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Nederlander Theatre

Shucked

April 17, 2023

In addition to a surfeit of approximate rhymes, the score for Shucked includes a paean to corn and a reprise of the following ready-for-Hallmark advice: "maybe love is like a seed/a little sun is all you need." Meanwhile, Horn blithely salts the earth with acerbic observations about how "marriage is simply two people coming together to solve problems they didn't have before." Foregoing any accountability for this philosophical inconsistency, director Jack O'Brien instead attempts to cover for it with turbo-charged pacing that not only sacrifices thought for an admittedly infectious energy but also, as a part of this devil's bargain, undermines the comic timing necessary for a lot of Horn's jokes to land properly. But the amiable cast never falters, even when the laughs do or the score becomes more saccharine than corn syrup. The cast is adept, too, at executing Sarah O'Gleby's inventive choreography on scenic designer Scott Pask's ramshackle barn of a set. Particularly enchanting is a rolling barrel dance that Durand daringly pulls off with impressive grace. It's just too bad that this delightful surprise isn't accompanied by many others. [more]

A Christmas Carol (Jefferson Mays)

November 27, 2022

Visually the show pulls out all of the stops continually making stage magic. Every scene offers new scenic effects and things that appear impossible but are right there on stage before you, and disappear in a twinkling of an eye to be replaced by new wonders. Beginning with Marley’s hearse in a flashback to seven years ago, Laffrey’s designs include Scrooge’s gloomy office, Scrooge’s staircase which somehow deposits him in his even darker  bedroom on the second floor, the depressing all-boys school that Scrooge attended as a youth, Fezziwig’s warehouse (Scrooge’s first real job,) a colorful Christmas panorama filled with food and presents, the poor kitchen of the Cratchit family, the lavish dining room of his nephew Fred, and a brightly lit snow-filled cemetery. Using streaming video projection, a revolving stage and seemingly magic acts, as well as fog and snow effects, the production attempts all things that are possible on a stage. [more]

Mr. Saturday Night

May 6, 2022

Anyone else may find this decent show to be a tired affair which just about sustains its two-and-half-hour running time. The memory-piece book by Crystal, Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel is based on their screenplay which ranges from the 1950’s to the 1990’s. It intends to be a loving tribute to a bygone show business era and fitfully succeeds at that. The schmaltz-laden dramatic writing never really rises above the rudimentary, rendering the events and conflicts with patness and clichés. Still, it offers choice roles that are marvelously performed by the other cast members. [more]

War Paint

April 27, 2017

Written by the same team that created the musical version of "Grey Gardens" (Doug Wright, book, Scott Frankel, music, and Michael Korie, lyrics) which gave Ebersole the two best roles of her career, the new show is absorbing, elegant and urbane hewing closely to the facts while at times compressing time and offering a few composite characters. Suggested by the joint biography "War Paint" by Lindy Woodhead and the documentary film, "The Powder and the Glory," the musical tells the parallel stories of the rivalry and careers of these two remarkable women from the 1935 to 1964. As they are never reported to have met, Wright’s book for the musical either alternates their lives or uses a split stage effect to show us both at the same time in their own milieu. Occasionally, they lunch at the St. Regis at the same time but avoid meeting each other seated on their own banquettes. [more]

Disaster!

March 21, 2016

Seth Rudetsky and Jack Plotnick’s libretto mocks all the famous disaster films of the seventies, like 'Jaws,' "Earthquake," "The Poseidon Adventure," "The Towering Inferno," "Ben," etc., and squeezes every Bible worthy catastrophe onto the Nederlander stage, all the while using hit songs from the seventies, sung live, to punctuate the libretto with music that makes singing—and dancing—along difficult to avoid. [more]

Amazing Grace

July 27, 2015

Famously, it was an 18th century slave trader who redeemed himself, after many gruesome twists and turns in his life, by writing this song. Told with something approaching accuracy, "Amazing Grace" nevertheless is less than compelling as both history and theater. What might have been a fascinating tale has been reduced to a melodrama complete with a villain who all but twirls his mustache, a hard-to-win love interest, an African princess who provides an excuse for some passionate dancing and many examples of physical and emotional torture of slaves, all accompanied by a series of soaring contemporary ballads. [more]