News Ticker

Off-Broadway

Kimberly Akimbo

December 21, 2021

David Lindsay-Abaire’s early plays ("Fuddy Meers," "Kimberly Akimbo" and "Wonder of the World") were all whimsical or at least otherworldly. He has gone on to create musicals based on previously written stories, particularly "Shrek the Musical" with composer Jeanine Tesori. Now they have musicalized his play "Kimberly Akimbo" into a very impressive new show at Atlantic Theater Company which many may find works better than it did as a play due to the music and the songs. With a cast led by Tony Award-winner Victoria Clark in the title role, Jessica Stone’s production becomes more and more involving as it progresses to its satisfying climax. [more]

The Streets of New York

December 14, 2021

Cue the Irish Rep and its remounting of artistic director Charlotte Moore's musical "The Streets of New York," which the theatre first premiered twenty years ago in the aftermath of September 11. An affectionate adaptation of Dion Boucicault's 1857 melodrama "The Poor of New York," it returns in the wake of a different tragedy--a global pandemic that has claimed nearly 800,000 American lives and more than five million human beings worldwide--sharing the same social conscience as the Dickens classic but also encouraging the audience to do something more fun and cathartic: hiss at the greedy old man. Perhaps it's the Christmas story we actually need this year. [more]

Cheek to Cheek: Irving Berlin in Hollywood

December 6, 2021

This show is conceived, directed, and choreographed by Randy Skinner, and his four-time Tony Award-nominated talents shine throughout the production. The choreography is inventive, interactive, fun and impressive. His staging is well-balanced and keeps the transitions moving. The opening number, “Let Yourself Go” ("Follow the Fleet," 1936), sets the bar high with dynamic tapping that leaves the audience exhilarated and ready for more. Barry Kleinbort’s book is packed with interesting Berlin history and is full of charm and wit. Thank you, casting director Michael Cassara, for the great ensemble cast! Six performers were chosen to present this material:  Phillip Attmore, Jeremy Benton, Victoria Byrd, Kaitlyn Davidson, Joseph Medeiros, and Melanie Moore. All six actors move through the evening in harmony, both physically and vocally, interacting with each other in song and dance as though in conversation. [more]

A Sherlock Carol

November 30, 2021

Directed by playwright Mark Shanahan, A Sherlock Carol offers six actors playing 23 roles in this entertaining new adaptation. In the iconic role of Sherlock Holmes with so much history behind it and such well-known performances as those by Basil Rathbone and Jeremy Brett, Drew McVety is to be forgiven for seeming a bit bland, though he warms up as the story evolves and he becomes more invested in the solution to the two cases. As the Ghost of Ebenezer Scrooge, Thom Sesma is a sinister presence, suggesting that he is also the Ghost of Professor Moriarty who has previously haunted Holmes. Memorable is Isabel Keating who is required to use a variety of accents from the American Irene Adler to the Cockney sister of Tiny Tim, as well as singing a beautiful aria as the Countess of Morcar. Keating it may be recalled is the Tony Award nominee and Theatre World winner for her performance as “Judy Garland” in "The Boy from Oz." [more]

The Visitor

November 20, 2021

David Hyde Pierce taking off his suit trousers to practice on a drum in his boxer shorts is one of many hilarious bits that are meshed with drama in "The Visitor." It’s a faithful, resonant and well-done musical adaptation of the acclaimed 2007 independent film of the same title. Book writers Kwame Kwei-Armah and Brian Yorkey stick closely to director/screenwriter Thomas McCarthy’s original vision while skillfully translating it for the stage. [more]

Assassins

November 18, 2021

As always in a John Doyle presentation, the production is professional, polished and accomplished. This time around he has not made changes to the script or the score except to include the climactic song “Something Just Broke” which was not in the original Off Broadway production but was added to the first London version in 1992 and has been used ever since. While the actors give excellent performances, the revival lacks emotion and heart which is strange considering the number of characters who die or who are wounded in the course of the show. It is as though they (and we) are numbed by much depiction of killing. Is there a way to fix this in a show which repeatedly has its cast shooting at presidents of the United States, in this case only in a fun house setting? [more]

Trevor: The Musical

November 16, 2021

The writers seem afraid to state what the story is all about, the word gay being mentioned exactly once. At two hours and 15 minutes including one intermission, today’s audience is way ahead of the plot, knowing exactly what will happen in advance. While the 1994 movie was 23 minutes, the musical seems padded and dragged out. Davis’ music is pleasant enough, but Collins’ lyrics are pedestrian and repetitious. The songs seem to have a limited vocabulary such as children’s books often do, but 13 year olds have a slang and vernacular that is hardly used. The biggest problem with the score is that the dream Diana Ross (played flamboyantly and spiritedly by Yasmeen Sulieman) gets to sing seven of her most iconic songs (“Do You Know?,” "It’s My Turn,” “Upside Down,” “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “Remember Me,” “Endless Love” and “I’m Coming Out”) which are far superior to any of the new songs, always a mistake in a non-jukebox musical. [more]

A Turtle on a Fence Post

November 16, 2021

Unfolding from a stand-up comedy routine—“A prisoner walks into a bar…!”—and set in a comedy venue designed with ingenuity and style by Walt Spangler, Turtle veers from hokey to horrible helped by the spiffy routines staged by choreographer Kenny Ingram in over-the-top, sometimes kitschy, routines.  Where else can you see dancing prison guards waving their batons as they tap dance in a circle or the flexible actor Josh Marin portraying an ATM and a basketball hoop? [more]

Disney’s Winnie the Pooh: The New Musical Stage Adaptation

November 5, 2021

The question arises who is the intended audience. The 60-minute show is too slow for young children and too repetitious for adults. Possibly this is meant for the nostalgia crowd of which there are apparently legions. The thin story line is a watered-down version of the original A.A. Milne stories that inspired the animated films Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree, Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day as well as a tale of Tigger’s infamous bouncing. All of the famous characters put in an appearance: easily frightened Piglet, gloomy Eeyore, cranky Rabbit, wise Owl, energetic Tigger, maternal Kanga and curious Roo. Christopher Robin (played alternately by Kaydn Kuioka, Max Lamberg, and Cooper Lantz) spends the day at school but is reunited with Winnie the Pooh just before the final curtain. Surprisingly, he does not have a British accent. [more]

Swan Lake Rock Opera

November 5, 2021

Now there’s "Swan Lake Rock Opera" created by Mirit Shem-Ur (book and lyrics), Tsedi Sarfati (director and dramaturge) and Sharona Pick (music production and additional music).  The show uses orchestral themes from the original Tchaikovsky score and clever pop variations to create witty songs and underscoring. The libretto of "Rock Opera" follows the original Swan Lake plot points which tell of Young Prince Siegfried, ordered by his mother the Queen to choose a fiancée from a list of foreign princesses she has assembled.  He goes off to hunt to avoid making a decision and meets the Swan/Woman Odette and falls in love only to be deceived by her doppelganger Odile, an agent of the evil Von Rothbart who has cast a spell that turned women into swans.  This deception leads to tragedy. [more]

A Commercial Jingle for Regina Comet

October 5, 2021

While Marshall Pailet’s direction is breezy and fastpaced, the dialogue has too many Borscht belt jokes (“Take my Grandma, for instance. No really take her-,” Camp Rosenblatt, “As my Grandma used to say,” etc.”) and lyrics with too many quotes from much better song writers such as Cole Porter, Stephen Sondheim and Bock and Harnick. References to Barry Manilow and Hanson don’t really land and the show counts on a great many current memes like making Wyse’s neurotic lyricist gay and Fankhauser’s self-effacing composer straight. Unfortunately, they are rather bland when they should be bigger than life in this three-character musical. The fact that they have no names and are referred to in the program as “Man 2” (there is no “Man 1”) and “Other Man” is pretentious rather than endearing. [more]

Yeah, But Not Right Now

September 25, 2021

Holmes’ songs include clever lyrics particularly “Facebook,” “I Can Be That Guy” and "Beautiful Girl in the Front Row.” His expert playing on the keyboard allows him to have duets with himself and making it sounds like many instruments. He also accompanies himself on the guitar and a drum. The show is a confessional in which Holmes reveals the worst, most embarrassing parts of himself which seems to be the latest thing with comedians, except this show is partly sung. However, it is bright and upbeat even when telling unlikable characteristics. Craig Bundy’s sound design is usually clear, but occasionally makes it difficult to catch the lyrics. Director Caitlin Cook keeps this one-man show moving swiftly along. [more]

George M. Cohan Tonight!

August 17, 2021

It is definitely worth a gander for both its subject matter and its performer, the disarming and immensely talented Jon Peterson who also adapted the one-man play from Chip Deffaa’s original stage production which Deffaa previously staged.  Peterson directed this filmed adaptation and choreographed the scintillating tap routines matched with joyous precision to Cohan’s repertoire of gung-ho Americana.  (Think “Over There,” “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” “Give My Regards to Broadway” and “Forty-five Minutes from Broadway.”)  The choreographic high point was Peterson’s hip-swinging dance to “The Hinkey Dee.” [more]

Stranger Sings! The Parody Musical

August 11, 2021

Since it's difficult to make fun of something that was never meant to be taken seriously in the first place, Hogue and director Nick Flatto are often left to spin their wheels by simply rehashing their subject matter's underbaked characters and shamelessly derivative storytelling, which all-too-often turns "Stranger Sings! The Parody Musical' into a glorified clip show. Hogue further hampers himself by largely sticking to the series' first season, as if he only had time to skim the second and third. It's an especially odd choice that leaves Hogue needing to rely on unfunny, if not downright offensive, parodic padding. [more]

Friends! The Musical Parody

July 28, 2021

The problem with the show now at The Jerry Orbach Theater is director Tim Drucker’s frenetic, over-the-top staging and the artificially broad presentational style of the acting, similar to - but beyond - what he did in his 2019 production of "Love Actually? The Unauthorized Musical Parody" at the same theater. It is as though he does not trust the material. Matthew Fischer’s sound design for the taped score by composer Assaf Gleizner (to Gleizner’s orchestrations) is overly loud and fast, overpowering the clever lyrics which are well worth hearing for their stinging barbs at the television series. It also makes all of the songs sound the same, except for some short, slower folk ballads set to guitar accompaniment which are mostly oddball numbers for Phoebe to play in her gig as a folksinger. [more]

Charmed Life: From Soul Singing to Opera Star

July 15, 2021

She gets to sing everything from the Patsy Kline classic “Crazy,” “Respect” (made famous by Aretha Franklin), and “Summertime” from Porgy and Bess to generous, beautifully acted scenes from Bizet’s Carmen, her favorite role and the highlight of the show. The setting, a comfortable, slightly formal room (by Jaime Terrazzino) also includes a convenient grand piano played by John DiPinto (who alternates with Allison Brewster Franzetti), clearly delighting in collaborating with this warm-hearted diva. [more]

Housewives of Secaucus: What a Drag!

May 8, 2021

The captivating cast of actors who are here drag artistes is comprised of Philip McLeod, Ryan Stutz, Cammerron Baits, Jacob P.S. Lemmenes, and Sam Brackley. While striding around and dancing in high heels, this magnetic quintet all offers animated stereotypical Italian American characterizations while cracking wise. "I'm Every Woman," "Hit Me with Your Best Shot," and, of course, "Total Eclipse of the Heart," are among the classic songs played while showcasing the ensemble’s dynamic lip-synching abilities. [more]

The Unsinkable Molly Brown

March 15, 2020

Although director/choreographer Kathleen Marshall has given the Transport Group production staged at The Abroms Arts Center a rousing production, the major problem still exists with the story: Molly goes from tomboy to wife to social activist but always seems to be the same. Basically Malone changes her outfits (costumes by Sky Switser) and becomes more mature and more sophisticated but never really changes from the girl at heart who wants riches and gaudy things. Costar David Aron Damane, with his powerful baritone, who plays J.J. Brown, the miner who strikes it rich and proceeds to give Molly almost everything she wants, helps a good deal but their love story is not made entirely believable, possibly because the stalwart Damane is still made to be a very retiring hero, a man of few words. [more]

Unknown Soldier

March 11, 2020

The declarative lyrics are written by Mr. Goldstein and the show’s composer Michael Friedman. Mr. Friedman was a notable musical theater figure who died of HIV-related causes in 2017, at the age of 41. With its derivative melodies echoing Stephen Sondheim, John Kander and William Finn, "Unknown Soldier" is not a posthumous masterpiece. [more]

Tumacho

March 5, 2020

To review dramatist/lyricist/composer Ethan Lipton's "Tumacho" almost feels like missing the point of this endearingly oddball "play with songs," a comic pastiche of Western and horror tropes that is essentially the theatrical equivalent of an old Hollywood B-movie. Its major goal is to shamelessly please the audience, something it largely achieves through top-notch performances and an abiding strangeness, if not necessarily a consistent quality of jokes or characterizations or plotting. Obviously, all of the latter should matter, but the fact that it doesn't only attests to the show's bizarre charm. [more]

No Strings

March 3, 2020

Following its opening production of Cy Coleman’s equally rarely seen "Seesaw," J2 Spotlight Musical Theater Company is presenting a fully staged version of "No Strings" as the second production of its inaugural season. While No Strings, set in the Paris world of high fashion and the French watering holes of the very rich, would need a much more lavish staging to do it justice, Deidre Goodwin’s production does have its charms though the show’s book by playwright Samuel Taylor seems particularly thin by today's standards. The songs are melodic and hummable though there is no breakout winner among the 14 musical numbers. [more]

Mack & Mabel

February 23, 2020

The latest offering in New York City Center Encores! concert series was the Jerry Herman musical, "Mack & Mabel." Originally on Broadway during the 1974 season, it received disappointing reviews and had a mere 66 performances before it closed after nine weeks. This production also has its problems, but it was enormously entertaining and worth seeing, mostly because of the Herman score and the delicious musical numbers. Herman has written the music for some of Broadway’s most iconic shows, like "Hello, Dolly!," "Mame" and "La Cage Aux Folles." Because of his recent death this past December, the show was a tribute to him, with huge, framed photos of him displayed during the entr’acte. [more]

Seesaw

February 18, 2020

Although J2 Spotlight’s artistic director Robert W. Schneider who staged this show has given it a vigorous production and cast a delightful Gittel in Stephanie Israelson, he is unable to disguise the show’s flaws. He is not helped by the trite, derivative choreography by Caitlin Belcik for a show that is mainly dance and has eight dancers out of a cast of nine. The many production numbers are both busy and familiar, and keep the ensemble composed of Kyle Caress, Chaz Alexander Coffin, Katie Griffith, Caleb Grochalski, Morgan Hecker and Halle Mastroberardino spinning throughout the show. [more]

Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice

February 11, 2020

Bookwriter Jonathan Marc Sherman has wisely kept the story in its period. However, his dialogue is almost word for word lifted from the screenplay which is rather old hat for those of us have heard it in the movie. The score with music by Sheik and lyrics by Sheik and Amanda Green makes all the songs sound the same in Sheik’s orchestration played by a combo of four. The lyrics are both pedestrian and trite, telling us only what we already know. The songs which are not listed in the program include a great many reprises. Many of the tableaux and setups recreate exact visual moments from the film. [more]

Emojiland: The Musical

January 29, 2020

Smiling Faces, Skull, Princess, Pile of Poo and other notable emojis cavorting around might have made for a peppy contained sophisticated children’s show. The creators of "Emojiland: The Musical" however, have opted for a full-length treatment that sputters out by intermission as not much has happened and then we come back for more anemic hijinks. The meager plot involves a software update, a firewall, a virus, betrayals and some romantic complications all taking place in a smartphone fantasyland. [more]

Romeo & Bernadette: A Musical Tale of Verona & Brooklyn

January 27, 2020

"Romeo & Bernadette," a fresh take on Shakespeare’s oft-adapted tale of love, is an unabashed valentine to inter-era romance.  Shakespeare’s Romeo (cutie-pie Nikita Burshteyn, perfectly cast) is magically time-travelled to 1960’s Brooklyn to seek Bernadette (beautiful Anna Kostakis who plays both the foul-mouthed Bernadette and the demure Juliet), a striking doppelganger of his beloved sixteenth century Juliet.  There he meets members of two rival Italian mobs who substitute, 1960-style, for the Capulets and Montagues. [more]

Sing Street

December 27, 2019

By stripping the story of local color—even the projections show little but an anonymous seascape—the creative team does ill by "Sing Street. " Take away the Irish accents, the 1980’s songs and a quick reference to The Famine, and this story of alienated teens could have taken place in Boise, Idaho, or Buenos Aires, Argentina.  Let’s face it, the let’s-put-together-a-band-to-solve-our-problems was even a common theme in MGM films of the forties! (The original "Sing Street" movie, of course, was filmed in Dublin and was filled to the brim with local color and the grimness of economic distress.) [more]

Pockets

December 18, 2019

Frothiness abounds in "Pockets," an amusing spoof of British musicals that’s presented by the Los Angeles-based comedy troupe Robot Teammate.  The rollicking score is a collaboration between the group’s members and lead composer and music director Branson NeJame. The saucy book is a communal effort as well, created with head writer Dave Reynolds. It’s all 70-minutes of good-natured silliness structured as sketch comedy-style scenes and accomplished musical numbers. There are plentiful puns, sight gags and zaniness. [more]

ray gun say0nara

December 11, 2019

Fabulous technical elements and spirited performances from a large ensemble of actors, singers and dancers cannot overcome the authorial negligence of the musical science fiction pastiche, "ray gun say0nara." It runs over two hours plus an intermission and has some engaging sequences but makes little cumulative impact. [more]

Anything Can Happen in the Theater: The Musical World of Maury Yeston

December 11, 2019

The York Theatre Company’s new revue, "Anything Can Happen in the Theater: The Musical World of Maury Yeston," reminds us not to take for granted the talents of this vibrant composer/lyricist, best known for such Broadway titles as "Nine" (1982), "Grand Hotel" (1989) and "Titanic" (1997). This one-act show, featuring five abundantly gifted singer-dancers, underscores the wide-ranging nature of the composer’s music. Yeston has successfully adopted diverse musical sounds, from 1920's pop to mid-twentieth-century rock to folky-country contemporary. Mostly though, he’s known for lush, sweeping, timeless melodies that seem at times to bypass listeners’ ears and aim straight for the heart. His lyrics are smart, but not overly clever. [more]

The Sorceress (Di Kishefmakherin)

December 9, 2019

Goldfaden’s escapist musical fantasy combines bits and pieces from many sources: the Cinderella fairy tale; Gilbert-and-Sullivan-esque rapid-fire, tongue twister songs; old-fashioned (even in 1878!) melodrama; Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio; and—believe it or not—the Seventies’  TV sitcom, “Laverne and Shirley”! (The L & S reference, to be absolutely honest, might be an interjection improvised by the actor—yes actor—playing the title role.) [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]

Love Actually? The Unauthorized Musical Parody

December 2, 2019

Now, New Yorkers who know the film (and who love it, hate it or partly love it and partly hate it) have a chance to see a streamlined (at 95 minutes) musical-theatrical spoof of the film, called "Love Actually? The Unauthorized Musical Parody." It’s a lively, silly and well-performed romp created by people who seem to have done a lot of this sort of thing: writers Bob and Tobly McSmith ("The Office! A Musical Parody") and director Tim Drucker ("Spidermusical"). The three previously worked together on "Friends! The Musical Parody." Basil Winterbottom has provided the engaging tunes and orchestrations for the McSmiths’ lyrics. [more]
1 2 3 11