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Christopher Wheeldon in Conversation with Rita Moreno: From Ballet to Broadway

April 30, 2015

On April 27, Symphony Space and Words on Dance presented “Christopher Wheeldon in Conversation with Rita Moreno: From Ballet to Broadway,” a delightful romp through the dancing career of one of Broadway’s brightest choreographers. The lecture was moderated and led by Oscar, Emmy, Tony and Grammy winning actor-singer-dancer Rita Moreno. Moreno’s conversation with Wheeldon was prompted by a series of film clips featuring him as a young dancer as well as brief segments of his past choreographic work with the New York City Ballet, the San Francisco Ballet, the Royal Ballet, the Joffrey Ballet, the Wheeldon Company, and his most current work in the new Broadway production of "An American In Paris" where he serves as both director and choreographer. It is the fusion of his classical European ballet training, his love for American music, American dance stars, and American dance that Wheeldon has established himself as a leading force in the world of dance. [more]

American Moor

April 29, 2015

A play that has much opportunity to expose the relationship of casting director with actor, not merely across the table but across racial backgrounds and stereotypes begins as it promises. Enter Cobb, a large black man, anxiously awaiting the call of the casting assistant as he proceeds to unapologetically disturb the entire waiting room with his nervous behavior. The thought of playing Othello brings back memories of his youth and a single theater teacher unwilling to allow him to play any role other than that which he might be traditionally cast in for an assignment. As the character’s exposition is beginning to evolve, the casting agent interrupts us. We can tell the actor has an agenda to prove; that now as a grown man in this audition things will be different. [more]

The Visit

April 24, 2015

The illustrious Chita Rivera appears in an elegant floor length white dress and bedecked with jewels. The grande dame’s presence electrifies the audience. Unfortunately, with little to work with, she postures and delivers McNally’s lines the best she can. Along with co-star Roger Rees as Anton Schell, her lover from the old days, she breathes some life into the song, “You, You, You.” When she dances, the ball is back in her court. There is a magnificent moment when she dances with her younger self (Michelle Veintimilla). Sensitively choreographed by Daniele, they do a sweet dream-like duet with grace and passion, the highlight of the evening. [more]

The Belle of Belfast

April 24, 2015

The ample set by John McDermott is an intelligent divide between interior and exterior life, the run down streets of Belfast and a humble, wooden and warm rectory. Contemplation goes on in both places, be it perils of war or morals. Famed film director Claudia Weill returning to the New York stage establishes this well. Each character has his or her place and is well defined. Weill has a clear vision of the conflict at hand. Impressive music, explosions and street noise punctuate the scenes artfully with sound design by Daniel Kluger. [more]

The New York Pops: “Let’s Be Frank”

April 14, 2015

December 12, 2015 marks the 100th birthday of Frank Sinatra. Sinatra’s singing career spanned seven decades starting in the 30’s until shortly before his death in 1998, winning him eleven Grammy Awards. Even those born after his death know his iconic songs such as “Love and Marriage,” which was used as the theme song of the TV sitcom Married with Children. Sinatra is one of the best-selling artists of all time, having sold more than 150 million records worldwide. He is considered by many to be "the greatest singer of the 20th century.” Led by the energetic and creative Music Director Steven Reineke, The New York Pops Presents "Let’s Be Frank" affectionately and admirably paid tribute to the prolific and unique singing career of Frank Sinatra with the help of four robust and polished guest singers, Storm Large, Tony DeSare, Frankie Moreno and Ryan Silverman. [more]

Martyrs Street

April 2, 2015

Shulman is a skilled story teller, creating characters that are real and complex: honorable people that make mistakes, some misguided, some well-intentioned or ruthless. People we all know, maybe even in our own families. Shulman makes the head of each household, two women, the focal point of the play. Noor, which means light in Arabic, is a widowed professor at the university with a 16-year-old daughter, Aisha, and a son, Nimer. She doesn’t wear a headscarf, and spends time alone with her late husband’s friend Salim (Alok Tewari), which is frowned upon in the community. Noor received an order from the Israeli government that her house is going to be taken down in 30 days. [more]

Irreversible

March 23, 2015

Josh Doucette, Hugh Sinclair and Jordan Kaplan in a scene from “Irreversible” (Photo credit: [more]

Lonesome Traveler

March 19, 2015

As principal narrator, Justin Flagg is charismatic and easily engages the audience in a sing along. He is impressive playing a number of instruments and wearing several different hats. The talented ensemble cast does a superb job playing a colorful array of roles and instruments, singing a cappella, harmony, and full out concert style. The costumes by Pamela Shaw astutely help tell the story. Several scenes revealed behind the scrim call to mind a Norman Rockwell painting. And you could be fooled by the sight of Peter, Paul and Mary. Marty Kopulsky (hair and wig design) deserves accolades for the many characters and eras to reflect. [more]

Long Story Short

March 11, 2015

Does love provide the strength that keeps a marriage bound, or is love fragile and, when it wanes, the cause of the failures in a partnership? Maybe it’s both? The new musical "Long Story Short," written and composed by Brendan Milburn and Valerie Vigoda, adapted from David Schulner's play An Infinite Ache, explores this quandary artfully. Skillfully directed by Kent Nicholson, this imaginative and fresh musical chronicles the ups and downs of a 50-year relationship between an Asian American woman and a Jewish American man. This aptly named 95-minute production poetically exposes the wonder and misery of a lifetime together. [more]

Sisyphus

March 1, 2015

"Sisyphus" played at the Abrons Arts Center this February, the newest avant-garde production from Experiments In Opera. Composers Jason Cady, Aaron Siegel, and Matthew Welch (acting as their own librettists) created a promising concept for an opera, with a cultural abundance of Greek myth at their disposal to create a beautiful libretto. However, this world premiere was a case of more tragedy, full of missed opportunities, rather than inspiring. [more]

Fabulous!

February 24, 2015

"Fabulous!," which returns to Off-Broadway after a successful run last fall, is an unabashed gay mash-up of "Anything Goes" and "Some Like it Hot," where two best-friend drag queens, Laura Lee Handle (Tobias Young) and Jane Mann (DaWoyne A. Hill), working in Paris in a cheesy musical revue, witness the shooting of the star of the show. As everyone scurries frantically to get away, a priceless necklace falls off the victim and is retrieved by Laura Lee. The best friends flee the crime scene. [more]

The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey

February 23, 2015

The fabric of the community of a small Jersey shore town is torn apart in the wake of the mysterious disappearance of young Leonard Pelkey. At first this one-man show, written and performed by James Lecesne, follows the lines of every crime drama you have seen. Yet, "The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey" proves to be much more than superficial intrigue and ends up challenging the very conscience of society. The standing ovation and second curtain calls this show has been receiving in previews are already setting this piece of theater apart. [more]

TheaterScene.net Cabaret Honors: A First Annual List

February 23, 2015

The eclectic world of cabaret is unique in the entertainment industry. It allows artists' to connect with an audience in an intimate setting. Today, the clubs are ripe with new, rising and mature talents and the beginners who want to make it. But, who are today's torchbearers? Who will make their mark? And, who will take cabaret into its next phase? Time will tell. [more]

Snow Orchid

February 15, 2015

Pintauro’s play about a tragic American family is highly dramatic but lacks nuance. The four main characters are clearly defined in the first fifteen minutes of the play and remain static throughout. The dialogue is unnatural at times and makes for awkward lulls and pauses. As a result, the action becomes monotonous. [more]

Animals Out of Paper

February 13, 2015

With only a few days until Valentine’s Day we are surrounded by constant reminders of humanities obsession with being loved and understood. Quite timely, and unapologetically, YOLO! Productions has brought us a piece of theater concerning the affairs of the heart. You won’t be able to help but fall in love with the revival of Rajiv Joseph’s 'Animals Out of Paper" as directed by Merri Milwe. Trust us you’ll love the writer for the corny folding analogies and forgive him for the unsubtle appearance of an origami heart in this quirky tale of humanity’s capacity for love. [more]

The Asphalt Christmas

December 9, 2014

Director Lawrence Lesher and cast have hit the ground running Off-Broadway this Christmas season with the first revival of Todd Michael's The Asphalt Christmas. Theatre Row's Lion Theatre awaits those daring and looking for a Christmas story less caramel coated this year with an audacious play, both shocking and entertaining, as The Exorcist comes to St. Celestine's and their annual Christmas pageant. [more]

New York Pops: “By Special Request: An Evening with the Orchestra”

November 17, 2014

The New York Pops are the perfect antidote for those who suspect orchestral music to be dull or tedious. Proving again that celebrity performers are not needed to fill performance venues, Steven Reineke and his orchestra brought Carnegie Hall to life with their second installment in what is shaping into a rather exciting season. With adoring regard By Special Request: An Evening with the Orchestra truly had two stars, the orchestra itself and the music of seven time-honored composers. [more]

Disgraced

November 3, 2014

That such a devastating scramble of lives can happen in as handsome a setting as John Lee Beatty, magic set designer, manages to evoke, heightens the irony of what takes place there. The rest of the superb production is of equal caliber: Jennifer Von Mayrhauser's so right costuming, Kenneth Posner's so apt lighting, Jill BC Cu Boff's sound. But is this who we are? Where do we go from here? You don't want to miss Disgraced. How are you going to know what the title means? [more]

Rock of Ages

September 28, 2014

In a large, energetic cast, Amy Spanger, Mitchell Jarvis and Wesley Taylor stand out. I have to confess never to have heard a louder finale. No wonder there's a surge in hot looking, fashionable hearing aids for the Boomer set. They've earned them. [more]

Gertrude: The Cry

August 1, 2014

The PTP/NYC company are directed to carry on adeptly, fervently, with considerable aplomb in Mark Evanchos' monumental setting, amid some of the best and lavish costume changes – by Danielle Nieves --ever seen Off-Broadway, including Gertrude's, most of the time, that is. [more]

Pentecost

July 28, 2014

Director Cheryl Faraone knows that to keep the ideas going it is vital to have her characters be seen as human as possible so that we are not confronted with stereotypes and agit-prop, so that we become invested, begin to put our own values on the line. I particularly liked Jonathan Tindle, Alex Draper, Nina Silver, Lawrence Nathanson and Matthew Ball. A unique, priceless artifact, a creation of the finest in the human psyche, precious to the world, versus a gypsy baby, a gypsy mother, a Bosnian, a Kurd, a Palestinian Kuwaiti, an Azeri, a Mozambican, an Afghan, a Ukrainian, a Russian, how can we decide? [more]

Enter at Forest Lawn

July 27, 2014

Author Roberts plays Jack, the megalomaniacal producer/writer of a TV hit about a charming, witty, womanizing uncle who runs off the rails regularly. [more]

The Qualification of Douglas Evans

July 25, 2014

Presenting himself thus, in the character of Douglas Evans, with such vigorous, non-stop awfulness, takes courage as well as rampant ego and a chilling comment on his, the actor/playwright's own life, which might well have been written and delivered with an ironic god-awful humor and given the audience something to care about but Ahonen sticks to his guns. [more]

When We Were Young and Unafraid

June 30, 2014

Yes, it's TV soap trap. Yes, it's really good movie. And yes, it's some of the best theater, because it's the purest entertainment, storytelling, the hardest and the easiest thing to do, all in one. People are endlessly fascinating. All you need is Sarah Treem to let you in. [more]

Power Plays

June 16, 2014

The obvious initial reaction without taking into context their mission is that the plays deal with or lend power in some way, together or separately to the characters, to the audience. That is, of course, the primary goal, usually. Not, however, in this case. [more]

The Diorama

June 3, 2014

A diorama presents an obvious simulacrum of life at some period. The closest thing here is a simulacrum of a simulacrum. With embellishments by authors Jennifer Brown Stone and David S. Stone that took over whatever concept they had, presumably something to do with when a loony tune becomes a flat out loon and how to tell the difference. This is dangerous territory for experienced authors. The authors have rushed in. [more]

Mary Poppins

May 26, 2014

Director Richard Stafford thus has more opportunity to zip Mary Poppins about in the air at the WBT, much to the delight of an audience of thrilled children and their handlers. He also keeps his show moving as briskly as possible with clever use of cast members whisking about the ingenious settings by Steve Loftus. Derek Lockwood, costume designer, keeps them even busier in a wild array of constant changes. [more]

Playing with Grown Ups

May 12, 2014

Then you begin to see the chasm Joanna feels hating the child that took her from the job she loved and how in the world do we mend that? Then you begin to see that Robert's self-worth is built on shards of something that took off in the wrong direction. Then you begin to see with the young eyes of Stella and wonder what she's going to make of her future and if she's alone in her clear eyed-ness? And Jake? He's insulated himself. Don't we all. [more]

Cabaret

May 4, 2014

A huge, new production of a huge, ever now hit, Alan Cumming, Michelle Williams, Linda Emond and Danny Burstein shine. [more]

Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill

April 10, 2014

Beg. Borrow. Steal. In a breathtaking leap, famed Audra McDonald has vaulted past anything she's ever done to this pinnacle of performance art, her portrait of Billie Holiday, the mesmerizing, tragic figure who haunts us still with the beauty and wreckage of her life, and if you don't go to see her, you'll be poorer for it. Because this is not only Billie Holiday, this is Audra McDonald at her consummate best. [more]

A Respectable Widow Takes to Vulgarity & Clean

April 4, 2014

Clean, by playwright Sabrina Mahfouz, the other play on the double bill, is really not clean at all but director O'Loughlin isn't fazed a bit and whips her three, highly ornamental criminals through their paces with a stylish kind of nervy aplomb that sets off their rashers of charms while greatly adding to the fun – and by the way – wittily knocks off lots of bucks from production costs. No mean feat. [more]

Bullets Over Broadway

April 1, 2014

Author and director have put together a show which does not have a wink and a nod in it. Only the broadest of reactions will do. Which can sometimes be funny. If you know how to do it. Marin Mazzie does and is a knockout. Zach Braff does not and is not a knockout. And everybody else is somewhere in between. Except for one puzzlement: Karen Ziemba, a marvelous performer, one of the nine stars, what is she doing in this show? Her role makes no sense. Is that an inside joke? Nobody, but nobody gets it. Everybody is overdoing so much – and some of them are famous for overdoing – that it seems as if Susan Stroman's directing skills are playing very second fiddle to her choreographic skills. [more]
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