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Off-Broadway

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]

Rugantino

June 14, 2014

The cast is full of terrific comedians, most of whom are well-established television and movie stars back in Italy--at least three or four received entrance applause. Watching Brignano in the lead (who is seldom offstage for long) was like watching Sid Caesar in his prime. But they're not especially great singers, and that's a bit of a problem. The music is obviously beloved by the Italian audience, which applauded in recognition at the beginning of the Act 1 finale, "Roma, Non Fa La Stupida Stasera," but the quality of the music was curiously divided. The instrumental interludes were vivid and colorful, with interesting harmonies and melodic turns. [more]

The Anthem

June 14, 2014

This campy extravaganza channels the spirit, tone and sound of past offbeat edgy musicals: an appropriate subtitle for it would be Ayn Rand Superstar. [more]

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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