What Rena has seen and a pithy comment or two:
2-24-18 – An Ordinary Muslim – Touching and provocative, an O’Neill-flavored family drama, here a Muslim-English family. Easily applicable to any community that leaves the second generation struggling for identity, with assimilation v cultural pride pressure points.
2-22-18 – Kings – An intelligent, yet static, political play; I hoped for a braver ending that might have given us hope for change in these dark winter days of our country. Alas no.
2-19-18 – Queens – Holds up a mirror up to a New York experience that is generally hidden, with a premise that puts diverse women together in a Queens setting, but the play itself seems like an early draft. The focus is diffused, the build-up very slow.
2-15-18 – Some Old Black Man – at least 15 minutes too long diffusing the strong acting that no doubt will settle down after a few more performances. Clearly heartfelt, but no new territory gets explored. Aging ain’t for sissies.
2-13-18 – Edward Albee’s At Home with the Zoo – His typical gut punch; interesting pairing that provides more context for Zoo Story. The acting, particularly by ‘Roger’, is bravura. The metaphor in Zoo Story now seems blinding.
2-11-18 – Hey, Look Me Over – delightful compilation of numbers from mostly forgotten shows with rousing performances by the stellar Alexandra Socha (where did she come from?!), Bebe Neuwirth, and Clifton Duncan (wasted if he takes any non-singing role).
2-11-18 – Josh: The Black Babe Ruth – exuberant acting, clever breaking of the 4th wall, and good musical accompaniment can’t override the drafty play. Reworking the scene lineup and pinch hitting in some biographical gaps would make the lead figure less one-dimensional and more someone you want to root for (puns intended).
2-10-18 – Time Stands Still – well-written, character-driven think piece that even-handedly explores the nature of change, differing definitions of a good life, and relationships, as well as choosing beauty over ugliness.
2-10-18 – Relevance – a difficult, challenging dissection of feminism, ageism, contemporary culture, and achieving success; unfinished mid-previews, but understandable given the complexity and relative even-handedness of the arguments.
2-3-18 – I.C.E. Whisper Opera – spare and beautiful, intimate and whimsical, poetic and meditative. Gorgeous set and lighting, with the audience sunken below the stage so that the sparse-by-design seating causes us to raise our eyes high. Spiritual. Memorable.
2-3-18 – Amy and the Orphans – a familiar family drama with the differently-abled, but I appreciated the dissection of family dynamics and how life decisions get made. The closing monologue takes the theme and gives it to us as a delightful and satisfying gift.
2-1-18 – Party Face – only reason to see it is to see Haley Mills all grown up; good acting can’t save the worn-out script; snore.
1-28-18 – Porto- excruciating play about self-absorbed Millennials; vegetarians beware.
1-27-18 – A Kind Shot – one woman’s journey to self awareness through abuse, sexual harassment, and basketball.
1-27-18 – Memorare – a traditionally-styled play with a clear arc and structure, a relevant theme (of racism and compassion) and a satisfying conclusion.
1-25-18 – Homecoming Queen – ’tis the season for African plays by African women about American acculturation; this one has a tragic twist and great acting, but uneven pacing and poor sight lines ultimately detract.
1-23-18 – Hangmen – pretty grim without adding anything to my thinking on the issues involved. Thick accents and unfamiliar cultural references mean working hard to understand, and I didn’t care enough to bother. A tedious night indeed.
1-20-19 – X: Or Betty Shabazz v The Nation – a real ensemble piece, the actor playing Malcolm doesn’t have the largest part. Metaphoric setup and powerful staging are involving literally and emotionally. A meaningful commentary on how power corrupts then, now and apparently always.
1-19-18 – Fire and Air – my pleasure crescendoed as I settled into the rhythm of the language. Act 2 has two moments of incredible beauty, and the lead performance is loud and strong, nicely contrasted by Marsha Mason’s quiet counterpoint.
1-15-18 – The Other Mozart – one-woman show that tells a poignant, often emotionally-painful story about this overlooked, confined, talented-musician sister.
1-13-18 – Cardinal – tonally uneven with an unpolished script, but I was happy to go along with it, even with its pat ending. The narrative ride exposes issues of American business and the (failure of the) American Dream.
1-13-18 – Miles for Mary – Is this story a veiled metaphor for human war and the inability of society to change as a result? If not, I’m not sure what the point is to suffer through this depiction of human fallibility despite its periodic humor.
1-3-17 – John Lithgow: Stories by Heart – this self-indulgent show has bright moments when Lithgow tells about his parents, but the stories are by Lardner and Wodehouse and annoyingly over-acted by Lithgow.
12-30-17 – Hindle Wakes – a lovely rendering of a time of enormous cultural change, pitting tradition and modern values. A great depiction of two types of women from 100 years ago that continues to resonate.
12-24-17 – Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein – multi-genre, poetic mood piece that loses energy, emotional connectedness, and coherence with Act 2’s shift to biography. A meditation on human cruelty and anguish evoking Romantic era sensibilities with Robbie Fairchild as the beautiful monster and intense, glorious piano and organ pieces.
12-23-17 – Once on this Island – uplifting fable with unending visual and vocal delights, endearingly performed. Feel the breeze on your cheek.
12-21-17 – Mankind – a good send up of relational norms, religion, and power structures in a future world where women are extinct; laugh out loud funny.
12-20-17 – De Novo – immersive, documentary-style piece about immigration and deportation of children; builds tremendous empathy using theatrical devices and powerful storytelling.
12-19-17 – Awake and Sing – intense Odets drama in Yiddish beautifully acted and surprisingly sexy, but ultimately a sad portrayal of poverty.
12-16-17 – Farinelli and the King -tells us the most dramatic moments rather than showing them, and Rylance takes up too much energy. Ultimately, and sadly, cold, warmed only by candlelit Baroque songs.
12-15-17 – This is My Birthday! – Detailed exploration of the travails of a 30ish single woman grows tiring after an hour, despite the technology veneer.
12-10-17 – Hold These Truths – gorgeous piece on the Japanese internment that provokes laughs at the absurdism and tears from the grace of the language and performance. A paean for today that will leave you finding some sense of optimism in our dark times.
12-10-17 – 20th Century Blues – this is a talky show, but it resonates among these friends who can speak their truth; the explorations of aging are thoughtful and grounded.
12-3-17 – The Children – Slow build as masterful actors take us on a journey to explore the human condition. Leave the theater thinking about human responsibility, something that’s sorely lacking in the U.S today.
11-25-17 – The Migration – the tie to Jacob Lawrence’s Great Migration series drew me to this performance; amazingly high energy and at times emotionally resonant.
11-24-17 – Parisian Woman – Pleasant entertainment with a comment or two about the current political morass; the plot turns make sense in the context of a set of cardboard characters led by Uma Thurman.
11-22-17 – What We’re Up Against – like other Reneck plays, she articulates the obvious very well; too many words and a specious intermission slow down this one-note show that’s meant to be blistering, but never rises above predictability.
11-21-17 – Last Match – Metaphorical exploration of life purpose and stages of life; more polished, poetic, and interesting than her other play on stage right now, Actually. A playwright to watch.
11-19-17 – Brigadoon – Glorious singing, transcendent dancing, updated book, what a cast, just about perfect.
11-18-17 – Actually – A two-hander with pitiable characters and storyline that highlights the hidden traumas of hookup culture. The playwright takes the easy way by presenting the problem of sexual consent, but not working deeper to move the dialogue forward.
11-15-17 – School Girls – Masterful storytelling with humor and pathos, character development, and taut plotting. My emotions rose to meet these actors and the play which explores how dominant culture spreads and how deeply ingrained self-criticism is for girls everywhere.
11-15-17 – Diaspora – Muscular acting by a young cast presenting ideas about Jewish identity and current and ancient violence in Israel that are there somewhere in all the action on stage. I’m just not really clear what they are.
11-14-17 – Jesus Hopped the A Train – socially relevant themes, strong acting (if sometimes one note, as in too loud), and compelling stage spaces; editing would help the baggy talkiness.
11-12-17 – Pericles: Born in a Tempest – tender and raucous, church theater and clever staging, familiar and fresh. After a bit of a slow start, the play takes on the problems of the Tempest and weaves them together in endearing ways.
11-8-17 – Measure for Measure – Elevator Repair Service beyond horrible. Slurred words, soft spoken with amped projections. I left after 15 minutes. Two people told me “that’s just the show” in the exact same words. Must have a lot of practice or coaching in saying them. So much for the beauty of Shakespeare’s language.
11-8-17 – Wolves – Big energy of the adolescent girls at the beginning inevitably fizzles; the last scene seems completely disconnected from the dramatic tension built before—it’s as if it were two different plays.
11-2-17 – We Fainted Alternately on the Sofa – one-woman show enacting Jane Austen’s juvenalia, charmingly presented in the intimate English Speaking Union.
10-31-17 – Curvy Widow – The chick-lit of musicals; would have benefited greatly from a subplot and secondary leads given the unrelenting focus on one character’s sex life.
10-28-17 – Mesquite, NV – refreshing to see a story about older people, many behaving badly; provides some insight into our current political quagmire.
10-27-17 – Freight: The Five Incarnations of Abel Green – Timely and provocative, bravura acting, historical perspectives on contemporary race issues, and strong writing and theatrical conceit make this stellar theater.
10-22-17 – Rags – revision of 80’s flop; lush singing really helps this essentially derivative show, with loud echoes of Fiddler with harmonies from Ragtime and Sondheim.
10-22-17 – Fireflies – there is something distasteful about this creaky, old-fashioned, corny, predictable play; I’m not sure what Jane Alexander, Judith Ivey, and Denis Arnst are doing in this reductive, thin, sitcom-like throwback.
10-18-17 – As You Like It – a good-natured performance with purportedly a Jazz Age backdrop, notes mostly in the songs.
10-18-17 – Junk – an already well-told tale presented predictably; a huge disappointment from Ayad Akhtar.
10-8-17 – Rhinoceros – certainly topical today, and the choice to translate this classic into Yiddish was brilliant on so many levels; excellent program notes.
10-2-16 – Frankenstein the Musical – one of two productions on right now; I think this has promise but the first preview was rough. Instrumental overwhelms the quiet voices, lighting miscues, weird/cheesy costumes distract from the strong performance by the monster.
9-30-17 – Mary Jane – I’m baffled by all the clamor about this; slow, tedious look at one woman’s experience with a terminally-ill child.
9-30-17 – Gospel According to Jefferson, Dickens, and Tolstoy- talking their way to learning about themselves in Purgatory; purportedly about religion, but the self-examination is ultimately redemptive.
9-27-17 – Desperate Measures – after an over-the-top, off putting start, this musical riff on Measure for Measure settles down with funny songs and conceits, all in iambic verse. Memorable songs. This one has promise.
9-25-17 – I of the Storm – a bravura performance holds this piece together; poetry punctured by twisted lyrics in American pop standards and hip-hop-type rhythm make me think about my choices.
9-24-17 – The Portuguese Kid – a good-spirited screwball comedy about hopes, dreams, aging, and love. Formulaic? Who cares? Love almost every moment that unfolds to the inevitable.
9-20-17 – Too Heavy for Your Pocket – a subtle first act flies floppy and obvious in act two; still superb acting and ensemble writing provide an emotional core worth experiencing, particularly the coming of political consciousness by one character.
9-20-17 – Time and the Conways – a puzzle of a play that with patience pays out; a sad reflection on youthful hopes dashed by life’s disappointments. The devastation of war and economics are painfully relevant today.
9-18-17 – One Night Only – Monica Bill Barnes’ light spoof of sports events; not a dance piece, not theater; more like sketch comedy and clowning meet performance art.
9-16-17 – Inanimate – strong lead performance creates a believable, convincing lifestyle outside the mainstream. It’s core is really about the generosity of love and self-acceptance. Subplot on urban development is under-developed.
9-14-17 – Twist of Lemon – a son’s tribute to his father from the point of view of his father goes on a bit too long, but is sweetly nostalgic nonetheless.
9-3-17 – Charm – Good story well told with fresh and often funny staging. We get some back stories but not all. Perhaps an opportunity. Ending is a little too sitcom for the lead up. But a good first step in bringing gender complexities to a general audience in an entertaining way.
8-29-17 – On the Shore of the Wide World – Yawn. A little drama watered down even more; the central action takes place off stage. Actors struggle with the dialect and low key, one-note direction is tedious. Time for a rewrite!
8-27-17 – Company – well sung version, slow to get started and a bit of a depressed Bobby with Aaron Tveit; well-delivered songs.
8-22-17 – Fucking A – Unlike any Suzan Lori Parks work I’ve seen: dystopian, violent toward women, and dark. There’s one five-minute monologue that is funny and true and so well delivered, but the rest is so unrelentingly dismal.
8-4-17 – Freedom Riders, NYMF – takes a whole act to build up the necessary urgency; reworking the score for better pacing and dramatic tension could turn this into something special.
8-4-17 – Georama, NYMF – Apparently scaled back from the St Louis production. The making of an artist and the making of a huckster–both inventive American types. Strong performances only slightly hampered by an anachronistic book and lyrics.
8-3-17 – Michael Moore – running for president on a platform of “one cord” for all electronic devices; funniest moment in the show when he got the audience to chant “one cord.”
8-3-17 – Ben, Virginia, and Me, NYMF – not sure Ben and Virginia warranted inclusion in the title; bio-musical of Liberace with entertaining energy, good songs, and wispy-thin characters; Sophie Tucker is the revelation, basically stealing the show whenever she appeared. The actor playing Liberace didn’t come close to selling the requisite charisma.
7-30-17 – Oklahoma, Goodspeed – fresh-faced and noisy production full of both fun and darkness; stellar leads for singing and dancing; a palette cleanser.
7-29-17 – Secret Life of Bees – concert reading with stellar performances; robust book, score, and lyrics; easily 30 minutes too long once it is fully produced.
7-27-17 – A Brimful of Asha – endearing performance by non-actor, real mother who steals the show from her theater-professional son. Very gentle despite the conflict, due to mama’s amused, mild, ever-present smile.
7-26-17 – Clean House – after a rocky start and with some preposterous surrealism, this often-funny, sometimes sad work becomes really touching; life, death, and the perfect joke.
7-22-17 – Night Tide, NYMF – terrible sound doesn’t help this one-joke score; campy becomes dull with repetition.
7-22-17 – Dear Jane – A self-portrait that is structured by memories and a busy mind; missed opportunity to more fully explore twin-ness and too long with other aspects of her life; still the stellar cast, moments of grace, and emotional resonance make this worth a see.
7-22-17 – Fourth Messenger, NYMF – clearly my best of fest so far; establishes the thematic tension right away and carries the audience with the score on a journey of spirituality and humanness; beautiful acting and singing crescendoes into real feeling.
7-30-17 – Painting Faye Salvez, NYMF – a reading of a new musical by a Northwestern student; a good premise, a couple of songs that work, makes a start; more life experience would help.
7-16-17 – The Time Machine, NYMF – There’s a nugget of something here, with two standout voices. Unfortunately, the lead wasn’t one of them. Too much is embarrassing.
7-14-17 – Dorian Gray, NYMF – I know this was a workshop, but the voices were so bad; how can they hope for a future? Too bad because the dramatic material is so strong.
7-14-17 – Matthew Mcconaughey vs the Devil, NYMF – very funny, exuberantly performed musical; hope Matty has a better sense of humor than James Franco and lets it be.
7-14-17 – My Dear Watson, NYMF – very flat performances and soporific music make for a lousy experience, especially in light of recent renditions of Holmes.
7-13-17 – The Roommate – even a slight twist and touch of emotion can’t elevate this one above sitcom level; that’s sitcom with a laugh track provided by the audience.
7-10-17 – Errol and Fidel – NYMF – exuberantly performed and sung, has potential with some editing; some of the slapstick humor may follow the formula, but seemed like it belonged in a different show.
7-9-17 – The Golden Land: Amerike – This theater is dedicated to keeping Yiddish alive, and they do a great job with limited space, scenery, and costumes. All equity cast delivers fabulous vocals.
7-1-17 – Of Human Bondage – the conceptual staging fights with the naturalism of the script and acting. Doesn’t need to be such hard work; choose a style and commit wholeheartedly.
7-1-17 – Pipeline – fast-talking dissection of the dilemmas of being a young black man in the U.S. today. Dominique Morisseau is a remarkable playwright, creating yet another taut, intense drama.
6-29-17 – The Enchantment – retranslated for a contemporary spin on a play by Victoria Benedictsson, who inspired Ibsen; talky, well-acted exploration of the affects of free love.
6-27-17 – Hello Dolly – Donna Murphy is so perfect in the role, it’s hard to imagine that anyone, and I mean anyone, could be better; well-paced, well-sung, lots of physical comedy; a complete delight; I had a happy grin on my face for most of the night.
6-25-17 – Marvin’s Room – well-acted but so depressing and dated with victimhood at its center that it’s basically intolerable; a shame given the cast.
6-17-17 – The Traveling Lady – a Horton Foote I didn’t know; his same gentle tone even when one character is acting out; as familiar as a spring day in Texas.
6-17-17 – Somebody’s Daughter – a tightly woven, nicely acted play exploring parental expectations and gender pressures in an Asian family; I would love to see a piece where a young woman chooses abortion which may just be too politically incorrect these days. The playwright could have at least had the character articulate her thoughts about her choice.
6-14-17 – Little Foxes – saw both casting choices and regardless, the play still has teeth; I preferred Laura Linney as Regina and Cynthia Nixon as Birdie. Both are impressive either way.
6-11-17 – Government Inspector – classic Gogol farce with big, physical humor from the excellent cast headed by a hilarious charmster Michael Urie; learned in the post-play discussion that with a censored press, Russian artists took political commentary onto themselves and their art forms. The play is certainly apt today.
6-10-17 – Pride and Prejudice – Comedia dell-arte meets Jane Austen in a sometimes hilarious, sometimes uncomfortable mash-up; laugh out loud and quickly wears too thin.
6-9-17 – Invincible – wildly uneven play that can’t decide if it’s a slapstick comedy or political diatribe. Neither worked for me.
6-8-71 – Pacific Overtures- lush Sondheim score contrasts with the spare production; elegantly choreographed with a foundation of traditional Japanese ritual; poetic, metaphoric, and quiet building in power and tension to the rousing conclusion; actors get to flex their performances in myriad ways.
6-7-17 – Deathless at Goodspeed – a post-apocalyptic, rock musical; ugh.
6-7-17 – Thoroughly Modern Millie at Goodspeed – extremely dated material, but the performances are so exhilarating and the staging so inventive, it balances out. Taylor Quick is an exuberant discovery. How did Janine Tesori update the lyrics?
6-3-17 – Marathon of One-Act Plays, Series A and Series B – consistently well-developed and acted; standouts were “Breakdancer,” which had the full play structure, character development, and dramatic relevancy, and “Linus and Murray,” with hilarity that covers its excellent structure and uplifting message.
5-27-17 – Can You Forgive Her? – energetic acting, especially by Amber Tamblyn, gets over-ridden by a script that goes nowhere and cardboard characters; the problems are real enough, but are slap-dashed with new age pablum.
5-27-17 – Her Portmanteau – unsympathetic central character doesn’t help the solo-themed play; a well-acted weepy.
5-24-17 – Cost of Living – despite the disconnected title, the play is an moving, intimate, often painful look at the able bodied who are disabled in their lives; terrifically acted by all, disabled and able-bodied alike.
5-20-17 – Sojourner – a first: the show was delayed for an hour for an actor stuck on the subway; a theater staffer filled me in on the plot so I’d be ready for Her Portmanteau in a week.
5-20-16 – Roundabout – as the penultimate line declares, “Mozart- what life ought to be like”; this play is what life ought to be like. Witty people show up with zazz, and ideas get expressed.
5-17-17 – The Lucky One – another Mint discovery that A.A. Milne wrote plays for adults; this crisp production was light and frothy but had a real sibling drama at its core; nice paced and acted.
5-12-17 – Everything that Never Happened, Carlotta Festival Yale – a sensitive look at Shylock and his daughter, who alternates between being infuriating, lyrical, enchanting, selfish, and oblivious; as ever, my sympathies rest with Shylock; this play, like A Doll’s House Part 2, could have a future.
5-11-17 – If Pretty Hurts, Carlotta Festival Yale – stunning expansion of a West African folktale, with music, performance, and dance woven into the dramatic arc; the extended silence toward the end is a more powerful indictment of our cultural obsession with beauty than the poem that follows.
5-10-17 – Hour of Great Mercy, Carlotta Festival Yale – a promising start, but one too many subplots and as is, there’s no reason to stick around after intermission just to see the gun inevitably go off.
5-7-17 – Whirligig- No likable characters or plot interest, and while it’s fun to watch Zosia Mamet climb a tree and Norbert Leo Butz clown a bit, I left at intermission.
5-3-17 – A Doll’s House, Part 2 – surprisingly even handed and thoughtfully provocative. The characters come across as self-absorbed, yet with valid points of view. A stellar cast and solid ideas override the extraneous, anachronistic language choices.
4-30-17 – The Play that Goes Wrong – a Noises Off ripoff, but who cares? It’s hysterical. The line about the familial portrait had me in tears.
4-30-17 – Groundhog Day – happy to see Andy Karl perform, knee brace and all; the production even has fun with that; his charm and charisma carry the show.
4-18-17 – Present Laughter – the timing of a good farce with Noel Coward lines, Kevin Kline, and Kate Burton at her most deservedly sublime; great fun indeed.
4-16-17 – The Profane – family dramedy about secularism and faith; given how well written and thoughtful the play is, I wish the playwright had given us a third act; I missed some longed-for deeper exploration.
4-16-17 – War Paint – tells the story of women in business when women didn’t do business and the costs of marketing on aging in America; with two divas at the head, what’s not to like? Well sung, crisply paced, touching.
4-8-16 – Oslo – basically a perfect play, not an extra word, superior acting, clever set, and fast production with a Shakespearean drama about power and compromise, breaking down barriers and thinking for the future; I left despairing for our world today.
4-1-17 – If I Forget – over talky, which is a shame because a provocative notion of Jews and the Holocaust gets buried in all that mundanity.
4-1-17 – Amelie – charming, delightful, as sweet as the film without being cloying; not over-the-top exuberant–a refreshing change, but may not be a smasher as a result.
3-28-17 – White Guy on the Bus – the real drama is between two characters and it’s pretty powerful; too bad the rest is both obvious and bloated.
3-25-17 – Smart People – ends with Obama’s inauguration making its hopefulness seem like a history play; raises big questions about implicit bias in smart ways; good and provocative, and presciently insightful into today’s racial angers
3-15-17 – Bull in a China Shop – disappointed that this didn’t go anywhere new; a love story, that’s really it; I didn’t think it said anything new about being a revolutionary woman, and I was aware I was watching actors and acting.
3-15-17 – How to Transcend a Happy Marriage – a bit puzzled by the magic realism and what it offers metaphorically, but unlike much of the audience, I liked this one; a different take on polyamory with a good performance by Marisa Tomei.
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