E V I E W S
Reviews, Cabaret Reviews and Film
Reviews are in their own section
|Photo by Teddy Wolff
Samuel Beckett depicted life as endurance defined by waiting. We may talk,
move, stay or sink in place, suffer, pass the time or not, yet we wait,
for what to come we do not know. Fellow Irish playwright Enda Walsh, two
generations younger than Beckett, also seems to be captivated by the idea
of life as a series of waiting games. Both have made excellent theater
out of this metaphor. However, in “Arlington” Enda Walsh adds
a hypermodern sensibility to this entropic vision—it derives from
the experience of technological solipsism and urban cubicle living that
has literally unmoored the human being from nature and each other. Life
is experienced as a series of mediated disconnected virtual images while
one is conveyed from one cubicle to another. Time and space no longer
have three dimensions—they are pressed into a small rectangle. Until
reality blows up! By Beate Hein-Bennett.
|Michael Frederic, Robert David Grant,
and Andrew Fallaize in THE LUCKY ONE by A.A. Milne. Directed by Jesse
Photo: Richard Termine.
“The Lucky One”
The Mint’s revival of A. A. Milne’s “The
Lucky One,” directed by Jess Marchese, shows that when it comes
to filial relations, not much has changed in the last century. By Paulanne
There is an intriguing one-act, 80-minute play on the New Jersey Repertory
stage. Unfolding in the fertile theatrical setting of higher-education
academia, it deals with faculty jealousy, conflicts between established
and fresh values, artistic integrity and racial tension. It takes some
digging, however, to excavate that play from Robert Caisley’s 100-minute,
two-act “& Juliet,” which is burdened by those 20 extra
minutes of repetitious dialogue. “Get to it!” I wanted to
call out several times as the characters talked around the same topic
over and over before finally making their points. By Philip Dorian.
|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
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
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.
|Michael McKean as Ben Hubbard, Darren Goldstein as
Oscar Hubbard, Laura Linney as their sister Regina Giddens, David
Alford as Mr. Marshall. Photo by Joan Marcus.
“The Little Foxes”
Lillian Hellman’s 1939 play is a family battle where the antagonists
are class and gender. The title comes from the Song of Solomon in the
King James Bible: “Take [from] us the foxes, the little foxes, that
spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.” The Manhattan
Theatre Club, under the direction of Daniel Sullivan, gives it a stunning
production. “The Little Foxes” are the capitalist killers
of Hellman’s riveting family conflict. By Lucy Komisar
|Omar Metwally as Paul, Marisa Tomei as George, Lena
Hall as Pip, Austin Smith as David, and David McElwee as Freddie.
Photo by Kyle Froman.
“How to Transcend a Happy
Sarah Ruhl satirizes a midlife crisis that turns two ordinary and apparently
happy couples in their forties to group sex. They have been inspired by
a three-some of 20-somethings and think they might be missing something.
So they fall into a pretty joyless ménage à quatre. It’s
funny, if not profound. And the cast is fine as schmoozy, nice folks getting
into trouble with their mid-life-crises. “How to Transcend a Happy
Marriage” satirizes couples’ attempts to be cool. By Lucy
|Kevin Kline and Kate Burton in a scene
from Broadway's PRESENT LAUGHTER (photo by Joan Marcus)
2 Views of "Present Laughter”
Like many mid-19th century comedies, “Present Laughter” takes
a long time setting up the situation. This means while the first few scenes
are somewhat amusing, the last few are hilarious. By Paula Simmons and
|MeinKampf : AndreaLynnGreen, JohnFreda
, OmriKadim. Photo by Michael E Mason.
Two by Tabori: “Mein Kampf”
While “Mein Kampf” is a farcical thought experiment or extended
joke that pitches a young failed art student by the name of Adolf Hitler
against two Jewish clowns by the name of Herzl and Lobkowitz, both names
resonant of history—Herzl recalling Theodor Herzl, the founder of
Zionism and Lobkowitz, the name of a prominent old Czech aristocratic
dynasty and castle in Prague—“Jubilee” is a play that
resonates with pain despite its grimly humorous passages. In “Mein
Kampf” Tabori has Lobkowitz state at the end: “In the heart
of each joke hides a little holocaust.” It is a weighty question
whether the actual Holocaust should be treated as a joke, and I am sure,
many would argue against such a treatment; however, satire has always
used gallows humor as a way to defrock false sanctimoniousness and hypocritical
stances of mild regret. In “Jubilee” Tabori uses both gallows
humor and pathos to deal with the horror of the Holocaust itself and the
historical inheritance of social relationships that are fraught with conflicts
over guilt and the impossibility of compensation. By Beate Hein-Bennett.
|(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.
|Rachel Smyth as Tillie and Serena Manteghi
as Samira. Photo by Carol Rosegg.
“Angel” & “Echoes”
Drawing on the crises of the Middle East, London playwright Henry Naylor
has produced two powerful, insightful plays about women who struggle to
defeat the machismo that incites Islamic militants. And which is hardly
limited to the Islamic world. Naylor, 51, is a man with a strong feminist
sensibility and a keen eye for drama. He shows in works that are political
as well as theatrical how the domination and abuse of women is part of
the psyche of political repression. By Lucy Komisar
Stage Theatre Conpany in "Rules." Photo by Lee Wexler/Images
We all live by rules. Society is structural and Nature has its own immutable
laws. Our lives are seemingly under the control of these laws. So whatever
happened to free will and the free spirit? Where do we draw the line and
rebel in our own ways at living under the iron boot of government and
social pressure? These are the questions Ildiko Nemeth explores in her
brilliant reworking of Charles L. Mee’s “The Rules”
a play/text from his (re)making project. By Larry Littany Litt.
Up on the Roof
"Roof-Top Joy" by Andrea Fulton is a play about how you can
be one thing and pretend to be another. The residents of a luxury apartment
building, most of them African-American, are in different stages of "being
there." The concierge knows that he should be there because he works
there, but certain of the tenants should not. Surprise, nobody in the
building is who they seem to be. By Barney Yates.
|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
The Women of Padilla
If ever a play was suited for Two River’s intimate black-box Huber
theater, it is “Padilla,” but Tony Meneses’ 75-minute
play about eight women waiting at home while their husbands are away at
war is being staged in Two River’s 350-seat main auditorium, a veritable
arena by comparison. On the page, each woman is distinctly drawn both
individually and in relation to the others. In brief, often clipped exchanges
(most speeches are one or two sentences), Meneses exposes the women’s
close-to-the-surface emotions with clarity and urgency. On the wide stage
those elements are diffused; the words are there (and the performances
are fine), but there’s little tension.“The Women of Padilla”
is a very well-written play, a realization I came to while reading it
a couple days after seeing it at Two River Theater. By Philip Dorian.
|Joe Mantello and Sally Field in The Glass Menagerie
(Photo by Julieta Cervantes)
“The Glass Menagerie"
Whenever Director Sam Gold (or his mentor Ivo van Hove) stages
a play, you can bet your assumptions will be challenged. You may exit
disturbed or even angry, but your new insight into characters and places
will dazzle you. You will think about the production long after. Sam
Gold's take on Tennessee Williams' "The Glass Menagerie" at
the Belasco Theatre is a must see. By Glenda Frank.
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
BERGEN-BELSEN -- Veracity Butcher (below) as Silvana Hajaj, an ambitious
young Jewish feminist from Benghazi, Libya, and Lily Leah Azrielant
(above) as Rebecca, a young Dutch Jew whom she bonds with in the Nergen-Belsen
From Benghazi to Bergen-Belsen
“Benghazi Bergen-Belsen” by Israeli playwright Lahav Timor
deals with a “lesser” known history of the Holocaust. Based
on Yossi Sucary’s Brenner Prize-winning novel with the same title,
it follows the story of a Libyan Jewish family from their home in Benghazi
to their ultimate fate in a German concentration camp. The historical
frame is 1941-1945 when the German army invaded North Africa and, with
the cooperation of the Italian military, rounded up the local Jewish population
as part of the “Final Solution,” the exterminating program
that was already ravaging European Jewry. In our times of worldwide unrest
and violence where the plight of refugees and the topic of immigration
are once again in the forefront challenging the status quo, this play,
the third one this season dealing with the “Shoah,” presents
once again the topic of persecution and programmatic genocide through
the lens of the individual human being and challenges our capacity for
empathy. By Beate Hein-Bennett.
Loeffler(as mother, Olympia), Zohra Benzerga (as daughter, Petra)
in "Dead Man's Dinner"
Dead Man's Dinner
W.M. Akers wrote an apocalyptic tragicomedy in which New Yorkers, hiding
in apartments during a civil war, will do anything for food. What crimes
can happen to us in this kind of desperation? Paul Berss tell us it's
a worthwhile subject, just a little long in this treatment.
|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 .
Alex Dmitriev, Jed Dickson, Emily Zacharias, Tracy Newirth, Robert
Meksin. Photo by Gerry Goodstein.
Through the Darkness
While the Jewish Holocaust with its millions of dead recedes into the
further recesses of general history, individual memory in the form of
stories told still has the power to awaken in us the full horror of the
lived experience. In the present production of “Through the Darkness”
by Alan Breindel, we are not so much voyeurs into intimate lives but rather
witnesses to a range of experiences and actions. Director Leslie Kincaid
Burby created ninety minutes of narratives with four actors alternately
sharing the stories of their progress through hell. A Writer character
stands in for Alan Breindel, who collected over a number of years survivor
accounts in interviews that formed the raw material for his dramatic text.
This poowerful production provides not only a reminder of our collective
past but also a plea for attention to our present political condition
of millions trying to survive and find refuge. By Beate Hein Bennett.
|Zuzanna Szadkowski, left, Jason O'Connell and Nicole
Tinkering with Shakespeare is its own art form, and the version of “Merry
Wives” at Two River Theater tests the limits of that art. Tradition
has it that Queen Elizabeth, enamored of Falstaff from Shakespeare’s
Henry IV plays, asked the playwright for a play depicting the character
in love (a likely apocryphal ‘alternate fact’). Shakespeare
did Her Majesty one better, showing Falstaff wooing not one, but two married
women of means who conspire to turn the tables on their would-be seducer.
As written, it is a farcical delight. While this re-imagining of “The
Merry Wives of Windsor” downplays its intrinsic comic aspects –
intentionally, it should be noted – it is entertaining enough to
sit through. By Philip Dorian.
|"The Skin of Our Teeth." Photo
by Henry Grossman.
“The Skin of Our Teeth”
Because “The Skin of Our Teeth” breaks so many
theater traditions, it leaves the field wide open for directorial interpretations.
In Theatre for a New Audience’s current revival, director Arin Arbus
takes full creative advantage of the many possibilities. By Paulanne Simmons
|Geoff Sobelle in "The Object Lesson." Photo
by Joan Marcus.
Two Views of “The Object
“The Object Lesson” is a one-man show with audience
participation and a very important tape recorder. It won top prize at
the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2014. It grows on you, especially
when Geoff Sobelle, creator and performer, moves from one area of cardboard
chaos to another and explains his vision through the objects he retrieves
from storage. Everything is unexpected. “The Object Lesson”
is one of those odd pieces that you think about months, even years later.
By Glenda Frank and Edward Rubin.
MOUNTAIN BIRD -- (L-R): Nina Eileen Sponnich, Hanne Dieserud, Johanna
Øyno, Odille Annette Heftye Blehr, Miguel Emilio Dobrodenka
Steinsland, Stig Zeiner-Gundersen; standing below: Jimmie Jonasson.
Ibsen's "The Mountain Bird"
at La MaMa
The Norwegian company Grusomhetens, under the direction of Lars Oyno,
presented a most unusual work: Henrik Ibsen’s unfinished opera libretto
from 1858 with the original title “Fjeldfuglen,” based on
a folk tale rooted in the historical experience of the great plague epidemic
that ravaged Europe in the 15th century and devastated large swaths of
the Norwegian countryside. By Beate Hein Bennett.
|Gabriel Portuondo as Clotaldo. Phot by Theo Cote.
"Life is a Dream"
These days it is rare enough to see Calderon de la Barca’s 1635
masterpiece about the vagaries of life and illusion, of internecine power-games
and vanity, of social injustice and moral corruption—obviously the
perennial stuff of human misery and tragedy. To see two very different
treatments-- the second play dates from 1677-- of these same motifs by
the same author in the same evening must be a novelty. We can thank the
Magis Theatre and LaMama ETC for this historic theatrical excavation.
The three hour performance is a tour de force for the actors but actually
passed for me quite quickly due to the serious commitment of the young
ensemble and the choreographic, musical, and visual elements which enlivened
Calderon’s poetic texts. Director George Drance translated the 1677
text into English, a first for this play; the 1635 English version sounded
also updated for this production. By Beate Hein Bennett.
|Suzzanne Douglas and John Bolger
“American Son”at the George Street Playhouse is an intense,
racially-charged, cautionary tale in which the title character hovers
over every minute but does not appear in person. The play is set at 4AM
in the waiting room of a Miami-Dade County police station, where Kendra
Ellis-Connor is waiting for information about her eighteen-year-old son
Jamal, whom she had reported missing the previous day. Jamal had left
home in his late-model Lexus, a gift from his father, and had not checked
in or answered his cell phone. Mom is deeply concerned, a state of mind
conveyed in Suzzanne Douglas’s performance before she speaks a word.
By Philip Dorian.
|Glenn Close as Norma Desmond. Photo by Joan Marcus.
2 Views of "Sunset Boulevard."
Glenn Close is masterful in Norma Desmond’s final mad
scene. Suddenly camp becomes real drama, tragedy of the Shakespearean
sort. Till then the has-been silent film star, the grande dame who flounces
around in glittery gold and silver sweeping gowns and capes, is hard to
take too seriously. “Sunset Boulevard” is too campy story
of has-been star and desperate screenwriter. By Lucy Komisar and Edward
|Phoebe Frances Brown, Ellen Francis. Photo by Monica
"Life According to Saki."
Macabre and whimsical, dark and comic at the same time, a clever
satiric pen pointed at self-absorbed aristocrats of the early 1900s, Katherine
Rundell’s “Life According to Saki” is a delicious evening
of theater. “Life According to Saki” is dark, whimsical satire
that aims at British upper class. By Lucy Komisar.
|From left, John Treacy Egan, Michael Kostroff and
A Comedy of Tenor
Great art it’s not, but if you’re looking for a recipe for
farce, all the ingredients can be found in “A Comedy of Tenors,”
Ken Ludwig’s sequel to his enormously successful “Lend Me
a Tenor.” Slamming doors to resounding laughter this month at Paper
Mill Playhouse, this second coming of operatic tenor Tito Merelli is,
for my money – and, I suggest, yours – funnier than the first.
(I’m not a fan of the first play’s blackface gimmick, but
that’s another matter.) By Philip Dorian.
|Kate Loprestand John Patrick Hayden . Photo by Carol
"The Big Broadcast on East
In response to a journalist concerned about rumors of being on his deathbed,
Mark Twain responded on May 31, 1897: “The news of my death is an
exaggeration.” As we are presently inundated by “fake news”
and “alternate facts,” Dick Brukenfeld’s wild romp into
relationships, marital and otherwise, set in early 1980s New York somewhere
on East 53rd Street strikes a very timely note. The two central characters
are a husband and wife, both dissatisfied with each other, with their
station in life, and wildly incompatible in their ambitions and tastes.
By Beate Hein Bennett.
|Max von Essen and Mikaela Izquierdo in YOURS UNFAITHFULLY
by Miles Malleson.Photo: Richard Termine.
“ YOURS UNFAITHFULLY ”
Famous for its revivals of “lost” plays, the Mint
Theatre Company, now at the Beckett Theatre on Theatre Row, is offering
a smart production of the still controversial 1933 play, “Yours
Unfaithfully” by Miles Malleson. The extremely likeable Stephen
Meredith (Max von Essen) and his elegant wife, Anne (Elisabeth Gray),
remain very much in love after eight years of marriage. Alan Kirby (Todd
Cerveris), their close friend and a psychiatrist, judges their marriage
the best he knows. They are, he tells Anne, functioning at 80%. Many marriage
only make 30% Is she reassured? Maybe. At any rate armed with this consolation,
she leaves to meet her lover. Her husband is scheduled to return from
his Paris tryst the next day. By Glenda Frank.
|Timothy Simonson as Rep. Adam Clayton
Powell, Jr. Photo by Gerry Gpoodstein.
"ADAM" by Peter DeAnda
As we experience the present political time like a series of slaps in
the face by an administration intent on rolling back the strides made
in the civic life of the US, "ADAM" by Peter DeAnda, abiographical
play about Rep. Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., presented with great passion
by the artistic team of the New Federal Theatre, may just be the antidote
with which to encourage continued outspoken political action. By Beate
|Penny Arcade Logo. Photo Credit Edward Rubin
"Penny Arcade Longing Lasts
I have always appreciated the bravery,
as well as the chutzpah, of those performers who choose to go it alone
in a one man or one woman show. Not unlike comedians who stand totally
exposed before an audience hoping to avoid the slings and arrows, or for
that matter the stink of rotten tomatoes, these all but naked actors rely,
ultimately so, on the shear force of their god-given personality, and
well-honed talents, to wow their audience, and in the best of cases, bring
them to their feet amidst thunderous applause. By Edward Rubin.
| Kate Loprest & John Patrick Hayden. Photo by
The Big Broadcast on East 53rd
In response to a journalist concerned about rumors of being on his deathbed,
Mark Twain responded on May 31, 1897: “The news of my death is an
exaggeration.” As we are presently inundated by “fake news”
and “alternate facts,” Dick Brukenfeld’s wild romp into
relationships, marital and otherwise, set in early 1980s New York somewhere
on East 53rd Street strikes a very timely note. The two central characters
are a husband and wife, both dissatisfied with each other, with their
station in life, and wildly incompatible in their ambitions and tastes.
By Beate Hein Bennett.
Depressed? Unhappy? Miserable? Resigned to a life of drudgery? What to
do? According to Three Day Hangover’s adaptation of Chekhov’s
“Uncle Vanya” we must party hearty, drinking until we can’t
remember why we’re drowning in self pity. Then drink some more.
All with friends in the same boat. Or in this case the same lavish Russian
bar upstairs at Russian Samovar restaurant and vodka lounge. By Larry
|Becca Blackwell, left, and Kate Wetherhead in "Hurricane
If you wished to come back as a Greco-Roman God, you could do far worse
than to opt for Dionysus (Greek), also known as Bacchus (Roman), the god
of wine, fertility and agriculture as well as the patron god of the Greek
stage. He was also able to bring a dead person back to life, which would
make you a sought-after dinner-party guest (or a shunned one). You’d
also have a couple of plays written about you: “the Bacchae,”
written by Greek dramatist Euripides in the BCE year 407, and Madeleine
George’s “Hurricane Diane,” which premiered last week
at Two River Theater in Red Bank NJ. By Philip Dorian.
|(L-R) Evan Casey as Elephant Gerald and Lauren Williams
as Piggie (Credit: Teresa Wood)
“Elephant and Piggie’s
“We Are in a Play”
Elephant and Piggie’s “We Are in a Play”
has come to the New Victory Theatre from the Kennedy Center. The five-person
show is based on the award-winning New York Times best-selling series
by Mo Willems. The live music (four musicians in animal-eared fedoras)
was written by composer Deborah Wicks La Puma, who specializes in music
for children. By Glenda Frank.
|Our Secrets - Béla Pintér & Zoltán
Sometimes the very best theatrical productions have only a
few performances. Sadly, in this case a prime example of such a loss is Our
Secrets, by Béla Pintér and Company. Performed in Hungarian
with English subtitles it opened on Wednesday, January 25th at the Baryshnikov
Arts Center in Manhattan, and closed on Sunday, January 29th. By
|Michael Potts as Turnbo, John Douglas Thompson as
Becker, Anthony Chisholm as Fielding, Keith Randolph Smith as Doub,
André Holland as Youngblood. Photo by Joan Marcus.
Two Views of "Jitney"
August Wilson’s “Jitney,” the eighth in his
“Pittsburgh Cycle,” was written in 1979. Since then, it has
been performed at regional theaters, including the Studio Theatre and
the Kennedy Center, both in Washington, D.C., and Denver Center for the
Performing Arts. This season it is our great good fortune to witness the
play’s premiere, produced by the Manhattan Theatre Club at the Samuel
J. Friedman Theatre. By Paulanne Simmons and Lucy Komisar.
|Estelle Bajou and Dan Grimaldi in the dance-lesson
scene (the '67 Jag in background)
Two of the three human characters in Gino Diiorio’s “Jag,”
world-premiering at New Jersey Repertory Company, are (in just-coined
Latin) personi extremis. One, Leo “Chick” Chicarella, is a
bigoted, foul-mouthed, ill-mannered lout. He’s also near-blind –
or, as played by Dan Grimaldi, depending on the scene, sometimes near-blind.
The other, Carla Carr, is a 78-RPM, ditzy cupie doll with a savant’s
knowledge of vintage Jaguar motor cars. By Philip Dorian.
Attar in "Golgotha."
Living on the Skulls of the Past
January 27 is the United Nations World Holocaust Day in commemoration
of the liberation of Auschwitz by Soviet troops on January 27, 1945. If
you are looking for a different voice in an honest and modest rendering
of the tragedy of our twentieth century, Beate Hein Bennett strongly recommends
you make your way to La Mama for "Golgotha."
|The Devil battles the Archangel Gabriel.
La Cantata Dei Pastori
Five months ago, I discovered Alessandra Belloni and I Giullari di Piazza
in a show called "Tarantata: Spider Dance" at the Cathedral
of Saint John the Divine. I found that show really amazing in its concept,
its direction, its daring to perform in a church and its energy. At the
end of the show, I wanted to go on stage and dance with them. The company's
"La Cantata Dei Pastori" was, well, out of place in a theater.
By Frank Lyons.
|American Candy. Photo by Martin Balaguer.
The Fempire Strikes Back !!
W hen I heard that a play about feminism was performed to help the association
GEMS, which provides services for girls and young women at risk for commercial
sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking, I was extremly curious.
It’s a dangerous bet to make people laugh about all these themes.
But it’s not dangerous when you have the talent of American Candy.
By Remy.S .
|Photo by G. Marsalla
"Piaf! The Show"
Backed by a videoscape of Piaf, Paris and Parisians, Anne Carrere
took the audience on a musical journey tracing Piaf’s rise to prominence
from a penniless street singer to an international icon. By Paulanne Simmons.
|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
“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
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.
|Simon McBurney as McIntyre racing around the stage
(jungle). Photo by Joan Marcus.
“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
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.
| Concetta Tomei, Gordon Joseph Weiss.
Photo by Monica Simoes.
One Flea Spare
Proxemics—a consideration of the spatial arrangements between people
or things—is a lens much loved by performance theorists in pondering
how place and placement inflect human behavior and perception. It was
on Dorothy Chansly's mind while watching Playhouse Creatures’ recent
sure-handed production of Naomi Wallace’s 1996 OBIE Award winning
One Flea Spare.
|"Day of Absence" by Douglas Turner Ward,
presented by Negro Ensemble Company. L-R: Count Stovall, Kim Weston
Moran, Bill Jay.
Three views of “Day of Absence"
"Day of Absence" by Douglas Turner Ward, which premiered
in 1965, is the play that launched the Negro Ensemble Company and arguably,
by implication, ignited the modern movement of Black theater artists of
all disciplines working working together and began bringing general audiences
to their work. A broad, satirical farce, the piece tells the story of
the Southern town whose Negroes vanish for a day, leaving the white citizens
helpless. It's an acid and howlingly funny reversal of the old minstrel
shows, with the actors mostly performing in whiteface. This revival is
the first production of The Negro Ensemble's 50th season. By Bettijane
Eisenpreis, Glenda Frank and Beate Hein Bennett.
|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.
|King Henry (Michael Cumpsty) to Queen Eleanor (Dee
Hoty): "Well, what should we hange? The holly or each other?"
“The Lion in Winter"
Set over Christmas Eve and Day in the year 1183, “The
Lion in Winter” is based on events in the lives of seven historical
figures: Henry II, King of England, Scotland, Wales, etc.; his Queen-wife-prisoner
Eleanor, late of Aquitaine; their three sons; Henry’s mistress Alais;
and Alais’s brother Philip, King of France. Real people, yes; but
it’s not a history lesson. By Philip Dorian.
|PIP'S ISLAND performers and audience members. Photo
by Thom Kaine
At a time when there is such an interest in immersive, interactive
and mixed media theater, it’s a bit ironic that the production which
takes all this to the highest level of innovation is, in fact, a children’s
show. By Paulanne Simmons.
|Ken Jennings and Melissa Errico in FINIAN'S
RAINBOW at Irish Rep. Photo by Carol Rosegg
If the state of the union makes you think you’d like
to throw yourself out the window, hold on a minute. The Irish rep’s
revival of “Finian’s Rainbow” may not solve all your
problems or the problems of the nation, but it will give you a much needed
respite, a respite filled with music and dance and a message we very much
.By Paulanne Simmons.
|Ken Barnett as Codename Lazar and Rachel Weisz as
Susan Traherne. Photo by Joan Marcus.
Is David Hare’s play “Plenty” about the personal
or the political? A confusing muddle. The Post-War era was supposed to
bring peace and “Plenty.” David Hare’s disappointing
play suggests why it didn’t. By Lucy Komisar.
|Alex Trow and Graham Techler. Photo by SuzAnne Barabas.
Thinking about “Mad Love,” the word “lark”
popped into my head. Where’d that come from? I thought, so I looked
it up: Something mischievous…an amusing adventure or escapade.Marisa
Smith’s play, running through November 20 at New Jersey Repertory
Company, is a lark. The self-labeled “Romantic Comedy” may
be just another RomCom about modern-day attitudes and hang-ups, but its
apt additional descriptive “for Cynical Times” elevates it,
if not out of that category, at least to its top-quality level. By Philip
|Scott Shepard as Quaker and Jennifer Kidwell as slave.
Photo by Ben Arons.
“Underground Railroad Game"
This is not a children’s game. It is a riveting, compelling,
inventive dissection of slavery, the underground railroad, the civil war
and racism. In fact, “riveting, compelling, inventive” is
a good description of Ars Nova, which presents this play and also created
“The Comet of 1812,” the Off-Broadway hit just opening on
Broadway.“Underground Railroad Game” is a stunning, biting,
compelling satire on what white Americans learn about slavery. By Lucy
|Jason O’Connell as Edward Ferrars.
“Sense and Sensibility"
The Bedlam theater company takes an early 19th-century soap
opera and turn it into serious sociology as comic slapstick with great
success in this adaptation by Kate Hamill and direction by Eric Tucker.
“Sense & Sensibility” a funny hokey caricature of Jane
Austin’s genteel 19th-century .By Lucy Komisar.
|Photo by Abigail Jennings.
An "Arturo Ui" to give
Glenda Frank writes, "I love it when new theatre companies invite
sprawling, rarely produced texts into their season. I like it even more
when they do it brilliantly, with dead-on spoofs, like the Lyra Theatre
Company and its production of Bertolt Brecht’s “The Resistible
Rise of Arturo Ui” (1941), a typical Brechtian combination of comedy,
politics and the (American) gangster, a combination best exemplified by
“The Three Penny Opera." The many pictures of Donald Trump
(and one of Ronald Reagan) and the taped Republican conversations about
the current election (sound design by Adrian Bridges) don’t exactly
fit the play, but they add their own gloss. This production is Off-off
Broadway at its best."
|In The Room featuring Reuben Barsky,
Susan Neuffer, Suzy Jane Hunt, Jacob Perkins, Rob Robinson, Chelsea
Melone, and Matt Harrington. Photo byJeremy Daniel.
In the Room
Seymour is a teacher in a writer’s workshop. Every week, he comes
to teach his students how to write their stories, novels, videogames.
Every week they all gather in the eponymous room to try to help each other
wrie the next chapter of their stories. “Tell me what you write,
I’ll tell you who you are “ could be the subtitle of “In
the Room,“ a masterful intimist play written by Lawrence Dial, directed
by Adam Knight. By Remy.S .
Van Dyke as Zora Neale Hurston. Photo by Gerry Goodstein.
Two views of Zora Neale Hurston
Laurence Holder's bioplay on Zora Neale Hurston, who was known in her
time as Queen of the Harlem Renaissance, stands out as one of the outstanding
plays on American literary figures. Larry Litt visited the outstanding
production currently running at Castilllo Theatre on West 42nd Street,
mounted by Woodie King, Jr.'s New Federal Theatre, and found his interest
in Hurston reinvigorated. He writes, "Don’t miss this chance
to share in the comedy, drama and intensity of American literary society.
I came away wanting to read her books again. I know I will." Beate
Hein Bennett adds, "Elizabeth Van Dyke brought Zora to life with
her boundless energy and an exuberant vitality...The production presented
a valuable insight."
|Carole J. Bufford
“Cabaret Convention 2016"
Best of New York’s cabaret singers, new talents and veteran
stars are featured at the festival. By Lucy Komisar.
|Jamie Horton in ORWELL IN AMERICA at 59E59 Theaters.
Photo by Carol Rosegg
"Orwell in America"
George Orwell, the distinguished British author of “Animal
Farm,” is on tour promoting his book. The time is just after World
War II. The place is small-town America. And according to playwright Joe
Sutton, Americans want nothing of Orwell’s socialist beliefs. They
have decided “Animal Farm” is an anti-communist manifesto,
and they want to hear Orwell speak out against the totalitarian system
they fear may take over the world.
.By Paulanne Simons.
"Ship of Fools"
“Ship of Fools” employs puppetry, live music and
movement. It begins with a woman lying in bed in France’s all-female
asylum, Saltpetriere, and ends with the deranged dancing of a pantsuit
that reminds us uncomfortably of Hillary Clinton. By Paulanne Simons.
|Sean O’Callaghan, Jared McNeill, Ery Nzaramba
and Carole Karemera. Photo by Richard Termine
“Battlefield,” inspired by Brook’s Mahabarata,
an elegant parable of justice and war. By Lucy Komisar
|Phillip James Brannon in NAT TURNER IN JERUSALEM
at NYTW. Photo by Joan Marcus
"Nat Turner in Jerusalem"
With Megan Sandberg-Zakian’s noteworthy direction and
the excellent acting of Phillip James Brannon as Turner, and Rowan Vickers
as Gray and an unnamed guard, the play might have been remarkable. The
problem is that although Davis writes some formidable dramatic dialogue,
he never creates any real drama onstage. .By Paulanne Simons.
|Dearbhla Molloy and Dermot Crowley. Photo by Carol
Chekhov said somewhere that the greatest tragedies happen around a dinner
table. “AFTERPLAY,” a one-act play for two characters by Brian
Friel, is a dramatic variation on a theme by Chekhov. In fact, the two
characters-- a man and a woman--have stepped out of two different Chekhov
plays and been given a life extension. Sonya is Uncle Vanya’s capable
niece while Andrey is the feckless brother of the Three Sisters. We meet
the two of them in the 1920s in some Moscow café of faded former
elegance, some twenty years after their original (fictional) existence.
Thus “Uncle Vanya” and “The Three Sisters” provide
the fundamental backdrop to Friel’s play. By Beate Hein-Bennett.
|Austin Scott Lombardi and Company of
"Fiorello" (NYC), BTG 2016. Photos by Alexander Hill
Gone and mostly forgotten in all but name – think LaGuardia
Airport and the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and
Performing Arts – is his eminence Fiorello LaGuardia (1882-1945),
arguably the best mayor New York City ever had (1934-1945). Thanks to
Berkshire Theatre Group which shipped us, cast and all, their highly touted
summer hit musical from Stockbridge, Massachusetts, the late great hizzoner
is now back in town, this time singing, dancing and tipping his hat in
a joyous, high energy rival of Fiorello. By Edward Rubin.
MASKS -- L: Sharon Ullrick as Sarah Bernhardt, C: Eduardo Machado
as Duse's acolyte, R: Lorinne Vozoff as Eleonora Duse in "Acting"
by Eduardo Machado. Photo by Remy.S.
"Life Masks" by Lorinne
Vozoff and Eduardo Machado
Performer/playwrights Lorinne Vozoff and Eduardo Machado contemplate the
vicissitudes of age in three one-act plays under the title, “Life
Masks.” The evening renders a vigorous image of what parts for older
actors can contribute to the theater repertory. By Beate Hein-Bennett.
|Jimmi Simpson and Justine Lupe in Emapthitrax by
Ana Nogueira, directed by Adrienne Campbell-Holt. Photo by Robert
In “Empathitrax,” a new play by Ana Nogueira at
Here, two appealing young singles who have been living together for ten
years, happily they claim, want to take their relationship to a new level.
Their answer is pharmaceuticals, a new pill designed to heighten intimacy.
But all change is inherently dangerous. People who take risks are either
optimistic or at their wit’s end. By Glenda Frank
|Andrzej Chyra as Hyppolyte, Agata Buzek as Strophe,
with Janet Leigh on the Psycho video. Photo by Pascal Victor.
“Phaedra(s)” director turns Greek goddess’s
love for stepson into tedious over-the-top modern sex-obsession.One of
the most interesting bad plays I’ve ever seen. By Lucy Komisar
Gregorian Aaron Lynn,
Barker, Reed, Love - Photo by Dave Mack
Unearthing the past, Gregorian, Matthew Greene’s latest
play, produced by Working Artists Theatre Project at the Walkerspace Theater,
digs deep into the painful history of the Armenian people, examining the
century long effects of the 1915 genocide on four generations of the Gregorian
family, in which the Ottoman Empire slaughtered 1.5 million Armenians.
By Edward Rubin.
|Philip Goodwin, Jill Tanner, Polly McKie, Kylie McVey,
Katie Firth, Curzon Dobell, Athan Sporek, and Julian Elfer in A DAY
BY THE SEA by N.C. Hunter. Photo by Richard Termine.
"A Day by the Sea"
For this revival, the Mint has brought back the much esteemed
Austin Pendleton to direct. They have also assembled a more than capable
cast, with Julian Elfer as the less than successful diplomat and Katie
Firth as the twice divorced Elinor Eddison, the girl he let slip through
his fingers twenty years ago.By Paulanne Simons.
|Robert Zawadzki and Patrick O'Kane in the Abbey Theatre's
QUIETLY at Irish Rep, Photo by James Higgins.
The Abbey production with Fay’s tight mis-en-scene in
a fully equipped bar and the cast of three superb actors gives us a sharp
rendition of the human cost of such conditions of mutual alienation and
hate-mongering. The Irish Repertory Theatre and The Public are to be congratulated
for having made it possible for New York audiences to see this superb
work of theatre in the Irish Rep’s intimate new space in Chelsea.
Reviewed by Beate Hein Bennett
“The Mushroom Cure"
We have fallen in love with Otherness, with the LGBTQ world,
with amnesiacs and bi-polar schizophrenics, with anyone who can see or
present the world from a unique perspective. What once represented our
collective fears now has our attention and – in NY at least –
our respect. Often we hear the narratives through the voices of observers
(journalists, scientists like Oliver Sacks, author/directors like Christopher
Nolan in “Memento,” novelists like Sylvia Nasar who wrote
“A Beautiful Mind” ). But sometimes actual members of the
community discover a way to share their stories. When they are as quick-witted
and sharp as stand-up comedian Adam Strauss, they can transform their
disability into the stuff of poignancy and comedy. By Glenda Frank
|L-R: Jennifer Thalman Kepler and Laura Ellis in ALICE
IN BLACK AND WHITE, written by Robin Rice and directed by Kathi E.B.
Ellis, at 59E59 Theaters. Photo by Holly Stone
Two Views of “Alice in Black
“Alice in Black and White” by playwright Robin Rice
premiered at the Looking for Lilith Company in Louisville, KY and is now
presented at 59E59 Theater on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of
Alice Austen’s birth. Elizabeth Alice Austen, born in 1866 to an
upper middle class family, lived her golden years in poverty, her photographs
and glass negatives forgotten in a trunk in the Staten Island Historical
Society. She was rediscovered shortly before her death. According to Glenda
Frank and Beate Hein Bennett, playwright Robin Rice has brought Austen's
iconoclastic life to the stage in two-act play which feels like a series
of snapshots, alternating between occurrences in Alice Austen’s
life and a mid-twentieth century historian’s search for her.
|Jennifer Ehle as Mona Juul and Jefferson Mays as
Terje Rød -Larsen. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.
J.T. Rogers’ play "Oslo" is about the back
channel negotiations that led to a ground-breaking Israeli-PLO agreement
signed at the Clinton White House in 1993. The play is a lesson in how
diplomacy can work. By Lucy Komisar
“The Winter's Tale"
For many New Yorkers, the best part of summer is going to themany
free theatrical events the city has to offer. And one of the best of these
theatrical events is New York Classical Theatre’s summer series
of plays presented in various park locations around the city. By Paulanne
|Damon Daunno as Orpheus and Nabiyah Be as Eurydice.
Photo by Joan Marcus.
Hades of course is hell. And singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell’s
script and music, directed by Rachel Chavkin, is based on the Greek myth
of Orpheus, who journeys to Hades in order to find his love, the nymph
Eurydice, who has been killed by a poisonous snake. “Hadestown”
is a powerful, political, jazzy retelling of Orpheus and Eurydice myth.
By Lucy Komisar.
|Audra McDonald as Lotte Gee. Photo by Julieta Cervantes.
It’s charming but also hokey: the story of black producers
and performers struggling in the early twenties to put a show on Broadway.
It’s 1920 and they are Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake, a comedy duo
who meet at Fisk, the black college in Nashville. “Shuffle Along”
a charming, hokey, jazzy, hot dance show with sparkling Audra McDonald.
By Lucy Komisar
|"Tarantata! Spider Dance" performed by
Alessandra Belloni and I Giullari di Piazza at Cathedral of St. John's
the Divine, June 29, 2016. L-R: Greta Campo, Francesca Silvano, Mark
Mindek, Jillian Guinta. Photo by Tim Esteves.
"Tarantata"- Spider Dance
The Feast of the Tarantati is performed every June 29th in
Southern Italy. It’s an ancient music and dance healing ritual for
physically and mentally distraught women. We’re told they suffer
from heartache often caused by soured relationships. Tarantata’s
purpose is to release the poison and venom from body and soul. These conditions
were often attributed to a tarantula spider’s bite. Alessandra Belloni
and her dance performance troupe I Guillari di Piazza have taken this
ritual to new heights of music, movement and supercharged theatricality.
By Larry Litt
|Elizabeth Teeter as Betty, Saoirse Ronan as Abigail
and Tavi Gevinson as Mary Warren. Photo Jan Versweyveld.
“The Crucible" returns
Arthur Miller’s brilliant parable of the Sen. Joseph
McCarthy attack on American liberties, allowed by the U.S. Congress till
it became too obscene for even cowardly politicians to stomach, is brilliantly
staged by Ivo Van Hove, a Dutchman who understands and communicates Miller’s
political message (see also his “A View From the Bridge”)
in a theatrical manner that makes politics into art. By Lucy Komisar
|Laura Benanti as Amalia Balash. Photo by Joan Marcus.
The Roundabout's "She Loves
Me" at Studio 54
Laura Benanti is luminous as the smart shop clerk in “She Loves
Me”. By Lucy Komisar
|Scarlett Alice Johnson as Jill, Debra Baker as Miss
Dee, Sean Michael Verey as Ollie. Photo by Carol Rosegg.
“Radiant Vermin,” written
by Philip Ridley, directed by David Mercatali, at 59E59 Theaters
“Radiant Vermin” is a smart biting bloody fable about the
rich and the poor. By Lucy Komisar
|Elizabeth Boag as Mrs. Pearce, Stephen Billington
as waiter, Russell Dixon as Mr. Pearce. Photo by Tony Bartholomew.
"Confusions" by Alan
Ayckbourm at 59E59
Ayckbourn’s astute, funny “Confusions” uses small interactions
to speak about human vulnerabilities. By Lucy Komisar .
|Gabriel Byrne as James and Jessica Lange as Mary.
Photo byJoan Marcus.
“Long Day's Journey into
Night" at the Roundabout Theatre
From Jessica Lange’s remarkable dissolution as the drug addicted
Mary, reaching her nadir (and theatrical heights) in her mad scene, to
Michael Shannon’s stunning drunk, you are blown away by Jonathan
Kent’s staging of Eugene O’Neill’s “Long Day’s
Journey Into Night.” By Lucy Komisar
|Carmen Cusack as Alice Murphy. Photo by Nick Stokes.
“Bright Star," written
by Steve Martin, at the Cort Theatre
If you like bluegrass and feminist stories, you will love this Steve Martin-Edie
Brickell show, as I did. Carmen Cusack is a dulcet-toned charmer as the
heroine. “Bright Star” a charming southern fairy tale and
bluegrass operetta. By Lucy Komisar
|Frank Langella as André and Kathryn
Erbe as Anne. Photo Joan Marcus.
“The Father,” written
by Florian Zeller and directed by Doug Hughes, at Manhattan Theater Club
Frank Langella in “The Father” brilliantly creates confusion
of man with dementia. By Lucy Komisar
|Jason Dirden as Dez, Lynda Gravatt as Faye, Nikiya
Mathis as Shanita,. Photo Ahron R. Foster.
“Skeleton Crew,” written
by Dominique Morisseau, at the Atlantic Theater Company
Workers’ solidarity, a labor union, caring about each other may
appear a bit old fashioned in this neoliberal era, but Dominique Morisseau
shows vividly how that is a lifeline for four people facing the loss of
their jobs at a Detroit auto plant in 2008. “Skeleton Crew”
shows worker solidarity at time of corporate uber-power. By Lucy Komisar
|Pascale Armand as Wife #3, Saycon Sengbloh as Wife
#1 and Lupita Nyong’o as the Girl. Pphoto Joan Marcus.
“Eclipsed” by Danai
Gurira at theGolden Theatre
“Eclipsed” is stunning, surreal look at the horrors women
suffered in Liberian civil war. By Lucy Komisar
“West Side Story" Directed
by Mark S. Hoebee at the Paper Mill Playhouse
The current crowd-pleasing production at Paper Mill Playhouse,directed
by Mark S. Hoebee, features a cast of actors who are extremely talented
but not exactly household names. “West Side Story” is that
kind of show: audiences will come to see it without star power. By Paulanne
|Rupert Everett as Oscar Wilde, Cal MacAninch as Robert
Ross, Charlie Rowe as Bosie, Alister Cameron as Sandy Moffatt, Elliot
Balchin as Arthur Wellesley, photo Cylla von Tiedemann.
“The Judas Kiss," written
by David Hare at the BAM Harvey Theater
That’s Oscar Wilde, the playwright whose sense of entitlement probably
helped blind him to the dangers of challenging the British upper class
hypocrisy that, riven with homosexuality itself, just didn’t like
it displayed so openly. Not in 1895. So, in some ways, David Hare’s
very strong play is as much about class as about sexual choice. Class,
of course, plays a role in other Hare plays. By Lucy Komisar
Tardy as Ira Aldridge and Sean Eden as Taras Shevchenko. Photo by
"Dark Night, Bright Stars"
by Yara Arts Group at La Mama
"Dark Night, Bright Stars" is one of those pleasant surprises
that comes around every now and again. It's a play that actively distances
itself from traditional forms of storytelling and instead communicates
its messages through fragments of memories and poetry readings. On the
surface level, this play is a story about two friends with similar pasts
having a cultural exchange, but dig deeper and you discover themes of
race and poverty, oppression and liberation, diaspora and the yearning
for home. By Timothy Esteves.
Daniels as Ray and Michelle Williams as Una. Photo by Brigitte Lacombe.
"Blackbird" by David
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.
|Adrienne Warren and Company. Photo by Julieta Cervantes.
“Shuffle Along” on Broadway has great song and
dance numbers, a weak book and Audra McDonald. If the first two observations
don’t convince you to see the show the last most definitely should.
By Paulanne Simmons.
"The Judas Kiss"
Sex and class play equal parts “The Judas Kiss,”
David Hare’s tragedy about Oscar Wilde, now playing at BAM. By Paulanne
|Steve Nicolson as Blakey, Simon Greenall as Cecil,
Will Barton as Colin, Matthew Kelly as Nellie and Matt Sutton as Peter,
photo by Oliver King.
Workers in a British bread factory stick together to combat
fatigue, danger, insecurity. “Toast” at 59E59 Theaters depicts
working-class camaraderie in the face of tough lives . By Lucy Komisar
“Even Under Bitterness”
Castillo Theatre is presenting an evening of the powerful
poetry of Guatemalan poet and activist Otto Rene Castillo (1936 -1967),
whose name the theater adopted in honor of his legendary fight for social
justice. By Beate Hein Benne.
|Felicity Houlbrooke as Tillie and Filipa Braganca
as Samira. Photo by Carol Rosegg.
“Echoes” is a powerful and intense play that
explores the imperialist mindset as it compares the experiences of two
women who lived 175 years apart in Ipswich, England, and were each swept
up in the murderous rampage of “godly” imperialist killers.
It won a Spirit of the Fringe award in Edinburgh last year and transferred
to London. By Lucy Komisar.
The 2016 Annual Drama Desk Awards
Nominations for the 2016 Annual Drama Desk Awards were announced
April 28 at Feinstein's 54 Below by Vanessa Williams (Into the Woods,
The Trip to Bountiful "Ugly Betty") and Matthew Morrison(Finding
Neverland, Hairspray, The Light in the Piazza, "Glee"). And
the Nominees are...
|Peter Groom as Watson and Jackie Schram as Sherlock
Holmes. Photo Richard Termine.
"The Adventures of Sherlock
There are a hundred ways to direct and play Sherock Holmes
and everyone is a risk. But when you think everything has been done, here
comes the Aquila Company’s “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes,”
which still finds a way to mystify and enchant. By Lucy Komissar
“Bright Star” is eminently enjoyable, with a
rollicking blue grass score by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell and a sparkling
performance by Carmen Cusack as the female lead, Alice Murphy. By Paulanne
The 66th Annual
Outer Critics Circle Awards
The Outer Critics Circle has announced its 2015-16 Season
Nominees. "She Loves Me" and "American Psycho the Musical"
head the list with eight nominations, while "Bright Star" and
"On Your Feet" got seven nominations each. These are the first
Broadway/Off-Broadway Award nominations of the season. And the Nominees
“A Night Without a Banket”
In “A Night Without a Blanket,” Margo Lee Sherman
demonstrates her mercurial ability to slip into a variety of voices and
bodies that people Kanafani’s two stories, “The Slope”
and “A Present for the Holidays,” from his book “Palestine’s
Children.” Both stories tell of the plight of growing up in the
dire and humiliating circumstances under occupation and in refugee camps.
By Beate Hein Bennett.
|Hamlet 10. Photo
by Martin Harris.
Hamlet: In the course of a life-time you think you’ve
seen them all—the brilliant one, the wild one, the delicate one,
the contemplative one, the mad one, the effeminate one, the athletic male
or the athletic female, the schemer and the joker! That is, until you
see a communal “Hamlet” – where The Hamlet becomes the
Hamlet of us all who “suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous
fortune.” By Beate Hein Bennett.
Electronic City is a social fantasy in the mode and message
of Charlie Chaplin’s “Modern Times” meets “Everyman.”
Work starved easily replaceable employees are programmed for underpaid
employment in airport retail shops controlled by anonymous computer programmers
often only heard on the other end of the emergency phone. By Larry Litt.
"The Digger" is a very different kind of puppetry
theater. Based in part on Dante’s ‘The Inferno,’ the
ancient tale ‘Epic of Gilgamesh’ and Newton’s ‘The
Emerald Tablet," this fantastic puppets show, designed and created
by Mike Kelly, sets new standards for puppet theatre. By Larry Litt.
|Jeremy Beck as
Harry and Jonathan Hadley as Billy. Photo Marielle Solan .
George Bernard Shaw’s first play, given a first rate
performance by The Actors Company Theatre directed by David Staller, establishes
the theme of personal morality vs business corruption that would be a
signature of his works through the years. He wrote “Widowers Houses”in
1892, a Shaw satire of ‘moral’ folks who profit from exploiting
the poor . By Lucy Komisar
|HUGHIE -- Franck Wood as the hotel clerk, Forest
Whitaker as Hughie, playing dice. Photo by Marc Brenner.
“Hughie” is a play of seduction. Erie Smith
(Forest Whitaker) has just lost Hughie, his only friend, a night clerk
in a seedy hotel. Erie is lonely, grieving, down on his luck, and back
from a five-day drunk. He tries to ignite in the new hotel clerk his sustaining
friendship with the man who has died. He has to charm not only the new
clerk but also the audience, and to dominate by force of will alone a
set that dwarfs him. But Forest Whitaker doesn't play it that way. By
|L'AMANT ANONYME -- Jennifer Moore as Léontine
and Everett Suttle as Valcour. Photo Tina Buckman.
In the canon of arts that are little known because they
weren’t created by white men, add an 18th century baroque opera
composed by Joseph Bologne, born 1745 in Guadeloupe, the son of a French
plantation owner and a slave. “L’Amant Anonyme” is 18th
French century opera composed by son of a slave . By Lucy Komisar.
|PERICLES -- Raphael Nash Thompson. Photo by Gerry
We live in a world of Shakespeare as pop culture, with evidence
everywhere from advertising to updated adaptations to burlesques to references
in sitcoms. But seeing Theatre for a New Audience’s raucous, delicious,
and ultimately very moving “Pericles,” directed by Trevor
Nunn, is a reminder that Shakepseare’s works were popular culture
in their own time. By Dorothy Chansky.
|From left to
right - Paul Pecorino, Tori Murray, Kim Maresca. Photo by Carol Rosegg.
The cornucopian plot of "Ruthless" while being
a simple spoof on show business has more twists and turns than a pretzel.
Just when you think you know what is happening, what you are seeing, and
where it is going, revelation after revelation, all coming out of left
field, take us, oh so willingly, in another head-swirling direction to
the land where lying, deceit, hidden identities, along with murder, mystery,
and mayhem, all served up with song, dance, and a great many laughs, reign
supreme. By Ed Rubin.
|Carrie Paff as Hannah, Mark Anderson Phillips as
Brock, and Michael Ray Wisely as Ted, photo Carol Rosegg.
“Ideation” by the San Francisco Playhouse at 59E59 Theaters
shows unnerving connection between corporate sleaze and designs for mass
killing. By Lucy Komisar
|Paul Sparks and
Ed Harris in Sam Shepard’s “Buried Child,” directed
by Scott Elliott, Off-Broadway at The New Group. Photo credit: Monique
“Buried Child” so impressed critics and audiences back in
1979 that it won the Pulitzer Prize. As with so many Pulitzer Prize-winning
works, years later it doesn’t seem so impressive. As the shock value
fades, the flaws in the plot and characterizations seem to grow. By Pauanne
and Michael Crane in the Primary Stages production of "The Body
of an American"
by Dan O'Brien, directed by Jo Bonney at Primary Stages at the Cherry
Lane Theatre. Photo by James Leynse.
“The body of an American”
The Body of an American is based on the true story of the friendship between
war photographer Paul Watson and playwright Dan O’Brien. Watson
is the man who shot the photo of Staff Sgt. William David Cleveland’s
corpse after he’d been tied, beaten and dragged through the streets
by an angry Somalian mob. By Paulanne Simmons.
|Kate Middleton as Ruby Ridgeway, Dee Pelletier as
Mademoiselle Vernier, Emily Walton as Jean Wade, photo Richard Termine.
“Women without Men”
Written by Hazel Ellis, an Irish actress and playwright in the 1930, this
play is a period piece which try to anwer to a lot of feminism questions
: Was there feminism in Ireland in the 1930s? Under attack, will the heroine
reject being a woman without a man and decamp to her fiancé? Or
will the other women get together, discover solidarity and demand better
conditions? And the most of all, is the playwright suggesting that women
without men are doomed? By Lucy Komisar.
Chalamet as Jim Quinn, photo Joan Marcus.
John Patrick Shanley's "Prodigal Son" is an autobiographical
play about the memoir of rebel Catholic youth.A smart but rebellious kid
gets suspended from a Catholic high school in New York City for saying
he doesn’t believe in God. He ends up at the Thomas Moore Preparatory
School in Keene, NH, a small boarding school where he will continue to
argue about ideas and also get into fights and scrapes. You love rooting
for this fearless, clever kid who, with the passion aof his intellect,
was smarter than everyone around him. By Lucy Komisar.
-- Joe Hewes-Clark as the husband, Nawa Kamate as his African
wife. Photo by Remy.S.
A European view of racism in "The
Serge Goriely, a Belgian playwright, presents us with a witches’
brew of cultural entanglements, generational conflicts, and social upheaval—all
presented through the lens of a family’s experience of love, marriage,
birth and death. "The Sorcerers" is an extended metaphor of
the social conflicts that beset Europe as it is coming to grips with immigration
from former colonies and political and economic refugees by the millions.
By Beate Hein Bennett.
Ortiz (Nick Chopper) in "The Woodsman." Photo by Matthew
"The Woodsman," a prequel to "The Wizard of Oz,"
is a dark dance-theatre exploration of love, loss and transformation.
It lasts 75 minutes (no intermission) and covers two generations of woodsmen
who find their beloved, build their homes, and change. Interesting concept,
and the production is a piece of theatre magic, woven from movement, sound
design, lighting, props and the delicate accompaniment of Naomi Florins’
violin (original, marvelously eclectic music by Edward W. Hardy). The
puppets are magnificent, but this is not a story for children. Tweens,
however, might love it. Think "Edward Scissorhands" without
the Disney overlay. Reviewed by Glenda Frank.
in "Pappy on da Underground Railroad."
"Pappy on Da Underground Railroad"
"Pappy on Da Underground Railroad" is fine as a Richard Johnson
vehicle in a small, Off- Off-Broadway theater. However, it could also
be a touching show for school groups, especially for classes in the midst
of studying American history. And it might work for audiences of all ages
in some museums, such as The New-York Historical Society, in association
with relevant exhibitions. Reviewed by Mindy Aloff.
Bodin as Snow White and Courtney Giannone as The Prince T "Snow
White." Photo by Mark Shrlby Perry.
"Snow White" And The Evil Queen
As You Never Seen Them Before
The ad campaign for Company XIV’s production of "Snow White,"
inspired by the Brothers Grimm’s fairy tale that we all grew up knowing
– it is being sold as an adult version of the folk tale – more than captured
our attention. Ed rubin writes, "Like Whitney Houston’s singing "I
Will Always Love You" and Celine Dion’s "My Heart Will Go One,"
it wrapped itself around my gonads and reeled me right in." Here's
what else he says.
as Mickey Ross, photo by Jeremy Daniel.
A "China Doll" is Al Pacino
character’s prize for life of corrupt dealing
The title suggests this play by David Mamet is about a woman, but it’s
really about politics and corruption. And the trendy topic of tax evasion.
Reviewed by Lucy Komisar.
Fabel as Ismene and Rebekah Brockman as Antigone in "The Burial
at Thebes".Photo by Carol Rosegg.
The message in “The Burial at Thebes”
is more relevant than ever
"The Burial at Thebes," Seamus Heaney’s translation
of Sophocles’ "Antigone," was commissioned by Ireland's
renowned Abbey Theatre to commemorate its centenary in 2004. That was
not long after the American invasion of Iraq, when Sophocles’ questioning
the limits of earthly power seemed especially relevant. Reviewed by Paulanne
"YES," Realbuto’s Play Boggles
Tim Realbuto’s play “YES” though billed as
one act with two scenes and an epilogue – it runs nearly 90 minutes
– has the feel and heft of a full length play. No doubt, "YES"
which played to great acclaim at the Detroit Fringe Festival earlier this
year – it also had a sold out run last year as part of NYC’s Emerging
Artists Theatre series – will be seeing further life at other venues across
the country. Reviewed by Edward Rubin.
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
Wilder 2.0" -- Joe Casey (L) as a soft-core porn filmmaker and
Steph Van Vlack (R) as his ex-babysitter.
"Allen wilder 2.0"
Middle age. The sounds of those shattering words strike quivering fear
into the hearts of those who seek eternal youth. Especially if the mirror
on the wall tells them the truth. Such a mirror is Matt Morillo’s
new comedy, "Allen Wilder 2.0." Reviewed by Larry Littany Litt.
by Jan Versweyveld
Two reviews of "Lazarus"
"Lazarus" by David Bowie and Edna Walsh and directed
by Ivo van Hove keeps its audience seated for almost two hours without
intermission. Glenda Frank found herself
swept into the characters and conflicts, arriving at new esteem for director
Ivo van Hove. Edward Rubin reviews "Lazarus"
from another perspective, starting with David Bowie's professional background.
|"A View from
the Bridge."Mark Strong (center) and Company.
Photo by Jan Versweyveld.
Two reviews of "A View From
According to Lucy Komisar, in Arthur Miller’s
tragedy of poverty and patriarchy, director Ivo Van Hove strips out the
naturalism of sets and real entrances and exits, so you have just the
sense of primal actors. Glenda Frank
was so impresed with the play's direction, it made her re-assess her estimation
of Ivo Van Hove.
Prime."Lisa Emery as Tess, Lois Smith as Marjorie, Noah Bean
as Walter, photo Jeremy Daniel.
Eerie surprising "Marjorie
Prime" shows future when avatars of the dead comfort the living
Think of "prime" as the second version of something, sort of
like the file you download twice, so the second has little 1 after it.
Here it’s not a file, but the vision of a person, maybe a holographic
double. Reviewed by Lucy Komisar.
Color Purple."Patrice Covington as Squeak, Cynthia Erivo as Celie,
Bre Jackson and Carrie Compere as church ladies, photo by Matthew
"The Color Purple" is
feminist musical soap opera about blacks in pre-1950s Georgia
John Doyle’s staging of "The Color Purple" is a hokey
take on Marsha Norman’s dramatization of the Alice Walker novel
about a young black woman in a society of predatory black men. Musical
vignettes in jazz, gospel, ragtime and blues make this a visual chamber
opera rather than a story play. The production numbers are appealing,
the performers are very fine, so it works as opera. But as drama, the
story lacks subtlety. Reviewed by Lucy Komisar.
Hoffman & Company in "Once Upon A Mattress."Photo by
"Once Upon A Mattress,"
More Fun Than A Barrel Of Monkeys
The story is set in a mythical 15th century kingdom where a search is
on for a suitable princess for Prince Dauntless, the nerdy son of Queen
Aggravian. It seems that the all-controlling Queen has decreed that no
one in the kingdom can marry until her son does. To make matter worse,
any princess vying for the role of wife – so far 12 have tried and failed
– has to pass a virtually unpassable test devised by the Queen. According
to Edward Rubin, after seeing "Once Upon A Mattress," you will
find yourself dancing out of the theater at play’s end with a smile on
your face as large as the moon.
Patton on piano, Clovis Nicolas on acoustic bass, Phil Stewart on
drums, Will Anderson (light suit) on alto sax, and Peter Anderson
(dark suit) on tenor sax."The Count Meets The Duke: The Andersons
PlayBasie And Ellington." Photo by Eileen O’Donnell.
"The Count Meets The Duke:
The Andersons Play Basie And Ellington."
Following their 2013 Drama Desk nominated "Le Jazz Hot:
How the French Saved Jazz," the brothers Peter and Will Anderson
are back with another video and music show, this one about jazz greats
Count Basie and Duke Ellington. Reviewed by Lucy Komisar.
"My Son the Waiter, A Jewsh
"My Son the Waiter, A Jewish Tragedy" is a brilliant
combination of Borscht Belt shtick, actor-insider confessional, career
tips for actor-waiters and adult audience-pleasing wit. By Larry Litt.
Leung and the cast in a scene from "Allegiance". Photo by
"Allegiance" - An Important
Story, but a Bland Musical
The story of the United States’ internment of 120,000 people of
Japanese descent during World War II, more than half of them U.S. citizens,
is certainly one that deserves telling. But only a few minutes into Marc
Acito (book), Lorenzo Thione (book) and Jay Kuo’s (book and score)
"Allegiance", one wonders whether this story should be told
as a musical. Reviewed by Paulanne Simmons.
Lefkowitz in his play, "The Miracle of Long Johns." Photo
by Farnaz Taherimotlagh.
"The Miracle of Long Johns"
David Lefkowitz introduces his audience to the trials, tribulations and
rewards of being a theater critic. In its second half, the story takes
an abrupt turn to the scatological and just when you think the story has
hit below the belt, it goes a lot lower. To get the joke, you have to
see the play. Or read this review by Edward Rubin.
Annaleigh Ashford as Sylvia and Matthew Broderick as Greg, photo Joan
Two reviews of "Sylvia"
In "Sylvia", A.R. Gurney shows us that the line between
humans and the rest of the animal world is not always as clear as we would
like to believe, Paulanne Simmons
However, Lucy Komisar looks at “Sylvia”
as a shaggy dog story that raises feminist questions.
as Charles holding the crown, photo Joan Marcus.
“King Charles III”
is riveting and surprising critique of British elites
If you take Mike Bartlett’s “King Charles III”
as the possible future, it makes no sense. But if you take it as a story
of hubris and betrayal connected to a critique of British elites, it’s
right in the realm of current real-life political theater. By Lucy Komisar.
at Vichy." James Carpinello as Major. Photo by Joan Marcus
“Incident at Vichy”
by Arthur Miller
Set in 1942 Vichy, France -- the so-called free zone -- during
the increasing incursion of German military force and deportations, Miller’s
play drives home the corrosive effect of terror on human beings and the
nearly unconscionable moral strength required to remain a human being
under the strain of the real possibility of extermination. Beate Hein
Bennett believes that watching this harrowing play a day after the terrorist
attacks in Paris lent a special emotional edge to an already highly charged
and Breathing". Lizan Mitchell (Carolyn) and Nikki E. Walter
(Veronika, the nurse). Photo by Christine Jean Chambers.
“Dead and Breathing,”
about that will to live…
As one enters the theater lobby on the third floor of Dr. Barbara
Ann Teer’s Black National Theatre building, one is invited to a
small multi-media exhibit around the theme of identity labels. The core
question centers on how our self-definition and labeling by others have
positive and negative social and psychological consequences. It is a fitting
introduction to the multilayered theme of "Dead and Breathing"
by Chisa Hutchinson. By Beate Hein Bennett.
Thomas with spy document, photo Richard Davenport.
"Cuckooed," a riveting
true story by British comic and activist of how arms company spied on
It's theater as investigative reporting or investigative reporting
as theater, however you cut it, but Mark Thomas, a British TV actor/comedian
and activist has created a fascinating show. It’s by him and about
him: how he ran stings that put some illegal arms traffickers out of business
or in jail and how he was deceived and betrayed by a “comrade”
who turned out to be a spy for BAE Systems, the UK’s largest aerospace
and weapons company. By Lucy Komisar.
WHITE AMERICA -- Foreground: Shane Taylor. Behind (L-R) Nalina Mann,
Bill Tatum, Ezra Barnes.
"In White America" by
New Federal Theatre’s 50th Anniversary production of "In White
America" is as fresh as it was in 1963, even though it is playing
in the shadow of the “Black Lives Matter” movement. The fact
that it still feels poignant has several reasons. First is Charles Maryan’s
direction, which moves the ensemble of six actors from one testimony to
the next in a seamless but differentiated manner. Read the review from
Beate Hein Bennett for the rest.
|OLD TIMES -- Clive
Owen as Deeley, Kelly Reilly as Kate, Eve Best as Anna, photo Joan
“Old Times” teases and fascinates with memory and fantasy
Harold Pinter is a wonderful trickster, playing games
with the audience as they watch characters on the stage playing games
with each other. Lucy Komisar explaines us more about "Old Times."
Bandstand at Paper Mill Playhouse; Photo by Jerry Dalia; Laura Osnes
(Julia) LEFT, Corey Cott (Donny) RIGHT and the company of The Bandstand
Bandstand" Is Not Quite Ready for the Bandwagon
It’s easy to see why so many reviewers want
to like "The Bandstand," a musical that is having its premiere
at Paper Mill Playhouse. It has a book and lyrics by Richard Oberacker
and Robert Taylor and music by Oberacker, neither of whom is particularly
well-known to the average theatergoer (or reviewer). It has a book that
is totally original. And it’s about the brave men of the Greatest
Generation, who grew up during the Depression and then went on to fight
totalitarianism abroad to protect democracy back home. Bbut the story
line, writes Paulanne Simons, has holes.
Apple Circus. Photo by Maike Schulz
Apple Circus Is Back!
Ringmaster John Kennedy Kane resplendent and charming
in his top hat and tight-fitting red and black striped jacket, introduces
acts from China (the Zuma Zuma acrobatic troupe) China (hand balancers
The Energy twins) and Russia (Sergey Akimov on the aerial straps). By
Francis-Kelly as Queen Elizabeth. Photo by Julieta Cervantes.
is Coonrod’s brilliant feminist take on Elizabeth
In this stunning artistic and feminist biography of Elizabeth
I, Karen Coonrod tells us what most of us never knew about that 16th-century
British monarch. She was first of all very, very smart, in politics. She
was also studied and intelligent, poetic in her speaking and writing,
and a polyglot – we hear her speak Italian, Spanish, German. She
was subtle, but tough when it mattered. Lucy Komisar writes that sitting
in the presence of Coonrod’s plays, which are built from Elizabeth’letters,
speeches, poems, and prayers, you feel you are meeting an amazing woman!
Of Saleman" by Arthur Miller, performed in Yiddish, directed by Moshe
It’s been recently said that Arthur Miller’s
“Death Of A Salesman’ isn’t a Jewish tragedy. So what’s
the point of a Yiddish translation? Or for that matter translating it
into Spanish or Russian or any language other than the original English?
After all isn’t it a play about the cruelty of American Capitalism
with its not so subtle delusions and temptations that often brutalize
its weaker victims? Larry Litt ponders these "big questions."
NINE -- Clarke Thorell as Clive and Izzie Steele as Mrs. Saunders.
Photo Doug Hamilton.
Atlantic Theater recalls "Cloud
Nine" by Caryl Churchill
Cloud Nine, of course, is that place of ecstasy in the metaphorical sky
where love and/or sex takes one. Caryl Churchill's play is a quirky la
ronde set in Africa in 19th-century Victorian times and London in 1979.
But how does it stack up in today's culture, around 35 years later? Lucy
Komisar no longer finds it clever, and explains why.
and Clemmie Evans in "The New Morality" by Harold Chapin.
Photo by Richard Termine.
“The New Morality”
by Harold Chapin, directed by Jonathan Bank
“The New Morality” is about the modern, independent New Woman,
who is seductive and contradictory. The play is well directed by Jonathan
Banks with an impressive cast. Don’t miss this one. With so many
plays overloaded with gimmicks, trendy hodgepodge, and scenes designed
to shock, it’s a relief to see a comedy that has something to say
and says it gracefully. By Glenda Frank.
|Mickey Theis as Jim and Megan Bartle as Betty, photo Carol Rosegg.
“Desire” has strong
moments channeling Tennessee Williams’ riffs on sex
“Desire” is a collection of plays by modern writers who base
the works on Tennessee Williams short stories dealing with various aspects
of sexual desire, beginning with young first love, moving through various
aspects of homosexuality, touching on repressed desire, and finishing
with a full blown graphic orgasm. By Lucy Komisar.
BREAKS UP A NICE DINNER -- L-R: Kineta Kunutu (Hecate), Leila Okafur
(Witch), Gracie Winchester (Witch), Llewie Nunez (Witch), Sheri Graubert
(Lady Macbeth) and Dan Teachout (Macbeth). Photo by Aurelie Camus.
Shakespeare in the Parking Lot's
What does it look like to present one of the most famous Shakespearean
tragedies, "Macbeth," in a banana republic? A large and likeable
cast worked hard on this outdoor version directed by Jesse Ontiveros.
By Paul Berss.
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.
as Gabriel, Jim Parsons as God, Christopher Fitzgerald as Michael,
photo Jeremy Daniel.
“An Act of God” is
Jim Parsons’ very witty take on religious hokum
If cleverness is next to godliness (my revised meme), Jim Parsons
soars on heavenly wings on both counts. His send-up of religion, believers
and politicians is a holy hoot.
This is a performance in the tradition of Jon Stewart, where trenchant
political and social commentary is done as comedy. And where rapier wit
is a lot sharper at spearing the truth than the blather of the punditocracy.
Parsons has the flippant mood of a Daily Show guy. By Lucy Komisar.
company, photo Matthew Murphy.
"An American in Paris"
is a staircase to dance paradise
It’s the end of World War II, Liberation in Paris. Former
soldier Jerry Mulligan (Robert Fairchild), a New Yorker who wants to be
a painter, stays. This modern jazz ballet with brilliant music by George
Gershwin and unforgettable lyrics by Ira Gershwin is wrapped around a
story inspired by a 1951 movie. But that’s just a backdrop. Good
that it makes political/romantic sense, but you soon forget the book by
Craig Lucas and focus on the production, the staging, the visuals (Bob
Crowley’s set and costumes), and the gorgeous dance numbers by Christopher
Wheeldon featuring the stunning Cope and Fairchild. Think of this production
as a few hours of paradise. By Lucy Komisar.
of Tears" directed by Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj.
Sheldon Raymore and Nerea Duhart. Photo by Ashley Marinaccio
"Trails of Tears" by
Thomas J. Soto
Playwright Thomas J. Soto began “Trail of Tears” in 2013 as
a series of one-night installations to honor cultures lost to genocide.
Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj, the producing Artistic Director of Rebel Theatre,
who created and developed the project for the stage, called this series
“The Remembrance Project.” Now playing at the Nuyorican Café
in Lower Manhattan, “Trail of Tears,” like “Hamilton,”
takes a second look at American history but from the perspective of Native
Americans. The satirical docudrama is told through story, dance, performance,
movement, and testimony. By Glenda Frank.
Theatre in "Cymbeline" on-the-grass in Central Park.
Photo by Timothy Errickson.
"Cymbeline" on a grass
Summer in the city is filled with unexpected delights. Who could have
imagined that Boomerang’s production of “Cymbeline,”
that impossible late comedy by William Shakespeare, could keep its sitting-on-the-grass
audience enthralled for almost 2 ½ hours without intermission.
Director Cailin Heffernan and her seriously talented cast have worked
wonders, and it’s all for free. By Glenda Frank.
The Tempest Takes Over
Harlem By Storm
(Ariel). Photo by Jill Jones.
In the third annual Classical Theatre of Harlem free “Under the Stars”
season, director Carl Cofield envisions "The Tempest" set in colonial
Hispaniola. But the island, true to Shakespeare's original script, is much
more an enchanted domain than any actual earthly location. By Paulanne Simmons
Greenspan. By Eric Carter.
Breathing Life into
the Words of Gertrude Stein
to life two "lectures" and a "play" by Gertrude Stein.
This new signature solo piece by David Greenspan explores ideas of celebrity,
authenticity, outlaws, classics, self-consciousness, and writing for an
audience. By Edward Rubin.
THE 20TH CENTURY--Kristin Chenoweth as Lily in "Veronique,"
Phillip Attmore, Rick Faugno, Erica Mansfield and Richard Riaz Yoder.
Photo by Joan Marcus.
"On The 20th Century"
is a Kristin Chenoweth musical tour de force
Part operetta, part farce, part screwball comedy, this musical revival
is about the behind-the-scenes relationship of Lily Garland (Kristin Chenoweth),
a temperamental actress, and Oscar Jaffee (Peter Gallagher), a bankrupt
theater producer. Fueled by charm, wit, sophistication, wonderful voices
and choreography, this train leaves the station barreling to triumph.
By Lucy Komisar.
TEMPEST-- Louis Cancelmi as Caliban, Jesse Tyler Ferguson as Trinculo,
Danny Mastrogiorgio as Sefano. Photo by Joan Marcus.
In "The Tempest,"
Caliban's 16th-century slave cry for freedom is more powerful than conflicts
The opening of Shakespeare's "The Tempest" in Central Park is
powerful and realistic. The thunder shudders, the lightening flickers,
water mists up through a ship's floor boards, passengers and crew list
and fall. A couple left the theater with a very young son whose face showed
real fear. By Lucy Komisar.
GRANTED--Nathaniel P. Claridad, Kendall Rileigh, Perri Yaniv, Cliff
Miller, Lorinne Lampert. Photo by Lois Segman.
It's labor vs. capital in this circus-like living newspaper from the Federal
Theater Project. This is the third in Metropolitan's jubilant celebration
of these social dramas created by the WPA, in the spirit of Power and
One Third of a Nation, this time with acrobats, music and clowns. By Glenda
|THE ROARING GIRL
--Photo by Anais Koivisto
"The Roaring Girl" is a Jaocbean comedy -- and even better a
feminist comedy -- about seduction, unscrupulous men, and money. A play
where the women saves the day and the course of true love does not run
smooth. By Glenda Frank
and David Lind. Photo by Clay Anderson
at the Cherry Lane Theatre
A small play ensconced in an intimate, somewhat out of the way theatre
sometimes makes a big noise. "New Country," presented by Fair
Trade Productions in association with Rattlestick Playwrights Theater,
and written by Mark Roberts, is one of these plays. By Edward Rubin.
Love and reflection
in "This Is Mary Brown"
A young Irish woman named Marry Montgomery meets Covell Brown,
an Alaskan frontiersman. They fall in love, marry and decide to live in
America. The couple have three children, Winsome, Victoria and Nicholas.
This intimate portrait of a wife and mother is not particularly exceptional.
Yet, as told by Mary Brown's daughter, writer and actress Winsome Brown,
it is the core of a moving solo show, "This Is Mary Brown,"
directed by Brad Rouse. By Paulanne Simmons.
- Shane Baker and Michael Fox. Photo by Ronald L. Glassman
Two Yiddish delights
by Wolf Mankowitz.
"2 by Wolf" is two one-act plays
by the fascinating English-born polyglot Wolf Mankowitz: "The Irish
Hebrew Lesson," perhaps the only tri-lingual play of its kind written
in English, Irish and Yiddish, and "The Bespoke Overcoat," performed
in a Yiddish version that vividly highlights the play's Jewish roots.
It makes you wanna learn Yiddish. by Larry Litt.
Hudgens as Gigi. Photo by Joan Marcus.
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.
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
Nighy as Tom Sargeant and Carey Mulligan as Kyra Hollis. Photo by
Hare's "Skylight" is a sharp look at young woman-older guy affair
and (political) morality. Love, sex, age and class are key elements in
David Hare's 1995 play about a rich guy who had an affair with an employee
a few years ago and would like to start it up again. By Lucy Komisar.
as Valentine and Noah Brody as Proteus. Photo by Gerry Goodstein.
"The Two Gentlemen of Verona."
The timeless story, presented in present language and clothes, is utterly
charming and seems like a romcom. "The Two Gentlemen of Verona"
is another Fiasco Theater Shakespearean hit. By Lucy Komisar.
MAN IN AMERICA-- Ensembe "Most Dangerous Man in America (W.E.B.
Du Bois)". Photo by Jerry Goodstein.
Man in America (W.E.B. Du Bois)"
Amiri Baraka's last play has a series of brief vignettes that
depict Du Bois principally as a man of humanistic vision and a great orator,
a friend and fellow pacifist. It presents the sociopolitical status quo
as fundamentally flawed. By Beate Hein Bennett.
L-R: Fred Inkley, James Snyder, Margo Seibert and Christine Ebersole.
Photo by Jerry Dalia.
Is a Musical and Modern Interpretation of Cinderella
"Ever After" takes the traditional Cinderella and gives it a
feminist angle. The poor orphaned girl, now called Danielle (Margo Seibert)
has become a spirited young lady who is strong enough to lift a grown
man and spunky enough to wield a sword. by Paulanne Simmons.
Carter as Rose Maxson and Nicholas Miles Newton as Cory Maxson. Photo
by Jonathan Slaff.
Tension and drama
at its best in "Fences"
Major writers with extraordinary casts working with
highly acclaimed directors in the basements of Manhattan. August Wilson's
"Fences" produced by the Morningside Players of Harlem. Director
Arthur French shows unique skill at using an awkward space where concrete
pillars and plumbing dominate the room. There's a significant warning
here to powerful fathers in particular and their families that get caught
in unending paternal conflicts. by Larry Litt.
|Photo by Jinyoul
Two Reviews of "Trash Cuisine"
by Belarus Free Theatre
A theater piece as an demonstration against human rights violations, is
played with exquisite artistry by the ensemble of the Belarus Free Theatre.
"An intense reflection of one's own sensibilities and raises anew
the question of the actual meaning of catharsis, the ancient notion of
the purpose of theatre" says Beate Hein
Bennett. Dorothy Chansky calls
it "a subtle and unsettling journey towards rethinking human appetites
of several sorts."
|OLD FLAME --
Linda Setzer and Frank Anderson. Photo by Rosalie Baijer.
Play Depicts The Power of Old Romance.
We all know the expression "there's no fool like an old fool."
Does it apply to Richard Ploetz's five-character "Old Flame,"
or is the leading character not a fool but really a tortured 72 year old
who remains truly in love with his high school sweetheart? By Paul Berss.
Photo by Joan Marcus.
a brutal growing up is turned around by the arts
Dael Orlandersmith's "Forever" is a powerful blend of fact and
fiction about this talented writer/performer's growing up as the daughter
of an abusive, alcoholic mother in Harlem. By Lucy Komisar
|Dance hall dancers.
Photo by Paul B. Goode.
is dramatic story of French icon Edith Piaf in song and modern dance.
The very fine Broadway and cabaret singer Christine Andreas channels Edith
Piaf in an elegant, sharp, charming dance production choreographed by
Pascal Rioult, a former Martha Graham Dance Company principal dancer.
By Lucy Komisar.
as Winston Churchill.
Winston Churchill, prime minister of England from 1940 to 1945 and again
from 1951 to 1955, is arguably one of the most interesting personalities
in English history, and he never wore the crown. He also was a prolific
writer. His output includes a novel, two biographies, three volumes of
memoirs and several histories. All this gives Ronald Keaton plenty of
meat for his solo show, “Churchill,” currently extended at
New World Stages. By Paulanne Simmons.
-- L-R: Brian Linden, (dark) Catherine Correa , Galway McCullough,
(standing) Chris Tanner, (below) Beth Dodye Bass, (foreground) Jeanne
Lauren Smith. Hidden front: Adam Bonz. Photo by Lee Wexler/Images
by Charles L. Mee
Charles L. Mee's new play "Night," directed by Ildiko Nemeth,
is an examination of hate and violence in the world, and an impassioned
plea for peace and humanity - an impressive multi-media feast of talk,
music, movement, and film.
By Paul Berss.
|Travelling Blues in "Search: Paul Cayton."
"Search: Paul Clayton"
Makes the Case for a Man Nobody Knows
" Search: Paul Clayton" tells an interesting story that includes
Clayton's upbringing in a musical if not terribly peaceful household;
the 60s music scene in Greenwich Village; and Bob Dylan's perfidy to his
girlfriend, Suze Rotolo, Clayton and just about anyone whom the ambitious
singer no longer needed. And let's not forget the titilating assumption
that Clayton, who was gay, was not so secretly in love with Dylan. By
is your own lovers in "A Certain Quiet."
No peace for these
lovers in "A Certain Quiet"
Sartre's famous phrase “Hell is other people” applies to the
character constellation of the chamber opera, "A Certain Quiet"
by composer Haim Elisha and librettist. Rina Elisha, based on the play
"A Strange Silence" by Renato Mainardi (1931-1977). This Italian
playwright's work emerged with success in the turbulent 60s on the Italian
theatre scene but has remained largely unknown in the US.
Beate Hein Bennett writes, "to have the courage of producing a new
operatic work of such rare finesse in New York, and to have the privilege
of seeing it, is precious indeed."
Ken Watanbe and company. Photo by Paul Kolnik.
Lincoln Center Gives "The
King and I" a Majestic Revival
It’s hard to go wrong with Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The
King and I.” But when everything goes right, as with Lincoln Center’s
current revival, it’s truly magical.by Paulanne Simmons.
-THE MUSICAL-- L-R: Kevin Zak as Kenneth Starr overlooks John Treacy
Egan as Newt Gingrich as he questions the President (Tom Galantich)
and Hillary ( Kerry) Butler in front of the press corp (Veronica J.
Kuehn, Dale Hensley)
Clintons Get Two More Acts with "Clinton - The Musical"
Paulanne Simmons writes, if you like your comedy broad and you’re
a big fan of “Saturday Night Live,” you’ll most probably
love “Clinton - The Musical.” Lucy Komisar adds, it's
better than any political commentary from the mainstream media.
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