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Articles by Victor Gluck, Editor-in-Chief

Victor Gluck, Editor-in-Chief
About Victor Gluck, Editor-in-Chief (613 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.

Rocco, Chelsea, Adriana, Sean, Claudia, Gianna, Alex

March 4, 2019

Being described as a “theatre event,” the unwieldy titled "Rocco, Chelsea, Adriana, Sean, Claudia, Gianna, Alex" is a throwback to the happenings and performance art of the 1960’s, without having the same visceral effect. Based on original work by the devising company, playwright Dan Hasse attempts to be up to the minute by including a great many hot button issues, but the endless scenes and vignettes seem to be part of a checkoff list of items to include rather than any great need to link these disparate topics. [more]

Alice By Heart

March 4, 2019

Molly Gordon and Colton Ryan in a scene from MCC Theater’s new musical “Alice By Heart” [more]

The Price of Thomas Scott

March 1, 2019

However, the play may not be to the taste of regular Mint theatergoers as it seems much more dated that the usual lost masterpieces rediscovered at this esteemed venue. Thomas Scott is so rigid in his thinking that he is against not only dancing beer, and theater, but also the Literary Society which has put on "Twelfth Night," a Shakespeare comedy in which the young lady playing Viola had to wear pants. In general except for singing hymns, Scott is against all pleasures. A great many of his neighbors no longer take exception to these activities and his own family could desperately use the money they are being offered to better themselves. [more]

State of the Union

February 28, 2019

Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse’s 1946 Pulitzer Prize winning political play, "State of the Union," should be, by all accounts, dated in its depiction of the 1948 presidential political campaign with 1940’s references to people no longer household names. However, it seems more relevant than ever thanks in part to Laura Livingston’s smart and sassy revival for Metropolitan Playhouse, whose mission is to explore America’s diverse theatrical heritage. Her crackerjack production of this fast-paced political and romantic comedy moves like a house on fire and lands every one of its jokes. In addition, the play is so wise about the ways of backroom politics and Lindsay and Crouse have isolated a great many post-W.W. II issues that are now front page news again that this well-written and well-crafted comedy, although a period piece, has a great deal to say once more. Great fun will be had by all, both Republicans and Democrats, as well as independents. [more]

Lolita, My Love

February 26, 2019

The York Theatre Company is to be applauded for taking the risk of staging this famously controversial musical in its New York premiere. It is also fulfilling its mission to bring to the stage musicals of quality that might not be done elsewhere. As Alan Jay Lerner is one of the legendary giants of the musical theater, it is a pleasure to be able to see this lost musical in a workable version. However, despite the excellent staging by director Emily Maltby, "Lolita, My Love," the casting still seems problematic and the musical is ultimately disappointing. And while music director Deniz Cordell has performed yeoman's work reconstructing the score and playing it entirely solo at the piano, John Barry’s music is not aided by being heard in this cut-down orchestration. [more]

Switzerland

February 22, 2019

Mystery writer Patricia Highsmith ("Strangers on a Train," "Carol," "The Talented Mr. Ripley") was famously alcoholic, depressive, misogynistic and racist. She was unique as an internationally famous writer who had created in Tom Ripley the only serial killer ever created by a woman writer. In "Switzerland," Joanna Murray-Smith, one of Australia’s most successful playwrights, has written a play about the last days of this reclusive writer’s life. Directed by Dan Foster, the initially fascinating premise takes a sharp turn into territory that requires a good deal of suspension of disbelief. [more]

The Light

February 20, 2019

With the audience sitting ringside on three sides of the new theater, and performed by Masden and Belcher at the top of their game, The Light is thrilling theater. Their Gen and Rashad are both sympathetic, attractive characters and their story and their dilemma is entirely gripping. As the former football star (and a boxing pro in The Royale seen at Lincoln Center’s Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater,) Belcher has a tremendous physical presence. Masden is so articulate as the school principal that she elevates the debate to a high level of drama. Even if there are coincidences or sudden revelations that are hard to believe, this play that makes use of the themes of both the #MeToo and Black Lives Matter movements is cracklingly provocative theater. And like an excellent boxing match, director Vaughn has her actors come out ready to spar from the moment they enter the stage. [more]

The Dance of Death

February 16, 2019

Clark has chosen to direct the play as though it were drawing room comedy. Beginning and ending the play with a game of cards, there is the suggestion that for Edgar and Alice this is all a series of games. Outsiders cannot understand this, particularly her cousin Kurt who visits them for the first time in 15 years. Whether this is the fault of the new translation or the belief that modern audiences unfamiliar with Strindberg’s psychological nightmares would have trouble sitting through this disturbing ritual, the effect is to make "The Dance of Death" seem very superficial, as though Neil Simon had chosen to rewrite an Eugene O’Neill tragedy simply for laughs. [more]

To Kill a Mockingbird

February 16, 2019

It has been well publicized that the Harper Lee estate filed a lawsuit in February 2018 alleging that the play deviated too much from the novel. They should not have worried. As directed by Bartlett Sher, Aaron Sorkin’s astutely scripted "To Kill a Mockingbird" with Jeff Daniels as Atticus Finch is a magnificent and moving theatrical experience that treats the novel with respect and dignity. The additions and changes from the novel only make the material more stage worthy and a better experience in the new medium. Harper Lee’s justly famous lines about it being a sin to kill a mockingbird and never knowing a person until you walk around in his or her skin brought an audible reaction from the audience at the performance under review, demonstrating that they were with the story all the way. [more]

The Trial of the Catonsville Nine

February 14, 2019

The 1970 play was originally adapted by playwright Saul Levitt (who previously turned the Pulitzer Prize winning novel "Andersonville" into a successful trial play) from Berrigan’s free verse version based exclusively on the trial transcript. Not seen in New York in 30 years, "The Trial of the Catonsville Nine" has been reimagined in a new version making use of additional sources by Jack Cummings III, artistic director of the innovative Transport Group theater company. A powerful experience, the revival proves to be a provocative investigation of what a citizen should do when he or she feels that the government is engaged in immoral actions. [more]

The Day Before Spring

February 12, 2019

The York production has been directed and adapted by Marc Acito who has condensed the original two act script into a long one-acter. Realizing that the original setting of 1948 for a tenth year college reunion with no reference to W.W. II or returning veterans does not make a lot of sense, he has moved the romantic comedy plot up to 1959 with some new appropriate references to the fifties (Davy Crockett caps, McCarthyism). Although the story seems to flow well enough the new problem is that with the deletion of some of the plot and dialogue, the characters seem to have been reduced to one-dimensional stereotypes which gives the actors a great deal more to do in order to make them real. [more]

God Said This

February 11, 2019

If this family seems familiar, Winkler wrote about them in her 2016 play, "Kentucky," set seven years ago, when Hiro returned home for the first time from NYC in order to stop her sister’s wedding. Author Winkler, a Japanese-American, wrote the play sitting by her mother’s bedside in a hospital in Lexington, Kentucky, while her mother dealt with an aggressive form of cancer and she does have a sister who is a born-again Christian, though nothing like Sophie. While the play has an air of authenticity, most of the family are so unpleasant and unlikable that it is hard to penetrate behind their armor and facades. [more]

A Man for All Seasons

February 8, 2019

In recent years the play has not fared with such acclaim. A 2008 Broadway revival starring Frank Langella eliminated the narrator character of The Common Man, the play’s cleverest device, and was not well received. Now Fellowship for the Performing Arts has brought the play to the Theater Row’s Acorn Theatre directed by Christa Scott-Reed, who also staged FPA’s revival of Shadowlands last season. Unfortunately, the academic and unimaginative production fails to bring the ideas and the tensions in the play to a boil. [more]

Carmelina

January 31, 2019

Though not in the same class with Alan Jay Lerner’s masterpiece, "My Fair Lady," "Carmelina" has a similar theme: how a young woman reinvents herself. While the three soldiers are under the impression that they invented Carmelina Campbell in the classic Pygmalion and Galatea fashion, in fact Carmelina has reinvented herself, also a major theme in the Lerner canon, along with "Coco" and "Dance a Little Closer." This charming musical comedy also features a Tony Award nominated score which deserves a second and a third hearing. [more]

The Convent

January 31, 2019

While Jessica Dickey’s "The Convent" may not have any new answers and may cover familiar material, it does so with such vitality and theatricality, that it becomes a memorable experience. Under the direction of Daniel Talbott, the seven actresses led by Samantha Soule and Wendy vanden Heuvel are compelling and expressive. By the time the play is over, the audience have experienced much that the inmates of the retreat have gone through. [more]

Wickedest Woman

January 24, 2019

Six actors, three men and three women, in a company of seven, play many roles in this fluid production designed by Anna Driftmier that uses several different doorways,  on-stage props and furniture that is rolled out swiftly to tell Ann’s story from age 16 in 1828 to her untimely death at 66 in 1878. Jessica O’Hara-Baker is a towering Ann Lohman, aka Madame Restell, level-headed, goal-directed yet humorless as she sees a need and methodically goes about taking care of it, caring little for the mores of times or proscribed women’s roles. Narrated by Ann and including newspaper headlines read by the other cast members as well as period songs of 19th century ballads sung and played by the company, "Wickedest Woman" begins with her 1848 trial which is interrupted repeatedly in order to tell the story in chronological order. [more]

About Alice

January 24, 2019

Humorist and journalist Calvin Trillin has made his wife Alice Stewart Trillin, educator, writer, mother and muse, famous from such books as "Alice, Let’s Eat," "Travels with Alice" and "Family Man." When she passed away in 2001, many readers felt they knew her well enough to send Trillin condolence notes. His acclaimed 2006 memoir, "About Alice," introduced her to a wider audience. Now Theatre for a New Audience has commissioned Trillin to dramatize the book as a two hander under the direction of Leonard Foglia. The play with Jeffrey Bean as Calvin and Carrie Paff as Alice is quite charming but Alice herself remains elusive. [more]

On Blueberry Hill

January 20, 2019

Irish actors Niall Buggy and David Ganly returning to their original roles play two murderers sharing a cell in Dublin’s Montjoy Jail. The fiftyish PJ (Ganly) and the sixtyish Christy (Buggy) alternate in their tales, eventually becoming one story. One has committed a crime on impulse and can’t even explain why he did it. The other committed a revenge killing, just like one that killed his father when he was a child watching through the front window. Growing up in a suburb of Dublin, PJ tells us he was an only child with a much loved mother. At seminary, he becomes hopelessly infatuated with a younger fellow seminarian “shining with beauty.” [more]

Blue Ridge

January 19, 2019

Ireland gives a big performance that is almost larger than life. From the moment we meet her, she commands the stage. Watch how intently she listens to the others or how you can hear her thoughts clicking away as to how to avoid the rules she doesn’t like. It is almost exhausting following her as she is always doing something with her hands, her body, her voice, her total instrument. This is the sort of complete theatrical commitment that makes legends and would be dangerous for an unstable performer. Try taking your eyes off her while she is on stage – you simply can’t do it. However, unlike her Alma Winemuller in last season’s "Summer and Smoke" where she made all of the other characters disappear, her Alison is held in check by the other actors who have their own axes to grind, pun intended. [more]

Clueless, The Musical

December 29, 2018

While "Clueless, The Musical" is never less than slick and professional in the best possible way, for those who know the iconic film it offers no surprises so slavishly does it follow the original storyline. What was charming in the 1995 movie about Cher’s sense of superiority and wishing to help others less fortunate is no longer as acceptable. What was amusing in the era of excess now seems selfish, elitist, and an example of extravagant wastefulness. Alicia Silverstone’s appeal in the film doesn’t carry over to the musical where Dove Cameron, Disney star of Liv and Maddie, comes across as spoiled rotten by her wealthy single parent father who has given her pretty much everything she wants.  [more]

Slave Play

December 28, 2018

Nothing is what it seems in Jeremy 0. Harris’ startling and explosive "Slave Play" which investigates where race and sexual relationships intersect. What we have been watching in the play’s opening scenes is role playing on Day Four for Antebellum Sexual Performance Therapy, “designed to help black partners re-engage intimately with white partners from whom they no longer receive sexual pleasure.” These three couples have chosen to spend a week in this new treatment in order to deal with their "anhedonia" or inability to feel pleasure which has been a problem for them for some time. [more]

Nassim

December 25, 2018

In the course of this unusual performance piece, the actor and the audience learn a bit of Farsi, the author’s native language, and actor and author share stories of their lives and likes, and become friends. There is audience participation and volunteers are called for. The playwright eventually joins the actor on stage but remains silent, communicating by pointing to the script which is projected so that the audience can see the author’s questions and instructions to the actor. The play is a series of exercises, games and tests. [more]

The Mendelssohn Electric

December 24, 2018

Intended for young people and their families, the jokey dialogue will amuse teenagers as well as teach them about the glass ceiling that talented women have had to fight against up until the present. The characters make clever reference to such modern music stars as Duran Duran, Michael Jackson, Berry Gordy, Hall & Oates, while older patrons will recognize the names of earlier music titans Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Rachmaninoff. Among Townsend’s clever devices are choosing members of the audience to play additional characters, and using empty picture frames held up to people’s faces as stand-ins for Hensel’s portraits. [more]

Network

December 21, 2018

Director Ivo Van Hove’s stage version of the Paddy Chayefsky cult film "Network" gives Bryan Cranston the role of a lifetime as Howard Beale, the UBS news commentator who has a nervous breakdown on air and then becomes a media messiah. The high tech production designed by long-time van Hove associate Jan Versweyveld with video design by Tal Yarden is riveting throughout its two hour intermission-less running time by putting the audience in the news studio and making us complicit in the action. [more]

Christmas in Hell

December 19, 2018

The holiday season is in for an irreverent satirizing in Gary Apple’s musical comedy "Christmas in Hell," a rude and entertaining fable for adults. With book, music and lyrics by Apple, a writer/producer for television, the show now being produced by The York Theatre Company is a diverting antidote to all the mindlessly clichéd holiday cheer that is everywhere. With some clever lyrics, hummable tunes and a colorful cast of characters, "Christmas in Hell" is a delightful little musical parody which is a change of pace for the season before us. It does require a good deal of suspension of belief of both kinds. [more]

The Apple Boys: A Barbershop Quartet Musical

December 13, 2018

The world premiere of "The Apple Boys: A Barbershop Quartet Musical" is a delightful show that pays tribute to this uniquely American art form. In a mash-up of history it also recognizes a great many famous New Yorkers placing them at Coney Island or Central Park at the same time. With a clever book by Jonothon Lyons (one of the quartet of talented actors who appear in the show) and melodic music and lyrics by Ben Bonnema, The Apple Boys is great fun with ample puns that almost get by you, accomplished close harmony by its cast of four playing all 40 characters, and a plot so far-fetched that it could have been true in the manner of tall tales. [more]

The Hello Girls

December 12, 2018

One of the beauties of the book by Mills and Reichel is that all of the characters in the large dramatis personae are very well defined and we have no trouble knowing who is who. Reichel’s direction and staging make the characterizations clear and consistent. Fishman’s Grace is efficient, fair-minded and heroic, always coming up with good ideas to make sure that things run more smoothly and we root for her throughout the story. As the assured, ambitious Suzanne, Skyler Volpe is very feisty, witty and acerbic, in the manner of an Eve Arden role. Chanel Karimkhani’s Helen, the farm girl, is constantly getting into trouble, not least of which is her problem being late most of the time and her naïveté and lack of sophistication. As the oldest operator and a married woman, Lili Thomas’ Bertha is a rock of stability when others are falling apart. Cathryn Wake’s very French Louise is a firecracker, always speaking her mind - even if it gets her into trouble. Christine O’Grady’s choreography for the dance hall scenes for the women and the doughboys is redolent of ballroom dances of the period. The show’s one flaw is that there is not enough tension until almost the very end when the war comes a little too close for comfort. [more]

The Hard Problem

December 6, 2018

Tom Stoppard, our most cerebral modern playwright, has finally written a play that one would have expected from him all along. "The Hard Problem," his first play in ten years, is literally about concepts in neuroscience and its characters are psychologists, scientists and mathematicians all studying the brain. While the story and its outcome are intriguing, like many Stoppard plays, the characters are not likeable and you will find yourself not rooting for anyone. (Most likely, many real scientists aren’t lovable people either.) Jack O’Brien, who has previously directed Stoppard’s "The Coast of Utopia," "The Invention of Love," and "Hapgood," all for Lincoln Center Theater, has chosen his LCT cast without household names just as did the original London production in 2015 by Nicholas Hytner for Britain’s National Theatre. [more]

Quicksand

December 5, 2018

"Quicksand," Nella Larsen’s 1928 award-winning first novel, has been given an ambitious, epical stage adaptation by Everyday Inferno Theatre Company working out of the IRT Theater. While Regina Robbins’ script for this Harlem Renaissance literary work basically is an assigning of the text of the novel to a company of 13 actors, it is the work of director Anaïs Koivisto who makes this swirling production feel adventurous in creating both a community and a specific world. EITC’s mission statement is to create “adventurous theatrical productions of new or rarely produced texts that tell women's stories in a unique, entertaining, and accessible manner,” and this lives up to its goal. [more]

The Lifespan of a Fact

November 30, 2018

In a time of fake news, these timely and topical questions are raised in the delightful new Broadway play "The Lifespan of a Fact," a dramatization by Jeremy Kareken & David Murrell and Gordon Farrell of the essay/book by writer John D’Agata and fact checker Jim Fingal, both who appear as two of the three characters in this play. Stars of stage and screen Daniel Radcliffe, Cherry Jones and Bobby Cannavale are having a field day in this amusing and provocative romp in roles that they have played before and are not too taxing but are played by them to the hilt. The fact that this is based on a true story adds to the piquancy of the play – although to be absolutely truthful the original editing job took seven years while only five days go by in the play. [more]

Lewiston/Clarkston

November 28, 2018

Rattlestick Playwrights Theater is presenting a theatrical event by Idaho theater poet Samuel D. Hunter ("The Whale," "A Bright New Boise," "The Few," "Pocatello," "The Healing," "The Harvest"): a long one-act masterpiece (Clarkston), a 40-minute communal dinner served on picnic tables of what the characters would be eating and a curtain raiser, "Lewiston," which has the same themes and symbols as the later play. Taken as a whole this is a remarkable achievement, probably the best Hunter has created so far. Director David McCallum must be given some of the credit for this magnificent evening, and in particular actor Edmund Donovan who isn’t so much performing as living his character of Chris in "Clarkston." [more]

Shadow of Heroes

November 26, 2018

While Alex Roe’s minimalist production is both sharp and engrossing, the play offers viewers several problems. Aside from the three main characters, the play has 23 other speaking roles with actors doubling and tripling in multiple roles. Those unfamiliar with the Hungarian names as well as the history may have trouble following the twisty drama as the events pile up. Ardrey uses the awkward device of a narrator actually called the “Author” (played by Joel Rainwater) which helps a greatly but this also leads to a good deal of excess information. At almost three hours, "Shadow of Heroes" is an investment in time but it does pay off in the end. There are very few plays since Shakespeare which attempt as this one does to dramatize such a large chunk of history on stage. [more]

Downstairs

November 25, 2018

Ostensibly about domestic abuse, the evidence is all offstage and we must surmise this from the defeated condition of the heroine Irene played by Ms. Daly. Her husband Gerry (John Procaccino) is involved in some shocking, nefarious business revealed to the characters on stage but never revealed to the audience, nor is the confidential project her brother Teddy (Mr. Daly) claims to be working on which will make his fortune. As such, the thrills are all a matter of guesswork, rather than actual events. [more]
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