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Donald Holder

He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box

February 6, 2018

Whereas Kennedy became famous with plays that use myth, history, surrealism and Theater of the Absurd to tell their stories, this play tells a realistic tale in poetic form, its very brevity belying its depth of feeling. The play incorporates the styles of romantic drama, Elizabethan tragedy, old-fashioned operetta, a murder mystery, and recent history of the not so distant past. Events in the play were suggested by Kennedy’s mother and her own visits to her grandparents in the Jim Crow South. [more]

Oslo

May 4, 2017

The clarity of this new play by J.T. Rogers does not only rely on the smart yet surefire way it’s written, but also on the masterful staging by Bartlett Sher, who, after recent productions of both "South Pacific" and "The King and I," is no stranger to directing gargantuan shows at Lincoln Center. Given its subject--the Oslo Accord or peace treaty between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (P.L.O.) in 1993--Oslo is ultimately, an enormous play. But it is told in intimate terms. [more]

Oslo

July 26, 2016

Bartlett Sher complements Rogers by punctuating the play with visual puns that substantially add to the drama and importance of the enfolding events. A dinner party at Mona and Larsen’s home is disturbed by two phone calls, ringing at the same time. Larsen fields a call from Israel and Mona takes a call from the P.L.O. Phone cords or wires are crossed, as Larsen and Mona exchange mouthpieces and try to arrange meetings and facilitate a place and time for the negotiations in Norway. [more]

The Father

April 18, 2016

Florian Zeller is the most famous French playwright you probably never heard of. He won France’s highest theatrical honor, the Moliere Award, in 2011 for his play, "The Mother," and the Moliere Award again in 2014 for "The Father." This last named international hit is currently running in both Paris and London with major stars in the leading role. Manhattan Theatre Club now brings the Christopher Hampton translation to Broadway with Frank Langella in the title role. As André, an 80-year-old man beset with dementia in which his reality keeps shifting, Langella turns in a virtuoso perform but you won’t be bored for a moment. [more]

Ballet Hispanico

April 11, 2016

The Ballet Hispanico wants to be meaningful while at the same time entertaining. It is a difficult course to chart—just look at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater—and, so far, the entertainment element seems to have taken charge. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to please an audience, but, let’s face it, others do it better. Mr. Vilaro has kept the technical level of the dancers and the productions at a very high level and shouldn’t be afraid to shock, move and confound his audiences—along with making them happy. [more]

She Loves Me

March 29, 2016

Scott Ellis’ direction avoids caricature, even in the most broadly drawn characters like the man-hungry Ilona, the gigolo Steven and the scared, but pragmatic clerk Sipos. He make the one touch of melodrama, involving Maraczek’s marriage, seem human and a touch tragic, helped by Mr. Jennings subtle, but exuberant performance. He also draws a tender performance from Ms. Benanti who gets to use the more operatic part of her marvelous voice. [more]

Whorl Inside a Loop

August 29, 2015

A titanic ensemble of six highly talented actors plays the prisoners as well as multiple roles including females with slight costume changes. Derrick Baskin, Nicholas Christopher, Chris Myers, Ryan Quinn, Daniel J. Watts, and Donald Webber, Jr. all superbly convey the pathos, comedy and humanity of these characters. [more]

The King and I

May 12, 2015

The Lincoln Center Theater revival of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I is a provocative, eye-filling and poignant experience. Both younger and older theater writers and audience members can learn a good deal about how to tell a story on stage that is both emotionally moving and makes you care about the characters from Rodgers & Hammerstein’s expert storytelling. "The King and I" will send you out of the theater feeling that you have had a fulfillingly memorable experience filled with unforgettable songs, dances and theatrical moments. [more]

Bridges of Madison County thoughts from Chip Deffaa’s July 17, 2014 column

July 17, 2014

It just seemed awfully strange to me, to hear no music from the year's best score on the Tony's–while we heard some not-very-impressive music from some shows that have not even reached Broadway yet. I wish we could have heard Kelli O'Hara and Steven Pasquale singing something from Bridges of Madison County. You'd think the producers of the Tony Awards would realize that if the best of Broadway is represented on the broadcast, we all win. [more]

All Shook Up

October 28, 2005

Cheyenne Jackson as Chad is of course the star and delivers a star turn. Mr. Jackson is a seductive charmer with a wonderfully rich voice, who moves beautifully and is funny as well. He is not only a gorgeous hunk with enormous appeal, but he has a warm magnetic presence that grows on you. He receives a tremendous assist from the entire cast of energetic performers, who sing marvelously and perform their respective songs with committed style and enthusiasm. [more]

Little Shop of Horrors

November 28, 2003

Foster, recently of "Urinetown," is terrific as the Faustian nebbish who sells his soul to win the girl he loves but, mostly, for riches. Butler holds her own and more (for those who cherish the stage and screen performance of Ellen Greene), as Audrey. Bartlett zeros in on Mushnik (shades of Zero Mostel in his performance) until the plant zeros in on him. DeQuina Moore, Trisha Jeffrey, and Carla J. Hargrove, are delicious as the perky girl-group and urchins that sing those tight vocal arrangements by Robert Billig and cavort to Kathleen Marshall's delightful choreography. Bon appetit! [more]