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Articles by Victor Gluck, Editor-in-Chief

Victor Gluck, Editor-in-Chief
About Victor Gluck, Editor-in-Chief (726 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.

Medea (Brooklyn Academy of Music)

February 9, 2020

While Simon Stone’s adaptation is engrossing for its surprising updates, it never captures the emotions, seeming more like a gimmick that a reworking of the Greek tragedy. With most of the actors underplaying their roles, the emotional temperature never really heats up even when the audience is confronted with various horrors. The use of the video screen and the all-white set somewhat distances the audience from the events on stage which undercuts the tragedy unfolding. Don’t blame Rose Byrne and Bobby Cannavale, who have given much more impassioned performances elsewhere, as they seem to be pawns of Stone’s concept. [more]

Sister Calling My Name

February 7, 2020

An author can be too close to his or her material so that the real story fails to be revealed. Inspired by his own family events, Buzz McLaughlin’s Sister Calling My Name has a fascinating premise but that is not enough. In relating a faith-based story of Michael, a man who has avoided for 18 years his mentally disabled sister Lindsey, a ward of the state since being a teenager, McLaughlin repeats lines and plot points endlessly while failing to give us enough details to bring the characters to life. The play seems to go round and round in a circle. The script note that Lindsay’s disability manifests itself in simply locking into an idea and going with it until another takes its place does not help an audience who must listen to the same dialogue over and over. Peter Dobbins’ production for Blackfriars Repertory Theatre and The Storm Theatre does little to make the characters more than labels. [more]

The New York Pops: “Find Your Dream: The Songs of Rodgers and Hammerstein”

January 31, 2020

The New York Pops’ latest concert, Find Your Dream, was a glorious tribute to nostalgia. Not only was it an evening of the beloved songs of Rodgers and Hammerstein with selectionsfrom all 11 of their collaborations, it also recreated a performance first presented five years ago by The Pops. The guests artists on the evening of January 24 were British musical theater star Laura Michelle Kelly (Broadway’s "Mary Poppins" and "Finding Neverland") first seen in a flaming red, off the shoulders gown and American musical theater star Max Von Essen (Broadway’s "An American in Paris" and "Anastasia") in a midnight blue jacket. Joining The Pops as usual was Judith Clurman’s Essential Voices USA who were an integral part of the show with the famous choral numbers. [more]

My Name Is Lucy Barton

January 28, 2020

Laura Linney is never one to avoid a challenge. When she last appeared at Manhattan Theatre Club’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre she was alternating in the roles of “Regina” and “Birdie” in the revival of Lillian Hellman’s "The Little Foxes" and won a Tony Award for Best Actress for her efforts.  Now she is back in an adaptation of Elizabeth Strout’s novel "My Name is Lucy Barton" where she plays both the title character and her mother and is the only performer on stage. Directed as she was in the London production by Richard Eyre, she beautifully captures the tone and voice of Strout’s heroine. [more]

Paradise Lost

January 27, 2020

When a playwright adapts a famous, well-known story for the stage the problem becomes how to tell it in a new way that makes it seem unfamiliar and fresh. Otherwise, why bother retelling it once again? Unfortunately, Tom Dulack’s "Paradise Lost," “inspired by the poem by John Milton,” retells the story of Lucifer’s fall from Heaven into Hell, and the eventual banishment of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden without any surprises. Using only contemporary language, Dulack’s play lifts the skeletal plot of Milton but lacks the poetry, as well as those elements which made this epic controversial in the 17th century (rejection of the divine right of kings, embracing divorce and marriage equality, etc.) It resembles a Sunday Bible sermon or dramatization meant for youth. [more]

Timon of Athens (Theatre for a New Audience)

January 23, 2020

On paper the concept should not work: scenes and characters have been cut, a Shakespeare sonnet has been added set to music, as well as a Greek song, and four characters originally written for men are played by women. Nevertheless, the streamlining of this modern dress production in the edition prepared by Emily Burns and Godwin makes this tragedy very accessible and eliminating subplots makes the play quite linear. The addition of women gives the play an almost contemporary feeling. The scenic and costume design by Soutra Gilmour for the first half of the play is simply dazzling, while the second half has its own visual display. [more]

Thunder Rock

January 23, 2020

It is not difficult to see what attracted Metropolitan Playhouse to Ardrey’s drama: its message that one cannot shut one’s self off from the problems of the world as the America First movement wants to do is very timely once again as in the 1930’s, and the refugees who appear in the play’s second act and speak of their hopes and dreams in the new land are a stinging rebuke to those who would shut the golden doors to foreigners seeking asylum in the United States in our own time. [more]

Wild Dogs Under My Skirt

January 8, 2020

Speaking alternately, the six women talk of food, traditions, love, family, beliefs, ethics, dreams, abuse and New Zealand men. They speak of their dreams of a future and a better life. The language is earthy, raw, vital, colorful. Even without understanding every word, the gist is conveyed by the inflections and the performances. The evening includes song, dance, and speeches taken from passages in Avia’s book which are at times startling, revealing, amusing and tragic. They are sometimes presented like poetry, at others like dramatic monologues, and at times like choral reading. [more]

London Assurance

December 29, 2019

Dion Boucicault’s "London Assurance" is still a witty and lively play after almost 180 years. With its farcical elements laid over a drawing room comedy plot, Charlotte Moore’s adroit production for the Irish Repertory Theatre mines the play for all of its humor and wisdom concerning the foibles of human nature and self-delusion. With a superb cast, Rachel Pickup is awarded the acting honors for her marvelous depiction of Lady Gay Spanker, a bon vivant who knows how to get the most out of life and other people. [more]

one in two

December 27, 2019

Leland Fowler, Jamyl Dobson and Edward Mawere in a scene from Donja R. Love’s “one in two” in [more]

The Inheritance

December 24, 2019

Samuel H. Levine, Kyle Soller and Andrew Burnap in a scene from Matthew Lopez’s “The [more]

Judgment Day

December 23, 2019

A product of the tumultuous thirties whose work was banned by the Nazis even though he was not Jewish, Von Horváth was particularly interested in social criticism of the middle-class and warnings about the rise of fascism. His major themes include tales of herd psychology and moral responsibility. By dealing with these timely topics, Judgment Day given a monumental visual production design by set designer Paul Steinberg in the cavernous Drill Hall at the Armory, the play seems as powerful and relevant as if it had been written in this decade, not 80 years ago. The production makes this expressionistic drama as contemporary as if this style were newly born. Starring Luke Kirby (Emmy Award for his Lenny Bruce in "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel") in the leading role of Stationmaster Thomas Hudetz, the play offers juicy roles to several of the minor characters. [more]

One November Yankee

December 21, 2019

Beloved television stars Harry Hamlin (L.A. Law) and Stefanie Powers (Hart to Hart) return to the New York stage in Joshua Ravetch’s "One November Yankee" which they previously performed at the Delaware Theatre Company, was initially seen in Los Angeles’ NoHo Arts Center Theatre in 2012. It is their star power which keeps this old-fashioned, rather sit-com-ish, interconnected triple bill as lively and as entertaining as it is despite clichéd writing and passé jokes. Playing three different sets of siblings all connected by one plane crash, they manage to be convincing in weak material. [more]

Greater Clements

December 17, 2019

Told in leisurely style, Greater Clements is about the decline (and possible fall) of the American dream. Hunter appears to be saying that this is a long-time coming and its roots go very deep. The play begins with a flashback prologue with Maggie’s son Joe giving a tour of the mine, describing the 1972 fire on the 6,400 foot level that killed 81 men including his grandfather. However, on the weekend that the play takes place Maggie is expecting Billy, her high school beau, a Japanese-American who took her to the prom, now a widower and who is returning to visit 50 years later. Maggie, now 12 years divorced from Caleb who left her for another man, may be at loose ends but this is possibly a new beginning. [more]

The Underlying Chris

December 6, 2019

Another way to look at the play is as the twelve stages of man and woman, going Shakespeare five more steps. Unlike Tracy Letts’ Mary Page Marlowe, in which the heroine was played by a different actress at each stage of her life, here we are asked to adjust to multiple versions of Chris whose name changes in each of the play’s 12 scenes: Chris, Christine, Kris, Christopher, Kristin, Topher, Christoph, Kit, Christina, and finally Khris. [more]

The Half-Life of Marie Curie

December 4, 2019

Having won the 2014 Harold and Mimi Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award for "I and You," this is the fourth production of a Lauren Gunderson play in New York since then including her solo play "Natural Shocks" on domestic abuse which was produced in 100 American theaters in 2018. A specialist in biographical plays, her "The Half-Life of Marie Curie" is of particular interest in that it tells a little-known story of a very famous figure. It is also notable for the vivid performances of Kate Mulgrew and Francesca Faridany. Although Gunderson is not yet a household name, she has been the most produced American playwright since 2016. [more]

Cyrano

December 2, 2019

For those younger members of the audience who do not know Edmond Rostand’s classic French play, "Cyrano de Bergerac," the new musical "Cyrano" presented by The New Group at the Darryl Roth Theatre may be entertaining enough. However, for those of us who know the original, the compromises and excisions from the text make it a shadow of its former itself. Don’t blame film and television star Peter Dinklage who gives a vigorous performance in the title role. However, he is hampered by the adaptation by director Erica Schmidt who happens to be his wife. [more]

Fefu and Her Friends

November 30, 2019

While María Irene Fornés' "Fefu and Her Friends" is considered a feminist statement, in performance the play seems not to be very revealing about women or their positions other than the fact that the cast is entirely female. Set among the very rich in the 1930’s, the play is liberated only to the extent that the women have enough money to do what they wish. With its attractive sets and stylish clothes and the novelty of moving from one set to the other, the play seems to be rather a period piece than a statement of women’s lib. Unlike such all-female plays as Hazel Ellis’ "Women without Men," Clare Boothe’s "The Women" and Jane Chambers’ "Last Summer at Bluefish Cove," "Fefu and Her Friends" does not have a lot to say although it remains entertaining throughout. Of course, it is possible that a women critic might have a very different take on this work. [more]

Let ‘Em Eat Cake

November 29, 2019

Having had a success with Of Thee I Sing in 2017, MasterVoices had chosen to stage the sequel with an equally starry cast made up of most of the singers from the previous show in the same roles. With a chorus of 125 voices in this most choral of musicals and nine stars, "Let ’Em Eat Cake" was gloriously sung. The orchestra of St. Luke’s under the baton of artistic director Ted Sperling gave the complex score a vigorous reading, suggesting that it is more than just a musical. While the story is quite silly (the White House gets painted blue, among other things), it is also quite dark predicting a fascist takeover of the American presidency - which may explain its quick failure in its own time. Topical in 1933, many of the topics and issues are currently in the headlines again as Washington deals with an imperial White House. The musical also offered a great many unfamiliar Gershwin songs aside from its one hit “Mine,” and familiar and unfamiliar reprises from "Of Thee I Sing" like “Wintergreen for President.” [more]

The Crucible (Bedlam)

November 25, 2019

As produced by Bedlam in association with The Nora, Arthur Miller’s 1953 tragedy, "The Crucible," based on the Salem Witch Trials proves to be both riveting and relevant all over again. In the past, the play was seen as a cautionary tale about the McCarthy Era witch hunt that destroyed so many lives. Now in 2019 it becomes a story of truth and lies, fiction and fact. One of the judges refers to the situation in Salem as “this swamp.” In the age of Trump, Miller’s play has new meaning for our time. You could hear a pin drop during Eric Tucker’s unfussy production which becomes more and more scary as the Salem witch trials progress and the townspeople become entirely carried away by the hysteria. [more]

Einstein’s Dreams

November 22, 2019

Alan Lightman’s 1992 internationally best-selling novel "Einstein’s Dreams" would seem like an unlikely choice for stage adaptation as the original book is made up of 30 variations on theories of time but includes no plot. However, as adapted by Joanne Sydney Lessner (book and lyrics) and Joshua Rosenblum (music and lyrics) it is a charming period musical that makes Einstein’s theories (at least the ten dramatized) quite accessible to audiences not made up of physicists. Its lovely score and excellent production directed by Prospect Theater Company’s Cara Reichel led by Zal Owen and Alexandra Silber are both entertaining and mind-expanding. Its deficiencies are ones that were also true of the novel. [more]

Truffles: Music! Mushrooms! Murder!!!

November 19, 2019

"Truffles: Music! Mushrooms! Murder!!!" is a dinner theater musical mystery set in the very restaurant (The Secret Room) where the audience is having dinner. This return engagement of the long-running show originally conceived by Sonia Carrion has been extensively rewritten by Gregg Ostrin inspired by characters initially created by Billy Manton, Carrion and Hal Galardi. This mildly amusing evening includes dinner (if you so choose), a score with 11 clever songs, and a murder mystery which keeps morphing into various other genres. [more]

Slava’s Snowshow

November 18, 2019

"Slava’s Snowshow" is a unique experience. It is clowning of a sophisticated sort with its wordless skits which takes it beyond language. Its set pieces are outrageous enough to transcend anything other clown shows are doing at present. At 110 minutes, it is just long enough to not overstay its welcome. The audience participation sequences will make you feel that you are part of the show and the clowns play off of audience reactions throughout. However, as the clowns are more somber than playful it may not be for people easily depressed or very young children who have not seen the magic of theater before. [more]

Broadbend, Arkansas

November 15, 2019

Produced by Transport Group in association with The Public Theater and directed with precision, clarity and simplicity by Transport Group’s artistic director Jack Cummings III, this story of three generations of an African American family grappling with of racism, violence and inequality in the South is as moving and trenchant as a story by Harper Lee. Each act is a monodrama exquisitely acted, sung and directed for a very discerning audience. While there is dialogue in both halves, the extraordinary music makes it feel sung through. [more]

Scotland, PA

November 10, 2019

There have been many adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth but none of them probably as entertaining as the new musical "Scotland, PA." Presented in the cartoon style of "Little Shop of Horrors," the show does not break any new ground but proves to be a fun evening. However, director Lonny Price who has staged musicals both big ("Sunset Boulevard)" and small ("Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill") gives the interest high and the show bubbling. [more]

The Michaels

November 10, 2019

Richard Nelson’s latest play, "The Michaels" (subtitled a “Conversation During Difficult Times”) is a thing of beauty. Low-key like his "Apple Family" quartet and his "The Gabriels" trilogy, it is Chekhovian in the best sense of the word: very little happens but life passes by. The characters who sit in a Rhinebeck, New York,  kitchen (also the setting for the other seven plays) talk of life and death, love and desire, memories and accomplishments. They reveal secrets and ponder changes and ultimately make decisions. Not much takes place but then again all of life occurs in the course of the play’s two hours. [more]

Seared

November 8, 2019

As directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel, the play is fast-paced and engrossing and the smell of garlic coming from the stage convinces us that real cooking is going on. The completely working industrial kitchen designed by Tim Mackabee is a wonder of economy on the small stage of the Susan & Ronald Frankel Theater at The Robert W. Wilson MCC Theater Space as we watch many meals get prepared in record time. The flaw in the play is that Esparza’s Harry spends so much time ranting about his beliefs and requirements that he becomes both tiresome and unsympathetic. Harry may be an artist fighting capitalist necessities, but he also sabotages his own success. We eventually discover that he is not as ethical as he pretends to be even though he claims not to care about money – or adulations. And as none of the money in the restaurant is his, ultimately he has no say in what is decided. [more]

Dr. Ride’s American Beach House

November 7, 2019

Plays about lives of quiet desperation are difficult to pull off because you run the risk of boring the audience. Liza Birkenmeier’s “Dr. Ride’s American Beach House” has all the elements of a fascinating drama but as presented by Ars Nova at Greenwich House it is all about subtext and undercurrents which may go right over the heads of many audience members. Little happens but there is much tedious talk which is a cover-up for what goes unsaid. [more]

A Woman of the World

November 3, 2019

Kathleen Chalfant adds another feather to her cap as Emily Dickinson’s posthumous editor Mabel Loomis Todd in the world premiere of Rebecca Gilman’s new one-woman play, "A Woman of the World," presented by The Acting Company in association with Miranda Theatre Company at 59E59 Theaters. Staged by Miranda’s artistic director Valentina Fratti with elegant assurance, Chalfant is both fascinating and seductive as this real life woman who in the 1880’s and 1890’s scandalized conventional Amherst, Massachusetts, with her liberated and bohemian behavior long before such goings on became acceptable for women – or men. [more]

The Lightning Thief – The Percy Jackson Musical on Broadway

November 2, 2019

"The Lightning Thief - The Percy Jackson Musical" settles down a bit more in the second act and becomes more engrossing but the damage has been done. The actors in the first act all seem to be racing for a train and the sound levels continue to damage many of the songs throughout the show. The show remains an excellent introduction to Greek mythology made relevant for our own time. Faithful to the source material, it may please both teens who have read the book and those who have not. The five of the seven-member cast playing 28 roles demonstrates their versatility as they change from one colorful three-dimensional character to another. If only the director and the production had trusted the original show and did not feel it necessary to make it bigger and better for Broadway, a common complaint when shows make the move from their smaller Off Broadway venues. [more]

Panama Hattie

October 29, 2019

While the original production had a great many one-of-a-kind stars supporting Merman, one of the distinctions of the York production is its cast: Montel has been able to obtain the services of Klea Blackhurst for Hattie Maloney, the Ethel Merman role. Blackhurst, you may know, has specialized in Merman for years including her tribute show "Everything  the Traffic Will Allow" as well as appearing in the Merman roles in revivals of "Anything Goes," "Red, Hot and Blue," "Call Me Madam" and The York’s staging of "Happy Hunting." Montel has also surrounded her with seasoned theater veterans including Stephen Bogardus, Simon Jones, Gordon Stanley and David Green. The members of the singing and dancing chorus are equally talented. [more]
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