable. (Read Full Review)
Director Karin Coonrodâ€™s take on Shakespeare s heady early comedy has wit and style, and cleverly makes the audience part of the action. On the downside, the broad and buggy depiction of Moth is too hipper-than-thou. Ditto the tired "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" reference. But all is forgiven with the enchanting musical conclusion. (Read Full Review)
Choreographer and director Jason Gilkison has packed the two-hour show with moves that are athletic, sensual and rocket-fueled (except the waltz, which, though elegant, is less than a thrill). He has polished his cast of award-winning international dance duos to a high sheen. That includes guest stars Karina Smirnoff and Maksim Chmerkovskiy, who appear through Aug. 16. That these popular "Dancing With the Stars" pros fit in seamlessly with the well-oiled and charismatic cast is one thing. That Maks manages to stand out amid so many fierce dancers speaks to his megawatt magnetism. More than his partner and fiancÃ©e, he communicates that dance is made up of not just feet and hips â€” it's in the face. While Karina is buried under heaps of hair, Maks looks like he's having a blast and is always connected. For the same reason, I was drawn to Jeremy Garner and Sarah Hives, whose relationship with each other and the audience stood out. (Read Full Review)
Make no mistake: Thereâ€™s nothing phony about the power of this smart and unsettling and remarkably acted drama that makes a noteworthy New York debut for the author... Greenidge captures girl speak in unnerving perfection, and although there are times when things could lurch into a predictable and preachy afterschool special, she deftly sidesteps such traps. Rebecca Taichman directs the fine-tuned production and topflight cast. (Read Full Review)
This astutely drawn and deliciously performed play is as juicy and surprising as ever...Baitz...has a knack for family dynamics. In this work, his
first on Broadway, he layers in politics and Hollywood for texture and combustion...Like a good popcorn movie, Desert holds you rapt and keeps you guessing to the end, although, admittedly, you may have questions about some of the logic. But thereâ€™s no question about Joe Mantelloâ€™s superb direction. It makes every moment sing. (Read Full Review)
Another night with the fictional Apple family, another master class in acting so natural that the six-member ensemble should come with ORGANIC stamps. So it goes for Richard Nelson’s elegiac new drama, “Regular Singing,” which ends his four-part play series on a fine note. Nelson’s knockout collection began in 2010 with “That Hopey Changey Thing,” on the day of midterm elections. Next came “Sweet and Sad,” on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, followed last year by the series’ finest work, “Sorry,” set on Election Day. All the plays are running now in repertory…In “Regular Singing,” the Grim Reaper looms large. As the Apples reflect on the long-ago murder of JFK, they face the imminent death of Marian’s ex-husband Adam, who’s dying upstairs in the house. The confluence of events clouds the play with an artificiality not present in the previous three plays. Despite that, Nelson’s writing is intelligent, provocative and tender.
(Read Full Review)
On second viewing itâ€™s still impressive how writer Bruce Norris uses Lorraine Hansberryâ€™s A Raisin in the Sun...Norris (The Pain and the Itch) doesnâ€™t waste words or mince them. His script is lean and mean and raises smart ideas about great divides between races, classes and sexes. He also lands some stinging swats at lame political correctness. Pam MacKinnon guides a first-class design team and a cast of seven, who reprise roles from 2010 and are terrific top-to-bottom. Each actor delivers vividly varied characters as they leap through eras and tonal shifts, including the sometimes too cartoony first act. (Read Full Review)
Can we keep James Corden in New York for good? The young British actor headlining the London import One Man, Two Guvnors at the Music Box is so mad talented, adorable and hilarious that you just want more of him. Hello, Actors Equity?...Admittedly, the ears need time to adjust to some heavy accents and the story takes a good while to click into gear and hum. It does so precisely when Francis arrives...You have to applaud director Nicholas Hytner and Cal McCrystal, who headed up the physical antics. Theyâ€™re masters of comic detail â€” big and small. (Read Full Review)
Beaming with dizzy humor and delightful stage magic...a big dipperful of fun...Some jokes strain and the story still stalls a bit midway through the second half. But improvements have been made since Off-Broadway. A better soundscape lets the mix of sea chanteys and chorales ring clearer. And the 12 actors, who all play more than one part and most of whom are reprising roles, are sharper than ever. (Read Full Review)
Signature Theatre Companyâ€™s revival of August Wilsonâ€™s â€œThe Piano Lessonâ€ strikes a major chord. Credit the note-perfect staging by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, whoâ€™s got a knack for navigating this playwright as an actor â€” he won a Tony for â€œSeven Guitarsâ€ â€” and director. He and his impeccable actors and deft designers mine the riches of this resonant drama for all their worth. Wilsonâ€™s story unfolds with his characteristically evocative language and bursts of music. There are spirituals, boogie-woogie and the blues. Yes, the script occasionally meanders and is overwritten. But thatâ€™s nitpicking in such a fine-tuned vision. (Read Full Review)
Frank Langella cuts a commanding presence on stage. With his strapping stature and booming voice, it’s hard not to. Being able to envision Lear’s potency is crucial, the better to make his decline all the more compelling. The bigger they are, the harder they fall — and Langella is big. Angus Jackson’s direction and design smartly support the idea of a once-sturdy, now-decaying king. Towering timbers in the background are massive but bowed — just like Lear, who enters stooped and stumbling. Langella makes each moment count as Lear goes from rolling-thunder rage to soul-stirring humility. He’s at his most vivid when at his most tender.
(Read Full Review)
The power-couple concert shimmers with charm, magic and a genuine chummy closeness, even if itâ€™s a bit narrow in song selection and self-contained for the supersized stars.
Still, watching LuPone and Patinkin (ManPone, perhaps?) together on Broadway â€” their first reunion there in nearly 30 years â€” is pure theater pleasure...Because the stars stay in character, itâ€™s a little jarring when LuPone and Patinkin only share memories about their 1979 Evita breakthrough, but not before or after the entire show. It wouldâ€™ve been great to get more personal insights, since these two are the essence of individuality. Maybe next time. (Read Full Review)
The play marks White's first major New York production, and it shows him as a crack craftsman who knows how to hook an audience. The first words out of Juliana's mouth grab you as she says: "The first glimmer of it comes on a Friday." Glimmer of what, we wonder â€” and we're immediately already along for the ride. It's a fine ride as scenes ping-pong between Juliana's monologues and conversations with her oncologist husband (Dennis Boutsikaris) and her neurologist (Aya Cash, who plays two other roles). Though the ultimate destination the play takes us to is more ordinary than hoped, the emotional wallop it delivers is almost shocking. Joe Mantello directs and keeps the action pulsing nonstop. (Read Full Review)
Langella makes each moment count as Lear goes from rolling-thunder rage to soul-stirring humility. He’s at his most vivid when at his most tender. The brutality brings chills. But it’s the daughters’ indifference in “King Lear” that really sends shivers. And, unlike the monarch, it never gets old.
(Read Full Review)
Lots of energy goes into sustaining an exaggerated cartoonishness. Designers Donyale Werle (sets) and Justin Townsend (lights) have filled the Jacobs theater with twinkly bulbs and chandeliers, portraits, thingamajigs and even a stuffed horse (it hangs upside down in the orchestra section) for the sake of eye candy and a wonderland vibe. But the production has its serious side too. It turns much darker as Jackson is repudiated for dirty, deadly dealings with Native Americans. This is underlined by Friedman's beautiful-sad ballad "Second Nature." (Read Full Review)
High and low art collide deliriously in La Bete...It raises some provocative and timeless questions about what art is and who gets to decide that. While the new production, direct from London, can't keep the play from being a windy enterprise, it succeeds in making it ever accessible and wildly funny. Credit a crack director, Matthew Warchus, an ace cast and appealing design work...The show belongs to British star Rylance...Days later, it still cracks me up when I think about his performance...La Bete is too unwieldly to be a perfect play, but this enjoyable revival finds the beauty in the beast. (Read Full Review)
Fiona Shaw ignites and glows with a fevered intensity and intelligence in this bold and indelibly theatrical work ... She hefts a coil of barbed wire recalling a crown of thorns and a ladder suggesting the base of a cross. She eventually disrobes ... At times, the play comes close to overkill as Mary overturns everything in sight. But that's really a minor sin. Despite a protest at an early preview by a traditional Catholic group, "The Testament of Mary" isn't irreverent. Nor is it reverent. It is imaginative and provocative — what theater should be. (Read Full Review)
Contributions by choreographer Rob Ashford (now also a busy director) canâ€™t be overstated. Sexy tangos, erotic waltzes and meticulously built ensemble dances create sublime moments. Best of all is â€œBuenos Aires,â€ which evokes small-town Evaâ€™s introduction to the big city. â€œStand back,â€ she declares as she glides, her feet and dress flying. Stand back? As if. One canâ€™t help but lean in, desperate for more. Thatâ€™s what seduction is all about. (Read Full Review)
Her latest work doesn’t break new ground as she covers the persistence and slipperiness of memory. But she maps the tale out with care and tells it with sensitivity and eloquence. Herzog is an exciting theatrical voice, a writer who excels at stories of quiet urgency.... The ensemble is simply terrific. Newcomer Erin Welhelmi rounds out the cast in heartbreaking fashion as Paige’s anorectic client.
Laurie Metcalf is brilliant on Broadway as a brain scientist who's losing her mind. Theaterphiles are already onto Metcalf's power to Crazy-Glue attention. If you only know Metcalf from TV, the drama offers a perfect chance to savor a fascinating stage animal in her natural habitat. This is also a textbook example of how a glowing star turn can elevate a good play into one that's even better than that -- it's a show that's hard to get out of your head. It's a harsh reality. And played by Metcalf, it hurts so good.
(Read Full Review)
For a show that drills the importance of seizing the day, â€œNow. Here. This.â€ is fixed on sizing up days gone by. But thatâ€™s the way it goes in a fitfully fun new work by the talented gang behind the â€œ[title of show\]â€ â€” a 2006 musical about making a musical that trekked it all the way to Broadway. Admirers of that irresistible first team effort (I happily saw it three times) will want to see what low-key Jeff Bowen (he wrote the songs), quippy Hunter Bell and quirky Susan Blackwell (they co-authored the book) and confident Heidi Blickenstaff are now up to.
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Spacey flits from silky to snarky to sulky to savage â€” moods and behaviors subject to change without notice...This Richard is way up in our faces. Weâ€™re part of the monsterâ€™s push to power. That complicity is a bright stroke in director Sam Mendesâ€™ modern-dress production. Over its 3 1/2 hours, the slice of history is clear, unsettling and amusing, but there are some dull patches. Even so, itâ€™s a meaty theatrical meal...The Bridgeâ€™s swan song provides Spacey the opportunity to show just how good he is at being bad.
(Read Full Review)
Helm, who's done "Interviewing the Audience" on various stages, saw Gray do it in 1997 and was struck by its simplicity, intimacy and unpredictability. It invites curiosity. Whom will he choose? What will he ask? What will his guests say? And, is this intriguing?
As for that last question, yes. Sometimes. (Read Full Review)
Same goes for Flaherty and Ahrens' stirring score. It has moments of true magic. But it has issues, too. There are so many anthems that it becomes a power-ballad pileup and a case of diminishing returns. A song like "What a Game!" â€” a bouncy baseball ditty featuring Bohmer and the crowd-pleasing Christopher Cox as his son â€” is a welcome change of pace. A song without ... that ... last ... big ... note. Petkoff and an outstanding Noll sing "Our Children," a simple tune I've never thought much of. Here, it has such nuance and understanding it's an unexpected highlight. In it, their characters have an awakening about themselves, each other and the future. For a show that sings that "you can never go back to before," it seems exactly right.
“Buyer & Cellar” is a bracingly bright, one-man fantasia about truth, celebrity and the pursuit of utopia. Factor in a delectable star turn by “Ugly Betty” alum Michael Urie and this play deserves a hearty, “Hello, gorgeous.” Under Stephen Brackett's direction and with Urie’s wonderful balance of tart and sweet, the show’s 90 minutes, cleverly packed with Streisand lore, zip by. Sure, there are a few sags, mostly scenes between Alex and his boyfriend, Barry. But there are earned laughs about people who need people to do what they want — no matter how absurd. And there are touching moments about finding oneself and what matters most. Between the script and Urie, the play makes the sale.
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Schreiber ("Awake & Sing!," TV's "Lights Out") has a knack for brooding types. He also infuses Doug with touching compassion. Carpenter ("Dexter") has an unvarnished openness that works beautifully for Kayleen's torment. Together, the two have great chemistry. Even when they say nothing. Between scenes, the actors change clothes, wash wounds and dab on blood in full view. These actions take on a riveting ritualistic near-dance that shows Doug and Kayleen's connection. Joseph calls for such transitions in his script â€” a smart move from this Pulitzer Prize finalist for "A Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo," opening on Broadway next month. (Read Full Review)
If there's a compelling reason for The Pee-wee Herman Show to be on Broadway beyond delivering its gleeful dash of sunny but slightly subversive fun, it's to remind us that things can stay the same in our hearts and heads. That's what nostalgia is all about...If you liked him then, you'll like him now...At 90 minutes, the show feels a little long, but director Alex Timbers (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson) keeps things gliding along...Reubens, 58, still looks every bit a living cartoon and continues to cast a spell treading the fine line between creepy and charming, crazy and completely sane. (Read Full Review)
...Broadway’s lush musical version is grown-up and plain old-fashioned beautiful. The stage adaptation by Jason Robert Brown (“Parade”) and Marsha Norman (“’night Mother”) is a familiar, yet stylish tale that earns its tears. And it’s never sappy… Director Bartlett Sher underscores the communal idea in his airy staging… The beating heart of the show is Brown’s score. It’s richly melodic and rhythmic — and one of Broadway’s best in the last decade. Brown’s stirring orchestrations — strings, piano and percussion — provide perfect settings for his musical gems. Norman’s book coaxes warmth and authenticity from the central love story. She’s less successful in family and neighbor subplots meant to provide contrast to the romance. These characterizations push the comic relief to the point where they’re jarring… “Bridges of Madison County” and its blissfully beautiful score and shimmering star turns stay with you well after the last lovely notes fade.
While its message is familiar, the play is darkly funny and succeeds in creating a topsy-turvy universe. Itâ€™s the kind of place in which the sounds of drilling, squishing and crushing from Letteâ€™s radical surgical makeover are as stomach-turning as they are laugh-inducing. Itâ€™s so wrong itâ€™s right, so ugly itâ€™s beautiful.
...graceful, gripping and break-your-heart beautiful. Brown’s fine pop score reflects shifts in the union... Wolfe (“Everyday Rapture”) and Kantor (“Next to Normal”) are simply irresistible. He’s got a gutsy quality that uncannily recalls Norbert Leo Butz... Wolfe’s voice is pure and sweet... “The Last Five Years” isn’t perfect. We never see the couple together, so there’s no chemistry and no real sense of loss... But during its 90 minutes, “The Last Five Years” burrows into your skin by virtue of its very theatricality... It’s impossible not to swoon. (Read Full Review)
In Mike Nicholsâ€™ powerful and emotionally rich revival at the Barrymore, Philip Seymour Hoffman resists playing Willy as larger than life, but to scale. As a result, the play has never felt more like an ensemble drama. That fits. Itâ€™s a story of a desperate family, not just the delusional dad...[Hoffman] noccasionally overdoes his rage: Louder volume doesnâ€™t mean bigger impact. As Linda, his quietly long-suffering wife, Linda Emond proves sure and steady and heart-stirring...Nicholsâ€™ decision to re-create Jo Mielzinerâ€™s ingenious skeletal set is a brilliant one. Scenes bleed cinematically, blurring past and present. (Read Full Review)
A new take on “A Doll’s House” makes your head spin like a top. And that’s a good thing. Credit a vivid star turn and canny staging of Ibsen’s much-done play about money, reputation and personal freedom. English actress Hattie Morahan announces herself to New York in a big way as the oppressed Nora, who has been slamming doors since 1879. Working from a crisp translation by Simon Stephens, director Carrie Cracknell infuses her production with a kinetic energy mirroring the restlessness of Nora. Morahan plays Nora as a woman who’s always giving a performance, except for the climactic scene. Before that, Nora can’t sit still. She’s constantly posing. She exaggeratedly lowers and raises the pitch of her voice. She’s fascinating to listen to and watch. When Nora famously dances the tarantella, she’s just like the set — spinning as fast as she can. But it’s just a matter of time before the living whirligig winds down.
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Leave it to the ace docutheater company the Civilians to turn a convoluted and contentious saga of urban planning into something concise, juicy and entertaining. And with playful tunes, to boot...Led by writer/director Steve Cosson, the Civilians condense a seven-year and still ongoing dispute into a fast-moving 100 minutes...Major players in the project -- residents, politicos, developers and watchdogs -- are vividly brought to life in monologues and music by six talented actors, who all play multiple parts...Skewed? Sure. But in a show about land development run amok you have to expect some digs. (Read Full Review)
... [an] acutely observed and affecting new character study... But at three hours, the play is anything but mini. Same goes for Baker’s scope... “The Flick” demands patience for a payoff. And it reaps satisfying dividends thanks to fine-tuned writing, acting and direction... Under frequent collaborator Sam Gold’s thoughtful direction, the cast gives subtly shaded performances. Is “The Flick” long? You bet. It’s also you-are-there authentic — like a documentary.
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Get a load of who’s cooked up “Old Hats” — two clowns and a singing sidekick with a salty streak. The combo actually works for this comic tasting menu that tips its cap to old-school vaudeville bits. The goal here is simply to make you smile and laugh for 110 minutes. Mission accomplished. The Signature Theatre Company presentation reunites Bill Irwin and David Shiner, masters of mime, movement and clowning around, who collaborated on the similarly built 1993 Broadway production “Fool Moon.” The duo’s new sampler finds them as supple and elastic as ever — and that goes for their creative brains and body language. Irwin, in particular, moves like he’s molten. The show features original songs written and performed by Nellie McKay, who plays piano and leads four other musicians in songs threaded between skits. (Read Full Review)
Superior acting, direction and design work â€” hallmarks of the first two segments of "The Orphans' Home Cycle" â€” are front and center in this final installment. But there are some gaps. "1918" suffers from being compressed to an hour, and having Hallie Foote, so singular in voice and manner, double as a different character is distracting. And the presence of Horton's long-absent mother, Corella (Annalee Jefferies), doesn't quite square with what's come before. (Read Full Review)
Being stuck in limbo has never been so magnetic. Credit the top-notch tag team of Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart…light up Broadway in Harold Pinter’s “No Man’s Land” and Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot.” The vintage purgatory tales, performed in repertory under the direction of Sean Mathias, are unapologetically enigmatic. But amid Pinter’s elliptical storytelling and pregnant pauses and Beckett’s existential mystery, ideas about power, class, memory and mortality get your gray matter buzzing. “No Man’s Land,”...unfolds in the den of an English manse...[belonging] to Hirst (Stewart), a rich author whose success doesn’t keep him from getting lost in foggy forgetfulness. Spooner (McKellen) is a shabby failed writer who’s been invited for a nightcap—or 50—and may never get out. McKellen’s...got one of the most expressive faces, voices and command of body language on the planet. Stewart gets Hirst’s imperiousness and vulnerability just right. Lending support as Hirst’s henchmen are Billy Crudup and Shuler Hensley. They’re strangely appealing even as they ramp up the Pinteresque chill and menace. (Read Full Review)
The staging by Sam Mendes, one of the brains behind this transatlantic theater company, gets off to a glacial start that fails to find traction or pull us into Shakespeare's language. Then, when the talking literally stops, the show finds its voice and its magnetic pull. This is the moment when a lovestruck Orlando (Christian Camargo) can't bring himself to say a word to the fair Rosalind (Juliet Rylance), who's equally smitten. It's a wonderful moment that jolts the show to life. (Read Full Review)
Benko delivers a fascinating turn without ever trying to duplicate Jackie. To summon the soft-spoken voice of Jackie, the actress does dust her voice with a trace of powder.
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/music-arts/theater-review-jackie-article-1.1280060#ixzz2NFNyHFoj (Read Full Review)
The setting is June 28, 1969. The drama unfolds when a routine police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a popular underground gay bar in Greenwich Village, sparks a full-scale riot. Violent protests and street demonstrations continued for several days. The protests have been called the birth of the gay rights movement. "It’s important that we know our history," says Chicago writer Ike Holter. "Not knowing it really rubs me the wrong way." (Read Full Review)
...[an]ever-joyful but sometimes too pointed new musical... The real star of this show, though, is Cyndi Lauper... Fierstein expertly connects the dots between Charlie and Lola and the factory folks... His script has issues... Plot twists... are manufactured. He drives the message of acceptance with a steel-toed boot. Despite those missteps, Mitchell’s production moves lickety-split, and his dancing drag queens... are eye-poppers... Porter (“Dreamgirls”) is a force of nature as Lola. Sands (“American Idiot”), in the tamer role, makes Charlie wonderfully appealing... Even with some stumbles, “Kinky Boots” is a high time.
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Maggie Siff and Jonathan Cake are charming as the bickering couple in Shakespeare's 500-year-old rom-com. She's the single lady who says she's set on not putting a ring on it. He’s her ex, the so-called confirmed bachelor with whom she's forever bickering. A dab of deception awakens them to love. Wedding bells will toll. Michelle Beck and Matthew Amendt make a capable Hero and Claudio, whose ruined romance forms the parallel plot thread. And as the bumbling amateur detective, Dogberry, John Christopher Jones is a hoot. (Read Full Review)
Covers many themes, from the wonders and failings of families to notions of identity to the hierarchy within the deaf world. Frankly, there are so many explicit allusions to language that Tribes comes off too packaged for its own good. But ample compensations are Raineâ€™s smarts and wit. The intimacy of the story plays to the strengths of director David Cromer...Cromerâ€™s staging clicks, as does the entire cast...In the key role of Billy, Harvard, who was born deaf, creates a moving portrait of a man torn between worlds. (Read Full Review)
If the play's overstated narrative structure and bald symbolism (including a girl fetching and lighting her uncle's cigar) keep it from being on Miller's A-list (and they do), those weaknesses recede in Gregory Mosher's exceptionally well-acted, well-staged revival ... It's an outer-borough tragedy, ancient columns not included. Schreiber may be playing a surrogate Greek hero, but it's down-to-earth honesty that makes his work so gripping. Johansson's acting is dynamic yet understated. Movie stars like her are summoned to Broadway because they draw attention to the box office. On stage, though, she blends in beautifully with the cast. (Read Full Review)
Between a radiant performance by Jenny Powers (Rizzo in "Grease") as Mary Kate Danaher, a spirited lovestruck lass, and cheeky ingenuity in director Charlotte Moore's staging, the Irish Repertory Theatre's enjoyable revival of "Donnybrook!" lands a couple punches. Considering the less-than-stellar material, that's something. Robert E. McEnroe's book boasts few laughs and more than a few stereotypes. The score by Johnny Burke is a meager porridge. But "He Makes Me Feel I'm Lovely" rings with plainspoken prettiness. (Read Full Review)
As the mirror-mad matinee idol, Broadway veteran Victor Garber, famous for films (he went down with the ship in "Titanic") and TV (he shot from the hip on "Alias") is droll and appealing. His Garry is as self-aware as he is self-obsessed. Sure, he sighs, groans and even sings about craving solitude, but we know he knows that he instantly wilts when he's not being coddled or cuddled. A cast of characters is on hand to do that. Harriet Harris is hilarious as Monica, Garry's secretary and sometime dragon-lady gatekeeper; Lisa Banes lends sophisticated calm as his not-quite-ex-wife, Liz, and Pamela Jane Gray plays Joanne, an oversexed omnivore who makes every word from her mouth, especially "latchkey," sound fabulously filthy. (Read Full Review)
The election-night setting is just a convenience. What makes the play interesting is the detailed portrait that emerges of the all-American Apples -- a group with polish, bruises and maybe a even worm or two. Nelson, who directs his play, evokes the Apples in conversation that sounds as natural as breathing. And the cast couldn't be better. (Read Full Review)
In his very fine new play, “All the Rage,” Martin Moran continues his exploration of how people are hurt and how they heal. The…play affirms Moran’s stature as an endearing and entertaining writer and storyteller. If the story seems all over the map, the carefully charted circuitous route is one of the strengths of the piece. All roads lead eventually to the destination of that dream Moran was aching to share. It has to do with survival and the significance of anger and forgiveness toward that end. Under the direction of Seth Barrish, Moran moves his 80-minute odyssey seamlessly. It’s always entertaining and often affecting. At various points he engages the audience. It’s as though we’re his close intimates and it really matters to him that we get him. We do. (Read Full Review)
In his refreshingly original play “The Nance,” Douglas Carter Beane reflects on the dying days of burlesque and a gay comic torn between a new love and old ways. While he’s at it, Beane gives Broadway favorite Nathan Lane a juicy character made to match his dual gifts for loose-lipped clowning and sad-eyed heartbreak. Lane squeezes the role for all its worth. Under Jack O’Brien’s assured direction, he’s funny, sad and touching as the conflicted Chauncey. Beane has given himself a tall order in a play mixing social and personal commentary…after a steady diet of Broadway plays that are all about dysfunctional and sitcom-style families, “The Nance” is a welcome departure.
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* Suddenly, the Stephen Sondheim-Hugh Wheeler musical is aglow with a brilliant and irresistible warmth...The tag-team triumph of Peters and Stritch doesn't erase nagging issues with director Trevor Nunn's production from London's Menier Chocolate Factory. The pacing? Still slumbersome. Accents? All over the map, including Desiree's daughter's inexplicable British inflections. The orchestra? Sounds a bit skimpy. The windowed scenery? It recalls Loehmann's and reflects things to the audience it shouldn't â€” like the conductor. On the plus side, the cast has greatly improved in the last eight months. Joe's original review, a C, can be read here. (Read Full Review)
If you saw Rush in his 2009 Tony-winning turn as a dying monarch in "Exit the King," which Armfield directed, you already know the actor is a one-of-a-kind artist - an elasticized living cartoon who looks out-of-control but is always fully in control. His wild eyes, flailing arms and nutty gestures can go from hilarious to heartbreaking in a beat. Rush has help onstage. Yael Stone is quite moving in three small roles: a Finnish cleaning woman who can't speak Poprishchin's language but still understands him; the unattainable girl he loves, and a bald-headed bedlamite. In a bright stroke, Paul Cutlan and Erkki Veltheim are offstage musicians whose playing becomes an integral part of Poprishchin's conversation. Also deepening the atmosphere are Tess Schofield's ragtag costumes, Catherine Martin's colorfully exaggerated attic set and Mark Shelton's shadow-casting lighting. Rush's performance outshines the play. At times, the production gets repetitious and long-winded. Nonetheless, this is a "Diary" to be savored and a descent that's actually uplifting. (Read Full Review)
Whatâ€™s unexpected about Paula Vogelâ€™s quirky 1997 Pulitzer Prize-winning portrait of a survivor and her molester...is how disarmingly gentle it is...Director Kate Whoriskeyâ€™s staging moves with cinematic swiftness across the time and tone changes. It is motored by her two terrific leads. (Read Full Review)
By and large, this "Streetcar" is built for one - it's Blanche's story. The casting of Blanchett, one of the heads of STC, has made this show one of the hottest tickets in town. So it's fitting that Blanche's shattered face is the first and last image seen in this three-hour-plus show. It's a haunting sight, and the memory of it lingers long after this vehicle departs. (Read Full Review)
The 100-minute, one-act provides a juicy role for its lead actress. Kathleen Chalfant originated the part Off-Broadway in 1998. Emma Thompson starred in the TV movie three years later. Now Cynthia Nixon puts her stamp on the unsentimental and determined Vivian in the playâ€™s Broadway debut presented by Manhattan Theatre Club.
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Director Barry Edelstein's bracing, bare-bones treatment fits perfectly with the play, which is drawn in broad strokes. Simple scenery shifts mirror the plot, as comfy carpet yields to a barren, sand-swept environment. Electric guitar licks pulse throughout to underscore the mood. The focus, rightly, is on the acting and the ensemble keeps up with a terrific Thomas. (Read Full Review)
Daniel Sullivan's deft staging uses retracting panels to shrink the playing space, cannily underscoring the story's intimacy and human scale. John Lee Beatty's versatile sets conjure homes, offices and, in a not-so-subtle reference to luck, a church-basement bingo hall. For all its ideas about how luck, class, race and the choices we make forever shape our lives, Good People is still in search of precisely the story it wants to tell. (Read Full Review)
Those mists are gray, threatening and unmoving, just like the steely and oppressive German Jewish mother and grandmother who rules this roost with an iron fist, acid tongue and swinging cane. It makes for a striking visual metaphor and hints at good things to come in Jenn Thompsonâ€™s fine revival for the Actors Company Theatre. Come they do. Thompsonâ€™s cast is topnotch and her decision, with Simonâ€™s approval, to delete narration passages neatly streamlines the story that begins in the summer of 1942.
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An exhilaring jolt of youthful energy has hit Broadway. It arrives with 30 dazzling dancing feet, a bright rising star, buoyant songs and â€” whoops, I buried the lead â€” something meaningful to say about how individuals and groups can change their fate... Thereâ€™s no question that Jordan (known for the film â€œJoyful Noiseâ€ and Calhounâ€™s short-lived â€œBonnie and Clydeâ€) steps up to carry the show. Like a Page 1 headline, he announces himself as a powerhouse talent. Whenever he and the other newsies are on stage, the show flies.
On the surface, it’s a simple story: A cocky stud muffin moseys into a tiny Kansas town to visit a buddy and whips a family of women — and anyone with XX chromosomes — into a hot, steamy lather. But William Inge’s 1953 play, “Picnic,” has other things on its mind. Like the repression of small-town life and the straitjacket of conventions and the power and limits of physical beauty. It’s provocative, thoughtful stuff, and it helped win this play a Pulitzer Prize. Sixty years later, Inge’s drama still resonates. Director Sam Gold’s rich and satisfying revival for the Roundabout showcases in a production packed with fine performances and detailed design. The beauty of Gold’s staging direction is the way he uses foreground and background and the interior of the Owens home, seen only through windows. It creates texture and dimension, a real sense of life. He’s also assembled a wonderful ensemble… (Read Full Review)
“Orphans” is a modest and contrived play, but it courses with sly ironies (i.e., benevolence can backfire) and succeeds in cleverly compressing truths and conveying big ideas. A pair of new shoes signals freedom, a discarded mayonnaise jar points to a major change. Daniel Sullivan directs and creates a visceral environment and an entertaining production. Foster (“Six Feet Under,” “3:10 to Yuma”) brings a perfect volatile-vulnerable mix as Treat. London-born Sturridge (“Being Julia”) delivers a performance filled with energy and surprises and free of sentiment. (Read Full Review)
“Jekyll & Hyde” is an over-the-top bloody hoot. At times, it’s like a theme-park attraction, but it’s got a saving grace. The show doesn’t take itself too seriously as it power-ballads its way through Victorian-era London... This revival’s stars make the music shine... Maroulis knows how to build drama in a song and makes the familiar “This Is the Moment” fresh. He impresses. Ditto Cox... Jeff Calhoun (“Newsies”) again shows off his knack for snappy pacing and vibrant stage pictures... the story gets repetitious as Jekyll wreaks revenge on upper-crusts who thwarted his research.
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Melissa James Gibson’s offbeat and beautiful new comedy-dramedy purrs along, even as it wanders, to a gentle rise. Guided by Daniel Aukin’s thoughtful direction, the fine actors and design team showcase this funny-touching story of disconnection to the max. It’s no fluke that some walls and doors in Laura Jillinek’s all-white set are invisible. Even with nothing solid between people, they can’t get through to each other. There’s something at once mundane and major in that. (Read Full Review)
Story time typically brings cozy comfort. But there's no such luck from the yarn spun in "The New Electric Ballroom" by Enda Walsh, who directs his compact and compelling dark fable...As in "The Walworth Farce," a companion play, Walsh cannily uses damaged characters to explore both the power and impotence of words. Mikel Murfi completes the cast as a doughy, downcast fishmonger who might be Ada's ticket out. Or maybe not. Like stories, history often can repeat itself. (Read Full Review)
Nice to know a new musical can actually surprise you. Though it starts on a familar note and sparks deja vu at other points, "Memphis" eventually finds its own voice and beat, and wins you over with its sheer enthusiasm and exuberant performances...Director Christopher Ashley ("Xanadu") spins the elements into a gleaming, good-looking production. It flows with cinematic finesse and makes the most of Joe DiPietro's slim, sometimes manipulative book. Sergio Trujillo's choreography has verve and imagination...The songs by DiPietro and Bon Jovi keyboardist David Bryan, the team behind "The Toxic Avenger," are an easygoing mix of R&B, soul and period pop. A few tunes are catchy enough to stay in your head for days. (Read Full Review)
With his patented blend of velvety nastiness, Alan Rickman is ideally cast as a noxious instructor savaging young writers in Theresa Rebeckâ€™s tangy but sometimes contrived comedy Seminar...Her dialogue is brisk and breezy, her characters layered. She knows well the world of scribe-eat-scribe and it shows in several telling exchanges. Elsewhere, as she raises ideas about luck, fairness and talent being the great equalizer, she doesnâ€™t explore these topics so much as dab at them...Fortunately, you may not mind since director Sam Gold...guides such a fun and fluid staging. (Read Full Review)
Back on Broadway at the Belasco Theatre, where it premiered 75 years ago, Clifford Odetsâ€™ boxing saga â€œGolden Boyâ€ is a knockout, thanks to its 24-karat cast. The 19 actors in the Lincoln Center revival are so good that you look beyond creaks in the melodrama. So good they make up for lead-footed scene changes and sets that are too postcard-pristine for the tale of tangled desires.
(Read Full Review)
At its heart is a fairly conventional can-they-make-it love story framed around hot-button issues and the war in Iraq...Under Daniel Sullivan's sure-handed direction, the cast is uniformly excellent, a perfectly pitched quartet. Linney, who was nominated for a Tony, continues to blaze as a caustic photographer whose drug of choice is strife. Nasty stuff. Unlike Jamie, she can't live without it. Watching that dynamic unfold on stage, movie buffs will be reminded of The Days of Wine and Roses, in which Jack Lemmon gets sober while Lee Remick can't. Margulies, who has a rare gift for conversational dialogue, makes sure everyone gets that by having Jamie allude to the movie. (Read Full Review)
[Brand]â€™s urgency and deep, dark, expressive eyes pull you into the story.
Heâ€™s in good company. Nelson convinces as the men in Asherâ€™s life. Baconâ€™s straightforward performance works beautifully. Seeing her go from Asherâ€™s mom to a nude model is jarring, but the play is about connectedness.
(Read Full Review)
The author’s tight grip on his topic goes slack in the final 10 minutes. An aria of destruction by Isobel takes the tale into melodramatic territory and overkill.
Nonetheless, this “Bull” charges and makes impact. When Tony suggests hugging it out, a woman behind me audibly said, “No, don’t do it. Don’t.” She was totally annoying — and 100% right. (Read Full Review)
Hall juggles themes of class and creativity, but his major subject is the power of the group, personal and political. That power is tested in the play's darker second half, when a wealthy divorcee and art collector offers to pay Kilbourn to paint full time. His struggle with leaving his community is played against a development involving Lyon, who uses the group's success to advance his career. Hall, in a rare miscalculation, has Kilbourn critique his teacher in a scene that comes across as overly sophisticated. (Read Full Review)
Change doesnâ€™t come easy â€” or without pain and a price. Itâ€™s true for individuals. And nations. That win-lose proposition pulses through David Henry Hwangâ€™s 1996 play, â€œGolden Child.â€ The engaging revival is part of the Signature Theatre Companyâ€™s season-long look at the writerâ€™s works. The play is framed as a flashback by a grandson speaking to his grandmother. Thereâ€™s a lovely theatricality as present fades to the past and back. While not particularly deep and a bit too jokey for its own good, Hwangâ€™s tale, inspired by his family, is well-told. Director Leigh Silvermanâ€™s polished cast and production showcase it at its best advantage. (Read Full Review)
Crosses the urban eatery setting of August Wilson's "Two Trains Running" with the snappy banter of the 1970s sitcom "Chico and the Man." What makes the play fresh is Letts. He creates vivid characters and always has surprises up his sleeve...Flashbacks revealing Arthur's history could have used a bit more finesse...[McKean] creates a richly nuanced portrait of a man who's given up - and who finally wakes up. Newcomer Hill is a true find. He lands one-liners with the cocky panache of Chris Rock and proves himself capable of breaking your heart. (Read Full Review)
Topics move from his scandal-plagued nature films to his ... alleged interest in freezing and preserving his body as a Walt-sicle. The script seems to play fast and loose with the truth about Disney's life, and it's a quirky portrait of a self-made and multifaceted man. Pine's performance is sly and gripping.
Soho Rep head Sarah Benson directs and makes the potentially static setting dynamic, including a surprisingly explosive moment. How'd they do that?, you wonder. But it's just par for the course in Benson's downtown magic kingdom. (Read Full Review)
Seen last fall at the postage-stamp-sized Ars Nova in midtown, "Natasha" has reopened in the Meatpacking District in a handsome custom space called Kazino. The spot is designed to conjure a Russian-style supper club. There are red-draped walls lined with artwork, a ceiling ablaze with chandeliers and clubby tables where theatergoers sit fairly knee-to-knee. But what made "Natasha" so special before is what makes it special again. That is the music, the staging and the performances, not the chow. When you've got songs and singers this delicious, who needs couscous? (Read Full Review)
Itâ€™s a lot to cover. At more than three hours, the production could benefit from pruning scenes (is the female-bonding really needed?) and songs. LaChiusaâ€™s score is lush and beautiful. It spills over with emotion and yearning. But some numbers go on long after theyâ€™ve made their point. Even with these issues, director Michael Greif has done an amazing job of making the show flow. (Read Full Review)
Although the 90-minute "Eve" sparks its share of been-here-before feelings (mostly in the irony-free first half-hour), it also has clever twists and plenty to like. It's not breaking any new theatrical ground, but the book is witty, the songs are chipper, and there's a bushel of bright performances. In short, a perfectly pleasant evening...Guided by director Larry Raben, the cast puts over the comedy and songs expertly as the action unfolds on Beowulf Boritt's futuristic set. (Read Full Review)
Singing and dancing, bumping and grinding, Jackman â€” known as Wolverine from movies and the Sexiest Man Alive from, well, look at him â€” is in top form performing his most beloved songs and his favorite role of Mr. Entertainer. While itâ€™s very enjoyable, itâ€™s also by-the-numbers. But with his irresistible Australian grin, touchy-feely affability and snug pants, he holds the audience tight in this production staged and choreographed by Warren Carlyle...The only drawbacks of the show, which runs two hours with intermission, is that it lacks a thrilling high point and originality. (Read Full Review)
It’d be easy to jab at jerks and train wrecks inhabiting reality TV. Or how phony-baloney they are. But McLachlan chases other ideas. He cranks his perspective slightly but slyly to explore how the reality of the people behind and in front of the the camera seeps back and forth. He also paints a vivid portrait of office politics and modern ethics.
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McPherson is a playwright who embraces life’s dark streaks and mysteries. He has gone there before many times…[this] new work, which he directs, is intriguing and rich in atmosphere, but not on par with the earlier works. Fortunately, the production is sublimely acted by five performers reprising roles from the Donmar Warehouse production in London. Each delivers McPherson’s plain-spoken dialogue with an authenticity that makes the story feel fully alive. The play’s slow first hour is mostly awkward small talk… [before] The story’s tone darkens and pulse quickens…As he has done before, McPherson chases the idea of how connections can lead to dangerous places.
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Domingo's experiences, whether it's his struggles with homosexuality or his mother Edie's mortality, aren't all that extraordinary.
What gives the show its unique groove is the star himself and his contagious enthusiasm for the soul, R&B and disco tunes that became the soundtrack to his life. Domingo, who was impressive in "Passing Strange," is commanding and endearing, whether he's acting, singing along to the music (he asks you to, as well) or shaking what his mama (and choreographer Ken Roberson) gave him. He's also an ace shape-shifter, morphing from playing himself to various relatives, with a change in his voice or body language or a telling gesture. Two fingers raised in a tight V comes to signal sassy big sister Averie, who was forever puffing Newports. (Read Full Review)
Set in 2008 in a roach motel somewhere in the U.S., the story is topical and worthwhile, but baldly earnest. It’s a sort of companion to Fuller’s 1982 Pulitzer-winning A Soldier’s Play, which explored military and racial issues. This adds gender to that mix as Alicia faces off against a manipulative boyfriend (Grantham Coleman), a horndog innkeeper (Cortez Nance Jr.) and a sexist cop (Matthew Montelongo.)
(Read Full Review)
Pryce, whoâ€™s won Tonys for â€œComediansâ€ and â€œMiss Saigon,â€ brings Davies to life with telling tics. At times his Welsh accent obscures lines, but he also can make a single-syllable â€œairâ€ sound with symphonic resonance. Hassell and Cox both lend excellent support as the lines between good bro and bad bro blur. (Read Full Review)
In previous plays...Belber has shown his ability to tell stories with wit, humanity and richly drawn characters. He's done that again here. Director Sam Gold gracefully guides the cast through the play's shifting tones and draws eye-catching work from the design team....In her Off-Broadway debut and out of her TV-doc scrubs, Walsh shows off strong stage chops. (She's done lots of theater outside New York.) Underneath Molly's fast-talking hyperÂconfidence, Walsh adds just the right layer of insecurity. The always fascinating Sparks brings a restrained quirkiness and touching vulnerability to Ray, which makes the haunted man extremely appealing. (Read Full Review)
Conversations go from lively to prickly to raging and reach a brain-dizzying level during an extended scene of overlapping dialogue. There's more noisy cross-talk than a "Real Housewives" reunion special. The play consistently engages, even with some flab and faltering logic. That includes Gus' reasons for wanting to die. His explanation comes off generic and unconvincing. despite shortcomings, director Michael Greif, who staged the recent revival of "Angels in America," is at his best when characters are at their least steady and most complicated. Greif's talents are a perfect match for Kushner's messy, sprawling and fascinating family. (Read Full Review)
Being stuck in limbo has never been so magnetic. Credit the top-notch tag team of Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart…light up Broadway in Harold Pinter’s “No Man’s Land” and Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot.” The vintage purgatory tales, performed in repertory under the direction of Sean Mathias, are unapologetically enigmatic. But amid Pinter’s elliptical storytelling and pregnant pauses and Beckett’s existential mystery, ideas about power, class, memory and mortality get your gray matter buzzing. More familiar but a bit less successful...“Godot” needs a shot of dread. Beckett’s 60-year-old masterwork is too spry and buoyant for its own good here. The story tracks two days days in the lives of Estragon (McKellen) and Vladimir (Stewart), ragbag tramps cooling their heels amid rubble on the side of a road. They’re expecting the ever-elusive titular figure. Fortunately the stars grip tight. Stewart is hearty and game. McKellen, even better, is hilarious and heartbreaking. It’s a fine bromance—Broadway is lucky to have it. (Read Full Review)
Eleven-year-old Lilla Crawford makes a feisty Annie and earns points for speaking and singing with a New Yawk accent. In her big solo â€œTomorrow,â€ she channels Ethel Merman and shows off a belt as big and wide as a city bridge. Veteran Broadway director James Lapine darkens a few moments to convey the gravity of hard times in Hooverville, but otherwise delivers a standard production. He lets the book and songs speak for themselves and relies on choreography â€” sometimes a little too flashy â€” by Andy Blankenbuehler to keep the musical in motion. If this take seldom crosses the line into something must-see special (it doesnâ€™t), even a simply good production of â€œAnnieâ€ offers rewards. (Read Full Review)
Now running at Second Stage, the play provides a transfusion of high-octane talent to Off-Broadway - author, ace cast and director Edward Torres, who knows how to jack up a production. That includes the top-drawer design team - Brian Sidney Bembridge (set), Christine Pascual (costumes), Jesse Klug (lights), Mikhail Fiksel (sound) and Peter Nigrini (projections). Their contributions create a vivid one-ring wrestling circus that spills into the theater (be prepared to picked up or fanned by a waving U.S. flag).
(Read Full Review)
Mourning becomes electric â€” and curiously amusing â€” in the small-scale comedy Wild With Happy...[Domingo] is an exuberant performer and a compelling storyteller who is unafraid to get a little sugary. Heâ€™s also generous, allowing other characters occasionally to outshine his own. The direction by Robert Oâ€™Hara is smart and imaginative, as are colorful costumes and sets by Clint Ramos, who uses caskets in various ways. (Read Full Review)
Besides having two actors play all the parts, the playwright shrewdly drives home the point about parallel lives by having dialogue and plot points echo in each half. It's fitting, since each couple, to a degree, covets what the other has. The best thing about the play is that characters surprise you and deepen â€” Luke, in particular. Sporting pricey Paul Smith glasses and a chilly attitude, he initially comes off as yet another annoying yuppie. It's great to get to see the chinks in his armor. (Read Full Review)
Jent, who has a child with autism, wisely avoids maudlin movie-of-the-week sentimentality. Her script is sharp and observant, though a late narrative detour feels unnecessary. Director Lori Adams guides an ace cast led by Murney, who delivers a gutsy and touching performance. Sobering and affecting, â€œFallingâ€ sinks deep under your skin.
(Read Full Review)
Will love survive? Will the club? It all plays out in predictable fashion, but Kristin Hanggi's cheeky staging and Kelly Devine's pulsating choreography makes it an enjoyable journey. Factor in a couple dozen feel-good tunes and a rocking band and you've got a cranked-up crowd-pleaser. (Read Full Review)
Running 1:45 without intermission, "Prophet" is packed with big ideas about life, faith, forgiveness, suffering, sexuality and, in a bright stroke that will change the way you see maps, geography. Karam's skill at juggling themes and capturing real-life conversation is marvelous. The way in which comedy and tragedy cozy up together recalls Beth Henley's "Crimes of the Heart." At times, he overreaches. Plot threads snag. And now and then, lines emerge too sculpted, as when Joe laments his legacy: "The Douaihys have a habit of dying tragically," he tells Tim. "We're like the Kennedys without the sex appeal."
(Read Full Review)
"Graceland," a bittersweet dramedy by Chicago up-and-comer Ellen Fairey, could use more shading...and fewer coincidences. But the radiantly emotional performance by Marin Hinkle ("Once and Again") as a sad and beautiful lost soul makes the 80-minute play winning and worthwhile - another fine work from Lincoln Center's program for emerging writers.
(Read Full Review)
Playwrights, like bartenders, blend ingredients to deliver a buzz.
In her hijinks-happy cocktail, “The Explorers Club,” Nell Benjamin follows this recipe: To a starchy bunch of science geeks bemoaning the worst barkeep in London, add a plucky adventurer and her discovery, a trouble-making tribesman. Then shake, stir, serve in an eye-catching vessel and brace for laughter. Despite a first act bogged down in exposition, she delivers. Credit Mark Bruni’s assured direction, a bit of impressive physical comedy that gets a workout in the second act, and an ace ensemble led by Westfeldt. As usual, this Manhattan Theatre Club production looks like a million bucks, thanks to Anita Yavich’s period-perfect costumes and Phillip Rosenberg’s glowing lights. The silent star of the show is Donyale Werle’s Victorian mens’s club set—a mouthwatering melange of burnished paneling, pattern pelts, huge tusks, stuffed animals and more. If your mind wanders during slow spots, your eye always has plenty to explore.
(Read Full Review)
"Spider-Man" isn't a great, gourmet meal, but it's a tasty diversion. Philip McKinley, who oversees the staging, and new writer Robert Aguirre-Sacasa, have taken existing ingredients and skillfully reorganized them. As a salvage mission, the accomplishments are impressive. Original director Julie Taymor's fingerprints are still evident, but now the focus is where it should be: On Peter Parker (Reeve Carney), the nerdy teen turned web-slinger, who must juggle his sweetheart Mary Jane (Jennifer Damiano) and nemesis Green Goblin (Patrick Page). (Read Full Review)
The local Dairy Queen looms large — and it’s the only source of sweetness for the foul foursome on view in the audaciously crude and equally entertaining dark comedy “Rantoul and Die.” It’s a portrait of white trash behaving badly. Appallingly, even. And it’s a perfect fit for the Amoralists, a troupe that specializes in shock and awe … and ewws. Director Jay Stull’s brisk production skillfully captures the run-down Rantoul world. In the game cast, Lemp stands out. Against the odds, she finds the toxic Debbie’s tender streak.
(Read Full Review)
Despite the title, the ace card tricksters behind “Nothing to Hide” play everything close to the vest. Even so, they can’t keep their charms a secret during this grin- and wonder-inducing little magic show. There’s something irresistible about watching two sleight-of-hand artists effortlessly transform an ordinary deck of cards into 52 shades — or more — of amazing. That duo is Derek DelGaudio, from California, and Helder Guimaraes, from Portugal, who are both around 30 and low-key cool. Their show comes here after a hit run at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles. Neil Patrick Harris’…staging boasts a breezy elegance. At just over an hour, “Nothing to Hide” is an entertaining but slim evening. It feels like part one of a double bill. Now they need to make the missing half materialize.
(Read Full Review)
Conceived and directed by Tony Speciale and written by members of the Plastic Theatre, many of whom appear in the show, the play is a fictionalized account informed by trial records, letters and period research. Writerly imagination filled in the gaps. What emerges from that patchwork is a well-paced and -plotted story about intolerance, complete with an 11th-hour surprise. The creators also infuse the play with humor and humanity. Before the investigation, the young men, each more dapper than the next in Andrea Lauer's spiffy period suits (and one flapper dress), cavort and camp it up and share tender moments that look a lot like the first blush of love. (Read Full Review)
Been there, seen this? Yes, mostly. Happily, British playwright Lucinda Coxon squeezes out enough fresh juice and surprises to make it a likable and entertaining evening...Despite the familiar ring of the material and the lack
of a punchy conclusion, Coxon clearly has talent. Her dialogue has an honest, lived-in quality, and she's a keen observer of the delicacies of relationships. (Read Full Review)
Part circus, part vaudeville, part food fight. Mostly, though, the focus is on juggling. In a program note, the brothers link juggling with music. Far-fetched? No. Whether they're tossing around tenpins or balls, they do it with such power, skill and grace that it takes on its own rhythmic elegance and beauty. If the brothers' stale jokes crash more than they fly, that seems part of the act, too. (Read Full Review)
Though Campbell covers familiar territory and could do a better job delineating the time frames with a line or two of dialogue, he writes with intelligence and sensitivity. He also raises provocative points about self-acceptance, the endurance of shame and the role of women in gay men's relationships. He has an invaluable ally in Joe Mantello, a director with a hit-and-miss mojo. He's in top form in this handsomely acted and designed production. The past and present flow in and out of focus, at times overlapping, in cinematic fashion. (Read Full Review)
Director Stephen Wadsworth's production for Manhattan Theatre Club takes us inside a master class and a diva's head, but recklessly ignores Callas' repeated advice about getting "a look." His revival's "look" is naggingly unspecific. It could be 2011 as much as it is 1971. Intentional? An oversight?No way to be sure. What is certain is that McNally's brusque and brilliant rendering of Callas is the sort of meaty role actresses love to sink teeth and claws into ... Daly's work is terrific enough to nudge you past the play's built-in contrivances. (Read Full Review)
Joyous performances by a 40-member cast led by Bernadette Peters, a luscious 28-piece orchestra and a soundscape that lets you relish every note and lyric. There are also letdowns. No one could expect director Eric Schaeffer, a veteran of several Sondheim shows, to fix inherent issues - a momentumless narrative and soapy dialogue. But more originality in his approach, conceptually and design-wise (black drapes - really?), could have helped make a standard-issue show a truly distinctive one. (Read Full Review)
[A] tasty two-act hybrid of history and whole-cloth imagination...Cain's intricate script is triply impressive â€” smart, funny and literary. The action is always clear, as it frequently shifts from the main story line to performances of Shag's plays within the play. This Manhattan Theatre Club production has more pluses: Garry Hynes' taut direction, Francis O'Connor's steely set and six top-flight actors, most of whom play multiple parts, at times in one scene. (Read Full Review)
Despite some plot holes, roles as juicy as Laura are rare — and much coveted. Director David Cromer, who’s guided the beautifully designed production, could’ve cast big-name star power. Instead he lets an exceptional, but not famous, actress breathe life into the character. Pourfar, recently seen as the woman going deaf in Tribes, which Cromer staged, captures Laura’s precision and insecurity. It’s a can’t-miss performance that’s undeniably gold-star terrific.
(Read Full Review)
Fetching in a satiny gown of dark blue (to match Bankhead's language), Harper sheds any trace of TV sidekick Rhoda Morgenstern. At times her outsize expressions and gestures skitter dangerously close to caricature, but between her smart instincts and Rob Ruggiero's direction she keeps her from going over the edge. She's never subtle, but she's always a hoot. A second-act subplot about Dannyâ€™s troubled personal life ends up setting the groundwork for a moving chaser. He asks Bankhead to redo another performance. Though sheâ€™s totally looped, she obliges in heartbreaking fashion. (Read Full Review)
Finely acted and scrupulously designed...The one-act makes for an interesting â€” if less than complex â€” look at a work that has become iconic...Trap, which runs just 50 minutes, is an outline drawing. Sketchiness aside, director Antony Marsellis' production offers terrific performances. (Read Full Review)
In the title role, Margaret Loesser Robinson brings steeliness and a soft heart as the ex-prostitute looking to start a new life. She brings out all the spiky irony in the song â€œOn the Farm,â€ in which Anna recalls abuse by men. Patrick Cummingsâ€™ sturdy presence and voice serve well as Matt, the sailor who loves and rejects Anna. Cliff Bemis and â€œInto the Woodsâ€ alum Danielle Ferland lend fine support as Annaâ€™s dad and his friend. With the exception of using a sax soloist throughout the show, a device with diminishing returns, Charlotte Mooreâ€™s production is sharp and atmospheric. (Read Full Review)
The show brings a lot to like: A crew of talented Broadway newbies, a blast of infectious feel-good and, most memorably, dazzling dancing and cheering-squad routines. Indeed, the show nails it whenever itâ€™s in motion. Simply singing, itâ€™s more standard fare. Too bad since the songwriters are hardly run-of-the-mill... Songs are serviceable more than memorable. Jeff Whitty is on his A-game. His script, which shows a keen ear for teen-speak, is topical, toothy and consistently giggle-inducing... Everything clicks, everything grooves.... director-choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler deserves snaps for assembling such a bright young squad who freshen up familiar types... Itâ€™s these stunts that set this show apart from Lysistrata Jones, last seasonâ€™s cheerleader-themed show. Bring It On doesnâ€™t break new ground, but it kept me smiling. Sometimes pretty silly â€” and very acrobatic â€” is enough. (Read Full Review)
The show shares similarities with other solo works. Like Bea Arthur, Fisher performs barefoot. Like Elaine Stritch, she spills about her destructive alcohol addiction. Like Dame Edna, she sings a bit and has silly audience participation, which, like the intermission, could be jettisoned. If you've read any of Fisher's best sellers or seen "Postcards from the Edge," much of the material will be familiar and you may be wishful that revelations ran deeper than swimming pools (she grew up with three) and Pez dispensers (her face tops one). But with Fisher's winning wit and gift for gab you're glad to sit around and laugh with her for a couple of hours. (Read Full Review)
Any musical that boasts such gorgeous songs as "Seasons of Love," "I'll Cover You," "Santa Fe" and "Without You" is almost a miracle. But it is also irritating at times. Amid the great numbers are various distractions, such as grating phone calls from nagging moms, constantly carping couples, "E-mail me" anachronisms and simplistic rhyming dialogue. That's all exacerbated by the fact that the cast, while uniformly capable, doesn't boast a breakout star. As a result, the overall impact of the show has been muted to a degree. (Read Full Review)
Expect none of that in this concert-style tribute, created in concert with Joplin’s estate. It’s not about her vices. It’s about her voice.
Fortunately, powerhouse performer Mary Bridget Davies brings the vocals vividly to life. The husky rasp, pain-streaked shrieks and reckless, full-throttle abandon are all there... A certain willingness to see past the fog of fakery and go with the show increases the enjoyment level. To his credit, writer and director Randy Johnson avoids the all too common “and then I ... ” structure to fill the gaps between songs... She brings up the blues so much that she wrings the color and potency out of the idea and has you seeing red. Better to let the music do the talking.
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This tale is inside baseball. But you don’t have to know what an RBI is to understand a story about heroes and history. Or to savor the terrific key turn by Topol as the metaphor-mangling Yogi. Topol replaced Joe Pantoliano, who quit at the last minute. In theater and baseball, a walk can be followed by a home run.
The title character of the tense Off-Broadway drama “Luce” is a high-achieving teenager who’s named after a word that means light. Over 100 fast-moving minutes, Luce’s parents are reluctantly enlightened to their son’s nature. That sounds tidy enough to be contrived. But the strength of this debut play by JC Lee at LCT3 — Lincoln Center’s arm for young writers — is ambiguity. The story really resides in shadows. The whole cast is equally on point, especially the charismatic Onaodowan. It’s hard not to be unnerved when he tells the rattled Amy, “I’m good at acting surprised.” In other words, what you see isn’t always what you get. That’s sure to make parents shudder.
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* Inhabiting roles played respectively by Tony winner Douglas Hodge and Kelsey Grammer, Fierstein and Sieber make a more believable couple. They're loving, nagging and all-knowing about how to push each other's buttons, if not twist them. That cheeky new bit of business comes when Georges helps Albin man-up for a meeting with their son's future in-laws, the knotty turn of events that drives the plot. A plus-size star with a personality to match, Fierstein brings a lot of heart to Albin, even though his gravelly foghorn voice doesn't capture all of the beauty of "The Best of Times Is Now" and "I Am What I Am." Sieber helps make up for it. Trim, charming and cheerfully frisky, he brings out the very best in "Song on the Sand" and "Look Over There." (Read Full Review)
...[Adjmi] is hardly sticking his neck out by steeping Marie in modern attitudes and rhythms... The play really snaps to life in its second half, when the script blooms with compassion. Rebecca Taichman’s stylishly spare staging and ace cast show off the play to the max. The invaluable Marin Ireland is tireless and terrific as Marie. If her early mean-girl inflections are too obvious (and they are), Ireland’s performance grows in complexity as Marie takes stock and some responsibility as her date with the guillotine looms... Self-awareness trumps snark.
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Ho Jin Yun ("The Last Empress") directs, and his staging is crisp and clean. While an elaborate life-size train is a splashy scenic effect, his simple but striking stage pictures impressed me more. He often cropped the stage in a sort of letterbox fashion and set a lone figure against a vast background. There's something inherently heroic in that tableau.
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[A] briskly funny but blurry dark comedy...In director Anne Kauffmanâ€™s able cast of familiar faces, which includes John Cullum in a late scene, the women stand out. Stage and film vet Ryan...brings a perfect flinty sharpness as a worried wife, while Sokolovic...has a sexy edge as the sociopath-next-door. But the play eventually implodes. It begins as an exploration of the corrosiveness of living with crunched economics and curdled desires, but takes a sharp, not altogether logical, detour. (Read Full Review)
The finest scene finds Juliet backlit on her balcony addressing Romeo at the lip of the stage, practically plopped in one audience member's lap. The unadorned staging eloquently showed their aching passion. It was so simple and striking that it made some of the 3Â¼-hour production's theatrical flourishes feel like overkill. That includes a modern-day framing device, a plastic water bottle during Romeo's suicide and Juliet's munching on a candy bar. (Read Full Review)
Although the Red Bull Theater company's revival seldom matches the power of that striking scenic transformation, director Jesse Berger's staging is always cohesive and boasts a few bold flashes of inspiration ... Rouner strikes the right regal presence, even as she's suffering. She's terrific in a hallucinatory musical moment that comes out of left field. Page is expertly icy as the corrupt man of the cloth, while Saxe finds shadings of oily, sinister and full-tilt loony as the duchess' evil twin. As Bosola, who eventually regrets his actions, Rauch succeeds in making Webster's text sound like everyday conversation. (Read Full Review)
Shows donâ€™t come more up-close or in-your-face. Itâ€™s been built that way by a talented duo â€” adapter Annie Baker, a writer known for small-scale plays such as The Aliens, and director Sam Gold, her frequent collaborator...The cocoonlike space is a fine idea, but everyone in the audience has a poor sightline at some point, no matter whoâ€™s talking...I had to crank my neck to a hard left a bit to see Michael Shannon, outstanding as the besotted doctor and nature boy Astrov, when he describes himself and everyone else as a â€œcreep.â€ (Read Full Review)
It’s not totally a dream. Shakespeare’s pixie-dusted play was chosen as the 34-year-old company’s inaugural show in its new digs partly because the story includes the blessing of a house. There’s lots of love in the air, but the production is a mixed blessing — visually stunning but verbally stunted. On the plus side, Taymor lets her imagination run wild and creates striking stage pictures. That’s classic Taymor — a director unafraid of daring, and potentially perilous, moves. And in the most beautiful and unforgettable moment, a fairy queens floats on an enormous cloth cloud and disappears into the sky. It leaves you wondering: How’d they do that? But back on earth, the audience is asking another question: What’d they say? Speeches come out mush-mouthed or colorless from veterans with classical training and rookies alike…[though] There are, of course, exceptions.
(Read Full Review)
Now at Playwrights Horizons, the show was first commissioned by the Civilians, a troupe known for investigative theater. Steve Cosson, who heads the company, directs a terrific ensemble and evocative production, which includes original music by Michael Friedman.
As Isabella, Danai Gurira gives a similar lift to David Esbjornson's production. This largely unknown actress is unequivocally captivating, and the stakes are at their highest and feelings most impassioned whenever she's on stage. Sure, it's a juicy role to begin with. But she's got a glow and intelligence that makes it something special. Otherwise, it's a sturdy revival of a rather unpleasant and convoluted story. The show is always accessible and flows. (Read Full Review)
If youâ€™ve ever struggled to stay true-blue to your dreams and ambitions you may recognize yourself in The Common Pursuit â€” but in this case youâ€™ll have a posh British accent...Moises Kaufman...directs the Roundabout production. Itâ€™s clean, clear and competent at every corner. (Read Full Review)
Happily, the â€œBrokeback Mountainâ€ Oscar nominee shows off sturdy stage chops in his New York theater debut. Heâ€™s touching, funny and completely convincing as Uncle Terry, a scruffy man-boy chronically adrift, profane, bad with boundaries, but with a good heart. In short, Terry is far from perfect but likable. The same goes for this 90-minute one-act by British playwright Nick Payne, an up-and-comer who puts his own spin on the popular topic of family dysfunction and durability. Despite a tendency to spell out themes and dip into cliches, Payne is blessed with an ear for dialogue that sounds everyday and lived-in. (Read Full Review)
Director Michael Wilson, a seasoned Foote interpreter represented on Broadway with “The Trip to Bountiful,” guides his starry cast with a sure hand. The production design is rich in handsome period details. That can’t camouflage moments that reek of shrill soap opera — louder, less gentle and more cartoonish than Foote’s best works. And drunker. Liquor flows freely in this colorful character study about resilience and patience. At its best it’s a vivid gallery of characters. Typical for Foote, a woman with an outsize presence is at the center. Here there are two.
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This latest work feels far removed from the author's signature Wild West...Rea has the showier part â€” a lonely guy on the edge with an itchy trigger finger who's apt to shoot anything that moves. McGinley is the straight man, but he has a touching late revelation about his wife. Guided by director Jimmy Fay, both sink fully into their roles and are very entertaining. In the Shepard canon, "Moon" isn't so much a giant leap as a modest and thoughtful next step. (Read Full Review)
Katori Hall depicts events of that fateful date as a soul-stirring and eye opening hoot... While The Mountaintop is tall on imagination, it is short on revelations... Camae's oratorical passion shows Hall's writing at its best, but the play's broad sitcom-y jokiness makes the maid seem like a cartoon. Samuel L. Jackson brings low-key confidence as King. The actor is known for playing druggies and killers in films such as Jungle Fever and Pulp Fiction and neatly pulls a 180 in his fine portrait of the civil rights icon... The scene ultimately tells us what we already know, but even so, it's apt to give you a buzz like a mountain high.
Life is messy, and the British playwright Simon Stephens captures that fact. But over 10 short scenes, the drone of willful eccentricity at times drowns out the ring of authenticity...McCannâ€™s rock-solid performance as a woman whoâ€™s anything but goes a long way toward keeping us engrossed. (Read Full Review)
Drawn with poetic license from true events of the '60s, it's one of the most provocative and strange musicals to come along. And that feels right, what with its behind-the-musical back-story...The tale could be played as a joke...But Joy Gregory (book and lyrics) and Gunnar Madsen (music and lyrics) play it with respect, while exploring the complexities of family bonds and how dreams go very wrong...Director John Langs, who helped craft the story, has assembled terrific actors...There's a difference between a fascinating show and a great one. The Shaggs...fits firmly in the former slot. It leaves you plenty to think about. (Read Full Review)
Fanciful but sometimes sluggish...The actors are all likable. The standouts are the deliciously over-the-top Bartlett, whose batty coot wants to live on the moon, and the pungently snarky Wever, whose cunning maid knows the value of earthly riches...There is always something to catch your eye, but that doesn't keep your mind from drifting during the slow and long-winded first act. Happily, Act II picks up the pace and leads to a surprising conclusion. (Read Full Review)
Director Joe Calarco neatly weaves the younger and older boys' adventures and makes inventive use of stepladders, straight-backed chairs and ropes to drive their stories. Like "Yank!" and "The Scottsboro Boys," this presentation by Playwrights Horizons and the Vineyard Theatre shows how to create lots of atmosphere from simple props. Brian Prather's spare wooden set and Chris Lee's moody lighting aid immeasurably. Moody and character-driven, the songs by Chris Miller (music) and Nathan Tysen (lyrics) are well-sung by a talented cast that mines the melodies and rich harmonies for all they're worth...."The Burnt Part Boys" manages to be tense and touching. (Read Full Review)
Sly but slight...Eisenberg is at his neurotically funny best as Edgar, a geeky blogger with nothing to write about but who considers himself an authority on Southeast Asia based on his two-day trip to Cambodia...While the point of Asuncion is mundane and breaks no new ground, it spotlights Eisenbergâ€™s comic gifts as actor and author. As he takes aim at know-it-alls who donâ€™t anything, he proves himself a keen marksman when it comes to pot shots and punch lines. (Read Full Review)
...without a great score it’s got a hole in its heart. Case in point — the fun but flawed “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder"... Directed by Darko Tresnjak, the production is a high-gloss beaut... The best part: the two leads. Bryce Pinkham sings like a dream and brings great appeal to the murderous Monty. “I Am My Own Wife” Tony winner Jefferson Mays musters big laughs as Monty’s victims... Lisa O’Hare and Lauren Worsham display fine comic chops and voices as the women in Monty’s life. Finally, there’s the score, and, alas, it’s a bit of a bore... Their songs are consistently cute — and that’s it... You begin to wonder why they didn’t do “Guide to Love & Murder” as a play. (Read Full Review)
Fry brings warmth and a no-nonsense appeal that makes her worthy of being put on a pedestal, while Steggert works his pliant voice and wounded puppy routine for all it's worth. Kudisch convinces as the pillar of strength who quickly crumbles when he gets a clue to what his wife is worth. (Read Full Review)
If you're going to wrap a show around a writer's life, it helps to pick an author as colorful as her characters. Suzanne Vega, singer-songwriter and, now, playwright, chose very well for her theatrical debut...Vega traces McCullers' life with great warmth, but at times the play's matter-of-factness chafes. Vega isn't fully comfortable acting a role, which is also an issue...Carson McCullers Talks is at its best when the speaking stops and the singing begins. (Read Full Review)
Not much atmosphere from all that travel seeps into this rather static work, which has a central irony: A woman who's a master at gentle, non-abrasive cleaning of inanimate objects is constantly irritating to every person around her ... Shear, known for "Blown Sideways Through Life" and "Dirty Blonde," has written herself a plum part, but it's the warm, funny and richly appealing performance by Jonathan Cake that stands out. He plays an Italian museum guard who befriends Giulia and has a special link to David that extends far beyond chiseled physiques. (Read Full Review)
Compared to the craggy castles, massive wading pools and high-rise slides that served as sets for previous Shakespeare in the Park productions, the simple painted backdrops for “The Comedy of Errors” are understated — but effective. What better way to set the scene in Syracuse than a bus station in upstate New York? That depot, done up in rich Edward Hopper tones by John Lee Beatty, marks the starting point for the Bard’s early short work. The play is a vehicle that runs on laughing gas, and it gets the Public’s free al fresco summer theater off on a light and goofy start. Though it never quite tips into hilarious territory, it’s a fun 90-minute diversion. (Read Full Review)
Beyond the tasty eye candy, the show isnâ€™t so easy on the ears. Passages of the Bardâ€™s poetry are delivered with all the music of a tune played on a rusty saw. Sometimes, the enchanted young lovers sound like theyâ€™re reading a â€œGossip Girlâ€ script. Making up for tone-deaf deliveries are some excellent ones. Steven Skybell, as Bottom, the weaver and wanna-be actor who becomes Titaniaâ€™s asinine object of affection, talks the talk expertly. And David Greenspan is very endearing as artisan-actor Flute. He makes the play within the play simply, well, dreamy. (Read Full Review)
[A] clever but repetitive comedy...Playing Vanda, a seemingly ditzy and desperate actress auditioning for a job, [Arianda] is so funny, smart and sexy that watching her brings unexpected jolts like an electrical shock...Director Walter Bobbieâ€™s swift staging matches the snap and pop of the tangy one-liners Ives...has packed into the work. But heâ€™s also built in redundancy. After a fantastic first hour, the story restates whatâ€™s already been said. (Read Full Review)
Neuroscience, sci-fi cinema and self-revelations merge and make for an intriguing but elusive story...Picked could be a riff on the Faustian bargain. Or a cautionary tale about telling all. It brings to mind cultures who avoid having their pictures taken because they believe it can leech away their spirit. Shinn leaves things vague, with a glint of optimism. Michael Wilson's staging is sleek, handsome and well-acted. And Stahl-David (Cloverfield) gives a brilliantly natural performance. Still, when all was said and done in Picked, a brain scan on me would have shown my confusion. (Read Full Review)
Greg, an ordinary guy at the heart of “Reasons to Be Happy,” grapples with commitment. It’s easy for ordinary theatergoers to be similarly wishy-washy about Neil LaBute’s new play. Over two acts and as many hours, the contemporary comedy-drama runs in circles and states the obvious: People are difficult and sometimes crazy — and so is love. LaBute has a keen ear for conversational dialogue in all its profane, funny and inelegant glory. Under his direction, the fine ensemble navigates emotional and story-line twists. But LaBute oversells the idea that his characters have no use for education or self-expansion. If Kent isn’t grabbing Greg’s book and mispronouncing its author, John Steinbeck, as John Steenbeck, Steph is loudly expressing disdain for reading and world travel. “We live in America, for God’s sake,” she huffs. Presumably the author’s intent is to show the blue-collar characters’ small lives, but the lines sound false and toll with condescension. No reasons to be happy about that.
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Michael has two mommies. There’s the rich, vain one who bore him and casually abandoned him when the going got rough, and there’s the poor, selfless one who risked her neck and stuck by him through thick and thin. Which woman deserves to be the boy’s parent?…Brecht’s brand of theater is all about distance and dry-eyed detachment. But this time Brecht brings a little lump in the throat, thanks to Elizabeth A. Davis’ key performance in this accessible revival at Classic Stage Company. The production boasts a genial, fresh score by Duncan Sheik (“Spring Awakening”) and sly bits of audience participation. But [Christopher Lloyd’s] sloppy, slurry diction muddies his performance and makes [the second act] less interesting than it should be. That’s the verdict on the judge, who mars an otherwise straight-up show.
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At Signature Center, Eve Enslerâ€™s â€œEmotional Creature: The Secret Life of Girls Around the Worldâ€ merges monologues, solo songs and group numbers to present a global snapshot at issues facing young women today. The construction hews close to Enslerâ€™s iconic â€œVagina Monologues,â€ so thereâ€™s an unavoidable sense of here-we-go-again. Making it fresh are six talented newcomers â€” Ashley Bryant, Molly Carden, Emily S. Grosland, Joaquina Kalukango, Sade Namei and Olivia Oguma â€” assembled by director Jo Bonney. â€œItâ€™s a girl thing,â€ they finally declare in unison. These bright performers make it a worthwhile thing. (Read Full Review)
[A] likable, low-impact new drama...Something resembling plot doesnâ€™t even emerge until five minutes before intermission...Charmanâ€™s sharp ear for dialogue and keen eye for character, plus very good acting keep you hooked...Carolyn Cantor directs the typically topnotch Manhattan Theatre Club production...The whole cast delivers excellent performances. (Read Full Review)
[The show] remains hot and sweaty, energetic and intriguing, rough and ragged. The [show’s] puzzles pull you in. So do all four performances. The score, as before, is problematic. Some songs are propulsive or pretty or both. But they sometimes too closely conjure “Rent,” and rhymes like “funny,” “sunny” and “honey” make the lyrics simplistic and wince-worthy. Trip Cullman’s detailed staging helps redeem things. The Union Square has been reconfigured so that the action happens around the audience. You could say that theatergoers are “immersed” in the grubby bar setting, which includes a pool table. But “implicated” is more like it. For all its edge, “Murder Ballad” is conservative, cautionary stuff. Go straight home, it warns. Don’t let this sort of affair happen to you.
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But the creators go overboard at times. In the song “You and Me, Toilet,” the daughter laments all the indignities. “What would you say, toilet, if you were able to speak?” she asks. “You’d probably say, ‘I’ve got poop on my face.’ Well, toilet, I feel that way, too.”
Two audience members walked out of the show during that squirm-inducing moment. Too bad, because they missed the beautiful ballad “Apple and Tree.” It’s a haunting song in which the daughter reflects her unbreakable bond with her mom. (Read Full Review)
Comedies get old. Funny is evergreen. Presented as evidence, "The Royal Family." At the ripe old age of 82, it remains an amusing look at the lunacies of the theater and the neurotics in it - that is, actors. Manhattan Theatre Club's new production of the vintage play is handsome, sturdy and diverting, even if it doesn't bring the gale-force guffaws you want. (Read Full Review)
Bette Midler didn’t become the Divine Miss M by idling. She strutted, boogie-woogied and gunned it — at times on wheels in mermaid drag. Midler does none of that playing the late-’70s Hollywood talent agent Sue Mengers in the funny but vaporously thin solo show, “I’ll Eat You Last.” Fortunately, Midler is a riot simply sitting still and dishing the dirt. That’s the state of the art in “I’ll Eat You Last.” It goes down like a bucket of hot-buttered popcorn, with about that much nutritional value. But Midler is delicious and worth crossing the playground to get a ticket.
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Treadwell’s play is stylish but slight. It does, however, provide compelling evidence for the gifts of British director Lyndsey Turner, whose New York debut demands you sit bolt upright and take notice. To create the mood of a woman trapped, Turner and her ace design team place her inside a rotating box that morphs with each scene. Purring with sleekly elegant beauty, the physical staging is the star here. What follows is illogical plotting. “Machinal” doesn’t elicit strong reaction — but it’s well served by the world and well-oiled machine created by Turner.
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Leguizamo's loyal and loudly responsive audience â€” out in force during a recent viewing of the show that just extended due to demand for tickets â€” doesn't seem to mind him revisiting old material and retracing some steps. And while references to his turbulent childhood smack of "Freak" and women woes conjure "Sexaholix ... A Love Story," two of his previous shows, no one could accuse Leguizamo of going through the motions. He hits the stage like a gale force Hispanic hurricane â€” running, dancing, doing splits, before pausing to get at why he's really here: "I love spilling my guts out for you."
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[A] nicely performed but overly tame and unsurprising musical about notorious Depression-era outlaws...Lack of mystery proves to be one of the showâ€™s biggest stumbling blocks. A whipsawing tone between high drama and silly comedy is another...On the plus side, thereâ€™s much to enjoy musically. Wildhorn...delivers a jaunty and evocative score, an appealing patchwork of Americana â€” blues, gospel and fiddle-filled rockabilly...The show's best assets are the criminally talented Osnes and Jordan. (Read Full Review)
The love bug has stung John Patrick Shanley again. That’s obvious from his new play, “Outside Mullingar,” a modest and quirky little heart-tugger. Like his Oscar-winning screenplay for “Moonstruck,” the play is a valentine to the wonder and weirdness of love. As far as plot goes…the story ultimately leads to predictable rom-com territory. To his credit, Shanley factors in some surprises to keep us intrigued…Compared to Shanley’s Tony-and Pulitzer-winning drama, “Doubt,” which provided meaty food for thought about power, religion and sex, his sophomore Broadway venture is merely a pleasant snack. If you’re simply looking to be entertained — and don’t have a problem spending $70 for light fare — it won’t disappoint. That’s certainly true of the fine-tuned cast, guided by Doug Hughes, who also directed “Doubt.” Together, O’Byrne and Messing have lovely chemistry.
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Transformation motors Bertolt Brecht’s “A Man’s a Man.” The obscure 1926 play about a man’s ever-changing nature is back in a Downtown revival infused with, and boosted by, terrific music by Duncan Sheik. The first half delivers a clean, smooth, energetic ride and buckles you in tight. But the second act is shaggy, inert, less musical and loses its grip. Part of the problem owes to the rough-hewn play itself, but some issues are in sluggish pacing. Overall, performances click.
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Kin unfolds as 20 brief vignettes and except for one or two oddball moments, each scene emerges so sharp, plain-spoken and perceptive that they could all stand alone as a playlet. Taken in total, they really get under your skin. Scenes play out on a big white rectangular picture frame, as though presenting various moments as snaphots from the characters' lives. Credit director Sam Gold for that good idea. (Read Full Review)
The play, like a lot of speeches, is witty but long-winded. At times itâ€™s implausible. At others itâ€™s prescient...Director Michael Wilsonâ€™s cast is like the U.S. flag â€” stars of every stripe from film, TV and stage...Vidalâ€™s characters are a mashup of political celebs of the era when he wrote the late 1950s. But hopefuls whoâ€™ve come and gone and are stumping today fit the mold. (Read Full Review)
[A] slim but clever comedy...Exactly how this contained universe operates within the real world is left very fuzzy. We just have to take a leap, which is okay. But when Katha, now called Kathy, encourages other members to mistreat Asian-American Ryu for authenticityâ€™s sake, Harrison stretches the â€œwhat if?â€ scenario too far. Still, director Anne Kauffmanâ€™s staging is an enjoyable ride thanks to a uniformly sparkly cast. (Read Full Review)
Lynn Redgrave shakes her famous family tree again for a new solo play. Presented by Manhattan Theatre Club, "Nightingale" is a moving fantasia inspired by her maternal grandmother, Beatrice Kempson...Believing that "no one dies who is remembered," Redgrave reverses the impact of time and erosion and memorializes her grandmother. She relies on bits of history and ample doses of imagination to parallel her life experiences with those of her motherâ€™s mother. The scenes that are founded in truth land solidly. The play loses its way when itâ€™s clear that Redgrave has fabricated events. That includes an unconsummated flirtation between Kempson and a lower-class farmer that haunts the woman until her death and gives the show its title. It sends the story into mushy romance-novel territory â€” think, "The Bridges of Devonshire County." But Redgrave is such an elegant and evocative actress that she makes up for flaws in the writing. (Read Full Review)
For all its pleasures, there are issues. The chief one is that it seems infatuated with its own ingeniousness -- charming cheekiness turns into exhausting overkill. Also, the hard-to-understand songs serve only to bloat the running time to 2Â½ hours. Fortunately, the terrific design work and performances help you look beyond that, even as you're glancing at your watch.
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America Ferrera is famous for playing “Ugly Betty.” Now, in “Bethany,” a spiky little modern morality tale for anxious times, the Emmy winner stars as the dire Crystal. While [playwright] Marks’ modest work breaks no new territory, her play is topical and all too easy to relate to. She scores bonus points for jabs at can-do gurus. They’re the people who can do more harm than good with their empty “you can succeed and if you don’t, it’s your fault” slogans. Director Gaye Taylor Upchurch’s production boasts brisk pacing, an efficient production design and a fine-tuned ensemble. Far from her eager-to-please TV role, Betty Suarez, Ferrera anchors “Bethany” with a strong, straight-up portrait of a single mom under pressure. Crystal’s future, like so many people struggling against the tide, is anything but clear. (Read Full Review)
Itâ€™s a very traditional 2 1/2-hour musical hybrid. Trimming â€œP&Bâ€ makes it very accessible. But it doesnâ€™t elevate it. The 1935 opera was sung-through. Broadwayâ€™s new arrival directed by Diane Paulus (â€œHairâ€) and adapted by Suzan-Lori Parks (â€œTopdog/Underdogâ€) and Diedre L. Murray has spoken dialogue lifted from lyrics. (Trevor Nunnâ€™s slightly longer version I saw in 2006
in London did likewise â€” and had the same title.) Porgy, the crippled beggar, walks with a cane and leg brace instead of a goat-drawn cart.As for that rumored upbeat ending? Not there. What makes this production special are its two leads and those enduring, joyous, jewel-toned numbers, like â€œSummertimeâ€ and â€œLeaving for the Promised Land.â€ (Read Full Review)
The bottom line emerges soon enough: Life is a like a tasting menu â€” savor every bite. If that idea is warmed-over (it is) and he repeats himself midway in (he does), the play is always entertaining. It also skillfully captures the cacophony and complexity of a family. Director Sam Gold is in his element with this story packed with humanity and humor. His nimble multitasking cast keeps the show moving
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After finishing in last place Off-Broadway, “Bronx Bombers” spent the off-season retooling for Broadway’s big league. All the rigorous exercise — along with some canny tweaks — over the past three months has paid off. The central tension — a perennial Yankee saga about team tradition versus personal stardom — is better illuminated. The formerly bipolar halves of the show — part drama, part dream sequence — now fit together better. It’s too bad that writer and director Eric Simonson’s play is still choked by sentiment…Unfortunately, the promising provocative talk of the opening innings gets benched for mushier hero worship and backward glances at glory days. When all is said and done, “Bronx Bombers” is too feel-good and fawning for its own good.
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Marriage and friendship, specifically the end cuts of each, are the main courses of “Dinner With Friends.” It’s back Off-Broadway in a revival that is perfectly well done, but which still can’t mask the work’s skimpiness. Seriously, where’s the beef? That goes double considering that this sincere but unsurprising play by Donald Margulies won the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 2000. Pam MacKinnon’s Roundabout staging is clean, clear and handsome. All four performances are convincing and lived-in. Hinkle and Shamos are especially fine at capturing the intimacy of a longtime couple. Food looms relatively large in the play. There’s talk of lamb and risotto, fancy wines and elaborate desserts making sly use of polenta. All the culinary details add texture. Ironically, the big issue with “Dinner With Friends” is that it’s too vanilla.
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If you've never seen Dreamgirls on stage, it's worthwhile. And though it doesn't hit euphoric heights, there's an exciting vibe that the hit film can't capture. Plus, you can't beat the added you-are-there bonus since the Apollo is where the show's plot begins and ends. (Read Full Review)
It's exciting to see The Scottsboro Boys on Broadway boasting so many things a musical should have. That includes good songs, a provocative story (not from a movie), a rousing staging and a hugely talented cast. But it also has a split personality. It wants to shock; it yearns to charm. They're not always compatible goals...You're left zigzagging between parody and poignancy...The songwriters and book writer David Thompson missed the opportunity to better flesh out the men. They remain as sweetly but sketchily drawn as they were in last spring's Vineyard Theatre run...Scottsboro Boys isn't perfect, but it's worthwhile. It deserves credit for tackling a slice of history that needs to be known. (Read Full Review)
Patinkin delivers a characteristically passionate and at times overwrought star turn...What Compulsion is ultimately about is how history is preserved - whether it's the Holocaust or one man's story. Without Anne Frank, Silver is yet another rejected artist with an undying grudge. But the specter of the doomed young diarist gives his story heft and resonance. Groff's poetic use of marionettes - beautifully designed by Matt Acheson and artfully operated by three puppeteers - adds texture to director Oskar Eustis' sensitive staging...For all of its poignance, Compulsion has an unsolvable problem at its heart. There is no way to know if Sid's play was superior or if he was a victim of anti-Semitism or a corporate runaround. (Read Full Review)
Jackson leaves circumstances of the so-called miracle vague. What he's interested in is the aftermath. That's fine, but sketchiness and too-easy turnarounds subtract from what could have been a weightier story. Chalk... anchors the fine ensemble with his persuasive performance. Amanda Mason Warren lends solid support in a small part of Damon's younger sister. Kail's sober production feels just right.
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Despite some missteps, this Sisters is mostly sturdy and satisfying...A key to Three Sisters is maintaining the integrity of the playwright's world. Pendleton's production, including Marco Piemontese's fine costumes, respect the early 1900s, but Paul Schmidt's translation throws in colloquialisms ("weird," "dumpy," "Andy") that are jarringly contemporary. The same goes for Marin Ireland's cartoony take on Natasha, who marries the sisters' useless brother, Andrey (Josh Hamilton) and destroys everyone's lives. Is the thoroughly modern Mean Girl her choice or the director's? Either way, the character is in a different play. Fortunately, the rest of the cast is on the same page. (Read Full Review)
Hallâ€™s use of rap â€” performed in solos and in groups â€” gives the well-worn plot some distinction, while director Patricia McGregorâ€™s evocative and energetic staging makes smart use of the theaterâ€™s two levels.At 2 3/4 hours, the play could benefit from pruning. (Read Full Review)
Raised in Brooklyn, Quinn has a poker-faced persona and on-edge delivery which works very well here. Between him and Seinfeld, the show has great flow and punch. To his credit, Quinn is not one of those comics who cracks himself up. But cramming a couple of thousand years of material into a one-act is no mean feat. He tends to rush, trailing off before he finishes thoughts and sentences. Otherwise, it's a polished act. And with Broadway prices for an act that's just an hour and change, it should be. That's no joke. (Read Full Review)
Mitnick scores points for tackling a shopworn topic from a fresh angle and for dabbing his comedy with gutsy bittersweetness. On the downside, the play is too ambiguous for its own good. Just how Ginny's spot-on visions manifest and make her face up to hard truths remains a nagging mystery. The author's point is also a puzzler. A solid setup and chatty scenes don't add up to a persuasive and satisfying play. (Read Full Review)
School is in session on Broadway at Robert Schenkkan’s “All the Way,” the talky but terrifically acted poli-sci seminar about President Lyndon Johnson… [Cranston] is at the height of his power playing a commander-in-chief striving to harness his own... Johnson isn’t drawn with great nuance and the performance matches its construction… “All the Way” could be called “All You Can Eat” (as in, the scenery)… Whenever Cranston is on stage, and that’s often, he creates a force field of energy and focus. The diffuse play needs all the help in can get in that regard, though Schenkkan, who won a Pulitzer for “The Kentucky Cycle,” has clearly done his research. The dialogue can be potent… It’s also longwinded… Even when “All the Way” comes up short, Cranston consistently gives a contact high. (Read Full Review)
Hold on ... Human body parts ...? This question proves how far afield the play, directed with style by Carl Andress, goes for impact. Frankly, it’s too far and the play gets unwieldy in the second half. Still, Busch (“The Divine Sister”) lands laughs — with a line, a reading, a look. Hanging out with Busch and his company is a good time — even if this show feels like a tribute to Busch’s better plays. (Read Full Review)
The new production at Signature Center offers a worthwhile revival of this spiky but symbol-sodden look at life and death. Jane Alexander is the marquee name, but itâ€™s the acid-etched turn by Laila Robins that burrows deep into the skin... The Act I dialogue is fast and nasty, but often interrupted as characters address the audience â€” a device that eventually chafes... The theme of identity and the questions â€œWho are you?â€ and â€œWho am I?â€ blow through Lady like prevailing winds. And although Albee leaves Elizabeth and Oscar as gray areas â€” literally, in their pale slate-colored clothes â€” itâ€™s no mystery who they are. Especially when Esbjornson has Alexander work a shawl like sheâ€™s testing its wingspan.
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Cumming is an always engaging and versatile actor... Directors John Tiffany and Andrew Goldberg layer the production with spooky sounds and moody music and keep Cumming on the move... even with all that, this solo stab at the Bard proves to be a case of diminishing returns. The concept becomes less interesting as it goes on. Shakespeare completists will be intrigued. Audience members unfamiliar with the story and who’s who will be lost.
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Oscar winner Gooding Jr. and Williams do what they can with the cliched roles of the sad-faced mama’s boy and glamour-puss shrew you love to hate. Even with direction from Michael Wilson, who knows his way around Foote’s works, their scenes come off as very tinny. (Read Full Review)
The verbal volleys continue in Richard Greenberg’s warm-hearted but wispy group portrait of how families regroup, surprise and survive. It’s no fluke that his script begins and ends with the word “Yes.” As in his “Three Days of Rain,” Greenberg’s latest work at Manhattan Theatre Club, directed by Lynne Meadow, leaps decades, reminding that time works in unpredictable ways. (Read Full Review)
"The best thing about me is that I understand what's so irritating about me," says Ellen, a freelance journalist and full-time liberal. But she doesn't. She's smart and unabashedly longwinded -- like the play -- but lacks self-awareness...Kron...and frequent collaborator director Leigh Silverman make the ping-ponging political arguments crackle. And although the play withers in the second act, there's value in its message: Keep an eye on the chaos others leave in their wake, yes, but watch your own rear-view mirror, too. (Read Full Review)
Hanks, a Hollywood A-lister and two-time Oscar winner, delivers a colorful and compelling star turn as the Daily News Pulitzer Prize winner. Sporting a mustache and bracing gusto, Hanks looks the part and nails McAlary’s gutsy bravado and cocky bluster.
But although it’s heartfelt, the show is a hodgepodge. Long-winded and overly linear, it skates along on a just-the-facts-ma’am surface like a typical TV movie bio. The script was originally written for HBO. (Read Full Review)
...overstuffed “Cinderella” isn’t exactly a happily ever after... [But]the songs are delicious and wonderfully performed. William Ivey Long’s costumes are colorful and kicky and have surprises tucked up their sleeves... The show’s greatest assets are its stars. Laura Osnes and Santino Fontano are the cutest couple on Broadway... Delicate glass slippers are the name of the game in “Cinderella” but this show, directed by Mark Brokaw, moves like it’s wearing lead overshoes... Credit book writer Douglas Carter Beane, a talented and creative dramatist, who’s gone overboard. His reimagined book is larded with subplots and repetitive plot strands... these revisions just make “Cinderella” longer.
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Daniel Pearle's thoughtful but overstuffed drama follows a Manhattan couple as they struggle to get their 4-year-old son Jake into the right private school. At a point, however, Pearle layers on enough twists to turn the focus hazy. He also tucks in an 11th-hour fantasy scene between Alex (Carla Gugino) and a nurse (Michelle Beck) that throws his carefully built slice of realism off-kilter. With so much going on at once, it’s a play that might benefit from another draft -- or a timeout. (Read Full Review)
Ruhl, who's up for a Tony for In the Next Room, or the vibrator play, fills Passion Play with her typical mix of poetry, humor and bite. It doesn't pack the cumulative punch you'd want after such a long ride, that's because the final chapter, written years after the first two and expressly anti-war in its theme, doesn't fit squarely with the former two. And at times the symbolism becomes heavy-handed, as in the middle chapter when a Village Idiot (Polly Noonan) obsesses about Hansel and Gretel in the witch's oven. (Read Full Review)
Matthew Lopez deserves credit for coming up with a fresh approach in his compelling but incomplete play...The promising first-time playwright imagines a story at the end of Civil War in April 1865 about a Jewish Confederate soldier and two ex-slaves who were raised in his faith. Directed by Doug Hughes ("Doubt"), the intensely acted and scrupulously designed production gets off to a gripping start...Lopez's conceit â€” supported by some historical research â€” is about faith and freedom and draws an obvious parallel to the story of the Exodus. The play asks whether this southern Jewish family treated their slaves differently. (The title might be a clue.) It's a provocative idea but the drama could benefit from more context and deeper exploration...[The] play sags when it becomes about conventional storytelling â€” melodramatic secrets, not seders. (Read Full Review)
Diamond shows a flair for everyday speech as delivered by this bunch of brainiacs. But as she juggles complicated issues of race, class and the devastation of absentee fathers, her play rocks schizophrenically between substantive drama and a quippy â€œCosbyâ€ clone. At 2-3/4 hours, â€œStick Flyâ€ could benefit from some tightening. Ditto the ensemble directed by Kenny Leon, whose staging of â€œThe Mountaintopâ€ is also running on Broadway. Rashad (of â€œRuinedâ€) is feisty and fine as a young woman facing her past and future. Phifer (â€œERâ€) and Benton (â€œSaturn Returnsâ€) give consistently smart and appealing performances as interracial lovers. On the other hand, the talented Thoms, known for â€œRentâ€ on stage and film, finishes nearly every sentence with a nervous gulping giggle. It doesnâ€™t fly. (Read Full Review)
"Luck of the Irish," a sly title, is ultimately about inequity, or, more specifically, perceived injustice. Ironically, the halves of Greenidge's play aren't made equally, so it makes for a lopsided evening. Scenes in the '50s are more provocative, original and better acted, although the Donovans' motivations aren’t fully explored or explained. And for what’s at stake, the play is too polite. That's one of the lessons of the play -- you can't always get what you want or what you think is fair.
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/music-arts/theater-review-luck-irish-article-1.1260984#ixzz2KpwBybge (Read Full Review)
Set in motion by an act of misogyny that would make Neil LaBute lick his chops, Dogfight seems more likely to yelp and whimper than sing. But sing this uneven new Off-Broadway musical does â€” and at times beautifully, thanks to work by the young composers-lyricists Benj Pasek and Justin Paul...The musicalâ€™s biggest issue is that the creators havenâ€™t solved the big obstacle: Circumstances that bring Eddie and Rose together are repulsive...The show improves in the second half. (Read Full Review)
Never underestimate the power of low-tech theatrics to create high-impact wonder.... Along with the simple but effective stage trickery, rip-roaring battles with swords and guns go a long way in making this take on Robert Louis Stevenson's classic coming-of-age adventure an exhilarating entertainment. Still, there's a long way to go - and a complex story to tell. And all too often the adaptation by Vernon Morris and Tony-winning fight choreographer B.H. Barry, who also directs, becomes so long-winded and repetitive that it loses its grip on you. (Read Full Review)
Wallace Shawn’s ponderous but eventually seductive 1996 play “The Designated Mourner” has been revived at the Public Theater with the original cast and director of the 2000 New York production. It’s a show with a high body count — but what’s really being grieved here is a dumbed-down world. “I’m the designated mourner,” whispers Shawn, recalling Yoda, as Andre Gregory’s three-hour production begins.
He explains that some cultures appoint a keeper of memories. He then ceremoniously strikes a match and sets a scroll ablaze. That tiny pyre stays with you because it’s wonderfully theatrical. But you also wish Shawn would light a fire under his willfully slow-moving tale.
(Read Full Review)
Hudes, who wrote the book to the musical "In the Heights," has an ear for dialogue and offhanded humor. Describing his mother's many skeletons, Elliot says, "She's an archeological dig." The show is less successful when it turns overly poetic — or strives for significance, including a final image that reaches for something holy. "Water by the Spoonful” is a fine play. It'd be better if it didn't underestimate audiences and spoonfeed them. (Read Full Review)
It's all too uncommon when a play gooses your brain as nimbly as it juices your emotions. Tom Stoppard's dazzling drama Arcadia does exactly that. Back on Broadway 16 years after its original run in a revival from London directed by David Leveaux, the production brightens New York's theater landscape, but it's not without a few clouds. Chief among them are some jarring key performances and vexing patches of muddy diction. In a play so unapologetically and unforgivingly dense, every word counts. (Read Full Review)
Regrettably, “Bare” sags from the same overly familiar and narrow focus that worked against it in a developmental version I’d seen in 2004. It seems more than ever stuck in a time warp. The kids on stage may carry iPhones, but the psychology seems rooted in another decade, definitely one pre-“Glee.” Some of the songs are surprisingly big-hearted and affecting. Despite predictable turns and characters — including another bad girl who dispenses drugs, a jock bully and a clueless priest — there are funny lines. (Read Full Review)
Radcliffe is a likable but very boyish presence. He shows off a pleasant singing voice as corporate climber J. Pierrepont Finch, but he's waxen and not animated enough to make Finch soar...Still, director-choreographer Rob Ashford's production is bright, cheerful and energetic, that's for sure. But at times its supersized mentality and occasionally garish qualities compete with the sleek and sophisticated brilliance of the material...The show is packed with stunning visuals...The supporting cast lend colorful support...The show has one of the best finales ever with "Brotherhood of Man," a number in which all the stops are pulled. At last we see Radcliffe cut loose with the rest of the company in this rousing celebration. If only the rest of this "How to" had climbed to such exuberant and dizzying heights. (Read Full Review)
In "Parlour Song," his 2008 Off-Broadway marital mystery, Butterworth showed gifts for richly textured atmosphere and characters to match. He uses that expertise again in "Jerusalem," an ambitious work bursting with sly humor and a few mystical moments. But the play, which runs more than three hours, yields diminishing returns. The plot goes in circles and collapses during a contrived meeting between Johnny and Marky. Fortunately, Rylance keeps you from tuning out. He won the 2008 Tony for his hilarious clowning in "Boeing-Boeing," and in "La Bete" earlier this season, he was sheer delight as a buffoonish actor. (Read Full Review)
Kaller's direction is clean and clear, but the play has a strange way of drawing you in and then pushing you away. At times, a character says something so real you think: I know this person. In the next breath, a way too clever quip makes you think: No one would say that. Corman and Breen are terrific actors, but their characters suffer from severe pull-me, push-me syndrome. Luke's bigoted dad, Butch (Cotter Smith), and jittery jaw-flapping mother, Arlene (Connie Ray), emerge as types, not actual people. Sean Dugan plays Luke's friend Brandon, another devout Christian, and delivers the most authentic performance. Perhaps that's because he's not required to pound out a punch line a minute - thank God. (Read Full Review)
Miller, making her Broadway debut, is improbably beautiful, every inch the "fine-looking filly" John calls her. She's committed and competent, but her performance is a shade monochromatic, not modulated enough to make Miss Julie's jagged edges sharp. Jonny Lee Miller, whose rÃ©sumÃ© is studded with London theater roles plus TV's "Eli Stone," also makes his New York debut. He's a dynamic, striking presence as the servant whose post-coital glow turns to ice once reality bites. Marin Ireland completes the cast as John's pragmatic fiancee, Christine, the family cook. A Tony nominee for Reasons to Be Pretty, she adds sizzle with withering stares that could peel paint - or flay flesh. (Read Full Review)
A light-hearted romp, but unfortunately, itâ€™s not as intoxicating as youâ€™d hope. Yes, star turns by Matthew Broderick and Kelli Oâ€™Hara give you a buzz. Ditto the classic George and Ira Gershwin showtunes, even though many of the songs are shoehorned in. If the show was all-singing and dancing, it could get by on charm alone. But the story by Joe DiPietro (Memphis), which closely mimics 1920s musicals, is a rusty antique knockoff, that sobers you up faster than a cup of black coffee. Why spend so much energy making something new thatâ€™s already old?..Marshall's production numbers are clever and polished. (Read Full Review)
Too bad a great musical isn’t only about the music. The book is crucial, too — and this show’s connect-the-dots story line is so simplistic that the extravagantly talented King’s life emerges as a mundane version of the long-suffering little woman... So if you crave real insight, drama or context about the world of pop music and its dog-eat-dog ugliness, cherish your memories of “Dreamgirls.” But on the plus side, songs flow naturally... The group numbers recall other jukebox shows, but they’re energizing... Under the direction of Marc Bruni, the whole cast delivers... Best of all is Mueller...
War is hell. So is love. Let’s dance. And let’s talk, too. That’s the formula for director-choreographer Martha Clarke’s compact and compelling — but uneven — dance-theater mashup of Colette’s classic, “Cheri.” Both performers [Alessandra Ferri and Herman Cornejo] are a whirl of sensuality, grace and muscle, demonstrating the heat of the May-December affair through expressive arms and legs and leaps. Clarke’s staging is lush. Her work has rightly been described as moving pictures — and here the intertwined lovers and rumpled bedsheets resemble classical paintings. Pianist Sarah Rothenberg accompanies the lithe movements with melancholy works of Ravel and Debussy, but the show isn’t just a pas de deux — there’s drama, too. Irving, as always, is an elegant presence with a creamy voice. But the four speeches are intrusive.
(Read Full Review)
The question of why Jason is really doing this creepy job becomes clear, and Hinderake wraps up various plot threads tidily without being too sticky in Hallmark sentiment. Designers Daniel Zimmerman (sets), Jessica Wegener Shay (costumes), Zach Blane (lights) and Chad Raines (sound) deliver impressive work. As staged by Berry, scenes flow from one to another smoothly as the actors push tables, chairs and couches into place with repetitive machinelike efficiency. Thatâ€™s no fluke â€” you could see becoming an automaton as a soul-deadening experience. But the play reminds why there are reasons to live. (Read Full Review)
Weitzâ€™s funny-tender story concerns troubled souls struggling to get and keep their bearings. Itâ€™s an enjoyable ride but suffers from a tendency to spell things out â€” whether itâ€™s those pre-scene titles or
Heatherâ€™s mom talking about her daughter walking on a tightrope. (Read Full Review)
While the play by Bekah Brunstetter wants to be an honest look at a timely topic, it's about as deep as your average sitcom. In lieu of fresh insights, there are a few laughs...Director Evan Cabnet guides his fine cast skillfully as the action moves between the family kitchen and an upstairs bedroom, the scene of various clinches...The work has issues, but also shows her sharp ear for capturing everyday speech. I also admire that she doesn't sugarcoat her female characters. The sisters are about as unlikable as they are unsympathetic. It may sound odd, but Oohrah! to that. (Read Full Review)
The show falters in its inconsistent tone. When a campy scene immediately follows a very serious, even tragic, one, it's self-sabotage. There's a question of taste and priorities. Does this musical really need a song about cruising men in bathrooms? Stage time is precious stuff, after all. Moments spent on that song, and an ill-fitting dream ballet â€” yes, dream ballet! â€” could have been better used for tunes in which we get to know more about Stu, who's pretty sketchy, and Mitch, who's barely there. Director Igor Goldin makes the most of the material and stages the production with economy and low-tech grace. He shows that all you need to make theatrical magic is four sliding panels. And a gifted cast. (Read Full Review)
What made the â€œMarry Meâ€ motor purr the first time around was that the Sondheim songs threading it together were unknown, since most had been cut from his early shows. Three decades later, the music is familiar and the element of surprise is gone. The exception: â€œRainbows,â€ the newest number, a pretty and incisive song cut from an unmade movie of â€œInto the Woods.â€ Performing alone and together, Tam and Molina, who also plays cello, are game and appealing â€” no more, no less. Her teary take on the title song impressed, as did his rousing â€œHappily Ever After.â€ They blended sweetly on the wistful â€œSo Many People.â€ (Read Full Review)
In the disturbingly funny “How to Make Friends and Then Kill Them,” [Feiffer] relies on a troubled trio to create a provocative but not-so-deep surrealistic fable about codependence. Director Kip Fagan establishes the pitch before a word is spoken. Aggressively phony laughter signals an over-the-top tone. Eventually that sustained exaggeration gets wearying… Feiffer, recently seen acting in Ethan Coen’s play “Women or Nothing,” goes to extreme measures for such a worthwhile, if obvious, message. (Read Full Review)
… [Hawke] churns up a cauldronful of emotions — from shaky uncertainty to bold determination — and ably anchors Shakespeare’s tragedy. But, in the end, he’s upstaged by a beguiling bouquet of blood red roses and some stage magic… Elsewhere, the staging is thorny and hit-and-miss. Director Jack O’Brien… envisions the tale of unbridled ambition as a living nightmare. That fits... In an inspired stroke, the witches assume other roles, too… performances are all over the map. On the plus side, British actress Anne-Marie Duff rocks steady in her Broadway debut as Lady Macbeth… Richard Easton and Brian d’Arcy James lend gravity, respectively, as the doomed Duncan and Banquo. On the downside, Daniel Sunjata (“Rescue Me,” “Take Me Out”) has the rugged presence to be a great Macduff, but speaks too floridly. Jonny Orsini, so fine last season in “The Nance,” is too farm-fresh as Malcolm… [Hawke] shows little sign of the froggy-throated hoarseness that often pocks his stage performances. As Macbeth, he talks the talk and walks the walk — straight to hell. (Read Full Review)
Despite some awkward dancing around a Big Event from the past, Smithâ€™s dialogue sounds real and there are smart observations about how lives get irreparably connected and tangled...In the capable cast, Tobias Segal stands out as Jesse, a volatile drug dealer with astute perceptions of people and politics. Ultimately, however, Bad Guys suffers from Smith juggling so many story lines that her point gets obscured. (Read Full Review)
The seldom-revived play still burns. Through mid-July, it can be seen uptown at New Haarlem Arts Center, CCNY's new professional theater inside Aaron Davis Hall. The fine production marks a promising launch for the theater. But after nearly a half-century, the play's retro earnestness and heavyhandedness has downgraded its blaze from four-alarm to something less explosive. (Read Full Review)
The show continues to make for an easygoing evening. And it would be a whole lot more fun if it would just chill and trim some of the hard sell...The performances are a mixed bag...This show's biggest issue is a pervasive amped-up, overzealous tone, whether it's onstage or as the tribe constantly roams the audience. One guy near me got a flower, a flyer, two head rubs. I was waiting for him to get a haircut...Splitting hairs? Possibly. It's a delicate balance. But all that overly eager-to-please pushiness goes against the grain. It makes you wonder: What are these hippies smoking? They're supposed to be laid-back, aren't they? (Read Full Review)
The book by Thomas Meehan (â€œAnnieâ€) and Christopher Curtis is a simple chronology â€” rags to riches to exile â€” that could have used more imagination and a stronger point of view. Curtisâ€™ songs, much-reprised, donâ€™t give the show much lift either... Despite modest material, Rob McClure gives a nimble star turn as guided by director/choreographer Warren Carlyle... The way Chaplin stands now, itâ€™s modestly entertaining. (Read Full Review)
If the subtitle â€œThe Unauthorized Harry Experienceâ€ hints at snark to come, forget it. The creators are content being an adorable odd couple. Jeff is the all-work pro. Dan is the screw-up. The clash makes for a few good laughs. One wishes they didnâ€™t crack themselves up so much. Actorsâ€™ self-delight brings out my inner Severus Snape. (Read Full Review)
Parsons, seen last year on stage in a small role in The Normal Heart,â€pours on potent nice-guy charm and steers clear of any irony, and the results are win-win. He grounds the play as he elevates it. Good thing, since, seven decades later, Chaseâ€™s work is a hoary Hasenpfeffer. It limps as often as it hippity-hops. The author also has a nagging way of raising subplots, including an interoffice romance, then abandoning them. Director Scott Ellisâ€™ staging is a mixed stew, too. The Dowd family accents are oddly all over the map and a key role is cranked up too high too early. (Read Full Review)
When it comes to chuckles-to-running-time ratios, then, this spiky dark comedy from the "Scrubs" star and writer-director-star of "Garden State" ranks well up there. As for plausibility? Now that's another story. There are enough contrivances to cause the play to teeter and fall apart, much like a delicate sculpture does in the show.
(Read Full Review)
Moody but clichÃ©-cluttered...The notion of the taxicab confessional takes a leap. In nearly 25 years in New York, I've never discussed more than the weather or groused about traffic with cabbies. Much of the dialogue â€” some of which sounds composed, not free-flowing â€” concerns parents and children. There's even talk of pigeons kicking hatchlings out of the nest...Director Gaye Taylor Upchurch strives to make the proceedings dramatic, but it just spins its wheels...The play's potency is all in the acting, and the writer is lucky to have Beale in the driver's seat. (Read Full Review)
Drawn from Noel Coward's one-act "Still Life" and the screenplay for the 1945 cinematic tearjerker about an affair, the stage production remains cheeky and charming, inventive and finely acted. Coward songs, laced liberally and precisely throughout, are always easy on the ears. But for anyone who's seen it before, the show is unlikely to be the intense swoon-inducing experience it was in Brooklyn. One reason is that this theatrical charm piece depends somewhat on surprise. Familiarity with how adapter and director Emma Rice employs puppets, flying sequences and custom-made film clips to tell the story will snuff out some of the sense of wonder. (Read Full Review)
Forget the Sharks' and Jets' bad boys. It's the girls who rule in this uneven new Broadway production of "West Side Story," which manages only intermittently to take us "somewhere" special. Karen Olivo, as Anita, gives the show's most thrilling performance. With her hair, skirt and legs flying and her voice soaring, she all but achieves liftoff during the dazzling "America."... Unfortunately, the principal guys don't fare as well, starting with Maria's ill-fated love, Tony. Matt Cavenaugh has a fine tenor, but his body language and diction, with its odd hints of New England, seem out of place on Manhattan's mean streets, if not in Maria's arms. By acting every note of "Something's Coming," he turns optimism into spun sugar. (Read Full Review)
Linklater has promise has a writer, including a keen ear for dialogue. His structure, a series of two-person scenes, is sound. Too bad he shoots himself in the foot with some shaky storytelling that betrays his own conceit.
Even as you leave the theater, holes in the logic start to nag. That’s dramatic vandalism. (Read Full Review)
Francesca Faridany deserves hearty adulation for her star turn...The role of the perennially young British lord put Tilda Swinton on the map in the 1992 film and Faridany, a London-trained actress whose Broadway credits include The 39 Steps, is captivating. So lovely she almost (but not quite) makes up for overly precious choreography and dialogue that's all in the third person. Nearly two hours of stage directions? Thanks, but no thanks. On the plus side, director Rebecca Taichman uses a spare, thoughtful staging to sustain a lyrical mood. (Read Full Review)
A whisper-thin comedy by French playwright Gerald Sibleyras about three World War I vets living in a nun-run home in 1959...The trio plan to take flight to some nearby trees to escape that fate, a scheme that never quite takes off. The same is true of this production, staged by Carl Forsman...The cast is credible. Stoppardâ€™s script musters a few laughs. And thereâ€™s something to be said for the bittersweet all-for-one, one-for-all camaraderie of the trio. But when all was said and done, I was just like that stone dog â€” unmoved. (Read Full Review)
You've got to hand it to the Rattlestick for shaking itself up for Adam Rapp's ambitious and sometimes outrageous work...The troupe has dramatically reconfigured its snug Village space to accommodate the plays...Was pulling out all the stops (and nearly half of the theater's 99 seats) worth all the resources and effort? Yes â€” and no. Rapp...has a natural theatrical talent. His plays trip between tender-brutal realism and out-there tales. He goes both ways here, and as the plays progress, gaps in logic and weirdness levels skyrocket. Between the writing and the direction, some scenes are designed just to make us squirm. Though the plays are uneven and don't really connect or lead anywhere, the 14 actors, many of whom play more than one role, are uniformly excellent...Rose and Paraffin share loose connections and follow the old-fashioned formula of putting disparate damaged people together to see what happens on collision. Nursing is its own odd beast â€” a contrived sci-fi flick. Three can be a charm. But for The Hallway Trilogy it's one too many. (Read Full Review)
Without Donna Murphyâ€™s vivid star turn as the Witch...itâ€™d be an interesting but uneven night at the Delacorte Theater. The Tony-winning actressâ€™ trademark airy kookiness and scary moodiness work like a charm for her hilarious and haunting high-def portrait of a crone pained by life and loss...Otherwise, this Public Theater revival...proves a mixed bag...The production can be shrill and alienatingly eccentric, from characterizations to costumes. Some key performances fail to bring out the beauty of the music or to pop as colorfully as they might â€” or both. (Read Full Review)
In the Next Room clicks, or hums, when it's at its silliest and most titillating. As characters shed corsets and knickers for some good vibrations, the play surges with laughter. The merriment ceases in the second half, larded down by so many themes concerning life, light, love, lactation, lesbianism - and that's just the L words. (Read Full Review)
"Unlock'd" is a musical about a girl who's dumber than a sack of hair. The show is colorful and cute, but too long and in need of highlights. The story has some laughs, but it feels like a molehill turned mountain. The score, a mix of romantic ballads and rousing anthems, is easy on the ears, which isn't the same thing as being memorable. In a clever scene, a card game of War between Belinda and the Baron, suggestive of the battle between the sexes, unfolds using a larger-than-life deck. Bigger is better in that moment, but "Unlock’d" could stand a little off the top.
(Read Full Review)
Bradshaw has honed his own milieu: Call it Dramatic Banality. But to what end? He seems to be writing a satire, but itâ€™s unclear precisely what heâ€™s sending up. He poses questions about race and identity, art and commerce, parents and power, innocence and experience but provides few answers. As dots remain stubbornly disconnected, thereâ€™s no impact. Sometimes all you can do is laugh at the preposterous goings-on... I donâ€™t mind. But with all those nude bodies writhing around on so much on the couch and bed on stage, letâ€™s hope someone put something else down and plenty of it: Scotchgard.
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The problem is that although the show is set in Washington Heights in 2008, the creators - Lin-Manuel Miranda (concept and songs) and Quiara AlegrÃa Hudes (story) - have sensibilities stuck in the 1950s...What it lacks in story and believability it makes up for in a vibrant rap- and salsa-flavored score, spirited dances and great-looking design. (Read Full Review)
Intriguing but uneven..The show...suffers from being so fixed on Anna that itâ€™s too straightforward for its own good...[LaChiusa's] score, a blend of period-appropriate story songs and anthems, boasts beautiful moments. Michael Starobinâ€™s rich arrangements sound lovely as played by the fine seven-piece orchestra. Jack Cummings III, Transportâ€™s artistic head, directs the stylish staging. (Read Full Review)
Ibsen's penultimate play isn't performed very often. So it's a treat to see this presentation from Dublin's Abbey Theatre. The adaptation is by Frank McGuinness. But while there's snow in heaps and blowing around Tom Pye's wintry set, emotions whipped up could be more tempestuous. Director James Macdonald's production lacks the full force of drama to make it taut and psychologically rich. It feels long-winded, despite a distinguished cast. (Read Full Review)
The show makes for a harmless entertainment. But you’re left wanting for the outsize hilarity, individuality and the exuberance you might expect from Bollywood…Din and Bogaev’s score goes in another direction, deriving its cues from MGM and Broadway musicals. The show is built to be silly. Din’s humor ranges from a bit involving the gangster’s henchman, who’s got a thing for wordplay, to a moment involving a pachyderm’s plumbing that puts the “gag” in sight gag. [New Group artistic head Scott] Elliot has assembled an appealing cast that makes the most of the material…[and] Ayub Khan Din deserves a shoutout, stepping in to star as Bunty Berman when an ailing actor dropped out. The show-must-go-on ethic is exemplary. But this mild-mannered masala of a show never delivers enough of a kick.
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Unfortunately, the new stage musical version by William Finn (music and lyrics) and James Lapine… doesn’t get in gear and can’t duplicate the movie’s magnetism. The show aims for poignancy, but ends up being corny. The story of underdogs — and who doesn’t love that — feels smaller now and inconsequential. Finn is known for character-driven songs. His batch here is so-so and doesn’t give the story much traction… While Will Swenson struggles with the role of unreliable family man Richard, the rest of the cast has nice moments. Stephanie J. Block brings sweetness and edge as wife Sheryl; Rory O’Malley is likable as Sheryl’s suicidal gay brother; David Rasche lets out his inner rascal as Grandpa Frank and Logan Rowland fumes as the silent son Dwayne.
Last but not least is the lovable Hannah Nordberg. When it comes to talent, there’s nothing small about this little miss. (Read Full Review)
[An] alternately spiky and sputtering dark comedy...The first half of Dreams is played largely for laughs, and there are plenty of them in director Neil Pepe's brisk staging. The dialogue is pungent and on-target, even as it apes the rhythms of Edward Albee. Lahti is particularly great...Eventually, the play loses steam and its sense of fun as it turns into a surreal morality tale. (Read Full Review)
Act I feels like a Super Bowl halftime show with lots of ADD-style energy, visual punch and Janet Jackson-esque choreography (air-slicing arm thrusts and stomping is by Lisa Shriver). But no soul. Things do improve in Act II and the show finally finds its way in the eye-popping crucifixion extravaganza. Itâ€™s a dizzying blend of music, Las Vegas chutzpah, irony and heart. By the time Jesus hovers over orchestra seats on a self-steering motorized platform, the production earns an enthusiastic OMG! (Read Full Review)
The makers of the ambitious but patchy musical “Venice” have glimpsed the future. It’s not a pretty picture. Clocking in at 2 1/2 hours, it’s a complicated tale with terrorist acts, one scene needlessly repeated DVR-style, and a Lady Gaga-like singer whose sexy ways lead to explosive tragedy. The Public’s production has energy to burn — Chase Brock’s choreography recalls advanced kickboxing classes — and a spare, gritty look. But it still feels like a work in process as it explores big themes of ambition, betrayal, politics and love. The spoken-word rhythms by Sax, who nudges the narrative along as the Clown MC, give the show an intriguing sound that eventually gets a bit one-note. The heavier issue is Rosen’s dumbed-down book. His broad strokes reduce the characters and story to comic-book proportions, so the stakes aren’t there.
(Read Full Review)
Hawke is great at dredging up the play's offbeat humor, especially with Laurie Metcalf, who plays Beth's nattering mom. Yet, at times, the staging is too tame and tidy. When characters toss soup, why use an almost empty bowl? It's a messy play. It's also a sometimes tedious one, too. Fortunately, Derek McLane's marvelously overstuffed set and country-tinged music by brothers Latham and Shelby Gaines were there to occupy my wandering mind. (Read Full Review)
Caryl Churchill’s play “Love and Information” concerns the complexities of connecting in the Digital Age… 15 actors tackle more than 100 roles in 50-plus unconnected playlets. The mechanics alone are enough to impress — or overload… James Macdonald’s direction is first-class. Ditto the cast, across the board. The play itself is interesting, but — ironically — longwinded. “Information” gets old before the last byte.
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It's easy to see how the Bernie Madoff-like character was catnip to the Roundabout Theatre Company, but topicality doesn't assure dramatics. The talky first act grinds along more than it grabs. An extended conversation between Vassily (who calls himself Basil) and his girlfriend, Carol (Virginia Kull), is all about revealing his love-hate relationship with his dad. The mere mention of Gregor makes Basil stammer in an obvious dose of foreshadowing. The production directed by Maria Aitken ("39 Steps") at last snaps to life with the arrival of Mark Herries (Zach Grenier, expertly oily), who's waffling on a deal that could give Gregor the liquidity he needs to survive. (Read Full Review)
Chad Beguelin (“Elf,” “The Wedding Singer”), in his first nonmusical, has written a play that’s highly topical. It is equally contrived and laced with sitcom-style yuks. …the comedy turns more serious as it floats ideas about relationships, power and compromises. In the end, the play works over a trusted trope: An outsider arrives and changes everything. Director Mark Lamos keeps the show moving briskly, and Beguelin throws and lands witty remarks. The nagging issue is that the dialogue seldom sounds like characters talking, but like a writer’s words spilling out of their mouths. Funny but hollow one-liners muddy this “Harbor.”
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Enjoyable enough but uneven, the new take doesnâ€™t present a compelling reason for revisiting the material so soon. The showâ€™s greatest asset is its man with the beak, Douglas Hodge. An appealing British actor with a resume spanning cloudy Pinter plays and sunny musicals, Hodge jousts literally and verbally and delivers a robust and ebullient Cyrano...Key supporting performances arenâ€™t all on the nose...[Patrick] Page provides a fine foil for Hodge, who has slid gracefully behind the wheel of a star vehicle. When all is said and done, itâ€™s easier to admire the driver than his ride. (Read Full Review)
The cop tale careens from bad to worse to horror movie. Imagine a putrid police blotter steeped in drugs, stabbings, baby-killing and cannibalism. Stirring stuff, to a degree. Because we only hear about the incidents, the visceral impact is muted. And since there's no emotional keyhole to let us in, the saga hits the head, but not the gut or heart. The moments when the play is most alive are when Scott Pask's moody set pieces come to light. Amid all the grisly imagery, Huff seeks to comment on what it means to serve and protect â€” as a cop, husband, father and friend. But the drama is so fraught with calamity, even within that title metaphor, it gets contrived. That's what happens when you jam 12 episodes of a TV series about a rogue cop into 90 minutes. (Read Full Review)
The show has wonderful moments, but issues abound. McNally's overstuffed story jockeys unsteadily between hijinks and serious drama. With Frank's story, the FBI agent's story and Frank's girlfriend's family's story, it's just too much. Shaiman and Wittman's score shows polish and style. "Butter Out of Cream" smoothly states Frank's life motto, while "Don't Be a Stranger" is a moody backdrop for a glamorous dance. But "(Our) Family Tree" and "Doctor's Orders" could've been cut and never missed. Jerry Mitchell's polished choreography showcases willowy chorus girls and wiry guys. The propulsive "Jet Set" captures the swinging '60s to a T, but eventually his numbers get repetitive. (Read Full Review)
Cannavale's work is outstanding. With veins popping in his neck and a body language of tics and anxieties, he stunningly conveys a man fighting demons within and without; one day at a time never looked so daunting. It would seem that the X-rated- ranting Ralph D. would make a good fit for Rock, but it works against him. Rock gives the character a good shot, but when he delivers Ralph D.'s lines in his trademark grunts and high-pitched voice, it's too close to what's become his own comic specialty. He not only draws unintentional laughs, but some audience members spoke back to him. (Read Full Review)
With its plot set over a weekend in a rustic country cottage packed with fretting Russians, “Nikolai and the Others” has the makings of a forgotten Chekhov play. Or a Woody Allen film. It’s neither. This cordial but diffuse new work, which mixes facts and fantasy, is the latest drama from Richard Nelson. In all, 18 characters come into view and varying degrees of focus during the play’s 2 1/2 hours. Nelson excels in setting small-scale, everyday personal details against sweeping cultural and political events. Here, the icy chill of the Cold War looms large as Russian emigres reflect on the homes they’ve left and their uncertain futures in America. “Nikolai” makes for a modestly interesting evening, but it’s no great feat.
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It's a simple story, one well served by a stark production: just a few sticks of blond IKEA-style furniture, including two twin beds and a cupboard big enough for Elling to hide in when he's stressed. O'Hare ("Take Me Out," "True Blood") uses his patented peculiar tics as Elling, such as speaking in a methodical clip. "Gods and Monsters" alum Fraser lets his demented side show in his vanity-free turn. As directed by Doug Hughes, both stars at times push hard -- too hard -- for laughs. They're always playing a character. In her few moments onstage, Coolidge ("Legally Blonde") shows how effortless comedy can be. Her body language and innate zaniness communicates everything that's necessary to make her funny and sympathetic. "Elling" has charming moments, but in the end, the best word to describe it is "weird." (Read Full Review)
There's much to commend. The tuneful score recalls past K&E collaborations...Susan Stroman's choreography and direction - her best work since "The Producers" - is focused and imaginative. The performances are first-rate, notably Brandon Victor Dixon...What's too bad is that David Thompson's surface-y book and the songs, nearly finished before Ebb died in 2004, offer so little insight on the men. The "Cell Block Tango" killer tomatoes in "Chicago" are better defined than eight of the inmates. Despite an uplifting ending set at the dawn of the Civil Rights era, it's hard not to feel that the "Boys" got railroaded - again. (Read Full Review)
One can imagine what drew Cromer to Brighton Beach. Like Our Town, its story reaches into the cosmos. Which is why the show curtain is a page from Eugene's journal, pinpointing his place in the world: "... Brighton Beach, Borough of Brooklyn, Kings County ..." The personal turns universal. One wishes that this revival had found a way to better personalize itself. It'd make the notion of visiting the Jeromes again next month â€” when the companion play "Broadway Bound" is set to run in rep â€” more inviting, especially at $110 a pop. (Read Full Review)
Herzog tackles big issues, but her play becomes dramatically inert and an intellectual exercise that doesn't hold water due to Emma's collapse. Her high-minded moralizing doesn't jibe with her background. Mixing the real-life Mumia with the fictional Josephs also jars and doesn't quite work, much like the production's use of a single set to represent various locations by illuminating different paintings at a given moment. The idea makes for swift scene changes but is confusing. There are no flaws in the performances under Carolyn Cantor's direction. (Read Full Review)
Beyond nontraditional casting, the production has other distinctions. Emily Mannâ€™s direction dredges up humor that often remains dormant, and Eugene Leeâ€™s realistically shabby set and Terence Blanchardâ€™s jazzy music evoke the grit and groove of the French Quarter in New Orleans...Otherwise, Broadwayâ€™s eighth take on Tennessee Williamsâ€™ story of a devastating clash of culture and class comes up adequate but unremarkable. Fortunately, the 1947 Pulitzer Prize winner packs so much power and poetry that even an okay production brings some satisfaction. (Read Full Review)
Mando Alvarado's play is about manning up and standing up. But he also weaves in many other big ideas about faith, fathers and sons, deferred dreams, cruel economics, among others. His reach exceeds his grasp. Illogic is but one of the chafing issues in "Basilica," an overstuffed modern melodrama of south Texas, where football and the church loom large. The story follows a family whose lives are disrupted by the town's new pastor -- a local who moved away years ago with whom they share complex history. (Read Full Review)
But as Sondheim duly noted in "Gypsy," you gotta get a gimmick. In this show, Sondheim is it. Unlike earlier revues of his compositions, this one features the master in archival and new interviews shown on a grid of 64 movable TV screens. His presence is the show's highlight. Seen shuffling around his home, he comes off brainy and cool, but warm and funny, too, even self-deprecating (who knew?). He talks about being a loner, about a sad childhood, about being a late-bloomer when it comes to love and about writing lyrics lying down -- always with soft-leaded pencils. Some blue-pencil editing would streamline the 2â€‰1/2-hour show: Inferior material could go, like "Ah, But Underneath" from a London version of "Follies," even if Williams sings it in her undies. (Read Full Review)
A rough-hewn saloon set is where Kate and Petruchio (Maggie Siff, a â€œMad Menâ€ alum) and Andy Grotelueschen (â€œCymbelineâ€) duke it out and come to deep understanding. Sheâ€™s an ace at a withering glance or gesture. Heâ€™s a mix of Will Ferrell and Seth Rogen and a born clown. (Read Full Review)
There's never a dull moment in director David Cromer's entertaining staging, but that's not the same as being completely satisfying. A wild and crazy work cries out for extremes, and this starry production at the Walter Kerr is too tame and emotionally mellow for its own good. (Read Full Review)
The new production, directed and choreographed by Rob Ashford, is stylish and handsome, but only occasionally memorable. Aside from the pop gems, catchy as ever (try to shake the brassy title number and "I'll Never Fall in Love Again"), the dancing is dynamic and Katie Finneran is side-splitting as a boozy bar crawler. Otherwise, it's a so-so mixed bag. Blame the show itself and the new redo. (Read Full Review)
Leigh Silverman’s direction keeps the snack-sized scenes spinning on Louisa Thompson’s versatile set. But the era-jumping story’s strands about the needs, joys and perils of reaching out and connecting never tie together in a satisfying way, so the back-and-forths don’t really compute.
(Read Full Review)
It takes steel you-know-whats to write a comedy about terrorists determined to blow up the Empire State Building and NASDAQ. So give Jon Kern some credit for his intriguing but incomplete play...Kern can write zingers, no doubt. Act I is all sitcom rhythms and setups...For all the laughs and excellent performances, the play feels flabby. Even the talented director Peter DuBois (Sons of the Prophet) canâ€™t keep it from dragging. A more nagging issue is the lack of substantive impact. (Read Full Review)
Running 2 1/2 hours, the show’s pattern becomes who sings next and who falls next. For a story about the last man (or is it woman?) standing, there’s zero tension. Director Neil Pepe, lighting designer Kevin Adams and Sergio Truillo, who handled the musical staging, keep the action as dynamic as possible. There’s little scenery, save for a billboard and berry-red pickup. The truck is jumped on, caressed and constantly spun in circles. If only the makers had gotten under the characters’ hoods, where their emotions rev. Instead of tuning out, I would have been more inclined to buckle up and, well, hold on. (Read Full Review)
To its credit, O'Brien gets at the heart of what makes long marriages tick: bargains that get struck; topics that are deemed off-limits (a revelation of a long-ago miscarriage comes as no surprise at all); how spouses know exactly which betrayals will cut their partner the deepest; how forgiving and forgetting are practically impossible. On the downside, "Haunted" waffles unsteadily between comedy and tragedy. Despite the fine cast's work, the script is so weedy with literary references (O'Neill, Albee, Shakespeare) and characters spouting poetic quotations that it eventually chafes. Director Braham Murray's staging could benefit by pruning frequent heavy-handed floral visuals. (Read Full Review)
Gretchen Mol has a girlish voice. You notice that in Francine Volpe's moody, modestly intriguing drama because she seldom stops talking. Each scene in Scott Elliottâ€™s New Group production begins in pitch-darkness, with Mol yakking before lights come up. The "Boardwalk Empire" actress plays Larissa, a single mother with nothing but troubles. Larissa doesnâ€™t hesitate to suck people into her vortex. You may know a Larissa. You probably avoid her.
(Read Full Review)
Broadwayâ€™s first revival of William Gibson's 1959 biodrama seldom summons high stakes or deep feelings. Itâ€™s a respectable production, but itâ€™s often wan. Occasionally itâ€™s d-u-l-l ... As the 9-year-old girl incorrectly regarded as a mentally handicapped wild child, â€œLittle Miss Sunshineâ€ Oscar nominee Abigail Breslin is committed and competent but unmemorable. Alison Pill plays Annie, a 20-year-old instructor with her own heavy baggage, including poor sight and a horrific youth spent in an asylum. On stage in â€œReasons to Be Prettyâ€ and â€œThe Lieutenant of Inishmore,â€ which earned her a Tony nod, Pill showed how commanding and gritty she can be. She needs more of each here ... While highs and lows are largely lacking in the emotions department, the set provides ups and downs. Furniture above the stenciled stage is constantly being lowered and raised as needed for the show, which is performed in the round, with the audience surrounding the action. As such, there inevitably are scenes when youâ€™ll be eyeballing backs. A few eclipsed exchanges isnâ€™t a big problem. But a tearjerker that leaves you dry in the eyes â€” now thatâ€™s an issue. (Read Full Review)
Oâ€™Neillâ€™s early work in realism explored what happens when men donâ€™t follow their gut and natural gifts. It makes for a timeless and resonant tale, but after nearly a century, the playâ€™s poetic language often sounds stagey.
Itâ€™s a challenge to pull it off, and unshaded performances donâ€™t help matters. (Read Full Review)
Van Hove presumably places the action in modern clothes... and setting (the unfurnished home features a prominent video screen to show offstage action) to stress the evergreen nature of its themes, particularly women's power struggles against men. It's a viable strategy, but Foxes isn't as daring or illuminating as you'd hope or expect. Often it's willfully confounding. Are the purple fabric walls supposed to suggest a music box or a whorehouse? Why does the constant music trek from fairground calliope to horror movie? Why are the actors constantly shouting?
(Read Full Review)
Sarah Jessica Parker is aces at light comedy, but she’s at her best when her characters are at their worst. Late and briefly in “The Commons of Pensacola,” Parker does that, shaking things to life. Otherwise, this headline-highjacking drama is unfocused and symbol-larded…Too bad, since rookie writer Amanda Peet…has a solid starting point: What’s it like to be Bernie and Ruth Madoff’s kid? Meet Becca (Parker), a 43-year-old, broke D-list actress, who’s home with Mom (a deft Blythe Danner). As Becca’s sister, niece and boyfriend come and go, so do themes — sibling rivalry, opportunism, the pall of scandal and forgiveness. That’s a lot. This Manhattan Theatre Club production, directed by Lynne Meadow, feels like a little.
(Read Full Review)
On the downside, the venue has a swampy atmosphere â€” pump up the A/C, please. And itâ€™s your call on whether seeing the emcee and his female cohort (Jonathan Taylor and Anne Goldmann) blast banana chunks at each other out of their mouths is hilarious or gross. Personally, if I want to watch regurgitation, Iâ€™ll tune into the Nature Channelâ€™s show on birds â€” not go the circus.
(Read Full Review)
One word comes up more than a dozen times in the new Broadway revival of â€œAn Enemy of the Peopleâ€: â€œrestraint.â€ Ironically, itâ€™s exactly whatâ€™s lacking in this amped-up production of the Henrik Ibsen classic, which is broader than the Otra River. (Read Full Review)
Even the one-two wallop of Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones can't make Alfred Uhry's one-act more than it is - a wispy middle-of-the-road family drama fueled by sentimentality...Director David Esbjornson...gives this memory play an aptly dreamy production...The key to playing Daisy is conveying the fragility she masks under her proud facade. Redgrave's interpretation makes for a steelier, less vulnerable portrait - a Daisy who's no shrinking violet, even well into her 80s. It's solid work, but her physical choice in the final scene is misjudged. Jones has the most eloquent voice and eyes around. He puts them to expert use as the plain-spoken and endearing Hoke. Whenever he's in a scene, Jones is the presence you're drawn to...A theatrical spin around the block - a pleasantly starlit but unchallenging trip down memory lane. (Read Full Review)
An aged monarch more sinned against than sinning gets kicked to the curb by his daughters in a "King Lear" more effects-filled than affecting. There, in a nutshell, is the Royal Shakespeare Company's capably (mostly) but unmemorably acted revival running at the Park Avenue Armory ... Hicks, 58, a member of the RSC since 1976, wears those fur-trimmed garments well and speaks Shakespeare's poetry becomingly. His work is forthright but not exactly riveting. The wonderful thing about his performance is how he manages to shrink before your eyes as his grip on reality wanes. (Read Full Review)
It's "Extreme Dysfunction: Home Edition"...
Stenham writes with a raw fearless streak, and Sarah Benson's production for Manhattan Theatre Club plays it to the hilt. But for all its shock and awe (including a whiff of incest and a wild and disturbingly wet mental breakdown), the play doesn't so much devastate as deaden. Chalk that up to the familiar subject and sketchy characterizations...Details and better bone structure would make That Face stand out. (Read Full Review)
Produced in league with the NFL, "Lombardi" is more like a 90-minute tribute than a full-contact drama. You'd likely get the same result if the Church of Scientology presented a play called "Hubbard." The lone conflict spins around whether McCormick will whitewash his story. Who cares? ... Though many scenes are static, director Thomas Kail ("In the Heights") scores points with his audience-friendly staging for this in-the-round theater. The production's touchdown comes when Lombardi drills the Pack on the power sweep, the play that helped make them unbeatable. As X's and O's rush across the bare stage and give way to images of players in green and gold, the play at last comes to life. It's the sort of winning moment Lombardi would expect â€” and that this show needs more of. (Read Full Review)
A delectable cast and some juicy zingers matter, but they can’t cover up all the imperfections in a show with cracks. And “Nobody Loves You,” a new Off-Broadway musical mockery of reality TV, packs some pretty big fissures. Chief among them: it drags and sags when characters sing. (Read Full Review)
Higgins has a deft way with dialogue and structure... [and] manages to light some sparks about how men behave on their own and the mysteries of what motivates people.... [But i]f thereâ€™s a point Higgins wants to make it gets buried. Unlike a good Boy Scout whoâ€™s lost his way, the point of â€œWild Animalsâ€ remains in the shadows. (Read Full Review)
All solo bios involve some self-promotion. But at their best they also take you on a journey, with stops for an insight or takeaway or two. â€œWorldâ€ just feels like an extended sales pitch for Shatner as an icon. Broadway is a way to expand the brand. (Read Full Review)
Like his promising debut play at the same company, The Language of Trees, about an American translator in Iraq, Levenson’s new work is about disconnection. He also looks at breaches that can and can’t be repaired, in particular ones between fathers and sons. Ideas worth exploring, but the play fails to get traction or lead to anywhere all that satisfying. (Read Full Review)
[An] earnest but static stage adaptation... Thereâ€™s meaty material here...
The British actor Burnet makes a sturdy New York debut... Kimball, best-known for his Tony-nominated turn in Memphis, brings poignance as the hopeless con. But there are nagging issues with director Michael Parvaâ€™s production... it drags more than it flows... The play is guilty of being movie-of-the-week maudlin. (Read Full Review)
This new work from Lyle Kessler ("Orphans," which will be on Broadway in the spring) and presented by the Amoralists, is about power. Set in an unnamed college, it follows a charismatic and creepy student who manipulates three vulnerable people -- his roommate, sometime girlfriend and a professor -- toward extreme, as in deadly, violence. It's unconvincing all around. (Read Full Review)
Like the revival itself, the over-the-title R&B diva is hit and missâ€”a mighty singer with a voice that soars, but a limited actress whose face registers apprehension, delight, anger, whatever, with scarcely a shift in expression... That central miscasting aside, the bigger issue with this overwrought and unfocused staging is that the director, Thomas Kail (a Tony nominee for "In the Heights"), hasnâ€™t come up with a concept or style to integrate the show into a cohesive story, something more than just a collection of colorful scenes.
Instead, he piles on production numbers by Andy Blankenbuehler, a choreographer who won a Tony for "Heights" but doesnâ€™t know when to say when. His busy dances tend to upstage the singers. Pour enough sprinkles on a sundae and you wonâ€™t even taste the ice cream. Fortunately, you canâ€™t keep a good score down and the lionâ€™s share of Charlie Smallsâ€™ pop and soul tunes are better than that. Harold Wheelerâ€™s ear-tickling orchestrations have been overseen by musical director Alex Lacamoire, and the songs sound fun and fresh as ever. (Read Full Review)
Gurney's gentle touch has abandoned him in his new comedy about a contemporary family. "Black Tie," a slight and sitcom-y new play at Primary Stages, takes place in the hours before a problematic wedding rehearsal dinner and feels as genuine and gentle as a "Brady Bunch" rerun. (Read Full Review)
The bright stars of “The Patron Saint of Sea Monsters” are Candy Buckley’s pearly whites. The up-for-anything actress’ chompers are constantly on view in her snarling, fevered performance as a trailer-trash momma in this shaggy new Off-Broadway play by California playwright Marlane Meyer. (Read Full Review)
Broadway’s new musical fable, “Big Fish,” is a singing version of catch-and-release. It hooks you, then loses you — all night. Fortunately, this show about fathers and sons and forgiveness has a saving grace in leading man Norbert Leo Butz... Songs by Andrew Lippa (“The Addams Family”) are pleasant... But the whole score would benefit from lyrics less Hallmark-cliché and more personal... Director-choreographer Susan Stroman (“The Producers”) wraps the show up in a splashy production that glides... Stroman’s dances — tap, waltz, hoedowns — are polished but a bit pedestrian.
(Read Full Review)
It's a modest work, running just 80 minutes, that is unsettling and finely acted, but too unfocused to be completely satisfying...Director Trip Cullman guides his excellent ensemble smoothly through the tangle of emotions in the play, which could be seen as a contemporary you-reap-what-you-sow fable or morality tale. Or it could be a meditation on unconditional love in the face of disaster...But since Bock never ties story strands together, if there's a message he wants to deliver, it's left muted...Bock excels at taking audiences to surprising places. This time, he just delivers us to a dead end, waiting for the other sense to drop. (Read Full Review)
On the fun meter, "Spider-Man" rates a 5 out of 10. Its moments of thrill come in the flying sequences staged by Daniel Ezralow, including a wild midair battle between Spidey and the villainous Green Goblin. Taymor, who did "The Lion King," is famous for vivid and colorful stage pictures. George Tsypin's soaring sets push perspective while conjuring gleaming cutouts of the Chrysler Building and tidy Queens rowhouses that flip open like pages in a book. The show reportedly cost $65 million and that's clearly gone into mechanics, hydraulics and aerial rigging. It seems only 10 cents has gone into the confusing story and humorless dialogue. (Read Full Review)
There are four characters who rarely interact, and only occasionally exchange words. It makes for a drama that is all tell and no show â€” and it soon gets tiresome.
That goes double for hearing party girl Desiree (Roxanna Hope) wax rhapsodic about endless nights of clubbing, snorting cocaine and boogying.
â€œI love the effect of my hair flying as I dance,â€ she declares.
Of course she does. (Read Full Review)
Despite some funny lines, a supercool cast and awesome sets by Alexander Dodge, the play-within-a-play built around a run-through of a long-lost Kafka epic comes off as an overblown sketch with a worthy message: Everyone's a zero-status standby at some point. Or, in Kafka-esque terms, everybody's a bug, squashed by circumstance, luck, even love. (Read Full Review)
Hey Jude, they made it bad. The cover-band concert “Let It Be” aims to celebrate the Beatles and their hits. But instead of being joyful and spontaneous, the show feels rote and robotic. Recycled, too. Broadway has been down this long and rewinding road recently. In 2010, “Rain,” another so-so Beatles tribute, traced the group from Liverpool lads to global superstars. The two shows share more than that basic structure. A couple of dozen songs overlap. Both productions splice in ’60s TV ads for laughs, feature sing-alongs and use an onstage electronic keyboard player to sweeten the music. The obvious echoes suggest why the Fab Four shows are locked in a legal battle. But “Let It Be” focuses on happier and more harmonious times. It’s a two-hour nostalgia ride. Beatles hits are indestructible. But if this is as good as tributes get, let them be.
(Read Full Review)
Auburn's script, which jettisons characters and racially tinged comments, has bright moments and zing. But the story remains artificial and creaky in its bones...The play wants to be a high-spirited spoof of high society and people who act on whims, and ideally would inspire the reaction: What fun! But director Mark Brokaw's production fosters the response: What for? (Read Full Review)
David Mametâ€™s 1984 Pulitzer Prize winner â€œGlengarry Glen Ross,â€ about ruthless salesmen, can grab you by the throat and punch you in the gut. Itâ€™s a powerful play. But the new Broadway production just gives you a nudge. Thatâ€™s better than nothing in this season of mostly meaningless Broadway plays, but you'd expect more from a production that delayed the opening a month.
(Read Full Review)
For bios — whether musical or not — to succeed fully and satisfy, they need to hit a couple of key targets. They’ve got to relate the subject’s life story, then put things in context and explain why it all matters.
Daniel S. Wise, who wrote the book and directs, and David Schechter, who handled some of the lyrics, manage the first compulsory duty — albeit in the most by-the-numbers linear fashion... Carlebach’s pleasantly chipper songs (he wrote melodies and lyrics) celebrating faith thread throughout the show, with a few period songs popping up now and then. But the show never moves beyond the basic chronology. Carlebach’s precise place and significance in history remain as fuzzy as his bearded face... In spite of the material’s thinness, Eric Anderson brings a robust charm and naiveté as Carlebach... Amber Iman plays the iconic singer more powerfully than persuasively — and there’s a big difference. Other supporting characters are sketchy to the point of trivialization.
(Read Full Review)
Thereâ€™s something to be said for a musical that creates a unique world and envelopes you in it. If that were the sole qualification, The Blue Flower would be cause to celebrate. But there are other considerations, and the show by the husband-and-wife team of Jim and Ruth Bauer has weedy issues. Despite a first-class cast and imaginative direction by Will Pomerantz, this ambitious work offers little satisfaction...It manages to be simplistic and convoluted, sometimes all at once...Jim Bauerâ€™s music is as consistently interesting. Itâ€™s also puzzling. (Read Full Review)
Sounds juicy, but sadly it isn't really so, despite the best efforts of Patti LuPone and Debra Winger. Between its structural ambiguity and heady philosophizing, this short, dense and dry drama at the Golden Theatre is often a head-scratcher ... Fortunately, Mamet, who directs his play, cast two big stars - better yet, a pair of excellent actresses. Each brings her own potent electrical surges. (Read Full Review)
This 85-minute play by Lee Blessing, commissioned by the sociopolitical-minded troupe InterAct Theatre Company, is laced with ideas but remains naggingly low-impact ... Despite interesting work by the three actors, director Paul Meshejian's sluggish staging feels like a haul. Gazing out the hotel window at the North Sea, Piet poetically describes the water on a sunny day as resembling a blue silky gown. This production's slow-mo pacing inspires a different metaphor -- a glacier, frozen solid. (Read Full Review)
Doesnâ€™t technically foul out, but itâ€™s not exactly a winner either...[It] makes both great athletes look smaller than life...As a dramatic meal, M/B is a slim spread. B-ball handling consists of a couple of layups and passes. Videos from key games and scenes between a Celtics and Lakers fan in a Boston bar pad the production to 85 minutes. Director Thomas Kail enlivens things as he can. (Read Full Review)
Newcomer Adam Gwon has written 18 tunes, with a couple of very pretty melodies and too much predictable poetry. The repetitive tempos and tone of the music, however, make you zone out, not hone in. Too bad, since it all knits together in a climax of unexpected poignance. (Read Full Review)
There isn’t always strength in numbers. Case in point: The Rattlestick’s tiresome and repetitive festival of Lucy Thurber dramas... Watching “Scarcity,” “Ashville,” “Where We’re Born,” “Killers & Other Family” and “Stay” unfold one after the other shines a harsh and unforgiving spotlight on the author’s narrow and hollow brand of storytelling...
It’s worthwhile and fertile theatrical territory. But individually each play is shaky — less a full-blooded drama than an incident tarted up with confrontations that are violent or sexual (or both), and meant to rile you up... Events don’t feel genuine, but actors work up a lather. On the plus side, direction and production design are solid series-wide. Performances are wildly uneven, with a few bright spots.
Deirdre O’Connell’s layabout mother grounds “Scarcity” with gritty honesty; newcomer Mia Vallet impresses as a conflicted teen in “Ashville,” the lone premiere in the fest. And Brian Miskell makes the most of a small but important role in “Stay"... let’s hope Thurber gets a new groove.
(Read Full Review)
A slice of American history and a cautionary tale that's audaciously theatrical but watery soup when it comes to content...While the razzle dazzle is entertaining for a while, it gets tiresome because it's just filler. It simply illustrates what's been said without furthering the story. In any show, and especially one about a gas and oil company, that becomes a waste of energy. (Read Full Review)
"The Grand Manner," by A.R. (Pete) Gurney and staged by Mark Lamos, also feels padded. Set in 1948, it recalls how the stagestruck 18-year-old Gurney (Bobby Steggert, who's too knowing) visited superstar Katharine Cornell (Kate Burton, who's too low-key) on Broadway after a performance of "Antony and Cleopatra." The liaison was brief: They met, she signed a program. But Gurney, known for chronicling WASP culture in such plays as "The Dining Room," expands this personal footnote (if not toenote) by musing for 85 minutes about what might have occurred had he stuck around. As it turns out, not much. (Read Full Review)
Director Michael Greif (Rent, Next to Normal) excels at complex stories, but struggles here to unearth emotions and to maintain a consistent tone. His unattractive set isn’t doing anything to help.
Despite snags in the material, the cast delivers, and Catherine Zuber’s period costumes are luscious. It’s O'Hara’s show — the role of Cathy was tailored to her voice and talent — and the four-time Tony nominee is splendid. If the rest of the production was more heavenly, her Cathy would leave you sighing. (Read Full Review)
A provocative but not always believable play...Turner...brings irresistible gusto to a star turn filled with virtues. Her work is credible, clean and honest. Even when High isn't. The collision of religion and recovery is packed with dramatic potential...But Lombardo, an ex-addict himself, seems keen on making the work a twisty melodramatic hand-wringer. (Read Full Review)
Read has the germ of a good idea. The last people youâ€™d expect to offer lessons on intimacy, commitment and love are porn actors. But people arenâ€™t just what they do. Thatâ€™s one of the themes in the play. Ironically, Readâ€™s porn stars only talk about sex and the message turns murky. Director Evan Cabnet and six actors who are game for anything make the most of the material. (Read Full Review)
If you're content to just let the pop-rock and color and lights sweep you up, you're going to have a good time. But don't go expecting a plot with any edge or richness... You won't get any of that. So while it misses at being a breakthrough musical, Idiot could be called a breakneck event - if just for the insistent beat that turns audiences into noggin-nodding bobbleheads. You don't see that at South Pacific. (Read Full Review)
Alas, what's turned up on stage at BAM's Harvey Theatre is acted with commitment, but it doesn't match all that unspoken potential. Between Grandage's austere interpretation and Jacobi's distancing performance, deep-seated emotions aren't roused. Shakespeare's heart-stirring story of a father and his daughters and a ruler more sinned against than sinning emerges more ordinary than extraordinary. (Read Full Review)
Weitz presumably has control in his crosshairs â€” who's got it and why money, whips and fists can't command it. It's a worthy topic and Weitz writes zingers like nobody's business, but the play collapses into contrived situations and shrill exchanges as couples crumble and recombine, if briefly. Watching four talented actors mired up to their thigh-high boots in mediocre material inevitably brings a sinking feeling. (Read Full Review)
The question of identity, mashup of reality and fantasy, cuckoo parent-child relationships and linguistic aerobics all puts us squarely in Albee-Land. It's a place that's always exciting to visit. And Ashley as the flustered and clueless Mother is, palindromically speaking, a pip. Natalia Payne is wonderfully natural as otto's confused girlfriend. Despite a fine cast and smart staging by Emily Mann (who directed the show in Princeton two years ago), the play rarely really engages. Albee, now 82, doesn't go far enough or deep enough in any direction to make a point. Word games and some frisky theatricality are no substitutes for a play with something to say, somewhere to go. "M,M&I" is like driving with the parking break on. (Read Full Review)
The production is unlikely to win either of them new fans, and die-hard devotees are apt to leave the Henry Millerâ€™s Theatre frustrated that they didnâ€™t get more of each ... Itâ€™s unclear what satirical playwright Christopher Durang, who shares a writing credit with Feinstein and Humphries, added. Dividing the stage in half with tape. Was that him? Or an episode of â€œI Love Lucyâ€? (Read Full Review)
Pedro Pascal directs the production and guides the four-actor ensemble to solid peformances. To his credit, Talbott can write dialogue that can packs grit and punch. But too often he falls into a predictable rhythm. The present-day talk is terse and vague; reflections of a happier past are lyrical and dense with details. The pattern becomes wearying. (Read Full Review)
“The Seagull” has landed — again. But the bird has migrated in Irish playwright Thomas Kilroy’s adaptation of Chekhov’s much-done melancholy comedy…while the change of address doesn’t add or subtract from the classic, feather-headed decisions by director Max Stafford-Clark raise questions. Why, for instance, does Lily (an overly robust Rachel Spencer Hewitt) perform the experimental play by Constantine (Slate Holmgren) behind the backs of most of the audience? If people in the first few rows crank their necks to see her, they miss reactions by Isobel (Trudie Styler). Why make this moment an either-or proposition? And why does Styler deliver a lengthy speech with the bustle of her dress to the audience? When Mrs. Sting faces forward, she acquits herself nicely. She’s especially fine when Isobel grovels to test her hold on Aston (Alan Cox, appealingly low-key). This standout moment in a serviceable production is just the right mashup of funny and sad — and pure Chekhov. (Read Full Review)
The show is affectionate and adventuresome, but only semi-satisfying and sometimes irritating. And what’s the nonsensical scenery all about? It looks like a rug and lamp store exploded. Sumptuous strings and plush horns, which defined the Bacharach sound, have given way to spare arrangements driven by guitars— mellow acoustic and throbbing electric—along with tinkling piano and persistent percussion. Songs are sliced and diced, with fragments of lyrics threading throughout the piece. Bacharach’s melodies are elastic enough to endure new arrangements. But the original invigorating and bouncy tempos too often are dialed down to a dirge, and the slow-mo pacing becomes enervating. Riabko’s habit of substituting da-da and la-la for actual lyrics—including the inspired work of Hal David—rankles. The words are essential, just like the melodies. On the credit side, there are seven talented singer-musicians. Riabko enjoys the most time in the spotlight. (Read Full Review)
[It] is modestly intriguing but lacks the taut, fine-tuned storytelling that made Doubt so compelling and provocative...Shanley, who directs his play, has cast six strong actors who show the script off to its best advantage. But the production clunks from one scene to another...Most problematic is the fuzzy focus. Like coins in a collection plate, themes are tossed out about moral integrity, deal-making to survive and ripple effects of relationships...Itâ€™s too vague to be all that gripping or satisfying. (Read Full Review)
At each performance, a player on a computerized keyboard helps the players replicate the various versions of the Beatles sound. Make that, sounds. "Rain" is a reminder of how the group reinvented itself during its tenure, in looks and music. It's also proof of the Beatles' enduring, generation-crossing cool. In a canny move, "Rain" showers attention on that fact. Every age group got an appreciative mention, from boomers raised on the Beatles to teens just discovering the group is something to twist and shout about. (Read Full Review)
Easy to admire for its sensitivity, but hard to recommend for its sluggish repetitiveness, Athol Fugardâ€™s The Train Driver brings Signatureâ€™s season of the South African playwright to a yawning conclusion...Despite the playâ€™s flaws and talkiness, Costerâ€™s performance is heartfelt and believable. A low-key Brown lends fine support in an underwritten role. (Read Full Review)
The Darkest of Souls is the brightest beacon of delight in the well-performed but disappointing new musical Death Takes a Holiday. Playing the Grim Reaper, British actor Julian Ovenden makes for a happy discovery...he animates the proceedings with dashing good looks, lush voice and a charmingly light touch... Death occasionally sparks to life with pretty melodies, but the lyrics suffer from being overly direct or simplistic...Amid issues and limitations, the stage overflows with top-notch talent...[but director] Doug Hughes...seems out of his comfort zone with the challenges of a musical.
It takes more than a juicy setup and tangy talking points to make a great play... The 100-minute one-act is showcased in a terrifically acted and slickly designed production directed by Walter Bobbie for MCC Theater... Talbott raises intriguing ideas about whether someone can write sensitively, even masterfully, on any given subject, and whether one group subjected to bigotry can relate to another. Too often, however, situations are contrived, including Emilie's agreeing to a no-win involvement in the conspiracy... The promising Talbott submits to clichÃ©. In doing so, he goes from a boldly provocative "what if" to a baldly predictable "so what."
Like her Pulitzer Prize-winning dramedy Crimes of the Heart, Henley’s latest Southern Gothic is laced with family dysfunction and gobs of black humor. There are also whiffs of David Lynchian weirdness and florid Tennessee Williams-style poetics.
It’s often hard to know whether to laugh or cringe at times at this peculiar and perverse but never boring New Group production. It comes from the L.A.’s Geffen Playhouse and is staged by theater vet Robert Falls.
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Exploring the intersections of language, love and loss in this Roundabout presentation, Cho strikes a couple of resonant chords. Words can fail us and everyone has their own way and difficulty in expressing what's on their minds and in their hearts...But between her story and Mark Brokaw's direction, the play buckles under the weight of forced whimsy. So do the actors, particularly Schreck, who's usually so natural on stage. (Read Full Review)
It's not your grandkids' storytime. The experience -- which runs 8 hours with breaks -- is like a live version of books on tape. It's an oddity that has its moments, including a vivid and energetic party scene, but not enough of them to recommend the fanny-numbing readathon at the Public Theater. (Read Full Review)
The show is odd but meticulous. Samuel speaks in a carefully metered monotone. Suzie, meanwhile, does likewise. She changes things up occasionally as when she pronounces her name Sooooo-zie. As usual there are strings stretched across the stage, a signature Foreman design element that defines boundaries. Idiosyncratic as expected, it’s hard not to feel strung along during this tale. (Read Full Review)
Only the beautiful, mournful Act II aria, â€œWhen Thereâ€™s No One,â€ in which sicko Margaret reckons with killing her daughter in the name of God, nails the chills and thrills lurking in the grim Carrie tale. Itâ€™s a great scene and Mazzie dazzles. Ranson makes a less distinct impression in the title role. Sheâ€™s a strong singer, but her acting lacks nuance as Carrie goes from outcast ugly duckling to prom-night swan to mass murderer. In fairness, thatâ€™s partly due to Lawrence D. Cohenâ€™s sketchy script, which pushes the action from late â€™70s Maine to present day. Presumably itâ€™s to seize upon the topicality of bullying, but the strategy backfires. Itâ€™s harder to buy Carrie as clueless about the world and her own anatomy in the Information Age. Even small-town New England schools come with computers, and theyâ€™re windows to the world even for girls kept in darkness at home. (Read Full Review)
Kathie Lee Giffordâ€™s overblown but undercooked singing bio could have used Sister Aimeeâ€™s curative abilities... The score... comes in two similar flavors: pushy power ballad and â€œUp With Peopleâ€-style anthem. Commanding as Carmello is, all the bombast soon leads to diminishing returns... the showâ€™s creators and director David Armstong donâ€™t give a glimpse of what Aimeeâ€™s magical power as a preacher was... â€œScandalous,â€ at the end of the day â€” and three hours â€” has blessed little to say. Talk about a trial.
As light on nastiness (just six F-bombs in 80 minutes) as it is on narrative, the two-hander's wispiness is amplified by director Neil Pepe's overblown and pokey production.... "Life" wants to be a fast-flowing montage, but this one lags due to scenery and costume changes that should have been tightened -- or, better, simplified -- to keep things racing.... Blame the play, in part. Despite easy laughs that arise from watching actors deal with missed cues, misfiring props and the discomfort of sharing a dressing room, the early-career Mamet's scenes and characters are shallow and shapeless. (Read Full Review)
Careens from goofy to ponderous to heavy. Fortunately, you canâ€™t argue with the gem-filled score...The lyrics are smart, clever, even impish, and complement the irresistible melodies. Too bad the tunes are now in weird contexts...In the end, all the changes donâ€™t really enhance the showâ€™s message to wake up and to love who you are. That was always right there in the lush and life-affirming title songâ€™s lyric: â€œThe glow that surrounds you outshines every star.â€ Unfortunately, this Clear Day manages just a dull glimmer. (Read Full Review)
A jacked-up portrait of Judy Garland that captures the legend at the end of her rope near the end of her life. It is not a pretty picture. Or an illuminating one...In lieu of insights, Quilter and director Terry Johnson rehash whatâ€™s been chronicled in books and films about Judyâ€™s self-destructiveness...Bennett is something of a saving grace. She certainly gives her all. (Read Full Review)
If you've unwrapped a present hoping to find the coolest new plaything and instead found -- darn! -- gloves inside, you'll appreciate my reaction to the Broadway musical Elf...Meant to be the season's big happy hummable holiday event, the show never gets there; it feels unfinished and unready for New York. Director-choreographer Casey Nicholaw's resolutely middling production didn't have a regional tryout, but it could be a touring company that shuffled into town...The score is fine, with enough sass and brass to make you wish it was better. Same goes for the adaptation by Thomas Meehan (Annie) and Bob Martin (The Drowsy Chaperone), which leads to a sort of no-man's-land. Kids won't get the PETA, Charlie Sheen and New Jersey-bashing jokes. Adults will tip toward a sugar coma. Neither leave with much of a takeaway. (Read Full Review)
Too matter-of-fact and not nearly frothy enough to make this wickedly romantic comedy sparkle. There are bubbles, mind you, but theyâ€™re from a goofy-looking aquarium thatâ€™s in Amandaâ€™s Paris apartment...Cattrall has little moments, including when she silently mouths Elyotâ€™s new wifeâ€™s name in disgust and when she launches herself like a missile onto a bed. Gross, a Canadian actor known for â€œDue South,â€ makes a dashing Elyot, but too often equates scowling and shouting with humor. He and Cattrall look good together, but thatâ€™s not the same thing as hot chemistry. (Read Full Review)
There, in a nutshell, is the play's point â€” all men are not created equal. It comes to light in the homestretch of the 2Â½-hour production in a conversation between Cornet and President Thomas Jefferson (John McMartin), who is assisted by Meriwether Lewis (Paul Dano). It feels like it takes a lot of play to communicate the obvious message. Compounding the frustration is the production's exaggerated acting style and frantic little vignettes. At times, there's so much motion the play gets eaten up by all the machinery. The dialogue can even sound like jibberish. (Read Full Review)
It takes a fine-tuned ensemble to breathe believable life into dialogue that roams from plain-spoken to poetic. Director Jo Bonney’s actors relate to each other awkwardly and too loudly, despite the intimate theater.
But Lisa Joyce, as Dan’s fretful doctor wife, gives a thoughtful, natural performance. She’s an actress who always seems to be thinking, not just saying lines. This production — and every show — needs more of that. (Read Full Review)
The goings-on are often cringe-worthy, but they are frequently funny. The graphic scenes and hateful rants get their chuckles from how casually they are presented. That’s Bradshaw’s way — and director Scott Elliott follows suit. The author makes one salient point. Life is messy, strange, hypocritical, sad, sweet — and true intimacy comes when you least expect it… Unfortunately, there aren’t enough insights as the script flirts with ideas about class, race and violence. And too much of the play is sophomoric and gratuitously gross… Bradshaw is often called a button-pusher. He often makes you laugh. He always makes you wince. But he doesn’t make you think enough — and that’s the greatest form of provocation.
(Read Full Review)
Lincoln Center’s “Stop Hitting Yourself” is designed to gleam. Everything onstage — the furniture, the grand piano, the David-like statue, the gigantic dollar sign studded with lights, and even the tiered fountain flowing with, so we’re told, liquid cheese — is golden. If only the show was half as dazzling...Kirk Lynn gets credit for writing; Shawn Side for direction. The problem with the team effort isn’t that there are too many cooks, but that the ideas raised about money, charity and individualism are too shallow and familiar...Despite all that glittery eye candy, “Stop Hitting Yourself” isn’t all that interesting.
David Mamet at his most manipulative. Written 17 years ago in response to the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill he-said-she-said circus, the compact drama is back to push buttons. Sitcoms are built for laughs. Oleanna is made to enrage â€” it's a sitbomb...Stiles and Pullman give fine performances. She's got a blank face and permanent frown perfect for a Mamet female â€” the nonentity with more to her. Pullman emits a fitting bookishness of a middle-aged Everyman. The actors get somewhat upstaged by director Doug Hughes' uncharacteristically misjudged production (Read Full Review)
Nothing happens in this frustrating and manipulative new Broadway musical based on a 1992 Steve Martin movie you donâ€™t see coming a mile away. What is surprising is how infrequently songs by Alan Menken (music) and Glenn Slater (lyrics) make you sit up and take notice...There are some rousing, albeit repetitive, gospel numbers, each accompanied by Sergio Trujilloâ€™s gyrating dancing...As the flimflammer in the mirror-ball jacket at the center of all of this, Esparza is full of the devil...Esparzaâ€™s not a miracle worker; he canâ€™t save the show. But he gives it his all, and that rates an amen. (Read Full Review)
Oh, lordy. It takes real effort to drain the joy from Godspell...And if director Daniel Goldsteinâ€™s overwrought 40th-anniversary revival is anything, it is really effortful. Itâ€™s also frantic. And pushy. So much so that even â€œDay by Day,â€ one of the sweetly irresistible hit songs from the show by Stephen Schwartz (Pippin, Wicked), turns sour. And thatâ€™s a sin....Relentless and self-conscious stabs at topicality â€” they range from Occupy Wall St. and Obamaâ€™s birth certificate to Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan, to name just a few â€” exhaust. They also mute the power of the parables. (Read Full Review)
The production's big House Beautiful-worthy set by John Lee Beatty is - in real-estate terms - triple mint. But the familiar family saga of deep dark secrets is a small-scale fixer-upper. Why MTC staged it in such grand fashion, and before it was really ready for an audience, mystifies. On the plus side, Sam Gold, a thoughtful young director with a solid track record, has assembled an appealing ensemble whose work shows the play off to its best advantage. (Read Full Review)
Set in working-class Connecticut in "the recent past," the slice of reality presented by the New Group seeks to rattle you with in-yer-face hatefulness. It doesn't. Despite a strong ensemble led by an excellent Ethan Hawke, the 2Â¾-hour work is so unyieldingly grim that all the
(Read Full Review)
Coppel skates across complex issues of sexuality and marriage in a schizo style. Soniaâ€™s monologues are irritatingly ornate. Teen-speak tilts toward caricature. While the author nails the messiness and resilience of family, â€œChimichangasâ€ doesnâ€™t always go down easy. (Read Full Review)
A revisionist Wikipedia entry dressed up as a play...Mark Saltzman...has packed his show with snippets of the composers' music (which is good), but too often what it delivers is a superficial history lesson and an earful of corn (not so good)...Stafford Arima, who brought inventive vigor to the mock boy-band musical "Altar Boyz," fails to inject vitality in this staging for the Roundabout. Too bad, since the show, the first musical production at the Laura Pels, starts off promisingly as wanna-be songwriters pitch tunes to Berlin and his publishing partner. The scene had the bouncy energy of a Keystone Kops-era "America's Got Talent." After that, this "Rag" had pretty much wrung itself dry. (Read Full Review)
Well-meaning but surprisingly bland and corny. Jack Lechner (lyrics) and Andy Monroe (music) have written a score of 20 songs with a vaguely pop feel. Most could stand to be more melodically distinct and less literal-minded lyrically...Michael Zam's book nudges out its fair share of laughs, many of them relying on Dan's sexually charged line of work...But the story never explains why the men, who've dated just two years and can't even deal with each other's taste in music, want a child. Strangely, the show smooths out all of Dan's snark and sharp edges, which are so prominent in his syndicated column. Sieber...is a good actor, but his Dan is just a boring big baby. (Read Full Review)
Although watching Sam Shepardâ€™s hazy new meditation on life and death and whatâ€™s in-between isnâ€™t abysmal, it does become tedious. But it also occasionally surges with offbeat humor. Thatâ€™s not nothing, but not enough to make for a satisfying night...Odd? You bet. Shepardâ€™s theater has its own rhythms and music â€” underscored by Eugene Leeâ€™s abstract set. Director Daniel Aukinâ€™s cast is all over the map â€” tinny and flat to too declamatory. (Read Full Review)
If, like me, you've never seen Arianda onstage before...She recalls Tracey Ullman at her most audacious and Barbra Streisand in her "Owl and the Pussycat" days. As she blows through Vanda's various moods â€” seductive, sweet, scary, among them â€” she's irresistible. But that's still not enough to recommend the play. The better-known Bentley ("American Beauty") gives such a flat performance that he's no help. But the bigger issue is that Ives' play, though filled with zingers, gets repetitive midway and leads to a lame conclusion. (Read Full Review)
The succulent growth spurt might suggest there's something worthwhile in the vintage Abe Burrows comedy, drawn from a French play. Sadly, no. What's to blame - the play or the production? Both.
The comedy creaks now more than it charms, particularly lines about guys slugging women.
(Read Full Review)
A provocative drama can leave an indelible mark on your mind. Adam Rappâ€™s new play just leaves a water-based stamp on your throat... Welcome to Through the Yellow Hour, the prolific playwrightâ€™s harrowing vision of the future as an increasingly savage world. Itâ€™s a lot like his gloomy view of the present, actually... the play moves briskly enough, succeeds in creating an atmospheric world and is moderately engrossing. Even with all the gross imagery, the most offputting moments are Rappâ€™s oh-brother poetics... Eventually, the plot goes murky-gray... Yellow Hour never gets more than skin-deep.
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Let’s just say it: The mating-game musical “First Date” isn’t first-rate. Third-tier is more like it. Or below-deck, since this singing catalogue of cliches by a team of Broadway rookies would fit better on a cruise ship than the Great White Way. The show follows financial analyst Aaron (Zachary Levi of “Chuck”) during his New York rendezvous with gallery girl Casey (Krysta Rodriguez of “Smash”). Aaron is nice (down to his blue suit and brown shoes), nerdy, stumbling, Jewish. Casey is spiky (including her cool red-and-black mini and black boots), confident, commitment-phobic, non-Jewish. Can opposites attract? Oh, hell, what do you think? (Read Full Review)
Demme's direction is as arid and zipless as the desert setting, but the deeper problems lie in the play itself. Henley's bite-sized microscenes never find traction or add up to any cumulative effect. The play ends with a sort of happy ending that comes out of left field and leaves you wondering if that's the last word. It's unclear whether the author is out to take potshots at rehab and counseling or to simply present more of the sad-funny eccentrics who've populated her plays since her debut dramedy, "Crimes of the Heart." Unlike that 1981 Pulitzer Prize winner, the characters here are too shallow to stir interest or empathy, even with four fine actors on stage. They've all done better work elsewhere. And will again when this "Week" is over. (Read Full Review)
Lands some light laughs and dabs occasionally at something more significant, but overall itâ€™s a disappointing work built on a self-defeating foundation...Under Evan Yionoulisâ€™ direction, the actors give credible performances and the design team delivers fine support in this Primary Stages production. But that canâ€™t make up for a stubbornly start-and-stop narrative. (Read Full Review)
Solid acting goes so far in shoring up watery material...Fifty years later, Bergman's drama emerges without subtety or subtext; its gothic qualities are a little hokey...[Leveaux's] staging is spare and stylish, with its blue-on-blue scenery and costumes, but it's no substitute for dramatic depth or tension. Mulligan and company deliver vivid performances. But Bergman's Nordic blues still come out pale and white-washed. (Read Full Review)
An affectionate but overemphatic paean...Coleman's music was stylistically varied. But his work possessed a constant; it had an infectious breezy quality that made you tap your toes and shimmy in your seat. Unfortunately, this collection of pop hits, familiar showtunes and in-the-works songs written shortly before his death in 2004 too often cloaks that signature Coleman cool under overheated performances...The performers oversell songs that don't need any hawking whatsoever. (Read Full Review)
Being star-crossed is just one issue facing the Verona lovebirds in a downtown “Romeo and Juliet” that comes dressed in contemporary clothes and leaves no impact. As played by newcomer Julian Cihi and film starlet Elizabeth Olsen, the doomed youths lack passion and vocal chops. Each delivers Shakespeare’s poetry with all the music of a broken iPod. A month after Broadway’s tepid take…Classic Stage Company’s wan version provides an even less compelling reason to revisit the tragedy. Director Tea Alagic’s vision is streamlined — no prologue, no epilogue, no Lady Montague, no knives for a couple of murders; just blood capsules that burst and leave a gory trail. That final bit rouses interest momentarily, as does a wildly costumed masked ball. The show’s minimal scenery — blank floor and matching wall and a few sticks of furniture — is a backdrop for acting styles that are all over the map. The mashup makes for an unsatisfying piecemeal effect.
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Denzel Washington barrels onstage in "Fences" and guns it, roaring instantly from zero to 60 in both intensity and volume. He leaves it revving there. All night. After a while, it becomes more exhausting than exhilarating...Tackling a role originated by James Earl Jones, double-Oscar-winning Washington is the right age and has the right softness in the gut to play the ex-athlete. Even with the extra chunk in the middle, Washington is striking onstage...Washington never lets you forget you're watching him act. That fact is amplified by director Kenny Leon's tendency to overemphasize the play's inherent soapiness. Lines are underlined and spelled out in capital letters. It doesn't draw you in to Wilson's characters, but builds a fence between you and them. (Read Full Review)
It takes a gutsy dramatist to call a play “stop. reset.” The title all but begs you to consider if the author should have, well, stopped and reset while tapping away at her laptop. Unfolding over an eternal 100 minutes, “stop. reset” is a muddled meditation on the death of books, the future of technology and virtual reality, racial identity and snow. Taylor’s competing themes and uncomfortable mix of realism and surreal sequences prove to be puzzling and unsatisfying. When a story is working — whether you’re flipping the pages of a book or swiping a screen — it keeps you glued. But “stop. reset.” loses its grip.
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The top-flight cast works hard to sell the material. Hair greased and accent set on bizarre, Lane is a riot and carries the production with his signature silliness. Neuwirth looks the part of Morticia but can't summon her morbid wit and has the personality of a powdered statue with deep cleavage. She comes to life, finally, for a tango choreographed by Sergio Trujillo. (Read Full Review)
A few things are missing from Million Dollar Quartet, a jukebox musical that'd fit right in on the Vegas Strip: a buffet dinner, slot machines and, more importantly, a story...Four guys alternating at a microphone isn't a Broadway musical (just Madame Tussauds with tunes), so writers Colin Escott, a rock historian, and Floyd Mutrux, a film producer, plump things up with behind-the-scenes bios and bits of drama spinning around grudges and betrayals...The cast of Broadway newcomers are a talented, high-energy bunch - competent actors, even better musicians...Director Eric Schaeffer keeps things moving briskly and makes sure a whole lot of shakin' is going on in the flashy finale. (Read Full Review)
A better title — “A Time to Think About Errands I Need To Run"... The movie made Matthew McConaughey a star. No such luck for Arcelus in the Rupert Holmes adaptation, which is directed by Ethan McSweeny. Credible as Arcelus is — his performance really grew on me — the material lets him down... these main characters lack depth, while secondary ones possess one trait apiece... this take by Holmes (“The Mystery of Edwin Drood”) lacks a strong point of view. Courtroom claustrophobia can create drama. But there’s no tension here. Worse, there’s no context... Charged with the dramatic felony of telling instead of showing, “A Time to Kill” is guilty. Throw the book at it.
Statuesque, sturdy and with eyes that beam intelligence, Jones draws you in instantly -- and she looks great in Catherine Zuber's bold frocks and hats. It's a treat having her back on stage, following her Emmy-winning presidential term on 24, but she undermines herself with a sloppy accent that careens from Cockney to outer-borough to Mae West. Hawkins.. makes a feisty, strong-willed Vivie -- a woman so rigid, upright and unyielding it's as though she could crack at any moment. Too bad she's often shrill and difficult to understand. Elocution oddities are contagious. Adam Driver plays the broke opportunist Frank Gardner with a weird singsong. What's in the water backstage? (Read Full Review)
When Holiday is performing, “Lady Day” works well enough. Bridgewater conveys some of Holiday’s magic. But when Holiday speaks, things often go south. As she flashes back to Holiday’s past, Bridgewater talks in a distracting and cloying widdle-girl voice. Even worse is the decision to have Bridgewater mime Holiday’s adolescent rape and her introduction to heroin. Scenes that should be harrowing lose any and all heft. (Read Full Review)
...Mathias should’ve been drafting an apology letter for stirring up this half-baked rehash of Truman Capote’s singularly quirky book... Broadway’s charm-challenged “Breakfast” isn’t the movie... And that’s okay... Unfortunately, the play shakes loose no fresh insights, joys or jolts. It’s a lesser copy — like trading Tiffany’s for Jared... New York in the ’40s teemed with texture, but this production by Mathias... is weirdly one-dimensional. Derek McLane’s set pieces, Colleen Atwood’s costumes and Wendall K. Harrington’s projections leave you wanting.
Ditto Holly. “Game of Thrones” starlet Emilia Clarke makes her Broadway debut in the role with red lips and brown hair. Sure, she’s pretty, but spellbinding? Yawn — no... Cory Michael Smith, who recently impressed Off-Broadway in “The Whale,” fares marginally better... ultimately a fur-brained time-waster of a play.
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Where's the wonder in Wonderland? When Alice goes down the rabbit hole (actually, a service elevator), she should end up in a world teeming in imagination and meaning. Director Gregory Boyd's production plops Alice onto an often-empty stage. Designers Neil Patel (sets), Susan Hilferty (costumes) and Paul Gallo (lights) add bits of visual interest with swirling acid-trippy projections, audacious getups and bright rays of illumination. That sort of eye candy doesn't equate to a compelling personality for the place. But it is something to look at during the interminable first act. It is swamped in exposition as Alice meets characters who all get an introductory ditty. (Read Full Review)
At best, the revival is accessible. At worst, it lacks a strong point of view, compelling ideas and impact. Oh, but there are some stars. Musical-theater favorite Kelli Oâ€™Hara holds her own as middle daughter, although sheâ€™s the weepiest Regan Iâ€™ve ever seen. Maybe sheâ€™s spied herself in her costumes, which include a doozy of a cape that looks like a shag rug from West Elm. Big sister Goneril (Enid Graham) is into leather, while baby sis Cordelia (Kristen Connolly) tromps around in gray boots. Itâ€™s like an Eddie Bauer â€œLear.â€
Howeâ€™s semi-autobiographical play is wispy but unforgiving, a tricky trade-off of serious and silly. Push too hard and whatâ€™s meant to idiosyncratic and charming grates. Thatâ€™s what happens under director Carl Forsmanâ€™s watch. As Mags, Turnbull lacks an artistâ€™s air and struggles to make lines like â€œitâ€™s an honest to God star-spangled miracleâ€ sound natural. Her windy remember-when recriminations about Fannyâ€™s reaction to her childhood masterpiece made of melted crayons sounds like 64 shades of hooey. Chalfant, a theater treasure, canâ€™t give a bad performance, but she sags under the weight of Fannyâ€™s various tics â€” goofy hats and loudly hooting â€œhelllll-oooâ€ as though sheâ€™s calling people next door. The stately Cunningham fares best, sadly credible as Boston Brahmin Gardner whoâ€™s seen better days. Thereâ€™s nothing poetic about old age. (Read Full Review)
It's a compelling slice of history - director Lear deBessonet is credited with the concept - with provocative parallels to post-Hurricane Katrina Louisiana. But the play's choppy and rambling structure, stock characters and undeveloped subplots serve to undermine it. Shadow puppets and gospel-infused original songs by Todd Almond pad the production, but not its insights. (Read Full Review)
Grows tired long before the cows come home...Beckham's book and and lyrics rely on double entendres that soon strain. The bulk of his score is twangy workaday country-Western fare whose titles like "I'm Doin' Hair Today" and "Trailer Park Romance" speak for themselves...The show banks in a major way on the appeal of Jordan...Various gags are built around his elfin stature, but a little of this humor and Jordan's one-note snark go a long way. Merman adds big-coiffed camp, but is a bit too sedate as Miss Jeannie...Multiple Tony winner William Ivey Long dresses the principals and a well-rehearsed quartet of chorus boys in rib-tickling duds. The costumes are matched by Rob Bissinger's colorful cutout sets. All that is window dressing without a really strong story and score. (Read Full Review)
Tomei struggles, as any actress would, to make Marie's surreal rants sound natural. Whaley's "aw gee" angle on Bruce tilts toward cartoonish. Every couple feeds off each other. As a commentary on what makes marriages tick, even ones that seem fatally flawed, Wallace's work fails to show what Marie and Bruce get from each other â€” or that there was ever any love there. (Read Full Review)
Scott Schwartz’s direction is miscalibrated. He does no favors for Ryback, likable in his Off-Broadway debut, and Blumenkrantz, a veteran chameleon, by pitching their performances so hard and so fast. Instead of pulling you in, they push you away. For an audience, that’s deadly. (Read Full Review)
Broadway’s starry but misguided new take... is a dim and soggy affair... Johansson is alarmingly one-note... Her voice is raspy and lacks vitality... The power of the words gets lost in translation.
Director Rob Ashford, known for staging and choreographing musicals, does her no favors with a preposterous set by Christopher Oram... Ashford also has Maggie constantly fuss and tug at her slip as though she’s trapped in a lingerie prison... Benjamin Walker is so low-key that he makes almost no impression. Irish actor Ciarán Hinds blasts the bluster as the dying Big Daddy, and is much more contemporary than anyone else. Debra Monk hollers her way through the role of Big Mama. Thanks to Ashford’s staging, both end up bouncing around on Brick and Maggie’s bed...This production never really clicks.
For 2 1/2 hours, the play goes through melodramatic motions and leads to an out-of-character conclusion. The show’s best asset is Charlie’s droolworthy home — an airy California castle designed by John Lee Beatty. For cheaper real-estate porn, read a shelter magazine.
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One issue is that side stories that unfold over the church's five floors and chapel are vague and uninteresting. Several involve shouting, but raised voices don't guarantee raised attention levels.
You're left pondering various mysteries - What's with the tooth in this basin of bloody water? What's this illustration from "Harold and the Purple Crayon" Âdoing here? Who knows.
The other issue is bad timing and site-specific fatigue. (Read Full Review)
This dramatic 16-month chapter in McAlary's highflying life forms the beating heart of Dan Klores' well-intentioned but wishy-washy biodrama The Wood... Klores, a filmmaker and public-relations honcho, resists making any sort of judgment call or coming to any sort of conclusion. And that's precisely what would have added dimension and edge to a play that ultimately ends in such a fuzzy fashion that it's not clear it's even over.
The Public Theater's accessible but lethargic production, directed by Michael Greif ("Rent"), does this ungainly work no favor with its uneven acting, missed chances to create theatrical magic and gummy pacing. Too bad, since a lively and lovely prelude of music (Tom Kitt wrote the spirited melodies) and puppets energize the atmosphere before a word is spoken...Leontes has the lion's share of lines, but Santiago-Hudson's bland performance makes the character recede dramatically. Also disappointing: Hamish Linklater's overplaying of a Bohemian rogue...Greif's production is most memorable for all of its scenic effects that want to dazzle - but don't. (Read Full Review)
A shadowy drifter makes mobiles in The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore. As hobbies go, it's peculiar, if Calder-esque. But it fits, since Tennessee Williams' overwrought and seldom-done 1963 drama concerns an older woman twisting in the wind. Then again, what Williams play doesn't? (Read Full Review)
With its horseradish-harsh heroine and a goofy haunted mirror, Charles Busch's new play, "Olive and the Bitter Herbs," had the potential to be dizzy good fun. Or provocative. Or, better yet, both.
Unfortunately, laughs and insights are equally in short supply in this forced and flimsy urban comedy, which opened Tuesday night. (Read Full Review)
Though likable, the actresses are hamstrung by thin material and monochromatic characters. Mary (Lauren Kennedy) is the sexed-up one, Kathy (Anneliese van der Pol) is the organized one, and Joanne (Sarah Stiles) is the goofy one and, weirdly, the only one with a sagebrush twang. To compensate, they all tend to push too hard, so there's an aggressive quality to the performances. It's sometimes a bit unpleasant when they harmonize. The element of the production that gets it (almost) perfect, is Anna Louizos' breezy scenic design, which evokes eras with iconic images, like the album jacket of Joni Mitchell's "Clouds" in the 1968 college scene (so what if the LP came out in '69). Mitchell's mug loomed large for me as a restless Mary sang some jarringly simplistic lines: "Mama is a coward. Mama is a drunk. Mama sleeps with Howard when she gets in a funk." I swear I saw Joni, queen of brainy and incisive lyrics, roll her eyes. It wasn't her. It was me. (Read Full Review)
Masks might be seen in surreal terms and as a fever dream of ideas about lifeâ€™s illusions, moneyâ€™s power to corrupt and sexual repression. A new Williams play is an event, but its incoherence makes it a time-waster that even completists could find hard to love. (Read Full Review)
Matthew Broderick needs to call a moratorium on middle-aged mopes. His doormat du jour, Mark, an astronomy teacher in The Starry Messenger, blurs with the ones he played in The Philanthropist and The Odd Couple. Broderick is a likable actor, but these inert performances are depleting the goodwill he's banked from better stage and film work. Kenneth Lonergan...is the brains behind this three-hour misfire. Lonergan also directs, and the pace is dialed to "snail." (Read Full Review)
The original idea behind “The Landing” was to make a musical so mini it could be done in a living room. But now there’s three less-than-little musicals strung together and a big star — David Hyde Pierce. Unfortunately, the team effort by the renowned John Kander (music) and the rookie Greg Pierce (book and lyrics) — David’s nephew — makes for a trying evening. The show should have stayed put in the parlor. (Read Full Review)
In the Spanish movie "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown," trouble springs from a cad's infidelity. The highly anticipated musical version, which opened last night, suffers from the exact opposite problem: It stays too faithful, in this case to its source material. The jittery adaptation by Jeffrey Lane (book) and David Yazbek (score) hews so close to Pedro Almodovar's 1988 film comedy â€” from plot and costumes to gags and props â€” that it's more like a rerun than a reinvention.
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Nearly 40 years after winning a Tony and a Pulitzer, the play, which opened last night in a starry revival, amounts to two hours of bombast given the full-court press. The plot is designed to excite you and incite you with its racist rhetoric, but it's presented so blatantly, you tune out...
Director Gregory Mosher maximized the power of Arthur Miller's "A View From the Bridge" last season, but he's stymied by this less durable work. His staging is lax, and his actors fade into Michael Yeargan's cavernous domestic set. That's no way to treat your cast.
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Itâ€™s a cocky writer, or maybe just a foolhardy one, who crafts a scene in which an actor trots into the theater and pointedly asks the audience: â€œIs this really what you want to be doing with your life? Being here?â€ Playwright and director Young Jean Lee creates exactly such a moment in Lear at Soho Rep. And since sheâ€™s put the question out there, the answer is no way. (Read Full Review)
A well-meaning but wimpy and exceedingly precious new musical...Bockleyâ€™s book simply finds the residents squabbling, fretting about sex and then leaving. It fails to locate themes that resonate and make it more than the simple fact that this happened. A â€œBig Brotherâ€ episode has more tension...Director Davis McCallumâ€™s spare staging gives the show an elemental look. His cast is a mixed bag, with Kristen Sieh, as the inquisitive McCullers, Ken Clark as her on-off husband and Kacie Sheik as the brassy Gypsy making fine impressions. (Read Full Review)
Director Giovanna Sardelli and the cast get as much tension as they can out of the script. With so many plot ruses and red herrings, the story falls flat. You can’t win a boxing match with nothing but feints. You’ve got to land a punch now and then. “North Pool” thrashes without making contact. (Read Full Review)
When well told, The Bacchae can be a stirring statement about power, birthright and divine madness. You know a production isn't getting traction when the memorable moments involve three raccoons scurrying in from the wings and hiding under the set. They had the right idea. (Read Full Review)
With the newly restored Henry Miller's Theatre, the Roundabout has another Broadway house under its wing. But with the launch of the venue's inaugural production, a bumbling, badly cast version of Bye Bye Birdie, it also has egg on its face. Director/choreographer Robert Longbottom (Side Show, Flower Drum Song) has staged the sweet, hit-filled 1960 classic like an exaggerated comic book. In the process, many of the charms have been smothered and characters emerge as plastic as the scenery. (Read Full Review)
Frank Sinatra's singing oozes effortless cool. Twyla Tharp's dancing reeks of sweaty showmanship. Combined, it's a pair of two left feet, and that's a shaky foundation for the choreographer-director's new Broadway brainchild...The production strives to recapture the magic of Tharp's "Movin' Out" (a hit, to Billy Joel tunes) and to erase the memory of "The Times They Are-a-Changin'" (a flop, to the Bob Dylan songbook). Unfortunately, "Fly Away" falls closer to the latter. Unless you're a BIG fan of the Chairman of the Board and ballet-infused modern dance, Tharp's latest can be as tedious as waiting on a tarmac...Tharp shoots herself in the foot by getting repetitive and relying on hokey, literal-minded movements. Outstretched propeller arms when a lyric mentions flying? Really. (Read Full Review)
The cast makes little impression and the material doesnâ€™t help. Bruce Joel Rubinâ€™s book, based on his Oscar-winning 1990 screenplay, clunks along. The love story gets swamped by numerous scenes and robotic dance numbers about New Yorkâ€™s frantic fast-paced corporate jungle. Some moments seem to exist simply for visuals â€” Hey, letâ€™s use umbrellas! Pop-rock songs by Glen Ballard (he co-wrote Michael Jacksonâ€™s â€œMan in the Mirrorâ€), Dave Stewart (of the Eurythmics) and Rubin are literal-minded and repetitious and fill up space but never fuel the imagination. On the plus side, the classic hit â€œUnchained Melodyâ€ is retained from the film.
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... Katie Holmes throws herself gamely into her second Broadway show... Unfortunately, Holmesâ€™ efforts add up to zilch. The stillborn comedy sheâ€™s in is so stupefyingly unfocused that it plays like a draft, not a finished work... In lieu of an engaging story, unseen people, including the sibsâ€™ sick dad, are gabbed about while undeveloped thematic strands dangle... Director Jack Oâ€™Brien canâ€™t do much with the material, so he puts his energy into moody scene changes... Butz does bad-boy charmer better than almost anyone. (Read Full Review)
[The song "Walk On By"] is my advice for this production, considering that the songs are so blandly performed they don't make an impression.... Sheldon Epps and Escott's direction is as surface-y as their book. In a nutshell, it amounts to slide desk on and off stage left, move a piano in at stage right, stand Shirelles downstage, have girls wiggle hips, repeat.
Both [Duchovny] and Neil LaBute's play about a man touched by the fickle finger of faith are D.O.A., done in by superficiality. Set to run last fall in an MCC presentation, the play was canceled by the company. Judging by what's now onstage, it needed another draft or three.
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Elaborately tacky, unintentionally hilarious and totally bloodless, a new Off-Broadway production makes you suspect that you're being "Punk'd." ... Awkward acting, cheapo effects and a tatty set raise giggles, not goose bumps. As Dracula, Michel Altieri, an Italian performer making his U.S. debut, flashes eyes, teeth and cape (costumes are by the estimable Willa Kim) but no charisma. It's no help that director Paul Alexander saddles the count with a ridiculous wig from the Morticia Addams collection, which he wears in a ponytail (when he's cordial) and tousled (when he's supposed to be sexy). (Read Full Review)
No matter that Oscar champ Philip Seymour Hoffman acts up as the original frenemy, Iago. Or that his longtime pal John Ortiz lays it on thick as Shakespeare's tragically jealous Moor...They're now adrift in this wearying reimagining by Peter Sellars, a director known for reinventing classics. Much of the action, set amid the upper ranks of an unnamed Obama-era government, plays out on a huge bed made up of 45 TV sets flashing ever-changing images. Like American flags. Bloody fingers. Crop circles? Whatever. Casting Oritz, who's of Puerto Rican descent, as Othello, and LeRoy McClain, who's black, as Cassio, is meant to expand the exploration of racism. Ironically, the subject seems practically nonexistent...The staging and acting pack all the oomph of "Melrose Place." (Read Full Review)
Despite the potent beginning, "Gabriel's" batteries almost immediately run out of juice - a power outage due to rickety writing, stiff direction by David Esbjornson and performances as stony as the distracting slab of marble that looms large on the set.... The play, seen in London in 1997, works overtime to be provocative with its big issues of identity, memory, religion and nationality. It also seeks to be be suspenseful with its life-and-death dramas and what people do to survive. But the production is inert, and you stop caring. The same goes for the core mystery of Gabriel's identity. He could be an English pilot who parachuted from a plane or maybe a German officer who tumbled overboard. Either way, the play falls flat. And it can't get up. (Read Full Review)
A thicket of themes isn't necessarily a bad thing. But the play careens from melodrama to sitcom setups. The dialogue is a mix of clumsy "remember when" exposition and preachy, stats-filled speeches. Alongside kitchen-sink realism, there are premonitions and dream sequences. In one doozy of a scene, kitchen cupboards come to life with the spirits of Pickle's dead son, husband and father. (Read Full Review)
Director Scott Ellis and the cast are not protons. They're unable to whip this mash into something edible. Lithgow, who's been down the gossip road before in another dud, Sweet Smell of Success, at least comes off capable and game. But Ehle, known for turns in the Tom Stoppard dramas The Coast of Utopia and The Real Thing, flounders with the comedy (to be fair, any actress would in this role) and in her unflattering getups by Jeff Mahshie.
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In the press notes, the play is called "a romantic thriller." But between a B-movie script by Daniel Goldfarb ("Modern Orthodox"), tone-deaf direction by Leigh Silverman and uniformly overheated performances, it has all the tension and believability of Broadway's spy spoof "The 39 Steps." That comparison isn't made just willy-nilly. The shows echo each other in a variety of ways - the espionage plots, a scheming femme fatale, a scene on a speeding train, spooky music (Tom Kitt handles the chore here), right down to a secret agent with missing fingers. (Read Full Review)