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Carol Rosegg

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

Madwomen of the West

December 7, 2023

Playing women of a certain age, four women stars of stage and screen who became famous a while ago play friends of a certain age who meet for a birthday brunch in Sandra Tsing Loh’s "Madwomen of the West." The ensuing hilarity will be of most interest to baby boomers who still worship Gloria Steinem, Mary Tyler Moore and Hilary Clinton, but others will also find this an entertaining show as breezily directed by Thomas Caruso. The roles fit actresses Caroline Aaron, Brooke Adams, Marilu Henner and Melanie Mayron returning to the New York stage so well that one might think they were playing facets of themselves or of their screen personas. [more]

The Jerusalem Syndrome: A Musical Comedy of Biblical Proportions

December 4, 2023

"The Jerusalem Syndrome" is a pleasant new musical comedy with some fine clever songs and good comic moments. However, Don Stephenson’s production does not take the farcical elements far enough nor does he allow the cast to really have fun with their wacky roles. Playing this material mainly straight undercuts the inherent fun in the premise and plot as the Jerusalem syndrome is ripe for satire. [more]

Scene Partners

November 19, 2023

It takes an artist of the stature and extraordinary talent of Wiest to keep Caswell’s fragmented play from flying off in all directions as it veers from reality to fantasy and from flashback to the present.  Or, is the entire plot, which takes an embittered 75-year-old widow from the depths of the Mid-west to the depths of Hollywood, just a figment of her yearning imagination? The tale of Meryl Kowalski (both names exuding meaning) is of the oft-told a-star-is-born genre:  an unknown hopeful, through lucky breaks and gumption, manages to become a movie star.  Sounds simple, right? Not here.  Caswell ("Wet Brain' and "Man Cave") will not allow her story to be told in a linear fashion. [more]

This Land Was Made

June 7, 2023

In its earliest scenes--as a Marvin Gaye record spins on the turntable, Adam Honoré's lighting design pairs naturalistically with Wilson Chin's meticulous set, and Dominique Fawn Hill and DeShon Elem's beautifully redolent costumes delight our eyes with vibrant patterns--"This Land Was Made" achieves an authenticity that makes you want to sit at the bar and order some lunch, too. Ironically, it's when Newton (Julian Elijah Martinez) and his comrade Gene (Curtis Morlaye) enter the story that the play's verisimilitude begins to come undone. Abandoning realism for audacious dramatic license, "This Land Was Made" turns into an intellectual showdown between Newton and Troy, with the latter becoming entangled in the fatal incident that led to Newton's imprisonment. [more]

Khan!!!The Musical, A Parody Trek-tacular

May 10, 2023

The music is well-done, with the songs fully integrated into the storyline and lyrics that help define essential elements of the character's nature and are filled with inside Star Trek references and jokes. For example, when Theerakulstit skillfully sings "Young," entirely in character as Kirk, we hear Kirk as an older man regretting getting old and no longer able to be the arrogant swashbuckling starship captain of his youth. When we meet Khan for the first time, Kropp sings “My Wrath,” which gives a history of how he came to be in this place and the reason for his extreme anger at Kirk. Although many of the references will be missed by a non-Star Trek audience, the songs are well-constructed, and more importantly, they are sung by a cast that knows how to sing on key and on pitch. While you may not leave the show humming a tune, they are the types of songs that one will return to without getting bored. [more]

The Knight of the Burning Pestle

May 3, 2023

Directors Noah Brody and Emily Young, both of the Fiasco Theater, have neatly trimmed the dialogue and some of the minor characters so that the play comes in at two hours and 15 minutes. However, they have made some choices that work much less well. Except for a rolling doorway to designate Merrythought’s home, Christopher Swader & Justin Swader’s scenic design does not differentiate one scene from another due to its lack of design elements. Other than the musical interludes, the productions lacks atmosphere in all its scenes. They have also used doubling and tripling to the point where it is difficult to keep straight who most of the actors are when they appear on stage in this play that has probably never been seen by most members of the audience. Most distracting is actress Royer Bockus playing three male roles – Merrythough’s son Michael, Little George, and a Servant as well as a horse named George. The role of Venturewell has had a change of gender but as Tina Chilip is still called “Merchant” but does not suggest one in her 17th century matron costume, this remains a little disconcerting. Characters who play major roles in one scene return to play minor roles in others which is more than a little confusing. [more]

God of Carnage

April 28, 2023

The direction by Nicholas Viselli ultimately misses a key point in this plot, which is that Alan and Annette should be staged as perpetually trying to leave Veronica and Michael’s apartment. These two couples are strangers to each other; they are not friends or even acquaintances. Yet the staging plunks the four of them together with too much familiarity and intimacy. Their situation does not call for them to remain in each other’s company for so long, or for backrubs to be exchanged, etc.; it’s just not believable. The entire premise of the plot is made implausible by blocking and acting choices that should have been redirected. [more]

Smart

April 9, 2023

Mary Elizabeth Hamilton’s Smart has an interesting premise but does not carry out its goal turning quickly into a domestic drama and later a bittersweet love story. The two acts seem to be two different plays while the sketchy characters do not give the fine three actresses much to work from. Even the production values get in the way of understanding the play. Hamilton has a good ear for dialogue but needs to work on plotting and characterization in order to make this a satisfying theatrical experience. [more]

Vanities – The Musical

April 5, 2023

Although the women grow up and change over the 26 years we see them, Heifner’s book tends to stay away from politics and the women’s movement other than mentioning markers like Kennedy, Nixon and Bob Dylan. However, the dialogue is bright and lively. The show is definitely a period piece ending as it does in 1990 but there are probably women who still live these lives. While in no way taking a feminist point of view, the characters do evolve and change over the years. [more]

Arden of Faversham

March 25, 2023

The problem with this production is that although the characters’ behavior is utterly outrageous on the verge of satire, Berger has directed in so flat and bland a style, that shocking lines that should get embarrassed laughter fail to make any impression. Has Berger directed the play absolutely straight knowing that his audience is unlikely to be familiar with it? It would be more fun and rewarding if was as over-the-top as the murderers’ plotting. [more]

Othello (New Place Players)

February 18, 2023

In the most elementary explanation of a play’s dramatic structure, the protagonist is the character who drives the action and is the emotional heart of the narrative. Everyone knows how the play "Othello" is going to end, so really the artistic and entertainment value hinges on whether an audience can sympathize with Othello as he is manipulated by the extent of Iago’s hatred for him. Unfortunately for Eliott Johnson as Othello, we meet him as the already heralded general of the Venetian army but witness nothing heroic about him. This monotone Othello doesn’t even raise his voice until Act 3, Scene 4, with “Zounds!,” an epithet meaning God’s wounds, and only upon his exit after confronting Desdemona about the missing heirloom handkerchief. [more]

Not About Me

January 19, 2023

Eduardo Machado’s 11th play to premiere at Theater for the New City is called "Not About Me" which is a complete misnomer as it is about his life for the last 40 years with his alter ego at its center. Marketed as a “memory play that takes audiences on a haunting journey through the mind of a playwright during Covid-19 lockdown,” in fact, it is about his friends who died during the last pandemic, the mysterious “gay disease” that came to be called AIDS. Other than as a tribute to those lost friends, it is difficult to see the message of the play as it depicts a great deal of risky behavior. [more]

Hoagy Carmichael’s Stardust Road

December 10, 2022

The York Theatre Company’s masthead reads “Where Musicals Come to Life…” and that couldn’t be more evident in their new production, "Hoagy Carmichael’s Stardust Road." Originally scheduled for a Fall 2015 run at London’s St. James Theatre (cancelled due to a key investor pulling out), then workshopped during a summer student production at Indiana University’s Department of Theatre, Drama and Contemporary Dance in 2018, the show finally arrives in a beautifully crafted production at York’s Theatre at St Jeans, deserving of an open-ended run or commercial transfer. Conceived by director Susan H. Schulman, choreographer Michael Lichtefeld and musical arranger Lawrence Yurman, and developed with Hoagy Bix Carmichael (Hoagy’s son), "Hoagy Carmichael’s Stardust Road" succeeds not by showing the audience another “And Then I Wrote” compendium, but by allowing the endless riches of the Carmichael songwriting catalogue to say it with music. We are treated to five extended “parts” where we meet seven characters, all friends, as they traverse the decades from the 1920’s to the 1950’s, through every high point and every heartache. [more]

On the Town with Chip Deffaa: “Hoagy Carmichael’s Stardust Road”… Carmichael deserves better

December 5, 2022

Boy! This is going to be a tough review to write.  The York Theatre Company, which has such a strong track record when it comes to honoring important songwriters, is currently presenting a revue of Hoagy Carmichael songs called "Hoagy Carmichael’s Stardust Road."  Carmichael (1899-1981) is one of the greatest of American songwriters.  No one’s done an overview of Carmichael’s work in many, many years.  So, this production is important.   The show should be a natural.  But developing a show isn’t always easy. This will likely be the longest review I’ve ever written about a single show; but the show merits a detailed discussion.  The production I just saw has significant flaws, as well as significant strengths.  I hope the show can be further developed so it can fulfill its potential. [more]

Sandra

November 26, 2022

Cale’s story uses many film noir devices from the 1940’s: exotic locale, strange encounters, searching down unknown streets, disappearing characters, a sexy stranger, danger signals avoided, clues that don’t add up, information that turns out to be fallacious, a damsel in distress, stolen objects, moments of high passion, etc. Yet all seem to be used as if for the first time. The elements are time tested, but the story is new. Cale is an excellent storyteller pulling us in with enough hints and clues to keep us interested until the very end. There are moments that sag but he always pulls out us into something new and unexpected. [more]

38th Marathon of One-Act Plays: Series B

November 6, 2022

Ensemble Studio Theatre’s "38th Marathon of One-Act Plays," their first since 2019, is split up into two programs of five plays each, with an eleventh play, Vera Starbard’s “Yan Tután,” streaming free on-demand, in collaboration with Perseverance Theatre. Each of the plays in Program B is successful in telling us enough about the characters to make the audience care for them and empathize for what they experience in their short time on stage. ... The Marathon is a great venue for up-and-coming writers to hone their characterization skills. Some of these writers have already had full productions of other plays in their resumés, so for some their success is in full swing. Program B is a definite tease towards coming back to experience Program A. [more]

Randy’s Dandy Coaster Castle

August 26, 2022

Part of Ramón’s game plan to increase attendance is to create a Randy’s Dandy Coaster Castle mascot.  In a move that changes his life, Arlo is drafted to don a hilarious, smelly rat costume transforming himself into the character Kuddly Kyle.  Suddenly Arlo, the sweet, directionless shlub has found meaning in his life via this subterfuge.  While in the costume, Arlo is the delightfully entertaining Kyle.  Without the costume, he’s just Arlo. This is the most moving part of Coaster, a play that revolves around the emotions and inner lives of these everyday, working class characters, beautifully evoked by Perez and carefully chaperoned by director, Rebecca Martínez to keep it all down to earth and accessible.  The fade-out is particularly moving as the workers have no idea that there is a disaster looming.  Their lives will be changed—for the worse. [more]

Lessons in Survival: 1971

June 26, 2022

Originally broadcast on "Soul!," an early PBS program dedicated to showcasing Black arts and politics, Baldwin and Giovanni's one-on-one echoes contemporary concerns while also remaining decidedly of its era. Unearthed by a theater collective and other trapped-at-home artists during the pandemic for an online recreation, it has now been transformed again, this time into a staged adaptation titled "Lessons in Survival: 1971." In truth, "googled" is likely the more appropriate verb for how someone found the Baldwin-and-Giovanni conservation, since it is entirely available on YouTube, where, to be honest, it is best experienced, not least because in that digital form it can be rewound for another listen, which a few of Baldwin and Giovanni's complex, unannotated arguments definitely require. [more]

The Patsy

April 12, 2022

Greenspan, a six-time Obie Award winner, whirls at breakneck speed through this three-act play in just over an hour, transforming from one character to the next with expert fluidity. He transitions between the highly dramatic and entitled Grace, the histrionic and prideful Mrs. Harrington, the simple but lovable Mr. Harrington, the gentle and sweet Patricia, and the gangly, dopey gentleman callers Tom Anderson and Billy Caldwell, drawing on every gender-bending limb, muscle, hand, voice, look or facial gesture he can muster. Even the brusque Tip Busty and party girl Sadie Buchanan get their own unique treatment. [more]

Penelope, Or How the Odyssey Was Really Written

April 7, 2022

The musical gets a great deal of mileage out of its humor particular in its parody of recognizable tropes. "Penelope, Or How The Odyssey Was Really Written" is an entertaining musical comedy which turns into a feminist statement in the final scenes between husband and wife at the end of the show which gives this ancient Greek tale a modern sensibility. From the way the audience greeted the new musical comedy "Penelope" at the preview performance under review, The York Theatre Company may have a big hit on their hands. [more]

Heartland

March 27, 2022

While Gabriel Jason Dean’s "Heartland" is an enlightening play about Afghan culture mentioning the classic poet Rumi and the contemporary novelist Atiq Rahimi, some of it will still be opaque to American audiences. On the other hand, it also reveals how American involvement in other countries may have the opposite effect of that which is intended. The fine production, however, makes this a compelling though subtle story of an extended family in its understated way. The play was first produced as part of the National Play Network Rolling World Premiere with four simultaneous productions including the one at The Geva Theatre Center in Rochester, New York. [more]

A Touch of the Poet

March 8, 2022

Director Ciarán O'Reilly confidently lets the clever cast explore their characters' profound complexities, which means forcing the audience to simply accept a few psychological contradictions. At its best, watching the play feels like eavesdropping on a real family whose lives are unfolding before us naturally. Dramatically, it's a little messy but also much more human. Where the play falters somewhat is at the very beginning, with a long, exposition-laden exchange between a gossipy bartender (James Russell) and Con's old war buddy (Andy Murray) that is less a scene than an information-delivery system. Fortunately, the put-upon Russell and Murray enjoy later opportunities to put their estimable skills to better use. [more]

sandblasted

February 27, 2022

A woman’s arm falls off soon into playwright Charly Evon Simpson’s engrossing allegory, "sandblasted." Ms. Simpson’s tone beautifully mixes the comic with the wistful, her dialogue is glorious, and her characters are appealing. Structured as 18 punchy short time-shifting scenes, with duologues, trialogues and monologues, the play builds to a stirring conclusion. Simpson quotes Audre Lorde, Toni Morrison and Samuel Beckett in stage notes, their aesthetic influence is evident. The setting is a sandy landscape, the time is “now. after. future.” [more]

First Down

February 27, 2022

A plea for understanding the pain of being Muslin-American, Sevan’s First Down at the 59E59 Theaters focuses on the plight of an adored football player who decides to kneel and pray during the national anthem rather than stand at polite attention, hand over heart. Quarterback George Berri (a handsome, well-built, sensitive Peter Romano) is a mid-westerner with pale skin and a name that doesn’t necessarily connote his Muslim upbringing. After the Star-Spangled Banner is played, Berri, a young Lebanese/American, is first seen.  He is on his knees praying in the locker room well after the game is over. Soon Coach Bill Fitzgerald (Larry Bull, finding every nuance in what could have been a clichéd macho role) enters and the structure of First Down begins to manifest itself: three conversations of increasing emotional power beginning with Coach Bill, then Berri’s agent and finally his impassioned mother. [more]

Made by God

February 17, 2022

It's just that, as the fictional Eva supplants the non-fictional Ann onstage, the play reverses course and sacrifices its human scale back to the rhetorical, with pro-life Eva and pro-choice Michael's gentle discord eventually turning toward the upcoming 2018 Irish referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment. Actually, the far more spirited debate is being held in Eva's own head as her religious upbringing wrestles with a sense of culpability for a recent tragedy that has cast doubt on her previously rock-solid convictions. Unfortunately, the much too-on-the-nose parallels between Ann's fate and what is tormenting Eva's conscience amount to a bundle of contrivances that touch off a cascade of underwhelming revelations not nearly as thought-provoking as the play's beginning scenes involving Ann and Mikey. [more]

The Streets of New York

December 14, 2021

Cue the Irish Rep and its remounting of artistic director Charlotte Moore's musical "The Streets of New York," which the theatre first premiered twenty years ago in the aftermath of September 11. An affectionate adaptation of Dion Boucicault's 1857 melodrama "The Poor of New York," it returns in the wake of a different tragedy--a global pandemic that has claimed nearly 800,000 American lives and more than five million human beings worldwide--sharing the same social conscience as the Dickens classic but also encouraging the audience to do something more fun and cathartic: hiss at the greedy old man. Perhaps it's the Christmas story we actually need this year. [more]

Cheek to Cheek: Irving Berlin in Hollywood

December 6, 2021

This show is conceived, directed, and choreographed by Randy Skinner, and his four-time Tony Award-nominated talents shine throughout the production. The choreography is inventive, interactive, fun and impressive. His staging is well-balanced and keeps the transitions moving. The opening number, “Let Yourself Go” ("Follow the Fleet," 1936), sets the bar high with dynamic tapping that leaves the audience exhilarated and ready for more. Barry Kleinbort’s book is packed with interesting Berlin history and is full of charm and wit. Thank you, casting director Michael Cassara, for the great ensemble cast! Six performers were chosen to present this material:  Phillip Attmore, Jeremy Benton, Victoria Byrd, Kaitlyn Davidson, Joseph Medeiros, and Melanie Moore. All six actors move through the evening in harmony, both physically and vocally, interacting with each other in song and dance as though in conversation. [more]

The Alchemist

November 23, 2021

The Red Bull Theater production of Ben Jonson’s "The Alchemist" will most likely introduce a new generation to this classic Jacobean comedy in a form that most will be able to follow due to being put into contemporary American English. Hatcher may well have saved this relatively unknown masterpiece from the literary scrap heap. Red Bull is to be complimented for living up to its mission of bringing “rarely seen classic plays to dynamic new life for contemporary audiences.” [more]

A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing

November 22, 2021

Performed as one long 80-minute monologue, A Girl is a Half-formed Thing also offers actor Jenn Murray little, if any, respite, laying on her shoulders complete responsibility for telling every detail of its emotionally unyielding story. Besides the girl, she must give voice to all of the other unnamed characters in the play, too, distinguishing them so that the staged version of McBride's novel, where it's impossible to simply reread a sentence, has an immediate intelligibleness. By itself, this feat is enough to make Murray's performance astonishing, but it's only the tip of her accomplishments. [more]

Brecht on Brecht

October 29, 2021

Director Nicholas Viselli’s physical staging crackles with force and exhibits visual flair with numerous arresting stage pictures. Bert Scott’s artfully simple scenic design conveys the sense of the past as does his lighting design, employing dimness, spotlights and blackouts all to great effect. Sound designer Eric Nightengale achieves an appropriate vintage vibe. While utilizing contemporary wear, Courtney E. Uruyo’s perfect costume design manages to evoke different eras of the 20th century particularly with its range of dresses and hats. Projection designer Samuel J. Biondolillo artistically melds words and imagery into a pleasing view. Crucial is the periodic inclusion of black and white footage of the Marxist Brecht testifying before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1947. [more]

Autumn Royal

October 20, 2021

Previously only known for his novels and short stories, first-time playwright Kevin Barry brings the same full-hearted doom and gloom to the stage in "Autumn Royal" that was evidenced in his Booker-Prize-longlisted "Night Boat to Tangier," unravelling May's and Timothy's forlorn existences with a compassion apparently meant not only for these two characters but also for anyone in the audience whose time is slipping away faster than their ability to enjoy it. In other words, Autumn Royal is the perfect midlife-crisis-cum-Covid play. (I dare the Irish Rep to use that in the advertisements!) Though Barry wrote it before the pandemic's onset, this fraught two-hander has gained, perhaps against its will, a far deeper resonance from the subsequent worldwide catastrophe, a fact that doesn't escape director Ciarán O’Reilly who turns Charlie Corcoran's spare and icy set into a very lonely domestic island for May and Timothy to neither share nor experience anything fundamentally new other than, of course, the neighbors' priggish judgment for wanting to shed their father for greener pastures. [more]

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]
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