News Ticker

Jason Lyons

Rock of Ages

July 31, 2019

"Pour Some Sugar on Me" by Def Leppard in a smashing live rendition accompanies a lusty production number at a seedy Los Angeles strip club with scantily clad pole dancers and creepy patrons. It’s a splashy set piece in this uproarious Off-Broadway revival commemorating the tenth anniversary of the Broadway hit "Rock of Ages. " It’s also notable because previously Def Leppard wouldn’t allow their songs to be included in this 1980’s hit singles jukebox musical. “Rock of Ages” in a recorded version is heard after the show ends and the audience leaves. [more]

Clueless, The Musical

December 29, 2018

While "Clueless, The Musical" is never less than slick and professional in the best possible way, for those who know the iconic film it offers no surprises so slavishly does it follow the original storyline. What was charming in the 1995 movie about Cher’s sense of superiority and wishing to help others less fortunate is no longer as acceptable. What was amusing in the era of excess now seems selfish, elitist, and an example of extravagant wastefulness. Alicia Silverstone’s appeal in the film doesn’t carry over to the musical where Dove Cameron, Disney star of Liv and Maddie, comes across as spoiled rotten by her wealthy single parent father who has given her pretty much everything she wants.  [more]

Kings

March 8, 2018

Despite some terrific acting, it’s hard to root for any of the four characters in Kings, even if the play is one long competition between all of them. This smart new work by Sarah Burgess ("Dry Powder") fails to introduce little that’s new about the present state of politicians and lobbyists--and their overly intimate relationships. But it’s also been put together with an admirable efficiency that spells it out clearly for those members of the audience who haven’t been paying enough attention to the daily headlines and all they entail. [more]

Linda

March 13, 2017

A revolving stage permits set designer Walt Spangler to depict, with dead-on realism and dispatch, not only Linda’s home--including an upstairs bedroom, which her daughters share--but also various offices at Swan Corporation, among numerous other sites. After a certain point, the dizzying, rotating stage becomes akin to a swirling merry-go-round, as director Lynne Meadow has it turning and turning, with different characters walking on and off, and through different doors, without any dialogue whatsoever, in subdued but effective lighting by Jason Lyons. It all becomes part of the accelerating gallop of the play itself, which ultimately spins out of control, as Linda learns that she’s lost her--well, let’s just say, in the end, everything. [more]

Himself and Nora

June 29, 2016

James Joyce most always put himself first, according to Jonathan Brielle, who wrote the book, music and lyrics for "Himself and Nora," (subtitled “The Greatest Love Story Never Told”), Minetta Lane Theatre’s new Off-Broadway musical. Brielle explores the narcissistic and codependent 37-year relationship between James Joyce and Nora Barnacle (who later became Joyce’s wife). For a purported love story that defined a genius and mesmerized Joyce enthusiasts for ages, the two-act musical is lightweight with minimal literary biographical details. [more]

Dry Powder

April 3, 2016

Thomas Kail (one of the geniuses behind Hamilton) has staged the world premiere of Sarah Burgess’ riveting "Dry Powder" in as cool a fashion as Rachel Hauck’s cobalt blue set with its cubes and rectangular modules that are rearranged for the various scenes by stage hands dressed as stockbrokers. This A-list cast best known for their television roles, along with talented Sanjit De Silva as Landmark’s moral CEO, give us indelible, full-bodied performances. Making his Broadway debut after his eight seasons on "The Office," Krasinski (sleekly dressed in Dior and Ermenegildo Zegna) is the idealist who wants to make the world a better place for his wife and daughter and new child on the way, although he likes his job which makes it possible for him to own a yacht. He has promised Jeff (Sanjit De Silva), the CEO for Landmark, that none of his employees will lose their jobs. All our sympathy goes to him. [more]

Smart People

February 24, 2016

The satire begins early: it turns out that although the department likes having Brian doing his research proving that whites are genetically racist, they are not happy with his conclusions. Although Jackson may be the smartest doctor in the room, he has trouble working with others and bending to authority on the job. Although Valerie has a Harvard degree, she cleans houses to pay her rent which ticks off her upper middle-class mother. However, she is not pleased when she attends an audition for “Mary, the social worker” and is asked instead to read for the part of “Shlonda” from the ‘hood. Ginny finds that her therapy clients perceive her as white, but she knows that in the talk of race in America, she is invisible as race is defined as between blacks and whites in modern discourse. [more]

Barbecue

October 25, 2015

Robert O’Hara’s "Barbecue" may seem like a series of sleights of hand, but as a satirist of American culture, the playwright has a good deal to say about how the media shapes and defines our culture by how it reports the evens of the day. Under the direction of Ken Gash, Barbecue will take your breath away at its invention and cleverness while holding up the mirror to our natures, exactly what theater is supposed to do. [more]

Doctor Faustus

June 24, 2015

Much of the play is directed using Brecht’s so-called alienation effect in which the audience is constantly reminded that this is all a play, a poor choice for a tragedy that wants to put both awe and fear into the hearts of its listeners. Tony Strages’ set design resembles a circus or vaudeville and much of the performance is played on that level. What is sacrificed is the seriousness of the theological and moral issues. There are continual shifts in tone which simply draw attention to themselves, rather than add to the meaning. [more]

Hand to God

April 16, 2015

Though operating under the guise of a rather nonsensical comedy, Askins’ play is actually a sophisticated examination of how we handle grief. The text depicts two competing sides of a boy newly without a father and in the throes of puberty: while Jason appears too innocent to ever do anything wrong, the sock on his hand offers a convenient outlet for his bad behavior. Laced in this dichotomy are hints of schizophrenia, allusions to autoerotic stimulation, and a critique of the Christian notion that “unholy” behavior exists outside of the pure self and thus can be forgiven and eliminated. The question literally “at hand” is as follows: is the puppet actually possessed or is Jason mentally ill? If the latter, to what extent should the otherwise sweet boy be held responsible for the evil puppet’s actions? [more]

Lives of the Saints

March 9, 2015

The advantage of an evening of one acts is that you are bound to like one, while a single long play may disappoint you. After a series of very successful full-lengths that include Venus in Fur and School for Lies, David Ives has returned to Primary Stages and the one-act form with a new evening, "Lives of the Saints," for the first time since his 1997’s Mere Mortals. Unlike his masterpiece in this genre, "All in the Timing," (also seen in New York at Primary Stages in both 1993 and 2013), out of the six playlets (five of which are receiving their New York premieres), three are terrific ones and three fall flat. Don’t blame the game cast of expert comedians made up of Arnie Burton, Carson Elrod, Rick Holmes, Kelly Hutchinson and Liv Rooth or director John Rando, a longtime Ives collaborator on six New York shows. The best ones are clever premises brilliantly developed, while the minor ones are blackout sketches drawn out to inordinate length. [more]

The Threepenny Opera

March 5, 2006

The best way to imagine what has happened to the beggars, the bourgeoisie, the pimps and whores, and the sordid denizens of the underworld in this operatic rant on the evils of capitalism is to think of a Cirque du Soleil troupe on Valium and under neon (what was lighting designer Jason Lyons thinking?). Worst of all, it is plodding and dull and an eyesore thanks to Isaac Mizrahi's Halloween-on-Fire-Island costuming. [more]