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


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

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





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

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


Tom Hiddleston and Zawe Ashton. Photo by Marc Brenner.

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



Sean Gormley and Haskell King. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

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


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

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


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

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




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

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


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


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

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



Alaine Hutton in "This Is Why We Live."

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

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


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

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


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


Amie Bermowitz and Steve Brady. Photo by Andrea Phox.

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


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

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




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

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


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

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




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

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


Jonathan Cake as Caius Martius. Photo by Joan Marcus.

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







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

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


Jacqueline Novak. Photo by Monique Carboni.

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





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

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



Annie Golden as Annie. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

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





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

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

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

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


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


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

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




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

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





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

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



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

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

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


The cast in a hoedown. Photo by Little Fang.

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



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

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




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

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




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

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


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

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





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

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




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

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






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

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



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

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






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

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


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

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



Anthony Arkin and Jane Bruce Photo by Russ Rowland

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




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

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





Alice Ripley. Photo by Jazelle Artistry

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




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

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





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

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




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

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






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

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




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

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



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


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



Andre De Shields as Hermes. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

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



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

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



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

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



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

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



THE GLEN -- Photo by Shelter Studios

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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




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

Bill Irwin "On Beckett"

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


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


"Pretty Woman" morality story pits prostitution v predatory capitalism

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


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

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


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

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



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

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


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

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




Renee Taylor. Photo by Ed Rubin.

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




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



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



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





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

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



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


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



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

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





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


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






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




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


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





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