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Bob Fosse

The Life

April 12, 2022

The ubiquitous Billy Porter was given command of the most recent New York City Center Encores! presentation, the 1997 musical "The Life."  His direction and re-interpretation of this tawdry portrait of 42nd Street left a great deal to be desired, but strong performances by the leading players made vivid impressions. Originally written by the estimable Cy Coleman (music/book), Ira Gasman (lyrics/book) and David Newman (book), "The Life" is set in the 1980’s as seen from the point of view of a narrator, Old JoJo (Destan Owens, fine in a thankless, add-on role) who observed and commented on his past which included watching himself, Young JoJo (Mykal Kilgore, fine singer, but looking nothing like his counterpart) behave badly. The concert adaptation was by Porter himself. [more]

New York City Center’s 2021 Fall for Dance Festival: Programs 1 and 2

October 19, 2021

The final work on Program 1 was its finest.  A.I.M. By Kyle Abraham presented its director’s “Our Indigo: If We Were a Love Song,” a deeply moving paean to the darker meanings of love.  It was choreographed to Nina Simone’s glorious renditions of six songs in which she wrapped her moving contralto around the lyrics of “Don’t Explain,” “Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair,” and “Little Girl Blue.” The opening moments found the seven-member cast gathered in a dramatically lit upstage corner—moody lighting designed by Dan Scully—bending and reaching, dispersing only to return to their sculptural starting image. [more]

ON THE TOWN with Chip Deffaa …. for July 5th, 2016

July 5, 2016

I’ve always liked Andrew Keenan-Bolger's work. He was a memorable child actor, playing leads on Broadway in shows like "Beauty and the Beast" and "Seussical," when he was around 13 or 14 years old.  I admired  his sunny, open-hearted work then.  And he's even more successful today (at age 31)  as an adult--not every child actor can make such a transition. He conveys the same sort of buoyant spirit on stage now as he did when I first saw him in those  shows he did so well as a youth.. (His whole family is talented.  He and his sisters, Celia Keenan-Bolger and Maggie Keenan-Bolger, are all making their contributions to the arts.) [more]

Chita Rivera at the Café Carlyle

May 22, 2016

She ran down the list of her Broadway co-stars: Ricardo Montalban, Donald O’Connor (the disastrous Bring Back Birdie), Antonio Banderas (upon whose shoulder she placed a shapely leg in Nine) and, her admitted favorite, Dick Van Dyke, with whom she co-starred in "Bye Bye Birdie" from which she sang “A Lot of Livin’ To Do” giving it a sassy, winking interpretation making it impossible to deny that the title is very on the mark. It wouldn’t be a Chita Rivera show without a mention of her iconic Anita in "West Side Story." A meeting with Leonard Bernstein to go over her songs just after she had been cast was nerve-wracking as she never had considered herself a singer. History has proved that her singing almost equals her dancing. “A Boy Like That” and “America,” complete with some mini-choreography were nothing short of electrifying. [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]

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]

Sweet Charity

November 28, 2005

Christina Applegate is surrounded by an excellent team. Every design aspect of the show while maybe not as imaginative as the original, nonetheless, gleams and the supporting players are polished as well. Dennis O'Hare as the neurotic Oscar is a standout and the scene when the two are trapped in the elevator is one of the evening's highlights. He is absolutely hysterical demonstrating a duality of character and aliveness that much of the evening lacks. [more]