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(L) Salvatore Inzerillo as the mobster, (R) Robert Mobley as the writer. Photo by Scott Kowalchyk.

December, 2013 Roundup
Lionel Bart's OLIVER!, Juilliard Songfest's CELEBRATING BENJAMIN BRITTEN, August Wilson's HOW I LEARNED WHAT I LEARNED, Richard Nelson's REGULAR SINGING, Wm. Shakespeare or Chris Marlowe's THE SCOTTISH PLAY, Circus der Sinne's MOTHER AFRICA, Meghan Kennedy's TOO MUCH, TOO MUCH, TOO MANY, Conor McPherson's THE NIGHT ALIVE, James Lapine & William Finn's LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, Gertie Stein & Virgil Thomson's THE MOTHER OF US ALL, Lillian Hellman's THE CHILDREN'S HOUR, Robert Wilson's THE LIFE & DEATH OF MARINA ABRAMOVIC, Phoebe Legere's SHAKESPEARE & ELIZABETH I: The Reality Show, The Czech American Marionette's THE REPUBLIC, OR, MY DINNER WITH SOCRATES, Riabko & Seltzer's WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT:Bacharach Reimagined, Opera Feroce's MAGDALENE'S DILEMMA & CEREMONY OF CAROLS [Not Rated], Madeleine George's THE [CURIOUS CASE OF THE] WATSON INTELLIGENCE, Samuel Taylor Coleridge's THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER, Sean O'Casey's JUNO & THE PAYCOCK, George Bernard Shaw's SAINT JOAN, Mark Rubinstein, Brett Haylock & et al's LA SOIRÉE, Martha Clarke's CHERI, Amanda Peet's THE COMMONS OF PENSACOLA, Stevie Holland Sings Cole Porter's Songs in LOVE, LINDA: The Life of Mrs. Cole Porter & Chris Marlowe or Will Shakespeare's HAMLET.

November, 2013 Roundup
Carlo Colla & Sons Marionette Company's SLEEPING BEAUTY, Guimarães & Delgaudio's NOTHING TO HIDE, Shakespeare, Marlowe, Bacon, or Queen Elizabeth I's RICHARD III, Bill Shakespeare, Chris Marlowe, or Frank Bacon's TWELFE NIGHT, At the CUNY Grad Center: Celebrating BAM & Beyond…, The Collegiate Chorale Concert at Carnegie: Arrigo Boito's MEFISTOFELE, Rupert Holmes' Adaptation of the Best Selling Novel by John Grisham: A TIME TO KILL, Wallace Shawn's GRASSES OF A THOUSAND COLORS [OXOXO], Un Authorized New German Version of Prof. Dr. Ibsen's AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE, Bruce Norris' DOMESTICATED, August & Lippa's BIG FISH, Merle Good's THE PREACHER & THE SHRINK, At Alice Tullly Hall: THE JUILLIARD ORCHESTRA, Rhythmic Circus' FEET DON'T FAIL ME NOW, Marlane Meyer's THE PATRON SAINT OF SEA MONSTERS, Julie Taymor's A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, Harold Pinter's NO MAN'S LAND, Samuel Beckett's WAITING FOR GODOT, Georg Frideric Händel's RADAMISTO, Lemieux Pilon 4D's LA BELLE ET LA BÊTE, World Premiere of Terrence McNally's AND AWAY WE GO, MSM's Opera Scenes: LOVE & OTHER MISTAKES, Dennis Kelley's TAKING CARE OF BABY, Vladimir Jurowsky Conducts Juilliard Orchestra in EARLY SHOSTAKOVICH, Mark St. Germain's BECOMING DR. RUTH, Jack Viertel's Concept, with Wynton Marsalis' Cotton Club Collaging: AFTER MIDNIGHT &Freedman & Lutvak's A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO LOVE & MURDER.

October, 2013 Roundup
Chiori Miyagawa's I CAME TO LOOK FOR YOU ON TUESDAY,Randy Johnson's A NIGHT WITH JANICE JOPLIN, Belvoir & JM Barrie's PETER PAN, Stephen Stahl's LADY DAY, Will Power's FETCH CLAY, MAKE MAN, Thomas Lanier Williams' THE GLASS MENAGERIE, The Bard of Avon's ROMEO & JULIET [Not Seen In Full, Owing to MTA Delays], Mario Fratti's THE VATICAN KNOWS, Terence Rattigan's THE WINSLOW BOY, Jon Robin Baitz's THE FILM SOCIETY, David Dorfman's COME, AND BACK AGAIN, Sharr White's SNOW GEESE, Kron & Tesori's FUN HOME, Mike Daisey's THE SECRET WAR, Harold Pinter's BETRAYAL, Zimmerman & de Perrot's HANS WAS HEIRI, Donald Margulies' THE MODEL APARTMENT, The Foundry Theatre's GOOD PERSON OF SZECHWAN, TR Warszawa & Teatr Narodny's NOSFERATU, Kinosian & Blair's MURDER FOR TWO, Making Music at the Manhattan School of Music in October, The MSM Chamber Sinfonia on 16 October, The American String Quartet on 20 October, The MSM Celebrates Verdi & Wagner on 24 October &The MSM Symphony on 25 October.


September, 2013 Roundup
Shlomo Carlebach & Nina Simone's SOUL DOCTOR, Luis Bravo's FOREVER TANGO, Lauren Yee's THE HATMAKER'S WIFE, Winsberg, Zachary, & Weiner's FIRST DATE, Lee Blessing's A USER'S GUIDE TO HELL, FEATURING BERNARD MADOFF, Ralph Lee's Mettawee River Theatre's TALIESIN, Matt Charman's THE MACHINE, Bill Shakespeare & Public Works' THE TEMPEST,
Janet Behan's BRENDAN AT THE CHELSEA, Regina Taylor's stop. reset., Mike Daisey's ALL THE FACES OF THE MOON [Not Rated, as Only Two Faces were seen…], George Kelly's PHILIP GOES FORTH, Ethan Coen's WOMEN OR NOTHING, Sam Beckett's WAITING FOR GODOT--In Yiddish, Yet Already, William Inge's NATURAL AFFECTION, Elevator Repair Service's ARGUENDO, Lucy Thurber's SCARCITY, Tennesse Williams' THE TWO CHARACTER PLAY, Turnage & Thomas' ANNA NICOLE, Bill Shakespeare's ROMEO & JULIET, GB Shaw's YOU NEVER CAN TELL, Anne Washburn's MR. BURNS, A Post Electric Play, Horton Foote's THE OLD FRIENDS, Robert del Naja & Adam Curtis' MASSIVE ATTACK VS ADAM CURTIS &Scott Siegel's BROADWAY UNPLUGGED 2013.

The Bayreuth Wagner Festival 2013
THIS WAS THE BAYREUTH WAGNER FESTIVAL THAT WAS..., Closed for Restorations: Haus Wahnfried & Margravine Wilhelmine's Baroque Opera House, Richard Wagner's LOHENGRIN, Richard Wagner's DER FLIGENDE HOLLÄNDER,
Richard Wagner's DER RING DES NIBELUNGEN, WAGNER FOR KIDS & KINDER: ON BOARD WITH TRISTAN & THAT IRISCHE KIND.

Bregenz Festival 2013
Report for The Bregenz Festival of July/August 2013, Austria's President Dr. Heinz Fischer Invokes the Festival Theme: Toward the Light, WA Mozart's DIE ZAUBERFLÖTE, André Tchaikowsky's DER KAUFMANN VON VENEDIG , Speaking & Singing Shakespeare's Less Loved Sonnets.

The Munich Festival of June/July 2013
THIS WAS THE MUNICH FESTIVAL THAT WAS…, Kander & Ebb's CABARET, Giuseppe Verdi's SIMON BOCCANEGRA, Giuseppe Verdi's RIGOLETTO, Richard Wagner's TRISTAN UND ISOLDE, Richard Wagner's SIEGFRIED, Get a Lump of Rheingold…, Now for The Valkyries: DIE WALKÜRE, Modest Mussorgsky's BORIS GODUNOV, George Benjamin's WRITTEN ON SKIN

June, 2013 Roundup
Are You Ready for the End of Times? The Man of Steel Certainly Is!, A Regional Theatre TONY for Boston's Huntington Theatre & a Brilliant Play Production., Gina Gionfriddo's RAPTURE, BLISTER, BURN, NC Hunter's A PICTURE OF AUTUMN, Rod McLachlan's GOOD TELEVISION, Rosen, Saxe, & Moore's VENICE, Moe Angelos' SONTAG: REBORN, Early Music in Boston: Baroque Opera & Other Treats for The Music Critics of North America., Georg Frideric Händel's ALMIRA, Charpentier's LA DESCENT D'ORPHÉE AUX ENFERS & LA COURONNE DE FLEURS, Jenny Schwartz' SOMEWHERE FUN, Steven Levenson's THE UNAVOIDABLE DISAPPEARANCE OF TOM DURNIN , Richard Greenberg's FAR FROM HEAVEN, Neil Benjamin's THE EXPLORER'S CLUB, Bronson Howard's THE HENRIETTA, John Guare's THREE KINDS OF EXILE Not Seen, So No Rating, James Joyce's adapted GIBRALTAR, Neil LaBute's REASONS TO BE HAPPY, Thomas Lanier Williams' THE TWO CHARACTER PLAY Performances Cancelled, Chris Marlowe or Bill Shakespeare's THE COMEDY OF ERRORS, MORE PASSING GLANCES AT THE MUSEUMS, GALLERIES, & SPECIAL EVENTS, More Broken Records at Christie's Auction House: $21 Million Plus for Latin American Art!, Sensation on Sunset! Mrs. Sidney Sheldon's Doll Collection Up for Auction at Bonhams LA!, Bulletin Just In from the LA Sale!, Israeli Pride Day Parade on Fifth Avenue Blocks the M1, M2, M3, M4 & M72 at 72nd Street, Le Corbusier at MoMA: An Architectural Life's Work on Parade--with Models Galore!, At Christie's, Two Million Dollars for an Egyptian Bronze Cat--But No Kitty Litter, Ship Ahoy! Set Sail for Bonhams Fine Maritime Paintings & Full Speed Ahead!, Even in Death, Richard Artschwager Is Still with The Whitney Museum of American Art!, Amazements at the Park Avenue Armory: Do Your Really Want To See Snow White Get Raped?, Triple Play at the Met: Bronze Boxer, Sculptor Ken Price, & Five Centuries of Decorative Arts!, Let's Hear It for Ken Price, Maker of Colorful Blobs!, Down into the Met Vaults for Some Centuries Old Furniture Designs & Room Interiors, Celebrating Children's Books at the NYPL's Steven Schwarzman Marble Palace, Federico Garcia Lorca: Back Tomorrow, Poet in New York, Let's Try Another Alteration on that Print Plate: Mary Cassatt at Work in Paris, William Shakespeare: From Stratford Upon Avon to the NYPL--But Only for a Day, Edward Armitage, RA, at Hirschl & Adler: Where Are My Ancestor's Crimean War Corpses?, The Oldest Library in New York City Shows Its Rarities in Extraordinary Gifts., Bulletin from Ben Katchor! When You Are on Ben's E Mail List, You Never Know What's Next, Let's Hear It for Contemporary Canopic Jars! Forget about the Pharaohs, Laying Down the Law: Alma Law's Amazing Archive of Russian Theatre Incunabula at Bonhams!, More Broken Records at Christie's! Tiffany Lamp Shades Always Popular!, At the Met Museum: Run of the Mill Photographs from 1969 to Now: Everyday Epiphanies, Ancient Persian Epiphanies: The Cyrus Cylinder & the Rise & Fall of Dynasties

May, 2013 Roundup
Mark Nadler's I'M A STRANGER HERE MYSELF, Leos Janácek's THE CUNNING LITTLE VIXEN, JM Barrie's THIS SIDE OF NEVERLAND, Richard Foreman's OLD FASHIONED PROSTITUTES (A True Romance), David Bruce & Glyn Maxwell's THE FIREWORK MAKER'S DAUGHTER, Stephen Sondheim's SIDE BY SIDE BY SONDHEIM: A Musical Entertainment, Jason Robert Brown's THE LAST FIVE YEARS, Julia Jordan & Juliana Nash's MURDER HEART BALLAD, David Willinger's Version of Saroyan's Rock Wagram, Now Known as THE UPPER LIP, Richard Nelson's NIKOLAI & THE OTHERS, Ernest Abuba's DOJOJI: The Man Inside the Bell, Conor McPherson's THE WIER, Henrik Ibsen's THE MASTER BUILDER, Bertolt Brecht's Der Caucasischen Kreiderkreis, Tom Attea's BENEDICTUS, Mark Brown's Version of Jules Verne's AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS, Does Matthew Barney need a Restraining Order? Morgan Library Offers Subliming Vessel, Press Preview at Christie's: When Did Picasso Find Time for Love & So Many Ceramic Plates?, At the Whitney: I, YOU, WE…, New Sales Records at Bonhams & Christies, At the Jewish Museum: Long Dead Appropriation Artist Jack Goldstein Has Vinyl Disks On View!, At Grand Central Terminal: The Grand Centennial Parade of Trains!, More Millions Paid at Manhattan Auctions: Christie's & Bonhams Keep Setting Records!, Meanwhile, Over at Christie's: Impressionist & Modern Art Win Totals of $158 Million!, Saving Wildlife & The Environment with Leonardo DiCaprio's 11th Hour Auction, At the Met Museum: Land Marks on the Wall--Blood on the Roof!, Nothing of Jeff Koons, of Bamboo, or Simply Monumental on the Met's Roof: Blood Patterns, Not Pin the Tail on the Donkey, But Search for the Unicorn at the Met's Cloisters!, The Last Supper at the Morgan: Celebration of the Holy Eucharist in Medieval Manuscripts, At the Met Museum: More About the War Beween the States--American Art & The Civil War: Including Generous Lendings from the Museum of The Confederacy, Located in Virginia!, Paul Krugman at the CUNY Graduate Center, That Place with the Upside Down Flags, Tribal Arts Week at Bonhams: Not the Whole Canoe, Only the Prow!, All Time World Record for Art Auction Sales Set at Christie's: $638.6 Million!, At the Whitney: Hopper Drawings & David Hockney: The Jugglers, David Hockney Shows his Jugglers Video on Floor Two of the Whitney!, New Ways of Thinking about Contemporary Portraiture on the Whitney's First Floor!, More World Records Shattered at Christie's: $828.8 Million Finds Safe Haven in Artworks!, Tour the Morgan Library/Museum on Your Cell Phone, Thanks to Google's Art Project!, Monster Show at Met Museum of Old Masters: From 1300 AD To 1800 CE--Out of the Vaults!, Kolo Moser at the Neue Galerie: Die Wiener Werkstätte Lives Again!, Theatre Folk at Sardi's OCC Get Together: Cicely Tyson, Nathan Lane, Andrea Martin, & Others!, NY Philharmonic at St. John the Divine: Not as Tough as Being a Canterbury Pilgrim, At the Morgan Library/Museum: Old Masters, Newly Acquired, More Museum Notes: American Folk Art's Innovative Former Home Facing Destruction, While Its Palazzo del Mondo Is Off To the Venice Biennale!, End of Month Auction House Sales Results: Bonhams & Christie's Break Records Again.

April, 2013 Roundup
63rd Annual Awards: Outer Critics Circle Announce 2012 13 Season Nominees / THE 37th HUMANA FESTIVAL: Showcasing New Plays on Main Street in Louisville / Theatre Journalism & Drama Criticism Re Invent Themselves in the Digital Age! / THE PANEL: Charting the Course: New Play Directors in Conversation / A Big Kentucky Welcome To the Humana Festival: Greetings! / Branden Jacobs Jenkins’ APPROPRIATE / Mallery Avidon’s O GURU GURU GURU, or why I don’t want to go to Yoga Class with you / Jeff Augustin’s CRY OLD KINGDOM / Sam Marks’ THE DELLING SHORE / Will Eno’s GNIT Minus Stars / Rinnie Grof, Lucas Hnath & Anne Washburne’s SLEEP ROCK THY BRAIN / THE FAMOUS HUMANA TEN MINUTE PLAYS / Sarah Ruhl’s TWO CONVERSATIONS OVERHEARD ON AIRPLANES / Emily Schwend’s HALFWAY / Jonathan Josephson’s 27 WAYS I DIDN’T SAY "HI" TO LAURENCE FISHBURNE / Re-fighting the Civil War at the Met Museum: But in Vintage Photos / Not with Pot Shots / Islamic Art: Making the Invisible Visible-- / SALVAGING THE PAST: Georges Hoentschel & French Decorative Arts from the Met Museum / CONFLUENCES: An American Expedition to Northern Burma, 1935 / At the Leslie & Lohman Museum: Paul Thek & His Circle in the 1950s / At the Met Museum: Diego Velázquez’ Portrait of Duke Francesco I d’Este / At MoMA: CLAES OLDENBURG--Seminal Works: The Street, The Store & the Mouse Museum! / At the Galerie St. Etienne: FACE TIME: Self & Identity in Expressionist Portraiture / Sam Maloof at Bonham’s: Iconic Rocking Chair Sells for $43, 750! / Meanwhile, Over at Christie’s in Rock Center: the delighted eye Sets Man Ray Record! / The Show of Shows over at the Park Avenue Armory: The Annual NY Antiquarian Book Fair / Bill Irwin & David Shiner’s OLD HATS / Mark Janas & DISCOVER OPERA!’s MUSILDA / Roald Dahl’s MATILDA / THE MUSICAL / Tanya Barfield’s THE CALL / CRUNCH WEEK FOR THE OUTER CRITICS CIRCLE / Berry Gordy’s MOTOWN / Douglas Carter Beane’s THE NANCE / Richard Greenberg’s THE ASSEMBLED PARTIES / David Byrne & Fatboy Slim’s HERE LIES LOVE / Frank Wildhorn & Leslie Bricusse’s JEKYLL & HYDE / Alan Cumming’s MACBETH / Lyle Kessler’s ORPHANS / Clifford Odets’ THE BIG KNIFE / Colm Toibin’s THE TESTAMENT OF MARY / Horton Foote’s THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL / John Logan’s I’LL EAT YOU LAST: A Chat with Sue Mengers / Stephen Schwartz’s PIPPIN / At Christie’s: The Power of Pink: The Princie Diamond Sells for $39, 323, 750 / Speaking of Christie’s: How About $5 Million+ for Russian Works of Art? / Building the Blue Box--with White Ribbon--over the Rock Center Skating Rink! / Silent Stone Sentinels Stand Tall Behind Rock Center’s Blue Box / August Strindberg’s THE DANCE OF DEATH / Jacques Offenbach’s LA PÉRICHOLE / Five Major New Exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum / Bright Orange Walls for the Delicate Watercolors of John Singer Sargent! / What To Do with Old Tin Can Lids! Monumental Works by El Anatsui! / Considering Life, Death & Transformation in the Americas / Braddock, PA in Decline, Documented by LaToya Ruby Frazier in A Haunted Capital / From the Archives: Fine Lines: American Drawings from the Brooklyn Museum. / Not To Worry: There Are Even More Brooklyn Museum Special Exhibitions On Offer! / Bonhams & Christie’s Stage Unusual Auctions: / The Treasures of the Late Larry Hagman, Better Known as JR Ewing, On Sale! / How About A Palladian Villa by Michael J. Smith at Christie’s? / Bert Brecht & Kurt Weill’s MAHAGONNY / Jonathan Tolins’ BUYER & CELLAR / Wright & Forrest’s SONG OF NORWAY

March, 2013 Roundup
Johnny Burke & Robert McEnroe's DONNYBROOK / Liz Flahive's THE MADRID / Amy Herzog's BELLEVILLE / At the Met Museum, A Video of NYC Street Scenes, Including the Central Park Wall on 5th Ave / Let There Be Light at MoMA: Shadow & Light + Structure Brought to Light: Photos & Architecture. / Light Streams into Labrouste's Bibliothèque St Geneviève: Soaring Cast Iron & Epic Windows! / Lanford Wilson's TALLEY'S FOLLY / Paul Down Colaizzo's REALLY REALLY / Guillermo Calderón's NEVA / THE ART SHOW Is 25 Years Old & Going Strong at the Armory--for the Henry Street Settlement. / Anna Khaja's SHAHEED: THE DREAM & DEATH OF BENAZIR BHUTTO / Brooklyn Museum Art Works Win $830, 625 in Christie's First Open Sale! / Andy Warhol Online Only Sale Achieves Only $2.3 Million / At the Frick: The Impressionist Line from Degas to Toulouse Lautrec--Art from the Clark / Go MAD & You Get THE MUSEUM OF THE FUTURE / Rodgers & Hammerstein & Douglas Carter Beane's CINDERELLA / Holland Taylor's ANN / Bill Shakespeare or Chris Marlowe's HENRY IV, PART I / Cirque du Soleil's TOTEM / David Henry Hwang's THE DANCE & THE RAILROAD / Craig Lucas' THE LYING LESSON / Handsome Thomas Hampson's Masterful Master Class at MSM: Breathe, Don't Belt / A Whale of a Show at the American Museum: Not Barnum's Version, but Real Natural History! / Annie Baker's THE FLICK / Evenings at the Opera: Although Banned at the Met, a Blessed Reprieve from Belgium! / Charles Gounod's FAUST / Riccardo Zandonai's FRANCESCA DA RIMINI / Giuseppe Verdi's LA TRAVIATA / Giuseppe Verdi's OTELLO / Vit Horejs' KING EXECUTIONER / Karlheinz Stockhausen's OKTOPHONIE / Wright, Greene, & Anastasio's HANDS ON HARDBODY / Lanford Wilson's THE MOUND BUILDERS / More Millions Earned at Christie's: Asian Art Week Sales Total $80.4 Million! / Futures at Christie's: Imperial Russian Fabergé & The Collection of the Duchess of Alba! / Jacques Offenbach's ORPHÉE AUX ENFERS not rated / Nora Ephron's LUCKY GUY / Richard Greenberg's BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S / Cyndi Lauper & Harvey Fierstein's KINKY BOOTS.

February, 2013 Roundup
Now Legal, but You can get High on Theater as well! / Shakespeare in the Shadow of the Rockies / Don't Mess with My Head! Re Programming Ed's Memories / THE OUTSIDER ART FAIR 2013: Outlandish/Inlandish & Almost at The Chelsea Piers / Polish Priest Learns Spanish, While His Orphan Charge Becomes Roller Derby Charger. / At the Met Museum: A Trio of Mini Exhibitions & a Website Enrichment / Blues Lovers & Video Addicts Should Flock To the Whitney To See & Hear BLUES FOR SMOKE! / It's All About Inheritance: Who Will Get Big Daddy's Rich Plantation--No Neck Monsters? / CAN VENICE BE SAVED? / New MoMA Show: Dieter Roth's Wait, Later This Will Be Nothing / Remarkable Baronial Hall Dominates Juilliard Production of Marital Misfires Somewhere in Italy. / MISS LA LA ALOFT: Edgar Degas' Painting of Black Prussian Aerialist at Cirque Fernando / GOD HATES FAGS! Did Organized Religion Help Kill Matthew Shepard? Talking To Locals / Who Was That Masked Man with That Flowing Black Cape? ZORRO, of course, But from the UK / For a "Good Time, " Call The New York City Opera: Oral Sex Onstage / at BAM, Plus 24 Naked Men! / Impressionism & Fashion at the Met! Manet & Monet were not only into Bustles & Corsets / Marilyn "Jackie" Horne Conducts a Masterful Master Class at Manhattan School of Music! / At the Guggenheim: Lots of Food & Lots of Talk & Talkers about "Art Mapping" in SE Asia / Seven Ages of Man in Shakespeare, but Five Stages of Women Characters! / ANDY WARHOL Art Artifacts Up for On Line Bidding at Christie's! / At the Grolier: A Plenitude of Handsome "Little Magazines, " with Beardsley & Elbert Hubbard / Clockwork Precision Marks the Cast Work in the Hilarious Revival of Ives' Six Timed Parodies / A Largely Overlooked & Forgotten Irish Playwright Gets a Second / Chance at Mint Theatre. / There's Evil Onstage at BAM: Governess Battles Ghosts for Possession of Orphan Children / Piero Della Francesca in America? When Did He Arrive? How Did He Get Through Customs? / Trio of New Shows at the Met: Cambodian Rattan, Plain or Fancy, & Southern Poverty Photos. / Muni Art Society Faces New Challenges: After Hurricane Sandy, Sustainability & Livability. / My Old UC/Berkeley Artist/Designer/Friend, Jay DeFeo, Back at the Whitney! / Old Testament Sings Aloud: Mendelssohn's Elijah Electrifies at the Manhattan School / Ronald Lauder's "Magnificent Obsession" with German/Austrian Expressionism at Neue Galerie! / Elite Private School Then & Now: Making Boys into Men Doesn't Always Work .

January, 2013 Roundup
Peter Brook's THE SUIT, Martin Moran's ALL THE RAGE, DRAWING SURREALISM: The Art of Drawing as Manifest in the Creation of Surrealist Ikons, ALBRECHT DÜRER VERY BIG AT CHRISTIE'S: World Record for His Rhinoceros Woodcut!, Americana Week at Christie's Totals $15 Million: Edward Hicks' Wm. Penn Fetches $2.5 Million!, RENAISSANCE: Old Masters Week at Christie's, with the Walls Crowded with Masterpieces!, CHRISTIE'S OLD MASTERS WEEK EARNS TOTAL OF $88.4 MILLION, William Inge's PICNIC, Ettore Scola, Ruggero Maccari & Gigliola Fantoni's WORKING ON A SPECIAL DAY, Aaron Posner's Adaptation of Chaim Potok's MY NAME IS ASHER LEV, FORTUNY Y MADRAZO: An Artistic Legacy, Own a Piece of Tatzu Nishi? Discovering Columbus Amethyst Velvet, Couch & LED TV For Sale!

Horizon Theatre Rep brings Jean Genet's "The Balcony" to the 21st Century.
Director and performer Rafael De Mussa sets "The Balcony" against a contemporary backdrop at Horizon Theatre Rep. The production parallels themes of Genet's play with the current state of affairs in a world searching for leadership. By Jarrett Lyons.

2013 Obie Awards
With the theater community--at least those who know--in shock at the news that Michael Feingold had been let go by the Village Voice, the paper went ahead on day after his furlough with the 2013 Obie Awards with--guess who?--Michael Feingold as emcee.

"From the Edge: Performance Design in the Divided States of America"
The exhibition “From the Edge, ”currently on display at La MaMa La Galleria, compiles pictures and work from 37 American theatrical productions. Commissioned and sponsored by the USITT (United States Institute for Theater Technology), this exhibition represented the United States at the 2011 Prague Quadrennial, a world celebration of performance design and theater architecture. By Adele Bossard

The long journey of Bill Donnelly's "The Tenant" from Seoul to New York
Theater for the New City will stage the world premiere of New York-born and bred playwright, Bill Donnelly's "The Tenant." The four actor play introduces the character of Lucky Star after her migration from Korea to New York City. Lucky Star, in arriving at the doorstep of married superintendents Babe and Sam, is the catalyst for the events of the play. Interestingly the development of the play itself mirrors the characters journey, from Seoul, Korea to Manhattan. By Jarrett Lyons.

Playwright Sophia Romma delivers a "dramafantasma" of the emigre experience through quantum verse in Negro Ensemble Company's "Cabaret Emigre."
Romma began interviewing 11 emigre's last October. All who were interviewed came from very different backgrounds but were "performers" in one way or another. Taking these stories and the performance aspirations into account, Romma sets these autobiographical stories to stage in "Cabaret Emigre." By Jarrett Lyons
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John Jiler's Confessions On Dealing With Ageing
New York native John Jiler bares his soul on Theater for the New City's Cabaret Theater stage this October. He performs his "intense and wild trip" about his dealing with his father's death as his child was in infancy, and deals with some of the existential issues that come with it. By Jarrett Lyons.

The Many facets of Jean Genet's "The Balcony"
Horizon Theatre Rep's artistic director, Raphael De Mussa and Off-off Broadway veteran Frank Licato, working together for the first time, highlight rebellion, iconography and public image in Jean Genet's "The Balcony." By Jarrett Lyons.

Forget Spark Notes--take your kids to "A For Adultery"
Literary History buffs unite! "A for Adultery, " an unusual version of "The Scarlet Letter, " will be presented at the Little Time Square Theatre of Roy Arias Studios and Theaters September 14 to 30, 2012. It's unusual in that, in our age of postmodernism, this is a musical that is actually quite faithful to the Nathaniel Hawthorne classic. By Jarrett Lyons.

The Joshua White Light Show
Philip Sandstrom delves into lighting's psychedelic past as he interviews Joshua White of the famed Joshua Light Show, known for ground breaking expressive light shows that first appeared in the 1960’s at the Filmore East, a live music venue, on 2nd Avenue in New York’s east village that is long gone. He made an art of this special type of improvised lighting manipulation that served as a visualization of live music. Harking back to his original techniques, White sheds some illumination onto the workings of his Light Show team and talks about how this team of improvising lighting manipulators will create designs of the moment, in a collaboration with the improvisatory musical artists featured in six unique shows at the Skirball Theater this September, 2012.

Using theater to explore victim blame--it's an artistic healing tool
Joe Capozzi, a Ridgefield, New Jersey native who was raised with a "great, middle-class upbringing, " explores the sexual abuse he was subjected to by a local pastor in his adolescence. He writes and stars in "For Pete's Sake, " "an artistic healing tool" that attempts to educate those who would wonder why and how survivors of sexual abuse could let the abuse go on and why it is often so hard to come forward with the truth. By Jarrett Lyons.

54 Below: It’s Delightful, It’s Delovely, It’s Deluxe: It’s Broadway’s New Living Room.
Broadway is the name and cabaret is the game. 54 Below is the new boîte created literally in the underbelly of the legendary Studio 54, once the disco club in town and now a Broadway theater featuring Roundabout Theatre Company productions. With major theatricality going on upstairs, the cabaret below the sidewalk, not associated with Roundabout, evokes a separate aura and a definite illusion. By Elizabeth Ahlfors.

Opera set in Stalin's era premieres at LaGuardia High School
Two Broadway artists and the real-life high school that inspired the movie "Fame" have put their heads together to create an opera about artists trying to make a movie musical in Stalin's Russia. "Life of the Party, " by the husband and wife team of Nell Benjamin and Lawrence O'Keefe -- known for their work on the Broadway show "Legally Blond: The Musical, " as well as "Cam Jansen" and "Sarah, Plain and Tall" for Theaterworks USA -- was written for New York City's Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts. Benjamin and O'Keefe said their work was inspired by an 1997 documentary, "East Side Story, " about Soviet movie musicals that tried to be both ideologically correct and entertaining. By Ellen Freilich.

A children's folk song animates a dance made in silence
“Pinguli, Pinguli, ” choreographed by Nelly van Bommel, draws upon multiple cultures and dance forms, the choreography is a unique blend of theatricality, humor, and raw athleticism. A work for nine dancers that explores community rituals and practices, is set to traditional music from Sardinia, Sicily, and Greece, sung by celebrated singer Savina Yannato. By Philip W. Sandstrom.

Movement explores brain mapping.
The Brodmann Areas is a new ballet that delves into the gaps and synapses that define the 52 areas/regions of the cerebral cortex of the brain. Vast and complex, these areas form a web of collaborations among different parts of the brain. At its basic level, these are the areas responsible for our interpretation of sight, sound, touch, smell, taste. As science continues to map the mind and its methods of perception, this ballet ventures into decoding the impulse to action and the movement of language. An interview with Julia K. Gleich by Philip W. Sandstrom.

4 Walls/Doubletoss Interludes
Philip Sandstrom interviews Robert Swinston, Artistic Associate of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, about the creation of "4 Walls/Doubletoss Interludes." Esteemed Russian pianist Alexei Lubimov gave the Moscow premieres of several works by John Cage in the 1960s. He has since performed an extensive repertoire on stages throughout the world, ranging from Lincoln Center to the Salzburg Festival. In this program, Lubimov plays Cage’s Four Walls [1944] with a new staging of Merce Cunningham’s Doubletoss [1993], arranged by Robert Swinston. Performed by former Merce Cunningham dancers, "4 Walls/Doubletoss Interludes" is a unique merging of the voices of Cage and Cunningham, interpreted by artists deeply influenced by them.

Sidra Bell in " Duel"
Philip Sandstrom interviews Sidra Bell as she prepares her production of "Duel" at Baruch Performing Arts Center in Manhattan.

Stephanie Skura's "Two Huts"
Philip Sandstrom interviews Stephanie Skura as she prepares her production of "Two Huts" at Roulette Space in Brooklyn.

Drying Out with the Arts after Hurricane Sandy
What--in God’s Name--Are We To Do about Acts of God? Will NYC Survive Another Hurricane?, Tuesday, 6 November 2012, Was Election Day: If You Think Hurricane Sandy was Traumatic, Whatever Became of Armistice Day? Veterans’ Day Suggests Our Wars Will Never Stop, Already, Another Thanksgiving Day--But Still an Unlucky Day for Big Breasted Turkeys, Nationwide, Ayad Akhtar’s DISGRACED, Neither Snow nor Sleet nor Hurricane Sandy Kept Fine Print Dealers from the Armory Show!, Charlie Strouse, Tommy Meehan, & Marty Charnin’s ANNIE, Tony Chekhov’s IVANOV, James McManus’ BLOOD BROTHERS, Three Chaffers & a Cragin’s SON OF A GUN, Beatrix Potter at the Morgan: How About Getting a Letter with Peter Rabbit Looking Out at You!, August Strindberg’s THE STRONGER & CASPER’S FAT TUESDAY, Richard Nelson’s SORRY, Aurelian Bory’s SANS OBJET, The French Take Over the Park Avenue Armory for The Salon: Art & Design!, Andy Warhol Artifacts Cram Christie’s Galleries, Plus Big Bucks for Impressionism & Modernism., Talk About Tax Cuts for The Rich! Sales Totals at Christies for the Warhol Week: $525 Million, Michael John LaChiusa’s GIANT, Kev & Wil B’s BLACK VIOLIN, Forget Pearl Harbor! Celebrate the Post War Transformation of Tokyo as an Avant Garde Nexus!, Out of the Ashcan & Onto Museum Walls: George Bellows, Graduate of the Ashcan School, Concealed Compartments? Roentgen Desks & Cabinets Are Crammed With Trick Drawers, Tommy Meehan & Chris Curtis’ CHAPLIN, Eve Ensler’s EMOTIONAL CREATURE, Daniele Finzi Pasca’s DONKA: A LETTER TO CHEKHOV, Joshua Elias Harmon’s BAD JEWS, Ivo van Hove’s Modernised Shakespeare/Marlowe ROMAN TRAGEDIES, Bruce Graham’s THE OUTGOING TIDE, Celebrating Aromas at MAD: The Art of Scent--1889 2012, Charles Morey’s FIGARO, Christopher Durang’s VANYA & SONIA & MASHA & SPIKE, August Wilson’s THE PIANO LESSON, Linda Christian Sells for Half a Million Dollars: Formerly "Lost" Diego Rivera Portrait at Christie’s!, Kathie Lee Gifford & Friends’ SCANDALOUS: The Life & Trials of Aimee Semple McPherson, Colorful Canvasses Now On View at the Met Museum: MATISSE: In Search of True Painting, African Masks Again! Modernists & Primitives: AFRICAN ART: New York & The Avant Garde., Theresa Rebeck’s DEAD ACCOUNTS, Joseph Robinette & Jean Shepherd’s A CHRISTMAS STORY, Ruth & Augustus Goetz’s Adaptation of Henry James’s Washington Square: THE HEIRESS, American Masterworks in the Bohemian National Home, Near the New Second Ave Subway, More Records Broken at Christie’s Auction House: Edward Hopper Sold for $9.5 Million On Line!, Food Over the Ages & Around the World: But No Ethnic Eats Mornings: Global Kitchen at AMNH., Bogart & Clarke’s THE TROJAN WOMEN (After Euripides), David Henry Huang’s GOLDEN CHILD, "Mad" King Ludwig II of Bavaria Will Be Back in Richard Wagner’s Wahnfried Villa This Summer!

October Roundup
At the Frick: Mantegna to Matisse: Master Drawings from the Courtauld in London, BASHFORD DEAN & THE CREATION OF THE ARMS & ARMOUR DEPARTMENT!, Also At the Met Museum: Bernini in the Basement!, At MoMA: ALINA SZAPOCZNIKOW: Sculpture Undone, 1955 1972, Birdhead, Zoe Crosher, Shirana Shahbazi & Michele Abeles, Amazement at the Whitney: WADE GUYTON OS, Craig Wright's GRACE, Ed Rostand's CYRANO DE BERGERAC, Gene Ionesco's RHINOCEROS, Mario Fratti's SUICIDE CLUB & THREE SISTERS & A PRIEST, Steven Cosson & Michael Friedman's PARIS COMMUNE, From Salvation Army Soup Kitchen to Performing Arts Powerhouse: Thank you, Hugh Hardy!, Dark Doings in the Dark Room: FAKING IT: Manipulated Photography before Photoshop, ROBERT WILSON/PHILIP GLASS: Einstein on the Beach, DÜRER TO DE KOONING: 100 Master Drawings from Munich, JOSEF ALBERS IN AMERICA: Painting on Paper, Stephen Belber's DON'T GO GENTLE, At the Asia Society: CHINA CLOSE UP All Year Long!, BOUND UNBOUND: Lin Tianmiao--The Obsessive Thread Binder, Simon Stephens' HARPER REGAN, Circolombia's URBAN, Deanna Jent's FALLING, WW II & NYC: How New York City Helped Defeat the Japs & the Nazis!, The Hudson River School returns to Central Park West!, A Brief Brush with Daniel Brush at MAD: Gold/Silver/Diamonds--Blue Steel/Gold Light, Sitting in Chris Columbus' Sitting Room on Columbus Circle!, Pigpen Theatre's THE OLD MAN & THE OLD MOON, Brian Friel's LOVERS, Colman Domingo's WILD WITH HAPPY, Joe Papp Would Have Been Proud!, Ernie Lubitsch'sTHE LOVES OF PHARAOH, Daisy Foote's HIM, Teddy Roosevelt Rides Again! $40 Million Restoration of Memorial & North American Mammals!, Edvard Munch Screams Again at MoMA: Only On Loan for Six Months! Otherwise, Oslo!, The Art of Richard Artschwager Pre empts an Entire Floor at Whitney Museum!, At the Guggenheim: Picasso's Black & White Artworks, Plus: Looking Ahead at Guggenheim Museums Worldwide, The Builders Association's HOUSE/DIVIDED, Millionaires Buy Treasures of Other Millionaires at Christie's: Artworks & Furniture Recycled!, Not Porn! Anxiety Rather Than Arousal: Egon Schiele's Women at Galerie St. Etienne, Edward Albee's Steppenwolf WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?, Theatre Rites' MOJO, Brian Freel's THE FREEDOM OF THE CITY, Hurricane Watch: Vintage Vincent Van Gogh Portrait On Loan at the Frick Collection!

September Roundup
Back from a summer's round of European festivals, Glenn Loney offers September's Show Notes and brief observations on museum & gallery shows.

The Wagner Festival in Historic Bayreuth in July-August 2012
Wagner für Kinder: Die Meistersinger as a Chalk Talk—with Outstanding Actor/Singers!, The Dutchman Flies, But Without Tattoos: Holländer as a Tempest in an Electric Fan Factory!, Don’t Get Bit by the Rats! Running to the Rathaus Won’t Save Either Elsa or Lohengrin!, Genetic Engineering Gone Wrong & Plucked Swans?, Human Excrement Powers Big Bio Energie Machine as Art Installation Setting for Tannhauser!, This Is a Place Holder for the Exclusive Interview with Festival Intendant Katharina Wagner!, Look Where It Comes Again! Tristan as Recreation Director on the Andrea Doria: Isolde On Deck!, Tristan und Isolde:, For the Very Last Time: Stefan Herheim’s Magical Fantastical Parsifal…, German History socio-politically reprised in "Parsifal"…Or an Opera about a Big Bed in the Middle of Haus Wahnfried?, Coming Soon to the Green Hill: A New RING by Frank Castorf! But Will 2013 Be Unlucky?

Bregenz Festival 2012
This is the Bodensee Festival that was…, Polish Science Fiction of the Early 1960s—SOLARIS: From Films To Opera!, Is there intelligent life on other planets?, Look Where It Comes Again! André Chénier Returns To The Great Lake Stage on The Bodensee!, Let’s Hear It for Schubert! Orchestral Concert am Bodensee, David Pountney into the Sunset: New Bregenz Intendant out of the Rising Sun!, America’s Ed Ruscha at Kunst Haus Bregenz & Other Optical Treats…, Angelika Kauffmann Lives On in Schloss Schwarzenberg!, In Luzern, The Dance of Death—or Totentanz—Proves a Killer!

Munich Opera Festival 2012
LA CENERENTOLA, LA BOHÈME, TOSCA, MITRIDATE, RÉ DI PONTO, ANTONIUS UND CLEOPATRA

A Farewell to Salzberg, If Not to Arms?
Visual Arts & Museum Shows On View During the Salzburg Festival 2012, The Trapp Family Lives Again at the Panorama: Reality & The Sound of Music Special Exhibition., At Salzburg’s MoMA—or Museum der Moderne: John Cage und…, At The Rupertinum of the Museum der Moderne: Merce Cunningham Dance Movement Photos!, Celebrating Marcus Sitticus in the Dom Museum, Curtains—on 2 September—for Salzburg’s Barock Museum in the Mirabel Gardens!, Die Kunst zu Wohnen—Good Housekeeping in the Late 18th Century…, Sunday, Bloody Sunday in Salzburg: Not a Creature was Stirring, Only Some Masses …, See Some of the Austrian Alps!

Carole J. Bufford Sings About "Body & Soul"
In her new show at The Metropolitan Room, “”Body & Soul, ” Carole J. Bufford walks onto the stage in a slinky, sexy and sparkling sheath. But that’s not all that sparkles. With her powerful and at times deeply emotional delivery, Bufford is like fireworks on the fourth of July. By Paulanne Simmons

"The Stradivarius Voice"
“Without hope, the human heart will die, ” Maureen McGovern commented, bringing an evening of hope through her lustrous voice – a four-octave powerhouse of warmth and clarity – into a season burdened with difficult and heartbreaking moments. Animated, she swept onstage and joined her two fine accompanists, Jay Leonhart on bass and musical director, Jeff Harris, with buoyant jazz flavoring in a songbook of holiday tunes and optimistic standards. By Elizabeth Ahlfors.

Santa Claus is Coming
Whether it’s Christmas, Chanukah or Kwanza, just celebrate! Celebrate something -- life, good health, each other. That’s the advice from theater and cabaret favorite, Karen Mason. If this year has dealt you some nasty turns, or if your holidays are on the blue side or this is a stressful season over-crammed with gift-giving and must-do’s, here’s a solution. Get yourself to 54 Below, order a drink, sit back and listen to Karen Mason, an unaffected, affable powerhouse actress/singer with a voice that will shoot up your spirits. She will take you to a place where effervescence bubbles up like champagne. Her salute to the season, “Christmas! Christmas! Christmas!” is the best approach to curing the blues and blahs. By Elizabeth Ahlfors.

The Time Is Now, with Larry Kerchner
Times change but human sentiments remain. From Cole Porter to Dolly Parton, the best songwriters are craftsmen who fit expansive universal feelings to music in a straightforward way. They appeal to the man in the street. They stamp the zeitgeist of jubilation, fury, romance, heartbreak, humor, depression, treasured memories and secret dreams of everyday people. Some songs linger on to become standards that touch audiences for years and even generations. By Elizabeth Ahlfors.

So Nice to Come Home To
At the Café Carlyle, John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey, the jazz world’s Bogie and Bacall, cool and simmering at the same time, are examining concepts of home. With an undercurrent of suffering from Hurricane Sandy’s destruction resonating even in the posh Café Carlyle, their sophisticated exploration could not be more timely or universal. By Elizabeth Ahlfors.

Tony DeSare with "Making Love Songs"
“This show is all about love, ” declared Tony DeSare, and with his piano pizzazz, velvet vocals and songwriting savvy, he brought a vivacious “Wow!” to his eclectic new songbook, “Making Love Songs, ” at 54 Below. He turned the phrase, “All About Love, ” into a jaunty opening song, a window to an hour of well-crafted standards, show tunes, and sharp originals. Just after his opener, De Sare and his quartet – Mike Klopp on drums, bassist Steve Doyle and Edward Decker strumming hard and fast on guitar – raced into a vigorous, “Somebody Loves Me, ” written by 1924 by George Gershwin. By Elizabeth Ahlfors.

Christine Andreas is "Bemused, Bothered and Bewildered"
Calling a show “Bemused” (or is it “be-mused”?) might evoke some bother and bewilderment in Christine Andreas’ 54 Below audience. After a rhythmic, jazz-styled opener, “Get Happy, ” Andreas explained that the reason for the title was a play on words, reading “bemused, ” as “to be mused, ” the musical click that happens when just the right singer and just the right songwriter click. By Elizabeth Ahlfors.

"Smile" with Andrea Marcovicci
After 25 years as the bright star of the Algonquin Hotel’s Oak Room holiday season, Andrea Marcovicci has moved uptown to the posh Café Carlyle. Before a sparkling opening night audience, taut and radiant in a glittering platinum backless gown, and despite an edgy political atmosphere, this eternal romantic strolled in strumming a ukulele to, “It’s Only a Paper Moon” and “Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries.” Recession or not, she makes us believe in the power of a smile. By Elizabeth Ahlfors.

Eating Crowe: "The Next Three Days"

"Elvis and Madona"

"Berlin 36"

Harry Potter Needs a Shave

"Irangeles": Will Romeo Get Circumcized for Love?

"Pray the Devil Back to Hell" An Interview with Director Virginia Reticker

"The Caller" You Don't Necessarily Have to Hang Up

Roman de gare by Claude Lelouch

Films of Jacob Burckhardt

"Threepenny Opera" at the Arden Theater in Philadelphia

Denver, the Mile High Culture City!

Under the Sun of Sarasota

Roundup in the Washington, DC and Arlington Area

"L'Orestie" d'Eschyle in Paris

"Low:Meditations Trilogy Part 1"
at the Adrienne Arsht Center Studio Theatre in Miami

Glenn Loney in Jordan

Twyla Tharp in Miami

The Head Hunter
One of America's long lived anti-heroes is the Italian gangster with a heart. Doesn't matter that he has committed heinous atrocities in the name of collecting debts, revenge or murder for hire. What attracts us in his fictitious life is his inside knowledge and experience of doing the abominable deed. Killing not in the heat of passion but in the quest for money. By Larry Litt.

 

 

Amelia Pedlow as Isabelle, Suzanne Bertish as Mme Argante, Dave Quay as Eraste. Photo by Richard Termine.

"The Heir Apparent" is David Ives's riotous rewriting of 18th-century French comedy
Can an early 18th century French play be hysterically funny and up to the minute in New York? Yes, if the author is David Ives who has turned a 1708 restoration comedy by Jean-Francois Regnard into a very witty commentary on greed, including the ethics of cut-throat capitalism. Plus ca change…By Lucy Komisar.

 

Amelia Pedlow as Isabelle, Suzanne Bertish as Mme Argante, Dave Quay as Eraste. Photo by Richard Termine.

Two views of "Amaluna"
Lucy Komisar says the greeting is "Meine Damen und Damen." In German, it means "My ladies and ladies." Amaluna in Latin means mother and moon. Clearly this is a woman's show, by and about women. There's even a moon goddess. Glenda Frank adds the story line is a mixture of Shakespeare's "The Tempest" and "The Hunger Games." "Amaluna" brings us Prospera and a Miranda (Iuliia Mykhailova, Ukraine), who is both a feminine teen in cut-offs and a remarkable athlete.

 

National Theatre of China's production of Richard III. Photo by Liu Weilen.

A Villain by Any Other Name
New York is a theatrical hub. It offers more than the spectacles of Broadway, the experiments of off off-Broadway and the musical feasts at AMAS. The best talent from around the world journeys here to display their wonders. I remember a postmodern interpretation of Ibsen's "Hedda Gabler" (in German) by the German director Thomas Ostermeierat BAM; Ninagawa's elegant "Medea" at the Delacorte Theatre in the rain (and we all stayed) and again his monumental "Macbeth" (both in Japanese) at BAM; the Greek National Theatre's breath-taking "Medea" and a poignant "The Persians," which I thought was unstageable (in Greek). I learned to watch and listen while reading supertitles, and to revel in the genius of foreign perspectives. "Richard III" by the National Theatre of China at NYU's Skirball Center belongs on this list. By Glenda Frank.

 

The poem by Langston Hughes inspired the title of the play and themes of the play. It is projected on a screen flanked by the curtain. Photo by
Carole Di Tosti.

Reinventing I Remember Mama
The words of the playwright, frequently lost among flashy costumes, stage lighting, moving mechanical sets, actorly histrionics, and overly reactive audiences, has always been the most important thing about theatre to me. Good or bad, I want to both hear and feel everything that the playwright has to say. I want to be made to laugh and cry, and turned every which way but loose. I want to be touched by the blessed sacredness of time, be it past, future, or now. I want to leave the theatre remembering what life is all about and loving it all the more. By Edward Rubin.

 

"A Raisin in the Sun." Denzel Washington as Walter and Sophie Okonedo as Ruth. Photo by Brigitte Lacombe.

Three views of "Raisin in the Sun"
Carole Di Tosti says "Raisin in the Sun" by Lorraine Hansberry is a timeless work about social justice and human dignity. The play focuses on how one family attempts to create an honorable life for themselves despite economic hardships. Hansberry would never emphasize this work as a protest play or an appeal for justice for black folk, though its overarching message approaches that. In its time the play was groundbreaking. It forever changed theater. It opened the eyes of white Americans who could not help but identify and empathize with the Younger family in their struggles to achieve the American dream by laboriously carving out a path toward it day by grueling day. Paulanne Simmons adds "A Raisin in the Sun" turns 55 this year. Yet the latest revival at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre (the same theatre where the original production was staged) makes the show as bright as a newly minted coin. According to Lucy Komisar this play is based on the experience of theLorraine Hansberry's 1959 play about a black family's struggle. Desperate, full of hope and dreams, wracked by despair, succored by religion, the members of the Younger family spill their humanity.

 

"Lost in Space"
Ensemble acting is a joy to see and hear especially when it's bringing life to a well written script. You can tell when actors have respect for each other's craft, they give each other space to perform. In fact when I do attend a play where there is that kind of supremely strong interaction I feel like I too am on stage, in the midst of art unfolding. By Larry Litt.

"Beyond Therapy"
"Beyond Therapy" remains one of Christopher Durang's most popular plays, and TACT/The Actors Company's recent revival shows why. By Paulanne Simmons.

 

Marta Mondell (R) and Laura Caparrotti (L) play women who will witness the events of the opera, "Tosca," in "Tosca and the Two Downstairs," a dark comedy by Italian playwright Franca Valeri. Photo by Lee Wexler/Images for Innovation..




"Tosca e le Altre Due"

The opera "Tosca" by Puccini, is known for its gorgeous music, piercing violence, dramatic plot and dynamic characterizations. What is less familiar to Americans is that "Tosca" is the backdrop for a brilliant satire written by Franca Valeri, an influential, contemporary Italian woman playwright. Valeri employs the plot line, main characters and setting of the opera (1800, Rome) as her fuel to set ablaze various issues which resonate for us today. By Carole Di Tosti.

 

Potion featuring Raife Baker, Liz Eckert, Noah Schultz, Natalie Hegg and Sean Cronin. Photo by Carrie Leonard.



Two views of Potion
Dorothy Chansky says "Doubtless you've heard the one-liner about the person who claims to drink to make other people more interesting. Potion, set and staged in a bar, gives big pause for thought about that reasoning—reasoning that may get pretty fuzzy if you indulge in the three drinks (included in the ticket price) accompanying the show's three parts." Lucy Komisar adds "The production is an intimate look – from a fly-on-the-wall vantage point – of what happens at a bar among the owners, bartender and patrons, especially regarding their romantic desires and connections."

 

Robert Honeywell as Václav Havel and Katherine Boynton as American TV reporter in 'The Pig, or Václav Havel's Hunt for the Pig.' Photo by Arthur Cornelius.

"The Pig, or Václav Havel's Hunt for a Pig."
This collaborative, inventive multi-media play with music is based on a Samizdat dialogue the Czech dissident Havel wrote in 1987, using the device of a popular rural pastime – roasting a pig – to satirize the communist government. It was inspired by the true story of Havel trying to find a pig to roast for his friends. By Lucy Komisar.

 

Maria Tucci and John Procaccino in 'Love and Information.' Photo by Joan Marcus.

 

Love and Information
Caryl Churchill is one of my favorite playwrights ("Serious Money," "Top Girls") and a major dramatic commentator on the feminist and the political. I am therefore sorry to report my disappointment in her latest work, "Love and Information." It's a pastiche that seems thrown together from notes that never got turned into a script. By Lucy Komisar.

 

All the way
In the 1964 presidential campaign, the phrase, "All the way" was followed by "with LBJ." Now that "All the Way" has become the title of a new drama by Robert Schenkkan, the phrase has become associated with an insightful and engrossing play about those pivotal times. By Paulanne Simmons.

Outside Mullingar: Brian F. O’Bryne as Anthony Reilly and Debra Messing as Rosemary Muldoon. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Matthew Murumba and Jenny Vallancourt in "Since Africa". Photo by Jenny Anderson.

Since Africa
What makes "Since Africa" especially moving and relevant is the way it shows how much we are helped when we help others. By Paulanne Simmons

 

Outside Mullingar
John Patrick Shanley's charming play about two lonely people who don't know how to express their feelings is a delightful channeling of Irish black humor. One should add that the two, Anthony Reilly (Brian F. O'Byrne) and Rosemary Muldoon (Debra Messing) are both quite attractive, so their social awkwardness appears the result of living in an isolated farming corner of Ireland that lets you believe that people can exist for months, even years, without even talking to their neighbors – which when it comes to those two is the case. (So, suspend reality.) By Lucy Komisar.

 

Susan Hwang, Bob Holman and Julian Kytasty in "Capt. John Smith Goes to Ukraine." Photo by Volodymyr Klyuzko.

Captain John Smith Goes to Ukraine
John Smith is someone who every American schoolchild feels he or she knows. We all saw the Disney film "Pocahontas" and know the stories of the Jamestown settlement. What Yara Arts Group accomplishes in "Capt. John Smith Goes to Ukraine" is to shed light on a lesser-known aspect of Smith's adventuring career: how he became a captain and his travels to Ukraine, before he ever helped found the Virginia colony. This at times extremely delightful musical-experimental work of theater gives its history lessons a much-needed makeover with fun, liveliness, and an accordion. By Kelly Aliano.

 

Daylight Precision: Pacifist Vera Brittain (Danielle Delgado) debates Gen. Hansell (Pat Dwyer) on the morality of bombing population centers.

Daylight Precision
"Daylight Precision" by Douglas Lackey, a professor of philosophy at Baruch College is a historical docudrama about General Haywood Hansell, who was architect of the American strategic bombing strategy in the first part of World War II. The play focuses on Hansell's plan only to bomb strategic sites throughout Europe, as opposed to cities, and the backlash he incurred from the rest of the Allied brass for this idea. His sentiments are heightened by his interactions with British pacifist Vera Brittain and a young soldier. Yet, the military higher-ups around him become more and more disillusioned as the war drags on. Hansell's downfall is presented as a great American tragedy of the war. By Kelly Aliano.

 

No Man's Land: Ian McKellen as Spooner. Photo by Joan Marcus.

 

No Man's Land
Harold Pinter liked to play games in his plays, teasing the audience, suggesting facts and realities that might or might not be true. He does this in "No Man's Land," written in 1974. It is an acerbic commentary on human nature, with a particular bite of the literary set. Pinter's prickly style is well served by director Sean Mathias and finely acted by Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, with strong support from Billy Crudup and Shuler Hensley. If you like intellectual diversions and mysteries, this play is for you. By Lucy Komisar.

 

 

Waiting for Godot: Shuler Hensley as Pozzo, Patrick Stewart as Didi, Billy Crudup as Lucky, Ian Mckellen as Gogo. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Waiting for Godot
Beckett's metaphor for the human condition, of people clutching to each other in the face of man's inhumanity to man, turns absurdity into tragedy and occasionally black comedy. Director Sean Mathias has staged, almost choreographed, a dazzling cast in a haunting performance of a poignant, classic play. Gogo, diminutive of Estragon – that's French for tarragon — with bulbous nose and scraggly hair, is portrayed by the excellent Ian McKellen with a Lancashire accent. His jerky, unsteady motions show a man in physical decay. By Lucy Komisar.

 

Hard Times: An American Musical
Who doesn't know the music of Stephen Foster--"Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair," "Beautiful Dreamer," "Old Folks at Home," "Oh, Susanna"-- that has come to define American music. And thanks to Martin Scorsese's 2002 blockbuster "Gangs of New York" (with Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Cameron Diaz), the Five Points, home to violent, corruption, and clashes of cultures, is not only familiar but exciting. Larry Kirwan's "Hard Times" at the Cell Theatre brings both together in a totally entertaining two hour musical that is also, to its credit, memorable, and clever. It offers insights into the composer and the world in which he lived, a world in rapid transition. The musical premieres in 2012, and this time around, it has been extended after an initial sold-out run. By Glenda Frank.

A Man's a Man: Martin Moran, Jason Babinsky, Gibson Frazier as Galy Gay, Steven Skybell. Photo by Richard Termine.

A Man's a Man
This early Brecht play, first staged in 1926, is disappointing. It presages some of the elements of his later works, especially the Mother Courage character who here is Widow Begbick (the good Justin Vivian Bond as a modern red head with a sinful low voice), who owns a beer wagon that follows the soldiers to serve up brew and herself. And there are the soldiers, victims of imperialism, which has turned them into mindless fighting machines. By Lucy Komisar.

 

 

What's It All About? Front: Nathaly Lopez, Laura Dreyfuss, Kyle Riabko, Back: James Williams, James Nathan Hopkins, Daniel Woods, Daniel Bailen. Photo by Joan Marcus.

What's It All About? Bacharach Reimagined
I don't like modern pop/rock music; it lacks musicality. But this hip-schmaltzy staging of work that Burt Bacharach wrote from the late 1950s through the 1980s makes one take another look at the new inflections. It features multi-talented 20- and 30-something performers playing, singing and circulating in a production that is infectious and charming. The set conjures up a pawn shop, with instruments hanging on the back wall. Some audience members sit on couches on the sides of the stage. In the dark, lamps glimmer, flashing on and off. By Lucy Komisar.

 

NOISE IN THE WATERS -- Alessandro Renda as The General.

Keeping Count
At its finest, theatrical storytelling can force its audiences to confront issues that they might otherwise ignore, even without those spectators realizing what is happening. At its worst, telling tales is nothing more than a confrontational presentation of an individual’s point of view without much context or explanation. In “Rumore di acque (Noise in the Waters)” by Italian company Teatro delle Albe, currently playing at La MaMa, the narrator strives for the former while often falling into the trap of the latter. By Kelly Aliano.

 

Mary Bridget Davis as Janet Joplin with backup singers Taprena Michelle Augustine, De'Adre Aziza, Allison Blackwell and Nikki Kimbrough. Photo by Joan Marcus.


Channeling Janis Joplin

Mary Bridget Davies does an excellent job as the title character in "A Night with Janis Joplin." Writer/director Randy Johnson chose to focus on the artistic story of the famed singer of the 60's, but the story line may leave you curious about why such a talented, successful woman would destroy herself in the height of her career at the age of 27. By Lucy Komisar.

 

Joseph Timms as Anne, Mark Rylance as King Richard III. Photo by Joan Marcus.

In “Richard III,” Mark Rylance brilliantly dissects and displays the pathology of evil
Mark Rylance’s portrayal of the malevolent Richard III is a complex and original psychological study. Let’s take this beyond what was expected of power seekers in Elizabethan times, that they might be rapacious and without morals. (Plus ça change, as they say.) Shakespeare doesn’t just assume the pathology of 15th-century English politics, but wonders what is wrong with a man who plots to kill everyone, including family members, that stand between him and the throne. By Lucy Komisar.

 

The Motown Beat Takes Over Broadway
Although “Motown: The Musical” has a slim book, it’s stuffed with all the great hits a child of the sixties could ever want. By Paulanne Simmons.

Cougars on the Prowl at St Luke's Theatre
“Cougar the Musical” burst with energy and easy laughs. Although it is clearly aimed at women over forty, it’s also a great mother-daughter show. Even men will find themselves chuckling, if somewhat ruefully. By Paulanne Simmons.

Kevin James Doyle and Margaret Copeland in "How to Be a New Yorker?"

Learn and Laugh With "How to Be a New Yorker?"
Tourists (and natives) can now learn everything they ever wanted to know about the Big Apple, while enjoying a New York lunch at Sofia’s Downstairs. By Paulanne Simmons.

 

"Newsical The Musical: End of the World Edition" Has Lots of New Laughs
The newest "End of the World Edition" takes aim not only at Republican hopefuls and the president they are trying to replace but also celebrities of every stripe. By Paulanne Simmons.

 

David Furr as Orlando, Renee Elise Goldsberry as Celia, Lily Rabe as Rosalind. Photo by Joan Marcus.

"As You Like It" is Rousing Tale of Love and Lust
As usual, the Public Theater, in a production directed by Daniel Sullivan, presents a first-rate take on the Bard. From the squeals emanating from the 20-somethings in the audience, a play written more than four centuries ago couldn’t be more contemporary. The story is about varieties and vagaries of romance and the struggle to find one’s heart’s partner. By Lucy Komisar.

Mentalist Maven Astounds
Famed mentalist Max Maven believes the universe is far stranger than we can imagine. And in his show, "Max Maven: Thinking in Person," he sets out to prove it. By Paulanne Simmons.

Cirque du Soleil's "Zarkana" runs at Radio City Music Hall and closes September 2.

"Zarkana" Is Back - Don’t Miss It
In the fashion familiar to anyone who has seen Cirque du Soleil productions, "Zarkana" blends mystery, magic and music in a breathtaking extravaganza that keeps both young and old on the edge of their seats. By Paulanne Simmons.

From left to right: Guy Burnet and Joseph Adams in "Murser in the First." Photo by Carol Rosegg.
"Murder in the First" at 59E59 Theaters
Even if you are not addicted to ‘Law & Order,” you’ll probably enjoy this show. By Paulanne Simmons.

John Lithgow as Joseph Alsop. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Lithgow Brings Out the Vitriol in a Complex Joe Alsop, "The Columnist"
Joseph Alsop, the venomous, fanatically anti-communist newspaper columnist, leads a complicated and hidden life. By Lucy Komisar.



Shirleyann Kaladjian as Amelia. Photo by John Capo Public Relations.

"Amelia" at Fort Jay in the Powder Magazine on Governor’s Island
"Amelia" is a kind of inverse "Odyssey." The protagonist is a woman on a long, dangerous, episodic journey in search of her husband, and rather than returning from war she is marching into it. It’s 1861. The recently married heroine leaves her farm in Pennsylvania to embark on a trek that concludes in Georgia. The faithful couple is reunited but not without some near misses and a question mark at the end. By Dorothy Chansky.

"Once on This Island" at Paper Mill Playhouse. From left to right: Darius de Haas, Saycon Sengbloh, Jerold E. Solomon, Kenita R. Miller, Aurelia Williams, Alan Mingo Jr., Syesha Mercado and Courtney Reed. Photo by Jerry Dalia.

"Once on This Island" Is Worth the Trip Over the River
"Once on This Island" at Paper Mill Playhouse is a great family show that beguiles both adults and children. By Paulanne Simmons.

 

THE CHALK CIRCLE -- Denver Chiu (of Hong Kong) plays the female role of the heroine, Begonia Zhang, performing her arias in Cantonese Opera style. Photo by Lee Wexler/Images for Innovation.

Justice With Supertitles: A Review on "The Chalk Circle"
Begonia Zhang may have been created over 700 years ago, but with a tweak here and there, she could be transformed into a contemporary heroine. By Glenda Frank.

 

 

Daniel Clarkson and Jefferson Turner in "Potted Potter."

Potted Potter: The Unauthorized Harry Potter Experience
It helps if you’re a Muggle who knows how to play quidditch, but you don’t need to have read all seven of the Harry Potter books to enjoy Daniel Clarkson and Jefferson Turner’s parody, “Potted Potter: The Unauthorized Experience.” By Paulanne Simmons.



Richard Sandek, Nick Flint, Christopher Baker in "pool (no water)."

pool (no water)
After successful runs in Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Austin, Texas, the homoerotic play creeps its way into the 9th Space on First Avenue. It depicts young lives drowning in heroin, sex, money, and abusive relationships. By Edward Rubin.

Carole J. Bufford made her cabaret debut as a finalist of the 2009 MetroStar Talent Challenge. She has made appearances at "Broadway By The Year" and the Cabaret Convention.

The Speak Easy Show Everyone’s Cheering About
A time of romance and rum is celebrated in "Speak Easy," Carole J. Bufford’s Prohibition-era show at the Metropolitan Room. By Paulanne Simmons.

February House: A Commune, Sweet and Sour

Kacie Sheik and Julian Fleisher in "February House." Photo by Joan Marcus.

Based on a nonfiction book by Sherrill Tippin, "February House" has been transformed into a unique and often enchanting new musical (music and lyrics by Gabriel Kahane; book by Seth Bockley) about an actual artists commune that existed in Brooklyn, New York, for only one year--from 1940 to 1941. By Diana Barth.

"Man and Superman" Lands Safe and Sound at the Irish Rep

Margaret Loesser Robinson (Violet), Janie Brookshire (Ann/Ana) and Laurie Kennedy (Mrs. Whitefield) in George Bernard Shaw's "Man and Superman." Photo by James Higgins.

George Bernard Shaw’s "Man and Superman," with its four acts, including a long, philosophical debate between Don Juan, the devil and the statue of Don Gonzalo (often performed separately as "Don Juan in Hell"), clocks in at about three hours and is not always produced in its entirely. But the new, and excellent, revival at Irish Rep faithfully presents the play as Shaw meant it to be. By Paulanne Simmons.

Winning The Vote
"Take What is Yours," a docudrama by Erica Fae and Jill A. Samuels, explores the story of Alice Paul, a less known proponent in the women’s sufferage movement, aiding in the vote to add the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution. By Glenda Frank.

MIRACLE ON SOUTH DIVISION STREET -- Rusty Ross (Jimmy Nowak), Peggy Cosgrave (Clara Nowak), Liz Zazzi (Beverly Nowak), Andrea Maulella (Ruth Nowak). Photo by Aaron Pepis.

"Miracle on South Division Street" Appears at St. Luke's Theater
In Tom Dudzick’s new comedy, "Miracle on South Division Street, Clara Nowak and her three children, Jimmy, Ruth and Beverly, are convinced Clara’s father once saw a vision of the Virgin Mary and the statue he had erected near their home commemorates this event. By Paulanne Simmons.

The Broadway Musicals of 1975
1975 was the year that saw the opening of the long-running "A Chorus Line," classics such as "Chicago," "The Wiz" and "Shenandoah," and the cult favorite, "The Rocky Horror Show." That year was the subject of Scott Siegel's "Broadway by the Year" series at The Town Hall. By Paulanne Simmons.

"The Columnist" tells all.
The power of David Auburn's new play about Joseph Alsop, “The Columnist,” is that Auburn makes Alsop, if not exactly likable, certainly very human. By Paulanne Simmons.

THE STORM -- (l to r): Giorgio Pinetta, Darrell Stokes, Terria Joseph, Dave Edson, Andrew Dahl, Sora Baek and Zenzelé Cooper. Photo by Alan Edwards.

The Storm
Ostrovsky might not recognize himself in the mirror director Jessica Burr has held up to his 1859 Russian masterpiece "The Storm." There is high art in the staging, art that leaps the fourth wall. Choral movement frequently replaces dialogue in a style that is a cross between dance narrative and Brechtian story telling. Although it remains true to the heart of the drama, this is not social realism but experimental theatre at its best. By Glenda Frank.

THE MORINI STRAD -- Michael Laurence and Mary Beth Peil in The Morini Strad at Primary Stages at 59E59 Theaters. Photo by James Leynse.

“The Morini Strad” Delights the Ear and Touches the Heart
Child violin prodigy Erica Morini and her prized Stradivarius that went missing after her death may be forgotten by most of the public, but her story lives again brilliantly at Primary Stages, where director Casey Childs brings Willy Holtzman’s “The Morini Strad” to life. By Paulanne Simmons.

 

GORE VIDAL'S THE BEST MAN -- Sherman Howard, Candice Bergen, John Larroquette, Donna Hanover, James Lecesne, Fred Parker, Amy Tribbey. Photo by Joan Marcus.

When Winning Isn’t Everything
“Gore Vidal’s The Best Man” is a star-studded production which has the incomparable Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Sue-Ellen Gamadge, the wise and feisty chairman of the Women’s Division; James Earl Jones as the pragmatic former President Arthur “Artie” Hockstader; John Larroquette as the conflicted candidate, William Russell; and Candice Bergen as Russell’s long-suffering but loyal wife, Alice. By Paulanne Simmons.

 

The Salesman is Revived
Shows seldom come to Broadway with a better pedigree than the current production of “Death of a Salesman.” The Pulitzer Prize-winning drama was written by no less than the great Arthur Miller. It is directed by Mike Nichols, arguably one of the finest directors of the 20th century, and it stars the acting giant, Philip Seymour Hoffman as Willy Loman. Even the (more or less) supporting roles are filled by exceptional actors: Linda Emond as Linda Loman, Andrew Garfield as Biff and John Glover as Ben. By Paulanne Simmons.

"Newsical The Musical: End of the World Edition" Has Lots of New Laughs
The newest "End of the World Edition" takes aim not only at Republican hopefuls and the president they are trying to replace but also celebrities of every stripe. By Paulanne Simmons.

"Porgy and Bess".Photo by Michael J.Lutch.
 

Don't miss "Porgy and Bess"
The American Repertory Theater's "Porgy and Bess," directed by Diane Paulus, features Suzan-Lori Parks adaptation of DuBoise and Dorothy Hayward's book and Deidre L. Murray's considerable cutting of Gershwin's score.Just the fact that "Porgy and Bess" is again on Broadway is a cause for celebration. And that it is really quite good should be a source of jubilation.By Paulanne Simmons.

Angry Young Women In Low-Rise Jeans With High-Class Issues
Larry Litt writes, "Now, just when we need some high spirited relief from the oppression of Wall Street, Home Foreclosures and Injustice there appears the reprise of Matt Morillo’s five part exegesis on modern femininity, 'Angry Young Women In Low Rise Jeans With High Class Issues.' I laughed out loud not just once, but many times along with the rest of the hard to please downtown audience." He also has ample kudos for the cast of able comedians, notably Jessica Durdock Moreno.

PRISCILLIA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT-- Priscilla Will, Tony & Nick. Photo by Joan Marcus.

"Priscilla, Queen of the Desert"
Broadway's "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" by Stephan Elliot & Allan Scott, funny, touching, and over the top in its inventiveness, to use a lyric from A Chorus Line song, is "One Long Singular Sensation," one that almost had the audience, the night I attended, dancing in the aisles. In fact, one highly energetic young lady, obviously electrified by the highly amplified disco music, did just that. Well, almost. She stood up in her seat, wiggled her body and wildly waved her arms until the man behind her yelled for her to sit down. So wrapped up in "It's Raining Men", the musical's opening number, it took several shout outs for her to get the message. Even seated, like others in the audience – me for instance – she continued to twist and sway throughout each musical number during the shows two and a half frenzied hours. The performance plays at The Palace Theatre, choreographed by Ross Colemanand and directed by Simon Phillips. By Edward Rubin.

Tovah Feldshuh appeared at "Town Hall at 90," a benefit concert to celebrate the institution's 90th birthday on May 2, 2011. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

Town Hall Celebrates 90 Years of Culture and Entertainment
Town hall is 90-years-old this year, and many award-winning stars helped celebrate. And to commemorate the milestone, President Marvin Leffler held a big bash on May 2, hosted by Scott Siegel, creator/writer of The Town Hall’s Broadway By the Year series. Indeed the anniversary gala featured a lineup of stars worthy of the event, beginning with Tovah Feldshuh singing a "Town Hall Medley" with music and lyrics by Gershwin and Styne, with a little help from Feldshuh. By Paulanne Simmons.

WAR HORSE-- Seth Numrich in a scene from the National Theater of Great Britain. Photo by Paul Kolnik

"War Horse" Is a Children's Story for Adults
Not since Journey's End was revived in 2007 has Broadway seen such a searing depiction of World War I as National Theatre of Great Britain's War Horse, now at the Vivian Beaumont Theater. By Paulanne Simmons.

THE BOOK OF MORMON--Pictured (L to R): Rerna Webb, Andrew Rannells, Josh Gad. Photo by Joan Marcus.

The Book Of Mormon Raises Holy Hell
"The Book of Mormon" playing at Eugene O'Neill Theatre, written by Trey Parker and Matt Stoneby, the creators of "South Park", is not for the straight-laced, as a brief look at the plot reveals: Two Mormon Missionaries Elder Price (Andrew Rannells) and Elder Cunningham (Josh Gad), the first a self-centered idealist, the second a chubby misfit, are sent to Uganda to convert the native population. In Uganda they settle in a village ravaged by AIDS and threatened by a local warlord with an unprintable name. The villagers cheer themselves up by singing a song with lyrics that are also unprintable. By Paulanne Simmons.

SPYSURROUND--Steven Rattazzi (Francisco Franco). Photo by Jim Baldassare.

Spysurround
You could be forgiven for thinking that a show with the title "Spy Garbo" was about movies or stardom. Sheila Schwartz's play directed by Kevin Cunningham at 3LD Art & Technology Center, instead resuscitates three historic European figures whose reputations were made and broken in the mid twentieth-century battle between communism and fascism.Still, the show business connection is not entirely wrong. Schwartz's conceit is that the three are auditioning for History, in the hope of going in villains and coming out leading men. That they do not entirely fail is a testament to the astounding research—both textual and visual—that Schwartz brings to the table. By Dorothy Chansky.

THE MILK TRAIN DOESN'T STOP HERE ANY MORE -- Maggie Lacey as Blackie and Darren Pettie as Chris. Photo by Joan Marcus.

"The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore"
There's a touch of the Southern Gothic in many of Tennessee Williams' plays, and it is usually seasoning in a pungent stew about human relationships, desires, and failings. But this play, directed by Michael Wilson, is overwhelmed by Southern Gothic till it becomes a potboiler, a parody of a melodrama. This Roundabout Theater production is saved by the extraordinary performance of Olympia Dukakis, whose portrayal of the garish, bullying, self-centered Flora Goforth takes fire and pulls you in till you feel part of the conflagration. By Lucy Komisar.

THE WHIPPING MAN -- Jay Wilkison and Andre Braugher in "The Whipping Man". Photo by Joan Marcus.

God and Ghosts in "The Whipping Man"
In the songs and prayers of African-American slaves one frequently finds references to the manner in which God freed the children of Israel from their Egyptian captors. "The Whipping Man," directed by Doug Hughes, is Matthew Lopez'z imaginative melding of the Jewish and African-American liberation stories, playing at New York City Center-Stage. Lopez has done quite a bit of research for this play. His knowledge of Judaism is admirable. But it is to some extent superficial. He charges in where he should tiptoe. By Paulanne Simmons.

 

OTHER DESERT CITIES -- Elizabeth Marvel as Brooke and Stacey Keach as her father. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Comic left-right conflict of "Other Desert Cities" is exploded by a family secret
"Other Desert Cities" is a very New York play even if it takes place in Palm Springs, California. Playwright Jon Robin Baitz tells what happens when a New York writer who lives in Sag Harbor (where a lot of New York writers go in summer), journeys west to visit her extremely Republican parents. "Extremely" means they were friends of the Reagans. By Lucy Komisar

Getting Married in the 21st Century
In many ways that A.R. Gurney's "Black Tie," produced by Primary Stages at 59E59 under the direction of Mark Lamos, touches on the very same emotions many parents feel as their children become adults: nostalgia for their own youth, confusion over changing values, happiness and relief that the children have finally grown up. "Black Tie" is so well written and performed audiences may not notice that the demands and resentments of the bride-to-be and her overwhelming self-involvement do not predict happy outcomes for this marriage. Perhaps Gurney is planning on a sequel, Black Tie: the Divorce. By Paulanne Simmons.


"The Witch of Edmonton"

Modern audiences forget that Elizabethan and Jacobean dramas were designed to entertain. By law the theatres could only be built outside of London--in Bankside and Shoreditch--to keep the apprentices from playing hooky. The groundlings--the poor people--stood for two hours, yet from all reports, the theatres still were crowded. As for those who had more than two pennies to rub together, most sat on uncomfortable wooden benches. So the playwrights--who were competing with bear baiting--had to keep it lively. The plays, taking place at Theatre at St. Clement's, were meant to move an audience to tears and laughter--and sometimes to scare the living daylights out of them with ghosts and witches. By Glenda Frank.

THREE SISTERS -- Maggie Gyllenhaal, Juliet Rylance, Jessica Hecht in "Three Sisters" at Classic Stage. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Three Sisters
Most of the characters in director August Pendleton's brilliant staging of Chekhov's "Three Sisters" at Classic Stage live in hazes of self-delusion and despair lit by flashes of hope and bitter disappointment. That could represent the unhappiness of individuals, especially women, who have little ability to change lives without joy. It can also stand for the illusions of the burgers and small-time aristocrats who as a group also had no future in the moribund society of pre-revolutionary Russia. By Lucy Komisar.

Lysistrata
A sly, romantic Lysistrata? Yes, finally a break from the contemporary deadly serious anti-war versions of Aristophanes' classic comedy. You should know that the play tells the story of several Greek women, leaders of their society, attempting to put an end to their men's long lasting wars by denying them sex when they return home for temporary rest and retreat. By Larry Litt.

Molly Sweeney at the Irish Repertory Theatre
Brian Friel is certainly a great storyteller, and the premise of "Molly Sweeney" could make for a captivating drama. However, once the dramatist decided to divide his tale into alternating dramatic monologues between the three principal characters, he set down a formidable challenge, which Irish Rep's director Charlotte Moore never manages to overcome. By Paulanne Simmons.

CAROL CHANNING--Richard Skipper as Carol Channing. Photo by Devin Delano.

 

Richard Skipper is "Carol Channing" In Concert
Richard Skipper, the multi-award winning, triple threat actor, singer, and dancer – the guy does everything - has been channeling the "real" Carol Channing in plays and concerts all over the world for some 25 years. If he wasn't such good friends with the 90 year old Channing, who occasionally flies around the country with her husband to attend 'Skipper playing Channing' soirees – well, one would think he was a stalker. One thing is for sure, Skipper, like all of us Hello Dolly devotees, is in love with Channing. How else to explain his awe-inspiring ability to not only inhabit her legendary voice and her inimitable way of physically holding the air – here, true to life, he captures, from head to face to toe, all of her legendary movements – but to shower the audience to the very last row, with the warmth, love, vulnerabilities and strengths, that have always been Channing's unique calling card. By Ed Rubin.

 

A call girl's "trick" with a lonely inventor on a snowy evening turns into a touching first date.
David R. Doumeng and Jessica Moreno as The Inventor and The Escort. Photo by Nick Coleman.

The Inventor, The Escort, The Photographer, Her Boyfriend and His Girlfriend
Life should be simple for beautiful young people in lust. Sexual encounters are easy in today’s world: you’re horny, feeling ready for a hot sexual encounter, all you have to do is reach out, there’s always someone horny at the same time hopefully nearby with similar desires. You and your partner/s ‘hook up’ for some fun, then go on your own way when it’s all over. Take a shower, no guilt, no breakfast. Unfortunately life is never quite that simple. By Larry Litt.

 

PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT -- (l-r) Will Swenson, Nick Adams, Tony Sheldon and the cast of the Broadway-bound musical, now playing Toronto’s Princess of Wales Theatre through January 2, 2011. Broadway previews begin February 28 at The Palace Theatre for a March 20 opening. Photo: Joan Marcus.

Broadway-bound "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert"
"Priscilla, Queen of the Desert," currently wowing audiences at the Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto before it moves to Broadway this spring, is a grand and gloriously eye-popping musical extravaganza with more than a dollop of sentimentality. It is also just about the gayest theatrical production cum Las Vegas nightclub act to tread the boards of mainstream theatredom. From its countless show-stopping, gay anthemtt-filled musical numbers, both sung and lip-synched – It's Raining Men opens the show – to Tim Chappel's and Lizzy Gardiner's over the top Lady Gaga lookalike costumes, Brian Thomson's fantabulous multilayered sets, scantily clad muscle boys, drag queens, and gay-tinged, smut-laden zingers delivered at breakneck speed by its three starring divas, it makes "La Cage aux Folles" seem like a Episcopalian wake. By Ed Rubin.

WITH AARON'S ARMS AROUND ME--An NYU writing student elicits a love story from a Jamaican girl engaged in an interracial relationship with a Jewish boy. L: Naomi McDougall Jones, R: Latonia Phipps. Photo by Bobae Kim.

An outsider's look at prejudice, courtesy of Negro Ensemble Company
Like many New Yorkers, Sophia Romma was born and educated abroad -- in Russia. Her plays are informed by this double identity. Her outsider status has sparked a sensitivity to other immigrant groups -- and informed "With Aaron's Arms around Me" and "The Mire," both presented by the Negro Ensemble Company in a double-header at the Cherry Lane Studio Theatre. Both plays are directed by Charles Weldon, the Artistic Director of NEC. By Glenda Frank.

MAPPING MÖBIUS -- Peter Schmitz (center, Möbius) and ensemble.

Mapping Möbius
Ildiko Nemeth has once again turned Science into highly entertaining and dramatic theater in "Mapping Möbius" at La MaMa. This fast moving, beautifully written performance piece incorporates high energy dance, music and video imagery showing a broad world where studying science has its own dangerous potential unless there’s a human element to keep control of heightened disabling emotions. By Larry Litt.

 

FREUDS LAST SESSION--Mark H. Dold as C.S. Lewis and Martin Rayner as Sigmund Freud argue about religion. love and sex. Photo Kevin Sprague.

Freud's Last Session
"Freud's Last Session." Imagine that you are hidden in a corner of Sigmund Freud's cozy Hampstead study, with wall of book shelves, a large window onto the garden and a leather chair next to the iconic couch. It's 1939, King George speaks on the radio, sirens warn people to extinguish their lights to evade the bombs of the Luftwaffe. Freud (Martin Rayner) is being visited by a young Oxford professor, C.S. Lewis (Mark H. Dold) who had satirized him in a book. Their conversation is stimulating, spellbinding. By Lucy Komisar.

 

BENEFACTORS -- Heather E. Cunningham, Kristen Vaughan, Matthew Semler

"Benefactors" by Michael Frayn
Ever since they opened their doors six years ago, Retro Productions, one of the Off-Off Broadway’s best kept secrets, has been wowing those in the know with one stellar production after another. And judging from their current revival of Michael Frayn’s Benefactors (1984), mounted at the very intimate 40-seat Spoon Theatre, Retro just keeps getting better and better. Benefactors truly is one of the best acted, best directed plays that I’ve seen this season. Sadly, it will be closing this Saturday. It should be an unlimited run, but alas, like many wonderful Off-Off Broadway productions, never to be seen by many, it is a 12 performance showcase production. But who knows, theatrical miracles have been known to happen. Maybe it will have a 2nd life with the same actors hopefully. By Ed Rubin.

MRS. WARRENS PROFESSION -- Jones as Kitty Warren, photo by Joan Marcus

Shaw's "Mrs. Warren's Profession" is a deftly staged, terrifically acted blast at hypocrisy
"Mrs. Warren's Profession." Maybe it's because hypocrisy never goes out of style that George Bernard Shaw's 1893 play, "Mrs. Warren's Profession," seems so up-to-the-moment and not in the least dated. This delightful production by Doug Hughes, with the inimitable Cherry Jones as the madam/mother and a stand-out Sally Hawkins as her daughter, Vivie, charms, amuses and instructs. It is a very feminist play. And not to be missed. By Lucy Komisar

 

THREEPENNY OPERA -- Victoria Frings, Mary Martello, and Scott Greer, photo by Mark Garvin

Three Pennies in 2010 Dollars: Brecht and Weill's "Threepeny Opera"
When Brecht and Weill's "Threepenny Opera" first arrived on the New York stage in 1934, it was the newest thing in Marxist modernist theatre. It opened to negative reviews and closed after just twelve performances. Three quarters of a century later, as an ur-grandfather of now commonplace techniques, "Threepenny" can easily register as nostalgia and readily contains the seeds of kitsch. Philadelphia's Arden Theatre does not so much avoid these possibilities as it does acknowledge them, shrug, and move forward with a loose postmodernist sensibility. By Dorothy Chansky.



AMERICA HURRAH -- Noelle Neglia, Helen Nesteruk, Matthew Tischler, Autumn Horne, Cam Kornman, and Randy Noojin, photo by Jonathan Slaff

"America Hurrah" (Revisited) and "The Mother's Return, a dream play" by Jean-Claude van Itallie
The 1960s was a golden age for off off-Broadway theatre. Greenwich Village -- east and west -- was alive with outbursts of creative joy and political protest. Non-traditional spaces -- bars, storefronts, basements, even living rooms -- hosted innovative dramas and performance styles that changes the face of American theatre almost overnight. There were no barriers. Genres blended. Jazz entered art galleries as well as poetry readings and dance. And Ellen Stewart, LaMaMa, was in the forefront, enabling the visionaries with performance space and sometimes loans. She was guided by an American theatre tradition established in the beginning of the twentieth century by George Cram Cook and Susan Glaspell at the Provincetown Playhouse: respect for the gifted amateur who is guided by his passion. She believed that people with something to say were the next wave, and Jean-Claude van Itallie was one of her discoveries.Do the pieces hold up 40 years later? Van Itallie's play performed at La MaMa. By Glenda Frank.

 

LOMBARDI -- Bill Dawes, Chris Sullivan, Robert Christopher Riley, Dan Lauria, Judith Light, and Keith Nobbs, photo by Joan Marcus

"Lombardi" makes a touchdown
Eric Simonson's play about the legendary coach engaging, entertaining, funny and sad. In other words perfect theater. Directed by Thomas Kail, this play about Vince Lomardi is memorable and successfully merges theater and football. Kail's direction gives the play great emotional intensity and at the same time doesn't ignore that Lombardi's life, as all our lives, was filled with irony. With the help of David Korins' set and Howell Binkley's lighting design, Kail also makes effective use of Circle in the Square's circular stage. Circle in the Square Theatre presented "Lombardi." By Paulanne Simmons.

 

 

 

THE LITTLE FOXES -- Tina Benko and Elizabeth Marvel, photo by Jan Versweyveld

Hellman's "The Little Foxes" plumbs the greed that tears a family apart
"The Little Foxes," Lillian Hellman's account of the greed that tears apart a family is as powerful and compelling today as in 1939 when it opened on Broadway. The "little foxes," yapping and biting at each other's heels, can be found on Wall Street and in corporate America. Dutch director Ivo van Hove's gripping production, modern dress but in a nearly empty purple-velvet-covered black box, makes one think they are entombed there, condemned in a variant of Sartre's "No Exit" to hit out at each other forever. By Lucy Komisar.

ME, MYSELF & I -- Zachary Booth, Elizabeth Ashley and Brian Murray, photo by Joan Marcus.

"Me, Myself & I" an Albee shaggy dog story about childhood and identity
"Me, Myself & I." Edward Albee is like a painter with a single overpowering theme. For him, it is the searing experience of being an adopted child of parents he hated. In "Me Myself and I," a mother names her twin boys Otto (actually OTTO and otto), a way of divesting each of identity, and much later -- when they are 28 -- tells otto that he doesn't exist. The play is bizarre, engaging, even amusing, especially when Mother, the blowsy, intense, very talented Elizabeth Ashley is on stage. By Lucy Komisar.

TRIO -- Tony Award nominee Rose Gregorio and Christopher Kerson in Mario Fratti's "Trio" at Theater for the New City. Photo by Peter James Zielinski.

"Trio" by Mario Fratti
Mario Fratti has written some 80 plays which have been performed in around the world in 19 languages in over 600 theatres. And those are just the ones that have been performed. No doubt, the prolific Italian master of mystery, iconographer of irony, has a great many more plays waiting to be born. For those who want to savor the playwright's Italian American touch, a medley of amuse bouches, "Trio," an evening of three of Fratti's one act plays, is holding court through October 24 at the Theatre for the New City in the East Village. By Ed Rubin.

 

 

ORLANDO--Francesca Faridany as Orlando. Photo by Joan Marcus.

"Orlando" is Sarah Ruhl's wildly clever and funny take on Virginia Woolf
"Orlando," Sarah Ruhl's inspired adaptation of Virginia Woolf's novel "Orlando," is a poetic and vivid paeon to the art and importance of discovering oneself. It is also wildly clever and funny. Directed by Rebecca Taichman, it is yet another reason why the Classic Stage Company is so invaluable to New York theater. And why Ruhl is a playwright on the not-to-be-missed list. By Lucy Komisar.

ALPHABETICAL ORDER -- Librarians and Reporters: Audrey Lynn Weston, Margaret Daly, Paul Molnar, Brad Bellamy, Angela Reed. Photo by Suzi Sadler.

Michael Frayn's "Alphabetical Order" is an appealing comic satire of newspaper life
"Alphabetical Order." Michael Frayn's sprightly 1975 comical satire of newspaper life takes place in the clipping library of a provincial paper. These were the days before computers, when librarians cut the local papers and folded and filed the stories so reporters could get background on what they were writing. In spite of the title, Frayn's newspaper library is anything but ordered, and filing by alphabet seems haphazard as well. But the ordered and disordered personalities that pass through among the piled high cabinets provide some comic pleasure as well as a gentle lesson about managing one's life. By Lucy Komisar

 

THE PITMAN PAINTERS--Photo by Joan Marcus.

"The Pitmen Painters"
"The Pitmen Painters," a co-production of Manhattan Theatre Club and Live Theatre, Newcastle/National Theatre of Great Britain, currently playing at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, is gracefully directed by Max Roberts and features an excellent cast led by Ian Kelly (whose talents include those of a biographer) as Robert Lyon, the Master of Painting at Armstrong College Newcastle who is determined to bring art to the people; and Christopher Connell as Oliver Kilbourn, his star pupil. By Paulanne Simmons.

Ivo van Hove stages "Little Foxes" by Lilliam Hellman at NY Theatre Workshop
Can we trust the title? Is this production at the New York Theatre Workshop really Lillian Hellman's "The Little Foxes"? The costumes are sleek and sophisticated, without a hint of turn-of-the-century fashion. The Southern accents and manner are absent. Alexandra, Regina's daughter, mentions Leo's beating the carriage horse on the way to the station, but when Zan leaves her mother's home, she heads to the airport. And even more astonishing, Mr. Marshall (Sanjit de Silva), the businessman from Chicago whom the Hubbards are courting is decidedly dark skinned. By Glenda Frank.

Laurie Anderson's "Delusion"
Laurie Anderson is a consummate teller of fascinating fables, a modern day La Fontaine, without the rigorous moralizing. Like La Fontaine, whose fables were told about and by animals (crows, grasshoppers, foxes and many others), Anderson also turns to animals in her riveting new piece, "Delusion," which opened on Sept 21st, as part of BAM's Next Wave Festival, to tell her tales. By Philippa Wehle.

EXIT/ENTRANCE -- Greg Mullavey and Linda Thorson. Photo by Ari Mintz.

Exit/Entrance
In case there are any theatergoers who haven't noticed, the 3rd annual Irish Festival is upon us. The festival runs from Sept. 7 through Oct. 3, and that means poetry will be in the air for approximately four weeks in New York City. Aiden Mathews' "EXIT/ENTRANCE," which is receiving its New York premiere at 59E59 Theaters, is a fine example of what the Irish can do with the English language.

"The Revival"
"The Revival" is a highly charged insider's look at one theatrical preacher's life on the mega church track. And it's a Holy Hell of a show down there in righteously dramatic Little Rock, Arkansas. By Larry Litt.

A Cabaret Evening of Brel & Piaf
I have always regarded a cabaret to be a musical variety show meant to transport the audience through a wide range of emotional memories, doing so through a number of creative songs designed to do just that. I sit listening and watching the singers pour their hearts out through love songs, songs that ask me to recall the loves I've known in the past…or, more often, the ones I still have by my side. By Larry Litt.

Phoenicia Festival of the Voice
Outdoor music and theater festivals are a wonderful summer delight for both audiences and performers. Of course there are weather risks, technical difficulties to overcome and always traffic and parking problems with a popular festival. However watching a performance under the summer night stars is a treat never forgotten. Most often festivals are family friendly and moderately priced. By Larry Litt.

THE DYBBUK--(From l to r) Adi Lerer, Stefan Karsberg and Anna Savva in "The Dybbuk." Photo by Cathy Rocher.

The Dybbuk
The Pascal Theatre Company production of The Dybbuk partially answers the 'where' is Jewish art question? It lives in the Holocaust, the event for Jews that can only be compared to Evangelical Christians obsession with the Apocalypse. Jews had their European apocalypse in the 1930s and 40s, now we live in the aftermath, The Tribulation. Not exactly the1000 years reign of peace promised in the Book of Revelations. By Larry Litt.

Old Hickory
If you've been reading me over the years you know I have a soft spot for one person shows that attempt to expose deeply felt, raw extreme motions and situations of human life. I like it even more when the writer/performer mixes wit with a descriptive power that brings us directly into the place where these emotions live. This is straight talk, capo a capo, actor to each individual audience member. By Larry Litt.

"Sam Cooke: Where You Been Baby?"
If you think race relations in America have changed for the better, think again. The Tea Party, FOX News, prison populations and Arizona's new draconian immigration laws are proofs there's a still long way to go. Yes we have an African-American President, but by most people's standards he's more Ivy League white lawyer than black soul brother. By Larry Litt.

"All Singin' All Dancin'"
The Town Hall's fourth annual Summer Broadway Festival ended Monday, July 26 with a graceful and joyful concert directed by Jeffry Denman ("Yank!"), and written and hosted by Scott Seigel. By Paulanne Simmons.

MANHATTAN TRANSFER--Adam Shorsten & Casandera M.J. Lollar. Photo by Paulina Cooper.

"Manhattan Transfer"
Martin Zuckerman, a former mathematics professor at City College, has adapted John Do Passos's novel "Manhattan Transfer" into a play that features several of Dos Passos's original plotlines. By Paulanne Simmons.

SEARCHING FOR SOULA--Marisa Petsakos. Photo by Jimmy Heyworth.

"Searching for Soula"
"Searching for Soula" is an exploration of the life and loves of a feisty young lady named Soula and several of her friends and relatives, as told by Irena, her childhood friend from Astoria. By Paulanne Simmons.

SOMETHING BLUE--Bonna Tek and Raul Aranas. Photo by Bree Warner.

Diverse City Theater Company's Pearl Project Theater Festival
Diverse City Theater Company's Pearl Project Theater Festival is presenting four plays by Filipino playwrights running in repertory. Both series pair a one-act with a full-length play: "Quarter Century Baby" and "Resurrection" in the Red Series, and "The Encounter" and "Something Blue" in the Blue Series. By Paulanne Simmons.

"FUHGEddABOUDIT"
"FUHGEddABOUDIT" plays on just about every stereotype of Italian and Jewish culture beloved to New Yorkers. But director Renee Lynette Ferrara has so much fun with these characters that the young audience at whom much of the humor is aimed probably won't notice. By Paulanne Simmons.

THE ADVENTURES OF ALVIN SPUTNIK, DEEP SEA EXPLORER-- Created, performed and animated by Tim Watts.

"The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik, Deep Sea Explorer"
Theatrical innovator" is possibly an epithet that Mr. Tim Watts might find too burdensome, but it certainly seems to fit him like a pair of made-to-order gloves. Seamlessly melding live performance, song, puppetry, and animation to a fantastic tale of woe and hope, this Australian import elicited surprise, cheers, and hearty applause during his five performances at the 4th Annual Undergroundzero Festival. By Brandon Judell.

THE NATIONAL DIET OF JAPAN--Photo is courtesy of the undergroundzero festival.

"The National Diet of Japan" and "L.A. Party"
Food on the American stage isn't what it used to be, if the offerings at undergroundzero are any indicator. In place of fully realized restaurants, family dinners with actual edibles, representations of privation or plenty, foodie snobbery, fish and vegetables to be juggled, or audience as consumers of the comestibles, we now have food as index of existential anxiety. Or maybe just anxiety. By Dorothy Chansky.

BATMAN & ROBIN IN THE BOOGIE DOWN--Juliette Jeffers in "Batman & Robin In The Boogie Down."

"Batman & Robin In The Boogie Down"
Nominated for a NAACP Theatre Award for Best Play in Los Angeles, "Batman & Robin In The Boogie Down," Juliette Jeffers's autobiographical one woman show, which she both wrote and acts in, took seven long years to reach New York City. Given the intense and deeply humane story that Jeffers recreates on stage - with equal amounts of humor and pathos – it took four times that amount of time, as Jeffers relates in the play, for her to come to terms, to make peace, so to speak – if such a thing is possible - with all of the life-changing events in her life. By Edward Rubin.

EVERYDAY RAPTURE--Sherie Rene Scott. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

"Everyday Rapture"
I'm usually suspicious about people who do plays about themselves. But this autobiographical cabaret was a lot better than I expected. Sherie Rene Scott is certainly very self-involved, perhaps par for the course among performers, but she's also got something interesting to say and, directed by Michael Mayer, an appealing way of saying it. By Lucy Komisar.

FENCES--Denzel Washington and Viola Davis. Photo by Joan Marcus.

"Fences" in 2010
What happens when the victim becomes the victimizer? When a man's spirit is so thwarted that he turns hard in his soul and becomes so self-centered that he can't love or care for anyone else? It's the message of August Wilson's tough 1983 play set in the late fifties that attempts to explain the dysfunctional working class black men who were being studied to death. By Lucy Komisar.

"Nunsense"
Twenty years have passed since I last saw Dan Goggin's musical comedy homage to Catholic sisterhood "Nunsense." Since 1985 "Nunsense" has wildly excited audiences with songs and jokes about the secret inner lives and manipulations of an order of habit wearing nuns. They're on a money raising mission from God to avoid Health Department closure of their convent. The most talented sisters are producing a show to raise this money. Sound familiar? By Larry Litt.

RED--Alfred Molina. Photo by Johan Persson.

"Red."
Can an art lecture in the form of a theater piece push you to the edge of your seat? This rich, engrossing play by John Logan does! Painter Mark Rothko's inflated sense of self collides with the challenges of youth's new visions in Logan's fascinating pas de deux about the meaning of art and its indelible connection to commerce. By Lucy Komisar.

BLOODY BLOODY ANDREW JACKSON--The company. Photo by Joan Marcus.

"Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson"
"Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson" by Alex Timbers is a stunning satirical revisionist history of America's 7th president Andrew Jackson as a genocidal Indian killer. It's done in a rock idiom that takes the edge off and makes him seem almost a man of his time as well as/rather than a political murderer. But with some present day vernacular, it takes on immediacy. It's a commentary on the past and also on the present day politics of state killing that is rare in its gut-wrenching toughness. By Lucy Komisar.

CAN YOU HEAR THE VOICES--(L to R) Carrie McCrossen, Ken Glickfeld, Christopher Hurt, Derek Jamison, and Catherine Porter. Photo by Jim Baldassare.

"Can You Hear Their Voices?"
"Not since the Great Depression" has practically become a brand for today's economic climate. As if. Peculiar Works Project's heartfelt and appealing production of the 1931 "Can You Hear Their Voices?" revives a then up-to-the-minute portrait of the poorest of the poor and the richest of the rich against a backdrop of both economic and natural disaster. Things were different in the days before entities like FEMA, food stamps, disability insurance, social security, or FDIC were even gleams in their progenitors' eyes. By Dorothy Chansky.

SONDHEIM ON SONDHEIM--Sondheim on screen, Euan Morton, Leslie Kritzer, Erin Mackey and Matthew Scott. Photo by Richard Termine.

"Sondheim on Sondheim"
A musical/documentary may be a new genre and this one, created and directed by Stephen Sondheim's longtime collaborator James Lapine, works smartly and engagingly to provide a tour through the life and works of the master songwriter. The man who is known for sustained peaks of imagination comes to life through a very imaginative combination of video and musical numbers, with an appealing cast led by Vanessa Williams and Tom Wopat. By Lucy Komisar.

"Magus"
British university student theater societies are renowned for their sketch and parody performances. Justly famous "Monty Python's Flying Circus" started out as a college troupe, continuing on as we know to universal comedic brilliance. Playwright/director/actor Carey Harrison brings this rarely seen tradition to America at the historic Byrdcliffe Theater in Woodstock with "Magus" a tragicomedy of broad literary historical proportions. Its conceit is that Franz Kafka is dreaming of historical literary and political figures that somehow influence him and his sister Ottla in the 20th Century. By Larry Litt.

A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC--Catherine Zeta-Jones as Desirée, Photo by Joan Marcus.

"A Little Night Music"
This almost tongue-in-cheek celebration of sex would imply that passion begets foolishness, especially among men. As we watch the absurdly shifting liaisons and desires among the mostly upper class protagonists, we understand the genesis of the play's famous song performed by the actress Desirée (Catherine Zeta-Jones), "Quick, send in the clowns. Don't bother, they're here." By Lucy Komisar.

PETER PAN--From Left to Right: Douglas Sills (Captain Hook) and Nancy Anderson (Peter Pan). Photo by Kevin Sprague.

"Peter Pan" at Paper Mill Playhouse
"Peter Pan" has everything young people need to feed their imaginations: Indians, pirates, children without their parents, swordfights and most importantly, the triumph of good over evil. By Paulanne Simmons.

 

THE GLASS MENAGERIE--Michael Mosleyand and Keira Keeley. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Gordon Edelstein's "Glass Menagerie" at the Roundabout
Dreariness is the design motif of Gordon Edelstein's persuasive staging of Tennessee Williams' memory play about a family trapped in unhappiness and illusion. Dreary dark wallpaper hovers over the single bed with a rose spread in the hotel room that the "writer", Tom (Williams' alter ego), inhabits. The same claustrophobic space becomes the rooms he shared with his mother Amanda and sister Laura. In Edelstein's production, you know from the beginning that dark events will follow the dark décor. By Lucy Komisar.

"Restoration" with Claudia Shear
Claudia Shear stars in her own play, "Restoration," about a Brooklyn art restorer who is commissioned to refurbish the famed "David," which is somewhat the worse for wear in its home in Florence's Galleria dell' Accademia. By Paulanne Simmons.

THE FOREST--Dianne Wiest as Raisa. Photo by Joan Marcus.

"The Forest"
A table is set with bread and cakes, back-dropped by a forest created from a jumble of cross-hatched planks painted and splotched to suggest leaves. (Sets by Santo Loquasto.) A servant is angry at the housekeeper who enters the space without warning. "Do we barge in on you?" Class stratification and conflicts ripple through this richly comic production of Alexander Ostrovsky's satire of a Russian aristocracy high on self-importance and low on cash. By Lucy Komisar.

GABRIEL--Lee Aaron Rosen, Zach Grenier and Libby Woodbridge in Atlantic Theater Company's American premiere production of Moira Buffini's play "Gabriel." Photo by Ari Mintz.

"Gabriel"
Moira Buffini's "Gabriel" is definitely one of the finest examples of World War II drama this reviewer has seen in a long time. By Paulanne Simmons.

"Mark Twain's Last Stand"
If Mark Twain is running for United States President then this one man play, starring very capable Twain interpreter Alan Kitty, is his stump speech for us undecided voters. Looking very much like Twain, including his twinkling eyes, Kitty tours us around the mind of a professional storyteller whose uncompromising wit rises to every occasion. Kitty's Twain is reminding us that Americans always enjoyed a good story well told in the English tradition. At one point Kitty makes it clear that Twain knew his stories were derivative, but the speakers take and tone are the attraction. By Larry Litt.

DR.KNOCK, OR THE TRIUMPH OF MEDICINE--Thomas M. Hammond and Chris Mixon. Photo by Richard Termine.

"Dr. Knock, or The Triumph of Medicine"
For some, the medical profession is the highest calling a person can follow. For others it is filled with quacks who are more concerned with making money than curing the sick. It is the latter who will most appreciate Jules Romains' enormously funny "Dr. Knock, or The Triumph of Medicine." By Paulanne Simmons.

DECADES APART : REFLECTIONS OF THREE GAY MEN--Rick Pulos. Photo by Basil Horn.

"Decades Apart: Reflections of Three Gay Men"
Rick Pulos, who wrote, designed and performs "Decades Apart: Reflections of Three Gay Men," is a talented young man who has studied film and theater at Yale University and already has one published play under his belt. His show mixes music, video and live performance to capture significant moments in the lives of three gay men. By Paulanne Simmons.

SONDHEIM ON SONDHEIM--Barbara Cook and Vanessa Williams. Photo by Richard Termine.

"Sondheim on Sondheim"
There is no doubt that lyricist and composer Stephen Sondheim, an acquired and rarified taste – not unlike that of Phillip Glass, Gilbert & Sullivan and raw oysters with champagne - is both a genius and a national treasure. This alone is more than enough to justify Roundabout Theatre Company's current production of "Sondheim on Sondheim." Add to this that Sondheim just happens to be celebrating his eightieth birthday and you have a third reason – and three is a charm - to bring a survey of his work to the stage. Unless it is extended, three is also the number of months that "Sondheim on Sondheim" will be up and running at Studio 54. By Ed Rubin.

A BEHANDING IN SPOKANE--Christopher Walken. Photo by Joan Marcus.

"A Behanding in Spokane"
Martin McDonagh takes weird to new levels in this ultimate shaggy dog story. It's bizarre and funny and if you suspend belief and don't take it too seriously, you will have a good time. It seems that a 17-year-old kid was playing catch in Spokane, Washington, when six hillbillies dragged him to the railroad tracks, forced his hand on the rail and watched while a train sped by and sliced it off. Then they used it to wave him good-bye. He, Carmichael (Christopher Walken), decided if he didn't die he would retrieve his hand and pay them back. He has spent the ensuing 47 years doing just that. By Lucy Komisar.

THE SPRING AND FALL OF EVE ADAMS--Marisa Petsakos (rear) as Rene looks on as Steph Van Vlack (left) as Eve Adams and Martha Lee (right) as Margaret Leonard get acquainted in The Spring and Fall of Eve Adams. Photo by Dan Henry.

"The Spring and Fall of Eve Adams"
Barbara Kahn's new play, "The Spring and Fall of Eve Adams," recounts the true story of an extraordinary woman who was a victim of homophobia and anti-immigrant hysteria that ultimately led to her death at the hands of the Nazis. By Paulanne Simmons.

OVO--The Ladybug (Michelle Matlock) and The Foreigner aka Fly (Francois-Guillaume LeBlanc) in Cirque du Soleil’s "OVO." Photo by Benoit Fontaine.

"Ovo"
There is nothing to compare with a good Cirque du Soleil show: the continuous live music, the lights, the astonishingly innovative costumes, the colors, the acrobats and dancers. It's like entering a dream where you can do anything, twirl on a silk rope from the rafters of the big top, juggle fire, leap from trapeze to trapeze, or effortlessly scale a wall. Cirque is about human possibilities and daring. It's about team work and trust. Loss and discovery. And sometimes it's about love. By Glenda Frank.

"Uncle Vanya"
Beautiful and bored, Elena, the young wife of an elderly professor, has cast a spell on the denizens of the Serebriakov country house. Everyone is suddenly awake, filled with longings and dreams. Old family rivalries only inflame the discontent. And even she, an ice queen, is touched. Uncle Vanya, driven by passion, tries to resolve matters with a revolver, yet even point blank he misses. By Glenda Frank.

THE ADDAMS FAMILY--Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth. Photo by Joan Marcus.

"The Addams Family"
From the opening song, "When You're an Addams" to the closing, "Move Toward the Darkness," "The Addams Family" is a nonstop festival of exuberant joy. By Paulanne Simmons.

MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET--Levi Kreis, Elizabeth Stanley, Eddie Clendening, Hunter Foster, Lance Guest, Robert Britton Lyons. Photo by Joan Marcus.

"Million Dollar Quartet"
"Million Dollar Quartet" is a chance 1956 gathering of country and rock innovators Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis at a Memphis recording studio. Fans will like the stars' doubles' performances of the songs that made them famous. And this jukebox musical jumps off the charts whenever Levi Kreis, who plays Jerry Lee Lewis, dominates the stage with his wild jazzy piano playing and furious rock lyrics. By Lucy Komisar.

LOVE IS MY SIN--Michael Pennington and Natasha Parry. Photo by Pascal Victor.

"Love is my sin."
Creating a richness in their arrangement that adds to the beauty of each poem, director Peter Brook has ordered 31 Shakespearean sonnets, dramatically recited by Natasha Parry and Michael Pennington, to create a striking theater piece. It elegantly expresses love as it consumes lovers in the highs and lows of their relationships and into their later years. The poems are grouped to praise love that lasts through time; the pain of separation; the torments of jealousy, self-deception, and guilt; and the sorrows of older age. By Lucy Komisar.

 

LOOPED--Brian Hutchison and Valerie Harper. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

"Looped"
Valerie Harper channels Tallulah Bankhead. Her acting is so on the mark, so mesmerizing, that you would swear that the 30s stage and screen actress had come back to live. Her wit, biting and risqué; her intelligence, sharp; her vulgarity, in your face, her talent opulent makes you wish you had lived in her time. The device of Matthew Lombardo's play is that she's been called to an audio studio to record a bit of film dialogue that got mangled in the screen cut. That's called doing a loop. But Tallulah seems a big looped herself as she gives editor Danny (Brian Hutchison) a frustrating bout of dealing with the grande dame. Director Rob Ruggiero deserves praise for turning a long moment into a fascinating two hours. By Lucy Komisar.

THE MIRACLE WORKER--Elizabeth Franz, Tobias Segal, Yvette Ganier, Matthew Modine, Jennifer Morrison, Abigal Breslin, Alison Pill. Photo by Joan Marcus.

The Miracle Worker
Helen (Abigail Breslin) is 10, a wild child, throwing tantrums, screaming. Annie (Alison Pill) is 20, saucy and opinionated. She says, "The only time I have trouble is when I'm right" which is "so often." Both of them are whip-smart as well as strong-minded, and William Gibson's 1985 play tells the fascinating story of how teacher Annie Sullivan got Helen Keller, deaf and blind since infancy, to understand, to touch-sign, and to express herself so brilliantly that she became a world-famous traveler and lecturer.

Ching Chong Chinamen
"Ching Chong Chinamen" by Lauren Yee, the current production at Pan Asian Repertory Theatre, is ideal spring fare. It's a clever farce about assimilation, disgruntled teens, an empty nest mom, Princeton, and competitive dancing. It wastes no time getting down to the jokes, absurdities and bizarre nature of life in America, told through the eyes of an Asian-American family. And thanks to the spirited direction by May Adrales, the pace does not slacken. This is one of the best -- and funniest -- productions of the off-off season, a don't miss. By Glenda Frank.

 

THE ORPHANS' HOME CYCLE--Henry Hodges (as young Horace) and Gilbert Owuor. Photo Gregory Costanzo.

The Orphans' Home Cycle
"The Orphans' Home Cycle," Horton Foote's story of a young boy growing to manhood in rural Texas in the early decades of the last century, is so gripping, and elegantly performed, that it's hard to acknowledge that the mundane events of family interactions, marriage, divorce, illness and death in the extended Robideaux clan are in themselves understated and sometimes almost without great drama. In a grand work divided into three plays of an hour each, beginning 1902 and with photographic backdrops, Foote has brilliantly etched the personal and economic details of Horace Robideaux' life, beginning when he was 12 and his father, a lawyer of some prominence, died from drink. The work proceeds to his struggles as a youth rejected by his mother, a young man facing economic reversals and difficulties with women, and finally to the challenges of marriage and family life. By Lucy Komisar.

THE COCKTAIL PARTY--Cynthia Harris, Simon Jones, Lauren English, Mark Alhadeff and Jack Koenig. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

T.S. Eliot's "The Cocktail Party" gets powerful staging by Actors Company Theatre
"The Cocktail Party." This is not the kind of black tie London cocktail party that Noel Coward was wont to attend. There may be champagne poured and secret infidelities going on, but the darkness that bubbles up out of those glasses reminds one of Albee or Pinter. The Actors Company Theatre has mounted a striking production of T.S. Eliot's 1950 play that one won't soon forget. By Lucy Komisar.

A LIFE IN THREE ACTS--Bette Bourne and Mark Ravenhill in "A Life in Three Acts." Photo by Richard Termine.

Bette Bourne is back in "A Life In Three Acts"
Like oysters, caviar, absinthe and Proust, London based actor and gay icon Bette Bourne, an acquired taste for many, and an addiction for those super-sensitive, aesthetically clued-in denizens living and working below 14th street, is gloriously back in town. He is holding royal court, as only a full-fledged queen can do, at St Anne’s Warehouse in Dumbo. This time around Bourn is not mouthing other people’s words, or for that matter playing a character out of a play, but presenting a partially, self-scripted, loosely assembled, bio-epic, walk-thru of his life, conducted in interview format, by English playwright Mark Ravenhill, also a writer and director of this "Evening with Bette Bourne." By Ed Rubin.

THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS--Cast of "The Scottsboro Boys," photo by Carol Rosegg.

Three views of "The Scottsboro Boys
Dorothy Chansky writes, "When the Theatre Guild produced John Wexley's play 'They Shall Not Die' on Broadway in 1934, critic Burns Mantle called it a 'propaganda play,' noting that it 'suffers from . . . overstatement' but has an exposition 'devoted to an unadulterated and brutalized realism.' Some of the same could be said about 'The Scottsboro Boys,' a new musical with lyrics and music John Kander and Fred Ebb and book by David Thompson, and based on the same gross miscarriage of justice that spawned its dramatic predecessor. We present her review together with two other views: by our critics Lucy Komisar and Paulanne Simmons.

 

EQUIVOCATION -- (L-R) David Pittu as 'Nate,'Remy Auberjonois as 'Armin/Edward Coke' and David Furr as 'Sharpe.' Photo by Joan Marcus.

"Equivocation"
In "Equivocation," Cain imagines what might have happened if King James I had asked Shakespeare to write a play about the failed attempt to blow up parliament known as the Gunpowder Plot. By Paulanne Simmons.

CLYBOURNE PARK -- Annie Parisse, Jeremy Shamos. Photo by Joan Marcus.

 

 

 

"Clybourne Park"
Clybourne Park by Bruce Norris is the feel-good play of the season. One does not leave this satire of race relations uplifted but giddy from having laughed spontaneously and hard. By Alexander Harrington.

A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE -- Scarlett Johansson and Morgan Spector. Photo by Joan Marcus.

"A View From the Bridge"
Arthur Miller's story of the betrayal that tears apart a longshore family in Brooklyn was a metaphor for the treachery of the people who "named names" in the anti-communist witch hunts of the 1950s. Miller was particularly angry at director Elia Kazan, with whom he had worked. In 1956, Miller was subpoenaed by the House Un-American Activities Committee and cited for contempt of Congress for refusing to identify writers he had met at one of two communist writers' meetings he had attended years before. That same year, "A View From the Bridge" opened on Broadway. By Lucy Komisar.

TIME STANDS STILL -- Eric Bogosian and Alicia Silverstone. Photo by Joan Marcus.

"Time Stands Still."
Donald Margulies's powerful and moving play dissects the professional and psychological passion of a photographer who covers the horrors of wars, famine, and genocide. "Time stands still" represents the moment when she presses the shutter button and sees the world only through the view finder. Time stops, sound cuts out; her experience is just what is taking place in the rectangle. There is an objectifying and separation from reality. And for Sarah Goodwin (Laura Linney) it's the only moment in life that counts. By Lucy Komisar.

PRESENT LAUGHTER -- Victor Garber as the theater star Garry Essendine. Photo by Joan Marcus.

"Present Laughter"
Garry Essendine (Victor Garber), who has the sense of a flighty youth, is a self-absorbed actor of 54. He is wont to shave a decade or so off his life, especially when he is playing up to pretty young women. Noel Coward's semi-autobiographical comedy is at times amusing – it is meant to be a send-up of the actor and his entourage -- but it's nowhere near as clever as Coward can be. And the production by director Nicholas Martin lacks sparkle. By Lucy Komisar.

RIVER -- Barb Jungr. Photo by Steve Ullathorne.

"River"
"What I want to do always is to get a collection of songs that take people on a journey and bring them somewhere they didn't expect to end up and leave them smiling and happy and having touched something." (Barb Jungr) By Paulanne Simmons.

LOST IN YONKERS -- (L-R) Sara Surrey (Bella); Alex Wyse (Jay); John Plumpis (Eddie); and Maxwell Beer (Arty). Photo by Peter Jennings.
"Lost in Yonkers"
If you've ever wished Aunt Sadie would learn to eat with a fork and knife, or your kid brother would cover up his skull and crossbones tattoo on his forearm, or you didn't have to visit your cousin at that institution in the hills of Pennsylvania, Neil Simon's "Lost in Yonkers," at the Paper Mill Playhouse, is a must-see. By Paulanne Simmons.

 

CLYBOURNE PARK -- Damon Gupton, Crystal Dickinson. Photo by Joan Marcus.

"Clybourne Park"
Taking off from Clybourne Park, to where Lorraine Hansbury's black family moved in "A Raisin in the Sun," Bruce Norris has written a clever, pointed comedy, acted by a superb cast under the well paced direction of Pam MacKinnon, that plumbs the depths of racism to see how it's changed from the blatant late 50s to the more subtle present. By Lucy Komisar.

WEST SIDE STORY -- The Sharks girls. Photo by Joan Marcus.

"West Side Story"
The free-floating anger exuded by the "Jets" and "Sharks" as they clash under and leap onto fire escapes is combustible. Any reason for the gangs' free-floating hostility? Well, when Officer Krupke (Lee Sellars) arrives in the neighborhood, along the Hudson River on the Upper West Side of New York City, he slams one kid in the stomach with a Billy club. Lt. Schrank (Steve Bassett) comes into a local drugstore and insults the Puerto Ricans as migrant scum. The sociological stage is set. There's nothing dated about Arthur Laurents' revival of his own "West Side Story." This American theater classic is another proof that the best, most enduring musicals (and plays) combine personal stories with political ones. By Lucy Komisar.

THE JACKIE LOOK -- Karen Finley, Feb 2010. Photo by Max Ruby.
"Enemy of the People"
"Enemy of the People," the Barrow Group Theater's current production, is about ensuring a clean water supply. The lively adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s 1882 problem play was written by Seth Barrish, the co-founder and artistic director of TBG, and K. Lorrel Manning, the director. Dr. Thomas Stockmann, the protagonist, is an idealist, a physician who developed a welcome economic incentive project. Discovering the healing quality of the local water, he designed a spa, which the whole town invested in. After visitors develop new ailments, the doctor runs further tests, which uncover contaminants from the local tannery, run by his father-in-law. Stockmann demands that the results be published, the tannery run-off rerouted, and the baths closed until the water can be purified. By Glenda Frank.

"The Jackie Look"
The Jackie Look, Finley's latest outing, part play, part web tour, part lecture, and fully didactic, by the very nature of its author's complex ideas, and the structure of her performance, which asks the audience to switch gears, as Finley changes her methods of dispensing information from performance to lecturing and back to performance, is Finley's most intellectually challenging performance piece to date. By Edward Rubin.

HAIR -- Sasha Allen as Dionne and the women. Photo by Joan Marcus.

"Hair" is simplistic politics but a joyous celebration of the 60s counterculture
My guest at "Hair" was an old friend who had been a leader of the 1968 protest movement in Germany. As we left the theater, he shook his head. He said, "We were much more political." That said, and history corrected, Diane Paulus's revival of the 1968 musical now on Broadway captures the mood of part of a generation of young people (a minority of their contemporaries) that helped change the culture. By Lucy Komisar.

 

 

"Lear" at Soho Rep
In Lear, Young Jean Lee sets characters from what many consider to be the most devastating of tragedies to similar navel-gazing. As the younger generation of Shakespeare's play sits around an ornate Tudor throne room wearing gorgeous Tudor clothes, which leave no doubt that they are well-healed royals and nobles, Edmund the bastard worries that he is a bad person because he sees everyone as fat, while Goneril concurs that it is, indeed, evil to imagine that people who are not fat have such an unspeakable flaw. Goneril is also repulsed by the skin of old people. Regan suggests that Edmund try Buddhism. Edgar is frustrated to the point of rage that people take it for granted that he will be decent, reliable, and responsible.

FANNY -- James Snyder & cast of Fanny. Photo by Joan Marcus.

"Fanny" Brings Romance to City Center
Set in the seaport French city of Marseilles, "Fanny" is a romantic tale about a young woman, Fanny, who falls in love with Cesar’s son, the sea-struck Marius (James Snyder), who sets sail one day, leaving Fanny pregnant after a night of lovemaking. While Marius is away, his father disowns him and agrees to have Fanny (who is under pressure from her mother, Honorine [Priscilla Lopez]) marry the widowed Panisse. The plan is to have the childless Panisse raise Fanny and Marius’s son as his own. Cesar becomes the godfather and the child will inherit all the money from both families. For those who are willing to suspend disbelief and shelve scorn for a short while, Fanny is pure delight.

VENUS IN FUR -- Nina Arianda and Wes Bentley, Vanda holds Thomas's head. Photo by Joan Marcus.

"Venus in Fur"
In David Ives' ingeniously clever play, a feminist avenger turns the tables on a playwright conducting auditions for a work based on "Venus in Furs," a novel of sexual domination and submission by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, the 19th-century Austrian writer. An actress arrives in an audition studio. She's wearing a black leather skirt and tight black lacey underwear top, stiletto-heeled boots, and a silver-studded dog-collar. She's not on the audition list. But she persuades the playwright to let her read, and suddenly she is a 19th-century Austrian aristocrat, charming, articulate, and outrageous in the white flouncy dress she pulls over her grunge-wear. This play plumbs men's psychological connections between sex and power and their view of women. By Lucy Komisar.

GARAGE -- Ksenija Marinkovic and Vedran Zivolic, Mother and son playing in the garden with a potato and doll's head. Photo by Zita Bradley.

"The Garage"
The Zagreb Youth Theatre's well-acted stage adaptation of Zdenko Mesaric's novel The Garage depicts brutality: the brutality of child abuse and exploitation, wife-beating, and blood sports. The program notes argue that the play's "metaphorical subtext remains anchored in the post-communist horror of modern transition economies." Here the production (and, I suspect, the script) fails to deliver. By Alexander Harrington.

IL MONDO DELLA LUNA -- (L-R) Nicholas Coppolo, Hanan Alattar

"Il Mondo Della Luna"
Even before recorded history, human beings were fascinated by the moon, sometimes seeing in its graceful orbit a kingdom ruled by a powerful deity -- male or female depending on the culture. Our deepening knowledge of the universe has not destroyed our romance with outer space, so it is not hard to understand Buonafede's (Marco Nisticò) fascination with the moon, a body he studies devotedly through his telescope. By Glenda Frank.

WOORMWOOD --Adam Borowski, Ewa Wojciak, Tadeusz Janiszewski. Photo by Archiwum Teatru Ósmego Dnia.

"Wormwood."
For about 20 years, from 1964, when Communists ruled Poland and dissidents went to jail, a very extraordinary underground theater troop bucked censorship and pelted the regime with avant garde works inspired by the director Jerzy Grotowski. They played to full houses at shipyards and churches and other opposition stages until the four actors in 1985 were forced into exile. Now the Theater of the Eighth Day travels internationally to reprise the astonishing and subversive plays that described and denounced life under repression roused and nourished the opponents of the Communist regime. By Lucy Komisar

ZERO HOUR -- Jim Brochu as Zero, painting. Photo
by Stan Barouh.

"Zero Hour"
Zero Mostel — consummate actor, painter and personality — was a presence in American films and stage for decades, except for a brief hiatus called McCarthyism. Zero was iconoclastic, cynical and flip. He scowled and shouted in a voice that was stentorian. Jim Brochu’s one-man show, directed by Piper Laurie, brings him to life, eyes piercing out of a gray-bearded jowly face, recreating his physical presence and attitude, and most importantly his passionate political commitment to honor at a time when theater people and others were selling out their colleagues. By Lucy Komisar.

SEARCH AND DESTROY -- (L - R) Kelly Miller, Bruce Barton. Photo by Zita Bradley.

"Search and destroy"
At first glance Howard Korder’s 1990 play Search and Destroy, being revived by Strudel productions at the Kraine Theater, is very much in the vein of David Mamet: a small-time operator (in this case, Martin Mirkheim, who books Icecapades-style events and evades taxes) desperately tries to raise money to produce a movie and ends up involved in a drug deal that goes very wrong. The play seems to echo critiques of Reagan-era selfishness such as Oliver Stone’s Wall Street in which corporate raider Gordon Gekko proclaims "greed is good." The movie Mirkheim is seeking to make is of a novel by a self-help guru in which the main character overcomes his guilt about killing his father and which espouses the philosophy, "overcome your fear" and "be a threat."

FINIAN'S RAINBOW -- Terri White and Guy Davis & Ensemble. Photo by Joan Marcus.

"Finian's Rainbow."
This charmingly radical musical by Yip Harburg and Fred Saidy – given a smart, lively, delicious staging by Warren Carlyle -- was a shot across the bow of conservative America when it opened on Broadway in 1947. It showed black and white sharecroppers in solidarity against the tax foreclosure sale of a farm. It depicted the corruption and racism of a white politician who is buying up local real estate so he can block cheap public electric power. And it satirized capitalism by declaring that digging up some gold buried in the ground would remove an incentive and wreck free enterprise. Even the famous "If this isn't love" has the pointed line, "If this isn't love, it's red propaganda!" By Lucy Komisar.

THE EMPEROR JONES -- John Douglas Thompson, on his throne. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

"The Emperor Jones."
Director Ciaran O'Reilly has done a brilliant job in staging O'Neill's 1920 psychological thriller about the self-appointed emperor of a Caribbean backwater whose "subjects" suddenly turn on him. John Douglas Thompson is overpowering as Brutus Jones, a black American who has fled from a southern chain gang and, persuading the locals that he can be killed only with a silver bullet, takes over in a "revolution" that removes the erstwhile chief. By Lucy Komisar.

CIRCLE MIRROR TRANSFORMATION -- Tracee Chimo, Deirdre O'Connell, Heidi Schreck, Reed Birney, Peter Friedman. Photo by Joan Marcus.

"Circle Mirror Transformation."
In Annie Baker's fascinating and inventive play, acting exercises morph into real life for an instructor and four people who sign up for a community theater workshop in Shirley, Vermont. Slowly, the theatrical games turn into life games. Director Sam Gold moves seamlessly between acting exercises and real life drama so that the characters' stories, said by others, are expressed and "acted out," as it were, by themselves. By Lucy Komisar

 

WISHFUL DRINKING -- Carrie Fisher and Leia from Star Wars. Photo by Joan Marcus.

"Wishful Drinking" is Carrie Fisher’s autobiography, a stage version of bad tell-all late night TV
"Wishful Drinking" is Carrie Fisher's self-referential one-woman staged pop autobiography is based largely on the famous people she interacted with through her life, starting with her parents, Eddie Fisher and what's her name? Oh, Debbie Reynolds. It's been so long. The play is rather like bad tell-all late night TV. By Lucy Komisar

THE UNDERSTUDY -- Justin Kirk and Julie White. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

"The Understudy."
This gem of a play by Theresa Rebeck is a theater aficionado's delight. A stage manager and two actors – one an overpaid film star and the other a struggling "pure" actor –connect in a rehearsal for a Broadway production of an "undiscovered masterpiece" by Franz Kafka. Celebrity film actors who get starring roles in theater are deftly skewered. By Lucy Komisar.

IN THE NEXT ROOM, OR THE VIBRATOR PLAY -- Quincy Tyler Bernstine as the wet-nurse, Laura Benanti as the doctor's wife, Photo by Joan Marcus.

 

 

"In the Next Room, or the Vibrator Play."
The conceit of this bizarre, whimsical play could be dismissed as an absurd allegory except that it is based on true facts! Take men who don’t have a clue about women's sexuality, add a few wives who feel malaise, throw in a guy who's that he can't find a female partner, and send them to a doctor with a very unusual prescription. It's often comic, albeit, like the bad sex it skewers, it is ultimately unsatisfying. By Lucy Komisar

THIS -- Eisa Davis and Darren Petti. Photo by Joan Marcus.

"This" is a witty play about the angst of thirty-somethings.
Melissa James Gibson has a clever way with words. In this stage-of-life play, she uses that talent to examine the lives of four college chums who have stayed close friends, for good and for ill, into their late 30s. It's not a deep play, but it's engaging. In a sympathetic, non-judgmental way, she deals with friendship, the dissolution of marriage, adultery, personal loyalty, death, and the desire for a meaningful life. By Lucy Komisar.

 

FASCINATING AIDA -- Dillie Keane, Adele Anderson, Liza Pulman. Photo by Andy Bradshaw.

"Fascinating Aïda-Absolutely Miraculous"
For over a quarter of a century, a trio of witty Brits (some of the names have changed) has been amusing audiences with pointed political musical satire and a few jabs at social mores. The latest version on a visit to New York includes some numbers that you won't find even from the hot American satirists. By Lucy Komisar

 

RAGTIME -- Robert Petkoff as Tateh, Sarah Rosenthal as his daughter, and other immigrants. Photo by Joan Marcus.

"Ragtime"
"Ragtime" is a cinematic, visionary, heart-stopping view of America of the early 1900s. The power and sweep of the bittersweet mix of true history and invention take your breath away. The characters are meant to be symbols, as the play mixes real people with invented ones, true events with imaginary ones. Fictional people come from three families—upper-middle class, white Anglo-Saxon Protestant, socialist immigrant Jewish from Latvia, and Harlem black – who represent American dreams and the tragedies that ensued during the struggle for justice. They play also shows the transformative power of the new 20th century. By Lucy Komisar.

 

 

"Love's Labour's Lost"
London’s Globe Theatre is back in New York City for the first time in four years with "Love's Labour's Lost" at the Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts at Pace University, where the show completes a two-month national tour.

SANTA CLAUS IS COMING OUT -- Rudolph. Photo by Bree Warner.

Diverse City Theater Company Discovers the Truth about Santa
"Santa Claus is Coming Out" is a one-man show written and preformed by Jeffrey Solomon, with direction by Joe Brancato. The show imagines that Santa Claus is a closeted gay and longtime lover of Giovanni Geppetto, an Italian toymaker who is the great-great-great-great grandson of Pinocchio. By Paulanne Simmons.

SUPERIOR DONUTS -- Jon Michael Hill as Franco and Michael McKean as Arthur. Photo by Robert J.Saferstein.

"Superior Donuts" is funny dark comedy about white 60s radical and young black man
"Superior Donuts." There's a whiff of television in Tracy Letts dark comedy about a 60s radical coming to terms with his life and a society that continues to have an underclass. The story is intriguing if a bit formulaic. It's as if Letts said, "Well, we need a middle-aged white ex-hippie with a pony tail, a brash young black man, a couple of cops of mixed colors and genders and some bad guys to prevent the story from cloying too much." That said, there is some charm in what he came up with, even if it's not great drama. Tina Landau directs at an agile pace that highlights the laughs. By Lucy Komisar.

SO HELP ME GOD -- Kristen Johnston, John Windsor-Cunningham, Ned Noyes. Photo by Richard Termine.

"So Help Me God!" is a comic and sardonic look at divas of the stage
"So Help Me God!" When theater actress Lily Darnley (Kristen Johnston) kisses her image in the mirror, it might be taken as an exaggeration. It's not. It's the quintessential moment in this funny backstage comedy about self-absorbed celebrity divas who, alas, were just as much among us in the 1920s as today. By Lucy Komisar.

A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE -- Photo by Richard Termine.

"A Streetcar Named Desire"
Sydney Theatre Company’s production of "A Streetcar Named Desire" brings together three giants of theater, Tennessee Williams, Liv Ullmann and Cate Blanchett. The result is fireworks. By Paulanne Simmons.

 

 

SHREK THE MUSICAL -- Brian D'Arcy James as Shrek and Daniel Breaker as Donkey. Photo by Joan Marcus.

"Shrek the Musical"
"Shrek the Musical" is a kids musical with clever jokes & lyrics for adults. There's a genre of musicals that is supposed to be for kids, but is just as much for adults. I include "The Lion King" and "Wicked" and now "Shrek the Musical." I loved them all. What they have in common is strong moral politics. The characters in the first play fight oppression, the second combat racism and Shrek does a bit of both. Like the others, it proves that shows about ideas are more interesting and fun than empty-headed fluff. By Lucy Komisar.

 

MEMPHIS -- J. Bernard Calloway and Montego Glover as Delray and Felicia in the Beale Street club. Photo by Joan Marcus.

"Memphis" is a vibrant back story of the Rhythm & Blues on Beale Street in the 50s.
"Memphis," book by Joe DiPietro, music by David Bryan, and lyrics by both, is a vibrant sometimes hokey but visually exciting story musical with terrific sounds that range from rhythm and blues to gospel. It's a social and political back story of Rhythm & Blues. It's 1951 on Beale Street. And Huey (Chad Kimball) wanders into a hot music joint He's found the music of his soul. The only problem is that he's in the black part of town and he's white. By Lucy Komisar.

THE BROTHER/SISTER PLAYS -- Kimberly Hebert Gregory as Aunt Elegua and Andre Holland as Marcus in "Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet," Photo by Joan Marcus.

"The Brother/Sister Plays"
"The Brother/Sister Plays" by Tarell Alvin McCraney are written in the dark poetry of lives tinged by unrequited love, misfortune and tragedy, but which exhibit joyous defiance against the odds of disappointment. The friends and family whose lives make up the stories reside in the projects in the mythical city of San Pere in the bayou of the Louisiana Delta, south of New Orleans. These projects are not grungy; they are surreal. By Lucy Komisar.

LORD BUCKLEY & MARILYN --Leslie E. Hughes as film star Marilyn Monroe.

Lord Buckley Meets Marilyn Monroe at Richmond Shepard Theatre
"Lord Buckley & Marilyn" is a double treat for those who love stories and the people who tell them. "Lord Buckley," the 25-minute curtain raiser, features theater veteran Richmond Shepard as mid-19th century comedian Lord Buckley, while the second part presents Leslie E. Hughes as film star Marilyn Monroe.

ON THE TOWN AT PAPER MILL PLAYHOUSE -- (L to R): Brian Shepard and Jennifer Cody. Photo by Kevin Sprague.

"On the Town" Dances into Millburn, New Jersey
"On the Town" depends on great performances and excellent direction, both of which the Paper Mill Playhouse production has in abundance.Most people in the audience will recognize the ever-popular "New York, New York," the show's signature song. But they will come away with a new admiration for Hildy's hilarious "Come Up to My Place" and "I Can Cook Too," and the big dance numbers in the museum, "Carried Away," and at Coney Island, "The Real Coney Island." In fact, Patti Colombo's original choreography captures the essence of Robbins' muscular, saucy and spirited dances. By Paulanne Simmons.

CREATURE--Sofia Jean Gomez. Photo by Jim Baldassare.

Saints Alive!
"Creature," Heidi Schreck's new play, both portrays and riffs on the life of Margery Kempe, a brewer's wife who decided, in 1401, to pursue sainthood as a career. The rock star avant la lettre (played by the protean Sofia Jean Gomez) proceeded to fast, rant, make pilgrimages, and—significantly—assure that her story got told her way for posterity via a detailed and sometimes self-contradictory autobiography. By Dorothy Chansky

THE AGE OF IRON--Steven Skybell as Ulysses. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.

"The Age of Iron"
"The Age of Iron" puts lechery and war in a sandbox. Adapter/director Brian Kulick entwines Shakespeare's "Troilus and Cressida," set in Troy during the Trojan War, with "The Iron Age" by Thomas Heywood, a contemporary. Shakespeare's is the more personal play, but much of the action is from Heywood's macho jousting. A juxtaposition made for the movies. By Lucy Komisar.

MY WONDERFUL DAY--Ayesha Antoine and Ruth Gibson. Photo by Robert Day.

"My Wonderful Day"
"My Wonderful Day," Alan Ayckbourn's mordantly funny satire of middle class marital life – a staple of his genius through 70 plays -- is significantly enhanced by the presence, almost as a fly on the wall, of 9-year-old Winnie (Ayesha Antoine). Winnie's school assignment for the next day is to write about "My Wonderful Day," and she methodically records the marital spats and infidelities she observes, generally with a blank expression and fidgeting as any kid might. Ayckbourn is a master of subtle slapstick, the one liner, the bizarre situation. His dark wit is displayed here with perfect comic timing. By Lucy Komisar.

A QUARRELING PAIR--By Australia's Aphids, presented by La MaMa E.T.C., New York. Caroline Lee and puppet. Photo by Zita Bradley.

"A Quarelling Pair"
In just 45 minutes, "A quarreling Pair," presented recently at La MaMa as part of the La MaMa E.T.C. puppet series, successfully illuminated the many intricacies of sibling ties more than many a full length play. Composed of Jane Bowles 1945 short puppet play "A Quarreling Pair," Lally Katz's "Mr Peterson's Milk," and Cynthia Troup's "And When They Were Good," the evening offered audiences a unique chance to revisit the distinctive worlds inhabited by pairs of sisters. By Philippa Wehle.

 

NIGHTINGALE-- Lynn Redgrave. Photo by Joan Marcus.

"Nightingale"
"Nightingale" is Lynn Redgrave's less-than-completely-truthful memoir of the women of her family, their men and their unhappiness about marital sex. Redgrave as an actress of course does a fine professional job. And the dialogue is smart. But for a tell-all memoir, mostly about sex, it manages to eke the most lively sections out of the one part of the story that is totally made up. By Lucy Komisar.

JTHE EMPEROR JONES--ohn Douglas Thompson as Brutus Jones in Eugene O'Neill's "The Emperor Jones" at Irish Repertory Theatre. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

"The Empeor Jones"
John Douglas Thompson, who plays Brutus Jones in the Irish Repertory’s revival, can stand tall with the best of his predecessors. Thompson’ Jones is powerful, conniving, ruthless and, ultimately, tragic when he is defeated by the natives and his own demons. His physical struggle is so intense one feels fatigue along with catharsis by the time Jones lies dead on the stage. By Paulanne Simmons.

GOD OF CARNAGE -- James Gondolfini, Hope Davis, Marcia Gay Harden and Jeff Daniels. Photo by Joan Marcus.

 

"God of Carnage"
"God of Carnage" shows the disintegration of the thin veneer of civilization that keeps people polite. As the "nice" people' evening progresses, they descend from throwing words at each other into throwing things. By Lucy Komisar.

 

 

SUCH THINGS ONLY HAPPEN IN BOOKSPaul Niebanck, Sue Cremin, Clayton Apgar. Photo by Suzi Sadler.

"Such Things Only Happen in Books"
In the collection of five one-acts gathered under the umbrella "Such Things Only Happen in Books," the Keen Company valiantly but ploddingly revives three Wilder plays in which one member of a couple has an unsavory secret that is revealed to the other. By Dorothy Chansky.

 

 

AFTER MISS JULIE--Jonny Lee Miller and Marin Ireland. Photo by Joan Marcus.

"After Miss Julie"
"After Miss Julie" a psychological thriller, a rich drama has three characters enmeshed in a web of conflicts that shift the upper hand from one to the other, depending on whether the field of battle is class or sex. It is a riveting play where the power of class and gender fight for primacy. By Lucy Komisar

THE ROYAL FAMILY-- Anna Gasteyer, John Glover. Photo by Joan Marcus.

"The Royal Family"
"The Royal Family," based on the theatrical Barrymores, shows actresses torn between their love of the stage and their desire to have married lives. (Well, this play is more than 80 years old!) The text may be dated, but Jan Maxwell and Reg Rogers steal the show with their theatricality. By Lucy Komisar.

A STEADY RAIN-- Hugh Jackman & Daniel Craig. Photo by Joan Marcus.

 

"A Steady Rain"
"A Steady Rain" is a thriller about two beat cops, partners, friends from childhood, that would seem to belong on TV. On the other hand, some of the events they describe are so bloody, that I'd rather see them described in the two interlocking monologues that make up the play rather than watch them in full color. By Lucy Komisar.

BROKE-OLOGY-- Francois Battiste, Wendell Pierce, Alano Miller. Photo by T Charles Erickson.

 

"Broke-ology"
"Broke-ology" is a sometimes appealing, sometimes corny look at the dynamics of being loyal to your family and also loyal to yourself. It also examines the science of being a family. By Lucy Komisar.

HAMLET -- Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Jude Law. Photo by Johan Persson.

 

"Hamlet"
Jude Law brings a pulsating animal energy to Shakespeare's tragedy, not the tentative or tormented like the Hamlets we are used to. This "Hamlet" is a thriller and Hamlet the vengeful detective. The excitement is palpable. By Lucy Komisar.

IMELDA--Jaygee Macapugay as Imelda. Photo courtesy of the production.

Two Views of "Imelda"
Sooner or later the flamboyant lives of powerful women married to powerful world leaders find their lives exhumed from the dustbins of history and dropped onto the theatrical stage. Pan Asian Rep's production drew both Ed Rubin and Glendsa Frank. Read both their reports in one article.

British singing sensation Barb Jungr. Photo by Steve Ullathorne.

Barb is Back
British singing sensation Barb Jungr seems to have found a home at the Metropolitan Room. After premiering "The Men I Love," at the Café Carlyle in March she's bringing it to the Metropolitan Room, where she appears frequently, for a one-week exclusive engagement. By Paulanne Simmons.

 

BURN THE FLOOR-- photo by Kevin Berne

Burn the Floor
Having been an exhibition dancer during my teens and an Arthur Murray ballroom dancing instructor while at college (they were desperate for young men to move fat ladies across the floor), "Burn the Floor" had mesitting both ecstatically and nostalgically on the edge of my seat for nearly two hours. By Edward Rubin.

 

TIN PAN ALLEY RAG -- Michael Boatman (as Scott Joplin), Michael Therriault (as Irving Berlin). Photo by Joan Marcus.

Mr. Joplin, meet Mr. Berlin
"The Tin Pan Alley Rag" is a charming, vivid musical biography of two American composers who changed the idiom of western popular music. The curious parallel personal tragedies of Scott Joplin and Irving Berlin exist in counterpoint to their generally upbeat lively sounds. By Lucy Komisar.

"Look after You" by Louise Flory
We are experimenting with a thousand different diets, searching (and travelling) globally for the answers to good health, and even learning the history of soy in China through an advertising campaign. Our playwrights – and screenwriters – are exploring textbooks for lesser known ailments that might just strike. "Look after You" by Louise Flory at the New York Fringe International Festival is a wave in this ocean. By Glenda Frank.

"Viral" by Mac Rogers
Meredith (Amy Lynn Stewart) finds their website. She is hesitant. She chats a moment, signs off, signs on again, and eventually she travels to Portland, OR, for a meeting in their apartment. Colin (Kent Meister) yells at Geena (Rebecca Comtois) for typing the wrong phrases, for frightening Meredith off. Then he dictates Geena's response. They are all nervous. Meredith is the answer to their money problems -- only she doesn't know it. She thinks they are a support group. Fill in whatever plot details you want – and this is still an intriguing set up. Playwright Mac Rogers' dark comedy is about difficult choices. It's inhabited by a mismatched, bizarre quartet. By Glenda Frank.

"Time's Scream and Hurry"
Decades ago, Meatloaf had a hit in which a guy tries to con his girl by telling her two out of three ain't bad ("I want you, I need you, but I'm never gonna love you, now don't be sad 'cause two out of three ain't bad!"). Playwright/director Paul Hoan Zeidler might say the same about his new Fringe production "Time's Scream and Hurry." The three monologues have an uneven quality. The first two have their compelling moments and end with a bang, but the third whimpers and weeps and sinks like a lead weight. If you leave at intermission, "Time's Scream and Hurry" is a piquant Fringe production. By Glenda Frank.

"Way to Heaven" ("Himmelweg") by Juan Mayorga
Theresienstadt Concentration Camp, where the play is set, was a nightmare of false hope, terror and sadistic manipulation. The camp, designed to house prominent Jewish musicians, painters, writers, and performers, was a way station to Auschwitz. In 1944, the camp was transformed into the equivalent of a living theatre, offering an environmental stage show for visitors from the Red Cross and other international human rights groups to prove that the Nazi relocation plan was humane. A band plays. Contented villagers, all wearing the yellow star of David, socialize on the village green. Visitors eat lunch with families. By the river, two boys spin a top, lovers quarrel, a girl teaches her doll to swim in the river, and the local mayor recounts with pride the long history of the village clock. By Glenda Frank.

WHEN I WAS GOD-- Gary Gregg as Father and Michael Mellamphy as Dinny Keegan. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

The Irish Rep Presents "Father Knows Best" – Take Two
Irish Rep’s double-header, "After Luke" and "When I Was God," can be seen as a searing indictment of fatherhood or a semi-sweet, semi-ironic remembrance of the pitfalls in the father/son relationship. By Paulanne Simmons.

"FaceSpace"
Gonzalez and Masoud may be first-time playwrights but they know that everyone loves a good love story – where boy doesn’t get girl for the best of reasons. Anne (Lindsay Ryan) and Simon (Mike Carlsen) are about as mismatched as couples go – only he doesn’t know it. She’s trying to climb out of her small-town mindset and, having Googled him, she’s invented a pack of lies to rank herself in his league. His ex-girlfriend (Ilana Becker) adds an interesting complication -- and a sizzling performance. By Glenda Frank.

"The Tin Pan Alley Rag"
If you enjoy humming along to Irving Berlin tunes and tapping your toe to Scott Joplin, then "The Tin Pan Alley Rag" at the Laura Pels is a must-see. Their music and lyrics make up the score, and their lives provide the biographies for this new work by Mark Saltzman. What the play lacks in drama, it makes up for in historical insight and irony. Joplin, the better educated of the two, ties his personal failures to the economy and the demands of world events. He is a composer with a mission, an educated man with big ambitions. Berlin, who could neither read nor write music and had an elementary school education, is busy accumulating a small fortune to compensate for the poverty of his immigrant childhood. They come together in a fictive meeting at Berlin’s sheet music shop and vie amiably for the title of King of Ragtime. Mostly though the characters just want to tell their stories, complete with flashbacks. By Glenda Frank.

THE NORMAN CONQUESTS--company at dinner. Photo by Joan Marcus.

"The Norman Conquests"
"The Norman Conquests" is an ultra-sophisticated comedy about three couples, including two sisters and a brother, who share a weekend at the family country house. Over the course of time and space – there are three plays in three venues – we learn about the dissatisfactions between the pairings of men and women, and the outrageous way that the eponymous Norman plays out his own desires without a thought of where that might lead. By Lucy Komisar.

BLITHE SPIRIT-- at the Shubert Theater. Photo by Robert J. Saferstein.

"Blithe Spirit"
"Blithe Spirit" is a dated Noel Coward comedy about a middle-aged man's fantasy of having two wives. Okay, one is really a ghost he conjures up, with the aid of Madame Arcati (Angela Lansbury), an exuberant bicycle-riding medium. In spite of the long gowns and black ties the two couples wear to the séance, the piece is more television fluff than Coward's trade-mark sophistication. By Lucy Komisar.

"Our House"
A new comedy by Theresa Rebeck is always an event to celebrate. "Our House" at Playwrights Horizons is a razor-edged incision into our modern psyche and our obsession with television reality shows. The gunshot that closes Act I may seem to come out of nowhere, but Rebeck’s reference isn’t the well-made play but the news, the Columbine massacres and other sudden, violent assaults that have bewildered communities and became national headlines. By Glenda Frank.

"Waiting for Godot"
"Waiting for Godot," Samuel Beckett's play about the uselessness of waiting for God to save humans from misery and exploitation, gets a stunning production by Anthony Page and superior acting by Bill Irwin as Didi and John Glover as Lucky. One is ever curious about why this play about suffering makes many people laugh. By Lucy Komisar.

"The Wiz" Is a Wow!
"The Wiz" has an upbeat rhythmic score by Charlie Smalls that draws not only on pop but also blues, soul and gospel; exciting choreography; and sassy black street humor incorporated in William F. Brown’s book as well as Smalls’ lyrics. And the Encores! Summer Stars production displays all these attributes in full bloom. By Paulanne Simmons.

THE FULL MONTY--At Paper Mill Playhouse, Photo by Jerry Dalia, The Cast of The Full Monty.

"Paper Mill Playhouse Bares All with "The Full Monty"
"The Full Money," based on the 1997 British film, ranks among those musicals that most skillfully blend dark themes with some of the jazziest upbeat music anyone could wish for. By Paulanne Simmons.

Preparation Hex
First and foremost Bob Brader is a nice, normal guy, even though he’s an actor who writes his own very intimate solo shows, daring to perform them in front of strangers. His current one person show, Preparation Hex, exposes us to how nice and normal he is while on his "finding true love journey." It’s also his verbal diary of very painful days of stress, bathing and doctoring. By Larry Litt.

PURE CONFIDENCE--Gavin Lawrence and Chris Mulkey. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

"Pure Confidence" traces a slave jockey to "freedom" in Saratoga, New York.
"Pure Confidence" is a moving almost-melodrama of the fates of slaves after the Civil War. In this case, it tells what happened to a champion black slave jockey when he sought to compete as a free man with the white jockeys of the north. It's a dramatization based on realities and is sensitively directed by Marion McClinton, best known for his productions of the works of August Wilson. By Lucy Komisar.

 

"Billy Elliot the Musical"
It is no wonder that "Billy Elliot" won so many Tony awards. Rightly so. If you want to have a total theater experience and a memorable evening full of joy and exuberance, see "Billy Elliot," a remarkable achievement. Although "Billy Elliot" is listed as a Broadway musical, it is not an ordinary one. With a poignant story and some terrific acting, besides unusual dancing, and gifted young people who make up the plot, I assure you will be happy when you come out of the theater and will long remember it. By Margaret Croyden

EXIT THE KING--Geoffrey Rush in "Exit the King." Photo Joan Marcus.

"Exit the King"
"Exit the King" is Ionesco's witty satire on the corruption of those in power, given a tongue-in-cheek staging by Neil Armfield with a bravura performance by Geoffrey Rush as King Beringer, the man with only 90 minutes to live. By Lucy Komisar.

 

JOE TURNER'S COME AND GONE--Roger Robinson and Marshal Stephanie Blake in "Joe Turner's Come and Gone." Photo by T. Charles Erickson.

"Joe Turner's Come and Gone"
"Joe Turner's Come and Gone" is a poetic, surreal, tragic vignette of the struggles of blacks coping with the still powerful vestiges of
slavery. By Lucy Komisar

 

ALL ABOARD THE MARRIAGE HEARSE--Jessica Moreno and Nick Coleman in "All Aboard the Marriage Hearse" Photo by Suzanne Trouve Feff.

"All Aboard the Marriage Hearse"
The eternal battle of the sexes takes a new, modern and hilarious turn in playwright Matt Morillo's "All Aboard the Marriage Hearse." It's a comedy of romantic desires, traditions scorned, rejected and personally compromised. By Larry Litt.

 

KOOZA--Young performers work in harmony and unison to bring a new approach to the art of contortionism in "Kooza" by Le Cirque du Soleil. Photo by Cirque du Soleil 2009.

"Kooza"
"Kooza" is the Cirque de Soleil's latest New York offering, a mix of stunning dance and traditional circus fare, all done in gorgeous costumes to a theme of Asian music. Under the big top ("the Grand Chapiteau") at Randall's Island. By Lucy Komisar.

 

HAPPINESS--Rob Sapp & Joanna Gleason in "Happiness," photo by Paul Kolhut.

"Happiness"
"Happiness" is not always what it seems, goes the cliché, which is a starting point for this whimsical fantasy about the recently departed going back to choose the best moments of their lives. With direction and choreography by Susan Stroman, it has its own moments of charm. By Lucy Komisar

Waiting For Godot
What a pleasure to see grown up theater once again, to listen to a play with ideas, and to be in the presence of Samuel Beckett, the literary genius who knew how to express man's deepest feelings about existence, and inability to accept it for what it is, and always will be. The story is simple. Two tramps are on a bleak road waiting for someone called Godot. By Margaret Croyden.

33 VARIATIONS--Don Amendolia, Zach Grenier, and Erik Steele in "33 Variations." Photo Joan Marcus.

33 Variations
"33 Variations" by Moisés Kaufman investigates what moves the creative and intellectual mind. A musicologist seeking answers in the Beethoven archives about why the composer insisted on writing so many variations to a mediocre waltz displays the same tenacity in confronting intellectual challenges as did the great master. And both do so in the face of daunting physical disabilities. Jane Fonda is compelling as the mortally ill researcher whose powerful brain prevails over the frailty of her body. By Lucy Komisar

Long Live the Party
212-868-4444 is the number to call for a rocking good time -- plus free wine, beer, and a dance lesson. "Viva Patshiva" is a party way west of Broadway (10th Ave.), a gypsy fiesta, and a rock opera. The score has clever, jazzy Roma (as in Gypsy) turns with Israeli and other Middle Eastern motifs woven in. The lyrics – mostly a comic struggle with nihilism -- are catchy and distinctive, and the over-the-top performers give it their all. It would be a good deal at $40 a ticket, but it’s only $20. I was impressed, and everyone had a good time. By Glenda Frank.

WHY TORTURE IS WRONG--Richard Poe, Audrie Neenan, David Aaron Baker, andAmir Arison, in "Why Torture Is Wrong." Photo by Joan Marcus.

"Why Torture is Wrong, and the people who love them"
"Why Torture is Wrong, and the people who love them," is a bloody comic farce which brilliantly uses absurdity to explain the brutality and ineffectualness of the Bush "war on terror." By Lucy Komisar.

The Cody Rivers Show
Two guys prance out from behind closed doors dressed as either Olympic weight lifters or old fashioned bathing suit models. Both are crowned with boxing ear guards. Their look shocks and amuses their audience from the moment they run onstage exhibiting faux ballet poses instead of swinging their fists, greeting each other as long lost friends. For an hour they play at clowning and gymnastics, but it's highly skilled, thoughtful nonsense that turns language and movement on its head. Much like watching trained seals at the zoo, The Cody Rivers Show duo are happy to be in front of an audience. Their zeal is infectious. By Larry Lit.

"The Liar show"
The Liar Show, as developed by Andy Christie, is presenting a rethinking of the art of the autobiographical monologue. Introducing the event on stage, Christie tells the audience that four storytellers will beguile them with tales of wondrous personal experiences. Only hitch is that one of the stories is a bald faced lie. After the four tellers are finished canting, the audience will vote to reveal which one they think is the liar. By Larry Lit.

ANGELA'S MIXTAPE--Eisa Davis in "Angela's Mixtape" directed by Liesl Tommy . Photo by Jim Balsassare.
"Angela's Mixtape"
This passionate and poignant coming of age story deals in history and politics that are all about women, civil rights, dance, popularity, race, music, competition, sex, and Angela Davis. By Dorothy Chansky.

"Chasing Manet"
"Chasing Manet" is Tina Howe's bittersweet look at a tough, smart, legally blind and aging painter railing at the indignities of being warehoused in a Riverdale nursing home. The play is sensitive and often funny. By Lucy Komisar.
AN ORESTEIA--Mickey Solis and Annika Boas in "An Oresteia." Photo by Joan Marcus.

"An Oresteia"
"An Oresteia" is a very contemporary sometimes hokey presentation of three Greek tragedies, Aeschylus's "Agamemnon," Sophocles's "Electra," and Euripedes's "Orestes." Juicy tales of adultery, murder, and revenge are camped up in modern style and very entertaining. By Lucy Komisar.
WALKING FROM RUMANIA--Zina Anaplioti, Nate Rubin, Amanda Yachechak, and Robert Gonzales in "Walking from Rumania" by Barbara Kahn. Photo by Joe Bly.

 

"Walking from Rumania: a journey to freedom in 1899"
Once again Barbara Kahn mixes Jewish history, romance and politics in her newest play, "Walking from Rumania: a journey to freedom in 1899." By Paulanne Simmons.
MISS EVERS'BOYS -- L-R: Garrett Lee Hendricks, David Pendleton, Marty Austin Lamar, Nedra McClyde, and Jason Donnell Bush. Photo by Gretchen Handloser.

"Miss Evers' Boys"
"Miss Evers' Boys" is a fictionalized account of the infamous Tuskegee experiment, in which hundreds of black men were denied treatment for syphilis so the effects of the untreated disease could be observed. By Paulanne Simmons.

"God of Carnage"
"God of Carnage" by Yasmina Reza, who gave us the delightful play "Art," is a memorable work, full of humor, gaiety, and a certain madness all within the framework of a hilarious farce. Underneath the comedy are Reza's ideas on marriage, children, Wall Street, do-gooders, poseurs, liars and fools--emblems of the bourgeois class which she patently scorns. By Margaret Croyden.

"She said, she said."
Loyalty breeds strange bedfellows. Just look at the characters in Kathryn Chetkovich’s occasionally thought-provoking although too often soapy "She Said She Said," receiving a workmanlike premiere at Workshop Theater under the direction of Peter Sylvester. Chetokovich’s forty-something yuppies think they are doing the right thing by friends and lovers, yet they end up behaving like a bunch of sneaky creeps. Their behavior takes them by surprise and it is the results of hard-won self discoveries that interest the playwright. By Dorothy Chansky.
INCIDENT AT VICHY--Todd Gearhart, John Friemann, and Christopher Burns in "Incident at Vichy." Photo by Stephen Kunken.

"Incident at Vichy."
"Incident at Vichy," set in occupied France, is Arthur Miller's chilling morality play about the Holocaust. Nine men and a boy have been brought to a French police station and ordered to present their papers. Self-delusion, fear, confusion and heroism ensue. By Lucy Komisar.
HEROES--Jonathan Hogan, Ron Holgate, and John Cullum in "Heroes". Photo by Theresa Squire.

"Heroes."
A charming wistful mood piece about three Frenchmen in a veterans home they view as much as a prison as a refuge. By Lucy Komisar.

 

 
LOVE/STORIES--Michael Micalizzi and Maren Langdon in a scene from Love/Stories (or But You Will Get Used To It). Photo by Joan Marcus.

"Love/Stories (or But You Will Get Used to It)"
Glenda Frank writes, "It’s not always love at first sight. In 2005 I admired Itamar Moses’s challenging but confusing 'Bach at Leipzig' at the New York Theatre Workshop. I liked his daring in choosing historical subject matter and how he kept the characters lively. I had a good time, but there’s a lot of theatre in NY. Last year, 'Back Back Back' at Manhattan Theatre Club, about baseball, steroids, and lies, changed my mind."
TONIGHT: LOLA BLAU--Anna Krämer, as Lola Blau, and Joe Völker,musical director, in "Tonight: Lola Blau."

"Tonight Lola Blau"
There are certain political predicaments surely no one wishes to be in: for instance, what do you do if your homeland is taken over by some monstrous power? How long do you remain, hoping change is possible? And if you do leave, where do you go? Then, should the occupying forces be defeated, when do you return, and how do you react to what you may find? Such matters are pondered in "Tonight: Lola Blau." By Jack Anderson

 
SHEKINAH -- Tavia Trepte, Alex Emanuel and Rick Zahn.

"Shekinah"
Death means many things. Each idea of the final event is conjecture and ultimately an interpretation. The expiration of the body is only one type of death. Because Death is physically unknowable unless you’ve had the near death experience, it is also the subject of brilliant and demonic human manipulation. By Larry Litt.

The Surprise
What's the difference between family gossip and autobiographical storytelling in a public space? As audience, chances are we'll never get to meet the family, only the performer. In this case, Martin Dockery, who tells all, will have to answer to his family for a long time to come. By Larry Litt.

Rory Raven's Brainstorming
Ever since I was a kid I’ve loved magic and especially mental magic shows. Whenever I see one in town I try to attend just for that thrill of seeing a performer work the old routines that still dazzle both smart children and disbelief suspending adults. I’m one of them and hope I always will be. By Larry Lit.

Two Kindred Spirits: Neil Sedaka and Jim Van Slyke
"The Sedaka Show" features many of the singer/composer’s hits: "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do," "Laughter in the Rain" and a Doo Wop Medley that begins with "Oh Carol," written for Carole Klein (a.k.a. Carole King) and ends with a tune made famous in a film starring Connie Francis, "Where the Boys Are." By Paulanne Simmons.
GUYS AND DOLLS--Guys and Dolls Company. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

"Guys and Dolls"
"Guys and Dolls" proves the score's the king in classic Broadway musicals. This revival of the 1950 musical comedy about a Salvation Army missionary who reforms a couple of hard-boiled but appealing gamblers shows why the show was a smash. By Lucy Komisar.

 
RUINED

 

"Ruined" brings Mother Courage to Africa
Lynn Nottage's tense, intense thriller about the civil war in the Congo is guaranteed to leave a knot in your stomach. It aspires to be a modern version of Brecht's "Mother Courage." But instead of being an itinerant peddler, Mama Nadi runs a bordello. By Lucy Komisar.

 
THE CRIPPLE OF INISHMAAN--Aaron Monaghan and Kerry Condon in 'The Cripple of Inishmaan." Photo by Keith Pattison.

"The Cripple of Inishmaan" seeks love under mean-spirited cruelty.
"The Cripple of Inishmaan" is another saga of Martin McDonough's love-hate relationship with Ireland, a country that appears suffocated with mean-spiritedness and cruelty until a bit of hidden love finally gets out. Aaron Monaghan gives a bravura performance as Billy, who desperately wants to be valued for himself and not by his infirmity. By Lucy Komisar.

Ex-tenebris Rising; "we jump on nows fat belly and float…"
Extenebris Rising, the 15th annual new year's day marathon (January 1) of poets, performance poets and musicians took place on the dressed up stage of the Bowery Poetry Club on a frigid afternoon and a night so cold and dark it couldn't wake up. Still, this event manages to intrigue me more each year and for fifteen years I’ve attended, read as a poet and taken notes as a journalist. This year though, for the first time, I could cut the generation differences w/ a pocket knife and of the seventy plus folks there at any one time I think I knew twelve! By Ellen Lytle.
THE AMERICAN PLAN--Kieran Campion and Lily Rabe in "The American Plan". Photo by Carol Rosegg

"The American Plan"
"The American Plan" is Richard Greenberg's fast-paced, sharply acted, quirky drama of love twisted into domination. The witchy, controlling Eva Adler (a biting Mercedes Ruehl), who presides over the scene on a lake in the Catskills, could blot out the sun as she does the life of her daughter and her chances with young men. Ruehl as Mother Eva makes Mama Rose ("Gypsy") look like a wimp. By Lucy Komisar.
BILLY ELLIOT--Trent Kowalik as Billy Elliot and Ballet Girls. Photo by Alastair Muir.

Billy Elliot The Musical
"Billy Elliot, The Musical" is an appeal for solidarity and freedom. This Lee Hall-Elton John musical is a lively, moving, exhilarating production that recounts the impact of the British miners' strike of the mid-80s . It also asserts the right of an individual to express himself, his dreams and his art. By Lucy Komisar.

 
RAISED IN CAPTIVITY--Josh Lefkowitz and Jennifer Dorr White in "Raised in Captivity"

"Raised in Captivity" is a Big Step for a New Company
With its use of the surreal, gay hero and use of AIDS as a metaphor for failed love, Nicky Silver’s "Raised in Captivity" owes a great deal to Tony Kushner’s earlier "Angels in America." But while Kushner’s work is certainly more ambitious, in many ways Silver’s work is more powerful. With a few more shows like "Raised in Captivity," Red Fern Theatre Company may soon establish itself as one of the most promising up-and-coming additions to the New York theater scene. By Paulanne Simmons.

 

Loss and Departures - "The Cherry Orchard"
Sinéad Cusack, who plays Mme. Ranevskaya in the current BAM production of Anton Chekhov’s "The Cherry Orchard," is resplendent. It is easy to forgive her everything. By Glenda Frank.
THE CHERRY ORCHARD--Ethan Hawke in "The Cherry Orchard." Photo: Joan Marcus.

"The Cherry Orchard"
With the help of director Sam Mendes, playwright Tom Stoppard sharpens Chekhov's turn of the last century quirky comedy into a compelling chapter of his own "Coast of Utopia" Russian trilogy, showing us how hapless members of the landowner aristocracy slept through their own demise, losing out first to the new business class, and then--but we see this only in a dark glimpse of the future--to the desperate waiting peasants. By Lucy Komisar.

FORBIDDEN BROADWAY GOES TO REHAB--Christina Bianco, Jared Bradshaw, Gypsy, Photo by Carol Rosegg.

"Forbidden Broadway Goes To Rehab"
Here's yet another Forbidden Broadway production in which the numbers are sometimes better than the musicals they satirize and always on target about the shows and the theatrical culture. The performers start out by introducing themselves and declaring, "We’ll do twelve steps the Fosseway!" By Lucy Komisar.


GARDEN OF EARTHLY DELIGHTS-- -- two figures with wood shaped as horses head. Photo by Richard Finkelstein

"Garden of Earthly Delights"
Martha Clark and Richard Peaslee have created an exotic, erotic theater piece that brings to life the 16th century painting by Hieronymus Bosch. Dancers move and twist and fly to express joy, raucousness, cruelty and a 16th-century vision of life. By Lucy Komisar.

 
THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST--Lynn Redgrave as Lady Bracknell. Photo by Gerry Goodstein

"The Importance of Being Ernest"
Undoubtedly many people will come to Paper Mill Playhouse's revival of "The Importance of Being Earnest" to see Lynn Redgrave as Lady Bracknell, a role she played three years ago in a five-month tour of the show. But they will leave equally impressed with the entire cast, Alexander Dodge’s eye-catching set and David Schweitzer's eccentric direction. By Paulanne Simmons.

 

 
FRESHWATER -- Gian Murray Gianino and Kelly Maurer. Photo by Carol Rosegg

"Woolf at the Door"
Postmodernist Anne Bogart interprets Modernist Virginia Woolf’s only play, in which the high priestess of Bloomsbury skewered her Victorian arts forebears. Tennyson is an egomaniac, Julia Cameron is a bug-eyed mad hatter, and actress Ellen Terry skips out on the stifling solemnity of "all for art." It’s zany fun and a chance to play literary who’s who. By Dorothy Chansky.

 
THE BLUE BIRD--Scientists dance a Ladybug Dance in "The Blue Bird." Foreground: Laine Rettmer. Behind: Orion Taraban, Mike Mikos.

"Blue Bird" Takes Flight
Witness Relocation delights in unusual mixtures of dance and theater."The Blue Bird," is one of those wacky concoctions that cause you to stare at the stage, slightly befuddled, and ask yourself, "What are these people doing that for?" By Jack Anderson.

 

"Shrek The Musical"
After one children's picture book (by the prolific William Steig) and three movies, one would think the Shrek franchise was near its end. Then along comes "Shrek the Musical," and we find out it has a healthy future. By Paulanne Simmons.
SILENT HEROES--L to R: Rosalie Tenseth, Kelly Ann Moore, Dionne Audain, Sarah Saunders and Lisa Velten Smith in "Silent Heroes." Photo by Jim Baldassare.

"Silent Heroes"
Six wives of Marine pilots hold a vigil as they wait to see which of their husbands has been lost in an unspecified crash. Playwright Linda Escalera Baggs's take on feminism circa 1975, the military, and spousal responsibility borders on the soapy, but good performances make it a compelling bit of social history. By Dorothy Chansky.

 
WOMEN BEWARE WOMEN--Jennifer Ikeda and Geraint Wyn Davies in "Women Beware Women" at the Theater at St. Clement's. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

"Women Beware Women"
Larry Litt is not a great fan of romantic comedies. Not only are they unrealistic, but they can ruin any relationship with false expectations of levity and reconciliation. So he loves Thomas Middleton's "Women Beware Women" because it's the antithesis of Hollywood's sappy idea of love and marriage going together like a horse and carriage.
PAL JOEY--Stockard Channing and Matthew Risch in "Pal Joey" at Studio 54, through February 15, 2009. Photo by Joan Marcus.

 

 

"Pal Joey," a cynical musical about a womanizing con man, rings true today.
Con men make good anti-heroes. At a time when the country is focused on a spectacular one that cheated people of billions, it's instructive to take a look at the genre. "Pal Joey," the Richard Rodgers-Lorenz Hart 1940 musical given a moody revival by director Joe Mantello at the Roundabout Theatre, is about a sleazy character on the make for money and success. By Lucy Komisar.


EQUUS--Richard Griffiths and Daniel Radcliffe in "Equus" at Broadhurst Theatre, through February 8, 2009 . Photo by Carol Rosegg.

"Equus" is a powerful mystery of a youth caught in a conflict of religion and sex
"Equus" by Peter Shaffer (1973) is vividly directed by Thea Sharrock in its current revival. A troubled 17-year-old youth, Alan Strang (Daniel Radcliffe) is brought by a judge (Kate Mulgew) to the office of an overworked psychiatrist in a provincial hospital in southern England. He has blinded a stable of six horses. Slowly, through importuning, bribes of small gifts and even hypnotism, the psychiatrist, Martin Dysart (Richard Griffiths) gets him to see through his nightmares and tell what brought him to commit this horror. By Lucy Komisar.

 
SPEED THE PLOW-- L to R: Raul Esparza, Jeremy Piven, Elisabeth Moss. Photo by Brigitte Lancombe.

Mamet's inside story of why Hollywood produces junk
At a time in the U.S. when most films seem made for retarded 13-year-olds, this revival of David Mamet's 1988 "Speed the Plow" is right on target. It's a satire on Hollywood moguls on the make for money and success, which they see strewn along the paths of titillating sex and violence. Hey, how else to get a lunch table at the town's favored watering hole? Who will win the battle for movieland? The young producer who dreams of dollar signs in his future hyperventilates: "If they can't put it in TV Guide, you can't make the film." By Lucy Komisar.

 

ALL MY SONS --Katie Holmes and Patrick Wilson. Photo by Joan Marcus.

"All My Sons"
Arthur Miller's play about corporate corruption never goes out of fashion. As a theater device, he focused on a small factory owned by one man, but you can take this as a representation of what went on and what goes on when anything goes in business. Profits trump morals. The victims are all of us, which is what the title means. Simon McBurney's production is smooth and riveting. By Lucy Komisar.

 

Moti Margolin revitalizes Chekhov's Classic Characters in his new translation of "Uncle Vanya"
Chekhov's small farm Russians and their nemesis, Herr Professor Alexandre, are alive and not living well in Moti Margolin's new translation of Chekhov's tragicomedy, directed by John Knauss at The Space, 300 West 43rd St., 4th Floor. Mr. Margolin successfully brings contemporary vernacular into a household of characters full of internal conflicts. By Larry Litt.
HILLARY--Mia Barron as Hillary Clinton and Darren Pettie as Bill Clinton, swears on his daughter Chelsea's in "Hillary: A Modern Greek Tragedy With a (Somewhat) Happy Ending." Photo.Photo by Jim Baldassare.

A Cinderella Story for the Mensa Set
Liberal bona fides are not required to get a kick out of "Hillary: A Modern Greek Tragedy." Wendy Weiner's wacky and witty coming-of-age story has Aphrodite and Athena battling over the American girl who vows to take on sexism on a national scale. In the New Georges production, director Julie Kramer set a lively pace, and her solid cast time traveled from Olympus to Ohio, Arkansas to Hades, and Wellesley to the White House. By Dorothy Chansky.

"The Grand Inquisitor "
With "The Grand Inquisitor," Peter Brook has forsaken big productions for simple storytelling on an almost bare stage. In his earliest book, "The Empty Space," he declared that his main effort in theater would be storytelling (not dominated by great pyrotechnical inventions) by actors on a simple stage who, by themselves, could make theater come alive. In "The Grand Inquisitor" he has carried out his long desired wish tell a story (without complicated theatrics) with actors who can live on stage who can be present, and just "be." By Margaret Croyden.
GANG OF SEVEN--Kristine Lee, John Costelloe in "Gang of Seven " at La MaMa E.T.C. Photo by Nadia Kitirath.

The Theater and Pop Psychology in "Gang of Seven"
If you've ever been in a focus group and marveled at the solemn commitment the group makes to the facilitator and their client, "Gang of Seven" will be a comic revelation. On the other hand, if you never had the fortune, or misfortune, to focus on a completely inane subject until you absolutely were thrilled or revolted by it, then Jim Neu's writing and Keith McDermott's directing will give you a a warm welcoming wink to the possibilities of focus group as theater and pop psychology. By Larry Litt.

"Pucelandia" Is a Colorful Show for the Whole Family
If you're looking for low-cost, high-value entertainment for yourself and your children this holiday season, you can't do better than Turtle Shell Productions' "Pucelandia: the Pucical Musical," a delightful musical fairytale with book and lyrics by Fran Handman and Composed by Sheldon Gartner. By Paulanne Simmons.

Oh, What a Funny War!
"Catch 22" is back and funnier than ever in Peter Meineck's adaptation for Aquila Theatre at the Lucille Lortel Theatre. It's poetic, brutal, satiric, incisive, and always smart. This production is Meineck's baby. He not only directed with panache but also designed the visuals. His Playbill resume may be long, but you still might wonder where he has been showcasing all this talent until now. By Glenda Frank.

"Saturn Returns"
With "Saturn Returns" at Lincoln Center, playwright Noah Haidle, whose credentials include Princeton and Juilliard, may have lacked a good dramaturge but he lucked out with his director, Nicholas Martin. Martin almost saves the play. By Glenda Frank.
OH, THOSE BEAUTIFUL WEIMAR GIRLS -- Sarah Lemp as Anita Berber; Javier Bone Carbone as Sebastian Droste. Behind: Peter B. Schmitz as Master of Ceremonies.

Oh, Those Beautiful Weimar Girls!
Everyone in the arts should know Anita Berber. She's the Icon of Desire in Berlin's Weimar period, where sensuality and depravity reigned. With her slim, elegant dancer's body she provoked seduction in every pose, arousing perverse sexual images through her dances and lack of costumes. How did her times influence Anita as an artist? Her world spanned between devastation of the First World War and what would be the unthinkable horrors of Nazism and the Second World War. Was she an artistic prophetess of impending doom, intuitively sensing the conservatism, repression and heights of destruction to come? As Ildiko Nemeth, director of "Oh, Those Weimar Girls!" presents Anita and her circle of dancers, there is an impending orgasm of creativity along with reactionary doom. By Larry Litt.

 

GODOT--in Cha Hong in "Godot" at La MaMa.

Sin Cha Hong's "Godot"
Korean born international dancer/choreographer Sin Cha Hong's new solo piece is an engaging meditation on one woman's obsession with Samuel Beckett's enigmatic 1953 play "Waiting for Godot." Hong's character is an older woman, remembering her glorious past, lazily and luxuriously living in the present, while clearly fearful of the future's uncertainties. Godot is a fitting tribute to artists by an artist. You will leave inspired and encouraged by Hong's sincerity through her homage to a great play. By Larry Litt.

"Surrender" is not surrender!
"Surrender" is a masterful achievement on all fronts. Not only have Josh Fox and The International WOW Company succeeded in producing an important piece about the war in Iraq, but the interactive nature of the show allows both soldiers and observers to get a much closer look at what it means to volunteer for duty, to train, kill and be killed, than we ever get from televised reports of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.. How they manage to harness the energies, dedication and enthusiasm of a new group of amateur players each time the show is performed is equally remarkable. Unfortunately, this memorable show only runs for three weeks. I can only hope that it will find other sponsors and another space so that many more people can observe war close up. By Philippa Wehle.

The real man in "A Man for All seasons"
Frank Langella is a real thoroughbred. An actor whose presence dominates the stage, he captures every moment, displaying an honesty and theatricality that few actors can achieve. More importantly, he has the energy to give life to a work what might otherwise be boring. "A Man For all Seasons," a revival of many years, patently comes tolife because of Langella. Not that the play is uninteresting. It is about nobility of a certain kind, the kind that remains constant. It is about consistency of beliefs, no matter the price. Perhaps some might find the subject talky and overly intellectualized, which can be hard to take, but Langella overcomes all the pitfalls of the play. By Margaret Croyden.

The Pumpkin Pie Show is well worth it.
Larry Litt loves energetic opening moments by actors who are proud of their self-created material. It's a sign that the audience is going to have a rollicking good time. But Clay McLeod Chapman and Hanna Cheek fooled him. They took him for an emotional ride on a storytelling roller coaster that he won't forget for a long time. He adds, he hasn't seen standing room crowds in a long time.
THE FOURPOSTER--Jessica Dickey and Todd Weeks in "The Fourposter" by Keen Company at The Clurman Theatre. Photo by Suzi Sadler.

 

"The Fourposter" is witty, funny and highly therapeutic.
Given the skyrocketing divorce rate in the United States, it might not be a bad idea for everyone to see "The Fourposter," Jan Hartog's enduring and endearing classic, playing through November 22 at the Keene Company. It's about what keeps a man and woman together through the trials and terrors of married life. This romantic comedy follows a couple from 1890 to 1925, from the awkwardness of their wedding night, through pregnancy, infidelity, parenting and midlife crisis. Each time one half of the couple breaks away, the other half somehow draws the partner back by an invisible string. Some might call it love. By Paulanne Simmons.

Is Neo-burlesque really "Revealed"?
So what makes "Revealed" different? First and foremost is the youthful energy, irony and faux sophistication of the emcee of "Revealed," Bastard Keith. He loves all the ladies, they're all his favorites. And why not? They're all beautiful, sexy, mysterious women who love to expose their dancing and performing skills. You can't go wrong at "Revealed" if you're looking for a night of escapist fun and classic entertainment. By Larry Litt.

 
NOON DAY SUN--Michael McGlone and Gin Hammond. Photo by Rebecca Woodman Taylor.

 

Diverse City Theater Explores "Passing"
When most people think of "passing," what comes to mind is the black man or woman whose skin color is light enough that most people will take that individual for white. But for Cassandra Medley, author of "Noon Day Sun," passing takes many forms. By Paulanne Simmons.

 

 

 

Workdays with Maury
Joe Mande is a very funny kid. He's also an ironic storyteller who understands the art, yes art, of self reflection as the highest form of comedy. Comedy works best when it falls on the comedian as the model of the bizarre society we live in. Mande's comedy education and experience has worked well for him. In the not too subtle, but direct send up of his summer internship titled, Workdays with Maury, on the ‘Maury (Povich) Show' he shows us how TV show biz works from his innocent nerd's eye view. By Larry Litt

"What To Do When You Hate All Your Friends"
This self proclaimed anti-social comedy could only have been created in the post "Seinfeld" era. Jerry Seinfeld and his funny but essentially unlikable neighbors have permanently set the stage for mismatched but needy young characters that work as unique, off beat, accidental and substitute family of personally satisfying misanthropes.Your friends may not be as funny or depraved as Kunofsky's five friends, but their saving grace is they're probably not nearly as competitive. By Larry Litt.

"Buffalo Gal"
"Buffalo Gal" pits dreams against dreams, the pull of nostalgia against the impulse to move forward, the love of art against the temptation of commercialism – and it does all this with charm, grace, and humor. The productin by Primary Stages at 59 E. 59th Street Theaters, under the direction of Mark Lamos, brings us the fullness of real people coming together for a common goal. All the characters seem to have back stories. And Susan Sullivan is charismatic. By Glenda Frank.

"Some Americans Abroad": a dark comedy becomes a summer highlight
Student tales of class trips abroad are full of drunken adventures, sexual hook-ups, mysterious disappearances and cultural discoveries. Richard Nelson's "Some Americans Abroad," in a stellar revival at Second Stage Theatre, turns the tables by taking on the teachers' perspective of the trip. This dark comedy of manner, this satire with a poignant heart, slowly reveals the secrets of these academics, and we discover how precarious, stressful and cruel life can be in an ivory tower. The delicate balance between parody and the human condition makes this production of "Some Americans Abroad" a summer highlight. By Glenda Frank.

"Around the World in 80 Days" in Two Delightful Hours
In "Around the World in 80 Days," Michael Evan Haney directs five actors playing 39 parts, brilliantly coordinating the many scenes and sets, with the attendant lighting, sound effects and props. The result is a dazzling tour-de-force of acting and production. By Paulanne Simmons.

Bette and Boo walk down memory lane at the Roundabout
Pioneers built our country. They settled the land, explored the galaxy, created jazz, and founded corporations on a shoestring in their garages. These visionaries saw the ladder, climbed the first rungs – and sometimes, like Eugene O'Neill and Jonas Salk, they become the benchmarks. In 1985, when "The Marriage of Bette and Boo" premiered, Christopher Durang had audiences rolling in the aisles as they tossed away their rose-colored glasses to look with cynical eyes at the American family and Catholicism, topics that had been taboo as satire on the American stage. The play earned Durang an Obie and Obies for cast; "The Marriage of Bette and Boo" is very actor-friendly. But the Roundabout Theatre Company revival, directed by Walter Bobbie, is more a walk down memory lane than a compelling comedy. By Glenda Frank.
LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS--Badia Fahra, Montego Glover and Angela Grovey in "Little Shop of Horrors" by Mark Waldrop. Photo by Gerry Goodstein.

 

"Little Shop of Horrors" Is Open Again at the Paper Mill Playhouse
"Little Shop of Horrors," based on Roger Corman's 1960 sci-fi comedy, is a production team's dream. It features smoke rolling down the isles, projections, strobe lights, a trap door, and of course, that wonderful naughty plant. But the show is also a perfect showcase for a talented cast, with a doo-wop, rock ‘n' roll, Motown and bluesy score that includes the show-stoppers "Skid Row (Downtown)," "Suddenly Seymour" and "Suppertime."

EST: MARATHON 2008, SERIES B
Every serious playwright deserves a showcase -- to experiment, reconsider, revise or scrap -- and that's precisely what the EST marathons are all about. Held during the summer and consisting of five quick takes – most of the one-acts are about half an hour long -- the festival might seem to be part of the growing trend toward reasonably priced theatre for people who don't want a highly polished or even finished production. For people who want to experience theatre that is not Broadway. By Glenda Frank.
REASONS TO BE PRETTY--Pablo Schreiber and Thomas Sadoski in a scene from MCC Theater's production of "reasons to be pretty." Photo by Joan Marcus.

"reasons to be pretty" Needs More Thought
Neil LaBute who has made a name for himself with plays about casual cruelty and the effect personal appearance has on life and love ("Fat Pig"), is on his hobby horse again with "reasons to be pretty" presented by MCC Theater under the direction of Terry Kinney. The play marks the sixth collaboration between MCC Theater and LaBute, who is MCC's Playwright-in-Residence. This kind of relationship between a theater and playwright can be wonderfully productive. It can also allow the playwright to sink into a swamp of self-indulgence. By Paulanne Simmons.
STRETCH--Kristin Griffith and Evan Thompson in " Stretch." Photo by Jim Baldassare.

Stretch
Susan Bernfield, in "STRETCH (a fantasia)," presented by New Georges at the Living Theater, calls her imaginative construction of the last weeks of Rose Mary Woods's life a "musical-hybrid-play-thingie." Woods was Richard Nixon's secretary and a powerhouse in her own right, and "STRETCH" conjectures what her last weeks in an Ohio nursing home might have been like from her own perspective. Kristin Griffith as Woods goes from Beltway insider to droopy-eyed octogenarian at the drop of the proverbial handkerchief, as Rachel Peters's score conveys emotions via a small orchestra that includes an IBM Selectric. By Dorothy Chansky.

The Great American All Star Traveling War Machine
Even though Larry Litt empathizes with Irondale's anti war stance, he believes that its politics are riddled with falsehoods and prejudice.
PRISONER OF THE CROWN--Phillip Goodwin and Emma O'Donnell in "Prisoner of the Crown."

"Prisoner of the Crown"
Roger Casement was hanged for treason after he attempted to secure a German declaration of support for an independent Ireland after World War I (this was shortly before the failed Easter Rising), and encouraging Irish prisoners of war to join an Irish brigade (he got only three recruits). His trial is the subject of "Prisoner of the Crown" by Richard F. Stockton and Richard T. Herd. The Irish Rep's production, directed by Ciaran O'Reilly, is part "Twelve Angry Men," part "Law & Order," part impressionistic, experimental drama. As time places us further and further from the events of the play, Casement appears more and more to be an Irish national hero. Who better than The Irish Repertory Theatre to tell the story? By Paulanne Simmons.

"Appearance – A Suspense in Being"
Throughout the day, we respond to scores of sensory and emotional stimuli, sometimes with grandly-scaled movements, sometimes with only flickering, nearly invisible, gestures. There are also times when our actions are carefully calculated because we deliberately want to show the world something; yet we can also use movements and facial expressions as armor to protect ourselves. With "jazz acting" based on Meyerhold, this phenomenon is examined by Theaterlab in "Appearance - A Suspense in Being." By Jack Anderson.
LES LIAISONS DANGEREUSES--Laura Linney and Ben Daniels in "Les Liaisons Dangereuses." Photo by Joan Marcus.

Les Liaisons dangereuses
Christopher Hampton's "Les Liaisons Dangereuses" is based on the epistolary novel by the Frenchman, Choderlos de Laclos who wrote the book in 1782. Hampton's adaptation was first produced in l987, followed by the movie, 1988. The film achieved a good deal of attention and was a huge success, particularly for the work of Glen Close and John Malkovich in the leads. In this current production both Laura Linney and Ben Daniels as the two unscrupulous schemers are miscast. Which leaves the play an empty shell. By Margaret Croyden.
CHERRY DOCS-- Maximilian Osinski and Mark Zeisler. Photo by Caleb Levengood.

Cherry Docs
Larry Litt says that rarely does he leave a theater feeling he's seen a play so overwhelming and important that he has to tell friends they shouldn't miss it. Plays come and go, but their issues remain long after their runs. "Cherry Docs" by Canadian David Gow is a play that will stay because its issues demand immediate attention; its writing is clear and characters human and its actors are superlative.
BOEING-BOEING--Mark Rylance and Kathryn Hahn in "Boeing-Boeing" by Matthew Camoletti. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Boeing-Boeing
A few minutes into the play, buoyantly directed by Matthew Warchus, the plot is revealed. Bernard (Bradley Whitford), an attractive, self-assured bachelor, has three girlfriends. "Less than three would be monotonous; more than three is way too tiring." All are airline hostesses, and all think he's going to marry them. "Boeing-Boeing" is filled with double entendres, misunderstandings, near misses and high jinx. It takes a while for "Boeing-Boeing" to get off the ground, but once it takes off, the show is non-stop hilarity. By Paulanne Simmons.

The Devil and Tom Walker
If you're looking to spend a couple of enjoyable hours with delightful songs, storytelling and capable acting about The Devil conning a ne'er-do-well into lending money to greedy colonial New Englanders, then watch him justify foreclosing on their properties and shrug at their ruined lives, then this very timely show is just the ticket for a lively Springtime entertainment. By Larry Litt.
CRY BABY--The cast of "Cry Baby" by Mark Brokaw. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Cry-Baby
Broadway's exuberant new musical, "Cry-Baby" opens at an anti-Polio picnic in Baltimore. It's 1954, and Mrs. Vernon-Williams (the always magnificent Harriet Harris) presides over a group of wholesome, all-American teenagers, the girls wearing flared skirts, the boys wearing identical sweaters. They sing an innocent 50s number about the joys of inoculation. By Paulanne Simmons.

KISS ME KATE-- At Paper Mill Playhouse, Photo by Gerry Goodstein, Left to Right, Liz Kimball, Elliott Bradley, Gary Lynch (Pops), Stephen Carrasco (Hortensio), Wes Hart (Gremio), Katie Hagen, Kyle Vaughn and Desirée Davar

 

Kiss Me Kate
"Kiss Me Kate" is the ultimate backstage musical in that it integrates the show-within-the show better than anybody had done before or has done since. Based on Shakespeare's comedy, "The Taming of the Shrew," the musical shows how the hero, Fred Graham (Mike McGowan) manages to tame his woman, his former wife, Lilli Vanessi (Michele Ragusa), both onstage when she plays Kate, the shrew, and offstage as the temperamental diva. By Paulanne Simmons.

 
ENDGAME--Alvin Epstein and Kathryn Grody in "Endgame" by Andrei Belgrader. Photo by Richard Termine.

BAM Plays "Endgame"
"Nothing is funnier than unhappiness," says Nell in Samuel Beckett's "Endgame," now onstage at the BAM Harvey Theater under the direction of Andrei Belgrader. Whether or not this is true, it is certainly the guiding principle behind much of Beckett's work. "Endgame" is not an easy play to watch or to perform. But when it is performed as well as it is at the Harvey Theater it can certainly be hugely satisfying. By Paulanne Simmons.
 THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST--The cast of "The Importance of being Earnest" directed by J.R. Sullivan. Photo b Gregory Costanzo.

The Importance of Being Earnest
If there ever was a play that's almost impossible to destroy it might be Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest." Yet given modern directors' inability to leave a good thing alone, one can be assured nothing is safe. So when "The Importance of Being Earnest" is presented as gleefully and energetically as the Pearl has done this season, it is still cause for celebrations. By Paulanne Simmons.

A Catered Affair
"The Catered Affair," a 1956 MGM film starring Bette Davis, Debbie Reynolds and Ernest Borgnine, explored the fragmentation and eventual coming together of a Bronx Irish family when their daughter decides she is going to marry her longtime boyfriend. It was a heartwarming story, but would it make a successful musical? Harvey Fierstein and John Bucchino's adaptation of "The Catered Affair" proves that turning a drama into a musical takes a lot more than adding a few songs. By Paulanne Simmons.
THE CONVERSATION--David Magentale in "The Conversation" by Leo Farley. Photo by Peter Sylvester.

 

The Conversation
Harry Caul is a storyteller of other people's real life stories. Normally characters in Harry Caul's stories don't know him. Nonetheless he's created their moment. Indeed, they wouldn't want to know Harry unless they too are electronic surveillance geeks. These mediated stories are intended to change and destroy lives. By Larry Litt.

 

How theatre failed America
It's the new regional theater buildings and their creative inhabitants that irk Daisey's imagination. Artistic directors, agents, stage managers, boards of directors, sponsors, grant officers all come under his scrutiny for forgetting about the role of the play and acting in the process of making theater. Theater is now like professional sports, it's the new building that impresses and imparts pride to the local crowd and the ever more important money people. It's a permanent testament to the community's love of the arts, but not art making. By Larry Litt.
THE BRAIN--Einstein's brain is removed in "The Brain," a new puppet theater work by Inkfish which explores the life, science, and mind of Albert Einstein, presented by The Club at La MaMa, NYC, April 18 to 27, 2008. Alissa Mello directs. Puppeteer: Brian Snapp.

 

The Brain
In The Brain, the extremely theatrical methods use wildly diverse mixed media to explain the theory of relativity in a way any theatergoer can recognize. Inkfish provides science education through amazingly skilled and innovative video and puppetry theater arts. Video is uniquely used to amplify Einstein's theories. You'll never wonder about relativity again. This production should be seen by all who love theater, science and peace. By Larry Litt.
ATTORNEY FOR THE DAMNED--A funny, horrific rock musical by Denis Woychuk (book, lyrics) and Rob McCullough (music), an idealistic lawyer (played by Allison Johnson) is forced to represent two criminally insane mental patients. This "Tommy"-style production is an adventure story told with dark humor, weird science and outsized, grotesque characters.

Attorney for the Damned
If Rocky Horror Picture Show can be summed up as loss of innocence rock musical with sex changes and gender bending, then Attorney for the Damned is rock and roll's personality loss, professional disappointment and violent acting out tribute.We're asked to understand and sing along with the very real manipulation, guilt and final redemption of a young, beautiful, former corporate lawyer, turned attorney for the criminally insane, the play's attorney for the damned. Musicals have come a long way baby. By Larry Litt.

The Day The Whores Came Out To Play Tennis
"The day The Whores Came Out To Play Tennis" is a play for those who love the absurdity of class and social manners. It is a poke at our striated society pretending to be classless in public but completely committed to an aristocracy of financial dominance. It could have been written at any time in history. It's at home next to Greek high comedy or French farce or an English drawing drollery. By Larry Litt.

Chamber Music
Eight woman live in the same ward of a mental institution, each believing they're the embodiment of other famous women. They interact at their ward's annual organization board meeting. The organization does nothing. Seems harm less enough. Except they're all status crazed, a microcosm of the outside world. They have nowhere to go but back to their beds with their desires. This trapped crew's existential absurdity is Kopit's theatrical strength. He creates models of the ridiculous and pompous in human relations. By Larry Litt.

CANDIDE--The cast of "Candide." Photo by Carol Rosegg.

Candide
"Candide" is back at the New York City Opera for a limited run. It has the lavish Prince treatment and is certainly delightful to both the eye and ear. Leonard Bernstein's comic opera, "Candide," has not had an easy life. It was conceived back in 1953 when Lillian Hellman made the suggestion to Leonard Bernstein that Voltaire's comic novel could be successfully adapted into a musical. The immediate result was not promising, and it's been a "problem play" ever since. This "Candide" is a pleasing spectacle; it's delightful to both the eye and ear. By Paulanne Simmons.

 
ANOTHER VERMEER-- Justin Grace and Austin Pendleton. Photo by Kim T. Sharp.

Another Vermeer
Paulanne Simmons calls Bruce J. Robinson's "Another Vermeer" the most literate play she has seen this year. Based on the true story of noted Dutch forger Han Van Meegeren, who was thrown into jail after World War II, when it was discovered he sold a Vermeer to Hermann Goring, it asks many perceptive questions about the nature of art and its relationship to the artist and society.

 
THE LITTLE FLOWER OF EAST ORANGE--Michael Shannon, Ellen Burstyn. Photo by Monique Carboni.

The Little Flower of East Orange
" The Little Flower of East Orange" could easily be just one more play about a dysfunctional family that keeps its secrets if it weren't for Stephen Adly Guirgis' sensitive writing, Philip Seymour Hoffman's muscular direction and a superb cast headed by Ellen Burstyn. It is this combination of talent that turns the play into a gripping drama of raw emotion and exposed nerves. By Paulanne Simmons.

 
ON NAKED SOIL--Rebecca Schull (R) plays Anna Akhmatova and Sue Cremin (L) plays Lydia Chukovskaya, a young writer who kept a journal of her meetings with Akhmatova, in "On Naked Soil - Imagining Anna Akhmatova."

On Naked Soil - Imagining Anna Akhmatova
Rebecca Schull's playwriting craftsmanship shines in this production about the tragic life of Russian poetess Anna Akhmatova during the 1930s Stalinist purges. While the words are deeply true, they are spoken with uncommon feeling and sincerity by Ms Schull, who plays Anna. This is a superior example of actor/writer theater, a genre usually reserved for one person shows. By Larry Litt.

 
GYPSY -- Photo by Paul Kolnik.

"Gypsy" is back
As the quintessential stage mother who launched Gypsy Rose Lee on her career, Patti LuPone is brassy and vulnerable, calm and frenetic, distracted and intense. Her voice fills the theater and her heart takes over the stage. From the moment she steps onto the stage at the St. James Theatre, it's obvious she's going to make this role totally her own. Who could ask for more? By Paulanne Simmons.
JUNO--Victoria Clark is the hardworking Irish matriarch struggling heroically to hold her family together in "Juno," the second Encores! production of the season.

"Juno" Is Well-Worth a Second Look
Based on the 1924 play "Juno and the Peacock" by Sean O'Casey, "Juno" is about the trials of an Irish family during the time of troubles when the IRA was terrorizing both the British and the Ireland it was sworn to defend. By Paulanne Simmons.

"Betrayed" by George Packer. Directed by Pippin Parker
An old Chinese proverb warns that when you walk on the tiger's tail, you must tread lightly. It is a lesson the three idealistic Iraqis in George Packer's provocative play "Betrayed" learn day by day as they return home to the war zone from their jobs as translators for the American army. They don't all survive. Prescott (Mike Doyle), their American supervisor, is the play's voice of indignation, and we join him in wishing that these bright young people – the hope of their nation – survive and move on to bigger and better lives. They are the drama, but the larger lesson of the play is our good-natured but deadly delusions about the country and our ambivalent moral responsibility. Since its inception in 1996, Culture Project has been bringing cutting edge political issues to audiences through high quality dramas. They have been a call to conscience. "Betrayed" is one of its finest productions. By Glenda Frank.
THE CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR--DB Woodside and John Cullum in "The Conscientious Objector" Photo by Theresa Squire

"The Conscientious Objector" Explores the Man Behind the King Myth
"The Conscientious Objector" is a brilliant and timely dramatization of those final years when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. took his courageous stand against the war in Vietnam. By Paulanne Simmons.

"Parlor Song," a familiar tune
"Parlour Song," like Jez Butterworth's two other plays staged at Atlantic Theater Company, "Mojo" and "The Night Heron," takes place in contemporary Great Britain, in an area somewhere close to London. But the drama offers an apt depiction of a familiar, bleak view of the alienated, isolated and empty life endured by many couples. By Paulanne Simmons.
GRACE--Lynn Redgrave and Oscar Isaac in MCC Theater's production of "Grace." Photo by Joan Marcus.

Looking for God Off-Broadway
What is Grace? In Mick Gordon and AC Grayling's play by the same name, now making its American premiere at the Lucille Lortel Theater, grace is two things. It's the name of the principal character, a mother, wife, professor and confirmed atheist. It's also that state one achieves through what the dictionary calls "the unmerited love and favor of God toward mankind." By Paulanne Simmons.
APPLAUSE--Christine Ebersole as Margo Channing in "Applause." Photo by Joan Marcus.

Four Days of Applause
"Applause," the 1970 Tony-winning musical hasn't been seen on Broadway for more than 35 years. Happily for those who remember its fine score and saucy dialogue, as well as those who need to be introduced to the show, "Applause" is part of this season's City Center Encores! series. By Paulanne Simmons.

"Glimpses of the Moon" Is Jazzy and Juicy
Based on a novel by Edith Wharton, "Glimpses of the Moon" has a book and lyrics by Tajlei Levis and music by John Mercurio. Composer and lyricist have created a score with clever lines and catchy melodies that pay tribute to the likes of Cole Porter and the Gershwins. By Paulanne Simmons.

Star Gazing at the Judson Memorial Church
''The Great Nebula in Orion'' is one of a trilogy by Wilson that composer Kenneth Fuchs scored. There are some exciting phrases and instalments, when sound becomes architectural and music, voices and mood achieve a rare beauty and complexity. But the musical whole does not consistently command attention and interest. The script itself is more an exercise for two actors than a developed short play. The women never achieve significant contact or conflict despite some genuine human moments of cattiness, jealousy and discomfort. The score serves as a thread instead of stepping into the gaps and offering more drama and deeper emotional context. The singers, however, excel. Their voices tell the human story in many colors and tones, effortlessly and as a natural extension of their acting. They move well on the comfortable, elegant set with lighting by Richard Currie and direction by Wallace Norman, Artistic Director of Woodstock Fringe, the co-producer . By Glenda Frank.
APARTMENT 3A--Philip J. Cutrone, Marianna McClellan in "Apartment 3A." Photo by Kat Cheng

"Apartment 3A" Opens Doors of Hope
Two years ago Paulanne Simmons reviewed "Apartment 3A" at ArcLight Theater and liked it. Now Jeff Daniels' fine piece of work is at Beckett Theatre, presented by the young and vibrant Clockwork Theatre, and she loves it.

Water Running Under Ice
"Maudie and Jane" was written by Luciano Nattino but based on Doris Lessing's story, "The Diary of Jane Somers." Hanon Reznikov has translated the play from the Italian and directed it for The Living Theater, casting Judith Malina as Maudie and Pat Russell as Jane. The production does for theater what Erica Jong and Philip Roth did for novels in the 70s. By Ellen W. Lytle.
THE MADDENING TRUTH--Lisa Emery and Terry Layman in Keen Company's production of "The Maddening Truth." Photo by Theresa Squire

"The Maddening Truth" Makes Words Count
David Hay, whose "The Maddening Truth" is now being staged by Keen Company under the direction of Carl Forsman, is a writer on art and architecture, and a contributor to The New York Times, Men's Vogue and New York Magazine. All of this is clearly evident in his new play. "The Maddening Truth" takes a look at Hemmingway's third wife, Martha Gellhorn, and her heroic attempt in her mid-60s to write a novel with the same kind of stature achieved by those of her husband. It is a play about people, places and times. But most of all it is a play about ideas. When the dust settles, what this play does make obvious is that creativity is not passive, but it is painful. In Gelllhorn's triumphant BBC reading with Geoffrey Brooks (Layman), her limpid prose is searing and revelatory; and Forsman knows how to let the words speak for themselves, with no gimmicks and no bells and whistles. "The Maddening Truth" is making its premiere in the 21st century. But there is something about this play that hearkens back to another time: a time when words counted and people were willing to pay attention long enough to listen and think about them. This alone cause for celebration. By Paulanne Simmons.
SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE--Mike Shimkin, Ashton Crosby and Dustin Olson in "Slaughterhouse Five Or: The Children's Crusade." Photo by Donata Zanott

Godlight Illuminates "Slaughterhouse-Five"
Turning a novel into a play is no easy matter; but when the novel happens to be Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse-Five," the difficulties might seem insurmountable. Fortunately, Eric Simonson has created an excellent adaptation that is both faithful to the original novel and eminently dramatic, and Godlight Theatre Company handles this production with great care, energy and expertise. By Paulanne Simmons.

A Hundred Characters for "The 39 Steps"
If you are old enough to remember Alfred Hitchcock's fabulous script, its intricate design, its suspense, and amusing chase between the hero and the spy masters, then you will certainly appreciate this spoof of Hitchcock's. Imagine three men and a single woman playing all the roles that encompass the entire movie from the beginning to the end; and this they do so brilliantly that it is impossible to tell that the actors are playing multiple characters. How does this production, so cleverly directed by Maria Aitken, get this story in shape? She had only four actors who seem as if they are improvising. Within a minute they change from one character to another. Sometimes they run across the stage, existing from the right only to re-enter left, almost instantly. These actors have the agility of clowns as they depict changes of scenery with a variety of body movements. They walk, glide, run, exit, enter. Few props are used: a wooden frame becomes a window, certain body movements by the cast indicate a moving train, or a mountainous climb all this is accomplished by the actors' perfect timing. By Margaret Croyden.
HAPPY DAYS--Fiona Shaw as Winnie in "Happy Days" by Samuel Beckett, directed by Deborah Warner, National Theatre of Great Britain, photo by Richard Termine.

The Search for "Happy Days"
There are two characters in Samuel Beckett's "Happy Days." One is Winnie, a fifty-year-old woman who cannot walk because she is partially buried, or literally in a hole. The other is her husband, Willie, a sixty-year-old man who cannot talk. Or rather a man who can only occasionally talk in monosyllables and grunts. Winnie, on the other hand, can certainly talk. And that she does, incessantly. Many people regard Beckett's plays as abstract, obscure and intellectual. The National Theatre of Great Britain's production, directed by Deborah Warner, brilliantly exposes the emotional core of Beckett's tragicomic view of life. By Paulanne Simmons.
NO REGRETS: THE REMARKABLE BARB JUNGR--at the Metropolitan Room.

 

Barb Jungr is Smokin' in "No Regrets: The Remarkable Barb Jungr"
Barb Jungr is sultry in a way that makes one think of crowded bistros entered through a beaded door, dimly lit and filled with smoke. Cigarettes are now banned in most public places. But, have no fear, Jungr provides her own smoke. By Paulanne Simmons.

Fourteenth Annual "Spoken Word Extravaganza"
Futurus Lux is the latin name for future light, the fourteenth annual 'spoken word extravaganza' at the Bowery Poetry Club. As most of you know the original idea of founder Bruce Weber was to have an alternative to the poetry politics of the St. Marks' Poetry Project; that is to have absolutely free of charge, freedom to express performances that would last all day and all evening so almost all the poets and musicians who want to read or perform, may. It works. By Ellen W. Lytle.
THE TEMPEST--Kymm Zuckert as Caliban, Alexandra Devin as Stephano, and Sarah Hankins as Trinculo in The Tempest, photo by Kimberly Zuckert.

The Women Take Over "The Tempest"
In recent years we have seen directors stage numerous successful all-male versions of Shakespeare's plays, most notably Edward Hall's Propeller Company's all-male productions of Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew" and "Twelfth Night." So an all-female production of the Bard might be a long time coming. "The Tempest" at Wings Theater begins with a long and somewhat contrived narrative of past events in which Prospero tells his daughter, Miranda (Kendall Rileigh) how years ago his brother Antonio (Kim Carlson), stole the dukedom of Milan from him, and cast him off to sea along with his baby, Miranda. On the lonely island where they now reside, Prospero found Caliban (the excellent Kymm Zuckert), the vulgar son of the witch Sycorax, and Ariel (Kerry Shear), a spirit whom Caliban had imprisoned. After releasing Ariel, Prospero made both Caliban and Ariel his servants through his expert use of magic. By Paulanne Simmons.

"The Seafarer" -- At last, a Winner!
If you want to see terrific acting on the Broadway stage (which is rare) you must see Conor McPherson's new play, "The Seafarer" at the Booth theater. There, five actors will show you how group acting can make a simple drama compelling. As expected in a McPherson play, the story takes place in a provincial town outside of Dublin where four friends meet to celebrate Christmas, beginning with Christmas Eve morning and ending Christmas Eve night. In Richard's (Jim Norton) run down, shabby house, each man is eager to indulge his ritual--playing poker and drinking. Drinking, the endless talk about it, the search for it, are the principle obsessions of this besotted group. And they will do anything to procure the precious alcohol which unites them in a common bond. By Margaret Croyden.
THE DEVIL'S DISCIPLE-- Lorenzo Pisoni and Cristin Milioti. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

"The Devil's Disciple" Is Filled with Wit and Wisdom
George Bernard Shaw's "The Devil's Disciple," presents us with three intriguing men: Anthony Anderson, a preacher doing God's work; Dick Dudgeon, the elder son in a Puritan family, who considers himself a renegade, a disciple of the devil; and General Burgoyne, a cynical and pragmatic military man. By Paulanne Simmons.
SYMPATHY FROM AN IMPOSTER -- In "Is He Dead" by Mark Twain, cross-dressing Francoise Millet (Norbert Leo Burtz) embraces the comely Marie Leroux (Jenn Gambatese). Photo by Joan Marcus.

"Is He Dead" by Michael Blakemore
"Is He Dead?" has none of the biting wit and dark humor that made Twain famous. It is a broad farce that owes more to vaudeville than the legitimate theater. By Paulanne Simmons.

Nice Jewish Girls Gone Bad
"Nice Jewish Girls Gone Bad" is a timely chronicle of deep disappointment and unfulfilled desires painted over with songs, comedy, dance and joy from assimilated Jewish women who want it all. Fame, fortune, love and family. The poetical angst of learning that coming to New York, trying to be modern, hip, and Jewish in cold, cold show business, has a personal toll. By Larry Litt.

"Rock 'N' Roll" by Tom Stoppard
In "Rock 'N' Roll," Tom Stoppard, Britain's most erudite and scholarly playwright, has once again tackled political and historical problems on repression and revolution in 20th century Czechoslovakia during the Cold war--a perfect background for arguments about Marxism, socialism, Soviet oppression, and revolution and its effect on human character. By Margaret Croyden.

The Pearl Theatre Company Keeps "The Constant Couple" Young
In "The Constant Couple," five men vie for the beautiful and rich Lady Lurewell (Rachel Botchan), a woman who's traumatic first experience with love has made her determined never to love again. By Paulanne Simmons.

Richard III at CSC
Some Richards glower. Some limp around the stage and sneer. Some simply look dyspeptic. But Michael Cumpsty's King Richard III, the most evil and beloved of all Shakespeare's villain, smiles with unsullied delight. He adores this game of bloody politics. Ticking off the murdered players is his opiate of choice. The blending of this upbeat villainy with some judicious editing makes this "Richard III" at Classic Stage Company, directed jointly by Cumpsty and Brian Kulick, the Artistic Director of CSC, compelling, fresh, and exciting. By Glenda Frank.

The Piano Teacher
Mrs. K, the title character in Julia Cho's new play, "The Piano Teacher," is an aging widow who lives in a fussy, old-fashioned house with her old baby grand piano and her memories. By Paulanne Simmons.
"THE ROUND OF PLEASURE" IS A VIENNESE TREAT -- Werner Schwab's play, based on Schnitzler's "La ROnde" has ten assignations, just like the original. Here, Catherine Correa (Prostitute) consorts with Peter Schmitz (Member of Parliament).

"The Round of Pleasure" by Werner Schwab
We have playwrights like Austria's Werner Schwab in this country. Playwirghts who see through all the major and minor hypocrisies of our contemporary lives. But can they tell their stories without schmaltz, without making you want to cry? Because our American version of the human condition is that somewhere there's a better life for us? Yeah right. Not any more. That's why The New Stage Theatre Company's production of Schwab's "The Round of Pleasure" is a Viennese treat, a rich dessert from Mittel Europa that breaks all the artificially imposed rules of political correctness. Call it anti-Kushner to a stylistic extreme. "Round" has no social conscience, while also having as complete a picture of society's moral hypocrisies and ethical duplicities as one can get in an hour and a half. By Larry Litt.

Cyrano de Kevin Kline
Edmond Rostand's 19th century classic play "Cyrano de Bergerac" has always attracted stars and over the years many have tried their hand at it. In the past Jose Ferrer played it on stage and screen, and even the French leading man Gerard Depardieu stared in the original French version. Margaret Croyden assesses Kevin Kline's stab at the role.

Pygmaleon in the Roundabout
Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw, Directed by David Grindley Margaret Croyden attends Shaw's "Pygmaleon," directed by David Grindley at the Roundabout, and comes out filled with praise for the author. The production, she relates, was enjoyable but not without its flaws.

John Jesurun's Philoktetes
John Jesurun's Philoktetes is definitely not a gay romp in ancient Greece. It is a poetic masterpiece that made me close my eyes so I could hear and digest the brilliance of his language. By Larry Litt.

Night Over Taos
In its frenetic search for the next new voice or style, the many theatre festivals in New York have been demonstrating the need for craft – and with craft the American masters whose work has fallen by the wayside. The award-winning Mint Theatre and Transport Group at the Connelly Center have been holding the banner high. Recently INTAR, under the guidance of Eduardo Machado, has joined them with Maxwell Anderson's "Night over Taos." The 1932 play offers audiences both the historical and the contemporary -- thanks in large part to the insight of director Estelle Parsons. The play runs almost three hours but time flies by. It is hard to come by that sense of real satisfaction from ticket prices this reasonable. By Glenda Frank.

"Electra" from National Theatre of Greece at City Center
When Sigmund Freud read Sophocles' tragedy about family murder and obsession, he recognized the pathology and so titled a daughter's infatuation for her father an Electra complex. The National Theatre of Greece has brought us the original, slightly adapted but still in Greek (modern) with supertitles, and staged by the internationally celebrated German director Peter Stein at City Center's Main Stage. The return of the national theatre for six performances at City Center is always an event, but this year it is a little disappointing. The production has many impressive moments, but it is emotionally unengaging. By Glenda Frank.
WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE--Tim Ryan Meinelschmidt in "Who Do You Think You Are" at 78th Street Theatre Lab. Photo by N. Rainford.

"All The Help You Need"
Working with director Christopher Fessenden, Tim Ryan Meinelschmidt has turned his true-life experiences as an actor supplementing his income by hiring himself out as a jack-of-all-trades into a monologue filled with humor and pathos. By Paulanne Simmons.

"Sive"
John B. Keane's first play, "Sive," originally produced in 1959 and this season at The Irish Repertory Theatre, is a simple but moving family drama set in Ireland during the days when the country was still poor. By Paulanne Simmons.
ROCK DOVES--Marty Maguire and Johnny Hopkins in "Rock Doves." Photo by Jaisen Crockett.

"Rock Doves" Is Heartbreaking and Hilarious
"Rock Doves" is set in a derelict house on the fringes of a Protestant Estate in inner-city Belfast. The IRA boys are all drinking cappuccinos in Armani suites. But the Loyalists have found it difficult to adjust. By Paulanne Simmons.
THE POWER OF DARKNESS--Angela Reed and Mark Alhadeff in "The Power of Darkness." Photo by Rahav Segev.

"The Power of Darkness" Has Great Dramatic Strength
Tolstoy's "The Power of Darkness" does not just expose the depths to which immoral persons can sink. It also reveals the saving power of faith in the Lord's goodness and mercy. By Paulanne Simmons.

 
JEWEL THIEVES ! by Norman Beim

Mystery and Mayhem in "Jewel Thieves!"
If Agatha Christie had written comedies, the result might have been something like Norman Beim's "Jewel Thieves!" now making its New York premiere at The Turtle's Shell Theater. By Paulanne Simmons.

Walmartopia
It's easy to target Wal-Mart, but doing it as tunefully as Catherine Capellaro (book) and Andrew Rohn (music and lyrics) in their new musical, "Walmartopia," directed by Daniel Goldstein at The Minetta Lane Theatre, is another matter. By Paulanne Simmons.

JOHANNES DOKCHTOR FAUST--Vit Horejs pokes through the puppet stage's floor in "Johannes Dokchtor Faust."

Johannes Dokchtor Faust, with Czech Puppets
In the United States puppetry is dominated by the Muppets and children's entertainment. So it may come as some surprise that the Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre has chosen for its latest production the centuries-old story of the learned Johannes Faust, who sold his soul to the devil in exchange for ultimate knowledge. The company's "Johannes Dochtor Faust" is filled with clever effects and brilliant staging. By Paulanne Simmons.

December in New York
Let's Beat Those Commie Russkis! The CIA Covertly Arms What Became the Taliban!, Shen Wei Finds Artful Ways To Fill the Park Avenue Armory with Dance Arts, Getting Falling Down Drunk & Trashing a Motel Room on Derby Day…, The Monstrous Golem Comes from Prague to East Fourth Street: Be Clay Once Again!, Rent Began Life at the New York Theatre Workshop: Will Once Move to Broadway?, Antiquities at Christie's: Headless Statues & Bronze Man Without a Leg To Stand on!, James DePriest at Carnegie Hall: Siwoo Kim Is Juilliard Orchestra Violin Soloist!, Stick Fly at the Cort: Family Problems for Prosperous Blacks on Martha's Vineyard!, One of Those Coen Brothers Returns: Happy Hour on West 42nd Not So Much Fun…, All Women Are Not Like That, Amadeus: Così fan tutte at the Manhattan School, Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape at BAM: Not Sam's Last Crap, by Any Means, Ay, Federico! Lorca's Bow Tie at the Duke: Young Artists in New York Tie It On!, Ana Tzarev Explodes Her Paint Tubes To Celebrate Russian Fairytales, For Booklovers & Others at the Grolier: Imperial French Type Dies in Many Languages…, Sex in All Its Possible Forms & Positions: Burning Down on Theatre Row!, No Calorie Counts on the Meat Pies in Titus Andronicus: Don't Eat Your Kids!, Maple & Vine Is Not Hollywood & Vine: It's a Made Up 1950s "Family Values" Town!, The Frick's New Glassed Portico: Looking Out on the Forbidden Garden, Afternoon at the Asia Society: Sarah Sze's Fine Lines, Plus Coins on the Floor…, A Moment at MoMA: Sanja Ivekovic--Women's Issues/Women's Photo Portraits!, Brooklyn Museum Library & Others at Bonham's: Librarians' Night Among Autographs, On a Clear Day, You Can See Harry Connick, Jr!, Potential Brain Damage at the Park Ave Armory: STREB…Falling on Mats from Heights!, Juilliard at Tully: From Mozart's Jupiter To Prokofiev's Romeo & Juliet, Shanghai Cirque at New Vic: Everything That Streb Was Not!, Elizabeth Taylor's Jewels Dazzle at Christie's Sale: $156.8 Million, Plus Luggage!, A Bread & Puppet Christmas with Two Quite Different Shows: Attica for Xmas?, Three Met Press Previews: Renaissance Portraits, Duncan Phyfe, Plus Amer Ind Artifacts, Chopping Down The Cherry Orchard Down on East 13th! But No Axe Sounds?, Once, There Was Carmen Jones: Now We Have Lysistrata Jones, Who's No Relation…, Bonnie & Clyde: Where Is Faye Dunaway When We Need Her? Warren Beatty?

Turkey Week and End of November
Juilliard Chamber Symphony at Alice Tully: Standing Violinists, Sitting Cellos!; Peter Brook's Beckettian Fragments at Barishnikov: Gestures & Words…; Weak King Richard II Surrounded by Favorites at Court: Gay Buddies Bad Policy!; Who's Banging on That Door? Who Fucked Up on That Military Mission?; Challenge To Book of Mormon: Musical Version of Silence of the Lambs!; The Horrors & Joys of Gay Marriage! Standing on Ceremony Comes Out of the Closet!; The Great War Re Visited: The Blue Flower Sings of Lives Destroyed & Collaged.; Into the Woods with Wild Animals You Should Know: Watch Out for Feral Teenage Boys!; Japanese Narratives at the Met Museum: Plus Fabergé, Renaissance Venice + More…; Important American Paintings & Sculptures at Christie's: Rich Collectors Need Cash?; Suicide, Incorporated Appropriately Sited in the Black Box at the Pels on 46th & Sixth.; Seminar with Alan Rickman at the Golden: $5,000 Apiece To Learn How To Write Fiction?; Moses Confronts Pharaoh at Carnegie Hall: Not the Aida Legend: Rossini, Not Verdi!; Hanging Boys & Hanging Artworks In Guggenheim Rotunda + Stuffed Dead Horses!

Town Hall to MoMa and More
No Performer Mikes on stage at Town Hall: Scott Siegel's Broadway Unplugged 2011!; Into Space & Beyond Planet Earth at Museum of Natural History: Just Press the Button!; No Cantonese, If You Please: Try To Learn Ch'inglish—But It Loses In Translation…; Why Are There No Skinny Boteros? Acres of Latin American Art at Christie's!; Cowardian Comedy of Manners Elegant But Mannered: Kim Cattrall in Private Lives.; The Usual Suspects in MoMA's Contemporary Galleries: From 1980 to NOW…; New Maxwell Davies Opera: Students Under Oppression: From Hitler to Mao to Ole' Miss.; Gender Bending American Art at Brooklyn Museum: HIDE/SEEK—Who's Gay or Not?; Look Where It Comes Again! Not Hamlet's Ghost, but the Specter of GODSPELL!; Who Would Believe John Malkovich as a Viennese Serial Killer? With an Orchestra?; Lusty Dancing for Lughnasa, But Tragic Lives for Brian Friel's Ballybeg Mundys…; Musical Sunday Downhill From Riverside Church: Opera Scenes & Eschenbach.; Don't Take It Straight! Milk Like Sugar at Playwrights' Horizons!

From Diego Rivera to Orwell and more
Diego Rivera's 1930s MoMA Murals Again at MoMA: But No Frida Kahlo…, Two Nights Downhill from Grant's Tomb: Creationism from Haydn + Opera Arias!, New York City's Oldest Museum Now Its Most Digitally Modern: NY Historical Society, Art Plunderer Sherrie Levine Uses Walker Evans, Plywood, & Four Billiard Tables…, The Tower of Brooklyn Could Be Our Tower of Babble On: BAM's Brooklyn Babylon, On Forty Second Street, Once Again TAPS IS TOPS! Untapped at the New Victory, PETA Alert! Check Out Venus in Fur! Did Any Foxes Die for This S&M Romp?, Park Avenue Armory Transformed with Pavilion of Art & Design New York: Deco & More!, Atmosphere of Memory Not So Spherical--Nor Empirical…, Before 1984: George Orwell on British Imperialism in Burmese Days.

There wasn't any post-Halloween letdown
In the Depths of The Great Depression, Lefty Lenses at Work in the NY Photo League…, Which Is Worse: To Be a Foster Child or To Be Adopted? How About A Charity Case?, Stunning Auction Catalogues at Phillips de Pury: Own Your Own Art Gallery for Only $35!, Giant White Ghosts on Chicken Footed Stilts Save Shackleton Puppets at BAM!, Swedenborgian Angels Dance Once Again: Not at BAM, But at LaMaMa's Ellen Stewart…, Print Fair at Park Ave Armory: Penny Plain/Tuppence Colored Not So Cheap Anymore!, The Good Old Days at Judson Hall Live Again: Queen of the Mist Subtly Sings…, Sam Waterston Bravely Climbs That Final Actors Mountain: KING LEAR, Around the Corner from Ladurée/Paris: Mental Earth Growths & Smears at Knoedler!, Other Desert Cities, Reborn from Lincoln Center, Now in the Tiny Little Booth Theatre!, Brits Off Broadway at 59E59: Hop on Over To See Bunny!

What went on around the October snows?
Last Week, Islamic Art at the Morgan; This Week, More at the Met Museum!, Splintered Souls Over on West 43rd Street: Call Beth Israel!, Ronald Lauder's Treasures at Neue Galerie: All That Money Can Buy…, Sons of the Prophet: Not Sa'udi Arabs, But Lebanese, If You Please!, Nicole Awai's Almost Undone Show Almost Over…, Pete Gurney's 1974 Children Come Home To Roost at Beckett, Flaming Twenties Live Again in Brooklyn: Youth and Beauty!, Ingmar Bergman's Cries & Whispers Drastically Deconstructed at BAM!, Silver Screen/Silver Prints: Hollywood Glamour at the Grolier Society!, Film Noir Fashions on Parade at Lincoln Center Performing Arts Library, Chris Marlowe's Love's Labour's Not at All Lost at Public Theatre…, Master Pianist Alfred Brendel Gives a Master Class at Juilliard!

All around, it was a bad week.
Visible In the Flesh Ghost in the Machine at New City: How Did She Die?, There's the Grand Canal in Venice; Then There's the Root Canal Over on East 40th… , Woody Allen, Ethan Coen, & Elaine May Pen Plays, Relatively Speaking… , Islamic Manuscript Illuminations at the Morgan: But The Prophet Nixed Human Images! , Beijing Dance Theatre Ensemble Moves Through a Haze at BAM! , Young Gay Jewish Playwright Makes a Submission to the Humana Festival. , Shtetl Tales: The Learning Play of Rabbi Levi Yitzhok, Son of Sarah, of Berditchev… , Very Athletic [Abridged] Complete World of Sports at the New Vic: Olympics, Anyone? , Meanwhile, in Future Holiday Destination, Libya, They Shot the Bad Guy!

A good "Cymbeline," Steichen's Vintage Photos and more
Broadway's Own Paul Gemignani Gives Our Regards to Broadway from MSM…, Steichen's Vintage Photos & Stieglitz's Artists Emerge from Met Museum Vaults!, Stop! Don't Take That Bus! Watch Out for Born Again Christians & Arson!, Man & Boy on 42nd Street: Father Pimps Son To Save Big Business Deal!, Thursday Gallery Night on 57th Street: So Much Art—So Little Time To See It!, AIDS Support Group Metaphorically on the Raft of the Medusa: Shark Alert!, Marta Eggerth Still Singing at 99: The Queen of Viennese Operetta Returns!, Garment Workers: Awake & Sing! Pins & Needles Revue Makes a Comeback!, Best Cymbeline Staging Ever by Fiasco Theatre Definitely No Fiasco…, Chinese Slave Labor Children Made Your iPad: Mike Daisey's Steve Jobs Takedown

From Picassos to Actress Zoe Kazan
Savoring Early Picassos at the Frick: From Collage to Cubism & Onward!, With Woodie King at the Castillo: New Federal Moves To 42nd Street!, David Smith’s Steel Constructions at the Whitney: Welders of the World Unite!, Martin Luther King’s Last Night at the Lorraine Motel: Early Check Out—, Actress Zoe Kazan Writes a Play: We Live Here at Manhattan Theatre Club., Could Edgar Bergen Have Done This: A Singing Ventriloquist in a Musical?, Nicky Silver Strikes Again: Linda Lavin Is Your Basic Jewish Mother!, Another Kind of Jewish Mother at 59E5

A Tribute to Judy Garland and The Art of American Movie Dance
Town Hall's Seventh Annual Broadwa
y Cabaret Festival concludes with "A Tribute to Judy Garland and The Art of American Movie Dance" hosted by Scott Siegel with Lorna Luft and Susan Stroman. By Paulanne Simmons.

Songs My Mother Taught Me
In “Songs My Mother Taught Me,” Lorna Luft combines the repertoire that audiences associate with her mother and personal memories that speak of humor and love. By Paulanne Simmons.

The 6th Annual Weasel Festival: "The Red Letterbox" by Alexandra Collier
Inspired again by the genius of scribbler Mac Wellman, this year's 6th annual Weasel festival features talented playwrights Caitlin Brubacher, Alexandra Collier, Sara Farrington and Ariel Stess with director Sarah Rasmussen. This experimental festival is fast becoming an exciting platform for America's downtown playwrights who are taking over from Broadway's blandness.We talk to award-winning Australian playwright Alexandra Collier about her play "The Red Letterbox." By Georgia Clark.

"Laughing Liberally: This Ain't No Tea Party" by Justin Krebs
"Laughing Liberally: This Ain't No Tea Party" mixes humor, musical numbers, video, and political satire to spread understanding of liberal ideas, advance progressive values and provoke the Tea Party. We spoke to Justin Krebs about the nuts 'n' bolts of putting this show together. By Gerogia Clark.

"Bring Us The Head Of Your Daughter" by Dereck Ahonen
"Bring Us The Head Of Your Daughter" is the latest effort from those Off-Broadway darlings, The Amoralists. Playwright/director Derek Ahonen explains his biting examination of an unconventional family. By Georgia Clark.

Too Much Light? Never!
The New York Neo-Futurists launch the sixth year of "Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind"; a lightening-paced attempt to perform 30 plays in 60 minutes. By Georgia Clark.

Town Hall Celebrates its 90 Years

"Porgy and Bess"

Angry Young Women In Low-Rise Jeans
With High-Class Issues

"Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" on Broadway

"The Columnist"

Gore Vidal's The Best Man

The "Salesman" is Revived

Puppet Hamlet

“Harvey” at the Roundabout

“Love Goes to Press”

Arieb Azhar, on Tour

Going to Tahiti Productions adapts Jane Austin's "Peruasion"

Shakespeare in the Park's "As You Like It" at the Delacorte Theater

"Max Maven: Thinking in Person" at The Abingdon Theatre Arts Complex

Cirque du Soleil's "Zarkana" at Radio City Music Hall

"Murder in the First" at 59E59 Theaters

"The Columnist" at Samuel J. Friedman Theatre

"Amelia" at Fort Jay in the Powder Magazine on Governor’s Island

"Once on This Island" at Paper Mill Playhouse

"The Chalk Circle" by Yangtze Rep

Potted Potter: The Unauthorized Hary Potter Experience

pool (no water) at the 9th Space

Carole J. Bufford's "Speak Easy" at the Metropolitan Room

"February House" at The Public Theater

"Man and Superman" at the Irish Rep

"Two Rooms" by Lee Blessing on Theater Row

“The Power of the Trinity”in Central Park SummerStage

"The Etiquette of Death" at La MaMa

The Anderson Twins Play the Fabulous Dorseys

Bregenz Festival 2011
The Arrival of Austria's President, Dr. Heinz Fischer, To Open The Bregenz Festival! / Festrede for the 2011 Festival: Changes To Be Made--New Horizons! / Inside Jean Paul Marat's Head: Umberto Giordano's André Chénier Loses His Own Head! / Schöpfung with England's Judith Wier… / On an English Achterbahn or Roller Coaster: Burning the Kebabs Wagon! / Lake Stage André Chénier Will Survive the Alpine Winter To Live Again Next July! / A Potent Plea from Kunsthaus Bregenz: Free Ai Wei Wei!

Munich Festival 2011
Look Where It Comes Again! Munich's Annual Opera Festival--In Various Venues… / Don't Kill Bambi's Mother! Dead Deer Violated in "Director's Theatre" Rusalka! / Da Ponte's Don Giovanni Staged in Perambulating Cargo Containers! / Brilliant Post Modernist Minimalist Ariadne auf Naxos: Truths Revealed… / In Ferrara, Don't Drink the Wine when Lucrenzia Borgia Is Pouring! / Tired of Romeo & Juliet? How About Focusing on Capulets & Montagues Instead? / Outside the Official Festival--But Still a State Theatre: The Gärtnerplatztheater! / Very Early German Opera: Georg Philpp Telemann's Der geduldige Socrates… / Madame Butterfly in the Middle of Munich: Modernist Japonoiserie auf Deutsch! / Wright & Forrest's Grand Hotel Still Open for Business & Monkey Business Also. / Getting Ready for Oktoberfest in July: Looking Forward To More Beer Bus
ts!

Report on Charleston's Spoleto Festival USA: May 27 to June 12, 2011
Channeling Gian Carlo Menotti in a New Medium…, Elizabeth Futral Channels Émilie du Chatelet: Fearing Death & Translating Newton!, More Genius from Cornwall & Emma Rice: Not The Red Shoes You Thought You Knew., Brilliant Dancing & Choreography from the Corella Ballet: Come Back to Manhattan Next Time!, Mozart's Magic Flute Gets the French Treatment: Falling Through the Floor a Lot…, No Khmer Rouge Makeup for Cambodian Khmeropédies: Ritualized Court & Temple Dancing., Anne Marie McDermott Brings Louie Gottschalck Back To Vibrant Life: The Union.


A warm event stands in the limelight at a dark place.
"Would you like a program, sir?" An Intern's Experience at the 2012 Village Voice Obie Awards at Webster Hall. By Sabrina Herrera.

GANG OF SEVEN--Kristine Lee, John Costelloe in "Gang of Seven " at La MaMa E.T.C. Photo by Nadia Kitirath.

The Theater and Pop Psychology in "Gang of Seven"
If you've ever been in a focus group and marveled at the solemn commitment the group makes to the facilitator and their client, "Gang of Seven" will be a comic revelation. On the other hand, if you never had the fortune, or misfortune, to focus on a completely inane subject until you absolutely were thrilled or revolted by it, then Jim Neu's writing and Keith McDermott's directing will give you a a warm welcoming wink to the possibilities of focus group as theater and pop psychology. By Larry Litt.
JOHANNES DOKCHTOR FAUST--Vit Horejs pokes through the puppet stage's floor in "Johannes Dokchtor Faust."

Johannes Dokchtor Faust, with Czech Puppets
In the United States puppetry is dominated by the Muppets and children's entertainment. So it may come as some surprise that the Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre has chosen for its latest production the centuries-old story of the learned Johannes Faust, who sold his soul to the devil in exchange for ultimate knowledge. The company's "Johannes Dochtor Faust" is filled with clever effects and brilliant staging. By Paulanne Simmons.

 

A call girl's "trick" with a lonely inventor on a snowy evening turns into a touching first date.
David R. Doumeng and Jessica Moreno as The Inventor and The Escort. Photo by Nick Coleman.

The Inventor, The Escort, The Photographer, Her Boyfriend and His Girlfriend
Life should be simple for beautiful young people in lust. Sexual encounters are easy in today’s world: you’re horny, feeling ready for a hot sexual encounter, all you have to do is reach out, there’s always someone horny at the same time hopefully nearby with similar desires. You and your partner/s ‘hook up’ for some fun, then go on your own way when it’s all over. Take a shower, no guilt, no breakfast. Unfortunately life is never quite that simple. By Larry Litt.

 

PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT -- (l-r) Will Swenson, Nick Adams, Tony Sheldon and the cast of the Broadway-bound musical, now playing Toronto’s Princess of Wales Theatre through January 2, 2011. Broadway previews begin February 28 at The Palace Theatre for a March 20 opening. Photo: Joan Marcus.

Broadway-bound "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert"
"Priscilla, Queen of the Desert," currently wowing audiences at the Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto before it moves to Broadway this spring, is a grand and gloriously eye-popping musical extravaganza with more than a dollop of sentimentality. It is also just about the gayest theatrical production cum Las Vegas nightclub act to tread the boards of mainstream theatredom. From its countless show-stopping, gay anthem-filled musical numbers, both sung and lip-synched – It's Raining Men opens the show – to Tim Chappel's and Lizzy Gardiner's over the top Lady Gaga lookalike costumes, Brian Thomson's fantabulous multilayered sets, scantily clad muscle boys, drag queens, and gay-tinged, smut-laden zingers delivered at breakneck speed by its three starring divas, it makes "La Cage aux Folles" seem like a Episcopalian wake. By Ed Rubin.

"Porgy and Bess".Photo by Michael J.Lutch.
 

Don't miss "Porgy and Bess"
The American Repertory Theater's "Porgy and Bess," directed by Diane Paulus, features Suzan-Lori Parks adaptation of DuBoise and Dorothy Hayward's book and Deidre L. Murray's considerable cutting of Gershwin's score.Just the fact that "Porgy and Bess" is again on Broadway is a cause for celebration. And that it is really quite good should be a source of jubilation.By Paulanne Simmons.

Angry Young Women In Low-Rise Jeans With High-Class Issues
Larry Litt writes, "Now, just when we need some high spirited relief from the oppression of Wall Street, Home Foreclosures and Injustice there appears the reprise of Matt Morillo’s five part exegesis on modern femininity, 'Angry Young Women In Low Rise Jeans With High Class Issues.' I laughed out loud not just once, but many times along with the rest of the hard to please downtown audience." He also has ample kudos for the cast of able comedians, notably Jessica Durdock Moreno.

PRISCILLIA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT-- Priscilla Will, Tony & Nick. Photo by Joan Marcus.

"Priscilla, Queen of the Desert"
Broadway's "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" by Stephan Elliot & Allan Scott, funny, touching, and over the top in its inventiveness, to use a lyric from A Chorus Line song, is "One Long Singular Sensation," one that almost had the audience, the night I attended, dancing in the aisles. In fact, one highly energetic young lady, obviously electrified by the highly amplified disco music, did just that. Well, almost. She stood up in her seat, wiggled her body and wildly waved her arms until the man behind her yelled for her to sit down. So wrapped up in "It's Raining Men", the musical's opening number, it took several shout outs for her to get the message. Even seated, like others in the audience – me for instance – she continued to twist and sway throughout each musical number during the shows two and a half frenzied hours. The performance plays at The Palace Theatre, choreographed by Ross Colemanand and directed by Simon Phillips. By Edward Rubin.

Tovah Feldshuh appeared at "Town Hall at 90," a benefit concert to celebrate the institution's 90th birthday on May 2, 2011. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

Town Hall Celebrates 90 Years of Culture and Entertainment
Town hall is 90-years-old this year, and many award-winning stars helped celebrate. And to commemorate the milestone, President Marvin Leffler held a big bash on May 2, hosted by Scott Siegel, creator/writer of The Town Hall’s Broadway By the Year series. Indeed the anniversary gala featured a lineup of stars worthy of the event, beginning with Tovah Feldshuh singing a "Town Hall Medley" with music and lyrics by Gershwin and Styne, with a little help from Feldshuh. By Paulanne Simmons.


February House: A Commune, Sweet and Sour

Kacie Sheik and Julian Fleisher in "February House." Photo by Joan Marcus.

Based on a nonfiction book by Sherrill Tippin, "February House" has been transformed into a unique and often enchanting new musical (music and lyrics by Gabriel Kahane; book by Seth Bockley) about an actual artists commune that existed in Brooklyn, New York, for only one year--from 1940 to 1941. By Diana Barth.

"Man and Superman" Lands Safe and Sound at the Irish Rep

Margaret Loesser Robinson (Violet), Janie Brookshire (Ann/Ana) and Laurie Kennedy (Mrs. Whitefield) in George Bernard Shaw's "Man and Superman." Photo by James Higgins.

George Bernard Shaw’s "Man and Superman," with its four acts, including a long, philosophical debate between Don Juan, the devil and the statue of Don Gonzalo (often performed separately as "Don Juan in Hell"), clocks in at about three hours and is not always produced in its entirely. But the new, and excellent, revival at Irish Rep faithfully presents the play as Shaw meant it to be. By Paulanne Simmons.

Winning The Vote
"Take What is Yours," a docudrama by Erica Fae and Jill A. Samuels, explores the story of Alice Paul, a less known proponent in the women’s sufferage movement, aiding in the vote to add the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution. By Glenda Frank.

MIRACLE ON SOUTH DIVISION STREET -- Rusty Ross (Jimmy Nowak), Peggy Cosgrave (Clara Nowak), Liz Zazzi (Beverly Nowak), Andrea Maulella (Ruth Nowak). Photo by Aaron Pepis.

"Miracle on South Division Street" Appears at St. Luke's Theater
In Tom Dudzick’s new comedy, "Miracle on South Division Street, Clara Nowak and her three children, Jimmy, Ruth and Beverly, are convinced Clara’s father once saw a vision of the Virgin Mary and the statue he had erected near their home commemorates this event. By Paulanne Simmons.

The Broadway Musicals of 1975
1975 was the year that saw the opening of the long-running "A Chorus Line," classics such as "Chicago," "The Wiz" and "Shenandoah," and the cult favorite, "The Rocky Horror Show." That year was the subject of Scott Siegel's "Broadway by the Year" series at The Town Hall. By Paulanne Simmons.

"The Columnist" tells all.
The power of David Auburn's new play about Joseph Alsop, “The Columnist,” is that Auburn makes Alsop, if not exactly likable, certainly very human. By Paulanne Simmons.

THE STORM -- (l to r): Giorgio Pinetta, Darrell Stokes, Terria Joseph, Dave Edson, Andrew Dahl, Sora Baek and Zenzelé Cooper. Photo by Alan Edwards.

The Storm
Ostrovsky might not recognize himself in the mirror director Jessica Burr has held up to his 1859 Russian masterpiece "The Storm." There is high art in the staging, art that leaps the fourth wall. Choral movement frequently replaces dialogue in a style that is a cross between dance narrative and Brechtian story telling. Although it remains true to the heart of the drama, this is not social realism but experimental theatre at its best. By Glenda Frank.

THE MORINI STRAD -- Michael Laurence and Mary Beth Peil in The Morini Strad at Primary Stages at 59E59 Theaters. Photo by James Leynse.

“The Morini Strad” Delights the Ear and Touches the Heart
Child violin prodigy Erica Morini and her prized Stradivarius that went missing after her death may be forgotten by most of the public, but her story lives again brilliantly at Primary Stages, where director Casey Childs brings Willy Holtzman’s “The Morini Strad” to life. By Paulanne Simmons.

 

GORE VIDAL'S THE BEST MAN -- Sherman Howard, Candice Bergen, John Larroquette, Donna Hanover, James Lecesne, Fred Parker, Amy Tribbey. Photo by Joan Marcus.

When Winning Isn’t Everything
“Gore Vidal’s The Best Man” is a star-studded production which has the incomparable Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Sue-Ellen Gamadge, the wise and feisty chairman of the Women’s Division; James Earl Jones as the pragmatic former President Arthur “Artie” Hockstader; John Larroquette as the conflicted candidate, William Russell; and Candice Bergen as Russell’s long-suffering but loyal wife, Alice. By Paulanne Simmons.

 

The Salesman is Revived
Shows seldom come to Broadway with a better pedigree than the current production of “Death of a Salesman.” The Pulitzer Prize-winning drama was written by no less than the great Arthur Miller. It is directed by Mike Nichols, arguably one of the finest directors of the 20th century, and it stars the acting giant, Philip Seymour Hoffman as Willy Loman. Even the (more or less) supporting roles are filled by exceptional actors: Linda Emond as Linda Loman, Andrew Garfield as Biff and John Glover as Ben. By Paulanne Simmons.

From left to right: Guy Burnet and Joseph Adams in "Murser in the First." Photo by Carol Rosegg.
"Murder in the First" at 59E59 Theaters
Even if you are not addicted to ‘Law & Order,” you’ll probably enjoy this show. By Paulanne Simmons.

John Lithgow as Joseph Alsop. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Lithgow Brings Out the Vitriol in a Complex Joe Alsop, "The Columnist"
Joseph Alsop, the venomous, fanatically anti-communist newspaper columnist, leads a complicated and hidden life. By Lucy Komisar.



Shirleyann Kaladjian as Amelia. Photo by John Capo Public Relations.

"Amelia" at Fort Jay in the Powder Magazine on Governor’s Island
"Amelia" is a kind of inverse "Odyssey." The protagonist is a woman on a long, dangerous, episodic journey in search of her husband, and rather than returning from war she is marching into it. It’s 1861. The recently married heroine leaves her farm in Pennsylvania to embark on a trek that concludes in Georgia. The faithful couple is reunited but not without some near misses and a question mark at the end. By Dorothy Chansky.

"Once on This Island" at Paper Mill Playhouse. From left to right: Darius de Haas, Saycon Sengbloh, Jerold E. Solomon, Kenita R. Miller, Aurelia Williams, Alan Mingo Jr., Syesha Mercado and Courtney Reed. Photo by Jerry Dalia.

"Once on This Island" Is Worth the Trip Over the River
"Once on This Island" at Paper Mill Playhouse is a great family show that beguiles both adults and children. By Paulanne Simmons.

 

THE CHALK CIRCLE -- Denver Chiu (of Hong Kong) plays the female role of the heroine, Begonia Zhang, performing her arias in Cantonese Opera style. Photo by Lee Wexler/Images for Innovation.

Justice With Supertitles: A Review on "The Chalk Circle"
Begonia Zhang may have been created over 700 years ago, but with a tweak here and there, she could be transformed into a contemporary heroine. By Glenda Frank.

 

 

Daniel Clarkson and Jefferson Turner in "Potted Potter."

Potted Potter: The Unauthorized Harry Potter Experience
It helps if you’re a Muggle who knows how to play quidditch, but you don’t need to have read all seven of the Harry Potter books to enjoy Daniel Clarkson and Jefferson Turner’s parody, “Potted Potter: The Unauthorized Experience.” By Paulanne Simmons.



Richard Sandek, Nick Flint, Christopher Baker in "pool (no water)."

pool (no water)
After successful runs in Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Austin, Texas, the homoerotic play creeps its way into the 9th Space on First Avenue. It depicts young lives drowning in heroin, sex, money, and abusive relationships. By Edward Rubin.

 

Two Rooms, Still Powerful After All These Years
With its production of “Two Rooms,” Diverse City Theater shows its developing maturity, in the the direction of Jaimie Richards, in the acting of its cast of four, and even in Maruti Evans’ lighting and set design. By Paulanne Simmons.

The Power of the Trinity

“The Power of the Trinity” Educates and Entertains at Central Park
“The Power of the Trinity” is a an emotionally charged and intellectually stimulating reminder of the relationship between African suffering and European aggression. By Paulanne Simmons.

L to R: Gretchen Hall as Miriam Hemmerick and Leslie Hendrix as Raina Briar in "7th Monarch," a new play by Jim Henry at Theatre Row.

7th Monarch
Despite 7th Monarch’s familiar storyline – seen, all too often, on the stage, TV, and at the movies, and a number of quirkily embroidered disclosures stretched to the outer limits of believability by Chicago based playwright Jim Henry – your eyes and ears will be riveted to the stage watching what is something of a who done it or was it done at all, unfold bit by bit. By Ed Rubin.

 

Chris Tanner as Joan Girdler (standing) and Everett Quinton as Death (sitting) in the World Premiere of The Etiquette of Death. Photo by Ves Pitts.

The Etiquette of Death at La MaMa
What better way to celebrate La MaMa’s 50th Anniversary season than to round up a gaggle of actors and writers, assemble a musical play about death, get Ridiculous Theatre legend Everett Quinton and choreographer Julie Atlas Muz, former Miss Coney Island and Miss Exotic World, to co-direct it, hire a 7 piece orchestra led by Jeremy X. Halpern, and return them to the Ellen Stewart Theatre at La MaMa where not a few of them have been treading the boards for decades. This is precisely what actor, artist, singer, writer, and long time East Village catalyst Chris Tanner, did. And the answer is — there is no better way to celebrate the late Ellen Stewart and her legendary theatre than to bring in her family back into the fold. By Ed Rubin.

Brian D’Arcy James: A Smash!
Brian d’Arcy James has worn many hats over his theater career. He went green as the title character in, "Shrek," went down with the ship in the musical, "Titanic," and was a cynical so-and-so in, "Sweet Smell of Success." He also faced off against Laura Linney in Broadway’s "Time Stands Still," Alice Ripley in “Next to Normal” and Debra Messing in TV’s “Smash.” One hat James had not yet worn, however, was a solo New York cabaret act. He turned out to be a natural. By Elizabeth Alhfors.

Puppet Hamlet
Is it a kids’ show? A show for adults? The Puppet Shakespeare Players “Puppet Hamlet” combines farce, burlesque and tragedy in a most entertaining and original way. By Paulanne Simmons.

Jessica Hecht as Veta Louise and Jim Parsons as Elwood P. Dowd. Photo by Joan Marcus.

“Harvey” is cute but dated fantasy about living the right life
“Harvey” is a cute fantasy for adults produced in 1944, a difficult era when some Americans were perhaps considering the meaning of life in the wake of the horrors of war. It was a time when a sermon of how to live the right life, proposing simple goodness against social climbing, could win a Pulitzer Prize for its author Mary Chase. That wouldn’t happen today: there are no hard edges even in the work’s social criticism.The play lacks bite. Director Scott Ellis keeps the 40s mood rather than looking for irony. By Lucy Komisar.

 

Heidi Armbruster as Annabelle Jones, Angela Pierce as Jane Mason. Photo by Richard Termine.

“Love Goes to Press” skewers an unseen Hemingway in feminist romp
This witty, pointed, clever play, which opened on Broadway in 1947, was written by Martha Gellhorn, ex-wife of Ernest Hemingway, and by Virginia Cowles. Both were journalists who had met covering the Spanish Civil War and then chronicled the Nazi assaults in Europe and North Africa. Their alter-egos, Jane Mason (Angela Pierce) and Annabelle Jones (Heidi Armbruster) have arrived at an Allied press camp near Naples in February 1944 to cover the campaign against German forces in Italy. The production is a terrific feminist romp as the two very smart, ambitious women, as well as a singer who arrives to entertain the troops, show themselves more adroit, more gutsy and also more ethical than their male peers.

Arieb Azhar, on Tour
Arieb Azhar, who is currently on tour with his band (lute, drums and lead guitar), is a kind of modern day Sufi who sings songs of peace, love and humanity. By Paulanne Simmons.

PERSUASION -- Ashley Wickett as Mary Musgrove, Mark Montague as Charles Musgrove and Jenny Strassburg as Anne Elliot. Photo by Zeljka Blaksic.

Persuasion
Going to Tahiti Productions has done an admirable job of recreating the world of Jane Austen’s novel through the use of projections, period costumes and music. By Paulanne Simmons.

David Furr as Orlando, Renee Elise Goldsberry as Celia, Lily Rabe as Rosalind. Photo by Joan Marcus.

"As You Like It" is Rousing Tale of Love and Lust
As usual, the Public Theater, in a production directed by Daniel Sullivan, presents a first-rate take on the Bard. From the squeals emanating from the 20-somethings in the audience, a play written more than four centuries ago couldn’t be more contemporary. The story is about varieties and vagaries of romance and the struggle to find one’s heart’s partner. By Lucy Komisar.

Mentalist Maven Astounds
Famed mentalist Max Maven believes the universe is far stranger than we can imagine. And in his show, "Max Maven: Thinking in Person," he sets out to prove it. By Paulanne Simmons.

Drama should be onstage, not in your theater's computer network.
You're an arts organization. You needed the press release yesterday. The latest production notes should have been circulated by now, and the newest musical arrangements are there for your approval, if only you could get them from your email to the actual media player. Theater companies spend enormous amounts of their day communicating with the many people it takes to put on a production. However, the routine failure of their computer systems is often added to the enormous stress in keeping up with the work. Fortunately, it's easier than ever to convert to Linux, and it's cheap too. By Sarah Ziering.

Public Theater's "Much Ado About Nothing" is a feminist charmer for a summer eve
"Much Ado About Nothing," written by William Shakespeare and directed by Jack O'Brien takes up life in Delacorte Theater in Central Park According to Lucy Komisar, "There's lots of lovely schmaltz, with accordion and violins, blue uniforms with red stripes, caps and sabers. It was a lovely evening at the Delacorte."

 

Photo by Lucie Jansch.

The Old Woman
Robert Wilson's "The Old Woman," playing only eight performances in the Gilman Opera House at BAM, has a transformative energy generated by the conflation of fine aesthetic sensibilities with emotional insights into the human condition. Acoording to Glenda Frank, "Even at one hundred minutes without an intermission, 'The Old Woman' feels just right. No. Better than just right."

 

Elizabeth Boag as Ez. Photo by Andrew HIggins.

"Ayckbourn Ensemble" is clever plumbing of the human condition by a master
There's nobody better than the Brits to do plays about class. And in this case, also male/female. Ayckbourn, who is 77, gets it. Lucy Komisar says she thinks he always has. These three very different plays at 59E59 Theaters all deal with personal crises, but do them as a thriller, a melodrama and a farce. Not bad. By Lucy Komisar.

 

 

John Douglas Thompson as Louis Armstrong. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.

 

 

"Satchmo at the Waldorf" is moving history of an American jazz great
This is a gorgeous, moving play by Terry Teachout, who we know as the theater critic for the Wall Street Journal, but who is obviously a cut above most of the playwrights he reviews. By Lucy Komisar.

 

The Nazi rally, Ariel Zuckerman center and Kristine Nielsen from the back. Photo by Gerry Goodstein.

Two views of "The Killer"
According to Lucy Komisar, "Ionesco's absurdist satire is a vivid dark commentary on the popular refusal to acknowledge the horrors of the rise of Naziism. And the belief of some Germans that Hitler was ushering in an era of shining, sparkling glory. They could ignore that some people were disappearing, perhaps murdered." Glenda Frank adds "This is a rare production -- and the Polonsky Shakespeare Center, Theatre for a New Audience's impressive new home, right around the corner from BAM, is worth a visit."

 

 

John Aylward as Sen. Malloneee, Kristen Bush as Anna, Kevin O'Rouke as Sen. Harris, Jan Maxwell as Hester Ferris. Photo by Stephanie Berger.

Two views of "The City of Conversation"
Lucy Komisar says, "Written by Giardina and directed with panache by Doug Hughes, 'The City of Conversation' is a very clever and entertaining take on dealing in Washington over the decades from Jimmy Carter to the inauguration of Barak Obama, with a family drama to tie up the loose ends." Paulanne Simmons adds, "Anthony Giardina deftly mixes family saga and political drama in a play that traces the vicissitudes of American history and familial feuds from Carter to Obama over three generations."

 

"Under my Skin." Photo by Joan Marcus.

"Under My Skin" Proves Laughter Is Good Medicine
Through the laughter, "Under My Skin" delivers some very real truths about some very important women's issues, most specifically, healthcare. By Paulanne Simmons.

 

Kitty La Rue and Lou Henry Hoover. Photo by Edward Rubin.

BenDeLaCreme
The wonderfully intimate, 80-seat, Laurie Beecham Theatre, situated across from Theatre Row, and a few blocks west of Broadway, presents "BenDeLaCreme," an extravagant show which celebrates artifice and fantaisie. "BenDeLaCreme" is a subtle combination between performing and visual arts with a love of spectacle and glamour. By Edward Rubin.

 

 

Simon Green in /Simon Green: So, This Then Is Life/, part of Brits
Off Broadway at 59E59 Theaters. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

Simon Green Speaks, Sings and Reflects on Life
If Socrates lived nowadays he might sound a lot like Simons Green in "So, This Then Is Life." That is, if Socrates had a mellow voice that doesn't need a mic and had David Shrubsole as musical director and accompanist. By Paulanne Simmons.

 

 

 

The Few
"The Few" by Samuel D. Hunter is a modern tragicomedy set in 1999 in a rural upper northwestern American town noted by truckers for its unique truck stop.Unlike other truck stops on the highwaystruckstop is a trailer where The Few, a well-loved trucker's newspaper, is published and is engaged in a struggle between profits and its soul. The play captrures current and eternal literary publishing controversies through the troubles of the main character, Bryan, who tries to find a way to keep his faith in humanity. Critic Larry Litt declares, "The Few" is great American theater. I don't say that lightly. Go find out."

Bryan Cranston as Lyndon B. Johnson. Photo by Evgenia Eliseeva.

"All the Way" is a brilliant retelling of the struggle to win the 1964 Civil Rights Act
Robert Schenkkan has written a drama that should be performed in every city, every school an college in America. This play is both a stunning history lesson and a thrilling reenactment of one of the most exciting and important moments of recent American history. It's the struggle to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 at the moment when the civil rights struggle was roiling the south and capturing international headlines. By Lucy Komisar.

Fantasia Barrino in “After Midnight.” Photo by Matthew Murphy.

 

 

 

 

After Midnight
This musical play about the Cotton Club in Harlem in the 1920s and 30s, a time of the big-band songs of Duke Ellington, is jazz lite. While the numbers are charming, especially those by the five-person dance team and a performer who conjures up Billy Holiday, it’s missing gritty reality. It’s more Broadway than jazz. It’s what Broadway does to jazz. By Lucy Komisar.

Erin Dilly, Jason Graae, John Treacy Egan, Christine Andreas, Klea Blackhurst, "Sweeping the Clouds Away". Photo by Richard Termine.

Sweepin' the Clouds Away
You got rhythm, you got music, you got your men - who could ask for anything more? it was all there at Lyrics and Lyricists' second show of the season at the 92nd Street Y. With the high-voltage jazz band of Vince Giordano with Peter Yarin at the piano supplying rhythm, music and men, "Sweepin’ the Clouds Away, Boom, Bust and High Spirits" revisited the boom of the Roaring '20's to the bust of the Great Depression. The hands of time reached out to address how the country coped with the slide from high times to bum times. One answer was in its music. By Elizabeth Ahlfors.

A scene from Machinal. Rebecca Hall and Morgan Spector. Photo by Joan Marcus

Two views of "Machinal"
Paulanne Simmons writes, in the Roundabout Theatre's revival Rebecca Hall plays the Young Woman and it is her stunning portrayal of an unhinged woman victimized by a society that did not understand or care about the female psyche that makes this play so poignant. But what makes it equally gripping is Lyndsey Turner's brilliant direction. Lucy Komisar repeats the praise, writing, " It's a stunning drama, given a rich, subtle, moving performance by British actor Rebecca Hall in this Roundabout Theatre Company revival."

 

A scene from Woodie King Jr's New Federal Theatre production of Dr. Du Bois and Miss Ovington starring Kathleen Chalfant and Timothy Simonson. Photo by Ronald L. Glassman

Dr. DuBois and Miss Ovington
"Dr. DuBois and Miss Ovington" is set on the eve of World War I. President Woodrow Wilson, however, is not so involved in international affairs that he has not found time to reinforce segregation in Washington. But DuBois has more personal problems. The board of the N.A.A.C.P. is not happy with some of his more radical words and deeds, and DuBois is considering resigning, something his colleague, Miss Ovington, strongly opposes.

 

BETRAYAL -- Rafe Spall as Jerry, Rachel Weisz as Emma, Daniel Craig as Robert. Photo by Brigitte Lacombe.


Pinter's "Betrayal," directed by Mike Nichols

Harold Pinter's play of modern sexual mores shows men and women betraying each other with casual composure, as if they were discussing a love match at a tennis game instead of the love game in their lives. By Lucy Komisar.

 

Holland Taylor as Ann Richards. Photo by Ave Bonar.

Two Views of "Ann"
Holland Taylor Shines as Governor of the Lone Star State
By Paulanne Simmons

Several years ago I sat next to former Texas governor Ann Richards at the theater. She was next to her friend, columnist Liz Smith. What were these two prominent individuals talking about during intermission? Grandchildren! In Holland Taylor’s solo show, "Ann," directed by Benjamin Endsley Klein, grandchildren also have a strong presence. But so do Richards’ children, husband and parents. Taylor’s beautifully written and performed show succeeds because it gives us a personal view of a public figure.

In “Ann,” Holland Taylor Channels Texas Governor Ann Richards as if She Were Here Today
By Lucy Komisar

“Ann” is a very fine solo play written and acted by Holland Taylor. Her accent and demeanor are spot-on. But the other value of the production is how close it gets to Richards and what it has to say. Ann Richards would think she was looking into a mirror.

 

"The Suit" at BAM -- L-R: Rikki Hentry and Jared McNeill as friends, William Nadylam as Philomen. Photo by Richard Termine.

“The Suit” is bitter-sweet fable about adultery in apartheid South Africa
With a minimalist set of a dozen sometimes up-ended pastel colored wood chairs as furniture and metal clothes trolleys to represent doors and windows, “The Suit,” presented at BAM by Peter Brook and his long-time collaborator Marie-Hélène Étienne, is a symbolic play, a fable of adultery. But it also speaks of the cruelty of apartheid South Africa that spills out onto personal relations, and the struggle of the victims to find some joy, some way to survive the pain. By Lucy Komisar.

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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