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Articles by Victor Gluck, Editor-in-Chief

Victor Gluck, Editor-in-Chief
About Victor Gluck, Editor-in-Chief (506 Articles)
Victor Gluck was a drama critic and arts journalist with Back Stage from 1980 – 2006. He started reviewing for TheaterScene.net in 2006, where he was also Associate Editor from 2011-2013, and has been Editor-in-Chief since 2014. He is a voting member of The Drama Desk, the Outer Critics Circle, the American Theatre Critics Association, and the Dramatists Guild of America. His plays have been performed at the Quaigh Theatre, Ryan Repertory Company, St. Clements Church, Nuyorican Poets Café and The Gene Frankel Playwrights/Directors Lab.

On the Town

November 13, 2014

This On the Town, with 29 musicians and 31 actors, begins with a huge American flag and the singing of the national anthem, just as would have happened every night of the original run back in the 1940's during World War II. The show begins and ends at 6 A.M. at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Three sailors, Gabey (played by Tony Yazbeck for the third time), Ozzie and Chip have 24 hours shore leave to see all of the Big Apple before shipping out to Europe. Each wants to see the sights, both cultural and female. [more]

A Wake and a Wedding

November 11, 2014

Encompass New Opera Theatre, under longtime director Nancy Rhodes, is presenting the East Coast premiere of Richard Pearson Thomas's chamber opera A Wake or a Wedding at the Baruch Performing Arts Center. The opera is a burlesque of 19th Century melodrama, with stereotypical characters and a series of silly 'revelations' to resolve the convoluted plot. The music uses an accessible mid-century modernist style, conservative but not inappropriately so. [more]

The Girl Who Came to Supper

November 10, 2014

The Girl Who Came to Supper from the 1963-64 Broadway season was Noel Coward's last musical and the only one in which he wrote music and lyrics to another author's story. In this case the musical was the work of playwright and screenwriter Harry Kurnitz, adapted from Terence Rattigan's The Sleeping Prince, which originally premiered in 1953 to commemorate the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Better known in its film version called The Prince and the Showgirl, its plot travels back to June 1911 for the Coronation of George V, grandfather of Elizabeth. The lavishly costumed concert staging by Musicals Tonight! features first-rate leads and an excellent musical ensemble. It also demonstrates the strengths and weaknesses of the material. [more]

Lips Together, Teeth Apart

November 10, 2014

When Terrence McNally premiered Lips Together, Teeth Apart in 1991, the world was in the throes of fear over the AIDS epidemic. This long three-act play about how two straight couples deal with their reaction to it must have seemed topical and profound at the time. Unfortunately, 23 years later, in Peter DuBois' revival for Second Stage Theatre, the play now seems dated and talky without the emotional heft to make it still seem important. [more]

The Fortress of Solitude

November 7, 2014

Despite the novel's length of 511 pages, its focus on the music of its period would make this a natural for musicalization. The resulting show is an unusual stage work blending time and space, realism and magic, and exploring themes of race and gentrification, culture and self-discovery, fathers and sons, and how music defines the generation we live in. The music and lyrics in Friedman's magnificent and complex pastiche score includes pop, rock, rhythm & blues, soul, punk, hip-hop and heavy metal. While the musical doesn't entirely reach its goal as of now, it is most of the way to being an extraordinary new theater work. In defining a community and a generation through its music, it attempts to create a new form of musical. [more]

The Last Ship

November 4, 2014

The problem with the show is the book by first time librettist John Logan (Red, Never the Sinner) and Brian Yorkey (winner of the Pulitzer Prize for the musical Next to Normal) which leaves plot points undeveloped, characters on the one dimensional level and an ending which leaves much unresolved. What the show is best at is creating a sense of community among the men who work in the shipyards and the women in their lives who back them up. The choreographed movement by Steven Hoggett ("Once," "Rocky" and "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time") has knit the large cast of 30 into a cohesive whole with its muscular routines. [more]

Father Comes Home from the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3)

November 4, 2014

Underlying all of the storytelling is the archetype of Homer's Odyssey, the story of another journey in another time of war. Many of the characters (Penny, Ulysses, Homer, Odyssey pronounced "Odd-see") take their names from this work. What may be most unusual about this first cycle of plays is that it is one of the few stage works to tell the story of the Civil War entirely from the point of view of African American slaves. [more]

Found

October 30, 2014

Twenty-two of the 28 songs set to the sophisticated rhythms of composer Eli Bolin are based on the actual texts of these found missives and all of the many notes read are the original texts. The versatile and talented cast of ten (drawn from many different fields in the performing arts) offers various takes on the many notes and letters woven into the story of Davy and the magazine. Director Lee Overtree, co-founder of Story Pirates, the arts education organization, has realized inventive ways of staging this novel and unusual material. [more]

Excuse My Dust (A Dorothy Parker Portfolio)

October 27, 2014

Most of the pieces will be familiar to the readers of The Portable Dorothy Parker: "The Garter," "A Telephone Call," "The Waltz," "Just a Little One," "The Taxi," and a few poems. This is supplemented with bits from more ephemeral work, such as her book reviews. [more]

Big Apple Circus: Metamorphosis

October 26, 2014

The Big Apple Circus' new edition for its 37th Season called "Metamorphosis" is a winner. Breathtaking acts alternate with performances of such skill that all you can ask is how did they do that. Aerial acts, gymnastics, contortion, animals, clowning, and audience participation – "Metamorphosis" has it all. The youthful and attractive cast dazzles with their skill and artistry. The colorful performance in the famed single ring where no member of the audience sits more than 50 feet from the action is an intimate show allowing the viewer to see up close. "Metamorphosis" is great fun for all ages. [more]

Carnival!

October 26, 2014

Everyone loves Lili and she is back in the crisp, taut, melodic revival of Bob Merrill's Carnival! in a concert staging courtesy of Musicals Tonight!. Aside from the colorful production, the cast includes a skillful ensemble all with circus training from jugglers to acrobats. [more]

Billy & Ray

October 26, 2014

Mike Bencivenga's Billy & Ray is the story of Wilder and Chandler's famously contentious collaboration. The lighthearted comedy drama includes an insider's view of Hollywood and a good many famous anecdotes about their fighting over the Double Indemnity screenplay. While it will probably be enjoyed most by those who know the movie and/or the original novel, the play does clue the audience in to what they need to know about the original material as well as its eventual screen treatment. [more]

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

October 20, 2014

"The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" is the sort of very special play that only comes along once in a very great while. It is a play that will not only astonish you while you are in the theater but will also stay with you for a long time after you have left. In addition, you will come away with a much greater understanding of people with autism and how their minds work. [more]

You Can’t Take It with You

October 17, 2014

This new production of "You Can't Take It with You" proves that not only has the comedy passed the test of time, it also remains a wonderful evening in the theater. It may be set in the 1930's but America in 2014 needs to hear its message all over again. And it is still joyful and uproarious as it shows up real human foibles of which people are still prone. [more]

When January Feels Like Summer

October 17, 2014

Romantic comedies often collapse under such contrivances, but in practice this play holds up beautifully. Nirmala's struggle to accept that she has a right to tenderness in her life is sensitive without being preachy, and Ms. Kakkar is frankly fantastic in the part. She finds an exceptionally quiet and truthful center for her characterization, and as a result Nirmala's breakthrough moments feel absolutely real and not at all melodramatic. [more]

Written in Sand

October 17, 2014

This was my first in-person experience of Finley's work, and unfortunately it was a shambles. What could have been forty intense minutes of poetry and music was padded with rambling introductions and mostly aimless patter to more than twice that. The night I attended she was nervous and flustered, repeatedly losing her place in the program, and allowing herself to be distracted over and over again by a leaky water pitcher. (Why didn't the stage manager just replace it?) [more]

The Country House

October 14, 2014

"The Country House" is an old-fashioned drawing room comedy about theater and film people inspired by the plays of Anton Chekhov. From Donald Margulies whose track record includes "Time Stands Still," "Brooklyn Boy," "Sight Unseen," "Dinner with Friends" and "Collected Stories," we have come to expect something more emotionally satisfying. Blythe Danner, Daniel Sunjata, David Rasche and cast are good company but do not make a very convincing case for this new play [more]

Indian Ink

October 13, 2014

the relationship between Eleanor Swan and Anish Das is flirtatious from the outset. As the 75-year-old Mrs. Swan, Harris is a joy, making even her unfinished sentences perfectly obvious as well as her very English prejudices. Bhavesh Patel plays the younger Das with matinee idol suavity. As Captain David Durance, the British army officer who falls in love with Flora at first sight, Lee Aaron Rosen is suitably stiff, stalwart and handsome. [more]

The Killing of Sister George

October 11, 2014

The writer's narrowness of view is a temporary problem, of course. As the play's historical moment recedes from memory, we will once again read the story for what the characters are, rather than what they aren't. On the other hand, the same kind of claustrophobia exists in the work of Tennessee Williams, though the latter digs deeper to find the root causes beneath the limitations, pain, and just plain weirdness of his people. [more]

A Walk in the Woods

October 5, 2014

As the sophisticated, experienced Irina Botvinnik, Chalfant is utterly delightful. She makes Irina’s tactic of changing the subject into a fine art. Her charm is evident even when she is disagreeing with her opposite number. Her Irina’s wry sense of humor is conveyed in all her remarks, but it is often difficult to know when she is kidding and when she is serious, another calculated tactic. And Chalfant’s timing is impeccable making the most of both her banter and when she is deadly serious. [more]

Icebound

October 1, 2014

Up until now when the name of Owen Davis' 1923 Pulitzer Prize winner "Icebound" comes up, the response is likely to be a head shake that the year's prize did not go to a more worthy candidate like Eugene O'Neill, Elmer Rice, Sidney Howard, Philip Barry or George Kelly. Now with the Metropolitan Playhouse's revival of "Icebound," theatergoers can see for themselves what a trenchant and engrossing drama this actually is. [more]

Love Letters

September 29, 2014

Under Gregory Mosher's subtle and assured direction, the two performers always seem age appropriate to their characters. While they do nothing to disguise their real ages, it is as though two older people have gotten together to review the letters that they have written to each other over a lifetime. [more]

Uncle Vanya

September 26, 2014

Aside from his light touch which keeps the play from seeming gloomy, Brooks has an uneasy hold on the play's rhythms which seem erratic – we are never sure what kind of play we are watching. Schmidt's translation goes a long way to blowing off the cobwebs on Chekhov's 19th century Tsarist Russia but his occasional use of a contemporary word like "freak" draws attention to itself. While Simms' unit set suggests a summer retreat with its green walls covered with vegetation, he makes little distinction between indoors and outdoors and the claustrophobia which the characters are feeling is never real to the audience. [more]

The Fatal Weakness

September 20, 2014

  Kristin Griffith and Victoria Mack in a scene from The Fatal Weakness (Photo credit: Richard [more]

Almost Home

September 20, 2014

Almost Home   Joe Lisi, Jonny Orsini and Karen Ziemba in a scene from Almost Home (Photo [more]

The Power of Love: Two New Operatic Musicals

September 20, 2014

it was almost entirely slow music, and over 90 minutes of it, something which might give even a Wagnerian pause. This is billed as a new piece, so perhaps it's not too late to suggest that the authors consider some discreet compression, as the opera might benefit from judicious cuts. It takes perhaps half an hour to read the original story, and its brevity is one reason for its effectiveness; but this was more than three times that length, though the original Hawthorne plot has been only very slightly expanded. [more]

My Mañana Comes

September 13, 2014

  José Joaquín Pérez and Jason Bowen in a scene from My Mañana Comes (Photo credit: [more]

Culture Shock: 1911-1922

September 12, 2014

The framing device is that we are in a bunker or a trench, and the plays are being presented by five soldiers (De Mussa, Wes Hager, Will Hardyman, Wilton Yeung, Josh Wolonick) and a nurse (Joyce Laoagan), as if whiling away the time between barrages, and in a semi-improvised fashion. This is a good idea, and provides a nice unity to the evening. The scenic design (Joseph Kremer) and lighting design (Daniel B. Barbee) supported this well, too. There were also projections and pre-recorded music tracks, which I assume should be credited to multimedia programmer Aristides F. Li. [more]

Bauer

September 12, 2014

The relatively unfamiliar cast of this West Coast production could not be better. Howard is distinguished and forceful as the once-famous artist now reduced to nothing and aching for a fight with his greatest enemy; Ross is imperious and elegant as the once-powerful curator used to always having her way, now seeking out her greatest love. Their scenes together strike fireworks. [more]

Poor Behavior

September 8, 2014

  Katie Kreisler and Brian Avers in a scene from Poor Behavior (Photo credit: James Leynse) [more]

King Lear

August 9, 2014

While Sullivan does not seem to have turned his company into a coherent ensemble, the production is always easy to understand and unambiguous. The diction is always clear, though at times the sound design by Acme Sound Design seems to be at the wrong level. King Lear is a difficult play to bring off with its unrelieved outsized tragedy, and using actors not practiced in interpreting Shakespearean roles may not be the best casting. It is also possible that the production will achieve greater depth as the performers have more onstage time. This is a King Lear more than a little disappointing from such a talented group of theater artists. [more]

Sex with Strangers

August 7, 2014

The casting is superb. Gunn expresses Olivia's vulnerability and integrity with every line and moment of the play. Magnussen's Ethan, on the other hand, exudes arrogance and over-confidence having found easy success early in his life both with women and as a writer. it also takes perfect casting and acting to make such an evening both convincing and absorbing. This Gunn, Magnussen and Director David Schwimmer have accomplished in spades. Sex with Strangers is an evening not to be missed. [more]
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