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Summer and Smoke

Aristophanes' The Birds

Kafka's The Trial


"The Sting" at Paper Mill Playhouse

"Matata and Jesse James: An American Tragedy" at Castillo

Hanoch Levin Squared

Two views of "Admissions"

Good for Otto

Distant Observer: Tokyo/New York Correspondence

Shakespeare's Will

Three Wise Guys

A Walk With Mr. Heifetz

"Three on a Match" at IATI Theater

"Gabriel: A Polemic"

A Walk With Mr. Heifetz

The Morningside Players in "Having Our Say"

"Kings" by Sarah Burgess at the Public

Eve Ensler's "In The Body of The World"

Enda Walsh's "Disco Pigs" at the Irish Rep: Two Feverish Adolescents On The Cusp of Adulthood

The New Group's "Jerry Springer - The Opera"

"This One's for the Girls" is a Terrific Feminist Take on Pop Music

"Pollock" by Fabrice Melquiot

"Junk" Explains Wall Street Corruption Better than Most Newspapers Do

"A Soldier's Play"

"The Parisian Woman" is a Good/Bad Play About Political Corruption

"Returning to Reims"

"Hangman" By Martin McDonagh

John Lithgow: The Showing and Telling of "Stories by Heart"

Stranger in a Strange Land: " Harriet's Return"

We All Bleed Red: "One Drop"

"Hindle Wakes" Steps Gracefully out of the Past

"Twelfth Night" by Fiasco Theater

Romance Meets the Ridiculous in Kate Hamill's "Pride and Prejudice"

"What Elsas Knew in a Peril" at New Stage Theatre Company

Teatro Patologico at LaMaMa and The United Nations

"The Fountainhead" is Van Hove's Misogynistic take on Ayn Rand

"20th Century Blues"

"State of Siege"

"Time and the Conways"

Elevator Repair Service's "Measure for Measure"

"House on Poe Street"

"Lonely Planet"

Cabaret Convention 2017 at Lincoln Center

"As You Like It" at Classic Stage Company

"In the Blood" at Signature Theater

"F**king A." at Signature Theater

"A Soldier's Play"

"The Terms of My Surrender" with Michael Moore

"Guilty" from Iceland

Two views of "Mary Jane"

Two Views of "Prince of Broadway"

"For Peter Pan on her 70th birthday"

"Van Gogh's Ear"

The Public's "Midsummer Night's Dream"

Two views of "1984" on Broadway

"Henry VI Part 3" in a Parking Lot

"Between a Cock and a Hard Place"

Two views of "Amerike - The Golden Land"

"The Enchantment"

"Seeing You"

Theater for a New Audience's "Measure for Measure"

"The Rivals" outdoors

"Refugia" at the Guthrie


"War Paint"

"The Cooping Theory: Who Killed Edgar Allan Poe?"


"Groundhog Day"

"A Doll’s House, Part 2"


Two views of "War Paint”

"PUFFS" at The Elektra Theater

"Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812"

Edinburgh Fringe 2016: dance is classical, jazzy, sometimes almost like sculpture

Edinburgh Fringe 2016: the struggle for justice

Edinburgh Fringe 2016: the people the system chews up

Edinburgh Fringe 2016: plays on the system’s corruption

Edinburgh Fringe 2016: plays about war and its fallout

"Viva Las Vegas," Bobby Nesbitt’s celebration of great cabaret performers, presented in Key West

Glenn Loney in Munich and Bregenz, 2015

“Pico and Chown, Back in Town”

"Fiddler on the Roof" at Arena Stage

"Marjorie Prime" at the Mark Taper Forum

Edinburgh Festival Fringe: Party Politics

Edinburgh Festival Fringe: War

Edinburgh Festival Fringe: Repression

"The Soongs: By Dreams Betrayed" in Hong Kong

The Other Face of Cuban Jazz

Botanical Night is Berlin’s best music party of the year

Nice Jazz Festival in Nice, France

"Mary T. and Lizzy K." at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C.

"The Year of Magical Thinking" in St. Augustine, FL

Birmingham Royal Ballet

Speaking words of Wisdom at the Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival



Tartuffe (Brent Harris), left, and Orgon (Patrick Toon)

"Tartuffe" at Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey
Here's a play about a man who lies about pretty much everything. Despite claiming to be a stand-up guy – ardently religious even – he’d con you out of your socks given half a chance, and hit on your wife, groping her inappropriately (there’s another kind?) when your back is turned.Sounds contemporary? No, it's the 350-year old “Tartuffe,” by French playwright Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, aka Molière, and despite its unsavory title character, it is damn funny. Especially as being performed at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey. By Philip Dorian.




Marin Ireland and Nathan Darrow in "Summer and Smoke"

Two views of "Summer and Smoke"
In this "Summer and Smoke" by Tennessee Williams, directed by Jack Cummings III, artistic director of the co-producing (with Classic Stage Company) Transport Group, the production is stripped down to its essential relationships. By Philip Dorian and Lucy Komisar.


Photo by Teddy Wolff



This Aristophanes is not for the birds
Beate Hein Bennett swoons for Aristophanes' "The Birds" at St. Ann's Warehouse, writing "You will have a fantastic flight of theatrical fancy with some solid political and social underpinnings."



Will Dagger, Drigan Lee in "Kafka's The Trial." Photo by Joshua Kristal.

Kafka's The Trial
While the novel “The Trial” by Franz Kafka (1883-1924) has inspired numerous dramatic adaptations and performances since its posthumous publication in 1924—Kafka wrote it in 1914/15—Andrew Visnevski’s adaptation is presented as a US premiere and inaugural production by the new NYC company, Sextant Productions. It is a very timely choice, given the strange juridical climate presently prevailing in the United States, especially for DACA and other long-term illegal but working immigrants lingering in judicial limbo. (A side note: In 2013 the New Century Theatre in Seattle produced “The Trial” adapted by Kenneth Albers in a former INS immigration jail which housed deportees!) Kafka has been the pre-eminent literary godfather/prophet for the 20th century and, obviously, the play strikes a chord in our time. By Beate Hein Bennett.



Danielle Aziza, Brandon Olson, Jeanne Lauren Smith in "Rechnitz." Photo by Lee Wexler/Images for Innovation.

A sea of soliloquies floating on an ocean of collective excuses and denials forcing a memory of horror not to exist. Yet horrors always come back to haunt the dreams and imaginations of the creators of evil. All that is good rarely keeps us awake. We sleep in peace. Others wrestle with their evils while shame grabs their minds like a bear trap leaving them screaming for absolution. Rechnitz is that scream. By Larry Litt.




Harry Connick, Jr., center, and J. Harrison Ghee, right (in tuxes) at "The Sting" horse parlor. Photo: courtesy Paper Mill Playhouse.

"The Sting" at Paper Mill Playhouse
What do you look for in a musical? Songs and singers that make you glad you have ears? Multi-style choreography and dancers adept at every one of them? How ‘bout a plot that freezes your attention through every scene. And finally, a charismatic leading man heading up a cast that seems to be enjoying their work as much as you are enjoying them at it. ‘If only,’ you say? Well “The Sting” is that musical. (And Harry Connick, Jr. is that star.) By Philip Dorian.




Photo by Ronald K. Glassman

Matata and Jesse James: An American Tragedy
With this play at Castillo Theatre, author Dan Friedman touches the raw nerve of race relations in American history which has not been fully resolved yet. The Civil War (1861-1865), one of the bloodiest wars was fought over the issue of slavery and related economic priorities. Our present political and social climate has laid bare the profound racial inequities that still prevail due to unresolved racial and socioeconomic factors. American folklore is full of these motifs. However, while Black American folklore has traditionally put a sly humorous spin on living the racial experience of being a non-person, white American folklore celebrates the gun-slinging outlaw as the hero rebel who conquers his place by defying societal norms.





Gera Sandler, Eli Rosen and Ronit Asheri in "The Labor of Life"

Hanoch Levin Squared
Hanoch Levin (1943-1999) wrote 56 plays, most of them dark comedies, about his fellow Israelis. He was not always kind, and he loved to shock his audiences. But there is also a poet in the playwright who can transform escapist fantasy into stage poetry, metaphor, and absurdist humor. The New Yiddish Rep is offering two of his plays, “Labor of Life” and the ”Whore from Ohio” in daily double (and sometimes triple) features in alternating languages, Hebrew and Yiddish, with English supertitles. By Glenda Frank.



ADMISSIONS -- Jessica Hecht as Sherri Rosen-Mason, Andrew Garman as her husband Bill Mason, and Ben Edelman as their son Charlie. Photo by Jeremy Daniel.


Two views of "Admissions"
Lucy Komisar reports that "Admissions" is clever, funny and challenging, if not totally persuasive. It tells of the family crisis when Charlie (the terrific Ben Edelman), son of parents with top jobs at Hillcrest, an expensive second-tier prep boarding school in rural New Hampshire, doesn’t get into Yale. Paulanne Simmons deems it an issue play that’s almost as good as that kind of drama gets.




Rileigh McDonald, left, and Charlotte Hope, with Ed Harris in bacground. Photo by Monique Carboni.

Two views of "Good for Otto"
Philip Dorian writes that another fourth wall bites the dust in The New Group’s production of “Good for Otto,” at the Pershing Square Signature Center. David Rabe’s play, which premiered in 2015 at Chicago’s Gift Theatre, is not set in Grover’s Corners, but, we are told as the cast files into stage-perimeter seats, in the Berkshires town of Harrington, where our host, Dr. Robert Michaels (Ed Harris), is a counselor and chief administrator at Norwood Mental Health Center. The play that follows takes place in the Center’s offices and treatment rooms and in Dr. Michaels’ haunted memory bank. Glenda Frank adds that it's a star-studded production on a small stage, a rare treat in any theatre season.


Kyle Griffiths, Claire Buckingham, Samuel Im. Photo by Paula Court.

Distant Observer: Tokyo/New York Correspondence
The artistry of "Distant Observer: Tokyo/New York Correspondence" by John Jesurun and Takeshi Kawamura at La MaMa lies in depicting and embodying the central concepts of impermanence and mortality that mark our lives, whether in the Japanese or the American context. It is peculiar how a work of art that is filled with human despair gives hope for the survival of the human race through the creative spirit. And it's done through renga. Or is it "exquisite corpse"? By Beate Hein Bennett.


Tannis Kowalchuk as Anne Hathaway in "Shakespeare's Will." Photo by EmilyHewitt.

Shakespeare's Will
NACL and HERE presented the New York City premiere of “Shakespeare’s Will” by award winning Canadian playwright Vern Thiessen. This play focuses exclusively on Anne Hathaway and is homage to women who remain the stalwart companions-in-shadow to famous (and infamous) men. By Beate Hein Bennett.


Yuval Boim, Mariella Haubs, and Adam Green. Photo by James Leynse.

A Walk With Mr. Heifetz
On hearing Yascha Heifetz at his debut performance, Fritz Kreisler, a leading violinist, said "We might as well take our fiddles and break them across our knees." Heifetz was 12 years old. Judged the single most influential player of the last 100 years, Heifetz redefined the art of the violin. He’s a fascinating man! Although Heifetz is one of the three characters (plus the violinist Mariella Haubs) in “A Walk with Mr. Heifetz,” the discussions of art and statehood are filtered through Yehuda Sharett, (Yuval Boim) who is an enthusiast, a kibbutznik and a musician. It is a clever structure that enables playwright James Inverne to ponder some interesting thoughts. Thoughts are the finest aspect of the production. The weakest is the drama. By Glenda Frank.

THREE WISE GUYS -- Joel Jones, Jeffrey C. Hawkins, Karl Kenzler, and Ron McClary. Photo by Marielle Solan.

Three Wise Guys
If you love Damon Runyon’s outlandish characters and their eccentric articulations, you’re in for a treat. TACT’s latest offering (and final production) is “Three Wise Guys,” a comedy based on two Damon Runyon stories, “Dancing Dan’s Christmas” and “The Three Wise Guys.” Although the combination, as hammered out by Scott Alan Evans and Jeffrey Couchman, is at times a bit clumsy, the result is a thoroughly entertaining evening. By Paulanne Simmons.




THREE ON A MATCH: Angus Hepburn and Sean Phillips.

Three on a Match
Celebrating its 50th anniversary, New York City based IATI Theater Todo Vanguardia, which is devoted to contemporary, cutting-edge Latino works, could not have selected a more compelling and beautifully crafted play than Rhett Martinez' "Three On A Match," which examines state sponsored terrorism in Latin America during the 70s and 80s, and by a short stretch of the imagination, similar horrors currently going on in other parts of the world. Byb Edward Rubin.




GABRIEL: A POLEMIC -- L-R: Elaine Ivy Harris, Jane Bradley, Rachel A. Collins and Brandi Varnell.

"Gabriel: A Polemic"
As the tsunami of #MeToo has hit the news in the past few months, and as women have marched to protest roll-backs in women’s healthcare, reproductive rights, and gender equality issues, C. Denby Swenson’s "Gabriel: A Polemic" is quite timely. The discursive structure and combative argument among four highly individualized women, laced with humor and pathos, allow for a differentiated view of an explosive topic: Religion and a woman’s free will to have control over her own body in terms of sex and childbearing.


L: Carol Carter, R: Edythe Jason in "Having Our Say"

The Morningside Players in "Having Our Say" by Emily Mann
With their home theater on Lasalle Street currently under renovations, The Morningside Players moved temporarily to an intimate new space called North of History, located on Columbus Avenue at 81st Street on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Their production of "Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years" became the new venue's inaugural production as a theater space. This play by Emily Mann, adapted from the book by Sarah H. Delany and A. Elizabeth Delany with Amy Hill Hearth, is a delightful two-character piece about the renowned Delany sisters: Sadie, a retired teacher with a gentle disposition, age 103 at the time, and Bessie, a retired dentist still full of fight, age 101. They were memorably acted by Carol Carter and Edythe Jason. By Paul Berss.




KINGS -- Gillian Jacobs as Kate and Eisa Davis as Rep Sydney Millsap. Photo by Joan Marcus.

When Lucy Komisar saw this amazingly timely play by Sarah Burgess about corporate Democrats attacking a progressive Texas candidate, she thought people might think, that really is a stretch. But have you checked the news? Do you know that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has just in recent weeks attacked Laura Moser, a terrific progressive female candidate for Congress from Houston, Texas? Could Burgess have written her play so fast, or is it life imitating art?


Eve Ensler. Photo by Joan Marcus


A Glorious Second Wind for Eve Ensler
With "In The Body of The World," a theatricalization of her 2013 book by the same name at the Manhattan Theatre Club’s New York City Center currently running through March 25, Ensler returns to the stage with a vengeance with a play about her battle with cancer. By Ed Rubin.




Evanna Lynch in "Dicso Pigs." Photo by Jeremy Daniel.


Enda Walsh's "Disco Pigs" at the Irish Rep: Two Feverish Adolescents On The Cusp of Adulthood
Edna Walsh's adrenaline-infused play is a coming of age story happening at supersonice speed, featuring made up languages and dialogue delivere din Gaelic. By Edward Rubin.


Cast members of "Jerry Springer - The Opera." Photo courtesy of The New Group.

The New Group's "Jerry Springer - The Opera"
Directed by John Rando, and choreographed by Chris Bailey, this production promises a good time. The show is in operatic form, with majority singing, not dialogue, and is called devilishly funny. By Philip Dorian.







(L-R) Haley Swindal, Traci Bair, Jana Robbins, Aneesa Folds. Photo by Carol Rosegg.


"This One's for the Girls" is a Terrific Feminist Take on Pop Music
This smart musical is semi-autobiographical, and moves through 60s music. There couldn't be a better moment in time for this show. By Lucy Komisar.




Aus Greidanus Jr as Peter Keating (left), Ramsey Nasr as Howard Roark (right). Photo by Richard Termine.


"The Fountainhead" is Van Hove's Misogynistic take on Ayn Rand

The set takes place in a very large space allowing for easy scene changes. However, the reveiwer finds this play offensive, and compares it to a "B movie." By Lucy Komisar.





Photo courtesy of Underground Theatre.



"Pollock" by Fabrice Melquiot
This play exposes extensive and impressive research on artist Jackson Pollock. The fluid staging takes place in an open space that invites viewers in. By Glenda Frank.






Ito Aghayere as the mole working for Erickson but giving info to crooked traders. Photo byT. Charles Erickson.



"Junk" Explains Wall Street Corruption Better than Most Newspapers Do
"Junk" hits investigative journalism right on the mar. Akhtar gives an excellent play-by-play, even better than the press. By Lucy Komisar.




John Lithgow. Photo Joan Marcus.



Two Views of John Lithgow in "Stories by Heart"
Reviewed by both Edward Rubin, and Lucy Komisar, "Stories by Heart" is garnering quite an auience. Rubin calls it an educational performance, as Lithgow displays his dominance and control over a demanding role. Komisar calls Lithgow a charmer and a pleasure to watch. By Edward Rubin and Lucy Komisar.





Jimmy Gary, Jr. as Pvt. C.J. Memphis.



They Still Hate You..."A Soldier's Play"
This play has particular poignancy with current gun violence tensions, and uncovers many unspoken resentments. By Beate Hein Bennett.






(L-R) Uma Thurman as Chloe, Blaire Brown as Jenette. Photo by Matthew Murphy.


"The Parisian Woman" is a Good/Bad Play About Political Corruption
Hitting all of the political bases, this "staged TV sitcom" of a play is silly and shows standout roles for some of the actors. Hitting all the buttons, director Pam MacKinnon is fantastic. By Lucy Komisar.




"Returning to Reims." Photo by Teddy Wolff.



Where to Stand: "Returning to Reims"
A hybrid of performances, "Returning to Reims" is a prominent piece of work featuring a small, but mighty, cast of just 3 actors. Incorporating media into theater, this show stands out. By Beate Hein Bennett.





(L-R) Mark Addy and Sally Rogers in Martin McDonagh's "Hangman." Photo by Ahron R. Foster.


"Hangman" By Martin McDonagh
"Hangman" is described as an "unexpected double run." This dark comedy is intruguing and violent. Written by the same author as the oscar nominated film "3 Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri", this play by Martin McDonagh is attneitve to topics such as guilt and innocence. By Glenda Frank.




John Lithgow performing "Stories by Heart." Photo by Joan Marcus.



John Lithgow: The Showing and Telling of "Stories by Heart"
Greeted with a tsunami of applause each night, John Lithgow walks across the American Airlines Theatre, charming arudiences, and showing off his literary gift. In an educational performance, Lithgow displays his dominance and control over a demanding role. By Edward Rubin.



Karen Jones Meadows as Harriet Tubman. Photo by Gerry Goodstein.


Stranger in a Strange Land: "Harriet's Return"
Karen Jones Meadows has beautifully created a full and fitting portrait of Harriet Tuman in a production by the New Federal Theater. Tubman's heroic story is performed with untiring energy, and Karen Jones Meadows shows us truly how Tubman earned her moniker "Moses." By Beate Hein Bennett.





(L-R) Same Crane and Mark Rylance in the Shakespeare's Globe production of "Farinelli and the King." Photo by Joan Marcus.



Mark Rylance Returns to Broadway with "Farinelli And The King"
Mark Rylance, winner of three Tony's and an Oscar, returns to Broadway in his wife's play "Farinelli and the King." However, unfortunately no one could rescue Rylance from his wobbly and unsatisfing portrayal of Phillipe V. By Edward Rubin.






ONE DROP -- DaisyLee H. Sprauve as Edna (left), Denise Fair Grant as Norma Jean Thibodaux (left middle), Alicia Foxworth as LaTessa (right middle), and Illona S. Dixon as Lula Mae (right).


We All Bleed Red: "One Drop"
Structured like an epic folktale, "One Drop" has unearthed a part of playwright Andrea J. Fulton's own family history, enriched with live music and a true romantic tale. By Beate Hein Bennett.




"American Hero" at George Street Playhouse. Photo coutesy of George Street Playhouse.


"American Hero" at the George Street Playhouse
Full of clarity and steeped in cynicism, "American Hero," written by christopher Demos-Brown and directed by David Saint, takes on the American military establishment with vividness and herosim. By Philip Dorian.



"The Outsider" at the Paper Mill Playhouse. Photo courtesy of the Paper Mill Playhouse.


"The Outsider" at the Paper Mill Playhouse
Paul Slade Smith's farcical romp puts a quirky spin on the difference between governing and "politicking." Written, directed and acted by David Esbjornson, "The Outsider" is a climactic mini-lecture that is quite unbelievable. By Philip Dorian.




The finale of "A Chorus Line" at Westchester Broadway Theater. Photo courtesy of WBT.


"A Chorus Line" at the Westchester Broadway Theater
A timeless and classic show has made its way to the stage of the Westchester Broadway Theater. Intended for all audiences alike, this production of "A Chorus Line" dazzles with creativity and originality, while still paying proper ode to the original work of genius. And even years later, this show is a must see for anyone who has ever awaited or desired the approval of others. By Philip Dorian.



Jeremy Beck and Emma Greer in "Hindle Wakes." Photo by Toddo Cerveris.

"Hindle Wakes" Steps Gracefully out of the Past
At a time when the “Me Too” hashtag is the latest permutation of the Feminist Movement, it’s hard to realize just how scandalous and revolutionary Stanley Houghton’s drama “Hindle Wakes” was in its time. By Paulanne Simmons.




"El Coquí Espectacular and the Bottle of Doom." Photo courtesy of Two River Theater.


"El Coquí Espectacular and the Bottle of Doom" Presented by Two River Theater
Descirbed as a live action cartoon with periodic reality checks, "El Coquí" illustrates how diversity and acceptance of Latino culture remain a fnatasy. Infused with inference and example of humor, this colorful and action-packed show has a message, but avoids stufiness, and superbly coordinates technical aspects. By Philip Dorian.



"The Calling." Photo courtesy of New Jersey Repertory Company.


"The Calling" Presented by New Jersey Repertory Company
Set in the nave of a Catholic church, Joel Stone's play is full of red herrings and shifting suspicions that show courage an intelligence. The intriguing by-play between the two men prompts philosophical questions challenging the reviewer. The acting and the directing couldn't be better. By Phil Dorian.



Jessie Austrian as Olivia and Emily Young as Viola-Cesario, photo by Joan Marcus

"Twelfth Night" is a Fine Intimate Musical Production by Fiasco
Known for its iconic and clever works, the Fiasco Theater Company delights with a production of Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night" that is complex, intimate, and filled with live music performed by the actors themselves. By Lucy Komisar.




Romance Meets the Ridiculous in Kate Hamill's "Pride and Prejudice"
From the start of “Pride and Prejudice,” when the cast sings an enthusiastic “Game of Love,” which hit the charts back in the 60s, we know this is not going to be a sedate interpretation of the marriage plot. By Paulanne Simmons.


"What Elsas Knew in a Peril" -- Photograph by Lee Wexler/Images for Innovation


What Elsas Knew in a Peril
In this universal theatrical travesty of Desire vs. Respect, playwright/actor Brandon Olson knows how to mock the sensitive yet easily offended victims of unrequited love and often unexpected betrayal. Olson’s musical masterpiece, "What Elsas Knew in a Peril," is a very gay romp in and out of frustration and madness leading to brilliant emotional pathos. By Larry Litt.




Dario D'Ambrosi and cast of "Follies in Titus" in curtain call at La MaMa.

Teatro Patologico Explores Meanings of Madness at LaMaMa and The United Nations
Two of Western theater history's most brutal dramas, Shakespeare's "Titus Andronicus" and Euripides' "Medea," plumb the ancient divide between madness and sanity in relation to justice and injustice. Dario D’Ambrosi, creator of the theater movement Teatro Patologico, has brought adaptations of both plays to New York this month. The ensembles of both productions are student-actors of D’Ambrosi’s "La Magia de Teatro" (The Magic of Theater) troupe, who otherwise may never have gotten the chance to perform. Why? They are "differently abled," meaning they are people with mental, physical, or developmental impairments including schizophrenia, manic depression, and Down Syndrome. By Caroline O'Connor.


Polly Draper,Kathryn Grody,Franchelle Stewart Dorn, and Ellen Parker in 20th Century Blues. Photo by Joan Marcus.

"20th Century Blues"
We live in the time of 'Baby Boomer' reflections. Looking at today's politics and culture we have come a long way from the Vietnam War and its protests. Playwright Susan Miller has captured these external and internal anxieties in the funny and heart wrenching dramady, "20th Century Blues." We meet four atypical upscale 'baby boomer' women coming to grips with their changing lives. Though it's a play about women it's not only for women. Men are asking the same questions about their futures. "How did I get so old? How did my country get this polarized and deceitful? Where do I go now? How can I keep my momentum going? By Larry Litt.






Valérie Dashwood as Death, in red, looks over her victims. .

"State of Seige"
Albert Camus' 1948 play, powerfully staged by Emmanuel Demarcy-Mota, director of the Paris Théâtre de la Ville, seems so prescient, so of the moment, that you could swear it was written yesterday. This production starts with the cabaret music of the 40s; people are dancing. Suddenly there are flashing lights and a siren. Joy turns to horror. People will recognize fake threats and ignore the real ones.
By Lucy Komisar.






Steven Boyer as Ernest Beevers rises to hold his own above the inherited upper class. Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

"Time and the Conways"
J.B. Priestley’s absorbing 1937 play about what happened to one family and the people whose lives they touched explains how by the time the Second World War occurred, to be followed by the victory of the Labor Party, the ascendancy of the upper class was not so assured.
At least, money would matter more than class. By Lucy Komisar.






Elevator Repair Service in "Measure for Measure" at the Public. Photo by Richard Termine.

Elevator Repair Service brings "Measure for Measure" to the Public
The Elevator Repair Service (ERS) under the helm of John Collins has garnered a die-hard following, won a Lucille Lortel and several Obie awards, and produced extended runs, especially their adaptations of classical American novels: “Gatz,” adapted from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” and “The Sound and the Fury” from the William Faulkner novel. Their current production at the Public Theatre of Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure” is brilliantly innovative and clever. But it helps to know the play. The production is a gloss on the script. By Glenda Frank.






Arnie Burton and Matt McGrath. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

"Lonely Planet"
The Keen Company’s revival of “Lonely Planet” (1992) by Steven Dietz at the John Clurman Theater is a gem -- funny, smart, poignant. It’s an absurdist two-hander about friendship during a time of AIDS. Arnie Burton as Jody and Matt McGrath as Carl offer performances that seem natural and relaxed yet run the gamut from irony to terror, annoyance to wild joy. What Burton can do with a glance and McGrath with his voice are masterful . The exchanges feel easy, right. We enter their world because they have invited us in. And because they are continually interesting and inventive.
By Glenda Frank.




Eric Comstock and Barbara Fasano.
Photo by Lucy Komisar.

Cabaret Convention 2017 at Lincoln Center
The Cabaret Convention put on by the Mabel Mercer Foundation has for almost three decades brought together some of the best cabaret performers in the country, each of four days presenting as many as 20 singers, some prominent, some new, some doing standards, others jazz, to keep the tradition alive. One night this year featured the works of George Gershwin, which is why you'll note many singers doing his songs. A nice part about the event is that the performers come out to the lobby at intermission and after the show to chat and schmooz with the audience. Hence these photos. Dozens appeared over four evenings; these are just my highlights of three nights I attended. I notice that most are women. Well, so be it! They had the most pizzazz, the most drama. By Lucy Komisar.


Quincy Tyler Bernstine as Celia and Hannah Cabell
as Rosalind. Photo by Richard Termine.



"As you like it"
Classic Stage Company offers us a modern trippy jazzy smart take on Shakespeare's couples play ("As You Like It") about males and females going after each other, circling each other in real life before internet dating sites. By Lucy Komisar.


Saycon Sengbloh as Hester.
Photo by Joan Marcus.


"In the Blood"

From Hester in Nathaniel Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter, to Hester, La Negrita (the excellent Saycon Sengbloh) today, naïve trusting women with no economic independence are the victims of men, and then the victims of the social managers and critics, the moral cops of society, who blame them for being the victim. Suzan-Lori Parks' "In the Blood," first staged in 1999, has been revived at Signature Theater. Hester had a child out of wedlock with her teenage lover, Chilli (Michael Braun), who promptly split. And then she has more. She is excoriated by a chorus of social betters who yell at the unmarried mother: "She don't got no skills, ‘cept one." She's a "burden to society…. Bad news in her blood." Sarah Benson directs it as a documentary, not a bitingf, sardonic play.
By Lucy Komisar.

Christine Lahti as Hester.Photo by Joan Marcus.

"F**king A."
Suzan-Lori Parks reimagines Hester of Nathaniel Hawthorne's "A Scarlet Letter" in a time when small children are imprisoned for stealing food and their sentences extended for decades, and when bounty hunters go after these escaped prisoners, who they will torture and kill.Think "Les Miz" and the slave-era South. Injustice and cruelty stalk the land. Under Jo Bonney taut direction at Signature Theater, the play is strong, disturbing, surreal, naturalistic. Parks has also done the music and lyrics for the dark original songs. By Lucy Komisar.


A SOLDIER'S PLAY -- Chaz Reuben as Capt. Richard Davenport. Photo by Kamoier Williams.


"A Soldier's Play"
Charles Fuller’s “A Soldier’s Play” might be a very standard whodunnit. There’s a murder, lots of suspects, plenty of motivation, and interrogations of suspects by a conflicted investigator. Except that the play is set in a segregated U.S. army base during World War II, the victim is a black sergeant, and the suspects are both white officers and black enlisted men. At a time when the President of the United States can defend the white nationalists protesting the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee by saying they included “some very fine people,” we need “A Soldier’s Play” more than ever. By Paulanne Simmons.

Michael Moore with Trump photo
in background. Photo by Joan Marcus

"The Terms of My Surrender" with Michael Moore
Standup comedy, political rally, late night talk TV? It's hard to know what to make of Michael Moore's theater event billed as a play. Donald Trump's black and white photo is the backdrop. A box on the upper right has red, white and blue bunting. It's the presidential box and Trump and family have been invited. Moore is wearing his signature worker's blue shirt and cap. He starts out arguing political issues — that a majority of American agree on equal pay for women, climate change, health care but they don't hold power. This will be Moore's 12-step meeting on how the audience can change that. He jokes, "Everyone gets an arm band and a machete and we take this place by midnight." By Lucy Komisar.


Ivette Dumeng as the Wife, Bryan Hamilton as the Farm Hand, in "Guilty"

Guilty in Iceland

Iceland in the 19th Century was not exactly an idyll; it was an island nation of farming and fishing communities, pretty much cut off from the much of the rest of the world. Crime was rare and capital crimes rarer still. So the country's criminal cases have become the stuff of legend, including the child rape case in Rifsaedasel of 1837, which is as infamous to Icelanders as The Manson Family is to Americans. Contemporary Icelandic playwright Hrafnhildur Hagalín revisits this infamous case with "Guilty" (2014), a verse play that gracefully and provocatively examines issues of obsession and mercy which cling to it to this day. Reviewed by Beate Hein Bennett.





Liza Colón-Zayas as Sherry, a nurse,
and Carrie Coon as Mary Jane. Photo by Joan Marcus.

"Mary Jane" is a drama of how mothers cope when kids have incurable illness
Sounds depressing, and it is, but it's also curiously rather uplifting. Because it's about the women's trying to maintain normality, loving their children with a kind of forcefulness and desperation as if that could will a cure. With Anne Kauffman's naturalistic direction, the play never gets near soap opera. Herzog brings you slowly into the story and the life of Mary Jane (the excellent Carrie Coon). Things in her apartment seem normal. The super (Brenda Wehle) is attempting to fix a clogged sink drain. You don't really know the facts until suddenly, subtly, they are apparent, accoring to Lucy Komisar. Glenda Frank adds, "Director Anne Kauffman (2007, 2015 Obie awards) has done an admirable job keeping the pace lively and the tone light. In their double roles Brenda Wehle and Susan Poufar are charismatic and distinct. I look forward to seeing them again on stage."



Tony Yazbeck and Kaley Ann Voorhees
in "West Side Story." Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Two reviews of "Prince of Broadway"
Lucy Komisar writes, "Harold Prince produced and directed some of Broadway’s brilliant musicals: "Cabaret," "Candide," "Evita," "Kiss of the Spiderwoman," "Fiddler." Those shows were about politics and ideas. I was glad to see a reprise of famous numbers, but I was sorry this production did not deal with Prince’s vision. It was more "and then I directed/produced" rather than this is why I put on this show. David Thompson’s book should have made the point that they were very political shows." Edward Ruben adds, "One might think after winning a record 21 Tony Awards for producing or directing (and sometimes both simultaneously) many of Broadway's most popular and critically acclaimed musicals of the past 70 years, that the return of Hal Prince to The Great White Way with his latest venture, Prince of Broadway, would have been a shoo-in. The show is unabashedly a compendium of popular songs culled from his greatest hits...the last still up and running after 30 years and the longest running musical in history. But a shoo-in? Not so!".


Daniel Jenkins, Keith Reddin, Kathleen Chalfant & Lisa Emery. Photo by Joan Marcus.

"For Peter Pan on her 70th birthday"
Playwright Sarah Ruhl has been a Pulitzer Prize finalist and a Tony nominee. She even got a MacArthur "genius" Award. She has done some fine work, especially the funny feminist "The Clean House" and the "In the Next Room, or the vibrator Play."
But this play doesn't make the cut. Reviewed by Lucy Komisar.



Carter Hudson as Vincent Van Gogh. Photo by Shirin Tinati

"Van Gogh's Ear"
The dramatic frame is Van Gogh's last years: the loneliness and self-mutilation, the institutionalizations, his brother's support, and Vincent's suicide. But the work is mostly a 100 minute chamber recital with intermission The admirable musicians play about a dozen selections by Claude DeBussy, Gabriel Fauré, Ernest Chausson, and César Franck. Most pieces are instrumental but a few are sung by Renée Tatum -- as a model and as Vincent's sister-in-law -- and Chad Johnson, as Vincent's brother. A stiff Carter Hudson, from FX's "Snowfall," played the artist; Kevin Spirtas plays two supporting roles. Reviewed by Glenda Frank.



Annaleigh Ashford as Helena and Alex Hernandez as Demetrius. Photo by Joan Marcus.

The Public's "Midsummer" wows and pleases with strong performances
Annaleigh Ashford as Helena and Danny Burstein as Bottom shine in Lear deBessonet’s funny, inspired by teen movies, jazzy staging of Shakespeare’s comedy about dueling lovers. But the rest of the cast glitters almost as brightly. Reviewed by Lucy Komisar.







Olivia Wilde, Tom Sturridge and the cast of “1984.” Photo by Julieta Cervantes.
Two views of 1984 on Broadway
Glenda Frank writes that the 2013 stage adaptation of Orwell’s “1984” by Robert Icke and Duncan MacMillan, arriving on Broadway after a successful London run, offers a surprising lock step vision of our paranoid present. Yes, everyone with an interest in smart theatre should get a ticket but you need to know, this production makes little concession to our conventional assumptions of good theatre. The audience has to do a lot of the work. But it is worth every moment. Lucy Komisar adds, "When British writer George Orwell's "Nineteen Eighty-Four" was published in 1949 it was viewed as a dystopian novel. Now, it seems taken from the news."




HENRY VI PART 3 -- Lee Seymour as Edward, Gracie Winchester as Norfolk, Marcus Antonio Jones as Montague, Kendra Lee Oberhauser as Lady Grey, Alessandro Colla as Richard, Kyle Maxwell as Warwick, Bill Green as The Duke of York. Photo by Lee Wexler/Images for Innovation.

"Henry VI Part 3" in a Parking Lot
For his trilogy about Henry VI, Shakespeare deals with the most troublesome period of English royal succession, namely the feud between the Lancaster and the Plantagenet/York clans as to which is the rightful dynasty to inherit and wear the English crown. "Henry VI Part 3" is being mounted by Shakespeare in the Parking Lot under the stars on the Lower East Side. Beate Hein Bennett reports she enjoyed this rarely performed, freewheeling Shakespeare, which was presented in modern clothes. But she questions its parallels to contemporary American politics, while conceding that today's prevailing political chaos can certainly be extrapolated in general from the dramatic situation.




"Between a Cock and a Hard Place"
"Between a Cock and a Hard Place," written and directed by Sam Stagg at Dixon Place, satirizes the male compulsion to be aggressive and violent as a means of asserting masculinity. Two overly confident amateur robbers, an unyielding mob boss and a blue collar criminal at the end of his rope collide with an innocent boy who is coerced into making a decision that will undoubtedly affect his life forever. The characters in this play comedically exemplify the toxic ways in which we define and understand masculinity. Leave your heavy clothes at home ‘cause it’s gonna get steamy in here! By Remy.S .


AMERIKE - THE GOLDEN LAND -- Alexandra Frohlinger. Photo by Victor Nechay.

Two views of "Amerike - The Golden Land"
Moishe Rosenfeld, the librettist and Zalmen Mlotek, the Artistic Director of National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene (NYTF) and the piece's Music Director/Conductor, have created a panoramic tapestry of Jewish immigrant life with its origins in Russia and Eastern Europe where poverty and pogroms drove the young to seek a better fortune in “Amerike, de goldene medine.” This production, directed by Bryne Wasserman, was first performed at Baruch Performing Arts Center in 2012, but has been further developed and adapted for the space at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, the present performance home of NYTF. It's the story of immigrants at their lowest ebb, welcomed and offered a fresh start and a safe haven in a new, and golden land. By Beate Hein Bennett and Glenda Frank.

THE ENCHANTMENT - Claire Curtis Ward and Paul Herbig. Photo by Katrin Talbot.

"The Enchantment"
Most theatergoers have heard Nora’s door slam which ends Ibsen’s “The Doll House” and the gunshot that ends Hedda Gabler’s life. We have also puzzled about Miss Julie, the central character of Strindberg’s play, as she careens through her affair with Jan towards her dismal end. Those female characters and their fate were emanations of male playwrights who helped to shape the psychological core of late 19th century drama and its then controversial focus on the sexual relationship between men and women. Both Ibsen and Strindberg crafted dramas with iconoclastic women. However, they saw the female ambition for a life of passion ultimately as socially destructive and personally ruinous. “The Enchantment” was penned by Victoria Benedictsson (1850-1888), a contemporary of Ibsen and Strindberg; presumably she was the real life inspiration for Hedda Gabler and Miss Julie. In her brief life that ended in suicide, Benedictsson was a successful Swedish author who had published two novels under the pen name Ernst Ahlgren before she “outed” herself as a woman author. Benedictsson herself saw very clearly the problem of free love for women from an intimate as well as from a social perspective. "The Enchantment" offers a feminist exploration of liberty and desire in a time of repression and tradition. By Beate Hein Bennett.




SEEING YOU - Cast, basic training or war, the brutality is endemic. Photo by Steven Truman Gray


"Seeing You"
Just before you enter the large open space where this immersive play takes place, you pick up a silver dog tag that says, “Seeing you – heaven, hell or Hoboken.” It’s the fate of some American soldiers who have just been drafted to fight in World War II. In “Seeing You”, follow the experience of young GIs step by step as they live through the horrors of WWII and challenge the myths of American heroism. This show asks that you participate in one of the bleakest conflicts of all time, and no one comes out clean. Immerse yourself in the best and worst of the 1940s at home and at war, and discover if this truly was the Greatest Generation. By Lucy Komisar.


MEASURE FOR MEASURE - Thomas Jay Ryan and Cara Ricketts in Theatre for a New Audience's production of "Measure for Measure" by William Shakespeare. Photo by Gerry Goodstein.


"Measure for Measure" at Theater for a New Audience
Director Simon Godwin has given “Measure for Measure” an excellent staging, from the flexible and minimalist set by Paul Wills, and songs, with lyrics taken from Shakespeare’s sonnets and music by Jane Shaw and The Lusty Puddings, to the excellent casting. By Paulanne Simmons.



The Rivals
THE RIVALS -- Kristen Calgaro and Michael Sweeney Hammond in New York Classical Theatre's production of "The Rivals" by Richard Brinsley Sheridan. Photo by Miranda Arden.

"The Rivals," outdoors
If “Julius Caesar” is about deception and treachery that affects the future of an empire, “The Rivals” covers the same issues on a smaller scale.With that in mind, you don’t have to feel guilty if you missed “Julius Caesar” and head uptown (or Rockefeller Park in Battery Park City from July 5 through July 9 or Carl Schurz Park from July 12 through July 16) to catch New York Classical Theatre’s free presentation of Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s 1775 comedy “The Rivals.” Directed by Stephen Burdman, with lavish costumes selected by Melinda Hare, the production has the gorgeous greenery of the park for a set. And, in fact, that’s all it needs. The wonderful cast is perfectly sufficient to take us back to 18th century England, when the wealthy plotted, gossiped, dissembled and courted, and for the most part, behaved with an insouciance only possible for those who have money.
By Paulanne Simmons.

REFUGIA -- Christina Baldwin, Nathan Keepers. Photo by Dan Norman

"Refugia" at the Guthrie
As millions of refugees live and die throughout the world and political actions cause, confound, and contribute to these tragedies, what can theater possibly accomplish in the face of this world-wide social turmoil? Probably not much in the grand scheme of things but maybe in terms of community awareness, theater can at least raise the issues and foster dialogue, perhaps even social activism. Ancient Greek theater exerted the metaphoric power of live performance to affect the socio-political awareness of the community. And throughout human culture this potency of theater has been recognized by ruling power systems and resulted in censorship or propagandistic co-option. This kind of theater rattles the central nerves of a society because it is capable of bringing us face to face with an uncomfortable truth while it challenges our capacity for empathy. “Refugia” works on that level— gradually and progressively, with every scene, it infiltrates one’s consciousness about one’s place in the world, about the fragility of one’s place. By Beate Hein Bennett.



Bandstand. Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

Terrific 40s sound and dancing – choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler – raises the level of a rather corny and predictable musical about a World War II vet who puts together a swing band to compete in a song contest. By Lucy Komisar.





Patti LuPone as Helena Rubenstein and Christine Ebersole as Elizabeth Arden. Photo by Joan Marcus.

In “War Paint,” cosmetics titans Rubenstein and Arden must deal with male execs as well as the market.
This imagining of the lives of two powerful women who founded cosmetics empires has been created by men – book (Doug Wright), music (Scott Frankel), lyrics (Michael Korie), direction (Michael Greif), choreography (Christopher Gattelli). It’s a great production. But think of it as guys’ take on women. By Lucy Komisar.





410{GONE} -- Edgar Eguia as Ox Head, Carolina Do as Twenty-One. Photo by Hunter Canning.

Dead and Gone? "401[GONE]"
Every culture has ancient customs relating to the questions of life and death, the quality of living and dying, and some creative notions about the possibility of a Hereafter. The questions about the Hereafter are the most vexing: Is there a Hereafter? What might it look like? Is it Eternity? Is there a soul separate from the body? Is there a transmigration of the soul? Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig wrote a lively play that compounds different cultural strands as they collide in our contemporary cultural amalgam, more specifically as cultural traditions are experienced by the mixed progeny of Chinese- American youth in a period that increasingly demands cultural self-identification. By Beate Hein Bennett.



Daniel Light, Eliza Shea, Gadi Rubin, Richarda Abrams.
Photo by Al Foote III.

"The House on Poe Street"
Glenda Frank relates she has been enjoying drafts of "The House on Poe Street," a macabre comedy by Fengar Gael, for quite a while so it is with great pleasure that she watched the world premiere production, directed by Katie McHugh, at the Theatre at the 14th Street Y.
The title, of course, is a give-away. We expect ravens, the wonderfully deep red of the velvet curtain and the upholstery, the spooky lighting, the portrait of Poe and wife Virginia, the many references to "Ligeia," "The Raven," and "The Conqueror Worm," and – of course – a ghost who rattles the walls and interferes with electricity. What we don't expect are the weird sisters, lovely experiments who were gender bent in the womb by their deceased mother.





Andy Karl as Phil, center, and cast. Photo by Joan Marcus.

“Groundhog Day”
New York TV weatherman Phil Connors (Andy Karl) is in Punxsutawney, PA, to cover the annual groundhog-comes-out-of-his-burrow-and-sees-or-doesn’t-see-his-shadow day. If he sees it, there will be six more weeks of winter. (But how do they know?) It’s a pretty silly made-for-media fake news story. With a made for TV weatherman. By Lucy Komisar






Laura Metcalf as Nora. Photo by Brigitte Lacombe.


“A Doll’s House, Part 2”
Fifteen years after she slammed the door, Nora returns to Torvald’s house as the Betty Friedan of 19th-century Norway. As created by Laurie Metcalf from the script by Lucas Hnath, she is smart, witty, sarcastic, tough and likely to make women cheer. Lucy Komisar reports that she did.








(l to r) : Katrina Lenk as "Menke", Adina Verson as "Rinkele". Photo by Caroll Rosegg.

“Hot ‘N’ Throbbing” (about a single mom who scripts porn). “The Oldest Profession” (about prostitutes over 65). “How I Learned to Drive” (about pedophilia). “Desdemona” (a play about a handkerchief). And half a dozen other plays which won Paula Vogel Pulitzer Prize, Obie, and Lily awards. And now her latest, “Indecent” (about a brothel, the Holocaust, and first love). By Glenda Frank.




War Paint : Jennifer Rias, Steffanie Leigh, Christine Ebersole, Mary Claire King, Stephanie Jae Park. Photo by Joan Marcus

Two views of “War Paint”
“War Paint” is a study in contrasts. Arden (Ebersole), né Florence Nightingale Graham, was a farm girl from Ontario who dropped out of nursing school. Rubinstein was a European Jew whose father kept a shop in Krakow. Arden reinvented herself as an American blue-blood. Rubinstein turned herself into European royalty. By Paulanne Simmons and Edward Rubin








Zac Moon (Far Left) with Julie Ann Earls ,Langston Belton, Andy Miller. Photo by Hunter Canning.

"PUFFS or: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic & Magic"
During seven books and eight movies, we followed Harry Potter, the most powerful wizard of all time who saved the world from Lord Voldemor. Through seven books and eight movies, we followed a winner. With Puffs, during 90 minutes, you’re going to watch the whole story over again. But this time, you’re going to follow Wayne, the loser of Hogwarts. In the top three of best selling books, we can find the Bible and Harry Potter. The Bible has Monty Python’s "Life of Brian " and now Harry Potter has "Puffs." By Remy.S .





Josh Groban as Pierre in a set that seems like a night club. Photo by Chad Batka.


“Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812"
This immersive, hokey, utterly engaging production is one of the memorable plays to see this season. In fact, it almost feels as if you don’t just see it, you are in it. The audience is dispersed around a gorgeous set, seated at rows and tables, some on the stage, backed by red drapes and paintings, as actors move through the aisles and on risers. Sometimes lighted chandeliers descend or disco lights flash. Everything seems red, white and black.“Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812” flashes across Broadway. By Lucy Komisar.