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Musicals

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]

Side Show

November 27, 2014

There are a lot of words being wasted on what this show is not. This argument occurs because book writer and lyricist Bill Russell and composer Henry Krieger brought it to Broadway in 1997 without figuring out what story it was trying to tell. This new Side Show is a very substantial rewrite. It's no longer sung-through, it has additional material by director Bill Condon, as well as lots of new songs. [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]

On the Town

November 13, 2014

This On the Town, with 29 musicians and 31 actors, begins with a huge American flag and the singing of the national anthem, just as would have happened every night of the original run back in the 1940's during World War II. The show begins and ends at 6 A.M. at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Three sailors, Gabey (played by Tony Yazbeck for the third time), Ozzie and Chip have 24 hours shore leave to see all of the Big Apple before shipping out to Europe. Each wants to see the sights, both cultural and female. [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]

The Last Ship

November 4, 2014

The problem with the show is the book by first time librettist John Logan (Red, Never the Sinner) and Brian Yorkey (winner of the Pulitzer Prize for the musical Next to Normal) which leaves plot points undeveloped, characters on the one dimensional level and an ending which leaves much unresolved. What the show is best at is creating a sense of community among the men who work in the shipyards and the women in their lives who back them up. The choreographed movement by Steven Hoggett ("Once," "Rocky" and "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time") has knit the large cast of 30 into a cohesive whole with its muscular routines. [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]

Rock of Ages

September 28, 2014

In a large, energetic cast, Amy Spanger, Mitchell Jarvis and Wesley Taylor stand out. I have to confess never to have heard a louder finale. No wonder there's a surge in hot looking, fashionable hearing aids for the Boomer set. They've earned them. [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]

Holler If Ya Hear Me

June 30, 2014

The original book by August Wilson protégé and collaborator Todd Kreidler is in the fiery style of his mentor. It's also in the old tradition of social problem plays and films. In addition, there are noticeable similarities to West Side Story. Though the plot and characters often seem familiar, Mr. Kreidler has very successfully crafted a framework that everyone else involved builds upon, resulting in a bold and novel take on the subject. [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]
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