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Musicals

Jersey Boys

November 28, 2005

Jersey Boys is an adroitly entertaining evening that pulsates with energy, drama, and rock and roll standards. We didn't want it to end. After the final curtain call, the entire cast obliged by performing a reprise of the opening song and sending us out of the theatre singing, "Oh What a Night." [more]

All Shook Up

October 28, 2005

Cheyenne Jackson as Chad is of course the star and delivers a star turn. Mr. Jackson is a seductive charmer with a wonderfully rich voice, who moves beautifully and is funny as well. He is not only a gorgeous hunk with enormous appeal, but he has a warm magnetic presence that grows on you. He receives a tremendous assist from the entire cast of energetic performers, who sing marvelously and perform their respective songs with committed style and enthusiasm. [more]

Putnam County 20th Annual Spelling Bee

September 28, 2005

This musical follows the hopes, dreams and disappointments of six children (played by adults) competing in their county spelling bee, with the winner going to the Nationals. Also, competing in the contest are four pre-selected audience members. This type of gimmick usually comes off as forced, but with the help of the cast and the accommodating script, this venture into audience participation is one of the true charms of the show. [more]

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

April 28, 2005

Yes, folks, prepare yourselves - The Car simply takes your breath away. And as you're sitting there gasping at the marvel of it all, you keep reminding yourself of your age. Because by the time Chitty makes her celebrated appearance, you have magically become eight years old again. [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]

Little Women

February 28, 2005

What power the show has rests on the shoulders of Sutton Foster, the engaging performer and Tony winning star of "Thoroughly Modern Millie." Foster gives an amusing performance, marked by her tomboyish striding about in long skirts. Her robust body language and broad facial expressions get the laughs they deserve and are apparently meant to be slightly at odds with the quaintness of the rest of the musical. [more]

Good Vibrations

December 28, 2004

In the first line of the show, actor David Larsen addresses the audience with the following: "Once upon a time, there was a land called California." A moment later, the electric guitar play strikes up his strings, and the cast breaks out into "Fun, Fun, Fun," the first Beach Boys standard of the evening. This number begins a process that will be repeated throughout the show, one where a song's lyrics will have little or nothing to do with the play's characters. For in terms of "Fun, Fun, Fun," one cannot help but wonder – who is this girl that they are singing about? Where's the T-Bird? Where's her father? Are they somewhere in another musical? [more]

Caroline, or Change

December 10, 2004

There is a lot of anger vented through music in "Caroline, or Change,"; the nearly sung-through musical by Tony Award-winner Tony Kushner (book and lyrics) and Jeanine Tesori (music). Operatic in its aspirations and dramatic in its presentation, this unusual musical made enough friends and supporters during its successful run earlier this season Off-Broadway to justify a move to Broadway. The production fits as snugly into the Eugene O'Neill Theater as it did at the Public Theater. [more]

Pacific Overtures

December 1, 2004

Weidman's book is especially clever in its anecdotal cohesiveness, and with additional material credited to Hugh Wheeler, will probably be thought of as more vindicated than it was initially. Yet one wonders if the sadness we feel as we watch the Japanese lose their will to resist American determination is actually compounded by the new ending that brings Japan into the modern age and includes an image of the bombing of Hiroshima. [more]

Dracula The Musical

September 28, 2004

o, here is the plot, for those unfamiliar with the Dracula saga: In Transylvania, Count Dracula (Tom Hewitt) sucks the blood of young Jonathan Harker and sets his fangs on the innocent, English girl Mina Murray (Melissa Errico), Harker's fiancé, who we are told is of "good blood." And about twenty minutes into the show, the Count is young and powerful again, and, set to a keyboard synthesizer-influenced band, he breaks into the pop cry "Fresh Blood." [more]

Little Shop of Horrors

November 28, 2003

Foster, recently of "Urinetown," is terrific as the Faustian nebbish who sells his soul to win the girl he loves but, mostly, for riches. Butler holds her own and more (for those who cherish the stage and screen performance of Ellen Greene), as Audrey. Bartlett zeros in on Mushnik (shades of Zero Mostel in his performance) until the plant zeros in on him. DeQuina Moore, Trisha Jeffrey, and Carla J. Hargrove, are delicious as the perky girl-group and urchins that sing those tight vocal arrangements by Robert Billig and cavort to Kathleen Marshall's delightful choreography. Bon appetit! [more]

The Boy From Oz

October 29, 2003

But never fear, the show, as irrepressible as Allen himself, delivers an eleventh hour number, and the song everyone is waiting for, "I Go To Rio", borrows every show biz cliché, a staircase that lights up, chorus girls in huge headdresses, come down, and Jackman, heretofore often tethered to a piano, finally explodes onstage like an exultant puppy let off the leash in this bonanza of a finale. Truly irresistible! [more]

Nine

September 28, 2003

or all the handsome production values contributed by Scott Pask's handsome silvery unit setting and Vicki Mortimer's ravishing and revealing costumes, it is the presence and performance of Antonio Banderas, in the role of director Guido Contini (originated by the late Raul Julia), that pilots the action to perfection. Banderas, who is making his Broadway debut, proves an excellent choice both dramatically and vocally. That the Spanish-born actor was a member of the National Theater of Spain before he was discovered by Hollywood, accounts for his accomplished stage presence and the authority that he brings to both his singing and his character. [more]

The Look of Love

September 20, 2003

When polished and classy performers such as Broadway veteran Liz Callaway ("Merrily We Roll Along," "Baby," "Miss Saigon") and Capathia Jenkins ("Civil War"), as a Dionne Warwick substitute, attempt to provide some inner life to relatively uncomplicated songs, the effect is still-born. When the gentle and folksy "I'll Never Fall in Love Again" is sung in Spanish by Kevin Ceballo and danced in orgiastic spasms by Shannon Lewis, you'll see how desperate staging can get. [more]

Big River

September 6, 2003

Tyrone Giordano plays Huck with an unforced naturalism that is matched by the terrific Daniel Jenkins (he played Huck on Broadway in 1985) who gives Huck his voice. The multi-talented (check out the banjo) Jenkins also plays Twain as a narrator on the sidelines. Michael McElroy plays and sings the role of Jim the runaway slave. His striking good looks, stature and magnificent baritone voice add considerable dramatic weight to the production. [more]

Gypsy

March 2, 2003

Within seconds after musical director Marvin Laird picks up his baton, you will know why composer Jule Styne's slam-bang overture to "Gypsy" is considered by many the greatest and the most invigorating overture ever written for an American musical (okay, so you prefer Leonard Bernstein's more highfalutin "Candide"). Know this, however, that those who do go to this "Gypsy," will hear, probably for the very last time, the sound of 24 musicians in the pit (thanks to the concessions made during the recent strike). That alone is worth the price of admission. [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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