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Don Stephenson

Trouble in Mind

November 21, 2021

If Alice Childress’ 1955 Off Broadway hit, "Trouble in Mind," had transferred to Broadway in 1957 as it was scheduled to do, it would have been the first play by a Black playwright to reach the main stem. As if happened, the white producers wanted continual softening of the play’s ending and after two years of rewrites Childress threw in the towel. Ironically, this is exactly the theme of her backstage play. As things worked out, the softer Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry, less critical of its white audience, became the first play by a Black woman writer to reach Broadway in 1959 and the rest is history. Now history is being remade with the Roundabout Theatre Company’s production of "Trouble in Mind" at Broadway’s American Airlines Theatre 64 years later with a fine cast led by Tony Award winners LaChanze and Chuck Cooper. [more]

Me and My Girl

May 14, 2018

Mr. Carlyle’s giddy opening is a thrilling mise-en-scène of a chorus line of servants, floating props and a grand back drop of a miniature representation of the country estate where the action is set. Act II starts with a rollicking cricket and tennis on the lawn segment showcasing cast members in gleaming casual wear and the commanding gyrations of Mark Evans who wonderfully plays a fatuous cad. There’s also a daffy number where portraits of ancestors in clothing of different eras come to life and dance. [more]

Attack of the Elvis Impersonators

June 19, 2017

Lazarus’ score is an entertaining blend of rock, pop and show tunes.   None of Elvis Presley’s actual songs are heard, but there are a number of clever takeoffs such as “Viva Milwaukee!” and “Spread the Word of Hound Dog.” His good-natured book is a shambles.  The serious, campy and satirical elements don’t connect.  The plot is crammed and wayward.  It recalls the 1960’s "Batman" television show as well as counterculture fantasies such as the 1968 film "Wild in The Streets" and Brian De Palma’s movie, "The Phantom of The Paradise." [more]

ON THE TOWN with Chip Deffaa, March 31st, 2015

April 1, 2015

Of course, not everybody in the arts who has potential will stick with it. There’s a high rate of attrition in the arts. The stresses and strains of pursuing a career will be too much for many people. One must have not just talent, but energy and drive and determination, plus a certain stubborn kind of stick-to-it quality that is simply all-too-rare. And you also have to be a risk-taker, with an instinct for knowing when to move out of your comfort zone and take the chance on something that excites you, even it may appear risky. [more]

Dracula The Musical

September 28, 2004

o, here is the plot, for those unfamiliar with the Dracula saga: In Transylvania, Count Dracula (Tom Hewitt) sucks the blood of young Jonathan Harker and sets his fangs on the innocent, English girl Mina Murray (Melissa Errico), Harker's fiancé, who we are told is of "good blood." And about twenty minutes into the show, the Count is young and powerful again, and, set to a keyboard synthesizer-influenced band, he breaks into the pop cry "Fresh Blood." [more]