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Theatre Row

Theatre Row is the name for a section of 42nd Street in New York City which is the location for a number of small theatres; it is also the name of a large theatre complex built in 2000 to house six theatres.

Travels with My Aunt

October 27, 2015

Havergal’s adaptation is unusual in that it uses four male actors to play 25 roles including the central role of Aunt Augusta, with all the actors taking turns narrating the story. Dressed exactly alike in each act, Thomas Jay Ryan, Jay Russell, Daniel Jenkins and Rory Kulz switch identities, nationalities, age, and genders in a madcap adventure told with decided British understatement. This is challenging for the audience as well as the actors: since the performers do not change costumes, it is necessary to follow the plot closely to follow who is who, with the actors sometimes changing characters in the same scene. Steven C. Kemp’s minimal but clever unit set is not much help either as it remains basically the same in each act throughout all of the outrageous adventures that unlikely hero Henry Pulling is taken on by his aunt. [more]

Oh, Kay!

October 22, 2015

From the evidence of Colgan’s Musicals Tonight! production, "Oh, Kay!" not only still works in the original but has a glorious score including such Gershwin classics as “Dear Little Girl,” “Clap Yo’ Hands,” “Do, Do, Do,” “Fidgety Feet,” “Heaven on Earth” and “Someone to Watch over Me.” The three songs cut from the original production (“When Our Ship Comes Sailing in,” “Ain’t It Romantic?”, and “Stiff Upper Lip” used in the film A Damsel in Distress) while not lost treasures are very pleasing lyrics and melodies. [more]

In Bed with Roy Cohn

September 4, 2015

If "In Bed With Roy Cohn" were seen at a theater event such as The New York Fringe Festival, it could be viewed as a promising offbeat creation. But as a commercial Off-Broadway production it is quite deficient on a basic narrative level that undermines its other successful and outrageous qualities. [more]

Happy 50ish!

July 27, 2015

Mark Vogel and Lynn Shore in a scene from “Happy 50ish” (Photo credit: Jeremy Daniel) Darryl [more]

I Know What Boys Want

July 23, 2015

A very powerful and topical theme runs though Penny Jackson’s play, "I Know What Boys Want," but the author’s understandable anger leads to a good deal of melodrama. Tackling the topics of cyberbullying, sexual double standards, and misuse and abuse of the social media are timely and provocative themes and deeply in need of public discussion. However, the play also takes on the topics of drug addiction, teenage drinking, same-sex marriage, date rape, effects of divorce on teenagers, SAT tutoring for rich kids, etc. While the basic story is absorbing, I Know What Boys Want tries to cover a few too many topics in its 90 minutes. [more]

Sayonara, The Musical

July 15, 2015

Although "Sayonara, The Musical" had an acclaimed lavish production at Paper Mill Playhouse in 1987 and a later version at Houston’s Theatre Under the Stars in 1993, it has not been seen in New York until now. Pan Asian Repertory Theatre, now in its 38th Season, is presenting the local premiere of the adaptation with its book by playwright William Luce ("The Belle of Amhurst," "Lillian," "Lucifer’s Child," and "Barrymore"), lyrics by Hy Gilbert and music by George Fischoff. Surprisingly, "Sayonara" has a great deal in common with "South Pacific": the exotic Asian locale, the fraternization between Yankee officers and Asian women, a tale of prejudice and bigotry, and two parallel love stories. Unfortunately, at this post Sondheim junction, the way 'Sayonara" follows the Rodgers and Hammerstein formula seems dated, while the material, based more on the movie than the original novel, has deflated Michener’s story by making it oversimplified and superficial. [more]

For the Last Time

June 9, 2015

As a follow-up to their musical based on Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise, lyricist/composer Nancy Harrow and writer/director Will Pomerantz have turned their sights on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1860 novel, "The Marble Faun." Renamed "For the Last Time," this new jazz musical has changed the setting from Rome in 1860 to New Orleans, circa 1950, and uses an all-Black cast to tell the original story. The show’s glory is its magnificent score, a combination of jazz and blues ballads, wonderfully sung by its cast of seven. The problem is that the show started as a concept album and to some extent hasn’t progressed very far from there: the book by Pomerantz and Harrow remains too thin to deal with the plot’s very deep themes. [more]

Devoted Dreams

June 5, 2015

Directed by Anna Bamberger, "Devoted Dreams" is a mind-boggling production. It would seem as if the objective was almost to minimize this production as much as possible, as a challenge to play against the mythical and high-concept subject matter. Despite the short-sighted production values, there are also structural problems in the script which were not concealed in the slightest by the casting decisions and certainly didn’t help the actors. Though it is true in some cases that less is more, in this particular situation the concept might as well be thrown out the window. [more]

The Unexpected Guest

April 23, 2015

Set in South Wales in the 1950’s, "The Unexpected Guest" (first produced in London in 1958) is a mystery surrounding the events that led up to the death of Richard Warwick, patriarch to the Warwick fortune. In the opening minutes of the play, his lifeless corpse is discovered by Michael Starkwedder (Nicholas Viselli), a seemingly random stranger who—upon driving his car into a ditch—stumbled up to the Warwick Estate in search of assistance. Upon discovering the body, Michael is confronted by Laura Warwick (Pamela Sabaugh), now widow to Richard. [more]

Pardon My English

April 10, 2015

Ironically, the only script that has survived is the original one by Hebert Fields (Annie Get Your Gun) and Morrie Ryskind (Pulitzer Prize for Of Thee I Sing). Musicals Tonight! is giving this pleasing confection its second outing since New York City Center Encores! reclaimed it in 2004 with a delightful revival marked by a top-notch cast of comedians. This rarely heard Gershwin score (which premiered “The Lorelei,” Isn’t a Pity,” and “My Cousin in Milwaukee”) is filled with musical riches, both famous and forgotten including two witty songs cut out of town, “Freud and Jung and Adler” and “He’s Oversexed.” [more]

John & Jen

March 23, 2015

"John & Jen" has very little dialog and almost no action that isn't described in the lyrics, so it's only fair to point out that it probably delivers as much on recording or in concert as it does here. That said, this production directed by Jonathan Silverstein with musical staging by Christine O’Grady is unfussy and effective. Scenic designer Steven C. Kemp provides a few static pieces which function as bed, hillside, or fence as needed, and it's a credit to all that their changing roles are never unclear. Given the small playing area, the nicely varied lighting by Josh Bradford helped much in avoiding monotony. [more]

Whoopee

March 12, 2015

Not seen locally since 1979, Musicals Tonight! is giving this light-hearted romp another outing as a concert staging in the Goodspeed Opera House version which streamlines the plot and adds two additional Donaldson hit songs: “Yes Sir, That’s My Baby” (lyric By Kahn) and “You,” lyric by Harold Adamson. The hit song “Love Me or Leave Me” is reassigned to two of the romantic leads, rather than the unrelated role of Leslie which is eliminated in this version. While the William Anthony McGuire book is as light as helium and just as silly, typical of its era, director Thomas Sabella-Mills’ fast-paced production with a cast of excellent singing comedians does not give the audience much time to think about the plot’s inanities. [more]

Abundance

March 2, 2015

Inspired by real life events of the 1860's and concerned with telling the relatively unknown stories of women pioneers, "Abundance" is highly engrossing, steeped in historical details, and a poignant examination of relationships and friendships. Each of the four main characters is precisely detailed. The complexity of their virtues and flaws are examined with great clarity. The good and bad sides of everyone are shown realistically. [more]

Snow Orchid

February 15, 2015

Pintauro’s play about a tragic American family is highly dramatic but lacks nuance. The four main characters are clearly defined in the first fifteen minutes of the play and remain static throughout. The dialogue is unnatural at times and makes for awkward lulls and pauses. As a result, the action becomes monotonous. [more]

Villainous Company

January 19, 2015

Asking us to stoop down to the level of three women willing to do many ethically reprehensible acts in the pursuit of wealth, Cahn challenges the notions of playing fair and working hard. Who would you throw under the proverbial bus in order to protect your livelihood? Is it ever justifiable to fight crime with more crime? Villainous Company raises these questions and more in the form of a short, fun play that is worth a watch but ultimately not worth too much thought. [more]

The Asphalt Christmas

December 9, 2014

Director Lawrence Lesher and cast have hit the ground running Off-Broadway this Christmas season with the first revival of Todd Michael's The Asphalt Christmas. Theatre Row's Lion Theatre awaits those daring and looking for a Christmas story less caramel coated this year with an audacious play, both shocking and entertaining, as The Exorcist comes to St. Celestine's and their annual Christmas pageant. [more]

Carnival!

October 26, 2014

Everyone loves Lili and she is back in the crisp, taut, melodic revival of Bob Merrill's Carnival! in a concert staging courtesy of Musicals Tonight!. Aside from the colorful production, the cast includes a skillful ensemble all with circus training from jugglers to acrobats. [more]
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