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Theatre at St. Clement’s

I Spy A Spy

July 21, 2019

Cluttered, lively and quaint, the zany musical comedy "I Spy A Spy" is reminiscent of the sort of lightweight material directorial legend George Abbott would have had a go at in the late 1960’s. This show recalls the Abbott efforts "How Now, Dow Jones" and "The Education of H*Y*M*A*N K*A*P*L*A*N" that William Goldman analyzed in his classic 1969 behind the scenes account "The Season." Abbott did his best with those disappointments just as the creative team for I Spy A Spy does. [more]

The Bigot

May 3, 2019

"The Bigot"’s mouthpiece is the splendid Stephen Payne. Scruffy and silver-haired, Mr. Payne revels in Jim’s cantankerousness and physical decrepitude. Bellowing in his resonant twangy voice as if in a Sam Shepard play, Payne is able to make the most corrosive statements sound funny while expressing emotion. His vivid characterization emits humanity, making the crusty Jim much more than just an ogre. By the end of the play, the role has accumulated the impact of an Arthur Miller-type figure due to Payne’s intense performance. [more]

Kennedy: Bobby’s Last Crusade

November 9, 2018

There are some fine elements in the portrayal. Arrow’s Kennedy-clan dialect seems believable—though maybe slightly over-baked at points (especially when, late in the play, he sings bits of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land”). Happily, he is able to suggest Kennedy’s deep compassion for forgotten, disadvantaged Americans. But because we don’t see him interacting one-on-one with other characters, he’s hampered in his ability to make this quality fully evident. [more]

A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur

October 1, 2018

What gives "A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur" its special cachet in the Williams canon is that its storyline and heroine called Dorothea very much suggest a prequel to A Streetcar Named Desire set ten years earlier, when Blanche was still teaching and coping with life, though already needing liquor and pills to get her over her anxieties. Some enterprising theater group ought to schedule these two plays in repertory with the same actress in the leading role in each. [more]

My Life on a Diet

August 2, 2018

Hence:  "My Life on a Diet," a comically rich stroll through her career in TV, theater and film.  Written by Taylor and her late husband, Joseph Bologna and originally directed by Bologna, Diet is currently at the Theatre at St. Clement’s where a contagiously comfortable Taylor, elegantly attired (gown by Pol’ Atteu) settles down in Harry Feiner’s kitschy, carpeted set to schmooze with her audience.  Taylor, now in her eighties, begins with some self-deprecating humor about aging, after showing herself at various stages in her life. [more]

The Show-Off

October 5, 2017

The central character is actually Mrs. Fisher who worries about her children and plots to open Amy’s eyes to her husband’s faults. Unfortunately, Annette O’Toole has been directed to play her as shrill, strident and hysterical, rather than as a wise middle-aged lady who has no illusions about life. Given a great many ethnic prejudices in her dialogue which in 1924 defined her as a suburban provincial, played this way she simply comes across as a bigot. We ought to be rooting for her against the barbarian invasion but O’Toole makes her almost as bad as Aubrey. [more]

Zero Hour

June 14, 2017

Bearded, stocky and with that distinctive, wild comb-over of salt and pepper hair and wearing an artist’s smock, Brochu vividly conveys the visual, vocal and personality characteristics of the Broadway legend. For 90 enthralling minutes, he dramatizes and enacts the remarkable life and career of that unforgettable performer. [more]

They Promised Her the Moon

May 17, 2017

In the ambitious T"hey Promised Her the Moon," playwright Laurel Ollstein explores a relatively untold chapter of American history. Solidly written but unsatisfyingly structured as a clunky series of flashbacks, confrontations and historical exposition, the play snaps to life in its final scenes. There the Salieri versus Mozart-style rivalry of Peter Shaffer’s "Amadeus" that has developed between the two antagonistic central figures is heightened. [more]

Interview: A New Musical

February 28, 2017

Composer Soo Hyun Huh’s original music is a fine and eclectic assortment of modern melodies. The English lyrics are written by Bryan Michaels. The combined results are stilted and pedestrian. The score is primarily sung dialogue with some actual if indifferent songs. Mr. Michaels has also translated Jung Hwa Choo’s book into English. [more]

Vincent

April 10, 2016

Leonard Nimoy intended "Vincent" as a vehicle for himself that would showcase his talents. In this Off-Broadway premiere presented by Starry Night Theater, "Vincent" is now such an outlet for Nimoy’s worthy successor James Briggs in this entertaining and insightful production. [more]

A Wilder Christmas

December 13, 2015

The Peccadillo Theater Company’s "A Wilder Christmas" is a gentle and genteel evening of theater:  two early Thornton Wilder one-act plays, directed with an attention to detail and a leisurely sense of timing by Dan Wackerman, the company’s artistic director.  "The Long Christmas Dinner" (1931) and "Pullman Car Hiawatha" (1930) together make for a rich sampling of Wilder’s familiar themes of family and the unavoidable specter of death (which, in Wilder, is only the beginning of another journey).  These themes were perfected in his 1938 masterpiece, "Our Town," including the conceit of a godlike Greek chorus in the form of a Stage Manager who explains and even supervises the action. [more]

Drop Dead Perfect

August 29, 2015

Everett Quinton has found the ideal vehicle in the hilarious "Drop Dead Perfect" to revive the style of the Ridiculous Theatrical Company for which he originally found fame. Like the plays of the late Charles Ludlam plays, Erasmus Fenn’s Drop Dead Perfect parodies a specific genre using movie and television quotes and characters, situations lifted from famous melodramas, and sexual puns placed in new contexts. Here the new play is a satire of 1940’s and 50’s Bette Davis and Joan Crawford melodramas, with dollops of I Love Lucy which allows Quinton do sparkle as a Southern heiress with many scores to settle. Director Joe Brancato manages to keep the melodrama believable at all times and none of the quartet of actors goes beyond the histrionics inherent in the plot. [more]

A Queen for a Day

May 10, 2015

If the casting of four powerhouse actors hadn’t been the case—including Proval’s "The Soprano"’s co-star Vincent Pastore--this play would not falter. Michael Ricigliano, Jr.’s writing is consistent and engaging, and the dialogue between the characters is so fluid and effortless that it feels like two real people having a conversation. Full of powerful social commentary, this is a dark, exciting, and at times violent story with a little bit of something for everybody.   [more]

Rocket to the Moon

March 8, 2015

The Peccadillo Theater Company has finely and faithfully revived this rarely seen Odets play, the 6th of his plays to be produced in the late thirties. They are, “dedicated to the rediscovery of classic American theater, particularly those works which, despite their obvious literary and theatrical value, are not regularly revived.” [more]

A Loss of Roses

May 16, 2014

While Dan Wackerman's production is always absorbing, the muddled psychology in the script and the debatable choices made by the actors keep the play from joining Inge's more important major plays. [more]