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Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater

The Rolling Stone

July 31, 2019

It is not until the second act of British playwright Chris Urch’s "The Rolling Stone" that the play catches fire but from then on the drama is explosive, compelling and very disturbing. Once the play gets past the introductory exposition that sets up the plot, the production by Saheem Ali (Donja R. Love’s "Sugar in Our Wounds" and "Fireflies," and Christopher Chen’s "Passage") is taut, tense and involving. [more]

Nantucket Sleigh Ride

March 31, 2019

John Guare’s career as a playwright has had three stages. His early plays were examples of Theater of the Absurd with an American accent. Later his plays became more realistic, sometimes based on a true story or historic characters. In his new play "Nantucket Sleigh Ride" now at Lincoln Center Theater’s Mitzi E. Newhouse, he has returned to his absurdist roots with a wild comedy, configured in the form of a memory play by a former playwright which returns him to the summer of 1975. With a cast led by Broadway stars John Larroquette, Will Swenson and Douglas Sills, the play initially has a fascinating premise but goes off the deep end in its second half. Don’t blame the actors who work very hard to try to keep the play on the rails. [more]

The Hard Problem

December 6, 2018

Tom Stoppard, our most cerebral modern playwright, has finally written a play that one would have expected from him all along. "The Hard Problem," his first play in ten years, is literally about concepts in neuroscience and its characters are psychologists, scientists and mathematicians all studying the brain. While the story and its outcome are intriguing, like many Stoppard plays, the characters are not likeable and you will find yourself not rooting for anyone. (Most likely, many real scientists aren’t lovable people either.) Jack O’Brien, who has previously directed Stoppard’s "The Coast of Utopia," "The Invention of Love," and "Hapgood," all for Lincoln Center Theater, has chosen his LCT cast without household names just as did the original London production in 2015 by Nicholas Hytner for Britain’s National Theatre. [more]

Admissions

March 27, 2018

"Admissions" is often very funny like when Sherri has to try to explain why Melville’s Moby Dick is not being taught anymore (a book about a white whale by a dead white guy) and when Charlie is annoyed that girls in his class object to reading Willa Cather, a woman and a lesbian rather than a person of  color. Although the play is intended to be unsettling to white liberals, it is too neat in its setup. It would have to be Sherri who has spent 15 years creating diversity at Hillcrest whose son may be affected by affirmative action and Charlie and Perry who have been best friends almost all their lives should be divided by Yale’s admission choices. Perry’s picture in the admissions catalogue is rejected as he photographs white and does not look like a person of color, but to find a group shot demonstrating diversity it ends up having to be staged. And Charlie’s 180 degree change of heart plunges his parents into a great dilemma: do they use their personal contacts to see what can be done, something Sherri and Bill have not been averse to in the admissions office at Hillcrest for others. [more]

Pipeline

July 30, 2017

From Dominique Morisseau, the author of the critically acclaimed Skeleton Crew, Detroit ’67 and Sunset Baby, comes another powerfully provocative and riveting, but overwrought, play which investigates black rage, racial stereotyping, and parental mistakes. Just try to take your eyes off the high octane production by Lileana Blain-Cruz, which has been brilliantly cast with its six actors, all but Karen Pittman (the Pulitzer Prize-winning Disgraced) making their Lincoln Center Theater debuts. Morisseau may not have all the answers but she certainly looks at the questions from all angles. The play’s title is a reference to the metaphor for “the school to prison pipeline” that describes the blighted lives of so many ghetto youths who fail before they finish their education and was the topic of Anna Deavere Smith’s "Notes from the Field" seen Off Broadway last fall. [more]

Oslo

May 4, 2017

The clarity of this new play by J.T. Rogers does not only rely on the smart yet surefire way it’s written, but also on the masterful staging by Bartlett Sher, who, after recent productions of both "South Pacific" and "The King and I," is no stranger to directing gargantuan shows at Lincoln Center. Given its subject--the Oslo Accord or peace treaty between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (P.L.O.) in 1993--Oslo is ultimately, an enormous play. But it is told in intimate terms. [more]

How to Transcend a Happy Marriage

March 30, 2017

Marisa Tomei excels as George, the narrator of "How to Transcend…" --and of her own story. Thanks to Tomei’s vocal and visual expressions, we constantly share in George’s ongoing surprise, as she graduates from naivety to knowledge. In the end, it is George who has the most “transcendent,” and religious, experience. (It is not insignificant that we’re told George is the only Catholic in the group.)“It seems like you have omniscience,” says George, in her closing monologue, “when you can talk to the audience in a play.” And talk to us, she does, in the playwright’s smart, yet snappy language. Consider George also telling us that Jenna, “over time forgave us,” after walking in on her parent’s participating in a sex orgy. And “the trauma of seeing her parents’ aberrant sex lives up close--it became an anecdote in a college application.” Or consider David’s saying: “I’m from everywhere. And nowhere. I moved constantly as a child…. as a result, I don’t really believe in nationality.” [more]

The Babylon Line

December 19, 2016

Aaron Port (Josh Radnor), a down on his luck writer, is reduced to teaching Adult Ed classes in middle class/middle brow 1960’s Levittown, Long Island. Richard Greenberg ("Take Me Out," "Our Mother’s Brief Affair") in his new play, "The Babylon Line" at the Mitzi E. Newhouse, has Port frequently speak directly to the audience, doling out information and setting the scene, from the vantage point of 2015. Although it’s an awkward device it does come in handy, particularly at the end when a number of plot strands come together. Port’s frustration with his career is exacerbated by having a successful friend, Jay, confront him en route to his teaching assignment. [more]

Oslo

July 26, 2016

Bartlett Sher complements Rogers by punctuating the play with visual puns that substantially add to the drama and importance of the enfolding events. A dinner party at Mona and Larsen’s home is disturbed by two phone calls, ringing at the same time. Larsen fields a call from Israel and Mona takes a call from the P.L.O. Phone cords or wires are crossed, as Larsen and Mona exchange mouthpieces and try to arrange meetings and facilitate a place and time for the negotiations in Norway. [more]

The Royale

March 27, 2016

The staging is unusual in that no punches are thrown. When the actors are supposed to be delivering their blows, they stamp their feet which is actually more sinister and startling. The cast clap in unison to punctuate various dramatic moments. The ringside bell is live, delineating each of the six scenes, in Matt Hubbs’ sound design. During the fight scenes, the boxers face the audience and we hear what they are thinking moment by moment, rather than see their punches. Nick Vaughan’s set doubles beautifully as gym, boxing ring and locker room. During the first boxing match, ropes on a frame are moved around to give the audience different views of the ring. Austin R. Smith’s subtle lighting helps direct attention to the right spot throughout the play. All of this leads to a remarkable and memorable evening in the theater. [more]

Dada Woof Papa Hot

November 20, 2015

It was inevitable that legalized gay marriage would lead to plays about gay parenthood. "Dada Woof Papa Hot," Peter Parnell’s sweet-natured, but frustratingly narrow-focused, new play at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater explores the kind of child rearing issues formerly supposedly experienced only by straight couples, at least straight couples with large bank accounts. To bring the theme of gay marriage further into the mainstream, divorce also rears its ugly head. [more]

Shows for Days

July 13, 2015

The production, directed with oddly erratic pacing by the experienced Jerry Zaks, stars the imperious Patti LuPone as the acidly ambitious Irene, the doyenne of a theatrical troupe in Reading, Pennsylvania, in the early Seventies. Wide-eyed, always ebullient Michael Urie, as Car, Beane’s stand-in, becomes her acolyte/scene painter/receptionist/new playwright in the process of discovering a world his suburban existence never hinted at. He is the author’s glib stand-in who keeps the audience in the loop with apt descriptions, editorial comments and sexual confessions. [more]

The Mystery of Love & Sex

March 23, 2015

Bathsheba Doran’s new drama, "The Mystery of Love & Sex," now at Lincoln Center Theater’s Mitzi E. Newhouse, is yet another play whose title is a misnomer. The story is really about friendship and self-identity for a young college-age couple who grew up together in a Southern suburb. Along the way, the play brings in racism, sexism, homophobia and religious mania, as well as the confusions of youth, as the couple try to maintain their close relationship while falling in love with other people. Although director Sam Gold’s cast is made up of veteran actors Diane Lane and Tony Shalhoub and newcomers Mamoudou Athie and Gayle Rankin doing fine work, the play’s first act is entirely exposition and is basically used to set up the situation. This is a play that would do well to lose its intermission as it really doesn’t begin until its second act. [more]

The Oldest Boy

November 17, 2014

Sarah Ruhl's latest play, The Oldest Boy, having its world premiere at Lincoln Center Theater's Mitzi E. Newhouse, is a magical spiritual investigation into the relationship between teachers and students, and mothers and sons. Based on a true story told to the author by her Tibetan housekeeper, Rebecca Taichman's production uses dance (choreographed by Barney O'Hanlon), ritual and a puppet (designed and directed by Matt Acheson) for three-year-old Tenzin. The play also has the Mother directly address the audience and features breathtaking and colorful lighting effects by Japhy Weideman on Mimi Lien's minimalist but pleasing setting, as well as beautiful Asian costumes by Anita Yavich. [more]

Spotlight on Ahrens and Flaherty: Dessa Rose and a Merkin Hall Tribute Concert

March 28, 2005

The 12-person cast, as staged by longtime Ahrens & Flaherty director Daniele Graciele, presents a moving tale throughout the show. However, the material, especially in Ahren's dialogue scenes, can be very repetitive and can seem overly sentimental. This is often the case with Ahrens & Flaherty shows, which usually contain a batch of stunning musical numbers performed by excellent actors in shows that never seem to be perfected – say "My Favorite Year," "Ragtime," and "A Man of No Importance." Of course, one is glad that Ahrens & Flaherty's shows get regularly produced on Broadway, Off Broadway, and at Lincoln Center. [more]