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Off-Broadway

Nevermore: The Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe

February 13, 2015

Nevermore, a pop operetta written, composed and directed by Jonathan Christenson, presents us with a biography of Edgar Allen Poe. The mostly sung-through piece is given visual delight by production designer Bretta Gerecke via a steampunk-inspired amalgam of styles: punk hair, goth makeup, and Victorian corsets, to which are added fanciful skirts and hats which appear to have been made from found objects. (Gerecke is responsible for sets, costumes, and lighting.) The cast of seven, featuring Scott Shpeley as Poe himself, are all excellent, dedicated and imaginative. Christenson’s direction works hand-in-glove with Laura Krewski’s choreography, all movement so thoughtfully and consistently stylized that it's both acting and dancing at every instant. It's subtitled "The Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe," and that life is outlined well. [more]

Texas in Paris

February 13, 2015

While Alan Govenar’s "Texas in Paris" is not a musical in the traditional sense, it is definitely a concert in the literal sense. It is also an engrossing and subtle play about race relations and the misunderstandings that separate people. Under the restrained and assured direction by Akin Babatundé, the performances by Lillias White and Scott Wakefield are poignant and authentic. [more]

Lady, Be Good!

February 6, 2015

One of the chief pleasures here is the first appearance in more than 30 years by the legendary Tommy Tune in a New York City musical. Since his Tony Award-winning leading role in the Broadway Gershwin revisal, "My One and Only" in 1983, he’s directed, choreographed, made special appearances, toured in musicals and periodically performs a nightclub act. He plays an entertainer at the garden party and at the hotel. In a three-piece red neon suit, he sings and taps “Fascinating Rhythm” solo and then with the ensemble. In the second act, he’s in a blue neon suit and a straw boater with a blue bird on top to sing and tap “Little Jazz Bird.” After leaving the stage, he pops out from the wings, doffs the hat, revealing a gold star inside. It’s symbolic as he embodies the old time, unique star quality Broadway is known for. [more]

Into the Woods

February 6, 2015

Why another stage production of the Stephen Sondheim-James Lapine "Into the Woods" while the film version is currently playing? The Roundabout Theatre Company is hosting the ingenious, clever and witty Fiasco Theater production (previously seen at the McCarter Theatre Center in 2014) of this iconic musical using fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm which is the best musical revival in town. This is what every revival should be – a reinvention of the original material making it new enough that it wipes out memories of the original. If you did not see Fiasco’s six-character version of Shakespeare’s Cymbeline which had an extended run Off Broadway in 2011, then you are in for a delightfully surprising treat. [more]

An American Worker

January 3, 2015

An American Worker is an agitprop musical in the spirit and tradition of social consciousness American theater such as the works of Sidney Kingsley, Clifford Odets, and Marc Blitzstein’s The Cradle Will Rock. Though well intentioned, it is deficient on all crucial levels. [more]

A Christmas Carol – Players Theatre

December 22, 2014

The mastermind behind this enchanting show is Brenda Bell. Besides writing the well-crafted lyrics for the new songs, she also wrote the clever book that faithfully embodies Dickens’ sensibility with numerous offbeat touches. She has made it fresh for those familiar with the story, and a great introduction for those who might be experiencing it for the first time. As the director. she has superbly coordinated all of the production elements, staging, and performances into a beautiful event. [more]

Soul Doctor

December 18, 2014

If Shlomo Carlebach’s music holds a special place in your heart, then you will likely have a blast at this delightful, little homage of a show. If, like me, you could not name a single one of the “Rockstar Rabbi’s” songs, then this show will do little to inspire interest. [more]

Disenchanted!

December 15, 2014

“Happ’ly ever after…can be a royal pain in the ass!” sings Snow White in Disenchanted!, a pleasant musical spoof of iconic Disney princesses, that depicts them after their classic stories have ended. She, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and a number of other heroines comically complain during ninety minutes that are bright, and often entertaining, but that somewhat drag. [more]

A Christmas Memory

December 5, 2014

This musical theater version of "A Christmas Memory" has been performed around the United States in regional theaters, since 2010. This year, The Irish Repertory Theatre has selected it for its annual holiday production. Perhaps in a condensed version it would have provided the desired festive entertainment. [more]

Allegro

December 2, 2014

"Allegro" was inspired by Thornton Wilder's Our Town which also uses no scenery and uses the actors as a chorus commenting on the action. Aside from the actors all playing stringed instruments when the show begins (as well as other instruments in the course of the show such as piano, clarinets, oboe, etc.) in Mary-Mitchell Campbell's folksy new orchestrations, they remain on stage throughout as they both narrate and give advice to its hero Joseph Taylor, Jr. [more]

Blank! The Musical

November 26, 2014

It lasts 90, often shrill minutes, and has a full score performed by musicians and contains many dialogue-laden scenes. It seems implausible that much of this hasn't been prepared in advance. Maybe it hasn't. If it were really funny it wouldn't matter. Of course, that is a subjective matter of taste. [more]

Saturday Night

November 14, 2014

The York is celebrating their 20th season and this is their 100th show. It is fitting that these milestones are being commemorated by showcasing the work of one of the preeminent figures of musical theater. Their small-scale version of Saturday Night is exuberant, very entertaining and revelatory. This is all chiefly due to the talented cast of 15, largely composed of energetic youthful performers and several excellent mature character actors. Everyone effortlessly appears to be Brooklyn denizens and all bring comedic talent and depth to their roles. That they rehearsed for less than a week before giving their first performance makes their accomplishments even more considerable. Great credit must go to casting director Geoff Josselson for assembling them. [more]

The Band Wagon

November 13, 2014

Encores!, known for reviving neglected Broadway musicals for limited runs, is presenting the show. Here, it has strayed from its mission by producing this new adaption of a classic film musical, billed as "A Special Event," with mixed results. The first act drags with exposition and setting up complications that are sluggishly rendered. The second act is lively and very enjoyable. [more]

The Girl Who Came to Supper

November 10, 2014

The Girl Who Came to Supper from the 1963-64 Broadway season was Noel Coward's last musical and the only one in which he wrote music and lyrics to another author's story. In this case the musical was the work of playwright and screenwriter Harry Kurnitz, adapted from Terence Rattigan's The Sleeping Prince, which originally premiered in 1953 to commemorate the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Better known in its film version called The Prince and the Showgirl, its plot travels back to June 1911 for the Coronation of George V, grandfather of Elizabeth. The lavishly costumed concert staging by Musicals Tonight! features first-rate leads and an excellent musical ensemble. It also demonstrates the strengths and weaknesses of the material. [more]

The Fortress of Solitude

November 7, 2014

Despite the novel's length of 511 pages, its focus on the music of its period would make this a natural for musicalization. The resulting show is an unusual stage work blending time and space, realism and magic, and exploring themes of race and gentrification, culture and self-discovery, fathers and sons, and how music defines the generation we live in. The music and lyrics in Friedman's magnificent and complex pastiche score includes pop, rock, rhythm & blues, soul, punk, hip-hop and heavy metal. While the musical doesn't entirely reach its goal as of now, it is most of the way to being an extraordinary new theater work. In defining a community and a generation through its music, it attempts to create a new form of musical. [more]

Lennon: Through a Glass Onion

November 3, 2014

Clad in black jeans, black leather jacket and black T-shirt with a tree design; Mr. Waters' captivating rock star presence recalls that of the mature Terence Stamp and Malcolm MacDowell. However, instead of relying on his own persona, he does his Lennon impersonation to varying results. At times his singing of these familiar songs comes across as strained. [more]

Found

October 30, 2014

Twenty-two of the 28 songs set to the sophisticated rhythms of composer Eli Bolin are based on the actual texts of these found missives and all of the many notes read are the original texts. The versatile and talented cast of ten (drawn from many different fields in the performing arts) offers various takes on the many notes and letters woven into the story of Davy and the magazine. Director Lee Overtree, co-founder of Story Pirates, the arts education organization, has realized inventive ways of staging this novel and unusual material. [more]

Carnival!

October 26, 2014

Everyone loves Lili and she is back in the crisp, taut, melodic revival of Bob Merrill's Carnival! in a concert staging courtesy of Musicals Tonight!. Aside from the colorful production, the cast includes a skillful ensemble all with circus training from jugglers to acrobats. [more]

The Old Man and The Old Moon

September 29, 2014

During the prologue, they enter and play musical instruments that include the banjo, acoustic guitar, fiddle, accordion, glass harmonica, hammer dulcimer, and later the piano. They perform their original score that is a charming blend of folk and rock style songs throughout. Recurring laughter, gasps of astonishment, and measured silences confirm that for the many children in attendance, The Old Man and The Moon is absolutely enchanting entertainment and certainly for adults as well. [more]

Bedbugs!!!

September 14, 2014

It seems campy horror musicals are developing somewhat of a cult following in the New York theater scene. On the heels of the recent Carrie revival and The Heathers stage adaptation comes Bedbugs!!! – the kitschy, unashamedly self-aware sci-fi thriller currently playing at the ArcLight Theatre. This new musical with music by Paul Leschen and book and lyrics by Fred Sauter is part pop/rock rollick, part anti-pollution public service announcement, and all camp. [more]

Red Eye of Love

September 11, 2014

Alli Mauzey and Kevin Pariseau in a scene from Red Eye of Love (Photo credit: Carol Rosegg) Is it [more]

Fabulous! The Queen of New Musical Comedies

September 9, 2014

"…I've been having a love affair for quite a few years now. It's been with the idea of recreating the golden age of Broadway—with its glitz and glamour—and making it relevant for today's theater audience." Writes Dan Derby, the book writer and lyricist of Fabulous! The Queen of New Musical Comedies, in the show's program. [more]

Piece of My Heart: The Bert Berns Story

July 29, 2014

Straight off a Broadway run in that previously mentioned jukebox musical, the magnetic Zak Resnick proves himself exceedingly capable of carrying a production. His Bert exudes raw emotion, boyish insecurity, and irresistible charm. Teal Wicks and Linda Hart shine by his side as the young and old versions of Bert's scrappy, sexy wife Ilene, respectively. However, the true honor goes to Derrick Baskin as Hoagy whose rendition of "Twist and Shout" gives The Beatles a run for their money. [more]

Clinton: The Musical

July 28, 2014

A grimacing hyper actor in a cheap white wig carries on as Newt Gingrich. Kenneth Starr strips down to a leather harness, mesh and leather underwear. Eleanor Roosevelt appears periodically in a hat and a fur, and says "Oh, shit." Al Gore is there as a life-sized cardboard cutout. [more]

The Pianist of Willesden Lane

July 26, 2014

The excellent sound design by Erik Carstensen was crucial to the success of the show. The presentation benefits greatly from well-selected projections by Andrew Wilder and Greg Sowizdrzal. [more]

Atomic

July 26, 2014

The creation of the atomic bomb and the ethical questions raised by its use on Japan to end World War II would seem a strange topic to turn into a song and dance show. However, Atomic, a new musical which had a successful run in Sydney, Australia, now having its American premiere with an Off Broadway engagement, has an urgency about it that few musicals ever achieve. [more]

Wikimusical

July 17, 2014

This show is not good, and that however much their acquaintances may enjoy the performance this is not going to appeal to anyone else. [more]

Deployed

July 17, 2014

As is the case in too many NYMF shows, Deployed's hyper-aware characters have no reservations singing their deepest, darkest emotions at each other. Furthermore, Brouillard does well to create a contemporary soundscape, but his generic harmonizations and mis-stressed syllables hinder memorability and intelligibility. [more]

Pump Boys and Dinettes

July 17, 2014

Jordan Dean, Hunter Foster, Randy Redd and Lorenzo Wolff are The Pump Boys, and Mamie Parris and Katie Thompson are The Dinettes. All are not only terrific and personable performers, giving charmingly realized characterizations, but all wonderfully play instruments as well. [more]

Cloned!

July 10, 2014

Set in New York City in 1993, young, good-natured, genius physicist Wally's experiments in teleportation, first run amok when his pet pigeon (named after Stone's Basic Instinct character) is cloned instead of being transported. [more]

Clown Bar

July 2, 2014

Due to the cleverly written script by Adam Szymkowicz, the show is such a marvelously detailed and novel spoof of the genre. The inspired old-time show business score is a grand collaboration between Mr. Szymkowicz, composer and additional lyricist Adam Overett and musical director and additional composer Ian Axness. [more]

The Zombies: A Musical

June 18, 2014

Scenically the show is quite proficient, ingeniously using simple props with well-conceived wall projections and displaying funny animations and representing the locations of the town. A great detail is the reappearing small scurrying roach in Pedro's Café. Structurally the show is problematic. The second act is packed with action and revelations but at over two hours with intermission, it all feels too long, the length diluting its effectiveness. [more]

Gertrude Stein Saints!

June 16, 2014

The music is much like that of their models. Songs improvised in garages, fields, or vacant lots are often short on harmonic and melodic sophistication, but this is mitigated by rhythmic subtlety, verbal dexterity, and, most importantly, brevity. No segment lasts long enough to become boring. [more]
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