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Posted on 08/05/13
Photo from Bill W. and Dr. Bob
Photo: Joseph E. Reid

B

Most reviewers find this play, about the founding of Alcoholics Anoymous, a somewhat satisfying and quite meaningful revival, with Time Out's David Cote observing that “its theatrical virtues are less important than its social value,” and the Post’s Elisabeth Vincentelli admiring its “sincere earnestness” even as she also notes its lack of “dramatic tension or insights.” The L’s Dan Callahan is far less accepting, calling the play a “paper-thin representation of the founding of such an important group" which, as a play, "does nothing to truly help or enlighten anyone.”


Posted on 08/05/13
Photo from Storyville
Photo: Carol Rosegg

C+

Though there is some praise for the music and choreography in this revival of Storyville—the Times’ Andy Webster, for one, finds the production “tirelessly exhuberant”—the predominant critical sentiment is less favorable, especially with respect to the storyline, which is called “dramatically thin,” “very much like a work in progress,” and even worse; as New Jersey Newsroom’s Michael Sommers puts it, this is “a flimsy two-act melodrama.” Even those who appreciate, as Show Business Weekly’s Iris Greenberger does, the “gifted ensemble of strong vocalists,” find the book “unfocused and rambling.”


Posted on 08/01/13
Photo from Murder for Two
Photo: Joan Marcus

B+

Critics are of two minds when it comes to this fast-paced two-hander. There tends to be consensus that the libretto and direction are a little chaotic, interspersing moments that land with other moments that fail. Director Scott Schwartz gets high marks for creating an energetic production, but gets some demerits for pacing issues at the beginning and end. Meanwhile, for some critics, the intense eagerness to please becomes off-putting. For others, though, the boundless energy of the performers, Brett Ryback and Jeff Blumenkrantz, carries the day.


Posted on 07/29/13
Photo from Let it Be
Photo: Chad Batka

C-

It’s not just a guitar that is gently weeping in this new production about the Beatles: the critical consensus is predominantly indifferent to negative about this “lazy,” “uninspired,” “below-par cruise ship revue.” There is some appreciation for the “excellent cover band” and the “perfunctory yet enjoyable” concert experience, but this show--which many critics agree is suspiciously similar to 2010's Rain--is clearly meant for those who are seeking nostalgia over innovation.


Posted on 07/25/13
Photo from The Castle
Photo: Stan Barouh

A-

Prefacing their praise with overarching reservations regarding the difficulty of Howard Barker's work, critics give high marks to the Potomac Theater Project's "disgustingly entertaining" production of The Castle. Reviews concede that Barker's rambling, vulgar discursion on gender politics (and religion, culture, rebellion--you name it) in the Middle Ages easily could go awry, but find that Richard Romagnoli's "fast-paced" direction of a roundly lauded cast makes for a compelling and worthwhile experience. In particular, Jan Maxwell's "transcendent" performance is hailed as "marvelously gritty," "searing," and "heartbreakingly vulnerable".


Posted on 07/25/13
Photo from The Designated Mourner
Photo: Joan Marcus

B+

The critical response for this Public Theater remounting of Shawn’s seminal work is decidedly mixed. At one end of the spectrum is the Times’ Brantley, who praises a “not-to-be-missed revival,” while on the other end, the Post’s Vincentelli decries “how overrated the play is.” How positively the viewer experiences the production may have something to do with one’s patience for what Lighting and Sound America’s Barbour calls its “lack of specifics,” which make it less of a play than a “short story’s worth of material stretched to three hours.” Though North Jersey’s Feldberg agrees that it’s a “well-written, very, very long play — sort of a play,” he also recommends it for being “often funny, sometimes haunting and entirely demanding of your patience.”


Posted on 07/24/13
Photo from Nobody Loves You
Photo: Joan Marcus

B+

Most critics admit that reality television is an easy target for satire, perhaps too easy, but that doesn't stop them from enjoying the musical Nobody Loves You. On the positive side for critics: Itamar Moses's witty book and lyrics and a game cast, especially Rory O'Malley in multiple roles and Heath Calvert as the dating show's host. Critics who are lessenamored with the show gripe that the characters are cliched and the love story between the leads isn't all that interesting.


Posted on 07/09/13

B-

Despite positive comments regarding most aspects of the production (direction, acting, dialogue, sets, lighting), and especially high marks for David Morse's powerful turn as the manipulative title character, reviewers are hesitant to recommend The Unavoidable Disappearance of Tom Durnin. Complaints about the story abound, including that it fails to dig deep into the potentially intriguing issues it raises, and that the dramatic payoff was much greater in its real-life analogue. It seems Morse's fine acting creates a sort of theatrical Catch-22: Tom Durnin is such a convincingly despicable con artist that critics find it hard to care about a play detailing his post-prison tribulations.


Posted on 07/08/13
Photo from Choir Boy
Photo: Joan Marcus

B+

Expectations seem to be high for Choir Boy, the first New York premiere from playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney since his critically acclaimed The Brother/Sister Plays in 2009. The urban lyricism of his dialogue here does not disappoint, and critics note how well its musicality matches the use of song--Jason Michael Webb’s arrangements receive high praise--throughout the production. While some (Matthew Murray, Talkin' Broadway) find said musical numbers a crutch for a dramaturgically flawed script, most declare them an affecting highlight of the well-acted, well-directed production. While there is a sense that the character development of the show's generally over-explored topics of coming out and bullying--the play's similarity to History Boys is invoked a few times--is lacking, most critics are happy to overlook Choir Boy's flaws in favor of its strengths.


Posted on 07/02/13
Photo from Unlock'd
Photo: Richard Termine

A-

Matthew Murray of Talkin' Broadway loves the lightness of the plot of this musical, loosely based on Alexander Pope's poem "The Rape of the Lock," comparing it to the operettas of Gilbert and Sullivan and to the Golden Age confections of Cole Porter and Irving Berlin. So does the Times' Neil Genzlinger, who finds it "lovely" and "amusing," and singles out the song "Off to the East" as a "gorgeous" high point. In contrast, the Daily News' Joe Dziemianowicz and the Post's Elisabeth Vincentelli couldn't wait for the show to end. And Nytheatre.com's Charles Bales calls it "freshly spun cotton candy" that's "sweet and delicious," "clever and enjoyable," but ultimately forgettable.