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Gene Frankel Theatre

Mary, Mary

May 8, 2019

Retro Productions which has staged both old and new plays has turned its attention to this unjustly neglected comedy from 1961 which has not had a New York revival that made it into the record books.  Shay Gines’ production proves that it is still witty and literate and has a great many quotable one-liners. A window on the 1960’s, the problem for younger people will be the number of household names that aren’t well-known anymore like Orville Prescott, Elizabeth Arden, Jack Warner, Louella Parsons, Gerold Frank, Jackie Coogan and David Susskind, pioneers who should not have been forgotten. The show program conveniently has a Pop Culture Glossary in the back which explains them all. The problem for older people is that the pacing is a bit slow where it should be played at farce tempo which would make  the repartee all that much more scintillating. [more]

Happy Birthday, Wanda June

April 13, 2018

War, guns, Vietnam, the excesses of capitalism, toxic masculinity, blind American patriotism and feminism are among the targets of Mr. Vonnegut’s characteristically overloaded satire. Such concerns treated in a mannered fashion were all fodder for his popular novels but for the stage it’s problematic. [more]

A Soldier’s Play

October 1, 2017

Director Charles Weldon acted in the 1983, Mark Taper Forum’s Los Angeles production, and besides his meticulous casting he has perfectly rendered this revival. Mr. Weldon’s physical staging inventively, precisely and aesthetically utilizes the large stage to faithfully realize the material. [more]

And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little

May 10, 2017

Retro Productions’  50th anniversary revival of Paul Zindel’s "And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little" put the spotlight on an almost forgotten play that is worthy of revival. Shay Gines’ production with a game cast of seven is absorbing and compelling theater with characters that are bigger than life. Paul Zindel’s semi-autobiographical play comes alive in their hands. There may be more theatrical treasures to be mined from his collected plays. [more]

Crimes and Crimes

August 11, 2016

The August Strindberg Repertory Theatre presents this production. Since 2012, they have produced a number of the author’s works in New York City and for this one it was decided to condense and update it in order bring out its humor. The result is pretty much laugh-free. [more]

The Butter and Egg Man

May 22, 2015

George S. Kaufman’s only solo effort, the 1925 satire, "The Butter and Egg Man" is a colorfully exaggerated snapshot of the nitty-gritty, seat-of-your-pants theater of a prolific decade when two men could do it all: casting, hiring designers, booking theaters and, of course, raising the dough. How things have changed! It’s the money, and the chicanery involved in raising it, that animates the plot of The Butter and Egg Man. The title, in fact, refers to the rich dilettante who can be duped into investing in a clunker, here played by a wide-eyed Ben Schnickel who makes Peter Jones a sweet guy from the sticks who finally finds a backbone and love. [more]

To Damascus, Part I

April 22, 2014

The director deserves high marks for keeping the actors' delivery quick and light; anything else would have put the audience to sleep. His cast comes across as sincere but mostly inexperienced, with the fine exceptions of James and Blankenship. [more]