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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

Andre De Shields as Hermes. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

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

 

 

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

"Ain’t Too Proud– The Life and Times of The Temptations"
The story behind "Ain't Too Proud," as told by book writer Dominique Morisseau, is mostly a story of the music and not the men. This is both a strength and a weakness in the show. To be sure, the music of The Temptations is some of the best that ever came out of Motown. Songs like "My Girl," "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" and "Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)" are iconic and unforgettable. Director Des McAnuff, along with music director Kenny Seymour and choreographer Sergio Trujillo, has brought that era spectacularly back to life. By Paulanne Simmons.

 

 

The "Too Darn Hot" number. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Kelli and Cole spark a "Kiss Me, Kate" revival
"Kiss Me, Kate" was the first Cole Porter show with musical numbers that advance the plot, none more clearly than the curtain-raiser, "Another Op'nin', Another Show." Petruchio's description of Katharina, while playful, applies to Kelli O'Hara in full measure. "She is beautiful, witty and affable, he has heard, among other wondrous qualities,” and he has arrived "to make mine eye the witness of that report.” You might consider doing the same. By Philip Dorian.

 

 

Ethan Hawke as the drinking brother Lee and Paul Dano as Austin. Photo by Joan Marcus.

"True West” by Sam Shepard is a 1980 too over-the-top satire of movies
A satire about media ought always to be in fashion. The current revival of the film "Network” as a play works brilliantly to skewer corrupt television. This revival of Sam Shepard's satire about the Hollywood movie business doesn't hit that mark. Maybe it worked in 1980 when it premiered, but nearly 40 years later, it's too over-the-top. By Lucy Komisar.

 

From left: Christopher Sieber, Angie Schworer, Beth Leavel, Btooks Ashmanskas, Josh Lamon "Changing Lives". Photo by Deen van Meer

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

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

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

 

 

THE NAP -- Ben Schnetzer, Johanna Day. Photo by Joan Marcus.



Two views of “The Nap”

Contrary to its misleading title, “The Nap,” Richard Bean’s newest offering, making its American premiere under the direction of Daniel Sullivan, has nothing to do with sleep. Rather it’s a rowdy and riveting farce. By Paulanne Simmons and Lucy Komisar.

 

 

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

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

 

THE NAP -- Ben Schnetzer, Johanna Day. Photo by Joan Marcus.



“The Nap” Will Keep You Awake and Laughing

Contrary to its misleading title, “The Nap,” Richard Bean’s newest offering, making its American premiere under the direction of Daniel Sullivan, has nothing to do with sleep. Rather it’s a rowdy and riveting farce. By Paulanne Simmons.




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

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


BERNHARDT/HAMLET -- A backstage dinner party. Photo by Joan Marcus.


"Bernhardt/Hamlet" (and McTeer) on Broadway

Historical fiction is a tricky genre. Plain history can be academic (read: boring), and inserting identifiable people as principals in pure fiction can be presumptuous, or a copout. "Bernhardt/Hamlet" straddles the extremes brilliantly; the precise inter-action among the actual people may or may not have happened as portrayed, but their involvement in the historical events makes it all plausible. Theresa Rebeck's comedy is period-specific without reinforcing misconceptions about how people related and communicated ‘then'. It is fascinating even just for that. By Philip Dorian.

Condola Rashad as Saint Joan. Photo by Joan Marcus.


Saint Joan

Bernard Shaw was a feminist. And a religious skeptic. Who better than to tell the story of Saint Joan? How do you do that when you are a socialist and not a militarist? You focus on the hypocrisy of the religious establishment, that had no problem with war, but only with who keeps power. By Lucy Komisar.

 


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

Renee Fleming as Nettie Fowler and company. Photo by Julieta Cervantes.

 

 

 

Carousel
“Carousel” is a gorgeous show with a hokey, simplistic, no-politics story, says Lucy Komisar. The vocals are thrilling, led by opera diva Renée Fleming who presents her solos as if they were arias. And the naturalistic sets by Santo Loquasto, from the top of the merry-go-round to whaling boats in the sea and lobster cages are entrancing. It’s a gorgeous show, if you forget the story.

 

Brian Tree Henry as William, Beth Powley as Dawn, Michael Cera as Jeff, Chris Evans as Bill. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Two views of "Lobby Hero"
It hardly seems possible that a play about murder, rape and police corruption could be even remotely amusing. Yet, in many ways, Kenneth Lonergan’s “Lobby Hero” might be the funniest show on Broadway this season. Paulanne Simmons and Lucy Komisar weigh in.

 

 

 

Glenda Jackson, Alison Pill and Laurie Metcalf in "Three Tall Women." Photo by Brigitte Lacombe.

 

Two views of "Three Tall Women," 2018
It’s only a few months before the 26th anniversary of the first American appearance of Edward Albee’s masterpiece, "Three Tall Women," yet we’ve seen surprisingly few revivals. It’s admittedly difficult to perform, but hundreds of our high schools have performed the extremely demanding constant dance numbers of "A Chorus Line" without even one cast member who can really dance. Certainly those who love Albee’s plays can rejoice at this masterful new version. The legendary actress Glenda Jackson—who returned to the stage after 28 years in England’s Parliament and got raves playing King Lear in Shakespeare’s play with The Royal Shakespeare Company—stars with two admired, award-winning American actresses. And it’s gorgeously designed (Miriam Buether) as well as excitingly directed by Joe Mantello, one of Broadway’s most honored directors. Herbert Simpson and Lucy Komisar weigh in ambivalently. Lucy writes she'd love to see a feminist “Three Tall Women, Part 2.”

 

Tamyra Gray as Papa Ge. Photo by Joan Marcus.

 

"Once on this Island" is a Gorgeous Folk Opera About Color and Class in the Caribbean
Called a charming, surreal, and politically sharp-edged play, Lucy Komisar advises audiences not to arrive late to this production. Full of magical realism created by director Michael Arden, this charming folk opera is about class and race. By Lucy Komisar.

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

Bette Midler as Dolly Gallagher Levi and waiters at the Harmonia Gardens. Photo by Julieta Cervantes.

Aaah, hmmm, but we'll bette you'll love it too.
“Hello Dolly” with Bette Midler is outdated on feminism and talent. But the audience loved every starpower minute of it. By Lucy Komisar.

 

 

 

 

 

Bandstand. Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

Nick Cordero as Sonny, Hudson Loverro as Calogero. Photo by Joan Marcus.

“A Bronx Tale"
It’s a knock off of “West Side Story,” here Italians vs blacks, and very hokey, but “A Bronx Tale” has a certain charm and pizazz nonetheless. The place is Bedford Avenue, tenements with fire escapes and pushcarts. And kids singing doo-wop. They are working class Italians, circa 1960.“A Bronx Tale” is musical coming of age with a twist: kid grows up among hoodlums By Lucy Komisar.

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

Nathan Lane as editor Walter Burns. Photo by Julieta Cervantes.

 

“The Front Page"
Nathan Lane excels as the over-the-top newspaper editor Walter Burns in this near 90-year-old noirish comedy that has some political nuggets hidden in its hokey scenario. It’s given a fine, only slightly tongue in cheek, reprise by director Jack O’Brien. “The Front Page” is an engaging politically advanced 90-year-old noirish comedy. By Lucy Komisar.

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

"A Bronx Tale"
Since “A Bronx Tale” has already been a solo show and a film, it might have been inevitable that it eventually become a musical. This is not necessarily a terrible thing. In fact, the show currently at the Longacre Theater is not at all bad. By Paulanne Simmons.

Liev Schreiber as le Vicomte de Valmont, Elena Kampouris as Cécile Volanges. Photo by Joan Marcus.

“Les Liaisons Dangereuses"
Lucy Komisar writes she seems be using the word a lot lately: hokey. Chandeliers with lit candles descend to sounds of operatic “ah ah” and pretentious violins. The story is based on a French epistolary novel written in 1782 and meant as a satire. But with the direction by Josie Rourke, you get the feeling that audiences are invited to enjoy the sex stuff. It’s basically about a guy putting notches on his bedpost. (“Sex in the 18th-century French City”?)

 

 

 

Corbin Bleu as Ted, Megan Sikora as Lila. Photo by Joan Marcus.

 

 

Two views of "Holiday Inn"
“Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn” is charming fluff highlighting great songs of the 40s, but if you love 40s music, as I do, just forget the silly plot. Besides, the production and the actors are charming. And there is 40s scat. Also jazzy music, dance kicks, swing and tap. The show is based on a 1942 movie, but a lot of the songs have been added. It's the only major holiday themed production in New York City whose specific marketing goal is to brighten The Great White Way during the Holidaze Season. By Edward Rubin and Lucy Komisar.

 

 

 

The Jewish men dancing. Photo by Joan Marcus.

 

“Fiddler on the Roof"
When can it be more relevant to look at the politics of theater? In this year of bizarre reaction, “Fiddler” continues to be the quintessential representation of popular struggle. This is a brilliant production by Bartlett Sherr, with stars Danny Bernstein and Jessica Hecht, major actors of our time. They are supported by an excellent ensemble cast. By Lucy Komisar.

 

 

"A Bronx Tale"
Since “A Bronx Tale” has already been a solo show and a film, it might have been inevitable that it eventually become a musical. This is not necessarily a terrible thing. In fact, the show currently at the Longacre Theater is not at all bad. By Paulanne Simmons.

Liev Schreiber as le Vicomte de Valmont, Elena Kampouris as Cécile Volanges. Photo by Joan Marcus.

“Les Liaisons Dangereuses"
I seem to be using the word a lot lately: hokey. Chandeliers with lit candles descend to sounds of operatic “ah ah” and pretentious violins. The story is based on a French epistolary novel written in 1782 and meant as a satire. But with the direction by Josie Rourke, you get the feeling that audiences are invited to enjoy the sex stuff. It’s basically about a guy putting notches on his bedpost. (“Sex in the 18th-century French City”?) By Lucy Komisar.

 

 

 

Corbin Bleu as Ted, Megan Sikora as Lila. Photo by Joan Marcus.

 

 

"Holiday Inn"
“Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn” is charming fluff highlighting great songs of the 40s, but if you love 40s music, as I do, just forget the silly plot. Besides, the production and the actors are charming. And there is 40s scat. Also jazzy music, dance kicks, swing and tap. The show is based on a 1942 movie, but a lot of the songs have been added. By Lucy Komisar.

 

 

Simon McBurney as McIntyre racing around the stage (jungle). Photo by Joan Marcus.

 

“The Encounter"
“The Encounter” is a hokey gimmicky pretentious conceit. Simon McBurney, founder and artistic director of the British theater company Complicite (a French word here pretentiously spelled without the acute accent on the e) has produced a hokey often loopy and generally pompous conceit under the pretext of an anthropological mission to the Amazon. By Lucy Komisar.

 

 

 

Sutton Foster solo

 

“Sweet Charity"
How cool would it be to have Sutton Foster come to your house to sing and dance in your living room? And suppose she brought some talented friends to perform with her? Well, that’s not gonna’ happen, but you can come close by seeing the mega-watt star – and her pals – in “Sweet Charity” in the most intimate musical-theater venue in NYC these days: The Pershing Square Signature Center, where no seat is more than a few rows from the lip of the stage. By Philip Dorian.

 

Jeff Daniels as Ray and Michelle Williams as Una. Photo by Brigitte Lacombe.

 

"Blackbird" by David Harrower
This is one of those emotionally riveting plays that suddenly flips you over as you realize that everything you took for granted is not so. You are quite sure that David Harrower’s story fits in with your beliefs about men’s sexual abuse of young girl, until maybe it doesn’t. Strongly acted by Michelle Williams and Jeff Daniels. Williams is so much better than her bland performance in “Cabaret,” that you don’t think it’s the same person. By Lucy Komisar.

 

 

 

 

"Fiddler on the Roof. 'Jesse Kovarsky (center) and Cast. Photo by Joan Marcus.


"Fiddler on the Roof" Comes "To Life" Once Again
"Fiddler on the Roof" is not only a classic, it is also one of the most structurally perfect musicals ever created. Reviewed by Paulanne Simmons.

 

 

 

Kelli O’Hara as Anna and Ken Watanabe as the King, photo Paul Kolnik.

“The King and I” – gorgeous spectacle of 1860s British governess & Asian despot
The governess, Anna Leonowens, who spent five years at Siam’s court, wrote two memoirs in the 1870s, and Margaret Landon fictionalized her story in 1944. Based on her novel, the 1951 musical, “The King and I,” with book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, music by Richard Rodgers, and choreography by Jerome Robbins, was a dazzling success. It still is. Director Bartlett Sher has done a brilliant job – you almost see him waving a conductor’s wand over the pageantry. Christopher Gattelli has smartly adapted the original choreography. By Lucy Komisar.

 

 

Vanessa Hudgens as Gigi. Photo by Joan Marcus.

"Gigi"revival airbrushes the dark story of young girls raised to be courtesans
The current Broadway revival of "Gigi" aiurbrushes the 1944 Colette story about the demi-monde of Paris, where elegant courtesans with their rich lovers dined out at Maxim's, drinking Veuve Cliquot and flicking their gowns and feathers. By Lucy Komisar.

Ben Miles as Thomas Cromwell, Nathaniel Parker as King Henry. Photo by Johan Persson.

"Wolf Hall," a riveting drama of tough 16th-century politics.
A play about the 16th century, but the dialogue, the politics, the economics, the power struggles give you a sense of watching the mafia. By Lucy Komisar