What Rena has seen and a pithy comment or two:
2-26-17 – Napoli Brooklyn – a combination of well-drawn characters and stereotypes; family and friends and a 1960 airplane crash in Brooklyn; events that shape our lives
2-19-17 – Come from Away – blurry, over-amped miking doesn’t help this hyper-charged rock musical; losing the words dims the cultural references; 9-11 reminders aren’t especially welcome now.
2-19-17 – The Man from Nebraska- one man’s journey through loss of faith; so sensitively performed that silence was full of emotion and the final moment wrenched through with ambiguity.
1-29-17 – Dear Evan Hanson – good premise, well acted; the music was annoying enough to make an early exit desirable; meant for Millennials.
12-28-16 – Yours Unfaithfully – slow-paced script; a period piece doesn’t need stiff, mannered demeanor, particularly given the contemporary interpretation.
12-25-16 – Big Comet – inventive, exhausting staging of “War and Peace” as a rock musical; the strobe lights killed me, so I had to leave.
12-21-16 – The Secret Lives of Edward Gorey – 3 actors play different stages of the quirky artist’s life; brisk, exuberant, charming; very little of his odd humor is shared.
12-21-16 – The Band’s Visit- just goes to show that people relate gently and kindly when culture is taken out of the mix; small, lovely, sweet, and touching; personal contact is all.
12-10-16 – Ride the Cyclone. Perfectly weird and weirdly perfect; fresh staging like I’ve never seen before, exuberant performances, crisply witty book and lyrics; a must.
11-26-16 – Sweat – post-election, I just couldn’t take the working class’s seething anger and racism; left at intermission as I didn’t want to see the inevitable violence to come.
11-20-16 – Sweet Charity – Sutton Foster is born to play the role, and she is her effervescent self; a quiet, moody ending is a downer, as is the whole second act.
11-12-16 – Babylon Line – I guess I’m not a Richard Greenberg fan although I keep trying; I find his writing self-indulgent and schmaltzy; Elizabeth Reaser doesn’t save this one.
11-12-16 – The Roads to Home – Horton Foote has a special touch that doesn’t age for me; gentle, genuine emotion, familiar, but with a surprising play with reality.
10-29-16 – Falsettos – pleasant music, but dated enough to not be the overwhelming piece of theater it was originally; today, a gay man who wants to have a biological child would be openly discussing it; it did bring back memories.
9-4-16 – The Layover – started off strong, taut , sexy , then diffuses into back story that’s not entirely consistent with character set-up; does every talk of murder have to pay off?
8-20-16 – Butler – provocative, beyond belief perhaps (except it’s based in fact), but an edge-of-the-seater about the transformation of a seeming doofus into a very clever fellow, who outwits the Fugitive Slave Law.
8-20-16 – A Day by the Sea – British playwright N.C. Hunter’s subtle, quiet play from the 1950s explores human nature, hope in the face of adversity, and uncompromisingly real resolutions; a very adult play.
7-23-16 – Romance for Dummies – tv-movie-of-the-week calibre; a real let down from the usual Williamstown Theatre Festival fare; Justin Long can’t save this weak script.
7-9-16 – Smell of the Greasepaint and Roar of the Crowd – 1960s musical that featured great songs and desperate need for a new book certainly doesn’t achieve the latter.
7-1-16 – American Son – tense and tautly written, but predictable (sadly); needs a second act or to start at the end to tell us something new; what happens next?
6-25-16 – The Healing – another half-baked Samuel Hunter play; I wish he would slow down and polish, as his premise is a good one; where’s the drama?
6-25-16 – Out of the Mouth of Babes – a bit tv sitcomish, but such a pleasure to see solid parts for women.
6-8-16 – She Loves Me – oozing with charm, how did this musical ever fall out of circulation? Wonderfully performed, paced, and staged, near perfect.
5-29-16 – The Humans – I skipped it Off-Broadway but it’s a Tony favorite; unevenly paced and talky; I get the layers, but left a bit baffled by their meaning.
5-29-16 – Skeleton Crew – Dominique Morrisseau is an assured writer, building strength with each ‘thick’ characterization; impressively personal, affecting story of Detroit in 2008.
5-15-16 – Anastasia – a little bit Eliza Doolittle, a little bit of Fiddler’s yearning; an old-fashioned type musical, with a smart book by Terrence McNally and smashing sets. Bdwy-bound.
5-7-16 – Waitress – better than the movie; introduces a great comic character with 2 astonishingly funny songs; eating pie while watching is part of the fun
5-2-16 – Happy Day – my first time with this Beckett; Diane Wiest is luminous in the part and the Yale Rep staging is well done. Of course, it’s Beckett.
4-26-16 – Lewiston – although it could use another polish, the play has strong potential; focusing on the young person is a mistake again; least interesting character
4-16-16 – Vincent – written by Leonard Nimoy, a chance to get inside the head of Vincent van Gogh through his letters to Theo; beautifully performed one-man show
4-13-16 – Anything Goes – seemed like a big voice and worth the Goodspeed price; dancing worked, even for the small space; the rest was a let down
3-27-16 – Red Speedo – so desperately wants to go somewhere but just doesn’t; not exactly predictable but isn’t fresh either; unbelievable character inconsistencies
3-27-16 – The Crucible – new Broadway production, stylish, somewhat to excess, and solid acting make this classic zip
3-18-16 – Dry Powder – a bit artificially blocked for theater-in-the-round and a lot of talking heads; still smartly crafted, if not altogether fresh plotwise
2-4-16 – I and You – moved along rather weakly until the final denouement; parallels Walt Whitman in a nice way, but needs a good editing
1-2-16 – Marjorie Prime – a futuristic conceit for dealing with memory loss and grief; the ending is both inevitable and completely original; what is the nature of being a family?
12-30-15 – Fiddler on the Roof – a classic production toned even grayer than usual; Danny Burstein was a naturalistic Tevye.
12-30-15 – Our Mother’s Brief Affair – sloppy writing and half-baked characters nearly sink this Linda Lavin vehicle; a doozy of a plot twist
12-25-15 – The Golden Bride – the most delightful show with all the Yiddish tropes, excellent singing voices, and the belongingness of the Yiddishkeit
12-10-15 – Daddy Long Legs – the live-stream experiment works well on a small screen; a musical, epistolary, 2-hander that’s intimate by design, with a sparkling Megan McGinnis
11-30-15 – Peerless – another overly-loud, over-the-top production from Yale Rep (can they do subtle?) and yet another riff on Macbeth. Sigh.
11-27-15 – Important Hats of the Twentieth Century – started off funny and vibrant and quickly wore out its welcome; needs another good edit to deal with the annoying
11-27-15 – View from the Bridge – overly-concepted that dulled the already-dreary experience; is this a good play? I still don’t know.
11-14-15 – Rear Window – same gimmick, different plot, combining overbearing noirish soundtrack and contemporary racial sensibility; I’m guessing it’s Broadway bound
11-7-15 – First Daughter Suite – mixed tonality isn’t too bothersome, shifting from dissonant naturalism to jazzy fantasy; Chelsea Clinton escapes the parody
11-7-15 – King Charles III – a very slow start ends up with a dramatic payoff that aspires to Shakespearean levels; I found those tropes a bit annoying and the ending too abrupt
11-1-15 – Dames at Sea – No one goes to this one for the plot; dance and overall pacing at hyper speed, with some good songs tossed in; some should have been tossed out
10-24-15 – Please Pardon My Aunt Sally – crazy, poetic performance piece told from the point of view of a cell phone; digital footprints are easier to wipe clean than memories
10-18-15 – Allegiance – A very strong piece of theater even with button-pushing; American musical meets Japanese culture meets opera, with a touch of complicated politics that keeps it from being too pat.
10-13-15 – Tuesdays with Morrie – nicely acted, but felt overly long; fortunately not overly sentimental like the book
10-11-15 – Clever Little Lies – one of DiPietro’s better plays; smart acting, good lines, and a tonal shift with the ending make this one a good ride
10-5-15 – Indecent – stagey, uneven, unappealing; I couldn’t find a way in, even though I am interested in the topic
9-20-15 – An Opening in Time – naturalistic and quiet, it drags in the second act; perhaps the playwright doesn’t know what to do with the tense issues, so settles for the pat
9-12-15 – A Delicate Ship – claustrophobic love triangle of delicate souls; what happens if we don’t open a door; even with its brevity and crisp pace, it’s hampered by wordiness
9-6-15 – Whorl Inside a Loop – good storytelling well performed; a bit of an existential writing snarl at the end that doesn’t really work, but easy to overlook
8-23-15 – The New Morality – a cross between a tea cozy and Shaw, this revival of the 1911 Harold Chapin play features a strong woman and wobbly men; amusing enough.
8-15-15 – Show for Days – Patti Lupone is over the top, but fun, and Michael Urie so natural and appealing; not much to the show, but the performances were entertaining
8-12-15 – My Paris – a new musical about Toulouse Lautrec that makes the most of its small stage and lead actor; Kathleen Marshall will no doubt take it to Broadway
8-8-15 – Love and Money – Gurney creates another sly commentary, wrapped in a gently-humored, easy-to-swallow package; Cornelia out-cons the con, and fun is had by all
7-11-15 – Off the Main Road – recently discovered Inge play gets a premier with a good cast and tight direction; how did a play this good get overlooked? Still timely.
7-5-15 – Wolf Hall Parts 1 and 2 – majestic production with intense performances, a class act, enough said
6/22/15 – Gloria – a much-ado plot line that ends where it started, although with significant casualties along the way; a little too talky with almost cliched plot points for its rave reviews
6-7-15 – Nice Girl, lovely, intimate piece, with action that is a bit too coincidental, but so what? It’s a well-written, well-acted jewel, with tender disappointment at the end
5-23-15 – On the Twentieth Century – silly, good fun; love the four tap dancing train hops and Kristin Chenowith singing “Never!”; Roundabout does it right–exuberant!
5-24-15 – The Qualms – well acted much ado about sex, um nothing, occasionally funny, but resorts to gimmicks, the worst dinner party ever, if you find diatribes boring
5-24-15 – Skylight – a bit of a disappointment as the talky play by Hare brings down the naturalistic performances; I also didn’t get the dated British politics references
5-23/15 – Kiss Me Kate – this version, the book felt especially creaky, while still being performed with great energy; a crowd favorite, but I’m kind of meh about it
5-13-15 – Guys and Dolls – Goodspeed does a good job with this lively production; the 2 women leads have especially good voices, and the Adelaide had great charm
5-10-15 – Second Mrs. Wilson – surprisingly touching bit of presidential history complete with emotional range and real dramatic tension
5-6-15 – Something Rotten – sublimely zany, with clever references to Shakespeare’s works and American musicals; ‘holics, get thee to the theater, it’s just great fun
5-2-15 – Elevada – the staging and set were like performance art and clearly the best part of this show; a possibly interesting premise that doesn’t rise to the level of caring
4-19-15 – American in Paris – transcendent, glorious; the smooth elegance of the dance is completely satisfying in every way; the song arrangements are a bit odd, but I admire the experimentation; the updating of the book very welcome
4-12-15 – Iowa – huh? Absurdist, yes. Musical, well, okay. From the dreary song at the beginning to the peculiar, dour ending, hmmm. The Nancy Drews are the one bright spot.
3-21-15 – King and I – a big disappointment; exhausted at the end of the first act and left, the energy was flat and Kelly O’Hara cold; sigh
3-14-15 – Mystery of Love and Sex – over-emphasis on the less interesting, young couple; middle-aged characters underwritten, maybe because they’re beyond the playwright’s experience
2-26-15 – Seen Change – a love letter to the theater through the lens of the history of the Shubert; often silly, surprisingly good singing and dancing, literally bringing history alive
2-20-15 – Familiar – what’s too familiar about this play is its sitcom setting, approach, direction, and characters; a overly-shrieking disappointment
12-21-14 – Sense and Sensibility – wildly fun staging, making the performance come alive briefly, but then, the tricks repeat, and it’s stil a period piece, alas, no new takeaways
12-14-14 – Pocatello – big disappointment after the powerfully original The Whale; Sam Hunter doesn’t have anything new to say about the issues, and I found it hard to care.
11-29-14 – Allegro – Rodgers and Hammerstein’s dog musical radically cut and still a pedantic flop; energetic staging used as a substitute for real musical glory
11-29-14 – The Oldest Boy – a deeply touching portrayal of a mother’s most unusual dilemma: what if your child were a reborn Buddhist Lama?
11-16-14 – Father Comes Home From the War – riveting drama exploring why a slave would fight for the Confederacy; Shakespearean, compelling dialogue and soliloquies
10-19-14 – Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime – the audience is thrust into the chaotic mind of a boy with Asperger’s; this production is intense, dazzling, and rewarding
10-12-14 – When January Feels Like Summer – a multi-cultural, 21st-century romantic comedy, filled with sweet characters and unlikely plot devices that somehow all work
10-12-14 – Bauer – the problem of writing a play about a visual experience; a overly-talky play about Rudy Bauer, a German artist persecuted by the Nazis and his loss of fame
10-4-14 – Brownsville Song (B-side for Tray) – earnestly and energetically acted, sad urban tale that seems very personal to the playwright; diverse audience was refreshing
10-4-14 – On the Town – even better than in MA; that ol’ Broadway fizz–fast-paced, big dancing, fun sets, clever staging, and added dances for Morgan Fairchild; wonderful
9-6-14 – My Mañana Comes – strongly choreographed; slow boil builds on interior stories of four men who work as busboys; the betrayal for survival at the end is a painful no-win
9-6-14 – It’s Only a Play – all about the personalities and quick one-liners, no substance; okay but not what we expect from McNally, who can do so much more than simply funny
9-3-14 – Things We Do For Love – probably more acerbic in the 90s when it was new; now a bit bloated and the ending puzzling; wonderfully acted and fun peekaboo set design
8-31-14 – Fiddler on the Roof – spry and earnest, hits the humor well enough to balance the pathos; actual fiddler, playing on the roof, makes up for the occasional wobbly notes
8-22-14 – Dancing Lessons – emotionally-clean, good theater–well-developed characters, good humor, and tender moments of grace not often associated with Asperger’s
8-9-14 – Sex with Strangers – smart, topical, funny, sexy, believable; well-written play about writers, as a metaphor for the ambiguity of identity and relationships
8-2-14 – The Visit – starts out as wistful Little Night Music and quickly becomes dark, dark, dark; revenge and greed, flat score, despite Chita Rivera, it’s a bleak affair
7-31-14 – Pieces of My Heart – entertaining book musical about Bert Berns; pretty good pacing, evocative dancing, Twist n Shout!
7-31-14 – Between Riverside and Crazy – surprising, complex character portrait that plays on age and race stereotypes; compact, interesting set in 360
7-19-14 – Living for Love – cliched characters and plot lines meant to be humorous left me cold; still the cast and director smell like Broadway; felt like bad tv about opera divas
7-13-14 – Benedict Arnold: The Musical – clever parallel to make him the American Macbeth, complete with witches; score all over the place; clever use of tiny stage
7-12-14 – The Who and the What – Disgraced, by the same playwright, attacks liberal sensibilities; this one plays into them in an uninspired way. A sophomore slump?
7-5-14 – June Moon – stereotypically insulting toward women, I can’t figure out why Williamstown Fest revived this clunker; embarrassing really…
6-28-14 – The Events – at times incoherent to its detriment, this well-meaning attempt to explore the emotional repercussions of violence doesn’t really work; the local choir sings!
6-22-14 – Endurance – wonderfully effective and surprisingly touching mash-up of the 2008 financial crisis in an ordinary office and the Shackleton disaster; beautiful to watch
6-19-14 – Arguendo – the five minutes of merry madcap delight are not worth the deadly dull legal dross of the rest of the play; part of Arts & Ideas–the ideas weren’t intriguing enough
6-8-14 – Fly by Night – somewhat juvenile musical that is a mash up of new age metaphysics and The Fantasticks; falls in the Once and First Date category of being too young for me
6-8-14 – Too Much Sun – another Nicky Silver-Linda Lavin collaboration, she playing basically the same role, but not as sharp or witty as “The Lyons”
5-25-14 – Gilbert the Great – New Haven and Erector Set history told non-linearly and with a dash of philosophy; performed with great energy, but didn’t really work for me
5-24-14 – City of Conversation – very fine theater–well written, well performed, topical without being dated, an exploration of the political divide laid on one family; infuriating, funny, touching
5-14-14 – A Loss of Roses – a William Inge play that bombed originally; now seems both dated and topical, in this Depression era story; acting was rough in this performance
5-10-14 – The House That Will Not Stand – strangely both anachronistic and filled with dated stereotypes; still an interesting historic fact-of-life from early 1800s New Orleans
5-7-14 – The Few – Not as riveting as “The Whale,” but playwright Samuel D. Hunter can draw up believable, heart-tugging characters; nicely acted, but needs some pacing polish.
5-7-14 – Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder – based on the wildly clever Alec Guinness movie “Kind Hart and Coronets.” An entertaining, if tamed, “romp” with a touch of opera.
5-3-14 – Shipwrecked – exuberantly performed, clever, low-tech props and sets; is it a children’s play? If not, it’s just too predictable. That’s unexpected with Donald Margulies.
4-22-14 – Shadow of the Hummingbird – worth it to see Athol Fugard perform; maybe not too many more chances; a philosophical look at Plato’s Cave and love as the purpose of life
4-16-14 – Realistic Joneses – big name actors doing an absurdist comedy that ruminates on death and the inability to communicate; I don’t know what to say
4-13-14 – Act One – warm-hearted portrayal of Moss Hart’s early life; while little dramatic tension builds, because we know he succeeded, the theatrical Ragged Dick story appeals
4-12-14 – Somewhere – a different West Side Story; a Puerto Rican family caught between a tough reality and their dancing dreams; beautifully crafted play with characters you want for
4-6-14 – Most Deserving – very funny, telling, and accurate portrayal of the inanity of art world politics, with a dash of screwball and a tiny bit of touching authenticity; well-written play
4-2-14 – Hellman v McCarthy – Dick Cavett steals the show as the quasi-narrator of a literary row, formented on his show in 1979; his folksy charm adds energy to an over-stretched story
4-2-14 – London Wall – The Mint revives a corker; the limited choices for single women in the office in 1931, painted with a light brush; like a great old film, it doesn’t feel aged
3-29-14 – These Paper Bullets – a cute, lively mash-up of “Much Ado about Nothing” and The Fab 4; but the best was the old-timey audience singalong
3-22-14 – Love and Information – staccato pacing of 58 plays in 100 minutes by Caryl Churchill, which add up to a rumination on memory, secrets, and pain; language play
3-9-14 – Stage Kiss – good farces don’t waver in tone or have dead spaces; a disappointment from Sarah Rulhldespite funny Michael Cyril Creighton
3-2-14 – Architecture of Becoming – a conceptual, postmodern mess that starts of with cheery coincidences and devolves into a rant about the pains of living in New York
2-23-14 – Buyer and Cellar – witty, funny, absurdist plot involving Barbra Streisand’s private, basement mall and the one man who works in it
2-8-14 – Dr. Du Bois and Miss Ovington – too talky and even lecture-y at times; even in 1915, people didn’t talk that way; washes all the drama out of this earnest attempt
2-8-14 – The Tribute Artist – modestly funny sex farce with a New York real estate twist is hampered by uneven pacing, but a quick-witted, good-natured finish saves all
2-2-14 – What’s it All About? – just relax and go with the flow to rehear Bacharach lyrics like you never have before; refreshing to see such youth be so genuine about these songs
1-30-14 – The Consultant – one of a string of new shows about the economic meltdown, but pretty meh, didn’t go anywhere, sorta like the economy
1-19-14 – Row after Row – tautly written, really well-crafted play about Pickett’s Charge and re-enactors 150 years later fighting battles of their own
12-22-13 – Handle with Care – a bit confusing about the language and translation, but easily over-ridden by a sweet-natured, gently philosophical love story, with a bit of Jewish schmalz
12-19-13 – Jacksonian – obvious plotting, dull characters; whatever happened to the Beth Henley that could surprise us; a waste of an interesting cast
12-7-13 – Too Much, Too Much, Too Many – despite the baffling name, a tender, warm, touching, microcosmic look at three people’s varying responses to grief
11-30-13 – Becoming Dr. Ruth – although I generally avoid Holocaust-themed anything, this one-woman show is worth a see, for her remarkable life, its horrors, and her indomitable spirit
11-21-13 – Almost Maine – a wink-in-the-eye, perky pacing, and an intimate house make for a delightful evening directed by new friend Margaret Mann
11-17-13 – The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence – lighting board wasn’t working, so they used “work” lights; couldn’t see well; not sure if that ultimately was the problem
11-16-13 – Owners – weirdly not dated, but absurdist with overacted, hate-able characters and peculiar pacing, turning out to be a deathly combination
11-10-13 – Luce – contemporary who-done-it combined with Mamet’s “Oleanna”; strong performances, taut writing, explores the nature of expectations, culpability, and guilt
11-2-13 – Little Miss Sunshine – satisfying adaptation of the movie, good ensemble work and hummable songs, with an endearing spirit at its core
10-29-13 – Miss Mannerly – great chemistry between the lead and his manners’ teacher Miss Mannerly; well-written, nostalgic, naughty, funny, a winner; TheatreWorks, Hartford
10-27-13 – Room Service – hilarious in parts, snappy pacing, delightful acting, perfect casting, all around joy in Westport
10-26-13 – Patron Saint of Sea Monsters – Hmmm. Playwrights and I are out of sync this year. Unfunny, ‘white trash’ cliché-ridden, screechy, unfunny, poorly-acted, shall I go on?
10-19-13 – Domesticated – superbly acted, savage, contemporary take on “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf,” but a second act that falls apart; it skips the drama we most want to see
10-13-13 – A Time to Kill – a less-than-charismatic lead, who seems to be imitating the actor from the movie, dulls this otherwise tautly-acted production
9-29-13 – Most Happy Fella – a wonderful performance of a show that doesn’t quite add up right–melodramatic opera and musical comedy are an uneasy blend; still I enjoyed it
9-7-13 – Big Fish – maybe too sweet for Broadway bling, the big numbers are small; a memorable song and fun imagery also mark this gentle family story
9-1-13 – Mr. Burns – huh? Lost from the minute it started, lasted only 15
8-29-13 – Harbor – same ol’ same ol’ gay stuff–did we ever think we’d say that? Still, too much like a “Modern Family” sit com episode without the humor and good cheer
8-11-13 – Hello Dolly! – from Dolly giving out myriads of wacky business cards to the audience to the last kick of the curtain call, just Goodspeed delightful
8-4–13 – Bridges over Madison County – so much better as a musical than either the book or the movie, even left the theater with the songs in my head
7-28-13 – Castle Walk – Irene and Vernon Castle swept off my feet; a dance driven story that has completely new songs destined for the American songbook; NYMF
7-28-13 – Bend in the Road – Anne of Green Gables by another name, stunning portrayal of the first Montgomery book but flat score; still it’s a charmer; NYMF
7-20-13 – Murder for Two – someone should post a sign: warning! really bad slapstick happening here
7-18-13 – Shoemaker’s Daughter – tedious and heavy-handed in what should have been light and more playful; creepy puppets don’t help
7-13-13 – Kinky Boots – feels like a tired retreat of stereotypes–big-hearted transvestites save the plant; eh rock music, mediocre voices, negligible dancing, albeit lots of energy
7/5/13 – On the Town – if possible even better than the Gene Kelly/Frank Sinatra movie, with such energy and verve, headed for Broadway?
6/30/13 – Nobody Loves You – a riff on reality tv and the reality of love; bright, effervescent, young, rock musical
6/23/13 – Unlock’d – postmodern, feminist, silly fairy tale, with everyone ending up with the wrong person and a character in love with her hair! Basically good fun.
6/22/13 – Freewheelers – New Haven history where corsets and bicycles collide-which will the New Woman choose? A sparkling child performance in a performance art piece
6/20/13 – Stuck Elevator – harrowing story and magnificent performance of 81 hours stuck in an elevator; a mash up of opera and hip hop that actually works
6/12/13 – Tartuffe – wildly physical, hilarious performance with Yale students in a black box theater; fresh, fresh, fresh
6/9/13 – Good News – just full of good news–good songs, good dancing, good singing, good pacing, good staging, good entertainment
6/2/13 – The Unavoidable Disappearance of Tom Durnin – a slow starter, but got better; still needs a good editing and maybe fresher topicality, feels a bit dated for its currentness
5/16/13 – This Side of Neverland–from the audience singing old timey songs before to the final curtain call, very well acted, witty, and joyful; who knew JM Barrie was a feminist?
5/12/13 – On Your Toes – the ballet-tap dance-off will linger in my memory, as will the great Rogers and Hart songs; the dream cast for Encores: “let’s put on a show!”
5/12/13 – Far From Heaven – by the same team as Grey Gardens, moving, well-paced, with a less abrupt ending, will really be there; lovely Kelli O’Hara
4/20/13 – Women of Will – Tina Packer unpacks Shakespeare’s plays to show the progression of his thinking about women; interesting insights
4/14/13 – Mr. Joy – a bravura one-man, multi-character performance; a personal, poignant, and all too familiar story of senseless, but darkly logical violence
4/13/13 – Trip to Bountiful – translates onto an African American cast beautifully, and Cicely Tyson is a wonder; tender and emotional as ever, Horton Foote’s best
4/7/13 – MacBeth – Alan Cumming delivers a terrifying performance of all the major roles in the Scottish play, set in a mental hospital; as grim and scary as you can imagine
4/7/13 – Collapse – about the economic collapse, with an interesting metaphor of a bridge collapse; first preview, but pretty settled as a play and set of performances
4/4/13 – Happy Birthday – librarian gone wild trope, basically great fun and old-fashioned sweet from 1946
4/2/13 – Assembled Parties – one character says, “we’re just holiday-tolerant”–well, they’re not my family, and I don’t have to tolerate them; walked out at intermission
3/28/13 – The Norwegians – what was funny at first grew thin; built on ethnic and regional stereotypes; clever conceit, but tiring
3/27/13 – Testament of Mary – stunning one-woman show with Fiona Shaw and one of the best last lines in theater; puts poor Alec Baldwin to shame, in only her 2nd preview
3/27/13 – Orphans – really liked the play and the 2 physically adept young actors; Alec Baldwin brings them down with his ungrounded performance; maybe it will improve
3/24/13 – The Call – the play was a bit underbaked for my taste, including using characters as didactic tools; nicely acted and most people will feel good at the end
3/23/13 – Big Knife, Clifford Odets, not my favorite; Bobby Carnavale curiously flat, everyone else around him working hard
3/21/13 – Drawer Boy – clean writing, pure emotions, love, lies, truth, sacrifice, simplicity that’s complex; a solid, old fashioned piece of writing, beautiful acting, great experience
3/15/13 – Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike – hilarious spoof on all things Checkov, and theater tropes, too; David Hyde Pierce’s melt down is worth the price of admission.
3/14/13 – Matilda – Delirious fun. Every kid was perfect-dancing, singing, tumbling, acting. The costumes and sets, the parents and evil school principal-all sublime.
3/10/13 – Death for 5 Voices – A blend of opera, Sondheim, and Shakespeare in a small theater, so real voices, not amplified. A treat. A short run, and I’d guess, a long future.
3/9/13 – Last 5 Years – earnest performances, but the music is a bore and repetitive and the book is trite; no Sondheim after all
3/7/13 – Cinderella – pretty to look at and the singing was good; the songs are the reason to go, but the revisionism didn’t work for me
3/2/13 – Carousel – the perfect artistic storm: Bway, Met Opera, NY Philharmonic, and NYC Ballet all on stage together; I could forgive the show’s book problems; blissful
3/2/13 – Revisionist – got there 5 minutes late, and they wouldn’t let me in, even though I had a back aisle seat. Definitely revising my thoughts about Cherry Lane.
2/24/13 – Jackie – really a performance piece, not straight theater; as such, was poetic, with a wonderfully physical performance; overall, not my thing
2/23/13 – Flick – horribly bad in a “what were they thinking way?” Normally reliable for good new theater, Playwrights blew it with this one. Boring, bad pacing, no characters.
2/16/13 – Belleville – depressing, shockingly so; the earliest Amy Herzog, well, now I’ve seen them all; my least favorite of hers, glad to know she’s on the uptick.
2/12/13 – Passion – the ultimate anti-Valentine by Sondheim; manipulative, obsessive ‘love’ reciprocated for the most superficial reasons; cynical and dreary.
2/10/13 – Talley’s Folly – talky, sweet, old fashioned when it first appeared, still so today; cleanly acted
2/3/13 – Luck of the Irish – very tired feeling, since Clybourne Park was so sharp; a derivative day at the theater
2/3/13 – Really, Really – derivative of Oleana, starring Mamet’s daughter–ironic; very slow start but a decent he said-she said
1/26/13 – All in the Timing – didn’t like it when it was new, no better now; humor is very personal
1/19/13 – Not by Bread Alone – powerful experience of brave deaf-blind, Isreali actors, who also bake bread to share with the audience; simple metaphors, but very tender
1/19/13 – Bethany – a strong, fresh take on the economic tailspin we’re in; I wished for a more provocative plot point choice at the end, which resolved in too easy a way
1/13/13 – Collision – high concept character study of a manipulator, definitely anxiety producing as long as you willingly suspend your disbelief
12/27/12 – Working, the Studs Terkel oral histories from the ’70s and 2007-8 as a musical; 6 actors, many stories, often moving and poignant; good to be reminded
12/23/12 – Picnic, a sensitive production; the closing moment beautiful and wistful; interesting to see which characters I identify with this time, the sign of a good play
12/16/12 – What Rhymes with America – bleak, sad, plotless (I feel like I’m caught in a narrative void), but memorable comedic scene about kissing
12/15/12 – Water by the Spoonful – what? I didn’t connect and was just restless and waiting to leave.
12/4/12 – The Great God Pan – Amy Herzog doing her thing – naturalist dialogue, microcosmic portrayals, not much action; static actors compensate with sensitivity
11/24/12 – Disgraced – a little preachy at times, a powerful drama shows a man caught in-between; albeit for very different reasons, I can relate to that no-win place in life
11/21/12 – Golden Land – a rousing, exuberant, touching, poignant, charming, sad look at 50 years of Jewish history in America; includes Yiddish theater, most hilariously the 3 weird sisters from the Scottish play, and a Yiddish silent western!
11/20/12 – Checkers – just heartbreaking really, unexpectedly so, about American politics in general and the personal cost to good people; very resourceful and clever use of the set
11/17/12 – Cotton Club – well performed standards in recreating the Cotton Club; loved the cool jazz couples dance number with red balloons
11/14/12 – Dead Accounts – love Norbert Leo Butz, but he seems to be in a different play from everyone else onstage; ends just fizzles
11/10/12 – Cyrano de Bergerac – a rousing, Loud, energetic production
11/7/12 – The Outgoing Tide – so beautifully acted, quiet, old-fashioned pacing, emotions that were genuinely felt, a small story that was very personal for me
11/5/12 – Good Mother, Gretchen Mol in long dialogues; empty stage, no dialogue happens twice (huh?); people walked out, I sat next to the playwright–embarrassing
10/24/12 – Mystery of Edwin Drood – Roundabout does what it does best–takes a warhorse and gallops to new levels; just fun, fun, fun
10/22/12 – Tarragona – funny and sweet, not a frequent combination; a bit of a rough draft
10/21/12 – Don’t Go Gently – fresh take on family dysfunction, but I stayed strangely unaffected
10/21/12 – Sold my Heiress ticket when I read that it’s nearly 3 hours long and readers on NYTimes.com give it 1 star for being as dry as dust
10/16/12 – Best of Everything – A Rona Jaffe forthright look at women’s choices with a ’50s shroud, but some things never change; much better and much more frank than the movie
10/10/12 – Water Children – too much right-wing, anti-abortion polemic for me, so I was exhausted by the end; somewhat satisfactory ending helps
10/9/12 – Bad Jews – bad name perhaps, but sets up a provocative, challenging, well written, strongly acted experience, lots to discuss
9/25/12 – Him – Daisy Foote – tediously conceptual, a bummer, unlikeable characters, a bad run of shows lately
9/23/12 – Harper Reagan – boring, erratic, unlikeable characters, ugh
9/22/12 – Modern Terrorism – don’t know what to say
9/16/12 – Exonerated – death penalty woes, Stockard Channing looking very thin
9/12/12 – US – allegorical couple standing in for the U.S. and the People, idealistic, violent
9/11/12 – Marry Me a Little, Sondheim rejects, touching as always
9/8/12 – If There is, I Haven’t Found it Yet – the whole package: acting, play, sets, lighting, and emotional context
9/5/12 – Fly Me to the Moon – accents tough at first; funny, ironic
8/26/12 – Detroit – 4 crazy people, famous actors, fire on stage
8/23/12 – That Dorothy Parker – 1 woman show, well done
8/22/12 – Mary Broome – too talky, no characters to identify with
8/22/12 – How 2 B A New Yorker – not sharp enough
8/21/12 – Chaplin – very gray, not funny for a funny man
8/20/12 – Fried Chicken & Latkes – Rain Pryor’s memoir, father Richard Pryor
8/15/12 – Cougar – absolutely charming musical
8/8/12 – Last Smoker in America over the top funny
8/6/12 – Soul doctor – Schlomo Carlebach – long, but sweet, Nina Simone
8/5/12 – 1 Act Play Fest – part B at 59e59, really good, each one
8/5/12 – Bring It On – entertaining, restores the good cheerleader show after the awful Lysistrata Jones
8/4/12 – Bronte: A Portrait of Charlotte – lovely language, one woman bio
8/1/12 – Bullet for Adolph – horrible, loud, aggressive sit com, Woody Harrelson writer, director, awful
8/1/12 – End of the Rainbow – hard to watch, over the top acting
7/31/12 – 1 Act Play Fest – part A at 59e59, Jim McClure! very funny
7/29/12 – Forbidden Broadway – skewered them all, right on and funny
7/23/12 – Three by Horton Foote – uneven, surprisingly topical, wistful
7/21/12 – NYMF – Baby Case – slick, over-mic/d, hurts the ears, left
7/21/12 – NYMF – How Deep is the Ocean – slick, but vapid, annoying
7/19/12 – Hell: Paradise Found – clever, funny
7/19/12 – NYMF – HImself & Nora – wonderful, polished for NYMF, James Joyce
7/18/12 – Dogfight – touching, wonderful musical, has legs
7/15/12 – NYMF – He’s Not Himself – cute farce, no memorable music
7/14/12 – Warrior Class – didn’t seem fully baked, a little too talky
7/7/12 – Harvey – kept hearing Jimmy Stewart, who was simply better
6/30/12 – Persuasion – charming, lively, more like P&P, written/adapted by young woman
6/24/12 – Murder in the First – well done, old fashioned, moral uplift
6/23/12 – Bad & the Better – ugly, violent, yeah
6/16/12 – We Play for the Gods – absurdist, junk
6/16/12 – Heart of the Matter – reading of Neil LaBute short comedies, slight
6/14/12 – Amelia – Ft. Jay Powder Magazine, Governor’s Island, moving, immediate, immersive
6/13/12 – Slowgirl – virile, nice silences, meaning probably grows, ambiguous
5/31/12 – Love Goes to Press – written in 1946, smart, classic, old time movie fun
5/30/12 – Chimichangas & Zoloft – going somewhere, then just ended, broke the coherence
5/29/12 – Rapture, Blister, Burn – a lecture on feminism
5/26/12 – The President – fast talking fun
5/26/12 – Title & Deed – 1 main show, Irish, dreary
5/24/12 – Potted Potter – cute, but kid humor
5/23/12 – Miracle on South Division St – grew better & better, poignant, funny
5/20/12 – Landing – new Kander musicalettes, uneven, David Hyde Pearce sings
5/20/12 – Cock – clever, fast, funny, difficult, real
5/16/12 – A Jew Grows in Brooklyn – sweet moments
5/16/12 – Common Pursuit – got better as it went along
5/13/12 – Gentlemen Prefer Blondes – Megan Hilty, Rachel York, plus
4/29/12 – She’s of a Certain Age – depressing re aging
4/23/12 – Peter & the Starcatcher – child’s show, high energy
4/20/12 – You Better Sit Down – my mind wandered, good oral historying
4/18/12 – A Slow Air – a slow start for the Scottish play, last 15 minutes were good
4/15/12 – Fat Camp – fun, peppy, funny curtain call song
4/14/12 – Lonely, I’m not – young love with melt downs, Topher Grace
4/10/12 – Early History of Fire – too talky
4/9/12 – Magic/Bird – thanks, Kerry!
4/8/12 – Big Meal – cycle of life, poignant
4/7/12 – Clybourne Park – builds, powerful, asks do we ever change?
4/6/12 – 1 Man, 2 Guvnors – combo face, slapstick, stand up – too much, too loud, too over the top in a not fun way
4/1/12 – Regrets – well acted, good story, old fashioned, Alexis Bledel – blah
3/31/12 – Best Man – fails to go anywhere new today
3/27/12 – Just Sex – not any drama
3/24/12 – Ghost – meh, over-techno, comedy still the best part
3/21/12 – Now. Here. This. Meh, Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood & Thomas Merton
3/20/12 – Morini Strad – Just Beautiful
3/19/12 – Newsies – tremendous
3/11/12 – Eternal Equinox, Bloomsbury, great beauty – actors, language
3/10/12 – Look Back in Anger – verbal, violent, blech
3/4/12 – Love Loss & What I Wore – with Kerry, very girly, Nora Ephron
3/3/12 – Navigator – hilarious
2/25/12 – The Tribe – distasteful Brit family, only the deaf son is sympathetic
2/18/12 – Lady from Dubuque, Albee with Jane Alexander, but yuck
2/10/12 – Poetic License – just right family story
2/4/12 – Assistance – no substance
2/4/12 – Road to Mecca – grew to be lovely
1/29/12 – RX – better than I expected, slight but fun
1/26/12 – CQ/CX – no drama, no tension, to be about nytimes
1/14/12 – Fall to Earth – slow burn builds to huge climax, psychological
1/7/12 – Close Up Space – David Hyde Pearce, Rosie Perez, Other Desert Cities was better
1/3/12 – How to Succeed in Business, Darren Criss – voice not strong, softer, more natural than Daniel Radcliffe
1/1/12 – Kissing Sid James – well acted, didn’t go anywhere
12/31/11 – Seminar, Alan Rickman, much ado
12/29/11 – How the World Began – well written, well acted, evolution/creation theme
12/27/11 – Outside People – kept waiting for the big deal, still waiting
12/24/11 – Porgy & Bess – dark, tortured Audra MacDonald
12/23/11 – Schlemiel the First – witty, silly, very well staged and performed
12/22/11 – Sons of the Prophet – lots of stands, ends beautifully, liked it
12/21/11 – Cherry Orchard, Turturro and Weist, the play is a bore
12/18/11 – Farm Boy – good storytelling, better than artificial puppets of War Horse
12/17/11 – Bonnie & Clyde, closing 12/30 after 2 months! Stayed only for the first act, as end was the problem per hearsay; thought it was dynamic and good
12/11/12 – Anything Goes with Karen Lewis, Sutton Foster ill mid-show, replaced!
12/10/11 – On a Clear Day – Harry Connick – wooden, Jessie Mueller – beyond great
12/4/11 – Neighborhood Watch, Ackbourn, creepy
11/30/11 – Elective Affinities – charming, Zoe Caldwell, Irish Cultural Center, she read the play
11/27/11 – The Door, 2 man show, absurdist at first, builds, re Iraq War
11/27/11 – Venus in Fur, Hugh Dancy looks better on screen
11/26/11 – Lysistrata Jones – overly sexual for family show, loud
11/23/11 – Maple & Vine – provocative, return to 1955, too much set design
11/21/11 – Iron Curtain – great fun, on to Broadway?
11/20/11 – Lobby Hero – amateurish production of a better play (?)
11/19/11 – Stickfly – new play, talky, honest re class & race, & men
11/14/11 – Horsedreams – new play, like poetry, re addiction, sad
11/12/11 Milk Like Sugar – incredible performances, very sad
11/9/11 – All American – girl football player and twin brother, Lincoln Center trial
11/8/11 – Wild Animals You Should Know – better than I expected, MCC
11/6/11 – King Lear – visceral, violent, while accessible, Watterson’s Lear has Alzheimer’s, too childlike
11/5/11 – Other Desert Cities – I predict will become a classic
10/30/11 – Queen of the Mist – potential but end too operatic, aggrandizing
10/29/11 – Hugh Jackman – concert, should sing baritone, a commercial for Hugh
10/29/11 – Agony & Ecstasy of Steve Jobs – more biting than Chinglish; later: with Mike Daisey’s fabrications exposed, feel really burned by him and The Public
10/28/11 – George Burns, very sweet
10/25/11 – Suicide Inc., Roundabout black box, five male actors, predictable play
10/23/11 – Chinglish – good, not great, no emotional connection
1015/11 – 1 minute play festival, just fun
10/14/11 – Tut, NYMF – dance opera, amazing baritone/bass
10/12/11 Lemon Sky – well acted, a bit dated feeling, not so shocking
10/11/11 – Pride & Prejudice, NYMF – wonderful
10/10/11 – Date of a Lifetime, NYMF – funny, charming
10/9/11 – Any Given Monday – moral quandary really like To Kill a Mockingbird
10/9/11 – The Lyons, Linda Lavin, really well written dramedy
10/8/11 – Dreams of Flying, Dreams of Falling – crazy, Christine Lahti
10/5/11 – Madame X, NYMF, campy, great fun!
10/4/11 – History of Marriage, NYMF, – poor lead, repetitive sounding music
10/2/11 – Mountaintop – very moving, surprise in the plot, Angela Bassett wow!
10/1/11 – Boy Who Would Be Pope, NYMF, great kids as leads
10/1/11 – Big Bank, NYMF, think plot, some goods songs
9/24/11 – Newsies, Paper Mill, Millburn, NJ – awesome
9/23/11 – Relatively Speaking, Absolutely Awful
9/22/11 – Motherhood – loud
9/18/11 – Sweet & Sad – never took off, dull
9/17/11 – Sister Act – men had the funniest songs
9/13/11 – Man and Boy, Frank Langella, but a bore
9/11/11 – Submission, very powerful on race and gender
9/4/11 – Book of Mormon – not original, riffs on the Producers, Ave Q much better, sharper, one joke for 2 1/2 hours
9/3/11 – Completeness, science metaphor for relationships, excellent
8/21/11 – Summer Shorts, series A, 17 year old Brooklyn girl, Durang, LaBute
8/20/11 – Follies, poignant, bittersweet, Jan Maxwell wow!
8/14/11 Summer Shorts, series B, so very good, Tina Howe
8/13/11 – The Talls, good family story
8/10/11 – Bluebird – Simon Russell Beale, well written poignant
8/6/11 – Anything Goes, Sutton Foster, the best
8/4/11 – Pillow Room world premier, puzzle, well written, engaging, fresh
8/3/11 – Temporal Powers – Irish play, not performed since original, no surprise there, dull
7/28/11 – Oive and hte Bitter Herbs, slight, but funny, relatable
7/26/11 – Victory, Jan Maxwell, too much Restoration
7/19/11 – The Judy Gold Show – fun
7/17/11 – Manipulation – Botero poster, a bad dream, for the audience, too
7/16/11 Oh Coward – oh dear
7/16/11 – War Horse – ugh, bad blend of children’s show and war, creepy puppets go by me on the aisle, ugh
7/15/11 – Mother F with the Hat – heavily acted, saw Nicole Kidman
7/13/11 – Illusion, hated it, left at intermission, Tony Kushner is not Moliere!
7/13/11 – No Child – inspired, one woman performance re Bronx schools
7/10/11 – All New People, by Zach Braff, really grew on me
7/9/11 – Tryst, 1910 anorexia
7/5/11 Master Class – Tyne Daily becomes Maria Callas
7/3/11 – One Night with Fanny Brice – one woman show, she immersed
7/2/11 – Death Takes a HOliday – beautiful leading tenor, soo good
6/29/11 – Sex Lives of Our Parents – psychic, love, marriage, family
6/28/11 – Side Effects – Joely Richardson, a political marriage
6/26/11 – Unnatural Acts – with hunt at 1920 Harvard
6/22/11 – 4000 Miles – poignant, slice of life, very true dialogue, gorgeous portrayal of angst of aging (and youth)
6/19/11 – movie version of Company staged reading, Neal Patrick Harris
6/19/11 – School for Husbands, Central Park setting, progressive play, magical, beyond fun
6/18/11 – A Little Journey – Pullman cars like a carousel for the set
6/17/11 – Freud’s Last Session – a moment, a discussion
6/14/11 – How to Succeed in Business, Daniel Radcliffe, joyful
6/11/11 – Jerusalem – walked out, yuck
6/8/11 – Catch Me if You Can – Aaron Tveit, Leo Norbert Butz, a lot of energy, not much else
6/5/11 – Carson McCullers – Suzanne Vega becomes her, 1 woman show
6/4/11 – People in the Picture – Dona Murphy, 11 year old’s bday – audience sang to her during TalkBack; show poignant, funny, so well done; why wasn’t it a hit? Too Jewish?
6/1/11 – moved to New York City, plan to see a lot of theater
May 2011 – Importance of Being Earnest – subscribe to Roundabout, a long time dream, Brian Bedford beyond hilarious as Lady Bracknell, laugh out loud funny