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Carol Rosegg

One of the leading show photographers in New York. http://www.carolrosegg.com/

The Unsinkable Molly Brown

March 15, 2020

Although director/choreographer Kathleen Marshall has given the Transport Group production staged at The Abroms Arts Center a rousing production, the major problem still exists with the story: Molly goes from tomboy to wife to social activist but always seems to be the same. Basically Malone changes her outfits (costumes by Sky Switser) and becomes more mature and more sophisticated but never really changes from the girl at heart who wants riches and gaudy things. Costar David Aron Damane, with his powerful baritone, who plays J.J. Brown, the miner who strikes it rich and proceeds to give Molly almost everything she wants, helps a good deal but their love story is not made entirely believable, possibly because the stalwart Damane is still made to be a very retiring hero, a man of few words. [more]

Incantata

March 7, 2020

Some books and movies and poems do not lend themselves to theatricalization, and that’s certainly the case with "Incantata," which is currently being given its American premiere at the Irish Repertory Theatre. Though it’s only 80 minutes long, it felt like an eternity--and not only because of the story--but also the telling. What’s even more annoying is that it tells the same poem, again and again, and seemingly again. [more]

Bundle of Sticks

March 6, 2020

One of the most interesting attributes of this play (apart from the clever title being a less common and unharmful definition of the word “faggot”) is playwright J. Julian Christopher’s insistence that none of the characters be portrayed by cisgendered men. The most significant effect of this casting is demonstrated in scenes when the men are supposed to be naked and interacting with each other in sexual ways. Where true male nudity and sexual touching would have simply been gratuitous and distracting, clever costuming (presumably) provided by production designer Meghan E. Healey has the characters wearing body suits, onto which sequined phalluses and scrotums of different colors and sizes have been sewn. Each suit sports a large nipple and a heart as well. The depiction of sex and sexuality thus become representational and symbolic, allowing the play and its language to proceed unimpeded by gawking. [more]

Blues for an Alabama Sky

February 26, 2020

Pearl Cleage’s "Blues for an Alabama Sky" gets a belated New York premiere courtesy of Keen Company in its 20th season. Although seen in many regional theaters since its 1995 premiere at the Alliance Theatre Company in Atlanta with Phyllicia Rashad in the leading role, it has long been overdue in New York even though Cleage is also a successful and acclaimed novelist. Framed as a domestic drama, the play manages to take in the topics of racism, sexism, homophobia, birth control and abortion, poverty, alcoholism, and extreme religious points of view among the bohemians of Harlem, circa 1930. [more]

Dana H.

February 26, 2020

Wearing costume designer Janice Pytel’s arresting black and red ensemble, Ms. O’Connell mostly sits in a chair on scenic designer Andrew Boyce’s authentically detailed drab and ominous motel room set. With her haunting eyes, flowing hair and magnetic countenance, O’Connell vividly channels Higginbotham’s presence. Her lip-synching, gestures and facial expressions are all flawless. The presentation’s conceit is realized by O’Connell’s supreme artistry. [more]

Lady G: Plays and Whisperings of Lady Gregory

February 20, 2020

It might be about 90 years too late, but writer/director Ciarán O'Reilly is throwing a good old-fashioned Irish wake, with poems, songs, and a slice of barmbrack (Irish sweet bread) or each of the lucky attendees. And he's also summoned the dearly departed herself, Lady Isabella Augusta Gregory, and a few of her more notable friends (some guys named Yeats, O'Casey, and Synge) to join in the celebration, stitching together her words with some of theirs to create the waggishly titled "Lady G: Plays and Whisperings of Lady Gregory." It's a charming and touching tribute to a woman whose literary efforts are usually far less appreciated, unfortunately, than her advocacy. [more]

The Confession of Lily Dare

February 19, 2020

The inestimable Charles Busch has come up with something of a dud, as well as redundant, with his latest play, "The Confession of Lily Dare." Even its title leaves a lot to be desired. Based on a seemingly endless parade of Hollywood movies of the pre-code era (from the late 1920’s to the mid 1930’s), Busch has pulled out all of his old tricks--cross-dressing, an homage and parody of old movies, long pink arm gloves--and produced something stale and feeble. [more]

The Commons

February 18, 2020

Could there be five more self-involved, selfish, self-deceptive characters than those who populate Lily Akerman’s "The Commons" at the 59E59 Theaters?  No, these five roommates aren’t evil, just depressingly of the here and now, young people who have lost the ability to communicate honestly with each other.  There’s a problem with a 90-minute play about people who do not connect: it is an unrewarding slog for an audience to sit through. [more]

Border People

February 5, 2020

Hoyle has brought his most recent play, "Border People," to New York City in a production directed by Nicole A. Watson. It’s a work dedicated to people who dwell along borders of various sorts—“geographical or cultural”—and it suggests that no matter how clearly lines of demarcation may be drawn, they can seem arbitrary and sometimes strangely porous. Hoyle presents nearly a dozen characters in this show: diverse in age, gender, race, nationality, religion, sexuality and temperament. He includes people from one side or another of actual U.S. borders, both to the north and to the south. We also meet characters from the Bronx who live along the borders that separate the borough’s “projects” from the outside world. [more]

ON THE PASSING OF THE NEW YORK MUSICAL FESTIVAL…

January 10, 2020

The festival has given birth to musicals that have gone on to Broadway ("Next to Normal," "Chaplin," "[title of show]," "In Transit") and Off-Broadway ("Altar Boyz," "The Other Josh Cohen," "My Vaudeville Man," "Yank!," "Cyclops," "Bedbugs," etc.)   Its shows have been produced in all 50 states and in 27 countries.Productions launched at the festival have won one Pulitzer Prize, three Tony Awards, three Obie Awards, and seven Drama Desk Awards.  That’s a terrific track record. [more]

London Assurance

December 29, 2019

Dion Boucicault’s "London Assurance" is still a witty and lively play after almost 180 years. With its farcical elements laid over a drawing room comedy plot, Charlotte Moore’s adroit production for the Irish Repertory Theatre mines the play for all of its humor and wisdom concerning the foibles of human nature and self-delusion. With a superb cast, Rachel Pickup is awarded the acting honors for her marvelous depiction of Lady Gay Spanker, a bon vivant who knows how to get the most out of life and other people. [more]

Anything Can Happen in the Theater: The Musical World of Maury Yeston

December 11, 2019

The York Theatre Company’s new revue, "Anything Can Happen in the Theater: The Musical World of Maury Yeston," reminds us not to take for granted the talents of this vibrant composer/lyricist, best known for such Broadway titles as "Nine" (1982), "Grand Hotel" (1989) and "Titanic" (1997). This one-act show, featuring five abundantly gifted singer-dancers, underscores the wide-ranging nature of the composer’s music. Yeston has successfully adopted diverse musical sounds, from 1920's pop to mid-twentieth-century rock to folky-country contemporary. Mostly though, he’s known for lush, sweeping, timeless melodies that seem at times to bypass listeners’ ears and aim straight for the heart. His lyrics are smart, but not overly clever. [more]

Pumpgirl

November 20, 2019

Told as a series of alternating, interlocking monologues, there is a "Rashomon"-esque quality to "Pumpgirl" that grows more obvious as the play's story comes into focus. Not only do the relationships between the characters subjectively deepen as they each take their turns speaking under lighting designer Michael O'Connor's isolating glare, but a life-altering crime is also revealed, one that is committed with  stomach-churning cruelty. Though, unlike in the Kurosawa movie, its details are never in doubt. [more]

Broadbend, Arkansas

November 15, 2019

Produced by Transport Group in association with The Public Theater and directed with precision, clarity and simplicity by Transport Group’s artistic director Jack Cummings III, this story of three generations of an African American family grappling with of racism, violence and inequality in the South is as moving and trenchant as a story by Harper Lee. Each act is a monodrama exquisitely acted, sung and directed for a very discerning audience. While there is dialogue in both halves, the extraordinary music makes it feel sung through. [more]

One Discordant Violin

November 6, 2019

What this team of artists has created is a serious piece of storytelling that is also a glorious treat for the eyes and ears. If you’ve figured that the show will just be a guy narrating a short story while another guy plays violin, you’re certain to be pleasantly surprised. [more]

An Enchanted April

November 4, 2019

The enduring resonance of its source material is evident in "An Enchanted April" during this uneven stage musical adaptation. Lasting two hours and 45 minutes with an intermission, its initial frothiness gradually fizzles. The bright score is excessive, the solid book rambles, and the production is more dutiful than inspired. However, the performances are engaging, and the piece’s emotional power is palpable. The show was originally presented by the Utah Lyric Opera and this New York City premiere demonstrates its potential. [more]

A Woman of the World

November 3, 2019

Kathleen Chalfant adds another feather to her cap as Emily Dickinson’s posthumous editor Mabel Loomis Todd in the world premiere of Rebecca Gilman’s new one-woman play, "A Woman of the World," presented by The Acting Company in association with Miranda Theatre Company at 59E59 Theaters. Staged by Miranda’s artistic director Valentina Fratti with elegant assurance, Chalfant is both fascinating and seductive as this real life woman who in the 1880’s and 1890’s scandalized conventional Amherst, Massachusetts, with her liberated and bohemian behavior long before such goings on became acceptable for women – or men. [more]

Is This a Room

October 25, 2019

The performances as well as the dialogue are cool and unemotional as you might expect from four professionals used to doing their jobs, until about three quarters of the way through when Winner confesses to having mailed out the document that they have been asking her about after admitting that she had printed it out to read it. From then on for the last 15 minutes, the tension rises as it become obvious that Winner will not be allowed to go home. [more]

Molly Sweeney

October 24, 2019

As is Mr. Friel’s The Faith Healer, Molly Sweeney is a monologue play. Here, instead of being separated in individual acts, the three characters appear on stage together without interacting, and speak alternately. It’s certainly a viable format and Mr. Friel gives us a gorgeous cascade of memories, biographical details, differing points of view and suspense. However, as beautiful as these reveries may be, there’s too much of them and the play’s impact is diluted. Lasting two and a half hours and comprised of two acts with an intermission, the slender plot is embellished with the leisure of a literary work rather than a taut stage play.  Still, by its end, one is caught up by the characters and their fates. The arguable structural deficiencies are compensated for by the faultless presentation. [more]

The White Chip

October 21, 2019

Written by Sean Daniels, "The White Chip" is reportedly an autobiographical play, directed with an earnest finesse by Sheryl Kaller who sometimes has difficulty keeping her three different performers in character, in terms of whom they represent. If one has difficulty following the many tangents, Kaller has to be held principally responsible for that. [more]

Dublin Carol

October 18, 2019

Bearded, bald and utilizing a pronounced Irish accent, the physically imposing Jeffrey Bean is towering as John. The beaming Mr. Bean’s delightful bonhomie gives way to harrowing anguish as he conveys John’s dark sensibility while consuming more and more whiskey, shambling about and later coping with the bender’s aftereffects. Bean’s everyman presence endows his performance with the dimension of being a stand in for all self-pitying delinquent fathers. [more]

Forbidden Broadway: The Next Generation

October 17, 2019

This is the latest edition of creator, writer and director Gerard Alessandrini’s enduring musical spoof skewering present and past NYC theater that he inaugurated- in 1982 and has had over 20 incarnations. Mr. Alessandrini’s erudite, affectionate and acerbic script once again lambasts Broadway while lovingly celebrating its history during its 20 numbers. “Theater isn’t art, unless it hurts.” It’s that aching sense of the collectively treasured memorable greatness of Broadway clashing with its mercenary concerns that enables each version of the show to resonate while entertaining. Plus, it’s very funny and offers a showcase for talented malleable performers. [more]

Caesar and Cleopatra

October 7, 2019

When the Gingold Theatrical Group’s revival of Bernard Shaw’s epic "Caesar and Cleopatra" begins, the characters are wearing white contemporary clothes and sitting on what looks like an excavation site which might give one pause. Like David Staller’s revival of "Heartbreak House" last year, his Caesar and Cleopatra tries to give this 1898 play a more contemporary relevance, but unlike Heartbreak House which pointlessly updated that play to W.W. II rather than the usual W.W. I setting, this modern approach works extremely well and proves to be quite charming. [more]

Kingfishers Catch Fire

October 3, 2019

It’s 1948 and we’re in an Italian prison where “The Beast of Rome,” German SS Colonel Herbert Kappler (1907-1978) is serving a life sentence for war crimes. Kappler was the Chief of Police of occupied Rome and was responsible for the deportation of Jews to concentration camps as well as ordering massacres of civilians. He is visited by his nemesis Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty (1898-1963). “The Scarlet Pimpernel of the Vatican” was the nickname of this Irish prelate who as a Italian resistance figure saved the lives of over 6000 Allied soldiers and Jews during W.W. II. In real life, O'Flaherty did visit Kappler out of a quest of instigating redemption in the Nazi, and a complex friendship evolved. [more]

Fern Hill

September 20, 2019

Tucker’s dialogue is breezy and amusing, and it’s fun to see these talented actors—all mainstays of the New York stage—being playful together. Together, they make interesting stuff out of the material they’ve been given, and they are all highly watchable. But would the play seem more fulfilling and important if there were more fully developed personal and interpersonal conflicts? [more]

Only Yesterday

September 16, 2019

As John, Christopher Sears is an enjoyable pill, perfectly offset by Tommy Crawford's Paul whose amiable placidity is almost Buddha-like. More importantly, both actors have impressive musical chops, which wonderfully serves Stevens' truncated overview of Paul and John's tuneful reminiscing about their musical influences: Chuck Berry, Bobby Freeman, Gene Vincent. Sears even has the opportunity to do a bit of Elvis Presley hip swiveling that feels absolutely perfect in its oh-so-British imperfection. [more]

Summer Shorts 2019: 13th Annual Festival of New American Short Plays: Series B

August 5, 2019

Neil LaBute’s “Appomattox” is the most substantial of the three plays and deals with a topic new to his work. Two long-time friends, Frank, black, and Joe, white, are having a picnic in the park without their wives where they get to throw around a football. Joe tells Frank about a story he read in the newspaper that the freshmen at Georgetown University have decided to pay an annual reparation to the families of slaves who were sold off by the college centuries before as collateral to keep the school going. He is impressed that the $27.20 will be annually added to their tuition. For Frank, this is nothing but a symbolic gesture. He would like to see the figure sting a little for 400 years of slavery. [more]

Summer Shorts 2019: 13th Annual Festival of New American Short Plays: Series A

August 3, 2019

Series A of this year’s Summer Shorts: 13th Festival of New American Short Plays is unified around the theme of death and dying and how it affects the living. Lest you think that this sounds morbid, the three provocative one-act plays that make up this first program are so beautifully handled that this is a superior theatrical evening in three totally different styles. Unlike many evenings of one acts, the productions of all three are worth of your attention and could not be bettered. [more]

Little Gem

August 2, 2019

Ms. Murphy’s writing is a rich amalgam of biographical data, pivotal incidents and humane observations. The monologue structure has the three characters alternately expressing themselves in the same recurring order with often all three on stage but not interacting with each other. Through this theatrical device, Murphy enacts her eventful scenario. At 100 minutes without an intermission, it does lag, particularly the introductory portions which too leisurely introduce the characters. However, Murphy does create three zesty roles. [more]

Two’s a Crowd

August 2, 2019

Co-written by and starring Rita Rudner (who is not only a playwright and performer but also an author, film writer, producer and director, with many TV appearances to her credit), "Two’s a Crowd" suggests that it’s creator has run out of original ideas and is recycling old ones--not only others, but her own. It really lands with a thud, which also may have a lot to do with trying to present it as a musical. [more]

Barabbas

July 3, 2019

While Will T.F. Carter’s "Barabbas" is very outspoken on the topic of political corruption in Peru, the play is dramatically weak as so much of it is exposition. In each scene we learn a little bit more about the men’s lives, but little that is new happens in the play’s 90 minutes. The tepid direction by Eduardo Machado gives us too much time to consider the play’s deficiencies and makes the play seem longer than it is. Carter’s anger at what is going on in Peru is commendable, but Barabbas does not utilize that indignation except on an intellectual basis. [more]

Dropping Gumballs on Luke Wilson

June 24, 2019

A decade has passed since the much-criticized AT&T vs. Verizon commercials starring Luke Wilson took to the airwaves, but playwright Rob Ackerman has chosen to bubble up their essence into his whimsical, off-the-wall new play, "Dropping Gumballs on Luke Wilson," helmed by Theresa Rebeck in her New York directorial debut. [more]

Handbagged

June 22, 2019

Although director Indhu Rubasingham’s production is engrossing and entertaining, this talky and dense play may be difficult to follow for Americans who either do not know or have forgotten the details of Thatcher’s 11 year career as the first woman British prime minster and the longest serving P.M. of the 20th century. Among characters depicted by the male actors whom Americans may have trouble placing are Kenneth Kaunda, Neil Kinnock, Michael Shay, Kenneth Clarke, Arthur Scargil, Peter Carrington and Michael Heseltine. Many of these men were Thatcher’s cabinet ministers who are no longer on the political scene. However, with two actresses playing each of the women in both younger and older incarnation, it is quite remarkable how much they reflect the real life people they play. [more]
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