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David Gordon



Reviews

A+

The Whale

[A] gut-wrenching, funny-devastating new drama...Charlie [is] played by the towering giant of an actor Shuler Hensley in a truly amazing performance...Under the unflinching direction of Davis McCallum, The Whale is a harrowing, whole tissue box experience, as raw as pulling off a band aid, in your face and uncomfortable to watch (in the best way possible). The company he has assembled to bring Hunter’s unsettled territory to life is better than first-rate. (Read Full Review)

A+

All That Fall

...Dame Eileen Atkins and Sir Michael Gambon, two veritable legends of the stage who can infuse even the smallest expression with earth-shattering emotion...This is the beauty of All That Fall, a 1956 radio play by Samuel Beckett, now being performed under Sir Trevor Nunn's direction at 59E59 Theaters after an acclaimed London run last year. As Beckett teases out the details, red herrings abound, Nunn's production becomes more and more gripping. Atkins is titanic, both acidly hilarious and thoroughly wrenching, while Gambon delivers a master class in the art of slowly building a performance to reach a jaw-dropping climax. Best of all, they're not acting for the radio, merely delivering lines into microphones. No, they're treating this like it's a stage play. Their actions are infused with the weight and gravity of the situation they're in. There might not be a dirt road, but who needs one when we have two great actors and the most important tool of all: our imagination. (Read Full Review)

A+

Fun Home

...after seeing what book writer/lyricist Kron and composer Tesori have created, the question of "how" completely evaporates. In collaboration with director Sam Gold, this team has created a stunning piece that breaks the mold of musical theater both in content and staging. Not only does Fun Home use the musical form to its fullest extent to create what is essentially a graphic novel on stage, but it also gives voice to a group surprisingly underrepresented in musical theater, gay women. The writers have also crafted a strong, intelligent, and witty score, excellently played by an eight-member orchestra led by Chris Fenwick and sung by the cast of nine…In fact, most of Kron and Tesori's songs are gifts to performers. In addition to a physical production that challenges viewers to look at the musical form through a different lens, Fun Home' sky rockets onto the list of the decade's most important new American musicals.
(Read Full Review)

A+

Silence! The Musical

Who would have figured that a musical of The Silence of the Lambs would end up one of the best movie-to-musical transfers in recent memory?...Silence! produces more belly laughs than I thought possible...The humor never gets old. Gattelli’s staging is so perfectly pitched and paced that the show never feels overlong or even dull. In fact, it goes by so quickly that you almost want it to run longer....Silence! deserves to run at Theatre 80 for as long as possible. If only all movie-turned-musicals were this good. (Read Full Review)

A

The Open House

The five actors turn in excellent work on both sides of the coin, but its Friedman who steals the show, with his dry, sarcastic retorts (Eno at his funniest) and a helluva withering glance. The playwright is perfectly matched by director Oliver Butler, who gets Eno's oeuvre and style remarkably well. (Read Full Review)

A

Bullets Over Broadway

…they don't come any more glorious than Bullets Over Broadway…With top-form direction and choreography by Susan Stroman, a superb cast led by Zach Braff (TV's Scrubs), and a brand-new-sounding score culled from hits of the 1920s, Bullets is musical comedy with a capital M and C — a smart, zany delight from start to finish. Backstage musicals are clearly a shining star in Stroman's wheelhouse…and she and her collaborators have gone all out to craft a show that stands up to the very best in that genre. William Ivey Long's costumes are as glitzy as anyone could want, Santo Loquasto accurately reimagines his settings in the film for the theatrical medium, and Donald Holder's lighting gives the show an authentic, period feel. Most important, there's not a single uninteresting moment onstage. The aim of Bullets is to make us laugh, and boy, do we ever. (Read Full Review)

A

Rapture, Blister, Burn

A fiercely intelligent and damn insightful comedy that examines stances on feminism through the years in the guise of compelling, flawed, human characters...Gionfriddo ingeniously structures the work so that all the necessary exposition springs from the discussions within Cathy’s course...Peter DuBois' direction keeps the play moving along when it could easily get bogged down in discussion...There is no question that Rapture, Blister, Burn is a significant contribution to the American dramatic canon, especially when placed in conversation with the work of Wendy Wasserstein. (Read Full Review)

A

Bad Jews

From there, the fireworks (and stomach-hurting belly laughs, the kind that can only come from watching people be mean to one another) launch and don't let up. Daniel Aukin's production, transferred upstairs intact, might be missing some of the intimacy it had in the basement space, but that is not detrimental to this black comedy. In fact, the year-long break has only strengthened the work. For starters, it's shorter — only by about ten minutes, but it's now hit the perfect length. The actors are still top notch, delivering volatile performances that are now more recognizably human. But most importantly, the character of Daphna has undergone a transformation, and it's not just a switch in Dane Laffrey's impressively schlumpy costumes. (Read Full Review)

A

The Night Alive

In a play chock full of transcendent theatricality, this moment in Conor McPherson's keenly observed and excellently acted new drama, The Night Alive, encapsulates the piece: misfits searching for a way out find it, briefly, only to get shot back down to the wretched lives they're so desperate to escape. McPherson specializes in tortured souls such as these. One of the beauties in McPherson's script, which he also directs, is how he never lets the audience get ahead of the plot. Just as everything seems to be going smoothly, a sharp tonal shift and a terrifying act of violence...up the ante and reveal the truths about our characters. That such an abrupt shift works as well as it does is a testament to both McPherson's skilled technique as a writer and his first-rate cast. It is in its ending where The Night Alive will polarize; in London, writers and audiences largely agreed that the play went on for one scene too long. But McPherson, as writer and director, knows exactly what he is doing. (Read Full Review)

A

The Judy Show

Through the lens of her favorite sitcoms from the '60s, '70s, and '80s, comedienne Judy Gold gives us an anthropological tour of her life in her uproarious new comedy The Judy Show: My Life as a Sitcom. The 80-minute monologue, co-written with Kate Moira Ryan and directed by Amanda Charlton, will no-doubt delight Gold's voracious fan base (out in full-force at the performance I attended) and probably gain her some new fans, as well. (Read Full Review)

A

The Subject Was Roses

Addressing World War II, It was written in 1964, a number of years after the war had ended. And yet it feels strikingly relevant today. Especially in Amy Wright's emotionally charged production for the Pearl Theatre Company...Once again, the Pearl proves itself indispensable. Artistic director J.R. Sullivan has had a great first season, and their new digs at City Center proved to be a great fit. I can't wait 'til next season. (Read Full Review)

A

Red Dog Howls

It is a performance I will never forget. (Read Full Review)

A

The Happiest Song Plays Last

Arguably, Happiest Song, which combines two very different story threads and features live music by Grammy nominee Nelson González, is the best of the three, a beautifully written piece that is both compellingly acted and intensely emotional. (Read Full Review)

A

Of Mice and Men

...in Anna D. Shapiro's compelling revival... Franco proves that he's not just playing games... O'Dowd is the ideal Lennie... Together the actors form one of the most affecting stage friendships in recent memory... Shapiro keeps the tension steadily rising until the final moments, when you're literally at the edge of your seats and ready to gasp. And the text, as recited by this assortment of extremely contemporary actors, sounds like it could have been written yesterday... The only weak link of the ensemble, really, is Meester... Shapiro's revival... makes a very strong case for this heartbreaking drama to receive the legacy it richly deserves. (Read Full Review)

A

Stage Kiss

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have to passionately smooch someone eight times a week in front of an audience? What if the person you were mackin' on happened to be your ex? And what if your family were watching from the front row? These are the questions at hand in Stage Kiss, Sarah Ruhl's new romantic comedy at Playwrights Horizons. The gorgeously articulate author of The Clean House and Eurydice is in top form with this delightful piece, which also happens to be the least "Sarah Ruhl-like" play she's written... You may find yourself wondering at times during Stage Kiss why everything...seems so darn naturalistic. After all, Ruhl is an author who specializes in a largely unexplored twilight zone of magical realism... Ruhl wisely realizes here that she doesn't need to heighten the reality. Stage Kiss is set in the world of theater. And in theater, reality is heightened enough as it is. (Read Full Review)

A

Sorry

As beautifully played by Plunkett, Barbara's agonizing grief and guilt at the decision to put her uncle away is palpable even from the furthest point in the house. The actress expertly conveys, through facial expressions, body language, and a slightly quivering voice, the soul-wrenching realization that you no longer have the ability to care for the person who took care of you. (Read Full Review)

A

Amerissiah

Family dysfunction and discord is nothing new to the stage, but Ahonen, one of the co-founders of the genius up-and-coming theater troupe The Amoralists, takes it to brand new, shockingly original heights...Ahonen's vivacious, outrageously funny script perfectly matches his vivacious, outrageously funny production. There's a lot of screaming, a LOT of screaming, but the performances are solid, especially the vigorously physical work of Amoralist co-founder Matthew Pilieci, clad only in a Mickey Mouse nightgown (costumes by Ricky Lang) as Barry...What I liked best about Amerissiah was that, for the first time in a long time, I walked out of the theatre ready to have a discussion. (Read Full Review)

A

The Old Friends

Ms. Foote has a way with her father's words; it's no question that she's the foremost interpreter of his canon and she shines here with an impressive stoicism and a killer side glance. Buckley, who looks stunning in David C. Woolard's extravagant costumes and a silver Paul Huntley wig, is a thrilling delight as the gargantuan Gertrude; unapologetic, mean, and chewing just the right amount of Jeff Cowie's down-home sets, of which there are three. (It was one of her lines that prompted a woman in the audience to loudly whisper "Jesus!") Smith is the most understated of the trio, delivering a nicely rueful performance as he, too, sets out to recapture his life. (Read Full Review)

A

The Bridges of Madison County

...a terrific new musical featuring an elegantly adapted book by Norman and a lush, tailor-made score by Brown… Bartlett Sher has staged a near-perfect, attractively designed production, in addition to providing O'Hara with a ruggedly handsome costar in Steven Pasquale, making his Broadway musical debut in a fashion that will set the bar very high in the future.
(Read Full Review)

A

Good Person of Szechwan

How lucky we are…that this Good Person has been remounted at The Public Theater, a mere 0.28 miles away from where it began. Everything that made deBessonet's staging unique, from the playful cardboard scenery by Matt Saunders to the Drama Desk Award-nominated original score by César Alvarez and The Lisps, has been retained. And Mac is as exceptional as ever. He is matched by the 12 other cast members…With this production, deBessonet cements her status as one of the most inventive young directors working today. Fast-paced and with its tongue firmly planted in cheek, this is a staging that also radiates sadness and heartache, even in its biggest moments. Add to that a nimble translation by John Willett and a funky, countrified score performed live by Lisps members…and you have a Brechtian morality play that doesn't feel like one.
(Read Full Review)

A

We the People: America Rocks!

What makes We The People so special is how Iconis and the various songwriters choose to interpret and explain these topics. Hip-hop is used to describe the powers of the Executive, Judicial and Legislative branches...And Iconis, in his signature style, explains the Electoral College in a way that allows even the least experienced voters to comprehend the eternally confusing way the President is elected. For a show written by so many people, there's shockingly little tonal confusion in terms of style, and in Gordon Greenberg's staging there's enough excitement to keep the youngest audience members enthralled...We The People is a treat for everyone. (Read Full Review)

A

Interviewing the Audience

This strange performance piece-cum-therapy session, an hour in duration, was as cathartic for me as it was, no doubt, for them. I just wish it was longer.
(Read Full Review)

A

Regular Singing

Memory is the focal point of Richard Nelson's beautifully contemplative series of dramas, now concluding at The Public Theater with the lovely and uneventful Regular Singing. Not much happens physically, but these plays are not about events. They're about how time goes by. They're about how the best thing to do to jog someone's memory is to quote a bit of Chekhov or Euripides. They're about, as writer/director Nelson describes in his program note, "the need to know, in small and even some bigger ways, that we are not alone." In spending four years with the Apples, we've come to befriend them as though we actually knew them. At this point, it doesn't even feel like we're watching actors; [they] own their characters strongly and realistically. Nelson ends our final visit to Rhinebeck with an fourth wall-breaking coda. "And so we live," Barbara tells us in the first and only direct address of the series. Reassures us. The Apples will live… in the fruits of our memories. But it isn't the same, really. How I'll miss being with them in person. (Read Full Review)

A

Choir Boy

What makes Choir Boy — directed by Trip Cullman for Manhattan Theatre Club's Studio at Stage II — so different from other plays with a similar subject (namely The Old Boy by A.R. Gurney, Alan Bennett's The History Boys, and the musical Bare) is McCraney's treatment of his central character. Pharus, captivatingly portrayed by newcomer Jeremy Pope, is both a victim and a bully, unafraid to use his preternatural intelligence in ways that can really piss people off... Just as jaw-dropping are the gospel and spiritual numbers spread throughout, performed a cappella by the choir boys under Jason Michael Webb's musical direction. Punctuating each scene, and blowing the figurative roof off David Zinn's versatile set, these choral numbers also help differentiate the play from so many others with a similar theme. Serving as both commentary on the action and factoring into the plot as it pertains to the struggles of identity, these musical interludes induce goose bumps when heard in-person and when you start to consider their meaning long after the play has ended. (Read Full Review)

A

Job

Bradshaw brilliantly uses incestuous necrophilia, castration, and a profoundly well-placed fart joke to bring Job’s story into the theatrical realm. Punchy, intelligent, deliberately anachronistic dialogue places the work firmly in the now, despite being set in 513 BC, with characters costumed in togas and tunics (nicely designed by Ashley Farra). In reconciling itself with the past and the present, Job’s story is made all the more immediate. (Read Full Review)

A

Sweet and Sad

The acting is particularly superb, and, more now than in the first play, they are fully convincing as a family. Hensley mesmerizes in a long monologue about Broadway’s Belasco Theatre and its ghosts, while DeVries is similarly mesmerizing in a monologue about the ghosts of his past. Robins is gut-wrenching as the quietly grieving mother, and Sanders, Plunkett and Smith-Cameron are excellent but with less to do. (Read Full Review)

A

A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder

...Jefferson Mays' virtuosic performance is surely one (or eight) of the year's best… Director Darko Tresnjak, who stages the show in and around Alexander Dodge's gorgeous Edwardian toy theater of a set, makes excellent use of projections (by Aaron Rhyne) and good old theatrical ingenuity… To say that watching Jefferson Mays die was the most ridiculously enjoyable experience of the Broadway season so far may seem a tad bit (morbid? insensitive? heartless?), but it's absolutely true... Linda Cho's gorgeous costumes aid and abet the madness and are so ornately detailed that you often have to suppress the need to scream at the stage, "HOW DID THAT QUICK-CHANGE HAPPEN!?!?!?"… His lyrics (written with Freedman) are whip-smart and impressively sharp… Freedman's book is similarly intelligent, but feels choppy in spots and meanders a bit too long here and there. Still, it's hard not to find enjoyment in the show. Death has not been this gleefully presented since the 1979 premiere of Sweeney Todd. (Read Full Review)

A

Becoming Dr. Ruth

Rupp captures both the sadness, stemming from the young child, then called Karola Ruth Siegel, who loses her parents to Hitler's slaughter, and the inherent jubilation that comes from at last finding family for whom she had always searched. It's an affecting performance that, more than anything else, captures the essence of the real person. And that's more than any mere imitation can offer. (Read Full Review)

A

The Pee-wee Herman Show

I'd be lying if I didn't cop to having chills when Reubens appeared on stage. I'd be lying even more if I said my eyes didn't widen, like a child in a store filled with the greatest toys ever, when the curtain rose on David Korins's extraordinary set, a more technical, 2010 adaptation of Gary Panter's original "Pee-wee's Playhouse" design, bathed in Jeff Croiter's bright, candy-colored lighting. For the next 80 minutes, Reubens ran wild, like no time had passed...Timbers, who no doubt grew up with the show as I did, gets the humor, knows how to deal with it, and guides with an invisible hand. (Read Full Review)

A

Mistakes Were Made

In Dexter Bullard's breakneck production (with a nifty, messy set by Tom Burch), Shannon, thoroughly mesmerizing in his madness, delivers one of the best and most well-thought-out performances I've seen all year. He makes Felix, a creature who could easily be devoid of pity, pitiful and charismatic. He even makes the sudden tonal shift at the very end—the major pitfall of Wright's script—seem natural. Mierka Girten has a nice little cameo as the put upon Esther and puppeteer Sam Deutsch imbues the wide-eyed fish with a full personality. (Read Full Review)

A

700 Sundays

On the surface, Billy Crystal's...700 Sundays is the same as it was nine years ago…But...a lot has changed. Crystal is older, and you can see it. And with age has come a certain maturity. No longer is Billy Crystal regaling us with stories about his crazy relatives. He's delivering a eulogy for a generation, and grieving right in front of us. What makes 700 Sundays, once again directed by Des McAnuff, so noteworthy is Crystal's ability to engage the audience, bringing us from guffaws to sobs and back in ways that never seem manipulative. It's thrilling to watch Crystal jump around the Imperial's stage, adorned with a replica of his childhood…Even more joyous is when we realize how uncannily Crystal has transmitted his feelings. We may never have personally known any of the aunts and uncles he lovingly recalls, or the musicians he imitates, but these vivid portrayals of a bygone generation resonate so highly because they conjure memories of our own relatives. Though they might not be with us physically, through Crystal the indomitable spirits of this nearly lost generation lives on. (Read Full Review)

A

Bronx Bombers

It takes a great deal of skill to imagine and dramatize history in an engaging way, especially when we know the outcome (the Yanks win the 1977 World Series), and Simonson here manages to make this meeting not only engaging but edge-of-your-seat compelling. This is thanks in part to his simple staging (the actors prowl around the playing space like jungle animals) and intense performances from his cast, the sweet Topol, stately Dawes, righteous Battiste, and downright frightening Nobbs (clad in a cowboy hat and boots designed with great accuracy by David C. Woolard). (Read Full Review)

A-

Completeness

Immensely satisfying...With a keen ear for ornate, highly theatrical, and modern human vernacular, Moses has created a most realistic portrait of the struggle for romantic connection in the computer age. (Read Full Review)

A-

Electra in a One-Piece

Devastatingly funny...For a world premiere, Oliver's script shows a great deal of promise. Perhaps it's 20 minutes too long. Perhaps not all of the jokes go over as well as they could, but when they do, the laughter is sometimes violent. The ending, a slight left turn from where lovers of Greek tragedy are expecting it to go, is messy and confused, especially when dealing with Elle...Director David Ruttura (who serves as the artistic director of Good Company, the new theatre company that's producing this show) has assembled a pitch-perfect cast that is completely in tune with Oliver's style. (Read Full Review)

A-

The Misanthrope

In terms of self-satisfaction, the Alceste and Celimene of Sean McNall and Janie Brookshire are a perfect match. McNall is all gloom as the idealistic misanthrope of the title, with a world-weary voice and tired, pitiful sighs. Brookshire, ravishing in Sam Fleming’s period costumes and Gerard Kelly’s wig, is a woman all too pleased to get by on her wiles. She is particularly striking in the play’s final minutes, as a look of shame, horror, and embarrassment overtakes her porcelain face to create a gaze that is particularly haunting. (Read Full Review)

A-

Wings

Few things are more exciting to theatre lovers than the prospect of a very fine actor taking on a daunting role and performing it so exquisitely that it seems as natural as breathing. Such is the case with Jan Maxwell, delivering a 65-minute tour-de-force, with a great deal of skill and care, in John Doyle's revival of Arthur Kopit's brief 1978 drama Wings at Second Stage Theatre. (Read Full Review)

A-

Disaster!

Fortunately, Seth Rudetsky and Jack Plotnick's Disaster!...is far from its title. Yes, it could be shorter, but this otherwise enjoyably frenzied evening boasts a fiercely committed cast, sharp book, and songs that will get stuck in your head for days — if they haven't already been there for four decades...As in all jukebox musicals, the songs are sledge-hammered into the plot and they don't always fit. Yet, these elements provide much of the comedy, since everything involved is presented with a knowing wink...Could it be shorter? Sure. Too many songs come and go in a single verse, and they're not really necessary. Still, these numbers are delivered with pizzazz by the cast, a gleefully demented group of performers with infectious enthusiasm that carries beyond the footlights. It's impossible to single one out — they're all game to go over the top, and they fit with the show's style like a glove. Most important, Disaster! accomplishes what it sets out to do: it's a fun parody of a genre that doesn't really get parodied in the realm of theater. For that alone, this one is worth checking out.

(Read Full Review)

A-

Gruesome Playground Injuries

As evidenced by his previous plays, including the beautiful Animals Out of Paper, Joseph is a keen observer of human behavior and speech. Not only do his characters seem real, they speak as real people would. Doug and Kayleen are not the most educated or erudite, and their vocabulary, consisting of “stupid,” “retarded,” and a certain four-letter word, reflect their worldly stations. That they are not the most developed characters is this play’s one major flaw, and lesser actors could easily turn in less-than-believable performances. (Read Full Review)

A-

How to Make Friends and Then Kill Them

Thank God, then, for the warped creative mind of playwright/actress Halley Feiffer, who harnesses the weird to full, gory effect in How to Make Friends and Then Kill Them, an uproarious and deeply unsettling new dark comedy at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater. In a pitch-perfectly piquant staging directed by Kip Fagan, this one embraces the weird and manages to make the audience squirm in gleeful horror… Most impressive is the way she turns the "beautiful, stupid blonde chick" stereotype on its ear… Ada is played with an immensely recognizable humanity by Campbell, who impressively charts the character's descent from child to adult. She is evenly matched by the stern, scarily manipulative Keeley, and Ponton, in a smashing off-Broadway debut that imbues the innocent Dorrie with the most frightening of human qualities: unconditional love… Equally laugh-out-loud funny, jaw-droppingly gross, and thoroughly sad, How to Make Friends and Then Kill Them isn't for everyone… [but all] will instantly recognize how Feiffer's unique, refreshing voice is one to which attention should be paid. (Read Full Review)

A-

Maple and Vine

Harrison’s concept is so entertaining, out-of-the-box and well-constructed that it can be forgiven for any shortcomings, like an a-ha moment that isn’t entirely surprising, and a second act that takes too long to conclude. And since he defines his terms up front, there are absolutely no questions of logic. (Read Full Review)

A-

The Comedy of Errors

Is there a better contemporary American director of Shakespeare than Daniel Sullivan? This is the question we, as audience members, pose summer after summer upon departing Central Park's bucolic Delacorte Theater after seeing one of Sullivan's Shakespeare in the Park productions. Twelfth Night starring Anne Hathaway, Audra McDonald, and Raúl Esparza? Most wonderful! The Merchant of Venice with Al Pacino and Lily Rabe? Worthy of a Broadway transfer, which happened. Not even falling through a trap door and fracturing four ribs could stop his definitive Midsummer Night's Dream. Now, we have Sullivan's rollicking Comedy of Errors, a revival so delicious I would have stuck around far longer than its 90 minutes to continue watching. (Read Full Review)

A-

HotelMotel

This existential nightmare [Animals and Plants], a riff on Harold Pinter’s The Dumb Waiter, is made even more uncomfortable by your proximity to the actors... It’s an intense, heart-pounding experience that, if you completely buy into it, will leave you shaking... The performances are first-rate and very daring... While both Ahonen and Rapp could afford to pick up the pacing of their respective plays... the nearly four hours you spend in the company of this crazy group fly by. And you may just end up realizing that voyeurism isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. (Read Full Review)

A-

A Doll's House

The door slam heard 'round the world has never elicited as much of a gasp as it does at the end of Carrie Cracknell's production of Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House… We all knew the heavy blow was coming...but in the hands of actress Hattie Morahan, this sound (and its implications) shake you to the core. This isn't a weird, postmodernist take on an old standby. No, this is an "if it ain't broke" revival, straightforwardly directed by Cracknell using a colloquial new translation by the British playwright Simon Stephens. Still, the director has a fascinating concept. Morahan's performance is stunning in its technique as she changes both her body language and vocal inflections depending on whom she's talking to. While the principal cast is quite strong, none of them reach the dizzying heights of Morahan's performance. Part of the credit for this goes to Cracknell, who seems to have directed the cast to stay out of Morahan's way, and as a result, scenes where Nora isn't the focal point sometimes suffer. Let's hope we get to see her in New York again very soon. (Read Full Review)

A-

Murder Ballad

Violence has never seemed as sexy as it does in Murder Ballad, Juliana Nash and Julia Jordan's pulpy and exceedingly well-done rock opera, which has transferred to the specially reconfigured Union Square Theatre after an acclaimed run last fall at Manhattan Theatre Club's Studio at Stage II. The downtown dive bar atmosphere, which gave the MTC production a uniquely gritty, in your face allure, has been successfully retained...Nash has crafted a first-rate rock score, filled with memorable melodies played by a tight on-stage band of four led by orchestrator Justin Levine. Lyrically, the show is occasionally bogged down in bizarre metaphors. By the operetta's end, there is the promised murder—the victim is not much of a surprise, the killer is more of one. Like the best mysteries, Murder Ballad leaves you guessing until the very last note.
(Read Full Review)

A-

Be A Good Little Widow

What’s constantly exciting about Brunstetter’s plays is how real they are. Her achingly human characters talk as real people do: sometimes clumsily, sometimes awkwardly, sometimes beautifully eloquent. In Widow, her most fully-rounded play to date, her words are alternately hilarious and unbearably sad. The only thing I could have done without were the handful of poop jokes. She’s better than that. (Read Full Review)

A-

Bloodsong of Love

Joe Iconis is the best musical theatre writer that the public has never heard of...He writes smart, hummable music and has a talented posse of actors who do his stuff called the Family...It is the melodramatic violence, spurting blood, Wild West setting, and a few pseudo-Mexican characters that qualifies Bloodsong to be a Spaghetti Western...The cast couldn't be better...The script could use a little bit of cutting; the second act feels too long. And there is a lot of blood. (Read Full Review)

A-

Good Person of Szechwan

Lear deBessonet's astounding production presents a captivating rendering of the 1943 social comedy that not only removes the work from the dusty academic bookshelf, but speaks to the contemporary world. Using a dexterous translation by late Brecht scholar John Willett and theater techniques ranging from kabuki to musical theater, deBessonet's fast-paced and engaging production throbs with ache and sadness even in its most over-the-top moments (and, yes, there are a handful of those behind the tin can footlights). (Read Full Review)

A-

All The Rage

In his delightful new solo show, All the Rage, … [Martin]Moran documents his quest for spiritual enlightenment…Sending the audience on a journey from New York to Africa to the stage of the Shubert Theatre and the A-Train, All the Rage has the potential to seem messily unfocused, but it's that exact quality, along with Moran's dry sense of humor and unassuming manner, that puts the show above other solo works of this nature, many of which easily fall into dramatic sob-fest territory. Moran and his quest to find anger is a surprisingly hilarious journey, and it's through that humor that unexpected pathos hits. (Read Full Review)

A-

Lemon Sky

Silverstein’s pacing is pitch perfect, and even though the final confrontation doesn’t build as well as it needs to, it still hits you like a ton of bricks. (Read Full Review)

B+

Love Child

It's no easy task to do what Jenkins and Stanton do. They run wild and are simply outrageous. Director Carl Forsman and choreographer Tracy Bersley guide them with a restrained hand, staying just the right drop out of their way. I don't know if the script has been altered, I seem to remember a slightly different opening and ending, though. But my favorite line, a joke at the expense of the Manhattan Theater Club, is still there. And it, along with almost every facial expression and action, brings down the house. (Read Full Review)

B+

Detroit

This incisive and thoroughly compelling new tragicomedy confronts both the economic meltdown and the perils of being friendly with your neighbors in surprising, brutally honest ways that we rarely see...Of the performers, only Sokolovic seems completely comfortable in her character’s skin, and as a result, her big, broad performance with well-earned laughs was the only one that really stood out...Not everything is perfect. A climactic drunk scene and heavy-handed dialogue about dreams wouldn’t stand out like they do as playwriting 101 if the rest of the text wasn’t so insightful...Even so, D’Amour taps into a fear that almost every middle class and blue collar working American share today. (Read Full Review)

B+

The Best Is Yet To Come

Revues such as this can easily devolve into cheese, but despite one instance towards the end and some occasionally eye-rolling choreography by the usually reliable Lorin Latarro, Zippel keeps that from happening. And while the stage isn’t large enough to keep the performers from occasionally knocking into one another and Douglas W. Schmidt’s bandstand set, they certainly shine like the Broadway stars they are...What disappointed me was the lack of diversity. Of the 30-odd songs, more than 20 were written in collaboration with either Carolyn Leigh or Zippel...Still, The Best is Yet to Come is a more-than-enjoyable way to spend an afternoon, with martini or without. (Read Full Review)

B+

Lucky Guy (Musical)

All of the booze in New York wouldn’t have been enough to prepare me for Lucky Guy...Contains some of the most awesomely awe-striking badness you’ll ever see. And it’s in this badness that the show proves mightily entertaining...The book scenes don’t really work; they’re too long, duller than dull, and only seem to serve as set up for songs. Luckily, Beckham’s score is stronger, jaunty and hummable in the way that most simple country melodies are. The lyrics are comical, in many cases for the wrong reasons...Lucky Guy’s greatest asset is that absolutely nothing is taken seriously. (Read Full Review)

B+

Inner Voices

Farhad or The Secret of Being, directed by Saheem Ali, is not only the most intriguing of the three pieces, it is the only one that could actively benefit from being expanded into a full-length musical. Featuring a book and lyrics by Pulitzer Prize winner Nilo Cruz and music by Jim Bauer, the work stars Arielle Jacobs as the titular character, a young Afghan girl who, after spending most of her childhood living as a boy (which she does for the opportunities that come with being a male in that country), must transition back into her female self in order to be married off to a much older man. In its own way, Farhad is just as much of a psychological study as Arlington, but here we watch sadness and anger grow into hope and acceptance. Cruz doesn't shy away from the important questions raised by the story, such as Farhad's concern that her Almighty won't recognize her as a woman or why women in Afghanistan are treated with such disrespect. (Read Full Review)

B+

A Civil War Christmas

This compelling theatrical experience weaves together dozens of characters, fact, fiction, Christmas carols, spirituals, and Civil War songs into an unapologetically messy -- richly crafted -- patchwork quilt... Tina Landau's staging, which utilizes a bare, wood-planked set by James Schuette, Toni-Leslie James' lovely costumes, and shadowy lighting by Scott Zielinski, is smooth and swift, despite occasionally confusing double and triple casting, a necessity for a small production with a cast of characters as large as this. (Read Full Review)

B+

Hello Again

With their numerous environmental, site-specific and/or non-traditionally staged productions, The Transport Group regularly explores the question of “How close is too close?” to varying degrees of success. With Jack Cummings III’s entrancing staging of Michael John LaChiusa’s musical Hello Again, the answer only depends on how squeamish you are...Chances are the actors will be copulating—simulated, of course—right on top of you....Collectively, this ensemble dives head first into LaChiusa’s haunting score, performing it with a fearless gusto and passion....Depending on where you’re seated, you may have to crane your neck here and there or twist and turn for views of the action on the other side of the room. Still, with Sandra Goldmark’s immersive set, R. Lee Kennedy’s evocative dive bar lighting, and Kathryn Rohe’s oft-sexy costumes, you may just have a craving for a cigarette when you hit the street. (Read Full Review)

B+

The Taming of the Shrew

More often than not, Petruchio is portrayed as a chauvinistic lothario, and it’s almost expected that he’ll be a matinee idol in the style of Peter O’Toole, Richard Burton, and Alfred Drake (in the musical adaptation Kiss Me, Kate), among others. If you’ve seen Grotelushcen in the past (most recently as Cloten in Fiasco Theatre’s Cymbeline), you know that he will subvert these expectations. Tall, scruffy, and a bit rotund, his Petruchio is, in Anita Yavich’s lovely, character-specific costumes, a foppish, witty gasbag who wouldn’t hurt a fly, and who sees in Katharina someone who can match him note-for-note. (Read Full Review)

B+

Lost In Yonkers

While I still can’t bring myself to call it neglected, Jenn Thompson’s beautifully conceived revival at the Beckett Theatre on Theatre Row, which features seven tip-top performances and slight revisions with permission of the playwright, captures the play’s humor and its deeply wounded, yet thoroughly thumping heart. (Read Full Review)

B+

Mothers and Sons

McNally's 20th Broadway play, directed by Sheryl Kaller, is a sequel of sorts to an earlier work…Mothers and Sons is really at its best when McNally isn't specifically aiming for the tear ducts, movie-of-the-week style. The play hits its emotional heights when McNally is simply presenting three flawed adults whose individual prejudices stand in their way of true understanding. Steggert, in what's possibly the play's toughest role, does an extraordinary job navigating the sudden tonal shift within …Similarly, Weller brings a gut-wrenching honesty to Cal…But most of all, the production belongs to Daly, whose work here ranks among her very best.
(Read Full Review)

B+

The Great Game: Afghanistan

This mammoth, day-long, meticulously acted three-parter is probably the most fascinating production currently in town...If you can only attend one portion, I’d recommend the second, though each contains its share of beautifully crafted performances..Audience members should note that the production contains a multitude of very sudden loud noises, including bombs dropping and gun shots. (Read Full Review)

B+

The Deep Throat Sex Scandal

Really entertaining. A great American play it's not; far from it. But it's a well-intentioned diversion that knows its audience and delivers what it promises: "a sinfully entertaining play about freedom"...The first act, which contains a reenactment of filming Deep Throat, in complete sync with the actual film as it's projected on the upstage wall, is deliriously entertaining; despite the B-movie dialogue and jokes that weren't funny in the '70s. The second act becomes unexpectedly serious, and that's where the script's weaknesses are the most prevalent. There is a lack of suspense and development and the stakes aren't nearly as high as they should be...The cast, led by the mesmerizing Malcolm Madera as Reems, gives this show their all, and then some. (Read Full Review)

B+

The Commons of Pensacola

Fortunately for us, Peet…acquits herself surprisingly well for a first-time scribe. [It's]…still very much a first play, with telegraphed twists and the certain feeling of undercooking, but it absolutely displays a promise of good things to come. Peet has a solid ear for human-sounding dialogue and a knack with one-liners that, when delivered with stinging sharpness by Danner and Parker, become laugh riots. It helps that the actresses...have a natural chemistry, believable as a mother and daughter equally at their wits end. As staged by Artistic Director Lynne Meadow, The Commons of Pensacola swiftly moves and goes down easily. Peet's ambitious subject matter isn't as smoothly explored as in other works with similar ideas … but in focusing on mothers and daughters, Peet plows a very fertile emotional ground, ably explored by her leading ladies. While the text could use a bit fleshing out (it never escapes the feeling that it was rushed into production), Peet clearly has a lot of ideas up her sleeve, and I'm curious to see them. (Read Full Review)

B+

A Kid Like Jake

A thoroughly naturalistic work with a versatile set by Andromache Chalfant, the play derails right after the climax when playwright Daniel Pearle takes an unnecessary detour into a dream sequence between Alex and her nurse (Michelle Beck) that attempts to make things right. It is the only time you see the hand of director Cabnet, whose work, up to that point, has been thoroughly invisible. In a play that is so striking for not taking the easy way out, this attempt to tie a bow is especially frustrating. Still, we can forgive Pearle. A Kid Like Jake proves he is a playwright to watch for. (Read Full Review)

B+

Lysistrata Jones

On the heels of their excellent revival of Michael John LaChiusa’s Hello Again in a warehouse in SoHo, Transport Group has once again proved that energizing theater need not be in a traditional space. (Read Full Review)

B+

Neighbourhood Watch

That Martin’s rise and fall parallels that of another famous figure who died for other people’s sins is a topic I wish Ayckbourn would have explored a little less under-the-cuff. Yet Neighbourhood Watch is so expertly acted that the sins of the playwright are easy to forgive. (Read Full Review)

B+

The Last Five Years

...this revival is dominated by Wolfe's star-making performance... importantly, Wolfe manages to make the character human... As Jamie, Kantor chooses a darker, more demure route... This subdued quality is not always right for the character... Jon Weston's sound design impressively allows every instrument to be heard... Jeff Sugg's projections are distracting and Emily Rebholz's costumes generally unflattering. Brown has directed a sensitive, if a bit too literal, production... Most importantly, this good-natured staging makes a case for The Last Five Years as a show, not just a song cycle that works better on disc. (Read Full Review)

B+

Ode to Joy

Ode to Joy, Craig Lucas' new dramedy...is frustrating. A sensitive work that depicts the effects of addiction on one's romantic partners, the play is a return to form for the author, containing the same lyrical grace and bubbly quirkiness found in his [earlier work]. But there's one crucial imperfection that prevents the piece—which Lucas also directs for Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre—from fully attaining the same heights that those two aforementioned plays reach. The fundamental flaw of the script is that there are a number of events in Adele's history, past and future, that the characters mention but Lucas doesn't depict. As a result of our hearing these things secondhand, they don't match up to the version of her that we see and that Erbe plays. As Adele, Erbe is a magnetic presence, and it's absolutely clear why both Howard and Hope's characters would be drawn to her. It helps that, as a trio, they have terrific chemistry and all are on the same page regarding the just-slightly-heightened style of acting the play needs. Ode to Joy provides a lot to chew on, and just as much to savor. (Read Full Review)

B+

Assistance

Cullman ably guides his company through the farce-like proceedings (only instead of doors to slam on David Korins’s ornate and nicely colorless set, there are telephones to answer) with the right amount of vigor and pathos. Near-Verbrugghe, Rosoff and Kim range from funny to hilarious, while Steggart expertly captures the cold, unfeeling nature of a guy who won’t let anything stand in his way as he moves up the ranks from intern. As Nick, Esper infuses the character with the right amount of slacker heart and pride. Whenever rebuked and insulted by Weisinger for a mistake, you can tell just by his facial expressions that it does a number on his self-esteem. Kull is downright sensational as Nora, the bright-eyed twentysomething who ends up tired, work-obsessed, and losing control of her sanity. In her hands, it’s nothing short of thrilling to watch Nora’s devolution. (Read Full Review)

B

Core Values

Under Cantor's superb direction, the four-member cast expertly navigates the play's tricky terrain, nailing the awkwardly comic moments as well as the underlying sadness in each character's life. It's a bit unfortunate, then, that Levenson's play seems so familiar. (Read Full Review)

B

Outside Mullingar

Like most romantic comedies, savvy audiences will know the play's outcome from the start. Shanley, to his credit, doesn't attempt to reinvent a genre he so expertly honed...with his Oscar-winning film, Moonstruck. Even with an odd turn during the denouement (which does morph into a beautiful moment) and a bit too much time focused on the parents, Shanley has written a compelling will-they-won't-they story with sweet dialogue and an awwwwww-inspiring conclusion. Adding to that quality is the affecting duo that results in the pairing of Tony winner O'Byrne and Emmy winner Messing (in her Broadway debut). Her endearingly gruff exterior complements his air of resignation, and when they are alone together in the play's alternately heartbreaking and heartwarming final scene, there are genuine sparks. It takes a lot to make an audience collectively swoon, but these two make it look nice and easy. It's never too late and you're never too old to find your soul mate. (Read Full Review)

B

Three Sisters

Moscow has never seemed as far away as it does in Austin Pendleton’s production for Classic Stage Company. While Pendleton doesn’t impose any new ideas onto the play, he does create a Three Sisters that is trapped in the past while clinging to the present. The translation used, by Paul Schmidt, is decidedly modern, sacrificing character and florid writing for vernacular like “What the hell?” and “Weird.” The actors, all of whom seem to truly be listening to one another and responding from the heart, wear sumptuous period costumes, designed by Marco Piemontese, while moving and delivering the dialogue as though they’re living in the present day. The staging, with cinematic fluidity and two intermissions (between the first and second acts, as well as between acts three and four), is fascinating...There is a deeply felt sense of resignation that pervades the playing space from the opening moments. (Read Full Review)

B

Nobody Loves You

Unsurprisingly, The Bachelor doesn't really lend itself to the musical treatment the way, say, American Idol would, and Nobody Loves You, despite an excellent cast of quirky characters, doesn't always make the best case for why this reality genre should sing. However, realizing that Moses, the first-rate playwright of Completeness, The Four of Us, and Bach at Leipzig, and rising-composer Alter are shooting for satire over seriousness goes a long way in helping your enjoyment of the silly, low-stakes ninety-minute production, which is directed by Michelle Tattenbaum. (Read Full Review)

B

Now. Here. This

Bell and Blackwell’s book features the same heart and occasionally dizzying meta-humor which made [title of show] so endearing and, to Berresse’s credit, the piece never feels disjointed. Yet the museum conceit never quite works; despite charismatic voiceover narration by Roger Rees and a nifty set and projections by Neil Patel and Richard DiBella respectively, the setting is both confusing and distancing when it should be as warm and inviting as the performers are. And the writers could afford to explain their easy-to-miss throughline, that they’re going to “open up our mental knapsacks and shake out a few stories,” in greater detail. Bowen’s musical score, which ranges in style from Irish-ish sea shanty to country western to funk, is appealing enough (the lyrics are stronger), but the songs never quite reach the level of his best work, namely [title of show]’s “A Way Back to Then,” one of the most honest-to-god beautiful show tunes in recent memory. (Read Full Review)

B

Candida

You'd be hard-pressed to find a more suitable cast than the one assembled for Tony Walton's revival...It is a very lovely, respectful production with some fine acting...If the production is lacking anything, it's a bit of oomph here and there...But there's enough in this enjoyable production that you can look past it. (Read Full Review)

B

If/Then

An eminently relatable piece to anyone who has ever felt the burning desire to begin again, If/Then, now at Broadway's Richard Rodgers Theatre, is possibly the first musical ever to explore the concept of parallel universes and the butterfly effect. How can one small change alter the course of a person's existence? In the style of a choose-your-own-adventure novel, Kitt and Yorkey present us with two versions of Elizabeth's life, both of which are played out by Tony winner Idina Menzel in a welcome return to Broadway after a very long decade. The resulting production has its flaws, no doubt, but it's far better than Michael Greif's distrusting direction lets on. (Read Full Review)

B

Olive and the Bitter Herbs

The success of the production, directed without fuss by Mark Brokaw, hinges on whether or not you’re willing to buy into a series of eye-rolling coincidences that make up much of the second act. For the sake of the play, you must, however begrudgingly, and in the end, they don’t add up to much. (Read Full Review)

B

How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

Delightful yet mechanical revival...As far as musical comedies go, this is the tops. Frank Loesser’s score is effervescent and Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock, and Willie Gilbert’s book is impeccably structured and, despite a healthy dose of light satirical misogyny, surprisingly timeless. Ashford displays a stronger grasp and trust of the material here than he did last season with Promises, Promises...It is over-choreographed. In fact, the dancing is almost non-stop. The ensemble is more than up to the task, but it’s distracting to the world around them and the sterling dialogue and lyrics...Radcliffe’s not a natural for the role, but he’s so winning that he ranks on the list just under Harry Connick, Jr. and Kelsey Grammer as most impressive musical debuts. Individually, the entire cast is quite strong, but what they collectively lack is chemistry (yeah, chemistry…oops, wrong Loesser show). (Read Full Review)

B

My Name Is Asher Lev

The relationship between Asher and Aryeh holds the central tension of the story. While the latter role could easily be played as a stodgy stock villain, in Nelson's hands, the argumentative Aryeh is a complex person: he deeply loves his son, but their relationship is haunted by his unwillingness to overcome his old-world religious obligations. (Read Full Review)

B

Knickerbocker

It takes skill to make a play that is entirely confined to a booth seem interesting, and there is considerable skill in Parker’s staging, the performances by the 7-member cast, and in Sherman’s oft-delightful script. While some of the vignettes are strained, or continue a few minutes longer than they should, the dialogue and performances are natural, convincing, and all contribute to Jerry’s growth.
(Read Full Review)

B

Measure for Measure (2010)

Credit must be given to Arbus for the clarity of the plot. This is one of the easiest-to-follow productions of a Shakespeare play I've ever seen. And she has assembled an estimable cast, starting with Jefferson Mays (as the Duke), Rocco Sisto (as Angelo), and Elisabeth Waterston (as Isabella). The latter two are disappointingly one-note and colorless; the whole production slows down and becomes dull whenever they're on stage...it is Mays who makes this production. He is positively electric as he lights up the proceedings. And once again, he proves why he is one of the finest actors we have today. (Read Full Review)

B

Rock of Ages

Rock of Ages may not be the most sophisticated musical around, but who cares? It doesn't purport or set out to be. (Read Full Review)

B

Twelfth Night

Compared to others I've seen...there's nothing particularly special in Sullivan's staging. It's accessible, straightforward, and respectful. While it may not be a Twelfth Night for the ages, it provides for a most enjoyable theatrical experience, the way only a show at the Delacorte Theater can...Sullivan's risklessness with Cumpsty and Esparza is visible in their performances. As a result, Cumpsty's Malviolio is ineffective, drawing neither hatred nor pity. The role, a highlight in many productions, is rendered superfluous. Esparza has some nice moments as Orsino, but nothing is done to make the character look three-dimensional...Sir Toby Belch and Maria have the most developed relationship here that I've ever seen, with White almost tackling Sanders with a kiss the first time they're on stage together. They, along with Hamish Linklater's pratfalling Sir Andrew Aguecheek, provide the bulk of the comedy and their scenes, accordingly, are highlights. For what is essentially her professional theater debut, Hathaway acquits herself well. Her Viola is well thought-out and has very nice chemistry with McDonald's glorious Olivia. (Read Full Review)

B

Him

Intriguing and flawed...The text itself is fascinatingly laid out, a series of dialogue scenes interspersed with lyrical monologues that you soon realize are excerpts from the father’s journals. As staged by Evan Yionoulis, it doesn’t always play as well as it might read...The larger problem is that Foote gradually builds the piece to a climax that isn’t really sufficient...Hallie Foote is monumentally tremendous...While Him isn’t perfect, it’s a compelling piece from a playwright whose work I’m looking forward to seeing more of. (Read Full Review)

B

Harrison, TX

Last up is the most satisfying, most complete work, The Midnight Caller, once a teleplay that was later turned into a work for the stage. Set in the 1950s in a boarding house run by Mrs. Crawford (Foote again, in a less showy role), the piece finds the stasis of the home—and its tenants (Mary Bacon, Green, and Jayne Houdyshell) disturbed by the howling of a depressed man (Cendese) calling for his former fiancée (Jenny Dare Paulin), who has now moved in as a tenant and taken a new boyfriend of her own (Bobb). Here the production falters a bit; MacKinnon's staging has a sort of disjointed feeling, not really managing to blend the humorousness of Bacon and Green's unmarried ladies with the sadness of Paulin and Cendese, and only the heartbreaking Houdyshell finds the full range of emotions. (Read Full Review)

B

Oohrah!

A fascinating, original take on something we've come to see rather often nowadays: the war play...Brunstetter tries to straddle two styles, the domestic comedy and the family drama, with mixed results. In intertwining the styles and trying to fit in all the characters, the play lacks cohesion and focus. Any point she may be trying to get across is unclear, but Oohrah! succeeds as a slice-of-life piece. The ending isn't much of anything and there's not much resolution. But, just as in life, not everything ends tied up with a ribbon. (Read Full Review)

B

Zarkana

The biggest problem is its book and score, though audiences don’t go to Cirque shows for their plots. Zarkana, written and directed by Francois Gerard with a score by Nick Littlemore, is basically incomprehensible...But the production comes to exhilarating life in the death-defying acts of derring-do, from high-wire walkers to grand Volant (trapeze) artists. A blonde gymnast with strikingly toned leg muscles somersaults in the air and lands perfectly on a balance beam. Two men perform truly jaw-dropping feats on the wheel of death. A pair of tightrope walkers carry, by their shoulders, a third who’s walking his own tightrope. Of course there are nets, some of which are visible, but I often felt that queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach as I watched in agony and ecstasy the acrobats perform these feats without batting an eyelash. (Read Full Review)

B

Violet

One of the most unforgettable nights of theater in recent memory was on July 17, 2013, when… Violet was revived for one night only… So why does this Violet feel so different than it did nine months ago? It's certainly not because of the performances. Foster and her Broadway-veteran costars do some of their finest work in this adaptation… Still most impressive, though, is the 13-year-old Steele as Young Violet, who is as much a revelation in her Broadway debut as she was last summer… What's missing from Silverman's full production, though, is the electricity it had on that one hot night last summer. The Broadway version feels listless… it also makes for a very static evening.
Still, it is wonderful to see this tale told once again. Despite missing the crucial jolt of energy, Violet is eminently worthy of its position on Broadway, and with Foster giving her deepest performance to date, it would be foolish not to experience this rediscovered gem. (Read Full Review)

B-

Rx

You may leave Kate Fodor’s Rx, a comedy about the relationships people have with one another and their pharmaceutical drugs, feeling a bit drowsy. Weariness is indeed a side effect of this over-stuffed new play; so too are restlessness, frustration, and sudden-onset sentimentality. Still, it’s hard not to admire Fodor’s guts, and Ethan McSweeny’s imperfect yet thoroughly balls-to-the-wall direction. (Read Full Review)

B-

The Road To Qatar!

The truth may be stranger than fiction, but the truth is also more interesting than the show Krane and Cole have created, which is entirely based on truth. Perhaps the story just isn’t musical. Perhaps a less clichéd script and lyrics (both by Cole) would elevate The Road to Qatar! from a blandly one-note series of Middle East, gay, and Jewish jokes into something more. Krane’s music, on the other hand, is tuneful and well-orchestrated, and there are at least one or two memorable numbers. (Read Full Review)

B-

Measure for Measure

It feels like an eternity to get to the play's final moments, when all is revealed and marriages are proposed, though the somber final image encapsulates everything Esbjornson was going for. His intent is commendable and his choices are some of the most daring Shakespeare in the Park has seen in years. If only they worked as a whole. (Read Full Review)

B-

The Irish...and How They Got That Way

While McCourt, who died July 19 last year, was a wonderful storyteller and author, his script here, which was first produced at the Irish Rep in 1997 with the same director (Charlotte Moore), is little more than a rough outline of Irish history from "the beginning" to the present. Four actors and two actor/musicians recount stories, quotes, anecdotes, and sing and dance in what amounts to more of a musical revue than anything else. (Read Full Review)

B-

Chimichangas and Zoloft

The company members do their best to make the piece coalesce, and some succeed better than others, particularly the brooding Canez, who manages to convey a surprising amount of feeling into a series of downcast glares. The usually reliable Narciso has a hard time making his character’s intentions seems realistic, but that’s less of his problem than it is Coppel’s, who doesn’t seem to know. Still, his sympathetic performance makes a character that could very easily be hated palatable. Romero and Zilles are endearing as Penelope and Jackie, believable as long-standing BFFs, though distinctly unbelievable as teenagers (which in real life, they aren’t). Chimichangas and Zoloft could probably benefit from another rewrite or two. With too much to take in and not enough exploring done, it’s a promising work that just feels unfinished. I wanted more—and I hope one day I get to see it. (Read Full Review)

B-

Good Ol' Girls

The formula is rather simple: story vignette about life, love, death, followed by song, and so on. Because of this, the songs can easily be imagined as radio singles. They're not great songs, but a lot of them are passable (though lyrics like "She's a good ol' girl / And she won't let you down / She's got a picture of Elvis / When he came to her town" feel cringe-worthy to me). There's heart in the stories, but when it comes to profundity, it's Cliff's Notes. There's a downright bizarre vignette set in a nursing home, and one that's equally bizarre involving the film Body Heat. The performers—Lauren Kennedy, Sally Mayes, Teri Ralston, Gina Stewart, and Liza Vann—generally do a good job with the material. (Read Full Review)

B-

Don't Dress for Dinner

If you’re offended by the prospect of women behaving as nothing more than sex objects trying to please their cunning-but-dim men folk, Don’t Dress for Dinner probably isn’t the entertainment for you. If you’re willing to overlook that and dive head first into Camoletti and Hawdon’s gleefully stupid and thoroughly inconsequential world, you’ll probably have a good time, though admittedly, not a great one. (Read Full Review)

B-

Intimacy

… [a] bracingly funny but overly salacious new play… Shell-shocked audience members may find these plays to be provocative for the sake of being provocative, but Bradshaw aims to confront people with the things they find most vile in order to illustrate society's more unseemly truths… As a playwright, Bradshaw has a hard time joining multiple crisscrossing story lines as one. Despite hilarious, wildly unexpected, and super-smart dialogue, the first act lacks a point of view, a shortcoming that isn't helped by Elliott's tonally confused direction (drama? comedy? farce?) and a single Derek McLane set that is meant to convey multiple locations but that is really just a living room and a bedroom. The second act, in which all the characters finally have a single goal to achieve, fares better… Perhaps the biggest problem, though, is in the casting. Elliott (who also serves as the costume designer) has cast a handful of actors who flat out don't look comfortable doing what the play requires them do to... (Read Full Review)

B-

The Cherry Orchard

Anton Chekhov may have labeled his play The Cherry Orchard as a comedy, yet it’s rare that one actually sees it performed as such. Perhaps that’s why Andrei Belgrader’s production for Classic Stage Company, from a new, colloquial (in a good way) and somewhat edited translation by John Christopher Jones, seems so refreshing and so jarring...Often the humor outweighs the crucial underlying sadness, try as some of the actors might to inject it where they can...Unquestionably, this production of The Cherry Orchard has many excellent moments. I just wish everyone were on the same page. (Read Full Review)

B-

Dusk Rings a Bell

[A] meandering, monologue-heavy, yet occasionally thoughtful piece that will become a big hit in acting classes.... Belber's script is intelligent and mature, though distinctly over-written, and has a great many qualities of a playwright who thinks he's being ironic.... Walsh, who skyrocketed to fame on ABC's Grey's Anatomy and its spin-off Private Practice, does the impossible, making a distinctly unlikable character not only likable, but compassionate. Sparks, an off-Broadway veteran, uses an unflinching monotone to his advantage, creating a character that is both wracked with guilt about the past but hopeful about the future. Director Sam Gold's credible, invisible staging brings out the best in both actors. (Read Full Review)

B-

Beyond the Horizon

This naturalistic “what if” story about two brothers who willingly take the wrong paths is less well-known than O’Neill’s canonical works, perhaps owing to its inherent quaintness and sudden, oversized emotions. It’s a pleasure, then, to report that Ciaran O’Reilly’s quietly compelling production for the Irish Repertory Theatre not only taps into the play's emotional core, but also its bleak source of laughs. (Read Full Review)

B-

The Man Who Came to Dinner

Dan Wackerman’s current production for The Peccadillo Theater Company is imperfect, though still sufficiently entertaining. (Read Full Review)

B-

Myths and Hymns

As a result, the piece become a make-shift jukebox musical. Some of the songs are flexible enough to withstand Lucas’ reordering—for example, the gloriously beautiful “Come to Jesus” is set against the backdrop of a woman’s abortion either way. Others share the common jukebox musical problem: hard-to-avoid contexts that don’t fit the conceit unless uncomfortably shoehorned into the plot. During “Icarus,” a song about a son trying to get past his well-known father, Steele and Stillman literally strap on wings as the son, flying too close to the sun, ends his life. Later, the jaunty “Sisyphus,” (which features lyrics by Ellen Fitzhugh) becomes the father’s ode to carrying around the boulder of his son’s death. (Read Full Review)

C+

Painting Churches

Although the production doesn’t work it’s still worthwhile to see. Painting Churches is a true American classic. (Read Full Review)

C+

The Forest

Charming...The casting is peculiarly uneven and Kulick's production takes a long while to kick into high gear...Thompson delivers yet another powerhouse performance. It is impossible to not marvel at his considerable skill. He is not evenly matched by Wiest, who, at least at Saturday's press preview, has not seemed to have decided how to play her character. She's torn between villain and amiable dowager, falling somewhere in the middle...The downside of the production is that, especially towards the end, it just feels too long. The first and last half hours are very poorly paced. Everything in between, however, is being played at the perfect speed. Tolan's translation is a mixed bag; it's too formal to call it colloquial, yet too colloquial to call it formal. (Read Full Review)

C+

Marie Antoinette

It's a fun, meaty role for any thirty-something actress and Ireland really gets under Marie's skin. If only the script did that too... if you didn't know about her reign and/or demise going in, you wouldn't learn anything new... Taichman has certain smartly executed ideas... But overall, this lack of excess (and a single dress for Marie) doesn't work in the play's favor.
(Read Full Review)

C+

Love and Information

Under the direction of James Macdonald, this disorienting work is a collection of 57 short, unrelated pieces performed by 15 excellent actors in a doorless, five-sided cube… Some of the playlets are great, some not so good, some emotional, some boring. None of the pieces relate to one another or share characters… Churchill seems to be responding to how, in this day and age, we're so bombarded by immeasurable amounts of stuff that our attention spans have decreased to a point where we can't focus on anything. The result is the theatrical equivalent of going through your Netflix queue, watching any movie for five minutes, and then starting a new one, no matter how much you enjoyed what you were previously viewing… In terms of button pushing, Churchill and Macdonald have crafted a brilliant, 110-minute production that is possibly the most startling indictment of life in the era of short attention spans ever… But then, when it ends and you hit the street, you realize how little the evening added up to. (Read Full Review)

C+

Bring Us the Head of Your Daughter

Bogged down with as many long pauses and silences as Pinter play, Daughter, which is also directed by Ahonen, flounders in its last third, when word of a potential government conspiracy is brought to light. Anything leading to this plot point, as alluded to in program notes by artistic director James Kautz, seems to have largely been removed during the rehearsal process...As excellent as the actors are, director Ahonen doesn’t guide them enough to play this tonal shift believably...Bring Us the Head of Your Daughter has a lot of heart. Ahonen has some fascinating things to say about love, conventional and unconventional, and fame. It just diverges too far from this path. A play that could have a lot of power ends up laying there like a dead housewife. (Read Full Review)

C+

The Good Mother

There’s too much repetition, too many words and phrases that the characters wouldn’t use ... relying way too heavily on Pinteresque silences and pauses where there shouldn’t be any. Described as a "taut psychological thriller," The Good Mother follows the attempts of single mother Larissa (Gretchen Mol) to convince a variety of people that her four-year-old uncommunicative autistic daughter was abused ... by the gay loner goth baby sitter (Eric Nelsen), who happens to be the son of Larissa’s one-time psychologist (Mark Blum). Good? Potentially. (Read Full Review)

C+

Uncle Vanya

Of anything I've ever seen, this is probably the closest exemplification of what the stage version of an indie movie would resemble...The intimacy is palpable, and it fits right in with Baker’s text, which itself fits right in with Chekhov’s...The result is mixed; the text feels a bit stiff in certain spots, but in others, it truly does grasp the dissatisfaction that we all feel throughout our live...Admittedly, the seating got the better of me by the end and my patience started wearing a bit thin. But my restlessness was nothing compared to what was being presented on stage by some of my favorite actors. (Read Full Review)

C+

Blood From a Stone

This meticulously acted drama is very much a first play from a promising writer. The dialogue is crisp, there are superb two-or-three-person scenes that will no doubt be used in acting classes, and the characters are juicy. As a whole, though, it is a meandering work that doesn’t add up to much. (Read Full Review)

C

Murder in the First

Michael Parva’s production is an entertaining two-and-a-half hours for lovers of courtroom procedurals; at times, admittedly, it's even riveting. But despite a mostly game cast led by Chad Kimball and Guy Burnet, nothing about Gordon's adaptation makes a case for the work to stand as a stage play. It's not that it's bad—it's just unnecessary... Judging by the collectively gasping audience’s reaction, Murder in the First does have an audience; most likely, I believe, it’s the Law and Order crowd. (Read Full Review)

C

Side Effects

The inherent problem in Auburn’s direction is that, after starting off fairly strong, it veers into soap opera territory. When, towards the end, Hugh announces revelations of his own—and you can predict them—the audience started howling with laughter. Perhaps that’s also a problem with Weller’s script, which doesn't paint portraits of people one cares about. Neither Hugh nor Lindy feels real; just like giant bundles of character traits. (Read Full Review)

C

Little Miss Sunshine

That the end product of Little Miss Sunshine is so frustratingly hit or miss, mostly miss, is one of the biggest heartbreakers in recent memory... Lapine's staging rightly recognizes the necessity to open the material up and let it breathe. The biggest problem, just as it was at the La Jolla Playhouse where a different version by the same team played in 2011, is that neither Lapine nor Finn seem completely certain that this tale needs to be a musical. In terms of the score, Finn provides a lot of sung dialogue, but very few genuine songs (each actor gets a big one, some of which are quite affecting). Book-wise, Lapine's adaptation of Michael Arndt's Oscar-winning screenplay is more verbatim than original, following the film nearly plot point by plot point. And while the cast tries their hardest to make the roles their own, they are encumbered by memories of the screen stars…
Swenson and Block are both sort of miscast but making the most of it, with game faces on… The real star here is Nordberg...This big-hearted nine-year-old with blonde hair and a thoroughly enchanting personality is not only endearing, but magnetic. She brings such a striking originality to the role that you can't help but wish the rest of the production did the same. (Read Full Review)

C

Evita

There are ghosts swirling around the Marquis Theatre, where Michael Grandage’s swiftly paced, deadly serious production of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s Evita opened on April 5, and I’m not talking about spectral presences left over from the revival of Follies that played the house this past fall. These ghosts, depending on how much you find them haunting you, may end up hindering your enjoyment of the great 1976 rock opera about the rise and fall of Argentinean first lady Eva Peron. (Read Full Review)

C

Evita

There are ghosts swirling around the Marquis Theatre, where Michael Grandage’s swiftly paced, deadly serious production of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s Evita opened on April 5, and I’m not talking about spectral presences left over from the revival of Follies that played the house this past fall. These ghosts, depending on how much you find them haunting you, may end up hindering your enjoyment of the great 1976 rock opera about the rise and fall of Argentinean first lady Eva Peron. (Read Full Review)

C

The Big Knife

While it is fascinating to rediscover the searing work, one can't help but wish this generally rudderless production was sharper...Odets' play is an ultra-slow boil, and Hughes' production plods along without picking up much steam. (Read Full Review)

C-

Romeo and Juliet

Alas, Alagić's contemporary reading, starring Elizabeth Olsen and Julian Cihi, is just as messy as the one at the Richard Rodgers Theatre, with conflicting performance styles, bizarre tonal shifts, and cast members who don't always show a mastery of the text. Still, this one, for better or for worse, is endlessly fascinating (and not always in a positive way). It may not offer much in the way of substance to chew on, but you're never once bored. And that automatically puts it ahead of its main-stem competitor. There's no clear throughline; the concepts are abandoned after the intermission when the actors are suddenly allowed to just…act. And it's unfortunately clear that concept came before performance coaching. Is Romeo & Juliet that difficult to get right? It doesn't seem like it would be, though given two flawed productions back to back, maybe it is.
(Read Full Review)

C-

Banana Shpeel

Features very impressive acrobatics. But then the characters start talking, and the problems begin...Banana Shpeel, truth be told, is only half bad. For every awe-inspiring specialty act, there's a blatantly unfunny and unoriginal dialogue scene waiting just around the corner...The circus performers do indeed dazzle. Particular stand-outs include foot juggler Vanessa Alvarez, Russian hand balancer Dima Shine (Dimitry Bulkin), hat juggler Le Tuan, and contortion trio Tsybenova Ayagma, Tsydendambaeva Imin, and Zhambalova Lilia...There's also that creepy clown played by Patrick de Valette, a frightening, wire-haired flasher who routinely opens his raincoat to reveal nothing but an emaciated physique and a very tight pair of red underwear. It is disturbing just to recall. (Read Full Review)

C-

The Old Boy

Despite recent revisions (the extent of which I cannot speak to), Gurney's play feels awfully dusty, and it has an unfortunate tendency to bluntly overstate symbols and exposition. The characters are stock, the situations are forced, the switching between years is occasionally confusing (given that the actors play their older and younger selves), and a climactic confrontation between young Sam and young Perry is as awkward as it is clunky. (Read Full Review)

C-

The Lyons

I presume Silver chose to focus the second act on Curtis in an effort to show how both the proverbial apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and how his parents have irrevocably screwed him up. Yet, while all the other characters have at least a small modicum of redeeming qualities, Curtis has none. And while Esper’s smug self-satisfaction perfectly suits the character, there’s nothing he can do to get us on his side. On the other hand, Grant provides the emotional center that the play otherwise lacks as the pathetic daughter Lisa. Not only do you actually feel bad for her, but you actually like her, which is more than I can say for any of the others. Latessa has little more to do than look perturbed and swear, but he does both with expert precision. (Read Full Review)

C-

It Must Be Him

So endearing that it almost makes one forget how lackluster it actually is...The caliber of artists involved with It Must Be Him makes it all the more disappointing that nothing really funny ever happens in this comedy...The cast is led by the great comic actor Peter Scolari, who makes Louie uniquely loveable and plays the role to the hilt, while thoroughly deserving better...Of everything that went on during the show's 75-minute running time, staring at Court Watson's outrageously detailed set was the most interesting. (Read Full Review)

D+

Soul Doctor

...Soul Doctor is an overlong exercise in purifying the legacy of a controversial figure, with an excellent central performance by leading actor Eric Anderson... As Shlomo and Nina, Anderson and Iman give off the only sparks of genuine human emotion... Carlebach's beautiful, often jaunty melodies make up the score, but new lyrics by Schechter are clunky and unmemorable... Wise's book is composed of cheap laughs... His slow-moving direction becomes soporific in the second act and Benoit-Swan Pouffer's balletic choreographer is way too busy...
(Read Full Review)

D+

Grasses of a Thousand Colors

If the prospect of the diminutive, lisping Shawn waxing poetic as he delivers lines like "My relationship with my dick was not just a friendship…It was actually a love affair — an affair so intense that there was hardly room for anyone else," gives you titters, you might just find the play to be your speed.

What Shawn and director André Gregory are trying to communicate over the leisurely course of this sometimes hilarious, sometimes arduous, entirely weird piece is unclear. (Read Full Review)

D+

The Snow Geese

Audiences expecting one of Parker's typically laser-sharp and incisive performances will likely be disappointed, but it's not really her fault... The text haphazardly veers back and forth between her grief and the conflict between the siblings; it's as if White and Sullivan can't make up their minds as to what the focus should be. (Read Full Review)

D+

That Hopey Changey Thing

There are two plays meshed together in Richard Nelson's That Hopey Changey Thing...The first is a funny, rather touching meditation on family and memory. The second is about politics...Were this just a play about family, how they collectively reminisce about their childhood trips, their upbringing, why their father left them, as they try to jog their uncle's memory, it would have been far more enjoyable. Nelson's dialogue is very charming (though none of it sounds particularly natural) and the acting is meticulous...But then they start discussing politics. The nice little family play comes to a grinding halt for a very large chunk in favor of discussions that include, but aren't limited to "Did the world pick on Sarah Palin from the moment John McCain chose her to be his running mate?," "Is Barack Obama an effective president?," "Did Michael Bloomberg buy that extra term?" You could almost hear Nelson ticking each one off the list.

D+

Romeo and Juliet

Age is the least of the troubles in David Leveaux's misbegotten revival of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet…We're better off calling this Broadway production at the Richard Rodgers Theatre "R&J Lite" — all of the major bullet points are there (they meet, they marry, people kill one another, they die), but the text has been trimmed within an inch of its life. Combine that with a series of inexplicable directorial choices and you have the makings of a wildly problematic ride. As the star-crossed lovers who meet a tragic end, Bloom and Rashad certainly look pretty. But chemistry? Not so much. Perhaps the biggest problem is that it's just lugubrious. Not even the fights, choreographed by Thomas D. Schall, manage to get the blood flowing. Like the sand in the hourglass that Juliet uses to count down the time until Romeo returns, we, too, find ourselves counting down the hours.
(Read Full Review)

D+

The Select (The Sun Also Rises)

In the three-and-a-half-hour production, there are two major highlights: a dazzling dance sequence in a Parisian bar, and a climactic bull fight in Pamplona. The bull fight, in particular, is intensely creative, with a large folding table representing the bull, manned by an actor chasing the Torero around the stage. Besides those moments, there is little of which to speak. If it was between this and a trip to Spain, I’d choose the latter.
(Read Full Review)

D+

Appropriate

A great concept gone wrong is one of the bigger heartbreakers in drama. Such is the case with Appropriate…In a nod to nearly every family drama ever written…The playwright's idea is just so good that the decision to mash up hoary old theatrical tropes to tell his story is massively disappointing. More detrimental is director Liesl Tommy's staging, which is tonally confusing and infuses a play that doesn't seem like a dark comedy with grimly comedic elements: actors screaming at one another until they're hoarse, over-the-top line deliveries, and a knock-down-and-drag-out fight in the second act that culminates in one of the most visually shocking things seen onstage in recent memory. This device, played for broad laughs, ruins what should be a horrifying moment of realization for everyone onstage. Fortunately, Tommy's production is stunning to look at…Ultimately, Jacobs-Jenkins' message is obscured by his insistence on sticking to something so conventional. What could have made a significant impression on the American dramatic canon lands with a mere ho-hum. (Read Full Review)

D+

I'll Be Damned

The material shows that the writers are promising, but as a whole, it's a mixed bag. There are a few really nice numbers, the standout being "Alone," a duet for Satan and Louis. Many of Black's lyrics are filled with very simple, cheesy rhymes like "last resort / tech support" and "Valhalla / gala." A lot of Broadhurst's music sounds alike; there isn't very much diversity. The book, written by the two of them, could benefit from some nips and tucks; inside this almost two-hours-and-twenty-minutes presentation, there's a 90-minute intermissionless musical waiting to be freed. Director April Nickell's find-your-light direction doesn't seem to help things. (Read Full Review)

D

Being Sellers

Sellers was a legendarily difficult, egomaniacal person, and Caulfield, skimming the surface of everything, doesn't provide explanation. This leaves Boyle, a very physical actor, and the director Simon Green, to figure it out. Ultimately, it all amounts to mommy issues, and that doesn't explain much of anything. (Read Full Review)

D

The New York Idea

A play about a freewheeling divorcee who is to be remarried to a fellow divorcee but hasn’t gotten over her ex-husband isn’t exactly as provocative as it was at the turn of the last century, when liberated women were few, divorce was still taboo, and the thought of two divorced people marrying one another was practically unheard of... In trying to create a period comedy for contemporary times, Auburn has removed all of the character and commentary (remember, this a racy subject once) from Mitchell’s original text... What he ends up creating is a run-of-the-mill, distinction-free romantic comedy that could just as easily be a vehicle for Jennifer Aniston or Katherine Heigl or Ashton Kutcher. (Read Full Review)

D

White's Lies

If you're a classic TV fan like Alan, White's Lies is probably the show for you. It's a great sitcom, something that would fit with the likes of ABC's old TGIF or FOX's Sunday lineup. However, it's not a good play. The staging is clever (it is directed by Bob Cline, who treats the piece like a farce), there are a few decent laughs, and the last 20 minutes where all is revealed are quite clever. But, you can see the ending coming from the first few lines. It's just too contrived and unbelievable. (Read Full Review)

D

Dietrich and Chevalier - The Musical

As harmless a show as you could possibly find. It certainly entertains—at least, the older matinee ladies around me were entertained. It could be a fairly interesting piece, but chintzy production values (Edward Gaynes and Emily Bettman are the presenters) do the script an extreme disservice, not that the script is all that strong to begin with...Director Pamela Hall's staging, on the extremely cramped stage of the Gaynes-operated St. Luke's Theatre (which it shares with My Big Gay Italian Wedding and Danny and Sylvia), lacks tension and heart. (Read Full Review)

D

Family Week

Demme may have a huge screen resume, but he's never directed for the stage before—therein is one of the biggest problems. His staging is so flat, so static, that it makes the 75 minutes of the piece feel like hours. It springs to life—but only for a moment—toward the end. In essence, he has directed this play to an invisible camera, each scene finishing with a slow fade into the next. The performances he draws from the cast fall all over the spectrum. While DeWitt is both unconvincing and one-note on stage, her performance struck me as one that would work particularly well on screen. Gayle and Bernstine are extremely shrill and overwrought, very startling compared to how demure DeWitt is. Only Chalfant delivers a performance fit for the stage, deeply shaded and intelligent. (Read Full Review)

D

The Break of Noon

Neil LaBute's plays are best defined by their themes. There are the three about beauty, there's the one about race, there's the 9/11 one, and so on. All of them have a healthy dose of four letter words, misogyny, and arch dialogue. His early plays actually have things to say about their subjects, like The Shape of Things (beauty) and The Mercy Seat (9/11). But in his more recent work, he's become that guy who writes outlines with shocking characters and even more shocking twists at the end. LaBute's newest play, The Break of Noon, confronts a subject he has never tackled before: religion. This confounding outline-without-a-twist—or anything interesting for that matter—is especially disappointing considering his last play in New York, reasons to be pretty, was so strong and effectively pulled him out of his rut of writing ideas that masqueraded as drama and twist endings.
(Read Full Review)

D

Cactus Flower

With the exception of one performance, Bush’s revival, which stars Maxwell Caulfield as Julian (the dentist), Lois Robbins as Stephanie (the nurse), and Jenni Barber as Toni (the young thing), is completely colorless. The production smacks of amateur quality, which, given the caliber of talent involved, is all the more distressing. (Read Full Review)

D-

The Merchant of Venice (Central Park)

Sullivan tries very hard to hammer home the idea that the play itself isn't anti-Semitic, but it's the characters that are (in fact, he's quoted in program notes as saying exactly that). Yet Pacino, who played Shylock in Michael Radford's recent film adaptation of Merchant, is at odds with this concept. Shouting and growling and snarling his lines, it's clear that his Shylock is a villain, with little remorse for anything. It's all bluster and no heart, with an amalgamation of Jewish stereotypes: a hunch, a terrible Eastern European-by-way-of-Brooklyn accent, and an unkempt beard. (Read Full Review)

D-

Nymph Errant

I'm conflicted as to whether or not this revised script, well intentioned as it is, actually works. It revels in its stupidity, self-effacing joke after self-effacing joke, sacrificing inspired silliness for easy laughs, but it ends up falling flat. While Pomerantz has some clever directorial touches up his sleeve, the cast seems ill at ease with the material and on the stage. (Read Full Review)

D-

The Shoemaker

The tears flow fast and furiously on stage...Audience members, however, will find themselves particularly dry-eyed and uninvolved...Originally a one-act, Charlotte’s piece reportedly played a sold-out run last summer. It was Aiello, one of the producers of this production, who convinced her to craft a second half. The result is a pair of roughly forty-minute halves, separated by an unnecessary intermission, that don’t really make a whole. Director Antony Marsellis’s glacial pacing doesn’t help, but neither does Charlotte’s clichéd and banal script. (Read Full Review)

D-

Mother

Ebersole & King provide little support for the estimable Taylor & Henry, who themselves can barely make sense of the nothingness of the script. Yet, the difference between Ebersole & King and Taylor & Henry is that the latter, through years and years of experience, know how to make the most of even a black hole. Smith, who has the most developed part, actually has a character to work with. And he's just as good as the legends above the title ... I was confused as to why the play was produced at all. (Read Full Review)

D-

Venus In Fur (Off-Broadway)

The thing about Venus in Fur—David Ives's present-set "adaptation" of Leopold Sacher-Masoch's erotic novel of the same title from 1870—is that if the last 45 minutes weren't as mind-boggling as they are, it would be a fascinating, entirely worthwhile piece of theatre. But as it stands, this production at the Classic Stage Company under the direction of Walter Bobbie is only truly worth it for one thing: the performance of a newcomer named Nina Arianda. (Read Full Review)

D-

Ghost: The Musical

At least Bono and The Edge gave Spider-Man one song with a hook so catchy I can still remember it a year later. The only good song in Ghost is the Righteous Brothers’ hit “Unchained Melody.” Despite their impressive pedigree, song writers Dave Stewart (of The Eurythmics) and Glen Ballard (who has written and produced for Michael Jackson among others) have concocted an unmelodic hodgepodge of sound-alike pop ballads that are only outdone by the torpid, lumpish book by Bruce Joel Rubin (who won an Oscar for the film’s screenplay), and lethargic staging by the usually reliable Matthew Warchus. No, there’s not a good musical anywhere in Ghost, not even in a single second, but it’s certainly a feast for the eyes, with nifty designs and visual effects that keep you glued to the screen—er—stage. (Read Full Review)

F-

Viagara Falls

There is a target audience for the 90-minute sex comedy Viagara Falls: The first is the people who find the ideals, sexual habits, and bodily functions of the elderly hysterically funny. The second is all those fans of classic television, the people who gasped with delight when it was announced pre-show that the cast—Bernie Kopell (of The Love Boat fame), Lou Cutell (a character actor best known for playing the proctologist known as "The Assman" on Seinfeld), and Teresa Ganzel (a Johnny Carson gal)—would be taking comments and signing autographs in the lobby afterwards. The third audience is the obsessive theatergoers; the ones who see every show playing in the hopes of finding the next big fat flop. (Read Full Review)