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Linda Cho

Sandra

November 26, 2022

Cale’s story uses many film noir devices from the 1940’s: exotic locale, strange encounters, searching down unknown streets, disappearing characters, a sexy stranger, danger signals avoided, clues that don’t add up, information that turns out to be fallacious, a damsel in distress, stolen objects, moments of high passion, etc. Yet all seem to be used as if for the first time. The elements are time tested, but the story is new. Cale is an excellent storyteller pulling us in with enough hints and clues to keep us interested until the very end. There are moments that sag but he always pulls out us into something new and unexpected. [more]

POTUS, Or Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive

May 8, 2022

In "POTUS," Selina Fillinger’s first Broadway comedy, all is revealed by its unwieldy subtitle (“Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive”) which leaves little room for development or surprise. The repeated statement “that’s the eternal question” in answer to why none of these women are President may be the real message behind this play. As staged by famed choreographer and director Susan Stroman, POTUS is frenzied rather than funny, a problem in farce. The seven famous actresses are undone by their one-note characters which give them little to play off of or expand on. A pity considering how few Broadway comedies there are these days and the quantity of talent on stage at the Shubert Theatre. [more]

Harmony

April 18, 2022

Although 25 years have gone by since "Harmony" first tried out at the La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego, the Barry Manilow/Bruce Sussman musical about the Comedian Harmonists is still relevant and timely. This historical musical based on true events which took place mainly in Germany from 1927- 1935 is a necessary reminder of the rise of Nazism and the naïve people who thought it would blow over. Produced by the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, "Harmony" could not be in a more fitting setting to tell this story. Directed and choreographed by Warren Carlyle, the musical has been given a big Broadway-style production for its first New York appearance starring Chip Zien and Sierra Boggess as well as a cast of featured players. [more]

Take Me Out

April 11, 2022

As the most respected player in baseball, Williams has a quiet dignity and charm as a man of few words and few outward motions. While his wry remarks do not often come through as humor, he is very endearing as a man who has always had everything go his way but for the first time in his life must deal with events he cannot control. Ferguson in the role of Mason Marzac which won creator Denis O’Hare a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play in 2003 makes the role his own. His social awkwardness as well as his delight at being close to the superstar is patently palpable. He also has a handle on the volubility and articulateness of this clearly deep thinking man. As the narrator Kippy who is also a member of the team, Adams holds our interest as a compassionate man who uses big words and is known as an intellectual among his teammates. He has the task of doing a great deal of explaining both to his teammates and us and he does an excellent job without making it seem like exposition. [more]

The Chinese Lady

March 29, 2022

Presentational flourishes abound in director Ralph B. Peña’s gorgeous physical staging which combines small-scale spectacle with humanity. Scenic designer Junghyun Georgia Lee provides a large gold frame through which we observe Afong’s act and an assortment of stylized pieces which evokes the past through clever artifice. That’s complemented by the shimmering artistry of lighting designers Jiyoun Chang and Elizabeth Mak and projection designer Shawn Duan. Sound designer and composer Fabian Obispo’s  original music and composition, ranges from delightfully jaunty to purposefully moody. [more]

Whisper House

January 22, 2022

The songs which are mainly sung by Alex Boniello (usually with a guitar) and Molly Hager as the ghostly narrators are folk ballads which though lovely sound like a continuation of the same song. While the theme of racism against Asians is extremely timely, the treatment is wedded to the 1940’s and seems to be many years late. There is a great deal we do not learn about the characters which leaves holes in the plot. The tale is very derivative of earlier stories with the same tropes: haunted lighthouse (Thunder Rock), boy goes to live with strange relatives (The Grass Harp), malevolent ghosts, one male, one female (The Turn of the Screw), etc. [more]

A Sherlock Carol

November 30, 2021

Directed by playwright Mark Shanahan, A Sherlock Carol offers six actors playing 23 roles in this entertaining new adaptation. In the iconic role of Sherlock Holmes with so much history behind it and such well-known performances as those by Basil Rathbone and Jeremy Brett, Drew McVety is to be forgiven for seeming a bit bland, though he warms up as the story evolves and he becomes more invested in the solution to the two cases. As the Ghost of Ebenezer Scrooge, Thom Sesma is a sinister presence, suggesting that he is also the Ghost of Professor Moriarty who has previously haunted Holmes. Memorable is Isabel Keating who is required to use a variety of accents from the American Irene Adler to the Cockney sister of Tiny Tim, as well as singing a beautiful aria as the Countess of Morcar. Keating it may be recalled is the Tony Award nominee and Theatre World winner for her performance as “Judy Garland” in "The Boy from Oz." [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]

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]

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]

The Great Society

November 6, 2019

LBJ’s ambitious social programs in the United States of the 1960’s being sidetracked by the folly of the Vietnam War and his mishandling of the unrest caused by the Civil Rights Movement, have been the subject of books, documentaries and television docudramas. Playwright Schenkkan’s stage treatment of this material is a clumsy waxworks affair of a multitude of forgotten and remembered personages spouting off during two choppy acts.  [more]

The Lifespan of a Fact

November 30, 2018

In a time of fake news, these timely and topical questions are raised in the delightful new Broadway play "The Lifespan of a Fact," a dramatization by Jeremy Kareken & David Murrell and Gordon Farrell of the essay/book by writer John D’Agata and fact checker Jim Fingal, both who appear as two of the three characters in this play. Stars of stage and screen Daniel Radcliffe, Cherry Jones and Bobby Cannavale are having a field day in this amusing and provocative romp in roles that they have played before and are not too taxing but are played by them to the hilt. The fact that this is based on a true story adds to the piquancy of the play – although to be absolutely truthful the original editing job took seven years while only five days go by in the play. [more]

Wild Goose Dreams

November 24, 2018

In offering a window on a world most New York theatergoers know little about, Hansol Jung’s Wild Goose Dreams is a fascinating look at Korean culture. On the other hand, what appears to be a Korean obsession with the Internet and smartphones often becomes tedious as it goes on so long without bringing us much that is new. Leigh Siverman’s busy production creates a world of its own but is often overwhelming rather than enveloping. The Public Theater staging, a co-production with La Jolla Playhouse, may be of more interest to Millennials addicted to their electronic devices than the rest of the theatergoing public. However, this may be the trend of the future and older theatergoers may just have to get used to it. [more]

Grand Hotel, The Musical

March 25, 2018

“We'll Take a Glass Together” is an exhilarating production number. Brandon Uranowitz’s animated youthfulness is up to the task of equaling the impact of Michael Jeter’s legendary turn in the original production as the dying bookkeeper enjoying a carefree spree.  Mr. Uranowitz’s limber movements are thrilling as he euphorically undulates up and down flanked by a large gold dance barre carried by the terrific ensemble. [more]

Editor’s Notes: 2014 Tonys Wrapup

June 12, 2014

Broadway had its big night when the 68th Annual Tony Awards, presented by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing, were given out at Radio City Music Hall hosted by the genial and charming Hugh Jackman for the fourth time. One of several of the evening's surprises was the four minute opening number in which Jackman hopped from the street to the stage to backstage and back on stage again, recreating Bobby Van's iconic number from the 1953 MGM musical, Small Town Girl, which went unidentified in the course of the evening. [more]

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder

December 29, 2013

Alexander Dodge's Edwardian sets which appear inside a reproduction of Pollock's Toy Theater are always delightful. Linda Cho has created an enchanting collection of costumes from those for all of Mays' transformations into the D'Ysquiths to the women's lovely and seductive gowns. The amusing projection design is the work of Aaron Rhyne. Jonathan Tunick's melodic orchestrations are always faithful to its Edwardian period and its music hall roots. Credit director Tresnjak, artistic director of Hartford Stage, now making his Broadway debut, with keeping this confection airborne throughout the evening, including when stretching credulity to the limit. [more]