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Off-Broadway

Irma La Douce

June 1, 2014

Alas, by intermission many in the audience were asking each other: this was a Broadway smash? From Encores! we have come to expect Champagne, and this was a dreary vin ordinaire, a bit pale and a bit stale. [more]

Here Lies Love

May 10, 2014

The Public Theatre’s LuEsther Hall has been reconfigured to resemble a nightclub where most of the audience stands to view the action which is performed all over the space on stages and platforms on all sides as well as platforms in the center that are moved by stage crew members. Young floor crew members in pink jump suits direct the audience to move around sometimes on stage and to encourage audience dancing and participation at appropriate times. There’s upper level seating away from the scene where one can sit and watch the events. [more]

Here Lies Love

May 10, 2014

David Byrne and his collaborators have created a unique musical theater extravaganza that dramatizes the life of this historical pop icon in all her victories and defeats. [more]

Heathers: The Musical

April 30, 2014

The vibrant simple set by Timothy R. Mackabee, Amy Clark's lively 80's style costumes (shoulder pads galore), 80's big hair wigs and florid makeup by Leah J. Loukas, and Jason Lyons' expert lighting all make the show visually engaging. Music director Dominick Amendum and sound designer Johnny Massena keep everything aurally modulated without sacrificing bombast. [more]

Inventing Mary Martin

April 24, 2014

The small-scale physical production is enhanced by the creative contributions of the technical staff. Mary Jo Dondlinger's lighting design skillfully moves the show through numerous time periods. Inventively filling the moderately sized stage are the props, furniture, slide projections and illustrative panels of production designer Justin West and scenic designer James Morgan. The sound design of Janie Bullard very effectively blends the music, singing, slide projections and voice-overs. The cast's often quick changes and visual appeal are greatly helped by Patricia McGourty's superb costumes. [more]

The Threepenny Opera

April 12, 2014

The most famous songs (covered by many artists) continue to be "Ballad of Mack the Knife" and "Pirate Jennie." Although uncredited, the orchestrations appear to be Kurt Weill's own as they were in the 1954 Blitzstein/Theatre de Lys production. While the seven-piece orchestra under the direction of Fred Lassen is generally fine, occasionally the music seems too slow for Weill's jazzy rhythms. As to the musical numbers in the Blitzstein version, there has been some rearrangement. The "Barbara Song" originally sung by Lucy Brown has been reassigned to Polly Peachum. As a result, in order to give Lucy a song of her own, "Ballad of the Drowned Girl" from the Weill/Brecht Berlin Requiem (in an orchestration by music director Gary S. Fagin) has been interpolated into the score. [more]

America’s Sweetheart

April 4, 2014

Jennifer Evans as French bombshell Denise Torel lights up the stage every time she appears. Her French accent is straight from Paris and she has a cunning way with a song. As the second bananas Madge and Larry, Molly Pope (of cabaret fame) and Thom Caska (aka associate producer for the StrawHat Auditions) turn their confrontations and shenanigans into stand-up comedy at which they are quite adept. Michael Mahany and Laurie Hymes as rising stars Michael and Geraldine bring a great deal of conviction to these leading roles, though Hymes' lisp disappears each time each she starts to sing. [more]

The Most Happy Fella

March 29, 2014

    Laura Benanti and Shuler Hensley in a scene from The Most Happy Fella (Photo credit: [more]

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

March 28, 2005

The show possesses a golden score characteristic of the Broadway golden age of the early 1950s, and is worth breathing life into, even if just for a weekend at City Center. Gary Griffin, who has tamed previous Encores! productions including "The New Moon" and last year's "Pardon My English," provides skillful, erudite direction for the piece, showcasing the musical's memorable score as well as a number of talented performers such as Jason Danieley, Emily Sinner, and Sally Murphy. [more]

AVENUE Q

March 2, 2003

Even the set is clever: Set designer Anna Louizos' two-dimensional backdrop of rundown townhouses is replete with doors and windows that pop open like the flaps on an Advent calendar, transforming segments of the stage into a disco, an apartment interior, or even the observation deck of the Empire State Building. [more]
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