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Posted on 11/25/13
Photo from The Commons of Pensacola
Photo: Joan Marcus

B-

Despite the range of opinions about the overall effectiveness of the results, first-time playwright Amanda Peet most gets props for showing a “promising” talent (though the Post’s Vincentelli is less charitable, declaiming it as a “feeble” first effort). Other positives: Most applaud the talented cast, especially the “excellent chemistry” between Blythe Danner and Sarah Jessica Parker, reunited on stage after many years, as well as Lynne Meadow's “sensitive” direction. The criticism focuses the play’s “predictability” and plot contrivances, which most think representative of Ms. Peet’s inexperience. Variety’s Stasio speaks for many: “While it doesn’t realize its ambitions, it’s not half bad in the hands of the super cast.”


Posted on 11/25/13

A

With acts borrowed from shows seen over the years at the Spiegeltent in South Street Seaport, this hybrid spectacle of burlesque and circus left the critics excited if not unanimously amazed. Faced with a smattering of talented acts ranging from a male pole-dancing double act and a sword swallower to a juggling Freddie Mercury impersonator, the critics are spoiled for choice. And while most find the mix refreshing, some carp about a lack of cohesion. But even the naysayers concede that the “sexy”, “titillating,” and “erotic” atmosphere makes it worth a look.


Posted on 11/25/13
Photo from Taking Care of Baby
Photo: Joan Marcus

B

Critics admire Dennis Kelly's clever pseudo-documentary play and note that he skillfully scrambles audience sympathy and trust among his various characters. While a few critics find the constant revelations predictable after awhile,the stellar cast--including a predictably brilliant Reed Birney--make the evening worthwhile.


Posted on 11/25/13
Photo from Small Engine Repair
Photo: Joan Marcus

B+

The New York debut of John Pollono's new play wins its share of praise, even from those who are less than enamored with the play’s “pat conclusions” and archetypal characterizations. EW’s Markovitz believes that “it forces its high stakes in a way that doesn't feel organic” but admits that it's "a savvily written piece of punchline theater.” Many reviewers note the “whip-smart and brutally funny” dialogue (Theatremania’s Stewart) and “the excellent cast [which] under the taut direction of Jo Bonney, keeps you from dwelling too long on any flaws in the writing.” (New York Times’ Isherwood). On the naysayers' side, the Voice’s Hannaham considers the touted “climax...stupid,” while NewYorkTheater.me’s Mandell wonders how the play “garnered positive reviews despite so implausible a plot and such awkward dramatic construction.”


Posted on 11/25/13
Photo from Macbeth
Photo: T. Charles Erickson

C

Critics are of mixed minds about director Jack O'Brien's Grand Guignol/occultist concept for the Scottish Play. Some are at least entertained by the epic, monochromatic design, stage trickery, and witches in drag, while others find it all gaudy and over-the-top--sound and fury, signifying you-know-what. Still, if critics can (mostly) agree on one thing, it's that Ethan Hawke does not a good Macbeth make. With few exceptions (most notably, Melissa Rose Bernardo of Entertainment Weekly, who finds him "very convincing and wonderfully sleazy"), critics are markedly disappointed with Hawke, finding him a reactive, internalized Macbeth who mumbles his lines rather than the strong, impassioned presence the role requires.


Posted on 11/21/13
Photo from A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder
Photo: Joan Marcus

A-

This new musical comedy is compared and contrasted with everything from its original source material and film adaptation to Oscar Wilde, Gilbert & Sullivan, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Sweeney Todd, Downton Abbey, Noel Coward, Monty Python, P.G. Wodehouse and Maury Yeston--and most often to its favor. While there are more than a few detractors--some find the score forgettable pastiche or carp that Jefferson Mays is no Alec Guinness--most declare A Gentleman's Guide frothy good fun, and one of the most entertaining shows of the season so far.


Posted on 11/21/13
Photo from Little Miss Sunshine
Photo: Joan Marcus

C

"Something Better Better Happen" is the unanimous selection for best song in Little Miss Sunshine. Unfortunately, all agree that something better never actually does happen in this Oscar-nominated-movie-to-musical adaptation. Critics find the stage version faithful to a fault--they just don't see the justification for musicalizing this particular movie. All enjoy the amusing addition of a Greek chorus of tiny pageant tormenters and praise the spunky Hannah Nordberg as offbeat Olive. The rest of the cast struggles in critics' estimation, and composer William Finn is called out for his atypically saccharine songs. Writer/director James Lapine also gets dinged for the characters' lost edges and his sparse staging of the road trip.


Posted on 11/21/13
Photo from The Patron Saint of Sea Monsters
Photo: Joan Marcus

D+

Marlane Meyer's new play leaves critics feeling mostly confused and frustrated. Many say they like the heartfelt closing scene, but find most of what comes before overwritten and strange, and feel a disconnect between the play's over-the-top scenes and the earnest ones. There are some kind words for the actors, especially Candy Buckley, for going along with the zaniness, and for Rachel Hauck's backwoods, animal-filled set.


Posted on 11/21/13
Photo from 700 Sundays
Photo: Carol Rosegg

A-

The return of Billy Crystal’s standup family memoir to Broadway predominantly inspires warmth and nostalgia in reviewers. Sure, it’s basically the same production from 2004, but why mess with a good thing? “Revisiting this very special solo show is like reconnecting with an old friend who has the uncanny ability to tell you the same stories you heard the first time –and still make you double over with laughter,” says Cititour’s Lipton, speaking for many. The few quibbles are about a more melancholy, slightly “maudlin” overlay, particular in the more emotional second act, as well as a sense of performance “autopilot,” given that it’s mostly repackaged from its earlier run. New York’s Green is less impressed than most by the “slickness” of the show, which at its worst “becomes its own opposite: cold and manipulative.”


Posted on 11/15/13
Photo from All That Fall
Photo: Carol Rosegg

A

Critics applaud Trevor Nunn’s “expert guidance” of “one of Beckett's most accessible works and one of the most affecting” (Lighting Sound and America’s Barbour). Like most Beckett plays, it focuses the minutiae of daily life, or in this case, one day in a life, mining both the tragedy and humor of human existence in an unforgettable manner. Bloomberg’s Gerard raves over “the incomparable Michael Gambon and Eileen Atkins, [who] are giving a master class not only in acting but in taking a work never meant for the stage and suffusing it with dramatic life.” Time Out's Cote exhorts: “This limited engagement should be unmissable…Vulgar though it may be for me to flog tickets, I urge: Be wise and get yourself one.”