News Ticker

Articles by Victor Gluck, Editor-in-Chief

About Victor Gluck, Editor-in-Chief (983 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.

Infinite Life

September 21, 2023

Ever since Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Annie Baker adapted 'Uncle Vanya" for a 2012 production at the Soho Rep, her plays like "The Flick," "John" and "The Antipodes" have becomes more Chekhovian: not a great deal happens but characters live out their daily lives. In her new play "Infinite Life," she has gone even further with the silences and the pauses that she has become famous for. Under James Macdonald’s superb direction, we watch five women and one man read, sleep, talk and sip water or juice on the patio of a wellness clinic in Northern California trying to deal with their chronic pain. Not much happens but, on the other hand, these people reveal their whole lives before they complete their treatments and go back to their previous existences. [more]

Job

September 20, 2023

Max Wolf Friedlich’s "Job" is as tense as a thriller, as compelling as a psychological drama and as up-to-date as tomorrow’s headlines. As directed by Michael Herwitz, Peter Friedman and Sydney Lemmon are living their roles, rather than just acting them. While the play will grab you by the throat while you are in the theater, it will give you a great deal to think about after you leave. In that it resembles other two-character plays by such authors as David Mamet and Harold Pinter. It is to be hoped that the play will be extended or better yet moved to a larger theater so that more people will be able to see it. [more]

The Creeps

September 8, 2023

Catherine Waller’s one person show, "The Creeps", has all the elements of a successful horror show: a macabre setting, dark lighting, off-beat characters, and strange unexplained going-ons. Unfortunately, several things get in the way of its registering. Created and starring Waller dressed entirely in form fitting black, the production has eschewed a director who is very much needed as there is too much dead time in this slightly less than one hour show. At this length it still seems long with too many undramatic pauses. Presented in the renovated four-sided Playhouse 46 at St. Luke’s, the audience is also aware of each other throughout which makes the evening a great deal less scary than it ought to be. Scott Monnin’s lighting is never dark enough to make us feel that we are in some place other than the theater with other people. [more]

The Tempest (Public Works)

August 31, 2023

Visually, the show is not as effective as it might have been considering the play usually includes a great deal of magic. Here there is very little in the way of scenic illusions or legerdemain. Alexis Distler’s setting which makes use of some elements of the design for Hamlet, the previous staging on the Delacorte stage, a falling down mansion seemingly off its foundation, adds little to the production’s visuals. Except for the stunning harpy costume for Ariel by Wilberth Gonzalez, the rest of the designs are more than bland. The all-black leather creations for the Europeans give the production a contemporary look that feels out of place. The dozens of community partners dressed in matching blue and yellow outfits have been given little to do besides stand around as witnesses or hum to the large-scale musical numbers. [more]

How to Steal an Election: A Dirty Politics Musical

August 29, 2023

While the misnamed "How to Steal an Election: A Dirty Politics Musical" is no lost masterpiece and at times seems long, it is a diverting political revue which offers an interesting take on the politics of the last 180 years. With the charming Jason Graae at the helm, the rest of the talented cast keeps the show rolling merrily along. New faces Emma Degerstedt, Alex Joseph Grayson, Courtney Arango, Kelly Berman and Drew Tanabe demonstrate that they should have very successful and acclaimed careers before them from their work here. [more]

Pay the Writer

August 24, 2023

Directed by Karen Carpenter, "Pay the Writer" by best-selling novelist Tawni O’Dell is slick and superficial but entertaining and engrossing. The play about the 45 year friendship between an ultimately successful gay literary agent and an unknown African American novelist who becomes celebrated and wealthy plays like a novel or mini-series with its 13 scenes and many two-character encounters but is ultimately satisfying by the time it reaches its denouement. The high powered cast plays it to the hilt, belying the fact that the characters are superficial and stereotyped, which, of course, doesn’t make it untrue. Some of the play is extremely funny with one-liners worth repeating. [more]

What Else Is True?

August 21, 2023

Another problem with the play is that although the subject is “Improv” we never actually witness any, just theater games to prepare for group improvs. Games like Mind Meld, Mating Call, 99 Problems, Zip Zap Zop and the Pattern Game are practiced but as the rules are not made clear, many in the audience be confused by what is happening. Throughout the play we are told that Miles is the most brilliant of them all, based on his auditions and performances, but except for a brief moment in the next to last scene in which he performs two characters in an improv alone, we are never shown any evidence of this. [more]

Back to the Future: The Musical

August 16, 2023

"Back to the Future: The Musical," the time travel adventure, joins a long line of problematic screen to stage musicalizations which do not improve on the originals in any way. Joining the list that includes in recent memory "Pretty Woman," "King Kong," "Tootsie," "Mrs. Doubtfire" and "Almost Famous," Back to the Future, using one of the original movie’s co-writers (Bob Gale without Robert Zemeckis), attempts to transplant the film in toto to the stage of the Winter Garden Theatre without adding anything new to the mix other than having the characters sing and dance. If theater is meant to surprise us, then like the stage version of "Almost Famous," "Back to the Future" slavishly follows its source material so that we feel like we have seen it all before – and better. [more]

Cat Kid Comic Club

August 7, 2023

The family-oriented TheaterWorksUSA’s latest musical adaptation of the best-selling children’s novels of Dev Pilkey is "Cat Kid Comic Club: The Musical," an exuberant colorful one hour irreverent entertainment for children of all ages. Written by Kevin Del Aguila (book and lyrics) and Brad Alexander (music) who previously wrote the highly successful "Dog Man: The Musical" from the earlier Pilkey series, "Cat Kid Comic Club" is surprisingly faithful to the book of the same name and will not disappoint its many fans. With clever and imaginative direction by Marlo Hunter and her design team which uses puppets as well as live actors, the hard-working cast of six (almost all of whom appeared in TheaterWorks’ "Dog Man" musical) play multiple roles to tell this hilarious and surprising story. [more]

Wheel of Fortune

August 5, 2023

What appears to be filmmaker Jing Ma’s first stage play, "Wheel of Fortune" is a touching story of a depressed man about to turn 30 and without a job or a girlfriend. His bad luck changes when his mother visiting from Delaware becomes a Tarot card reader and predicts a change of life with the “Wheel of Fortune” card. Directed by the author, the play has a few too many scenes and set changes (like a film script) for the tiny stage of UNDER St. Marks Theater but it remains both engrossing and poignant. [more]

Flex

August 1, 2023

Whether you follow basketball or not, Candrice Jones’ "Flex" is exciting theater. Actually, the play is not only about women’s high school basketball but also passions, future plans, romance, sex, ethics, friendships, rivalries, betrayals, and possible dreams deferred for all of the play’s five teammates as we follow them from their home town games in Plainnole to the 1997-98 Arkansas High School State Championship. Using a cast of relatively unfamiliar performers all of whom are making their Lincoln Center Theater debuts, director Lileana Blain-Cruz best known for her work on new plays has kept the performance as taut as a real game throughout its two hours and 20 minutes length. [more]

The Cottage

July 31, 2023

Although Sandy Rustin’s "The Cottage," now arrived at Broadway’s Helen Hayes Theater, bills itself as “A Romantic and (Not Quite) Murderous Comedy of Manners,” it is devoid of the two requirements of drawing room comedy: wit and quotable one-liners. Although its hard-working stable of stars including Eric McCormack, Laura Bell Bundy, Lilli Cooper and Alex Moffat, have been directed by television star Jason Alexander to behave as though the play is comic, there are hardly any laughs. [more]

Vermont

July 23, 2023

Another head scratcher is that advance publicity on the play calls it “an uproarious comedy”; however, as there are no more than two laughs in the whole play as currently produced on the stage of the wild project this is a false appellation. While the play involves a story of a married urban couple who travel to Vermont to join a self-sustaining commune run by his former college roommate, there are no surprises and the events are very predictable, with all of the revelations left for the final scene. [more]

Orpheus Descending

July 18, 2023

Among the problems with the production is the fact that there is no chemistry between Siff and Alexander. We are supposed to believe that their encounter not only brings Lady Torrance back to life but that Val falls in love for the first time. However, this is not demonstrated by their performances. Williams’ requirement that his heroine use a Southern yet Italian accent is a difficult assignment and Siff seems uncomfortable at this while her Italian accent comes and goes. More damaging still is that while we are told that Val Xavier has a positive effect on all the women who encounter him, Lady Torrance, Carol Cutrere, Vee Talbott (the Sheriff’s wife), and causing the men to be jealous, Alexander fails to exude the kind of charisma needed for this role. Not only is he too bland, he often fades into the woodwork when we should be conscious of his presence at all times. [more]

How to Find a Husband in 37 Years or Longer

July 12, 2023

Pyle is an engaging performer. However, not only does her story wander around but the interruptions by her father or rather her day dreams about past lovers become hard to follow due to all the disconnects. Her father follows an ex-wife to Texas from Indiana while Pyle ends up in Los Angeles from New York. The message is not clear until she explicitly states that she is “in the exact right spot.” When she removes her parka, she wears a t-shirt that states: “What if it all works out?” which appears to be the take away from the evening. [more]

The Doctor

July 10, 2023

Juliet Stevenson as Dr. Ruth Wolff in a scene from Robert Icke’s “The Doctor” at the Park [more]

Once Upon a One More Time

July 3, 2023

The only problem with Hartmere’s plot is that it remains undeveloped. None of the princesses get to read Friedan's book (there is initially only one copy) and they take it on faith that it offers them alternatives. The plot goes off on a series of tangents (Prince Charming’s assistant Prince Erudite the Celibate reveals that he is gay when he meets Snow White’s assistant Clumsy, the Cinderella’s Stepmother attempts to get the Narrator to choose one of her daughters for Prince Charming after Cinderella’s defection) but these narratives turn out as you would expect with no surprises. As staged by director/choreographer team Keene & Mari Madrid, whose credits up until now are mainly in film and music video, (creative consultant: British director: David Leveaux), the many production numbers look like aerobics for a rock video which may please Spears fans but look incongruous in a Broadway musical based on 18th and 19th century stories. Spears’ fans will be pleased that the show includes eight of her top ten hits: “Oops!... I Did It Again,” “Baby One More Time,” “Gimme More,” “Toxic,” “Circus,” “Lucky,” “Work Bitch,” and “Stronger,” almost all with lyrics tweaked by Hartmere to fit a story of princes and princesses. [more]

Hamlet (Free Shakespeare in the Park)

June 30, 2023

For this year’s Free Shakespeare in the Park, director Kenny Leon has set his modern dress "Hamlet" in what looks like the same Georgia estate as his acclaimed 2019 production of "Much Ado About Nothing." However, Beowulf Boritt’s set this time around looks as though the Georgia suburban mansion has been destroyed by a hurricane with the main house off its foundation and the main room missing three of its walls. The set also features two American flags, a partly buried “Stacey Abrams 2020” poster (used in the "Much Ado") and a jeep nosed into a huge puddle with an Elsinore license plate. While the production is chock full of ideas (too many of them), it creates the new problem that Shakespeare’s "Hamlet" doesn’t make much sense set in America. After all, when is the last time we had a king and queen? Obviously, the parallel is that something is rotten in America but where is this Never Neverland? [more]

Eisenhower: This Piece of Ground

June 27, 2023

Based on a range of Eisenhower’s memoirs, speeches and letters, the play demonstrates without a doubt his belief in moderation and his liberal bent of which many people today are unaware. Set at his Gettysburg farm in 1962, two years after the end of his presidency at age 71, the premise is that while recording his memories for a book on his White House years, he is incensed by a New York Times poll of 75 historians which places him 22 out of 31 presidents, “a great American, not great president.” He then attempts to defend his life and work in the two acts that follow, with the first half taking us through W.W. II and the second half delineating his presidency. [more]

A Simulacrum

June 25, 2023

While the show approximates a magic show, it also is a lecture demonstration. However, if you are hoping to hear how the tricks are accomplished you will be disappointed. Cuiffo who has a charming demeanor is both low-key and casual, dispassionate and nonchalant.  "A Simulacrum" is a diverting evening but it may leave you hungry for more – or at least the explanations of what you have just seen before your eyes. The rapport between Hnath and Cuiffo is that of friends and by the end of the evening you may feel like you have been admitted to their inner circle. [more]

Lizard Boy

June 20, 2023

Scheduled to run only until July 1, "Lizard Boy" deserves a longer life as one of the most satisfying musical theater offerings to be seen currently in New York. While the message of tolerance and diversity is not heavy, the theme is dramatized so that no one can mistake its intent. The three-person cast is superb in the acting, singing and musical departments. Brandon Ivie’s staging is clever and imaginative, while the book, music and lyrics by Justin Huertas make audience goers look forward to his next project with eager anticipation. [more]

Days of Wine and Roses

June 14, 2023

Lucas’ script remains faithful to Miller’s teleplay (with the excision of Joe’s delirium tremens in the psycho ward or his second hospitalization) and much of the dialogue is actually Miller’s. However, the problem is the score. Guettel’s 18 songs (including four reprises) are often atonal, unmelodic, unrhymed and don’t scan. While this is true of the Tony Award-winning "The Light in the Piazza" that score had such a lush sound that it was automatically romantic and appropriate for its story. Here it is almost as though Guettel is striving for opera but without the orchestral underpinnings to make it so. The lyrics are mostly recitative, abstract and metaphorical. Aside from three songs in which Joe or Kirsten are joined by their seven-year-old daughter Lila (played by Ella Dane Morgan), only the couple sing, with O’Hara given seven solos. The real problem is as Stephen Sondheim said about his musical Do I Hear a Waltz?: these are characters that wouldn’t sing so the only way to solve this is to have made "Days of Wine and Roses" an opera with a great deal of orchestral music. Here the songs do not add anything to the story. Like Marvin Hamlisch’s score for the stage version of "Sweet Smell of Success," Guettel’s music is devoid of atmosphere, period or otherwise, unless this is the fault of the orchestrations by Guettel with additional orchestrations by Jamie Lawrence. [more]

The Comeuppance

June 12, 2023

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ "The Comeuppance," the culmination of his decade as a Premiere Resident playwright at Signature Theatre, does for the millennials what "The Big Chill" did for the Baby Boomers. Astutely directed by Eric Ting, this fascinating but uneven play also reviews the stresses and traumas of the last 20 years for that generation. This five-character reunion of people who knew each other at St. Anthony, class of 2002, in Prince George’s County, Maryland, is densely plotted and packed with dramatic moments. And then there is a new wrinkle, an uninvited guest. [more]

Fallen Angels

June 9, 2023

The problem with the play is that it has a one joke plot, simply what will happen when Maurice appears – if he does. The play runs out of steam very early on. However, if the drunken scene is played as over the top it will generate the comedy that the play doesn’t offer. Unfortunately, accomplished actresses Elizabeth Hayden as Julia and Jenny Tucker as Jane have been directed to remain two upper-class matrons throughout. Neither of them seem drunk enough to cause the chaos that ensues. Otherwise, the acting is of a high caliber though the play peaks much too soon. [more]

American One Acts, a double bill

June 8, 2023

The little OPERA theatre of ny has become known for its adventurous programing of rarely seen and heard operas in English including the New York premieres of Benjamin Britten’s opera for television, "Owen Wingrave,"  and Carlisle Floyd’s final work for the stage, "Prince of Players," as well as new translations of works by Gluck, Mozart and, Rossini. Now in association with Harlem Opera Theater and National Black Theatre, they have presented an unusual double bill of contrasting "American One Acts," both set in the American South. Act I was a performance of "Highway 1, U.S.A." (1962) by William Grant Still, called the Dean of African American Composers, and the first Black composer to have an opera performed by a major company, his "Troubled Island" premiered by the New York City Opera in 1949. The second half of the bill was Kurt Weill’s "Down in the Valley," a folk-opera intended for schools and community groups, written for the radio in 1945 and then revised for stage production in 1948 at Indiana University by the Bloomington Opera Workshop. After its premiere it had 85 amateur productions in the following ten months. However, it has not remained in the repertory. [more]

King James

May 31, 2023

Whether you are a basketball fan or not, Rajiv Joseph’s "King James" is an intriguing depiction of an unlikely friendship over 12 years. Under Kenny Leon’s polished direction, Glenn Davis and Chris Perfetti hold the stage with their complicated relationship and representation of male friendship. Although the play doesn’t tackle new ground, it remains absorbing as time passes and the men’s careers take different paths. [more]

Bernarda’s Daughters

May 29, 2023

The six-member cast creates a believable ensemble though their roles are not all clearly defined. While the play reveals much about the Haitian community living in Brooklyn, as 'Bernarda’s Daughters" feels almost plotless it seems to drift from one conversation to another with little or no structure. The idea of an updated Americanized version of Lorca’s very Spanish tragedy "The House of Bernarda Alba" is a good one. However, this is not as compelling or successful as Marcus Gardley’s "The House That Will Not Stand" which reset the play in 1813 New Orleans. [more]

The Fears

May 27, 2023

The world premiere of Emma Sheanshang’s "The Fears" is a hilarious and poignant satire on self-help groups and the sort of people who take their emotional temperature all day long – literally. It is the latest in a new genre of plays in which the humor comes from something that may be painful but it is still possible to laugh at. Smoothly and astutely directed by Dan Algrant who has mainly worked in film, the ensemble of seven actors are entirely convincing as a group of damaged people who meet once a week at a Buddhist center in New York City to deal with early traumas that are keeping them from moving on in their lives. While the play fails to make a bigger statement, it remains entertaining and engrossing throughout. [more]

Sorry for Your Loss

May 23, 2023

As directed by the astute Josh Sharp, Kayne begins his show as a stand-up act, but warns us “This is a comedy show. BUT it is also sad. There will be long stretches where you will not be laughing. I don’t want to feel like I tricked you, so I’m telling you in advance.” However, Kayne is able to find the absurdity in things that are inherently sad so that there is much humor in his one-man show. After his stand-up comedy routine, he gives a short math lesson using a white board and a black board (set design by Brett Banakis) to demonstrate that things are often not what they seem. [more]

Samuel Clemens: Tales of Mark Twain

May 20, 2023

All of this is told by Baer in Twain’s humorous and inimitable style filled with anecdotes both true and untrue. As we are told from the author himself, “I have never been a man to allow the truth to stand in the way of a good lie.” The presentation also includes sections from travel letters in Twain’s own words besides a large section of Huckleberry Finn’s adventures down the Mississippi. The presentation also sets Twain’s life in the context of the growing America of those days, events like the Gold Rush, the transcontinental railroad, the election of Abraham Lincoln, the burgeoning of literacy and the press, etc. Even if you know a good deal about the life of Samuel Clemens a.k.a. Mark Twain, Joe Baer’s one-man show fills in a great many gaps with fascinating adventures of a world traveler who had a keen eye for the ridiculous and the satiric. In "Samuel Clemens: Tales of Mark Twain," he remains good company throughout the evening. [more]

New York, New York

May 16, 2023

"New York, New York" is a big, jazzy show in the style of golden age musicals we have not seen for a while. While it removes the abusive relationship between Jimmy and Francine from the film, in doing so it waters down the story to a rather old-fashioned “newcomers make good in the big city” tale we have seen before. The theme of racism is handled rather simplistically, borrowing parts of the Lena Horne and Dorothy Dandridge stories. Characters seem to come and go and are often gone for too long a time. The new collaborations by Kander and Miranda are fun to hear but they do not come up to the standard of the Kander and Ebb songs that we know. The show becomes a showcase for the much loved songs “But the World Goes ‘Round” and “New York, New York” which are given pride of place. [more]

Muses

May 14, 2023

However, both every scene as written by Maldonado and directed by Theatre East’s artistic director Judson Jones is staged as though it were the climax. It is one thing to enact a play up to the hilt. Here there is no arc or build up. Every scene begins at the top and leaves the actors with nowhere to go. Although performed by a tight quartet of actors, as written the characters are two dimensional, telling us no back story and little about them. [more]

Iolanthe (MasterVoices)

May 11, 2023

MasterVoices concluded its 2022-23 season with a lovely concert staging performance of Gilbert and Sullivan’s rarely seen comic opera "Iolanthe (or The Peer and the Peri)" staged and conducted by artistic director Ted Sperling. The cast was mainly made up of Tony Award winners (Christine Ebersole and Santino Fontana) and Broadway regulars (David Garrison, Jason Danieley and Phillip Boykin) with some fast rising young opera singers (Ashley Fabian and Schyler Vargas) and a principal ballerina from the New York City Ballet (Tiler Peck). All seemed to be thoroughly enjoying their Carnegie Hall outing.  The 120-member Master Voices chorus and orchestra gave a glorious rendition of the 141 year old score. [more]
1 2 3 4 5 30