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Natasha Katz

Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune

June 15, 2019

Given references to "Prizzi’s Honor," "Looking for Mr. Goodbar, " Haagen-Dazs Vanilla Swiss Almond, and VCRs, the otherwise effective revival of "Frankie and Johnny"--now on Broadway at the Broadhurst Theatre--can feel rather dated. The play debuted, after all, in 1987, and McNally’s ambition for realism makes such references natural, if not exactly necessary. But it’s still a substantial look at a one-night stand between Frankie, a waitress, and Johnny, a short-order cook at the same off-stage restaurant. [more]

Curse of the Starving Class

May 27, 2019

The original production of "Curse of the Starving Class" in 1977 was a shocker even for a time when permissiveness prevailed.  Kinney seems to have decided that the play Shepard wrote isn’t sufficiently meaningful or effective, so he decided to exaggerate everything, beginning with the scenery—a large, dumpy, shopworn kitchen—literally breaking apart accompanied by explosive noises before the play begins.  The set is left hanging in pieces as the characters go about their business. [more]

All My Sons

April 29, 2019

Unfortunately in a play that is already crammed full of ominous hints, O’Brien’s production is very heavy-handed, underscoring the foreshadowing with a double line under each and every clue and signal of things to come. While the play has been given a most realistic production for the backyard of a house on the outskirts of an Ohio town by set designer Douglas W. Schmidt and costumes by designer Jane Greenwood that are redolent of the late 1949’s, the actors have been allowed to emote from the moment the curtain goes up. If you don’t guess the surprise ending in this production, you haven’t been paying attention. This may be intended to suggest Greek tragedy by the final curtain but there is no need to make it look like an antique production of "Medea," "Electra" or "Oedipus the King" – which would probably be more subtly staged today. [more]

Burn This

April 28, 2019

For one thing, it takes far too long for Pale, Wilson’s most outrageous and flamboyant creation, to arrive on the scene. (Malkovitch was Pale in the original production and Adam Driver is Pale now, with different but equally effective results.) For another, the premise of the play requires Anna to be overly reserved and subdued, in contrast with Pale’s constantly explosive character. The customarily sure-fire director Michael Mayer somehow seems to have accentuated those problems with lethargic consequences. [more]

Meteor Shower

December 27, 2017

Steve Martin’s old/new wonderful comedy, "Meteor Shower," is about two California couples getting together for the first time--again, and again, and again. Like "Groundhog Day," it keeps starting all over again, with ensuing variations. And in the course of its brief, 80-minute, intermission-less duration, the couples have exchanged more than just words and ideas. By the end, they seem to have exchanged their personalities as well. The passive Corky has become more aggressive, and the overly assertive Laura has become less sure of herself. Similar reversals could be said about their respective husbands, Norm and Gerald. As Norm even says of Gerald, he’s “kind of two people.” [more]

Cats

August 9, 2016

The debonair resident of posh St. James, and Gus, the theatre cat, are both played with finesse by Christopher Gurr, whose “Gus the Theatre Cat” who nearly steals the show away from the more famous “Memory,” here sung by an underwhelming, but pretty-voiced Leona Lewis, the British three-time Grammy Award nominee, as the bedraggled, superannuated beauty, Grizabella. Mr. Gurr’s wistful singing and great acting movingly communicate his tale of theatrical greatness and all the actors he had known (most completely forgotten by contemporary audiences). [more]

2016 Tony Awards Bestow Much Love on “Hamilton”

June 13, 2016

Although "Hamilton" had been nominated for 16 awards in 13 categories, it failed to break the record of Mel Brooks’ "The Producers" which remains the all-time winner with a total of 12. Hamilton took all of the top musical awards including Best Musical and Best Direction of a Musical (Thomas Kail, previously nominated for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights) except for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical which went to British actress Cynthia Erivo. (Making her Broadway debut, Erivo was reprising her role as Celie Harris in "The Color Purple" from the 2013 Menier Chocolate Factory production re-envisioned by John Doyle.) Star Miranda won his second and third Tonys with his awards for Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theater and Best Book of a Musical. He previously won for Best Score with his 2008 Broadway musical, In the Heights. [more]

Long Day’s Journey into Night

May 3, 2016

Jessica Lange and Gabriel Byrne joyously enter through a porch door after the sounds of the ocean have been heard. Their love and attraction for each other is palpable. Mr. Byrne embraces her and with his Irish accent says, “You’re a fine armful now, Mary, with those twenty pounds you’ve gained.” It is instantly clear that this revival of "Long Day’s Journey into Night" is going to be beautiful. [more]

Prodigal Son

February 16, 2016

Television and film actor Timothée Chalamet (Showtime’s "Homeland" and Christopher Nolan’s "Interstellar") makes an impressive New York stage debut as the play’s young protagonist. The role is almost too small to contain his bigger-than-life portrayal: kinetic, animated, provoking, questioning, vital, dynamic. His moods turn on a dime and he can shift from being a sophisticated adult back to being a little boy in a moment. Tall and lanky, he suggests the author but as he must have looked back in 1965. Also making his Manhattan Theatre Club debut, David Potters as his roommate Austin is tremendously sympathetic as a young man afraid of breaking the rules who has led a very sheltered life up until now. [more]

School of Rock – The Musical

December 31, 2015

Though the stage show does not have the imitable and irrepressible Jack Black, it does have rising stars Alex Brightman and Sierra Boggess who make the roles of hero Dewey Finn and Principal Rosalie Mullins their own. The book by Julian Fellows (television’s "Downton Abbey" and the stage version of" Mary Poppins") based on the screenplay by Mike White is extremely faithful to the movie while also giving several of the students’ backstories which makes them more three-dimensional. Before the show begins, we are told by a voice-over (Webber?) that all of the students play their own instruments. [more]

Gigi the Musical

April 21, 2015

Though this sophisticated story was intended for equally sophisticated adults as part of the mores and manners of a society and culture gone with the wind, the stylish and colorful Broadway revival has solved all these problems with Heidi ("Call the Midwife," "Cranford," "Upstairs Downstairs") Thomas’ new adaptation of the Alan Jay Lerner book and the casting of Disney heroine Vanessa Hudgens in the title role. Gigi is now over 18 and Gaston is in his 20’s, which puts a decidedly different complexion on things. “Thank Heaven for Little Girls” is now sung by Gigi’s grandmother Mamita and her Aunt Alicia. All decidedly right and proper and the word courtesan (which is what this is about) is never once mentioned. Sex is never even an issue. Here love is simply a game. So what are we left with? [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]

Motown: The musical

April 18, 2013

In this huge and loving tribute to himself, his music, his stars, Berry Gordy is producing and writing an overstuffed, overcharged, oversized musical in thirty-six settings, fifty-eight songs, twenty-two musicians, forty-one performers, to an additional complement of twenty-nine production entities, and three producers, one of which, of course, is Berry Gordy. [more]