THE NEW YORK THEATRE WIRE sm

Search the New York Theatre Wire

.


R E V I E W S

Dance Reviews, Cabaret Reviews and Film Reviews are in their own sections

Searching for a review?

Search the
New York Theatre Wire

 

Street Theater morphs into a virtual oratorio with "Liberty or Just Us: a City Parks Story."
For over four decades New York City summers have been blessed with Theater for the New City’s annual Street Theater tour, which visits all five boroughs and entertains while it raises social awareness. This year, street theater has become virtual theater as Crystal Field and her band of troubadours embrace technology to bring their latest creation into the homes and hearts of New Yorkers. By Paulanne Simmons.

T. Scott Lilly sings "Joe Hill"
Cheryl Gadsden as Billie Holiday
singing "Strange Fruit"

 

 

Kimberly Immanuel in "Learn Your Lessons Well." Photo by Emma K. Rothenberg-Ware.

Socially-distanced "Godspell" in the Berkshires
Philip Dorian attends the Berkshire Theatre Group Colonial Under the Tent production of "Godspell," the first Equity-approved stage production since the pandemic began, and muses "Who could have predicted back in 1970 that fifty years later, John-Michael Tebelak and Steven Schwartz’s modest musical homily would be, for a few weeks anyway, the most famous play in America?"

 

 

 

Tartuffe by Zoom
Watching Tartuffe on a zoom digital screen was like watching hungry birds around a bird feeder. Each actor was interesting in their own way however none of them could hold hold the spinning feeder in place. That’s not saying the acting wasn’t up to the task. It was. by Larry Litt.

 

Dharon E. Jones as Jets leader Riff and Amar Ramasar as Sharks leader Bernardo. Photo by Jan Versweyveld.

West Side Story 2020
Ivo van Hove’s brilliant reimagining of “West Side Story” tells gritty tale of immigrants, racism and police brutality. The Laurents/Sondheim story of a Hamlet style romance between two cultural opposites Tony (Isaac Powell) and Maria (Shereen Pimentel) turns much tougher, more realistic, darker, grittier than it’s ever been before. This is not your grandma’s “West Side Story.” By Lucy Komisar.

 

 

 

 

Jennifer Van Dyck, Christopher Borg, Charles Busch. Photo byu Carol Rosegg.

The Confession of Lily Dare
In or out of drag, whether on stage or page, the 65-year-old actor playwright Charles Busch, with some forty years of show business under his belt, is a force to be reckoned with. "The Confession of Lily Dare," Busch’s latest outing as both playwright and lead actress, is a humorous, fast-paced dish of delicious camp, a perfect antidote to calm one down in this age of age of anxiety. By Edward Rubin.

 

 

Beth Malone, center front, and cast. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

Two views of "The Unsinkable Molly Brown"
Philip Dorian tells us that a buoyant performance re-floats
“The Unsinkable Molly Brown” at Abrons Arts Center. Lucy Komisar cheers how the production puts a progressive, feminist spin on this 1960 show.

 

 

 

Michael Rogers and Joyce Sylvester in New Federal Theatre's production of "Two Can Play" by Trevor Rhone. Photo by Gerry Goodstein.

"Two Can Play" by Trevor Rhone
This delightful comedy by Jamaican playwright Trevor Rhone (1940-2009) celebrates several landmarks. First of all, it is 35 years since the play was introduced to New York audiences in 1985 by the Negro Ensemble Company under the direction of Clinton Turner Davis, who is also the director of the current revival produced by Woodie King Jr.’s New Federal Theatre. Both companies, NEC and NFT, are venerable African American companies that have brought the most important voices of African American theater for more than half a century to the stages of New York and beyond. In fact, the New Federal Theatre under Founder and Producer Woodie King Jr. celebrates the 50th anniversary this season in its present home at Castillo Theatre. By Beate Hein Bennett.

 

 

Alfie Fuller and Khiry Walker in "Blues for an Alabama Sky." Photo by Carol Rosegg.

"Blues for an Alabama Sky"
Glenda Frank writes that Keene Company's production of “Blues for an Alabama Sky” by Pearl Cleage offers a wonderfully old-fashioned drama about hope. It’s set in 1930 in Harlem. The Harlem Renaissance is at its peak. The gifts of black artists and intellectuals have flourished and found new audiences. The Great Migration, the movement of six million African Americans from the rural South to the urban North, still offer promise. But the Great Depression is beginning to gobble up everyone’s dreams. As the Covid-19 recession springs upon us, the play may offer ennobling lessons for us all about how to keep your sunny side up. Too bad it closed March 14, just as the quarantines began.

 

Ben Porter as Kipps going into the secret room. Photo by Jenny Robinson.

“The Woman in Black” is engrossing, entertaining English ghost story, in a bar
Arthur Kipps (David Acton), a London solicitor in his 60s, is a man with a story that must be told. In fact, the story has been running in London since 1989. It started in a bar in Scarborough, Yorkshire, moved to the West End, and now it’s in a bar at the Club Car at the McKittrick Hotel on West 27th Street in New York. By Lucy Komisar.

 

Craig Smith as Ivan Ilyich. Photo by Gerry Goodstein.

"The Death of Ivan Ilyich"
With this American premiere, based on the novella by Leo Tolstoy and adapted by Stephen Sharkey, the Phoenix Theatre Ensemble invites us to witness a man’s descent into the purgatory of dying. Craig Smith stars as Ivan Ilyich.

 

"Twelfth Night or What You Will" at The Guthrie
Venice is literally the watery city on the canal in the Guthrie's version of "Twelfth Night or What You Will." There were other pleasures, too. By Beate Hein Bennett.

 

Alfred Molina as André in "The Father" at Pasadena Playhouse. Photo by Jenny Graham

"The Father" at Pasadena Playhouse
"The Father" depicts André, a feisty, independent man somewhere on the far side of sixty who has a bit of a mean streak and who travels a journey mandated and mapped by dementia. Starting out in his nicely appointed apartment, he appears in the play’s final scene in the austere room of a nursing home crying for his mother while cradled in the arms of a nurse. Director Jessica Kubznasky’s production had its fair share of Pasadena audience members gasping and, in a few cases, weeping before the curtain call. By Dorothy Chansky.

 

 

 

 

Gabriel Cañas, Paulina Giglio, Guilherme Sepúlveda, and Carlos Donoso. Photo by Maria Baranova.

Bonobo from Chile in "Tú Amarás (You Shall Love)"
After performing around the world, Bonobo, the internationally acclaimed Chilean experimental theater company finally made its way to New York City’s Baryshnikov Arts Center, with "Tú Amarás (You Shall Love)," a socio-political offering with a surreal touch that examines what is an enemy, how do we create one, and how do we connect to others. By Edward Rubin.

 

Photo by Gerry Goodstein.

The Good Soul at Irondale
Irondale Ensemble Theatre has been staging plays by Brecht since 1984 with the first “The Good Person of Szechwan." It was a wild, raucous production. Their "Life of Galileo" last Fall was an impressive achievement, full of clever surprises and invention.  Their  "Good Soul" has much to commend it but it is a work in progress. By Glenda Frank.

 

CHEKHOV/TOLSTOY: LOVE STORIES -- Anna Lentz (Genya) and Alexander Sokovikov (Nicov) In “The Artist.” Photo by Maria Baranova.

Chekhov/Tolstoy: Love Stories
Seeing unbearable poverty and injustice in Russia, Tolstoy asked, “What then must we do?” Miles Malleson, a little known 20th century English playwright whom The Mint Theater has brought to life in several remarkable productions, sought to address this question in plying together short stories by Leo Tolstoy and Anton Chekhov. Seeing the works of two of Russia’s most critically acclaimed 19th-century writers come to life makes for an intriguing evening, but leaves you wondering if there might not be much more. By Eric Uhlfelder.

 

 

Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice are at it again, with music
The film "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice" may have been cutting edge fifty years ago, but that same subject matter translated into the new musical adaptation from the New Group, with a book by Jonathan Marc Sherman, seems as appealing as a hangoverm says Paulanne Simmons. Edward Rubin chimes in noncommitally, adding reflections on the film.

 

Elise (Natalie Menna), in cahoots with her son-in-law Axel (Ryan Feyk), hides her deceased husband's letter from her daughter, Gertrude (Baily Newman).

Strindberg's "Isle of the Dead" and "The Pelican"
Theater for the New City and The Strindberg Rep must be commended for presenting August Strindberg’s two chamber plays together on stage for the first time ever. Strindberg had written the play “The Pelican” in 1907 for his Intimate Theater in Stockholm and intended “The Isle of the Dead” as a prologue. However, the two plays were never played together until Ingmar Bergman directed them as a radio play in 2003; it was his last dramatic production. The new translation from Swedish into English by Robert Greer, the Artistic Director of The Strindberg Rep and director of this production, has dramatic bite and lays bare the psychic angst of the characters. It is Strindberg at his most virulently morbid in an Expressionist style that almost anticipates theater of the absurd. By Beate Hein Bennett.

 

 

L-R: Imana Breux, Mystie Galloway, Nya Bowman, Marc Deliz, Adrian Washington.

"a photograph / lovers in motion"
Ntozake Shange's “a photograph…” has been re-imagined/adapted and directed by Ifa Bayeza, her sister and frequent collaborator, in a production of Negro Ensemble Company at Theatre 80, 80 St. Marks. The play is set in the late 70s and deals with the raw emotions of African Americans, men and women, as they struggle with their legacy of interracial violence, sexual brutalization and self-hatred, the economic advances of a Black middle class whose identity as Blacks is contested by the Black Power movement, and the problematic social relationship between African Americans and white integrationists who had fought for equal justice alongside Blacks during and after the violent Civil Rights movement in the 60s. By Beate Hein Bennett.

 

Celia Rose Gooding as Frankie, Derek Klena as Nick, Elizabeth Stanley as Mary Jane, Sean Allan Krill as Steve. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

"Jagged Little Pill" gets it right
"Jagged Little Pill" is a terrific pop/rock morality tale, a soap opera musical for teens to help them understand their parents. Not bad for parents either. It’s based on the music of Alanis Morrisette, with a book by Diablo Cody and smart direction by Diane Paulus. It’s a mix of a few terrific professionals and very good all around musical theater actors. Especially Celia Rose Gooding gets into your blood and is hard to forget. By Lucy Komisar.

 

 

 

 

 

Jerry O’Connell as Captain Charles Taylor and Blair Underwood as Captain Richard Davenport. Photo by Joan Marcus.

The Roundabout's production of "A Soldier's Play"
The Negro Ensemble Company, Inc. presented "A Soldier's Play" by Charles Fuller, one of its "signature plays," twice in 2017-18 as part of its 50th Anniversary Season: first at Theatre 80 St. Marks and then again at Gene Frankel Theatre. Now The Roundabout Theater Company has picked it up. Charles Fuller’s mystery race play, brilliantly directed by Kenny Leon, is still a stunner. By Lucy Komisar.

 

 

 

Romeo (Nikita Burshteyn) courting Bernadette (Anna Kostakis). Photo by Russ Rowland.

Forsooth? Fuggedaboudit!
Along comes “Romeo and Bernadette,” which lovers of Shakespeare, musical theater and the blending of both, are urged to visit at A. R. T. Theatres at West 53rd and Tenth. Loosely (but recognizably) inspired by the tale of the star-crossed lovers, the play is a compact, two-hour treat from curtain to curtain. By Philip Dorian.

 

 

 

Laura Linney as Lucy Barton, and the Greenwich Village brownstone. Photo Matthew Murphy.

Two Views of "My Name is Lucy Barton"
We have seldom had two critics disagree so soundly. Lucy Komisar writes that Laura Linney creates a fine portrait of a women seeking to pull a life out of a harrowing childhood in a play that unfortunately descends into soap opera. “My Name is Lucy Barton” was a book by Elizabeth Strout, here adapted by Rona Munro and staged by Richard Eyre. Director Eyre, like Linney very accomplished, does a good job, almost making you forget that this is a potboiler. Edward Rubin tells us that the play, still essentially a piece of literature, is better read than seen. And being far too intimate for such a large venue; it is all but lost in space.

 

 

Benajmin Banneker puppet. Photo by Chris Ignacio.

The Transfiguration of Benjamin Banneker
These days, “arts and sciences” sounds like about as likely a pairing as, oh, maybe snowshoes and spaghetti, what with STEM and humanities understood by so many as antitheses with no hope of appeal across the aisle. The eighteenth-century Benjamin Banneker felt and acted otherwise, and in Theodora Skipitares’s inventive theatrical investigation of this extraordinary man’s life, science inspires poetry and sculpture, while painting is the realm of farmers and astronauts. By Dorothy Chansky and Beate Hein Bennett.

 

Fragile Explosion: Nina Simone
Larry Litt writes of seeing the closest he’ll ever get to Nina Simone Live. Playwright Michael Monasterial’s latest biographical tribute is titled "Fragile Explosion: Nina Simone." It’s a low budget, high energy and way great musical that tells the truth about her successes, her friends, enemies and troubles through music and dialogue. Monasterial’s well chosen words make valuable points and revelations about those turbulent times.

 

Photo by William Reynolds.

The Mikado
It’s always a pleasure to see a revival. But it’s a singular pleasure to see a revival by the New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players, who seem to have an instinctive knowledge of how to get these Victorian masterpieces right and relevant in the 21st century. By Paulanne Simmons.

 

 

 

Max William Bartos & Zara Devlin. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Sing Street
In 2012 the musical, “Once,” opened at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theater after making its off-Broadway debut at New York Theatre Workshop. Based on the 2007 John Carney film of the same name, the musical was about a Dublin street musician who is inspired by a beautiful young woman. The show won eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical, which meant it lasted another two and a half years on Broadway before closing in January 2015. This season, New York Theatre Workshop hopes to have similar success with an all too similar musical, “Sing Street.” Paulanne Simmons thinks it was too much of the same.

 

 

Rachel Pickup and Colin McPhillamy. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

London Assurance
Charlotte Moore’s production of “London Assurance” by Dion Boucicault at the Irish Repertory Theatre is scrumptious. This is especially surprising for a British comedy of manners from 1841, one penned by 20 year old novice. Strong women and clever phrasing are script stand-outs. Reviewed by Glenda Frank and Edward Rubin.

 

 

 

Luke Kirby (Thomas Hudetz). Photo by Stephanie Berger.

“Judgment Day” by Ödön von Horváth at the Armory
Sometimes fate forces us into lives that are too large, too complicated, too challenging. If the station master had not been so handsome, the train wreck would never have happened and 17 people would still be alive. Director Richard Jones has transformed Ödön von Horváth’s 1937 Expressionist drama into a comment on fate. “Judgment Day” is a test of human courage in a world of shifting values, where guilt and innocence are not just intertwined, but sometimes integral. The satire is incisive, comical, and part and parcel of the tragic. Jones’ surgically precise, sure-footed direction is ideal for the 55,000 foot theatre space of the Park Avenue Armory. This production is a work of art. By Glenda Frank.

 

Photo by Valeriya Landar

Opera GAZ at La MaMa
GAS, a word like a scream engulfing space! Gas, an element permeating space! Gas, an energy that can kill! Gas, an industrial product and present in the bowels of the earth! GAS is silent until it explodes! The Ellen Stewart Theatre LaMaMa presented the audience with a theatrical explosion--"Opera GAZ," imported from Kyiv, Ukraine. Virlana Tkacz, director of the YARA Arts Group in New York, created with the ensemble of Nova Opera Kyiv a production that is partly historical recovery, partly revolutionary music theater. By Beate Hein Bennett and Larry Littany Litt.

 

The cast of "Judgment Day." Photo by Stephanie Berger.

"Judgment Day" at the NY Armory
"Judgment Day" is a riveting combination of Brechtian social criticism and Ionesco political allegory, both à propos for a surreal story about Nazi era Europe. The events created by Odon von Horváth, the Austro-Hungarian playwright and novelist, are directed smartly at the Armory by Richard Jones. This important play by Von Horváth, who tragically died at 36, suggests he would have been a worthy member of the Brecht-Ionesco political playwrights group. By Lucy Komisar.

 

Photo by Joan Marcus.

"Fires in the Mirror” by Anna Deavere Smith, directed by Saheem Ali
In 1991 Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York erupted. So why drag up history, especially such ugly history? Anna Deavere Smith saw an opportunity to let all sides be heard, perhaps to make peace. In the premiere at the Public Theatre, Smith performed and won the 1993 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding One-Person Show. In the current production, the versatile Michael Benjamin Washington plays the dozens of intersecting voices. The production is powerful both as theatre and as social commentary. By Glenda Frank.

 

 

Unmaking Toulouse-Lautrec
Art history can be a boring subject. Nerdly academics and rich girls wanting to be in the art industry abound in the best galleries and museums. Not the case with Bated Breath’s "Unmaking Toulouse-Lautrec." In this wildly funny, sexy, and dare we say educational romp through the master’s life we’re treating to music, dance, eroticism and beautiful women as Henri T-L may have seen and felt them. By Larry Littany Litt

 

Adrienne Warren as Tina Turner, Daniel J. Watts as Ike Turner. Photo by Joan Marcus.

“Tina: The Tina Turner Musical”
Even if you don’t like rock, you will appreciate Adrienne Warren’s bravura performance in this feminist story about a woman who puts up with abuse for years and finally throws off her Svengali to become a world-famous singer. By Lucy Komisar.

 


 

Raúl Esparza as Harry gazes at his signature seared salmon. Photo by Joan Marcus.

"Seared" by Theresa Rebeck
On the menu of this clever, succulent play are the characters who make up the back of a boutique restaurant in Park Slope, a trendy neighborhood in Brooklyn where playwright Theresa Rebeck lives. Director Moritz Von Stuelpnagel makes them all eminently real, albeit somewhat New York neurotic in their own ways. By Lucy Komisar.

 

 

 

 

Len Cariou and Craig Bierko. Photo by Maria Baranova.

Harry Townsend's Last Stand
If it is true, as often stated, that there are only seven basic plots from which all plays are derived, one of the seven certainly involves conflicted parent-offspring relationships. Think “King Lear” and “Death of a Salesman” for prototypes. While George Eastman’s “Harry Townsend’s Last Stand” is not in those plays’ lofty firmament (Is any?), it is definitely in that plot category. The play is a perfect fit for New York City Center’s intimate Stage II. While it might not be substantial enough to sustain a long run in the Big City, Eastman’s gentle comedy should have a viable afterlife. Two characters, one set, geriatric jokes, an excellent tag line (Sometimes it's harder to like someone than it is to love them) and a two-hour running time: a Regional/Community Theater dream. By Philip Dorian.

 

Sarah Lemp. Photo by Nonoka Judit Sipos.

Near to the Wild Heart
Ildiko Nemeth's stage adaptation of "Near To The Wild Heart" by Clarice Lispector is a prime example of how difficult literature succeeds on stage. Powerful and meaningful, showing us the heart and mind of well rounded characters, it’s a must see for seekers of refined drama. By Larry Littany Litt.

 

Most of the cast of "The Crucible."
Photo by Ashley Garrett.

The Crucible
Our Eric Uhlfelder has no doubt that if Eric Tucker was given a shoebox in which to direct a play, he could concoct a hit. Played out across his trademark minimalist staging that focuses attention on actors and their words, Tucker’s latest production--Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible”—is extraordinary.

 

Mike Thornton as Trump.

The Capitol Steps
In The Capitol Steps' satirical revue, "The Lyin' Kings," the players announce that they put the “mock” in democracy. But there’s no argument that both Republicans and Democrats in the best government money can buy mock the rest of us. By Lucy Komisar.

 

 

 

Publicity photo for Nancy Redman

Nancy Redman's still got it.
Well-known comic and actress Nancy Redman kept the audience at Theatre Row in splits with her one-woman show, "At Wit's End: A Home for Retired Comics," directed by Bill Cosgriff. In a red shirt, black trousers and a walking stick, she makes her way to the stage which is nothing more than a bare set up with a desk, chair and a hat, and a screen displaying Redman in her younger comic days. She’s the fourth-floor representative at a nursing home for retired comics and we’re all residents. A clever premise, indeed, one that works not just for the seniors in the audience but also for the younger lot such as our reviewer Lyle Andrew Michael.

 

Off to the ball! -- Cinderella (Ashley Blanchett), carriage driver (John Peterson) and Fairy Godmother (Donna English). Photo by Evan Zimmerman.

Cinderella in NJ
“Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella” comes by that official title honestly. Having gone through several revisions since its debut as a TV special in 1957, the show depends for its success (or not) on how well (or not) that legendary team’s musical score is realized. How the vocal numbers are sung, how the orchestral arrangements are played, how the dance portions are choreographed. Plhilip Doran reports that the Paper Mill Playhouse production (of the 2013 Tony-nominated Broadway version) excels in those three categories and complements them with glittery special effects, creative lighting and gorgeous costumes.

 

Harvey Fierstein as Bella Abzug. Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

Bella Bella
Lucy Komisar deems Harvy Fierstein's solo play on Bella Abzug a "very moving story, an excellent performance by author Fierstein, and a monologue that should be delivered throughout the country."

 

 

 

 

Brian Cox as Lyndon Baines Johnson. Photo by Evan Zimmerman.

Robert Schenkkan's "The Great Society" at Lincoln Center
Lucy Komisar writes, "This is an incredibly important play. And brilliantly performed by Brian Cox and the others. It should be staged around the U.S. in major theater, community and college settings."

 

 

 

 

Francis Jue and the company of Soft Power. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Soft Power
In 2015 David Henry Hwang was stabbed on a street in Brooklyn. Some people might react with fear or anger. Hwang decided to write a musical, or rather what the authors call a “play with musical.” By Paunanne Simmons.

 

 

 

 

Christian (Blake Jenner) and Roxane (Jasmine Cephas Jones) kiss. And Cyrano? If only. Photo by Monique Carlini.

“Cyrano” gets a makeover (and a nose job)
A new off-Broadway adaptation of Edmond Rostand’s “Cyrano de Bergerac,” titled simply “Cyrano,” plays fast and loose with the 19th-Century playwright’s masterpiece. Adapted and directed by Erica Schmidt, whose schoolgirl-cast “Mac Beth” was a stunner, the New Group production runs through December 13 at the Daryl Roth Theatre in Union Square. By Philip Dorian.

 

Heroes of the Fouth Turning
Will Arbery’s latest play, Heroes of the Fourth Turning, having been extended two times by popular demand, is now running Off-Broadway through Sunday, November 17 at Playwrights Horizons.
With more religious, personal, and political exposition (read talk) than many a mind can absorb at one sitting, Heroes of the Fourth Turning is essentially a snapshot of the current divisive state of affairs in this country. By Edward Rubin.

A fun night at "Carnival of Souls"
It's movie night karaoke fun with this doctored, neonized version of "Carnival of Souls" by Jack Feldstein and Ari Figueroa. The play, presented by New York Fringe Festival, is visually both film noir and psychedelic at once, giving me the feeling of being behind the action in some beautifully colored, mirrored, just-out-of-reach world. By Larry Littany Litt.

 

FOR COLORED GIRLS -- The company, photo by Joan Marcus.

"For Colored Girls who have Considered Suicide/when the Rainbow is Enuf" still raises consciousness
Ntozake Shange’s 1975 play is a dramatized and choreographed consciousness-raising session. This is about blacks, so it includes a lot of race specific cultural facts. It could have been about women of any race or ethnic group. If you were a feminist in the 70s, you were likely in a consciousness-raising group. This was a powerful, visionary play for its time, and it gets a worthy revival at the Public Theater. By Lucy Komisar.

 

 

FORBIDDEN BROADWAY -- Joshua Turchin, Immanuel Houston, Aline Mayagoitia, Chris Collins-Pisano and Jenny Lee Stern, spoofing ‘Moulin Rouge,’ photo by Carol Rosegg.

"Forbidden Broadway's The Next Generation" is Woke
This marks "Forbidden Broadway's" 37th year of its much-anticipated musical parodies. The repertoire includes a variety from "Moulin Rude (Rouge)" to "Harry Potter & his Cursed Children," "Woke-lahoma" to "Evan Has-Been (Hansen)" and more.With performers who are smart, comic and in excellent voice, along with musical commentary that keeps you grinning, this year is another great show. By Lucy Komisar.

 

 

 

 

LINDA VISTA -- Caroline Neff as Anita, Ian Barford as Wheeler, Troy West as Michael, photo by Joan Marcus.

In Linda Vista, it's not a pretty view of a womanizer
This play depicting a womanizer going through a mid-life crisis is well-delivered. "Linda Vista" is an astute telling of a mid-life womanizer by a male playwright, it's certainly worth the watch. By Lucy Komisar.

 

 

 

 

 

IS THIS A ROOM -- TL Thompson as Agent Taylor, Peter Simpson as Agent Garrick, Emily David as Reality Winner and Becca Blackwell as unnamed agent, Photo by Carol Rosegg.

Is This A Room ends up as a Boring FBI Encounter story
With a title that's as vague as the play itself, "Is This A Room" by Tina Satter fails to impress. The attempt to subtly promote another "lack of U.S. intelligence, Russian-election hacking" story, the play, showcased at The Vineyard Theater, gives a false impression of "Reality," perhaps not strong enough to sway theatre-goers. By Lucy Komisar.

 

 

 

 

 

Emun Elliott and Marisa Tomei in "The Rose Tattoo." Photo by Joan Marcus.

The Rose Tattoo with Marisa Tomei and Emun Elliott
Roundabout’s revival this season is blessed with leads that bring the happy couple to lusty life. Marisa Tomei is passionate, funny and sometimes just shy of tragic as the widowed Serafina Delle Rose, and Emun Elliot, is charmingly awkward as the truck driver who stumbles into her life and keeps it from falling apart. By Paulanne Simmons.

 

 

Nancy Redman

Nancy Redman, at her Wit's End
Nancy Redman returns to the United Solo Theatre Festival with her one-woman show "At Wit's End: A Home for Retired Comics," directed by Bill Cosgriff. By Jane Goldberg.

 

 

 

 

(A)loft Modulation
“(A)loft Modulation” is a flawed play in a flawed production but it brings that period of time back to vivid life. It’s as though we were a fly on the wall. The slice of life play is not for everyone, but for those of us with a deep affection for Smith and the period, the play is catnip. By Glenda Frank.

 

Jimena Perea plays the young girl with dreams in "WIFEY." Photo by Christiana Rifaat.

WIFEY
Trump most recently suggested the U.N. withdraw support for abortion. Where does that leave a woman -- the mother that could have been, or chose not to? What is the role of a woman when she becomes a significant other? Does she carry an expiration date?“WIFEY” tackles such poignant questions against the backdrop of the 2016 and upcoming 2020 elections. The experimental play written and directed by Sarah E -- attorney by day -- is evocative with potential for a ripple effect, be it in the realm of women’s or immigrant, or basic human, dignity. By Lyle Andrew Michael.

 

Boeing Boeing at Phoenicia Playhouse
This hilarious revival of Marc Camoletti’s 1962 comedy is brilliant and charming because of Director Michael Koegel’s insightful and glamorous casting. Boeing Boeing ran for seven years in London. The 2008 Broadway production won a Tony award. Working with local theater professionals, Koegel has woven as tight a web of farce as Larry Litt has ever seen.

 

Jonathan Groff and Audrey II. Photo by Emilio Madrid-Kuser.

"Little Shop of Horrors" returns
From the moment the girl group (also known as the Urchins) sings the opening “Prologue” of Little Shop of Horrors,” in the new revival at the Westside Theatre, directed by Michael Mayer, we know we’re in for two hours of exuberant joy. By Paulanne Simmons.

 

 

 

 

T. Ryder Smith, John Keating, Tom O'Keefe, and Daniel Molina. Photo by Ashley Garrett Photography.

Terra Firma
Inspired by climate change and increasing magnitude of man-made and natural disasters, along with an actual anti-aircraft platform built 12 miles off the English coast (known as Sealand), playwright Barbara Hammond sees "Terra Firma" as a metaphor for the human predicament. By Eric Uhlfelder.

 

Tom Hiddleston and Zawe Ashton. Photo by Marc Brenner.

Betrayal
Straight from a successful run in London this past spring, we have Pinter's "Betrayal" again on Broadway. It is swathed, deservedly so, in over-the-top glorious reviews for both its director Jamie Lloyd, its English cast Tom Hiddleston, Zawe Ashton, Charlie Cox, and the play’s pitch-perfect technical team. By Edward Rubin.

 

 

Sean Gormley and Haskell King. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

Kingfishers Catch Fire
Robin Glendinning has set “Kingfishers Catch Fire,” his remarkable two-hander in a cramped prison cell in Rome, Italy, after World War II. Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty, a Vatican priest who worked with the Resistance, is visiting Herbert Kappler (Haskell King), nicknamed “The Beast,” a Nazi war criminal condemned to life imprisonment only because Italy has outlawed the death penalty. O’Flaherty says God told him to visit but during their conversation, we learn that the priest attended Kappler’s trial and was astonished to hear him confess, condemning himself in sworn testimony. He has come to take the measure of his most formidable enemy. By Glenda Frank.

 

Stan Buturla, Connor Bond. Photo by Anthony Paul-Cavaretta.

"Ludwig and Bertie"
Theater for the New City presented Douglas Lackey's "Ludwig and Bertie," a historically-based play about the relationship betweenthe philosophers Bertrand Russell and Ludwig WIttgenstein. While the older Lord Russell was an established professor of philosophy and mathematics at Cambridge University’s Trinity College with a long life and some eccentric “side trips,” Ludwig Wittgenstein’s life, abbreviated by cancer, was marked by intellectual brilliance, quixotic solipsism, and social upheaval. The juxtaposition of these contradictory personalities promises explosive drama, perhaps more than can be contained in one session of theater. By Beate Hein Bennett.

 

Robert Cuccioli (Caesar) and Teresa Avia Lim (Cleopatra). Photo by Carol Rosegg.

"Caesar & Cleopatra" at The Gingold Theatrical Group
The great thing of demanding so much from so little is it requires the audience to be that much more imaginative and engaged.  David Staller’s rapid-fire 2-hour production of this brief visit back to ancient times and his superb casting enables us to make the trip without a trick of stagecraft. By Eric Uhlfelder.

 

 

 

 

THE HEIGHT OF THE STORM -- Eileen Atkins as Madeleine, Jonathan Pryce as André. Photo by Hugo Glendenning.

The Height of the Storm
What happens to the partner of a 50-year marriage living without the other? What if the husband André dies and the wife Madeleine survives? What if the wife dies? What would each do? How would each cope? How would their children, in this case grown daughters, react?The Roundabout's “The Height of the Storm,” written by Florian Zeller, translated from the French by Christopher Hampton, directed by Jonathan Kent, is a mystical memory play about surviving death and loss. By Lucy Komisar.

 

Katsura Sunshine’s Rakugo
Such a surprise! To see a large, decidedly blonde and obviously Caucasian man performing a traditional Japanese art. Meet Katsura (Storyteller) Sunshine, the King of Kimono Comedy. Rakugo is the 400-year-old art of comic narration, and Sunshine is one of only two (of the 800) Rakugo masters who was not born in Japan. Yet it is Sunshine who was chosen to be Master of Ceremonies at the opening reception of the G-20 Summit in Osaka in 2019. Soon into the show, you understand why. By Glenda Frank.

 

WIVES -- Aadya Bedi as Diane, Sathya Sridharan as Henri II, and Purva Bedi as Queen Catherine de Medici. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Wives
The first half of Jaclyn Backhaus’ feminist satire “Wives” is hilariously funny. The mordant wit doesn’t last till the end, but the first parts are so good, it’s very much worth seeing. The idea is to focus on the wives of some famous men. You haven’t seen anything like it. By Lucy Komisar.

 

 

 

Alaine Hutton in "This Is Why We Live."

This is Why We Live
Poetry as concentrated language that shifts in tone and mood has always had a stronger impact when spoken, and if one adds the body as the conveyor of these shifting tones and moods, the experience is one of concentrated empathic sensations. The Open Heart Surgery Theatre accomplished this magnificently with Wislawa Szymborska’s poetry in "This Is Why We Live" at La MaMa. By Beate Hein Bennett.

Sea Wall/A Life
"Sea Wall/A Life," two extraordinarily powerful one act plays, presented in monologue form, are holding court at the Hudson Theatre on Broadway. Fueled by strong reviews, and the star power of film and stage actors, Jake Gyllenhaal and Tom Strurridge, it is one of the most deeply moving productions currently gracing the stage here in New York City. By Edward Rubin.

 

Tara Lake in "I Know It Was The Blood: The Totally True Adventures of a Newfangled Black Woman."

Tara Lake knows it was the blood.
In "I Know It Was The Boood," actress, singer, story teller Tara Lake takes the audience on a trip through her own coming of age, beginning with an untroubled orderly middle-class childhood in New Jersey through the trials and tribulations of parental divorce and her ultimate triumph of gaining selfhood and identity rooted in the rich ancestral fabric of African-American womanhood. Her performance is a tour de force of song, poetry, and story that traverses generations, family celebrations, traditions of faith and church. By Beate Hein Bennett.

 

Strindberg's "The Father"
In plays, such as “Dance of Death,” or “Ghosts,” the wives are shown to gradually drive the men insane by their infantilizing, emasculating, and surreptitiously undermining actions while the husbands grow more and more paranoid and erratic in their attempts to maintain authority over themselves and their household. The present Strindberg Rep production of “The Father” in a new translation and directed by Robert Greer with editing by the actors Natalie Menna and Brad Fryman who play respectively the roles of the wife Laura and her husband, The Captain (the Father) exhibits the full range of Strindbergian angst with its deadly consequence. By Beate Hein Bennett.

 

Amie Bermowitz and Steve Brady. Photo by Andrea Phox.

Forgotten Man
You needn’t be familiar with 20th Century Russian – Soviet Union, that is – history in order to appreciate D. W. Gregory’s “Memoirs of a Forgotten Man.” While a sense of that history will enhance the experience, “Forgotten Man” stands on its own as a gripping mystery-drama, premiering now through September 15 at New Jersey Repertory Company. By Philip Dorian.

 

Galen Ryan Kane as Bigger and Jason Bowen as the Black Rat in "Native Son." Photo by T. Charles Erickson.

"Native Son"
“Native Son," written by Nambi E. Kelley, is based on the 1940 novel by Richard Wright. Directed by Seret Scott, it is staged by The Acting Company at The Duke on 42nd Street. Galen Ryan Kane gives a shattering performance as Bigger Thomas, the anti-hero victim of Nambi Kelley’s bravura take on Richard Wright’s 1940 novel of the desperation of inner-city black men. With the help of a very talented Acting Company cast, Kelley and Scott have crafted a theatrical gem out of Wright’s searing novel.

 

 

 

Adam Huff (Romeo) and Anwen Darcy (Juliet) on Juliet's balcony.

Shakespeare in the Parking Lot presents "Romeo and Juliet"
Shakespeare in the Parking Lot proudly presented a well paced and engrossing production of Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" for its 25th Anniversary Season.. Running one hour and 45 minutes and free to the public, the play was set on the Lower East side of New York and performed in casual, even funky, modern dress. By Paul Berss.

 

Jacqueline B. Arnold as La Chocolat, Robyn Hurder as Nini, Holly James as Arabia and Jeigh Madjus as Baby Doll. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Moulin Rouge
“Moulin Rouge,” according to Lucy Komisar, is a hokey melodrama with old songs to choke a juke box. It's playing now at the Al Hirschfeld Theater. For how long, who knows, but the qualities Lucy cites were also present in the 2001 film, which only her editor and some other very select people still remember with disgust.

 

 

 

Ato Blankson-Wood and Robert Gilbert as Dembe and Sam. Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

"The Rolling Stone" - a play about the deadly plight of gays in Uganda
While New York City recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising with much hoopla and an enormous traffic-stopping Gay Pride parade that went on well into the night, New York’s Lincoln Center Theater chose to feature the other side of the coin by mounting the American premiere of playwright Chris Urch’s The Rolling Stone. Sensitively directed by Saheem Ali – the play an import from London – is scheduled to run through Sunday, August 25th. In 2010 The Rolling Stone, a Ugandan newspaper, urged on by anti-gay Christian missionaries from the United States, started to publish the names, addresses and photos of suspected gay men which in turn inspired Urch to write this play. It is very real. By Edward Rubin.

 

Jonathan Cake as Caius Martius. Photo by Joan Marcus.

The "Coriolanus" caveat
"Coriolanus" is the Bard's warning of politicians' contempt for the people. In Shakespeare in the Park, Jonathan Cake is terrific as Caius Martius, the Roman general who is a master of war and an abject failure at politics. By Lucy Komisar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The cast and Lauren F. Walker as Puck. Photo by Chad Batka.

Two views of "Midsummer: A Banquet"
Lucy Komisar writes that A café performance of “Midsummer Night’s Dream” is quite a delightful way to spend any mid-summer eve. And the actors of "Midsummer: A Banquet” at Café Fae (829 Broadway), who double passing out tapas and wine to patrons, are as good as any you’ll see on the boards. Paulanne Simmons calls it a very tasty tribute to the Bard, adding "Of all Shakespeare’s plays, probably none goes better with a multi-course meal than this much beloved comedy."

 

Jacqueline Novak. Photo by Monique Carboni.

Organs, Oral and Orgasms, Oh My: “Get On Your Knees”
Let us clarify up front: the title of Jacqueline Novak’s 90-minute theater piece is not an invocation to prayer. Rather, it refers to a position often identified with the performance of oral sex, a phrase Ms. Novak scorns in favor of the other two-word street term for the act. By Philip Dorian.

 

 

 

 

Andrew Mayer (plaid shirt) and Emma Degerstedt (green dress) and
cast of "I Spy a Spy". Photo by Russ Rowland.

Musical Score Lifts "I SPY A SPY"
The best element of the musical “I Spy a Spy,” running through September 21 at the Theatre at St. Clements, is its music. Sohee Youn’s diverse score is mostly easy-to-take rock and jazz, peppered with Latino, middle Eastern and Russian themes, befitting the ethnic makeup of the characters. And the four musicians who play it, anchored by musical director Dan Pardo’s own versatile keyboard, might constitute the best small pit band off Broadway. By Philip Dorian.

 

 

Annie Golden as Annie. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

“Broadway Bounty Hunter” a hokey comic thriller with message for women
A bit of summer fluff, slightly hokey, but with a good underlying message, this play by Joe Iconis, Lance Rubin, and Jason Sweettooth Williams, is about an “older woman,” Annie (Annie Golden) who can no longer get roles in theater and is scooped up by a bounty hunting firm on the track of a drug trafficker hiding out in the jungles of Ecuador. By Lucy Komisar.

 

 

 

 

Joe Raik, Brendan Cataldo, Jim Haines, Nathan Tylutki, Brady Adair,
Jennifer Laine Williams.Photo by Rachelle White.

Between Actual and Fake: “The Potemkin Play” by Seth Garben
The story goes that Grigory Potemkin, one of the ministers and lovers of Catherine the Great of Russia, built an entire trompe l’oeuil village out of card board to fool the empress during an inspection tour into believing that he had done wonders in implementing her reformist policies in her “New Russia.” It can be considered an early example of a marketing ploy that packages a simulacrum of reality to produce an illusion of actual reality. Seth Garben’s “The Potemkin Play” bundles the present political reality, the state of theater in our cultural milieu of commerce, and the historical Potemkin village story into a satirical romp. By Beate Hein Bennett.

:John-Andrew Morrison,L Morgan Lee,John-Michael Lyles,Jason Veasey,Larry Owens(plaid shirt),Antwayn Hopper,James Jackson, Jr.StrangeLoop. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Letting It All Hang Out. And Then Some:A Strange Loop at Playwrights Horizons
In the past few years or so there has been a small tsunami of beautifully crafted, wonderfully acted, and solidly produced black-centric plays both on Broadway and Off that have examined from every conceivable angle - historically, sociologically, and psychologically - what it means to be black in the United Sates, both past and present.But not since "A Strange Loop," which is currently running thru July 28th at Playwrights Horizons, have we come across a many faceted in your face gay male character like Usher (the extremely talented Larry Owens) who spares no detail, however raw, intimate, personal, scatological and sordid – and it is all of those and more - in the telling and showing of his life. By Edward Rubin.

 

Week 2 Phoenicia Fringe Festival 2019 Reviews
This is the second week of Phoenicia Fringe Festival 2019. In this article, there are six short reviews of week two including: "Mind Salad," "Nazis and Me,""The Piece,""Fury!,""Invisibility,""Shadow Queens Rising," By Larry Littany Litt.

 

Pictured (I to r): Harvy Blanks, Jonathan Burke, Daniel J. Bryant, Ezra Knight, Toney Goins, Eric Berryman, Phillip James Brannon, April Matthis and Kenn E. Head. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Two views of "Toni Stone"
April Matthis, as Toni Stone (1921-1996), the first woman to play professional baseball in the Negro League, is knocking it out of the ballpark every night at the Laura Pels Theater through August 11.The play, lightly based on Martha Ackmann’s book “Curveball: The Remarkable Story of Toni Stone,” is overwhelmingly inspirational, deeply humane, and totally moving. By Edward Rubin and Lucy Komisar.

 

 

 

Santino Fontana as Dorothy, Julie Halston as Rita Marshall. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

“Tootsie” updates the gender-bending 80s film with a few nods to feminism
It's a stories about men pretending to be women walk a fine line between skewering sexism and practicing it. “Tootsie” falls on both sides of that divide. Book by Robert Horn based on the 1982 film, is somewhat outdated. Real gender-bending stuff makes it unbelievably tame. And those stereotypes just don’t go away. By Lucy Komisar.

 

 

 

 

Taylor Symone Jackson as Mary Wilson, Candice Marie Woods as Diana Ross and Nasia Thomas as Tammi Terrell. Photo by Matt Murphy.

“Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations” is glorious Motown
This is the best juke box musical since “Motown” and “Jersey Boys.” In fact, it’s about a Motown group that also started in Detroit and had the famous manager Berry Gordy. As one local explains, In Detroit, “you either sang or you join a gang. If you can’t do neither, better learn to run.” By Lucy Komisar.

 

 

Phoenicia Fringe Festival - Six Short Reviews
Phoenicia Playhouse in the charming upstate village of Phoenicia NY is producing the Phoenicia Fringe Festival two weekends in July. The Playhouse was built in 1887 for the Odd Fellows, a fraternal organization of theatrically inclined bizarre residents. In this article, there are six short reviews including: "Voice of Authority," "Om Shaadi Om," "I’m Just Kidneying," "I Favor My Daddy," "Smoker" and "American Horror Story." By Larry Littany Litt.

Saycon Sengbloh, Nathaniel Stampley, Eisa Davis, Anastacia McCleskey, &LaChanze in "The Secret Life of Bees." Photo by Ahron R. Foster.

“The Secret Life of Bees” Does Not Live Up to the Buzz
Fans of Sue Monk Kidd’s 2002 novel, “The Secret Life of Bees,” certainly greeted with great enthusiasm the news that it was soon to be turned into a musical. And considering the book had spent two years on the New York Times best seller list and was made into a film in 2008, this news came as no surprise. However, the musical that was created by Lynn Nottage, Duncan Sheik and Susan Birkenhead does not completely meet the novel’s potential or the expectations of its fans. By Paulanne Simmons.

 

The cast in a hoedown. Photo by Little Fang.

“Oklahoma” sizzles with new look at women in early 1900s western territory
“Oklahoma.” music by Richard Rodgers, book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II; directed by Daniel Fish.Based on the Play “Green Grow the Lilacs” by Lynn Riggs. Racks of rifles are on walls circling the audience. Seven musicians sit in a center pit. The cast walks onto the plywood floor in cowboy boots. Patrons in the front rows are behind white-topped tables with red crock pots. The scene and audience are lit, no mikes except some hand mikes. This is going to be different. By Lucy Komisar.

 

 

Reeve Carney as Orpheus and Eva Noblezada as Eurydice. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Workers oppression is a theme of stunning radical play “Hadestown”
“Hadestown,” written and composed by Anaïs Mitchell and directed by Rachel Chavkin, is a very radical play. It takes the audience to Hell, which is peopled by oppressed workers who have been indoctrinated to fear those who are poorer. Though that is probably not how it is described in the reviews you have read in mainstream media. It won the Tony for best musical play. But you probably have no idea what it is about. It's the censorship of cultural ideas. By Lucy Komisar.

 

 

 

THE MOUNTAINS LOOK DIFFERENT -- Liam Forde, Ciaran Byrne, Cynthia Mace, Paul O'Brien, Jesse Pennington, McKenna Quigley Harrington, Daniel Marconi and Brenda Meaney. Photo by Todd Cerveris

Darkness On the Edge Of Town: "The Mountains Look Different"
New York’s Mint Theater brings to the States one of Ireland’s leading 20th-century playwrights, Michael mac Liammóir, whom The Irish Times described as “the dominant figure in the Irish theatrical world.” Last Thursday night, "The Mountains Look Different," last produced 70 years ago in Ireland, finally enjoyed its American premiere. By Eric Uhlfelder.

 

 

 

Ademide Akintilo (Algernon) and Connie Castanzo (Cecily) in NY Classical Theatre's the Importance of Being Earnest. Photo by Jody Christopherson.

Summer In Manhattan: Laughter In the Parks with “The Importance of Being Earnest”
New York Classical is celebrating its 20th season of free summer theatre in the New York City parks with – laughter and gender-bending. In its latest offering, the dress – not the hat – unmakes the man. In one version of “The Important of Being Earnest,” the Oscar Wilde masterpiece of comic invention, men are men, women are women, and often the twain collide, flirt, propose and battle for happiness. The plot is boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl with marvelous blocking agents and lots of delicious deception. For years critics were under the mistaken belief that Wilde’s aphorisms and quips were funny nonsense. A few are – like the dental jokes (cut from this production)– but most find truth in hidden places and have a depth that is probably one secret of the play’s continual freshness. By Glenda Frank

 

Michael Shannon as Johnny and Audra McDonald as Frankie. Photo by Deen van Meer.

“Frankie & Johnny in the Clair de Lune,” a story of working-class love lives
It opens with sensual and noisy sex in the bed, the bodies turning and pushing against each other, the familiar noises with great realistic direction by Arin Arbus. And then not quite what you might expect. Frankie falls out of bed. And the post sex conversation; he compliments her breasts. She is not pleased. Is this how a love affair begins? By Lucy Komisar.

 

 

 

 

Lidia Velezheva as Baroness Shtral and Leonid Bichevin as Prince Zvezdich in practice duel. Photo by Valery Myasnikov.

“Masquerade,” a Lermontov classic given striking surreal touch
Part Commedia dell’arte, part pageant, part ballet, with a touch of music hall comedy, “Masquerade” is a visual feast. Presented by the Vakhtangov State Academic Theatre of Russia in Moscow, it is directed by Rimas Tuminas of Lithuania. Though the major actors are all prominent in Russia, Tuminas is the unseen star of the show. By Lucy Komisar.

 

 

 

Kathleen Littlefield as convention cochair, Ginnie House as Frances Perkins and Claire Mikelle Anderson as Henry Wallace. Photo by Ahron R. Foster.

"Convention,” a terrific reprise of 1944 Dem convention that chose moderate Truman for VP instead of Wallace
It could be the corruption of a convention where Bernie Sanders is set against a corporate Biden. State signs are set behind banks of seats. The music is of the 40s. Flags on the wall have 48 stars. Author Danny Rocco and director Shannon Fillion create an ambience at Irondale that makes you think you are there. By Lucy Komisar.

 

 

 

 

 

Danielle Brooks as Beatrice and Grantham Coleman as Benedick, Photo by Joan Marcus.

Public’s “Much Ado About Nothing” takes Shakespeare to black Atlanta
A large banner on the brick house says “Stacey Abrams 2020.” It’s next spring. Abrams, who last year lost a close race for governor of Georgia amid reports of voter suppression, had talked then about running for president. The relevance of the sign is that Abrams is a black woman, and this version of Shakespeare’s play about love and trust – or mistrust — sets it not Messina, Italy, but in modern-day Atlanta, with a black cast speaking in the local accent. By Lucy Komisar.

 

 

Nathan Lane as Gary, Kristine Nielson as Janice. Photo by Julieta Cervantes.

“Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus” surreal comedy of mass political murder
Wildly funny and clever, this is a play a serious theater-goer cannot miss. It’s a terrific campy surreal take on murderous war from the point of view of the workers who have to clean up the mess, the bloody bodies of Shakespeare’s “Titus Andronicus.”It takes only three actors, though the set requires some imagination. It should be produced all over the country! By Lucy Komisar.

 

 

 

 

 

Kate Hamill (Meg), Carmen Zilles (Amy), Ellen Harvey (Hannah), Paola Sanchez Abreu (Beth),and Kristolyn Lloyd (Jo). Photo by Matt Ross.

Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women,” transcribed by Kate Hamill
If you don’t know Kate Hamill, make haste to do so. New York theater is dominated by mega hits and movies turned Broadway show. But for those looking for more personal, thought-provoking evenings, Ms. Hamill, just 36, is making quite a name for herself in not just transcribing classic literature into plays, but doing so in a modern, wickedly fast-paced meter that leaves nothing sacred. This has earned her many professional honors, including a Helen Hayes Award for Most Outstanding Production and The Wall Street Journal’s Best Playwright of the Year. By Eric Uhlfelder.

 

Pedro Pascal as Edmund & Jane Houdyshell as his father, Earl of Gloucester. Photo by Brigitte Lacombe.

“King Lear” with Glenda Jackson is brilliant and annoying
This “Lear” with Glenda Jackson as the king is sometimes brilliant, sometimes annoying.To be male and even supercilious, she makes her voice and demeanor angry, harsh, raspy, cackling. Indeed, Jackson is a brilliant actress, her voice and demeanor might be male, but she didn’t persuade me she was a king. Or perhaps she was on the edge of madness very early in the plot, after her daughters’ duplicity. As the play went on, I wasn’t sure if she would shrivel or explode. By Lucy Komisar.

 

 

Anthony Arkin and Jane Bruce Photo by Russ Rowland

“Original Sound” Has an Interesting Theme
In our age of sampling, remixes and computer generated music, the definition of originality seems more than a little vague. Do artists own their work? Are they stifling creativity when they protect their copyrights? Are they merely protecting their own interests? All these questions, and a good deal more, are explored in Adam Seidel’s “Original Sound,” now staged at Cherry Lane Theatre, under Elena Araoz’s skilled direction. By Paulanne Simmons.

 

 

 

L-R: Alexandra Bonesho, Brad Fryman (as Bruno), John Gazzale, Elizabeth Inghram in "Zen A.M."

"Zen A.M."
Larry Litt writes that "Zen A.M." by Natalie Menna is an expose of the contemporary art and high society world that calls itself high culture. The play is a farce about the trials and tribulations of an untidy, inconsistent artist named Bruno, who has to fulfill a commission or else all hell will break loose.Well, it breaks loose anyway. If you have any interest in art and society, writes Larry, this comedic farce is well worth taking in. By Larry Littany Litt.

 

 

 

 

Alice Ripley. Photo by Jazelle Artistry

"The Pink Unicorn"
At the beginning of Elise Forier Edie’s new play, “The Pink Unicorn,” Trisha Lee (the luminous Alice Ripley) does not understand her young daughter when she announces she is genderqueer. By the end of the play she still does not understand but she has learned to accept and even celebrate human diversity. By Paulanne Simmons.

 

 

 

John Lithgow as Clinton, Laurie Metcalf as Hillary. Photo by Julieta Cervantes.

“Hillary and Clinton.”
You are hit by the overwhelming sadness of everyone involved in Hillary Clinton’s 2008 New Hampshire primary campaign against Barack Obama. Playwright Lucas Hnath and director Joe Mantello create a landscape of utter sleaze and despair. By Lucy Komisar.

 

 

 

 

Heidi Schreck at American Legion hall with white men’s photos on the walls. Photo by Joan Marcus.

“What the Constitution Means to Me”
If you don’t want to go to a lecture about what is wrong with how the US government treats women and minorities, it’s more interesting to go to a play. Such as “What the Constitution Means to Me,” Heidi Schreck’s take on how the Constitution is honored in the breach, “rugged” as the copy she carries says. Adult audiences in New York and other liberal enclaves nod their heads, and it’s a good teaching moment for kids. Higher marks for politics than for drama. By Lucy Komisar.

 

 

 

Rana Roy as Stephanie Rahn and Jonny Lee Miller as Larry Lamb. Photo by Joan Marcus.

"Ink"
The Sun is a popular newspaper for the undereducated British masses. It was a broadsheet started in 1964, then reinvented as a tabloid five years later by the Australian Robert Murdoch and Larry Lamb, a North Englander he named as editor. They were outsiders to the London Fleet Street crowd and felt it. “Ink” a vivid newspaper story mixed with Murdoch’s Sun melodrama.
By Lucy Komisar.

 

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Walker as Chris Keller, Tracy Letts as Joe Keller, Annette Bening as his wife Kate and Hampton Fluker as George Deever. Photo by Joan Marcus.

“All My Sons” denounces America’s murderous corporate corruption
Jack O’Brien’s crisp staging of Arthur Miller’s iconic 1947 American morality play lays bare the corruption underlying the normalcy of American society. This story of 70 years ago could be easily replicated today. Oh, so easily. By Lucy Komisar.

 

 

 

Kelli O’Hara as Katherine. Photo by Joan Marcus.

"Kiss Me Kate" at The Roundabout
How do you take a 40s musical built around a sexist Shakespeare play and make it delight today’s audiences? With pizazz and charm, if you are Roundabout Theatre director Scott Ellis. In this version of Cole Porter’s and the Spewacks’ “Kiss Me Kate,” the feisty heroine gives as good as she gets, and she and her erstwhile spouse playing Katherine and Petruchio land some good kicks to the others’ derrieres. By Lucy Komisar.

 

 

Mary Candler (Mary) and Jory Murphy (Melville) in ":Mary Stuart". Photo by Allison Stock.

 

Hedgepig Ensemble in "Mary Stuart"
Sometimes the best theatre experience is at the small, off off-Broadway houses, like Access Theatre. It can begin with the journey – up the many stairs to the fourth floor space or the wait, while the company sends the elevator down to you. And it’s even better when the company brings its passion to the stage, as Hedgepig Ensemble did to their revival of Mary Stuart. By Genda Frank.

 

 

Andre De Shields as Hermes. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Hadestown
The afternoon Paulanne Simmons saw Anais Mitchell and Rachel Chavkin’s “Hadestown,” at the moment when Orpheus, despite Hades’ injunction, turns around to face Eurydice, a young lady seated several rows in front of her gasped, “Oh no!” It’s possible she was not familiar with the myth and thus was not prepared for its tragic ending. But Paulanne likes to think the dramatic staging and absorbing retelling of this ancient tale so captivated her that she forgot everything she had previously known. Great theater can do that.

 

 

L-R: Ephraim Sykes, Jawan M. Jackson, Jeremy Pope, Derrick Baskin, and James Harkness in AIN'T TOO PROUD. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Two views of "Ain’t Too Proud– The Life and Times of The Temptations" at the Imperial Theatre.
Paulanne Simmons writes, "The story behind 'Ain't Too Proud,' as told by book writer Dominique Morisseau, is mostly a story of the music and not the men. This is both a strength and a weakness in the show. To be sure, the music of The Temptations is some of the best that ever came out of Motown." Ed Rubin adds, "I wish that I could say that Aint Too Proud turned me inside out and sent me directly to heaven."

 

 

Tyler Fauntleroy as Taj, Kim Sullivan as Baraka. Photo by Gerry Goodstein.

"Looking for Leroy"
In "Looking for Leroy," which is having its work premier presented by Woodie King Jr.'s New Federal Theatre, Larry Muhammad’s dramatic attempt to discover the authentic Leroy raises basic questions: What is the place and purpose of Black theater and the Black artist’s relationship to himself and to his audience? These are highly charged political, existential, and aesthetic questions with artistic straightjacket potential. By Beat Hein Bennett.

 

 

The cast lurches into "The Murder At Haversham Manor".

"The play that goes wrong” goes right Off-Broadway
Something funny happened to "The Play That Goes Wrong” on the way from Broadway to Off-Broadway. Fear not; everything that was funny during its nearly two-year run in the 922-seat Lyceum Theatre is just as funny at the 360-seat New World Stages, where it re-opened this week. The difference, though, is a subtle pickup in how the audience relates to the characters. For me – and I sensed it throughout the house – it became personal, akin to cheering-on a perpetually losing team. But a ton more fun. By Philip Dorian.

 

 

THE GLEN -- Photo by Shelter Studios

The Glen
“The Glen," written, produced, and directed by Peter B. Hodges is a ‘must see' play. Currently running through Saturday, February 16 theShelter Studios' intimate 60-seat theater, "The Glen" is one of those plays, due to its short run, that sadly disappear as quickly as they appear. Hopefully future productions – its writing, direction, and acting is wonder-filled - will keep it alive and kicking. Though the play, with many unexpected twists and turns, was inspired by the life of Hodge's friend and mentor, the late theater and art critic Glenn Loney (1928-2018), the play's lead character, the twenty something year old Dale Olsen (Matthew Dalton Lynch), as the playwright's program note informs us, is not Glenn Loney. Dale is only “the character that enabled me to explore questions of identity, sexuality and family while following a path not entirely unlike the path that Glenn himself would describe to me as his personal journey." By Edward Rubin.

 

Back-to-back dancers: Isabelle McCalla, left, and Caitlin Kinunnen "Dance With You". Photo by Deen van Meer.

Prom
A couple kissing in front of Macy’s in Herald Square is hardly newsworthy, but one at last year’s Thanksgiving Day Parade actually marked a milestone in live TV – and was also a spoiler for a Broadway musical. Televised by NBC, “It’s Time to Dance,” the finalé number from “The Prom,” ended with two young women sharing a loving kiss. So now you know how “The Prom” resolves. But any audience member who doubts that Indiana high schoolers Emma (Caitlin Kinnunen) and Alyssa (Isabelle McCalla) will end up together, are asheartless as the PTA folks who cancelled the prom because Emma wanted to bring Alyssa as her date. With composer Matthew Sklar and choreographer/director Casey Nicholaw, the cast is nigh flawless. Don’t wait until someone else asks her/him/they/hir/zim. Get yourself a date and go to “The Prom.” By Philip Dorian.

 

NETWORK -- Bryan Cranston as Howard Beale. Photo by Jan Versweyveld.

Network
This play, based on Paddy Chayevsky's classic film, serves as a commentary on the corruption of the American system, based on the idea that a corrupt upper class exploits the middle class and the poor for its own monetary gain. While the "media" glorifies neoliberalism, theatrical "fiction" is the only mainstream place where such ideas are permitted. News anchor Howard Beale (played by Bryan Cranston) announces he is going to commit suicide on air because he is being fired for poor ratings, which takes away all attention paid to other major global news. Directed by Ivo van Hove, the production has the stage set up as a TV studio with cameras moving around in a unique, immersive multimedia spectacle. By Lucy Komisar.

 

The ensemble draws lots to play Russian Roulette. Photo by James Rucinski.

"Citizens of the Gray"
Larry Littany Litt swoons for "Citizens of the Gray" by Elia Schneider and her Teatro Dramma at Theater for the New City, writing "This stimulating, gratifying and for some mystifying play is well worth your time. It speaks to our modern social dilemmas in silence, music and new forms of dance. It is a tragicomedy of philosophies and ideologies worthy of Charlie Chaplin."

THE FERRYMAN -- Laura Donnelly as Caitlin Carney, Genevieve O'Reilly as Mary Carney and Paddy Considine as Quinn Carney. Photo by Joan Marcus.


"The Ferryman" a stunning indictment of both sides in the Irish Republican struggle

In Jez Butterworth's gorgeous play, directed by Sam Mendes with subtle power and intelligence, a dark moment suddenly is transformed into a charming rough idyll of Irish family life. Irish because it involves a brood of seven children, a lot of whiskey drinking, wit and occasional dancing of jigs. By Lucy Komisar.

 

 

 

ON BECKETT -- Bill Irwin. Photo by Carol Rosegg.




Bill Irwin "On Beckett"

Whether you’re interested in a master class on Samuel Beckett or the art of acting and mime, or you just love Bill Erwin, “On Becket” at the Irish Repertory Theatre will not disappoint. In 90 minutes, Irwin demonstrates unequivocally why he’s a great actor and Becket is a great writer. By Paulanne Simmons.

 

PRETTY WOMAN -- Samantha Barks as Vivian Ward and Andy Karl as Edward Lewis, at the opera. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

 


"Pretty Woman" morality story pits prostitution v predatory capitalism

A story for our times about a billionaire Edward Lewis (Andy Karl) without morals, who would destroy a shipbuilding company and fire its workers, but learns something from a hooker. A Cinderella story which would not quite make it today. Because it's about a prostitute who reforms her John. It was a movie hit 20 years ago, but that was an epoch away. The book is by Garry Marshall and J.F. Lawton, the music and lyrics by Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance, based on the film by Lawton. Lucy Komisar would reject the story on the anti-feminist face of it, though turns out she is smarter than he is. But she liked the show.

 

HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD -- The company. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

"Harry Potter and the Cursed Child," a stunner for set & magic
Mixed with the magic and terrific scenery, there's a lot of stuff about fathers and sons, which is really the theme of the play, or the two plays which you can see on succeeding nights or a one-day marathon. Critics were requested not to give away the plot, which is easy to comply with since it's rather silly. By Lucy Komisar.

 

ARENDT-HEIDEGGER: A LOVE STORY -- Alyssa Simon, Joris Stuyck. Photo by Rina Kopalla.

Three views of "Arendt-Heidegger: A Love Story"
Author Douglas Lackey and director Alexander Harrington have managed to extract a thought provoking stimulating performance from two of the most controversial public intellects of the twentieth century: Hannah Arendt (1906-1975), a German-Jewish philosopher and social theorist and Martin Heidegger (1889-1976), one of the most renowned German philosophers to have succumbed to Nazism. The subject of their romantic entanglement, in conjunction with their political trajectories over the course of forty years, from the mid 1920s to 1964, is the dramatic core of this play in a series of 23 concisely scripted scenes. By Beate Hein Bennett, Edward Rubin and Larry Litt.

 

 

FEATHERS OF FIRE -- Zaul and Rudabeh. Photo by Fictionville Studio.

FEATHERS OF FIRE: A Cinematic Shadowplay from the Persian “Book of Kings” (Shahnameh)
Live-action, shadow puppetry, film, animation, music that seems to be now live, now recorded, images of nature on which the eye gorges, representations of good and evil, romance and tragedy, associated with storytelling on rapidly transforming scales--now epic, now lyric, now comic: Feathers of Fire has high theatrical ambitions indeed. It combines moving pictures and the stage in ninety minutes of spectacle that seems to call on story elements from every entry in Stith Thompson's folktale motif index and that recalls the 1926 shadow-puppet animation of Lotte Reiniger, The Adventures of Prince Achmed, with which Rahmanian became enamored to the point of obsession and then surpassed. By Mindy Aloff.

 

GETTIN' THE BAND BACK TOGETHER -- Mitchell Jarvis as Mitch. Photo by Joan Marcus.

"Gettin' the Band Back Together"
Lucy Komisar writes that John Rando is the best comic theater director she knows. The creative wit who oversaw “Urinetown,” “The Toxic Avenger,” “The Heir Apparent” and “All in the Timing” takes a deliberately jokey rock musical by Ken Davenport and, with excellent timing and staging, pokes fun at the genre as well as the state of New Jersey. She doesn't much like rock, she admits. She liked this play. (So did her editor.)

 

 

 

Renee Taylor. Photo by Ed Rubin.

Renee Taylor in "My Life on a Diet"
Most famous people long in the tooth, if they are not dead, quietly retired, or resting on their well-earned laurels, tend keep a very low profile. You rarely even hear about them. But not the indefatigable 85-year- old Renee Taylor, an Energizer bunny whose funny and bittersweet autobiographical one-woman-show, "My Life On A Diet," is currently playing to full houses at St Clement’s Theatre here in New York City.


 

 

 

Two views of "My Fair Lady"
Paulanne Simmons writes that from Catherine Zuber’s elegant costumes and Michael Yeargan’s sumptuous set, to the delightful interpretation of Lerner and Loewe’s magnificent score brought to life by Ted Sperling’s musical director, Robert Russell Bennett and Phil Lang’s arrangements, and Marc Salzbeg’s sound design, Lincoln Center’s “My Fair Lady” is a treat for the eyes and ears. Lucy Komisar adds that this time there’s a feminist kick. And some class solidarity. Bartlett Sher's progressive production brings the musical back to its roots with references to the women's suffrage movement. Sher is attentive to George Bernard Shaw's intentions to comment on class disparity and social inequality. With wonderful direction, vocals, and set design, this comedy of manners is sure to delight.

 

 

Katrina Lenk as Dina and Tony Shalhoub as Tewfiq in
The Band's Visit. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

 

 

"The Band's Visit"
When a musical transfers from off-Broadway to Broadway, there are always a few essential questions. Will the production work on a bigger stage? Will the sound fill a larger house? Will the show be true to the original, even with new members in the cast? Happily, The Band’s Visit, helmed by David Cromer, answers all these questions with a resounding yes. By Paulanne Simmons.

 

 

 

 

The famous helicopter escaping the fall of Saigon, and Vietnamese desperate to get on it. Photo by Matthew Murphy

Miss Saigon is Back
Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil found worldwide success with “Les Misérables,” a drama of the political. The personal stories were of Jean Valjean, the man imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread, and the masses of the oppressed he represented. There was a minor love story. But in “Miss Saigon,” the star-crossed lovers are the major focus, with the crisis of America’s war in Vietnam and how it destroyed the country just a backdrop. So, this play is often hokey and not very satisfying. By Lucy Komisar.

 

 

Tina Benko as Calpurnia, Gregg Henry, Teagle Bougere as Casca and Elizabeth Marvel as Marc Antony. Photo by Joan Marcus.

 

The Public’s “Julius Caesar” brilliantly trolls Donald Trump, and masses “resist”
Oskar Eustis, director of a mesmerizing Public Theater staging of Shakespeare’s play about taking down an incipient dictator, says that “Julius Caesar can be read as a warning parable to those who try to fight for democracy by undemocratic means. To fight the tyrant does not mean imitating him.” By Lucy Komisar.

 

 

Serhiy Zhadan performing song inspired by Timothy Snyder's book "On Tyranny." Photo by Waldemart Klyuzko.

1917-2017: Tychyna, Zhadan & the Dogs
It
is a truism to say that our present world is in turmoil. Most of us are reeling from news about bombings, civil wars, millions of refugees migrating over the face of the earth, while fanaticism, nationalism, racism, xenophobia is grabbing the psyche of young and old. And the sense of political impotence alternates with rage about signs of backsliding into tyrannical modes of governance propped up by corruption and cronyism. However, a fighting spirit has also emerged among peoples. The present production at La Mama presented by the Yara Arts Group, conceived and directed by Yara’s Artistic Director Virlana Tkacz, has brought together Ukrainian and American performing artists that take us through a compendium of political activism with music, movement, poetry and video imagery. By Beate Hein Bennett.

 

 

 

 

Jonathan Sayer as the butler Perkins pouring liquor down the phone. Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

 

“The Play That Goes Wrong”
One of the stars of this play is not human. It’s the set for the riotous slapstick comedy put on by (real) British actors about a disastrous production of “The Murder at Haversham Manor” by a fakeuniversity drama society. Sometimes slapstick is silly, but this is exceedingly clever. By Lucy Komisar.

 

 

 

 

 

2 Views of“Come From away"
“Come from Away,” a new musical by Irene Sankoff and David Hein at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, is based on the true story of the almost 7,000 stranded passengers from 38 flights who were not permitted to cross into the United States on Sept. 11 and landed in the small town of Gander, population 9,000. By Glenda Frank and Lucy Komisar.

 

 

 

Katrina Lenk as Dina, Tony Shalhoub as the conductor. Photo by Ahron R. Foster.

 

“The Band’s Visit."
An Egyptian police band, the grandly named Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra, is supposed to play at an Arab cultural center in Israel, but gets the town’s name wrong at the bus station and ends up in an Israeli backwater. “The Band’s Visit” is a charming gem about human connections across political divides. By Lucy Komisar.

 

 

 

 


museums by day,
theater by night

Curator's Choice
required reading

© copyright 2019, Metro New Media, Inc.

| lobby | search | home | cue-to-cue | discounts | welcome | film | dance | reviews |
| museums | NYTW mail | recordings | coupons | publications | classified |


letters to the editor