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Joan Marcus

Joan Marcus is one of the preeminent theatrical photographers working in the US today. Over the past 25 years she has photographed over 500 shows on and off Broadway and regionally. A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Joan graduated from George Washington University. In 2014 she received a Tony Honor for Excellence in the Theater. Joan Marcus is married to the theatrical press agent Adrian Bryan-Brown of Boneau/Bryan-Brown, a leading Broadway press agency. http://www.joanmarcusphotography.com/

Broadway’s “Mrs. Doubtfire” Takes a Nine-Week Hiatus Due to Covid-19

January 7, 2022

The show's pre-Broadway, out-of-town tryout was very successful financially, suggesting that there's an audience for the show. (The show broke box-office records in Seattle, during its tryout.) But that was before the pandemic. As company members began testing positive in December, the show was forced to cancel a number of performances, costing the production a lot of money.  And after spending six years developing the show, its creators did not want to see the show die due to Covid-19.  So they are trying this nine-week hiatus now, in the hope that it will give the show a chance at long-term viability later. [more]

Flying Over Sunset

December 20, 2021

"Flying Over Sunset," Pulitzer Prize-winning bookwriter/director James Lapine’s new original show, is a “What If?” musical: using historical facts that are known about writer and philosopher Aldous Huxley, politician and diplomat Clare Boothe Luce, and actor and film star Cary Grant, he has created a fictitious story about their experimenting with LSD together in the late 1950’s together. The problem seems to be that he doesn’t appear to know much about them so that the results are extremely thin though the musical still manages to run a little under three hours. The songs by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Tom Kitt and lyricist Michael Korie don’t add a great deal and the production design which ought to be psychedelic is subdued and unadventurous. Stars Harry Hadden-Paton as Huxley, Carmen Cusack as Luce and Tony Yazbeck as Grant try valiantly but they can’t breathe life into generic cardboard cutouts. [more]

Is There Still Sex in the City?

December 15, 2021

Although Candace Bushnell’s one-woman show, "Is There Still Sex in the City?," shares the same name with her 2019 novel/self-help book, the stage show now at the Darryl Roth Theatre is her autobiography telling the story of her life and career. Ms. Bushnell proves to be a vivacious performer with a great deal of stage presence, not surprising for a woman who was the model for "Sex and the City"’s Carrie Bradshaw. The show is both entertaining and revealing, correcting many misconceptions about the true adventures of the author. She also gets to change into a dazzling array of outfits by Lisa Zinni in an attractive apartment setting by Anna Louizos which colorfully lit by Travis McHale. And like Carrie Bradshaw she collects shoes which are in evidence in the shelves on the stage. [more]

Mrs. Doubtfire

December 12, 2021

Broadway fixture Rob McClure occasionally channels Robin Williams with sparkling riffs and simulated ad libs but makes the roles of Daniel and Mrs. Doubtfire his own and each distinctive especially with his trilling Scottish burr. With his commanding singing, dancing and acting talents, Mr. McClure is a stage marvel up there with Jim Dale, effortlessly veering from comic to poignant. Jenn Gambatese is delightful as Miranda, finely balancing seriousness with madcap as the pragmatic wife. As the children, Analise Scarpaci, Jake Ryan Flynn and Avery Sell all offer appealing characterizations. Brad Oscar is uproarious as always as Daniel’s brother. As his fierce husband, J. Harrison Ghee is magnetically hilarious. Peter Bartlett scores as a weird over the hill children’s television host. The animated Charity Angél Dawson’s child welfare official is a grand take on bureaucratic officiousness. In the brief role of a television network executive, Jodi Kimura is wickedly deadpan par excellence. [more]

Selling Kabul

December 6, 2021

Will a former Afghani U.S. Armed Forces interpreter get himself and his family out of the country before he’s captured by the Taliban in 2013? This is the crux of playwright Sylvia Khoury’s gripping, thoughtful and suspenseful drama, "Selling Kabul." In a straight through 100 minutes, Ms. Khoury crafts an accessible overview of that conflict, sets up a compelling story and employs a classic plot device. Khoury’s smooth passionate dialogue imparts exposition and biographical details while advancing action with technical accomplishment. [more]

Clyde’s

December 4, 2021

As the manager of the restaurant, Aduba gives one of those big performances which are larger than life, but we have all met that type of people. She batters, insults, cajoles, berates her staff: is it to drive them to new heights or she is paying the world back for her tough life? Is she an incarnation of the devil or Satan? The gas fires that shoot out of the stage periodically make us wonder. When they receive a rave review in a local newspaper she belittles them as though they had nothing to do with the restaurant’s success. Wearing a new and colorful skintight outfit by Jennifer Moeller and multiple hairdos by Cookie Jordan each time she enters through the swings doors from the restaurant into the kitchen, she is a bigger and bigger surprise by what she says and what she threatens. As the dangerous and intimidating Clyde, she gives an indelible performance; just try to take your eyes off of her when she is onstage. [more]

Cullud Wattah

November 27, 2021

All of us are probably aware of the problems of polluted water in Flint, Michigan, owing to civic neglect. However, it might shock you to know that it is still going on. Erika Dickerson-Despenza’s 2021 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize winning play, "Cullud Wattah," takes on this crisis through the prism of one family of three generations of Black women living in the same house. The material is powerful and explosive. We learn a great deal about the crisis as well as see how it personally affects all five of these women in one family. Director Candis C. Jones has obtained the kind of performances from her ensemble cast that makes you feel that these actresses have lived and worked together for years when they may have never met before now. [more]

Kristina Wong, Sweatshop Overlord 

November 22, 2021

But of course, looks are famously and frequently deceptive, if not all the time. Indeed,"Kristina Wong, Sweatshop Overload" emerges as one of the most serious-minded plays of all, as it surveys what we all have been going through and having to endure for the past 20 months. During that period, as you may recall, there were various times when necessary facemasks were proving unavailable—and especially in different parts of the country. Wong made it her business to recruit hundreds of her “Aunties” to produce them and provide relief, ergo the self-deprecating description in her title. She may have been overseeing something akin to a “sweatshop,” but it’s hard to imagine her as a demanding “overlord” of anything. [more]

The Visitor

November 20, 2021

David Hyde Pierce taking off his suit trousers to practice on a drum in his boxer shorts is one of many hilarious bits that are meshed with drama in "The Visitor." It’s a faithful, resonant and well-done musical adaptation of the acclaimed 2007 independent film of the same title. Book writers Kwame Kwei-Armah and Brian Yorkey stick closely to director/screenwriter Thomas McCarthy’s original vision while skillfully translating it for the stage. [more]

Trevor: The Musical

November 16, 2021

The writers seem afraid to state what the story is all about, the word gay being mentioned exactly once. At two hours and 15 minutes including one intermission, today’s audience is way ahead of the plot, knowing exactly what will happen in advance. While the 1994 movie was 23 minutes, the musical seems padded and dragged out. Davis’ music is pleasant enough, but Collins’ lyrics are pedestrian and repetitious. The songs seem to have a limited vocabulary such as children’s books often do, but 13 year olds have a slang and vernacular that is hardly used. The biggest problem with the score is that the dream Diana Ross (played flamboyantly and spiritedly by Yasmeen Sulieman) gets to sing seven of her most iconic songs (“Do You Know?,” "It’s My Turn,” “Upside Down,” “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “Remember Me,” “Endless Love” and “I’m Coming Out”) which are far superior to any of the new songs, always a mistake in a non-jukebox musical. [more]

Caroline, or Change

November 9, 2021

"Caroline, or Change" is an important musical, more now than in 2004.  It should be seen.  The Roundabout production, though somewhat flawed, still communicates the complicated relationship between Blacks and Jews, clearly an issue in today’s New York City.  It is an excellently constructed show, its message surviving mostly intact. [more]

Letters of Suresh

October 13, 2021

Although the characters never meet in person, they communicate mostly through letters that are spoken by the actors directly to the audience, and then halfway through the play, in texting which appears on the back screen as well as Facetime from across the world. Letters of Suresh is the perfect play for the pandemic as its characters are separated from each other across the stage as they declaim their letters, a reminder to all of us that without meeting in person we can communicate in writing. And the letters presented as monologues are never dry or dusty, but vibrant and revealing as if the other person is opposite you on the other side of a room or table. [more]

Sanctuary City

September 28, 2021

Martyna Majok writes powerfully and brilliantly about marginalized people, particularly undocumented immigrants living in Northern New Jersey, as in "Ironbound" and her 2018 Pulitzer Prize-winner "Cost of Living." Her new play, "Sanctuary City," set in Newark, now being given its world premiere production by the New York Theatre Workshop at the Lucille Lortel Theatre, is the same only different. While the characters could be cousins to others in her previous plays (as well as her 2018 "queens"), the structure and format is quite audacious and unusual, making the play a bit off-putting. [more]

Pass Over

September 19, 2021

The spartan set design by Wilson Chin features a large tin can, a tall streetlamp, a very large tire, a milk crate, and a high basketball net. The first two actors, Jon Michael Hill (as Moses) and Namir Smallwood (as Kitch) take shifting turns sitting on the large can and the milk crate. But when we initially meet them, they’re running rapidly in place. They’re also speaking what eventually becomes a tedious and redundant black vernacular, without seeming to have much to say to each other or to us, even as they traffic in racist clichés. As indicated by the character named Moses, Pass Over is riddled with Biblical references. It’s 28 minutes into the play when they’re joined by Mister (although I kept hearing them call him “Master,” which under the circumstances, would have made more sense). He also removes an enormous amount of food from the straw basket he brings with him, which he was ostensibly taking to his mother, as he also sings, “What a Wonderful World.” Mister is played by Gabriel Ebert, who also plays “Ossifer,” an alcoholic’s way of pronouncing “Officer.” [more]

Semblance

August 18, 2021

Written and directed by White who is the Obie and Lily Award winning director of "Our Dear Dead Drug Lord" (WP Theater) and "What to Send Up When It Goes Down" (Public Theater, BAM Fisher and Playwrights Horizons), a NYTW Usual Suspect and former NYTW 2050 Fellow, among other impressive credits, "Semblance" asks the question: in your everyday life, how do you encounter Black women? What do you see and what do you assume? Nikiya Mathis plays seven women from all walks of life, six of them depicted in various jobs and careers and each in her own setting. The women address us directly: a line worker in a salad take-out restaurant, a nanny and caretaker with her charge in Prospect Park, a chart-topping artist preparing for a music video, an unemployed mother getting her nails done in a salon, a public figure such as a politician about to be interviewed on a news program, a bus driver on her run on an MTA bus, a medium to low level consultant in an office, and finally the actress herself as she removes her makeup. [more]

Coal Country

March 17, 2020

For "Coal Country," an investigation into the April 5, 2010 West Virginia disaster at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch coal mine which killed 29 men, authors Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen based their documentary play on first person interviews with the families of many of the victims, sons, brothers, fathers, husbands, nephews. Powerful in the piling up of evidence and malfeasance just as they had done in "The Exonerated," the play undercuts its dramatic power by revealing the end of the story at the very beginning so that the ultimate court decision comes as no surprise. Nevertheless, the individual stories told by seven actors speaking the real words of family members are very compelling. [more]

Unknown Soldier

March 11, 2020

The declarative lyrics are written by Mr. Goldstein and the show’s composer Michael Friedman. Mr. Friedman was a notable musical theater figure who died of HIV-related causes in 2017, at the age of 41. With its derivative melodies echoing Stephen Sondheim, John Kander and William Finn, "Unknown Soldier" is not a posthumous masterpiece. [more]

Cambodian Rock Band

March 8, 2020

Mixing fiction and fact, new Signature Theatre Residency playwright Lauren Yee’s "Cambodian Rock Band" is an engrossing, entertaining and appalling  investigation into the Khmer Rouge’s genocide in Cambodia in the 1970’s and its aftermath. Using authentic Cambodian rock music from the 1960’s and 70’s as well as the songs of Dengue Fever, the Los Angeles-based Cambodian American band, the play is emceed by the genial Duch played by Francis Jue who turns out to be the play’s greatest villain and a real person now in prison. Chay Yew’s production is one that does not require prior knowledge to get caught up in the fictional play and the ugly, true history of Cambodia. [more]

Dracula (Classic Stage Company)

February 24, 2020

As the centerpiece of its spring season, Classic Stage Company is presenting a repertory of adaptations of two legendary Gothic horror stories: Bram Stoker’s "Dracula" and Mary Shelley’s "Frankenstein" in new stage versions. Kate Hamill, go-to playwright for adaptations of 19th century literature, has given her take on "Dracula" a delightful comic slant. The sexism in the novel has been diluted by making this a feminist revenge fantasy. Turning Doctor Van Helsing, vampire hunter, and Renfield (under the sway of the vampire) into women changes the dynamic quite a bit giving the play a modern viewpoint. Director Sarna Lapine, who has worked with Hamill before on her "Little Women" and "The Scarlet Letter" adaptations, keeps the pace brisk and the humor buoyant as the women are given the best of the story. [more]

Frankenstein (Classic Stage Company)

February 18, 2020

If it sounds challenging to do a two-performer version of "Frankenstein," it proves just that in the current production at the CSC, being performed in repertory with a new stage version of "Dracula." As adapted by Tristan Bernays from the novel by Mary Shelley, the first half-hour of the 80-minute show is more like performance art than a play, as very few words are spoken. During the first part of the play, there are more grunts and groans than there is anything resembling a script. [more]

Where We Stand

February 14, 2020

Amidst the hubbub that includes coerced audience clapping and singalongs, we attempt to discern what the point is. It appears to be the story of an outsider who takes up residence in a rural locality and is accused of a crime;  the audience votes whether to convict or acquit him. Several audience members have been given pages of lofty speeches to recite. “The words your fellow Townspeople quoted come from Dr. Cornell West and Coretta Scott King,” states the program. Where We Stand’s 70 minutes are mildly engaging if often baffling and do make some impact. [more]

Grand Horizons

February 10, 2020

Bess Wohl's "Grand Horizons" opens with a pas de deux of marital inertia as Nancy (Jane Alexander) and Bill (James Cromwell), two near-octogenarians wasting their twilight days in a so-called independent living community, wordlessly go through the motions of sitting down to dinner. Their silence, and apparently 50-year marriage, are finally both broken when Nancy dispassionately declares that she "would like a divorce" and with equal nonchalance Bill responds, "All right." Confidently staged, or rather choreographed, by director Leigh Silverman, it's an extraordinary scene that, in truth, could stand alone as its own very brief play with the audience, possibly to its experiential chagrin, imaginatively filling in everything that came before. [more]

A Soldier’s Play

February 5, 2020

David Alan Grier, Blair Underwood and Billy Eugene Jones in a scene from Charles Fuller’s “A [more]

Miss America’s Ugly Daughter:  Bess Myerson & Me

January 18, 2020

More in the spirit of Carrie Fisher than Christina Crawford, performer Barra Grant chronicles her life and that of her famous mother in her engaging and smartly presented self-written solo show, "Miss America's Ugly Daughter: Bess Myerson & Me." Nostalgic New Yorkers will have their memories refreshed while others might be delightfully informed. It’s a harrowing, insightful and often very funny 90 minutes. [more]

ON THE PASSING OF THE NEW YORK MUSICAL FESTIVAL…

January 10, 2020

The festival has given birth to musicals that have gone on to Broadway ("Next to Normal," "Chaplin," "[title of show]," "In Transit") and Off-Broadway ("Altar Boyz," "The Other Josh Cohen," "My Vaudeville Man," "Yank!," "Cyclops," "Bedbugs," etc.)   Its shows have been produced in all 50 states and in 27 countries.Productions launched at the festival have won one Pulitzer Prize, three Tony Awards, three Obie Awards, and seven Drama Desk Awards.  That’s a terrific track record. [more]

The Thin Place

December 13, 2019

After pillaging Ibsen in "A Doll's House, Part 2" and lampooning the former First Couple for "Hillary and Clinton," vaunted playwright Lucas Hnath’s latest piffle, "The Thin Place" is a Wallace Shawn-style talkathon aptly dedicated to the late magician Ricky Jay as it’s an exercise in flimflam.  There is more craft and profundity in the first season "I Love Lucy" episode “The Séance” with its immortal lines, “Ethel to Tillie. Ethel to Tillie. Come in Tillie.” [more]

A Bright Room Called Day

December 1, 2019

Maddeningly alternating between being an absorbing historical drama and a grating exercise in self-indulgence,  "A Bright Room Called Day" is author Tony Kushner’s reimagining of his 1985 first play. “It never worked” states a character regarding the play. It still doesn’t, but parts of it are entrancing. In contrast to his gargantuan two-part opus, "Angels in America," this runs a tolerable two hours and 45 minutes including an intermission. [more]

A Christmas Carol

November 26, 2019

Campbell Scott as Ebenezer Scrooge and Dashiell Eaves as Bob Cratchit in a scene from Jack [more]

Evita

November 18, 2019

Solea Pfeiffer in a scene from New York City Center’s revival of “Evita” (Photo credit: Joan [more]

Fires in the Mirror

November 17, 2019

The Reverend Al Sharpton, Angela Davis, and Sonny Carson are among the two dozen celebrities, cross section of New Yorkers, and male and female integral figures of diverse ethnicities that are given astounding portrayals by actor Michael Benjamin Washington. These simulations occur during this bedazzling revival of conceiver and writer Anna Deavere Smith’s acclaimed 1992 solo play about the Crown Heights Riots, "Fires in the Mirror." [more]

For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf

November 12, 2019

Seven vibrant and diverse women of color take the stage and speak, sing and dance at the start of this shining revival of author Ntozake Shange’s landmark play, "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide /When the Rainbow Is Enuf." They’re wearing costume designer Toni-Leslie James’ beautiful fluorescent dresses, each in a different color, and some have regal headpieces. The dynamic cast of Sasha Allen (Lady in Blue), Celia Chevalier (Lady in Brown), Danaya Esperanza (Lady in Orange), Jayme Lawson (Lady in Red), Adrienne C. Moore (Lady in Yellow), Okwui Okpokwasili (Lady in Green), and Alexandria Wailes (Lady in Purple) vividly perform Ms. Shange’s self-invented “choreopoem,” a theatre piece embracing poetry, movement, and music. Each of these magnetic performers brings distinction and individuality to their roles. [more]

The Michaels

November 10, 2019

Richard Nelson’s latest play, "The Michaels" (subtitled a “Conversation During Difficult Times”) is a thing of beauty. Low-key like his "Apple Family" quartet and his "The Gabriels" trilogy, it is Chekhovian in the best sense of the word: very little happens but life passes by. The characters who sit in a Rhinebeck, New York,  kitchen (also the setting for the other seven plays) talk of life and death, love and desire, memories and accomplishments. They reveal secrets and ponder changes and ultimately make decisions. Not much takes place but then again all of life occurs in the course of the play’s two hours. [more]

Macbeth (Classic Stage Company)

October 28, 2019

There has been a recent trend to perform Shakespeare as minimally as possible and with as few actors as possible. However, the question arises what is gained? When the doubling of roles proves confusing so that when actors appear it is difficult to know who they are playing, what is the point? Here the two actors who play the murderers Macbeth hires to kill Banquo report to him and then take their seats with the guests at his banquet which is quite disconcerting. In Doyle’s version, Macbeth himself kills Lady Macduff and her children rather than his henchmen – so who is minding the palace? Antonio Michael Woodard, the young man who plays Banquo’s son Fleance, appears in this scene as Macduff’s son but we know we have seen him before. [more]
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