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


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



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


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



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

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




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


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


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




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

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


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

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



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.





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

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






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

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






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

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




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

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


Arnie Burton and Matt McGrath. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

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




Eric Comstock and Barbara Fasano.
Photo by Lucy Komisar.

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


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



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


Saycon Sengbloh as Hester.
Photo by Joan Marcus.


"In the Blood"

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

Christine Lahti as Hester.Photo by Joan Marcus.

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


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


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

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

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


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

Guilty in Iceland

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





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

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



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

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


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

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



Carter Hudson as Vincent Van Gogh. Photo by Shirin Tinati

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



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

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







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




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

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




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


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

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

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

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


SPAMILTON: Putting down Phantom, Aladdin and Cats. Photo by Carol Rosegg.


The fellow on stage looks familiar. He wears an 18th-century blue coat and gold buttons and is rapping. In Alessandrini's "Spamilton", an affectionate pastiche of Broadway heroes which will ring true with any seasoned audience. Laugh along as Alessandrini spoofs on "The Lion King," "Cats" and of course "Hamilton" itself. If you can't get tickets to that particular constitutional classic, "Spamilton" will keep you smiling for days. By Lucy Komisar.


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


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


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


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



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

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

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

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


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.

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





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

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






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

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




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

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




Gordon Palagi in "The Cooping Theory: Who Killed Edgar Allan Poe?"

The Cooping Theory: Who Killed Edgar Allan Poe?
Unlike most immersive experiences, “The Cooping Theory: Who Killed Edgar Allan Poe?” offers not only sounds and sights but also a delicious meal and craft cocktails. By Paulanne Simmons.




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

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


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

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




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

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





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

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




Christy Altomare as Anya, and ghosts of the past. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Complex, fascinating and gorgeous, this fantasy tale of the young woman who might be the surviving daughter of Czar Nicholas of Russia is a colorful musical mystery with elegant singing, marvelous dancing and costumes that light up the stage. With a book by Terrence McNally, music by Stephen Flaherty, and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, it features the top talents of Broadway. That goes for director Darko Tresnjak and choreographer Peggy Hickey, who have “big Broadway show” written all over them. “Anastasia” a fine colorful big-musical Russian Romanov princess fantasy By Lucy Komisar


Laura Metcalf as Nora. Photo by Brigitte Lacombe.


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








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

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




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

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





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





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

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




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.


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.


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