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Articles by Victor Gluck, Editor-in-Chief

Victor Gluck, Editor-in-Chief
About Victor Gluck, Editor-in-Chief (524 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.

The Killer

June 11, 2014

Much of the work of the play is left to the smoke and lights added by the designers but these elements fail to create mood on TFANA's stage. Matthew Richards' lighting is suitable without becoming a real character in the play even when the scenes are performed on a bare stage. The off-stage noises created by sound designer Jane Shaw don't go far enough as Ionesco intended them to fill the stage with the off-stage crowds, locales and events that we don't see. [more]

Within the Law

June 3, 2014

What is the most famous play currently running in New York that you have probably never heard of before? Bayard Veiller's Within the Law, Metropolitan Playhouse's final entry in its "Justice" season, has been filmed six times since its Broadway debut in 1912, most famously as Paid with Joan Crawford, revived once on the main stem, and still packs quite a punch. [more]

Irma La Douce

June 1, 2014

Alas, by intermission many in the audience were asking each other: this was a Broadway smash? From Encores! we have come to expect Champagne, and this was a dreary vin ordinaire, a bit pale and a bit stale. [more]

The City of Conversation

May 21, 2014

The City of Conversation is very rewarding theater whatever your political persuasion may be. The use of the social and political climate of the last 30 years is astutely delineated and always part of the fabric of the play, rather than a history lesson. [more]

The Few

May 18, 2014

Gideon Glick as Matthew is terrific, physically disappearing into his character so completely that he would not be recognizable in the street. Actors can get away with playing misfits as a collection of tics, so it's a great thing to see Glick dig deeper and infuse Matthew's every movement with his particular personality. [more]

Under My Skin

May 17, 2014

Under My Skin with its 20 scenes and endless set changes (designed by Stephen Dobay) is lame in the humor department and has nothing new to say about the healthcare system. Had director Kirsten Sanderson toned down the exaggerated acting style, some of the material might have worked. [more]

Editor’s Notes: The 2014 Tony Season Heats Up

May 16, 2014

his year's Tony Awards will go to the music hall murder mystery, A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder (Best Musical) and All the Way, Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Schenkkan's LBJ play, All the Way (Best Play). [more]

A Loss of Roses

May 16, 2014

While Dan Wackerman's production is always absorbing, the muddled psychology in the script and the debatable choices made by the actors keep the play from joining Inge's more important major plays. [more]

Sea Marks

May 12, 2014

Gardner McKay's Sea Marks is beautifully written but leaves a great deal up to the actors and the director as does a scenario for an opera or a ballet. The performers must flesh out the underpinnings of the story. Director Ciarán O'Reilly has done a fine job with the characterizations but has not brought out the passion that underlies the tale. [more]

Casa Valentina

May 12, 2014

Harvey Fierstein's Casa Valentina is absorbing theater both as a revealing look into a world unknown to most theatergoers as well as a suspenseful new story. If the play has a flaw, it is that its message is a little bit obscure [more]

The Love Song of Alfred J Hitchcock

May 12, 2014

The trouble with British playwright David Rudkin's stage play, "The Love Song of Alfred J Hitchcock," is that it started life as a radio play and it hasn't escaped very far from the radio studio. Still a play for voices, Rudkin's script has a great many introspective monologues by the iconic director but not much action, a strange choice for a story of a director whose movies are loaded with incident. The play assumes a great in-depth knowledge of the director's work: such movies as "Marnie," "Vertigo," "Strangers on a Train," "Psycho," "The Birds" and "Frenzy" are referred to tangentially but remain unnamed. It would take a film historian to track down all the references but apparently the play is expected to stand on its own which will confuse many theatergoers. [more]

The Rivals

May 11, 2014

The Pearl Theatre Company's revival of Richard Brinsley Sheridan's 1777 comedy of manners "The Rivals" is both laugh-out-loud funny and intellectually stimulating. Hal Brooks' exemplary direction scores immediately in the first scene. It's a typical pre-modern opening, pages of dense exposition where a couple of minor characters discuss the major characters and their situations. Brooks avoids tedium and confusion by having the characters appear upstage when named, doing a bit of dumb show when appropriate. It's a perfect solution, introducing the actors and plot without fuss, without anachronism, and without wasting time. [more]

An Octoroon

May 10, 2014

Provocative playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins turns Boucicault’s 1859 classic inside out as he examines 2014 attitudes about race in U.S. [more]

Act One

May 5, 2014

James Lapine's stage adaptation of Moss Hart's celebrated autobiography of his early years, Act One, is a bit unwieldy at under three hours in length as it does contain so many characters and incidents. However, like an absorbing mini-series you have lived with over a period of time, you will be sorry when it is over. [more]

The Substance of Fire

May 5, 2014

Time has caught up with Jon Robin Baitz’s 1991 play and bankrupting one’s company over issues of integrity no longer seems quite admirable. Jon Robin Baitz writes literate, thoughtful plays like his 2012 Pulitzer Prize finalist, Other Desert Cities. However, like the revival last fall of his earliest play The Film Society showed, plays may date badly or their attitudes become artifacts of another generation. [more]

Violet

May 2, 2014

An interesting and touching early musical from the composer of "Shrek," "Caroline, or Change," and "Fun Home." It may be in keeping with the notional scar, but sometimes "minimalist" fades into "generic." An inherent problem with the show, it's possible that even a small Broadway house like this one (740 seats) will always be too big. The climactic sequence, following Violet's discouraging experience in Tulsa, takes place mostly in Violet's head and as such is almost unstagable, and in any case hard to understand. Last and most problematic is that these soldiers react relatively casually to Violet's allegedly repellent deformity. [more]

To Damascus, Part I

April 22, 2014

The director deserves high marks for keeping the actors' delivery quick and light; anything else would have put the audience to sleep. His cast comes across as sincere but mostly inexperienced, with the fine exceptions of James and Blankenship. [more]

The Threepenny Opera

April 12, 2014

The most famous songs (covered by many artists) continue to be "Ballad of Mack the Knife" and "Pirate Jennie." Although uncredited, the orchestrations appear to be Kurt Weill's own as they were in the 1954 Blitzstein/Theatre de Lys production. While the seven-piece orchestra under the direction of Fred Lassen is generally fine, occasionally the music seems too slow for Weill's jazzy rhythms. As to the musical numbers in the Blitzstein version, there has been some rearrangement. The "Barbara Song" originally sung by Lucy Brown has been reassigned to Polly Peachum. As a result, in order to give Lucy a song of her own, "Ballad of the Drowned Girl" from the Weill/Brecht Berlin Requiem (in an orchestration by music director Gary S. Fagin) has been interpolated into the score. [more]

The Realistic Joneses

April 10, 2014

The Realistic Joneses introduces a new American playwright to Broadway, one with a unique voice all his own. Whether main stem audiences will understand Will Eno's cadences is another question. Toni Collette, Michael C. Hall, Tracy Letts and Marisa Tomei give the play a fine patina of urbanity. This, however, is not a play for all theatergoers. With its slightly mocking title (as these are anything but realistic Joneses), it is for those who want to be challenged and who want something new. [more]

Of Mice and Men

April 9, 2014

As the African American hand banished to the stable, Ron Cephas Jones alternates movingly between bitterness with his lot and his desperate loneliness. Jim Parrack brings a great sense of fairness and moral integrity to the role of Slim, the only member of this tight, little community to whom they all instinctively look up to. Receiving third billing, Leighton Meester (star of television's Gossip Girl) as Curley's wife, the only woman in the play in this man's world, is caught in the trap of playing either Madonna or whore, typical of 1930's Hollywood movies. [more]

America’s Sweetheart

April 4, 2014

Jennifer Evans as French bombshell Denise Torel lights up the stage every time she appears. Her French accent is straight from Paris and she has a cunning way with a song. As the second bananas Madge and Larry, Molly Pope (of cabaret fame) and Thom Caska (aka associate producer for the StrawHat Auditions) turn their confrontations and shenanigans into stand-up comedy at which they are quite adept. Michael Mahany and Laurie Hymes as rising stars Michael and Geraldine bring a great deal of conviction to these leading roles, though Hymes' lisp disappears each time each she starts to sing. [more]

A Raisin in the Sun

April 1, 2014

The play tells the story of the hard-working black Younger family living in a shabby two-room apartment on Chicago's South Side, sometime between World War II and 1960. The patriarch, Walter Lee, Sr. has died recently and the family is awaiting a $10,000 insurance check (about $88,000 today) which is due to arrive in a day or two. Each of them looks forward to using the money for a different purpose [more]

I Remember Mama

March 30, 2014

Director Jack Cummings III has not only chosen a new environment for this realistic play, he has also chosen to perform it with ten veteran actresses (who would be classified as senior citizens) playing all 23 parts, including teenage girls and boys, and all the male characters. When the audience enters the Gym at Judson the entire space has been turned into the playing area with seats in two rows around all four walls. Ten dining room sets with displays on each occupy the space, the size of a basketball court. [more]

Mothers and Sons

March 22, 2014

Tyne Daly has made it a specialty playing unsympathetic and difficult women, for example her star turns as Mama Rose in Gypsy and Maria Callas in Terrence McNally’s Master Class. Now in a new McNally play, Mothers and Sons, she plays the bitter, angry, taciturn Katherine Gerard, the Andre’s mother of McNally’s earlier one act. [more]

The Tribute Artist

February 22, 2014

A rich elderly lady is held captive in her posh townhouse by distant relatives and a former lover all out for her wealth. [more]

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder

December 29, 2013

Alexander Dodge's Edwardian sets which appear inside a reproduction of Pollock's Toy Theater are always delightful. Linda Cho has created an enchanting collection of costumes from those for all of Mays' transformations into the D'Ysquiths to the women's lovely and seductive gowns. The amusing projection design is the work of Aaron Rhyne. Jonathan Tunick's melodic orchestrations are always faithful to its Edwardian period and its music hall roots. Credit director Tresnjak, artistic director of Hartford Stage, now making his Broadway debut, with keeping this confection airborne throughout the evening, including when stretching credulity to the limit. [more]

Jekyll & Hyde

April 29, 2013

Director/choreographer Jeff Calhoun does not seem to have trusted the material or wanted this production to be as different as possible from the original Broadway staging. While much of this Jekyll & Hyde is handled as caricature, the sets by Tobin Ost in garish red and black with their walls at steep angles resemble nothing so much as a color version of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, without the expressionist weight of that story. [more]

Mary Poppins

September 28, 2006

The musical has inspired many to learn how to sing. The magic comes from Bob Crowley's breathtaking sets and costumes aided by David Benken's technical direction: Mary Poppins flies in and out on her umbrella, people pop out of chimneys, toys become human, birds fly around the theater, and statues break their poses and move. The opening scrim is a blue pen and ink illustration which suggests the world of the P.L. Travers' stories on the printed page. The Banks' house at 17 Cherry Tree Lane, London, is a giant Victorian doll house come to life. Crowley uses brilliant colors in both his costumes and the fantasy sequences to replace the animation that made the Walt Disney film so attractive. [more]
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