News Ticker

John Gromada

A Man for All Seasons

February 8, 2019

In recent years the play has not fared with such acclaim. A 2008 Broadway revival starring Frank Langella eliminated the narrator character of The Common Man, the play’s cleverest device, and was not well received. Now Fellowship for the Performing Arts has brought the play to the Theater Row’s Acorn Theatre directed by Christa Scott-Reed, who also staged FPA’s revival of Shadowlands last season. Unfortunately, the academic and unimaginative production fails to bring the ideas and the tensions in the play to a boil. [more]

Amy and the Orphans

March 13, 2018

Casting of Brewer (best known for her several roles on "American Horror Story"), an individual with Down syndrome, is a real coup as she doesn’t have to be inventing a role she knows intimately. Her feistiness, timing and personality make Amy a three dimensional character from the time we first meet her. (A program note tells us that her understudy is another individual with Down syndrome, Edward Barbanell and when he plays the part the play is known as "Andy and the Orphans" in a rewritten version.) Another note reveals that Ferrentino’s heroine is based on her Aunt Amy who grew up with Down syndrome when the medical community had no idea how to deal with it except to institutionalize such people rather than to give them training and support. The play is a fitting tribute to Ferrentino’s aunt who the playwright never got to know as much as she would have liked. [more]

Shadowlands

December 13, 2017

William Nicholson’s "Shadowlands" is one of those subtle plays that grows on you as it evolves and weaves its own spell. Based on a true story of one the most improbable love stories of the 20th century, it covers a range of human emotions that should catch you in its web. Under Christa Scott-Reed’s assured and astute direction, Daniel Gerroll gives a memorable performance as theologian and writer C.S. Lewis. A play of ideas on the meaning and varieties of faith, it is challenging as one has to follow its intellectual and spiritual arguments. However, for discriminating theatergoers, this is an added fillip for more than simple entertainment. [more]

Torch Song

October 28, 2017

While superficially poignant, "Torch Song" remains what it always was: a fierce play about the need for respect as a gay person, when it was painfully more difficult to come by acceptance, let alone respect. And to that extent, it may seem like a dated work, wedded to when it premiered as three one-act plays that were then put together as one, more than three decades ago. It’s still just as moving and tear-provoking as it comes to focus on a gay man whose mother (“the Sylvia Sydney of Brighton Beach”) has to cope with his adopting a young son. With the marvelous Urie and the always-superb Mercedes Ruehl as the mother, how could anything go wrong? Nothing does. [more]

C.S. Lewis On Stage: The Most Reluctant Convert

March 21, 2017

As he impersonates the British writer C.S. Lewis, Max McLean relies on little more than a pipe, a brown suit and tie, and a rather mellifluous voice to become the Anglican philosopher and noted atheist, who famously converted to Christianity in the mid-Twentieth Century. The script was cobbled together by McLean from Lewis’ memoir, letters and books, including other biographies of Lewis, a man who was “intoxicated” by words, which is primarily what this play is about--the mesmerizing effect that words can have, when uttered in an effective sequence. [more]

The Screwtape Letters

January 19, 2016

This Grand Guignol concept is sensationally realized by the striking physical production. John Gromada’s chilling sound design configures his spooky original score with its dominant organ along with bomb blasts and other sound effects for very effective results. Cameron Anderson’s scenic design is a dazzling haunted house affair with the stage wall covered in tiny bones and skulls, a ladder and ramp for the creature to scamper on, and manor-style furnishings. Hellish red hues are prominent features of Jesse Klug’s eerie lighting design. [more]

The Great Divorce

December 11, 2015

While C.S. Lewis’ famous theological allegory, "The Great Divorce," is written as a series of conversations, you might not expect that it would be suitable for stage dramatization as a religious treatise. However, the Michael McLean and Brian Watkins adaptation for Fellowship of the Performing Arts turns this into a high provocative and theatrical evening. Under the assured direction of Bill Castellino, three extremely talented actors (Christa Scott-Reed, Joel Rainwater, and Michael Frederic) play 19 characters among them, making them distinct and fully dimensional. The remarkable projections by Jeffrey Cady and the evocative original music and sound design by John Gromada make this a treat for the ear and eye as well as the mind. [more]

Incident at Vichy

November 28, 2015

Arthur Miller is having a great posthumous 100th birthday! "A View from a Bridge" opened on Broadway to sensational reviews to be followed soon by "The Crucible." Now a revival of "Incident at Vichy," his frightening, microcosmic examination of Nazi-occupied France during the height of World War II, is enjoying a fine revival at the Signature Theatre. While the first two plays are each experiencing radical re-assessments, the director of Vichy, Michael Wilson has opted for a straight-forward, naturalistic interpretation in which each character exists as a finely etched portrait and the set (by Jeff Cowie) is a real, frightening place down to the period French newspapers plastering the holes in the windows. [more]

Ripcord

November 3, 2015

Holland Taylor and Marylouise Burke in a scene from “Ripcord” (Photo credit: Joan Marcus) Joel [more]

Desire: An Evening of Plays Based on Six Stories by Tennessee Williams 

September 15, 2015

Having commissioned evenings of one act plays by major American playwrights based on the short stories of Anton Chekhov and the sonnets of William Shakespeare, The Acting Company has now turned to the work of a native author. As directed by Michael Wilson, the result, "Desire: An Evening of Plays Based on Six Stories by Tennessee Williams," is a mesmerizing work of one acts in which each author handles the original material differently and the brilliant group of nine actors, mainly Acting Company alums, get to tackle two – four roles each. Many give such vivid and varied performances that it is necessary to examine the program to realize that you have seen the same performer in a contrasting role. [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 Elephant Man

December 24, 2014

This third Broadway outing of Bernard Pomerance’s "The Elephant Man" has its strengths and its weaknesses. On the one hand, it has Bradley Cooper’s magnificent, commanding performance in the title role. On the other, Scott Ellis’ production is a times superficial when it ought to be trenchant and facile when it ought to be caustic. However, like actors in profound classic texts, the performances in this 19th century tale many deepen over time. [more]