News Ticker

Articles by Victor Gluck, Editor-in-Chief

Victor Gluck, Editor-in-Chief
About Victor Gluck, Editor-in-Chief (855 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.

Everything’s Fine

October 16, 2022

Actor/writer/director Douglas McGrath is a charming storyteller and his one-man show "Everything’s Fine" is a total delight. He tells the entertaining and poignant story of his eventful 14th year when he was in ninth grade but also describes life in his family of five growing up in Midland, Texas. His tale of darkest adolescence is also nostalgic and reminiscent of the problems of life as a teen. The title turns out to be ironic as it was an expression his father used before announcing there was a new problem. [more]

Baldwin & Buckley At Cambridge

October 14, 2022

"Baldwin & Buckley at Cambridge" should stir up controversy as their 1965 topic is still relevant. Such a debate today would have a great deal more ammunition than either of these men had at the time. However, one can still hear both points of view today given by liberals and conservatives, respectively. The fact that the Baldwin/Buckley debate is still relevant can be witnessed from the rise of the Black Lives Matter Movement in 2013 as well as the 2019 publication of "The Fire Is Upon Us: James Baldwin, William F. Buckley, Jr., and the Debate over Race in America" by Nicholas Buccola. This is a question which has not been resolved in the intervening 57 years. [more]

The Sea Lady

October 11, 2022

Neith Boyce’s "The Sea Lady," a Broadway-bound play in 1935, only now having its world premiere at Metropolitan Playhouse is an attempt at a Shavian play of ideas. Based on a 1901 novel by socialist H.G. Wells, this very Edwardian story resembles Shaw’s "Misalliance" but without the wit or the scope of ideas. Extremely tentative in how far it dares to go, "The Sea Lady" seems like a relic of an earlier age. It has charm but it lacks depth; its message may have been new in 1901 when the novel came out or 1935 when the play was finished, but today it seems extremely old hat. [more]

Washington Square

October 10, 2022

On what is either a shoestring budget or a conscious effort to strip Henry James’ novel down to its essentials, Randy Sharp’s new adaptation of "Washington Square" is both exciting theater and entirely true to its source material. The quartet of fine actors make this story of 1840’s New York entirely credible and engrossing at all times. While it avoids the beautiful trappings usually associated with the period, it is so gripping that they are not missed for a moment. [more]

I’m Revolting

October 5, 2022

There are two truisms in life in addition to the one about death and taxes: it takes all kinds of people to make a world and something will get everyone in the end. The world premiere of Gracie Gardner’s "I’m Revolting" beautifully proves both points. A sensitive and perceptive play set in the waiting room of a private New York City skin cancer clinic, the play introduces us to all walks of people and many reactions to medical reports. The ensemble cast includes several veteran actors (Laura Esterman, Glenn Fitzgerald, Peter Gerety and Patrice Johnson Chevannes) and several not so well known faces. Knud Adams’ direction is subtle and unobtrusive allowing life to pass on the Linda Gross stage of the Atlantic Theater Company. [more]

Weightless

October 4, 2022

"Weightless" is an engaging little indie rock musical, little in the sense that it has only three characters plus a narrator and runs only 75 minutes of playing time. The show features the Bay Area rock band The Kilbanes (married songwriting and performing duo bassist Kate Kilbane and keyboard player Dan Moses) who also wrote the show, and the cast that also filmed the show in 2021 during the pandemic. Like "Hadestown," "Weightless" is based on a story in Greek mythology and includes the gods on Mount Olympus; in this case the source material is from Ovid’s "Metamorphoses," a work written in Latin. "Weightless" is performed as if it were a concept album staged as a concert with the characters all played by the six member band who sit or stand on the stage placed on various platforms. Peiyi Wong’s set design does not allow for much stage movement and Tamilla Woodard’s direction does not give the actors much to do in the way of stage business. However, the storytelling is clear and the characters well defined. [more]

This Beautiful Future

September 25, 2022

If you like your W.W. II history unadulterated, you may object to a love story between a French teenage girl and a Nazi soldier even if they are inexperienced and innocent and unaware of what is to come. The fact that they are both hopeful of life in the future in the middle of war and devastation notwithstanding, were people ever this naïve and unworldly? While "This Beautiful Future" is tastefully presented, it does not deal with the moral issues that the play hints at but refuses to recognize. [more]

Fauna

September 24, 2022

Is it possible to be completely truthful in attempting to tell the life of a famous author in a biofilm? That is the premise of Argentinian novelist and playwright Romina Paula’s "Fauna" now having its English language premiere at New York’s Torn Page Theater. As the play is philosophical, poetic, cerebral, and literary with quotes from many authors including Argentinian writers unfamiliar to Americans, it may be too erudite and esoteric for most theatergoers. However, April Sweeney’s production at the vest pocket Torn Page Theater is so intense that it carries its audience with it. With the actors only feet from the viewers so that you feel you are in the room with them, the play is a powerful experience that few productions ever achieve. [more]

Burn

September 22, 2022

Although Alan Cumming is a charismatic performer, the distracting video design, the often overpowering music, and the often flashing lighting by Tim Lutkin, gets in the way of viewing the show. Much of the effect is created by the atmospheric lighting which periodically changes color (blue, green, red) yet at times it turns the evening into a multimedia event. Since none of the poems are clear enough to be understood, we learn little of Burns’ output as a poet though we do hear about his triumphs that lead to being lionized in Edinburgh. The contemporary music only rarely suggests the period. The dance elements also seem an eccentric way to portray this 18th century man who attempted to live life to the fullest. Cumming charmingly depicts this Scottish icon though he does come off as a lovable rogue. It is all an example of too much being too much. The rather coy ending has Cumming sitting on the edge of the stage declaiming Burns’ now famous poem, “Auld Lang Syne,” after the final curtain has already descended. [more]

Sacco and Vanzetti: A New American Opera

September 20, 2022

The finished score by Lehrman is 50% music he created based on themes by Blitzstein: pieces of his unproduced 1932 opera "The Condemned" (an earlier work about Sacco and Vanzetti), a march, a cabaret song, a song cycle, a piano piece for mezzo-soprano Brenda Lewis who had starred in Blitzstein’s 1949 opera "Regina" (based on Lillian Hellman’s "The Little Foxes"), and portions of 13 songs from "Reuben, Reuben," his 1955 folk opera set in Little Italy which failed in Boston and which he had been recycling in later works. Blitzstein’s libretto for the three-act "Sacco and Vanzetti"(performed at Lehman College in two parts) was based on transcripts, letters, and interviews with the principals involved in the case. One addition approved by the estate was the inclusion of Governor Michael Dukakis’ exoneration of Sacco and Vanzetti in 1977, the 50th anniversary of their execution, as a fitting new ending to the opera. [more]

Our Man in Santiago

September 19, 2022

Mark Wilding’s "Our Man in Santiago" is billed as a “raucous political farce” but it is neither loud and noisy nor hilariously funny. Inspired by Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s 1974 article in Harper’s Magazine concerning the CIA involvement in the death of democratically elected President Salvador Allende, the play supposes that the CIA had operatives in Santiago ready to kill Allende when General Pinochet launched his coup that took out Allende’s government and democracy in Chile for the next 16 years. While Charlie Mount, who also directed LA’s Theater West production in 2021, keeps the play bubbling along, the one-dimensional characters and the lack of real farcical stage business diminish the play to an overlong attempt at satire. [more]

Remember This: The Lesson of Jan Karski

September 17, 2022

Aside from his ability to create multiple characters with his voice and body language, Strathairn’s physicality is remarkable in aging from a young man to a senior citizen before our eyes as well as using the table for enacting various events such as jumping off of a train or Karski’s torture by the Nazis. (The movement director is Emma Jaster,) In the brief 90 minutes of playing time, Strathairn is able to establish a quietly heroic man’s entire life and career with modesty, sincerity and simplicity. It is not only a remarkable performance, it is also an impressive reconstruction of another man’s character and deeds. [more]

My Onliness

September 10, 2022

"My Onliness," Robert Lyons’ latest stage work, is a musical homage to Polish avant-garde playwright Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz (active 1918-1934) but who resurfaced during the 1960’s when his works began to be published and translated. Directed by Daniel Irizarry who also plays the leading role as the Mad King, "My Onliness" with lyrics by Lyons and original music by Kamala Sankaram, resembles the anarchic East Village plays and happenings of the 1960’s. It is part of a through line from Alfred Jarry’s "Ubu Roi" (1896) to Eugene Ionesco’s "Exit the King" (1962). A political fable for adults, "My Onliness" is performed as a cabaret and circus entertainment with exaggerated costumes, outrageous stage business, and audience participation. While the often obscure text is for the adventurous, it does touch on many hot current issues. [more]

Los Otros

September 5, 2022

A fresh antidote to the usual brassy, loud rock musicals of today, "Los Otros" slows down the tempo and the sound level with a story of the experiences of two people who learn to love, cope and risk over the course of many decades. Luba Mason and Caesar Samayoa are quite endearing as the two California residents whose lives overlap. They give remarkable performances mainly appearing alone on stage telling and singing their stories. Cudos to librettist Ellen Fitzhugh and composer Michael John LaChiusa for bucking the trend and giving us a deep but small-scale musical revealing two lives through variously well-chosen experiences which add up to lives well lived. Long after you see it, it you will recall incidents that Lillian and Carlos recount. This may be the result of the fact that Los Otros is based on real people and true life experiences. [more]

As You Like It (Public Works)

September 3, 2022

Public Works’ musical adaptation of "As You Like It" is an enchanting evening of summer fun under the stars. Trimmed to a long one act, the story is accessible for both those who know the Shakespearean original and those who don’t. The score is always easy on the ears and has many crowd pleasers. The huge cast led by Rebecca Naomi Jones as Rosalind and including non-professional community partners is totally comfortable with the Elizabethan language and the contemporary score by Shaina Taub. With this show, Shakespeare in the Park has a real winner. [more]

HYPROV: Improv Under Hypnosis

August 23, 2022

'Hyprov" is a delightful and surprising evening as there is no telling how it will turn out. Will the Hyprovisers be good at their improvs? Will they stay in character? How will they deal with the somewhat preposterous suggestions by the audience or Colin’s instructions? Will the improvs make complete skits? Will the volunteers all remain on the same wavelength? One could see this show several times as both the improvs and the volunteers will vary from night to night. A clever evening is had by all with the charming Asad Mecci running the first half and Colin Mochrie organizing the second half. [more]

Titanique

August 22, 2022

"Titantique" is the most hilarious musical parody to play New York in many a year. Since international superstar Céline Dion only got to sing one song at the end of James Cameron’s blockbuster "Titanic," the now iconic “My Heart Will Go On” which went on to win the Academy Award for Best Song, why not turn the film into a cabaret musical with a score made up entirely from the Céline Dion catalog? That is just what Marla Mindelle, Constantine Rousouli and Tye Blue’s book has uproariously done, casting Mindelle in the leading role as a perfect mimic of Céline Dion, Rousouli as hero Jack Dawson, and Blue directing the show. Whether you recall the film from 25 years ago or not, the satire is pungent and the jokes skewer many pop culture icons. [more]

macbitches

August 21, 2022

It is not until the last 15 minutes of Sophie McIntosh’s new play, "macbitches," that a dramatic event takes place. Up until then the play is mostly the chit chat of acting majors talking about productions they have been in, eccentric directors they have worked with at the college, rehearsal horrors, and theater experiences elsewhere. While this has some interest for theater buffs, it goes on too long and tends to be more and more of the same. If you know such shows as "The Drowsy Chaperone," "The Crucible," "Hedda Gabler," "Antigone," "Guys and Dolls" and "Macbeth" very well you may be able to follow the gossip. If not, you may grow very bored by all the anecdotes. There is some talk of the toxic environment of male-run academic departments but very little of it makes much of an impression. We never hear what the male acting students think of the department or its practices, only their bad behavior in rehearsal. [more]

Oresteia (Almeida Theatre)

July 30, 2022

If you have ever seen a play by Aeschylus, you know how static and slow they are, made up entirely of monologues and choral odes with hardly any action. It was Sophocles and Euripides who added what we consider drama to ancient Greek plays. Director Robert Icke’s new version of Aeschylus’ "Oresteia," the only complete Greek trilogy that remains extant, has been adapted into a updated tetralogy that is accessible, easy to identify with, and dramatically exciting. The Almeida Theatre production now at the Park Avenue Armory features magnificent performances by Anastasia Hille (Baptiste's wife Celia in the television series of the same name) and Angus Wright (Claudius, in Icke’s current also modern dress production of "Hamlet" running in repertory with Oresteia) as Klytemnestra and Agamemnon. Presented as a long evening of four plays, this is a commitment for the audience as the running time is three hours and 35 minutes with three intermissions. [more]

Hit the Wall

July 29, 2022

Jake Shore’s "Hit the Wall," though limited in its range, is very successful in its goals. It gives Adam Files and Alexandra Guerrero juicy roles as the aging mentor and the younger student who may have surpassed the master. It also depicts a world unfamiliar to most of us. Whether this world is entirely accurate is another question which only those in the know can tell us. However, the play as it now stands is an impressive but small piece of work. [more]

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

July 26, 2022

While the play is rooted in its original 1955 period (its language, social mores, references, three-act form), this revival directed by Joe Rosario has attempted to place it in the present from the contemporary set and clothing and such props as cell phones and a great many uses of the f-word. However, without updating the dialogue, the play does not make sense reset in 2022, particularly in its archaic handling of homosexuality as it was referenced pre-Stonewall. Its themes of deception, greed and “mendacity” (a word made famous by this play) would seem to make the play contemporary but everything else about it including its hothouse atmosphere marks it as dated. [more]

The Kite Runner

July 25, 2022

The second problem is the performance of Amir Arison, star of nine seasons on NBC’s "The Blacklist," and eight Off Broadway dramas, playing both "The Kite Runner"’s narrator and its protagonist Amir. As the narrator, Arison is totally impassive giving little weight to the tumultuous events he describes. He also plays Amir as both a child and as an adult. While he is unconvincing as the child Amir from ages 10 to 12, his mostly unemotional portrayal of the adult Amir undercuts the events he describes. Still more damaging to the story, the violence has been toned down greatly, changing the villainous Assef from a psychopath to just a bully, and leaving out the shocking events in the soccer stadium demonstrating Taliban justice. The story still creates its own spell but is greatly diminished from the strengths of the novel. Luckily most of the supporting cast is quite excellent which saves the play. [more]

Into the Woods

July 20, 2022

Patina Miller as The Witch in a scene from the New York City Center Encores! Production of “Into [more]

Sex, Grift and Death: An Evening of Plays by Steven Berkoff and Caryl Churchill

July 18, 2022

For its 35th anniversary, PTP/NYC (Potomac Theater Project) continues is exploration of little known British plays by major playwrights with the New York premieres of one acts by Steven Berkoff and Caryl Churchill. The triple bill entitled "Sex, Grift and Death" includes the first local productions of Berkoff’s "Lunch" and Churchill’s "Here We Go," as well as the first NYC revival of Churchill’s "Hot Fudge," last seen here at The Public Theater in 1990. While the productions directed by Richard Romagnoli (Berkoff) and Cheryl Faraone (Churchill) are fine as far as they go, they all seem a little too underheated to be truly theatrical for these in-yer-face, confrontational authors. The evening’s title sums up the themes of this triple bill. [more]

Between the Lines

July 14, 2022

"Into the Woods" is not the only fairy tale for adults in New York right now. "Between the Lines," based on the best-selling novel by Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer, has been turned into a charming and delightful new musical which is actually an improvement over the overlong original. Featuring a talented and attractive cast headed by Arielle Jacobs, Julia Murney and Vicki Lewis as well as several unfamiliar faces, the show offers a melodic and bouncy score to witty and clever lyrics by Elyssa Samsel and Kate Anderson in their New York theater debuts. Jeff Calhoun’s direction is sharp and smart making this an extremely entertaining show. [more]

Richard III (Free Shakespeare in the Park)

July 11, 2022

And of his behavior Richard continues to explain, “And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover, I am determined to prove a villain.” In this production we see none of this though this speech comes near the beginning of the play. What we are offered is a one-dimensional action production which dilutes the play and entirely throws out historical authenticity. While Dede Ayite’s costumes are mostly period there are entirely modern touches like the two young princes, sons of the previous king, wearing gold sneakers. Instead, Richard is surrounded with people who have disabilities or physical challenges which somehow turns the play on its head: Lady Anne in a wheelchair, two deaf actors use sign language, Richmond (later King Henry VII) has cerebral palsy, and one of the courtiers who plays several roles is a dwarf. Nice to give all of these actors work but in this play it reverses the focus of the story and theme. [more]

Hamlet (Almeida Theatre)

July 4, 2022

Modern dress "Hamlet" productions can be problematic when the directors don’t plan out all the details. Robert Icke’s staging for London’s Almeida Theatre now at New York’s Park Avenue Armory is that rare production which has updated the play so well that it appears to be intended to be set in our time all along. Original, surprising and ingenious, the production amazes to the point we wonder why no one has though of these ideas before. The sleek, cool settings and costumes by Hildegard Bechtler brilliantly convey the corridors of power while the video design by Tal Yarden, a sort of closed circuit CNN, make William Shakespeare's tragedy feel up to the minute. This "Hamlet" is also accessible and easy to follow, even at a running time of three hours and 30 minutes. [more]

Chains

June 27, 2022

The Mint Theater Company continues its three play mini-festival of the forgotten plays of Elizabeth Baker with "Chains." Given a polished – maybe too polished – production like the earlier "The Price of Thomas Scott," this play is also problematic, but in another way. Unlike her contemporaries John Galsworthy, George Bernard Shaw and Harley Granville-Barker, Baker’s "Chains" has a very narrow focus: the discontents of the lower middle-class white collar folk. All of the characters in the play’s first half (the script’s Act I and II) do nothing but either complain about the grind of their daily six-days-a-week jobs (half-holiday on Saturday) or laugh at those who would give up a steady employment. You would think that back in 1909 when the play was written there wasn’t anything else to talk about. Jenn Thompson’s direction is conventional and sedate where something more animated might have been more to the point. [more]

The Orchard

June 26, 2022

Such an event is the high-tech adaptation at the Baryshnikov Arts Center calling itself "The Orchard," conceived and directed by Igor Golyak, described as based on "The Cherry Orchard" by Anton Chekhov as translated by Carol Rocamora. If you don’t know the play, you will be entirely at sea. If you know the play, you will marvel at all the totally unnecessary tricks used by the director that do nothing to help with understanding the play or ferreting out its meaning. Although the production has a fine cast headed by Mikhail Baryshnikov and Jessica Hecht, the actors are swamped by all the unnecessary trappings around them. [more]

The Bedwetter

June 16, 2022

Comedian Sarah Silverman has turned her bestselling memoir, "The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption and Pee,"  into a musical with the help of co-book writer Joshua Harmon, author of this year’s award-winning "Prayer for the French Republic," and composer Adam Schlesinger ("Cry-Baby"), who passed away in 2020 just as the show was about to go into rehearsal prior to the pandemic. The new musical, simply called "The Bedwetter," like the book is by turns amusing, first hilarious and later serious. Anne Kauffman’s production has a top-notch cast headed by Bebe Neuwirth, Caissie Levy, Darren Goldstein and Rick Crom. [more]

Mr. Parker

June 8, 2022

"Mr. Parker," the latest play by Michael McKeever whose "Daniel’s Husband" has been produced twice Off Broadway, has been given a stylish production by director Joe Brancato who also directed the earlier play. David Goldstein’s one-room studio set situated in the East Village is elegant and cozy. The costumes by Myra Oney are chic. The acting by its trio of actors is polished and urbane. Even its premise of a gay man dealing with the sudden death of a long-time partner and husband is up-to-date and timely However, as written the play seems superficial and slight. Dramatically it avoids all the big scenes that might have been included. It remains entertaining but without the payoff one wants in such a drama. [more]

Sky of Darkness

June 6, 2022

Following the lead of Francis Ford Coppola’s "Apocalypse Now," Siting Yang has updated Conrad’s "Heart of Darkness" to the present but left the story mainly set in Africa. In "Sky of Darkness" as the narrator Ma Luo (Yang’s new Marlow) is Chinese, the tale is now an exposé of Chinese interference in African affairs both financial and military. However, Yang complicates the story by having it periodically interrupted by The Ghost of Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe who famously gave a lecture criticizing Conrad’s novella in 1975 from an African point of view as racist and stereotyped. But this Achebe doesn’t object to the story as a xenophobic work of post-colonialism but criticizes Conrad for what he says he did not see. He doesn’t take into consideration that Conrad’s story is told by a series of narrators and that Captain Marlow is horrified by the repression he does see by the European rulers (in his time the brutal Belgian occupation). [more]
1 2 3 4 26