Ralph Fiennes’ towering performance as a megalomaniac who changes the face of New York as we know it is worth the price of admission. With his puffed out chest and nose in the air remaking himself physically, he creates a biographical portrait which will go down in the theater annals. Co-directors Nicholas Hytner and Jamie Armitage keep all the data and speechifying fascinating despite what could be the dryness of the material. And let’s not forget David Hare’s achievement to place the 30 year career of builder Robert Moses front and center on stage without overwhelming us with facts and figures but creating drama out of real life confrontations. "Straight Line Crazy" may just prove to be the dramatic high point of this theater season. [more]
Laura Linney is never one to avoid a challenge. When she last appeared at Manhattan Theatre Club’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre she was alternating in the roles of “Regina” and “Birdie” in the revival of Lillian Hellman’s "The Little Foxes" and won a Tony Award for Best Actress for her efforts. Now she is back in an adaptation of Elizabeth Strout’s novel "My Name is Lucy Barton" where she plays both the title character and her mother and is the only performer on stage. Directed as she was in the London production by Richard Eyre, she beautifully captures the tone and voice of Strout’s heroine. [more]
By stripping the story of local color—even the projections show little but an anonymous seascape—the creative team does ill by "Sing Street. " Take away the Irish accents, the 1980’s songs and a quick reference to The Famine, and this story of alienated teens could have taken place in Boise, Idaho, or Buenos Aires, Argentina. Let’s face it, the let’s-put-together-a-band-to-solve-our-problems was even a common theme in MGM films of the forties! (The original "Sing Street" movie, of course, was filmed in Dublin and was filled to the brim with local color and the grimness of economic distress.) [more]
The director/choreographer Christopher Wheeldon has re-envisioned this icon with a panache that borders on the genius, fulfilling the promise he showed with his extraordinary choreography for the 2002 "Sweet Smell of Success." This time around, from the windswept opening sequence, with its thumbnail sketch of W.W. II history to the breathlessly simple fade-out, it was clear that Wheeldon was in total command of his material, illuminating all of "An American in Paris"’ emotional twists and turns.
With its ravishing, precise dialogue, very fine structure, and expertly imparted exposition, Skylight, is a model of accomplished playwriting. Mr. Hare is known for his Leftist political beliefs with which he infuses his plays. Here, in early post-Thatcher Britain, he has his characters eloquently debate their clashing world views, along with differing personal takes on their relationship. [more]
This play was originally produced in London’s West End in 2013. Ms. Mirren was awarded The Olivier and Evening Standard Award as best actress. She is repeating this acclaimed performance on Broadway with a cast made up of actors from the London production and newly selected Americans. With star quality, crisp authority and sheer talent, she compellingly portrays Elizabeth II from her ascension to the throne at the age of 25, to the very present with references to President Obama.
The musical has inspired many to learn how to sing. The magic comes from Bob Crowley's breathtaking sets and costumes aided by David Benken's technical direction: Mary Poppins flies in and out on her umbrella, people pop out of chimneys, toys become human, birds fly around the theater, and statues break their poses and move. The opening scrim is a blue pen and ink illustration which suggests the world of the P.L. Travers' stories on the printed page. The Banks' house at 17 Cherry Tree Lane, London, is a giant Victorian doll house come to life. Crowley uses brilliant colors in both his costumes and the fantasy sequences to replace the animation that made the Walt Disney film so attractive. [more]