"Brought" On...Maybe Too Much
The new musical "Bring It On" is very entertaining in a benign way. Meant to be a kind of high school musical with cheerleading gymnastics a a "jumping" off point, it suffers from a woeful padded book and songs that are so repetitive, that by the end, they all seem to sound alike. There are two or three good tunes and well staged numbers, but too few for the length of the musical. The lead is robotic at best, but many members of the supporting cast compensate, or maybe even overcompensate. A pleasant diversion at best for little girls ages 10-16.
Bring It On: The Musical on Sunday, Sep 23rd, 2012
Don't venture to this side of the fence
A lot of talk goes on interminably about how we don't know or socialize with our neighbors in the new millenium, as we did in the good old 1950's and 60's. With neighbors like the two couples in "Detroit", I wouldn't bother with them either. Last week we had the incomprehensible, "Heartless" down the block, but at least that one made you stop and think for about two minutes. This one, "Detroit" bombards you with so much nonsense and inane dialogue and mundane monologues, that you can't wait to escape the theatre. Aside from Amy Ryan, the acting is flat, the direction all over the place. I couldn't help thinking that the last couple of new plays I've seen, have gone from bad to worse. Again this one is only a zero star effort. Skip it and watch an cable comedy or drama instead. More insight there than here.
Detroit on Monday, Sep 3rd, 2012
As well as not having any heart, Sam Shepherd's new play "Heartless" has no soul either. Some gibberish about connections that were made in life carry on into death and eternity. It's a total connect the dots with out any conclusion and not one character worth caring about. Lois Smith was fine in her role as" earth mother of us all" and the set was good too. But, the play is really bad and totally not up to Mr. Shepherd's past works. If I were he and the actors, I would scratch this one off my resume ASAP. I gave it one star only because I had to....rates no stars in my book.
Heartless on Monday, Aug 27th, 2012
Pursue This "Pursuit"
A revival of a 1984 play by British playwright Simon Gray, scores a modest hit for the Roundabout theatre. Throughly enjoyable, with excellent performances by the entire cast and vivid direction by Moises Kaufman, I would recommend this to serious theater-goers who enjoy well written, intellectual theater, which also provides a few laughs amid all the drama. I found it a throughly entertaining afternoon at the theater.
The Common Pursuit on Thursday, May 10th, 2012
Albee's Lady... Angels in Dubuque
If it's a light, entertaining evening in the theater you're looking for, don't venture to the brand new Signature Theater space on 42nd street between 9th and 10th avenues. If it's thought provoking, intelligent and highly emotional theater experiences are your cup of tea, as are mine, you can not do any better than the mysterious and highly personal drama, 'The Lady From Dubuque'. It is an evening of theatre I promise you, you won't soon forget. Excellent design, fabulous direction and extraordinary acting. This is perfect theatre from curtain rise to curtain call. Is it 'entertaining'?, not by a long-shot! Is it sober, bitter reality it most certainly is! If you admired "Angels in America', I urge you to see this! Bravo Edward Albee, Jane Alexander and the entire cast for bringing intelligent theater to New York once again.
The Lady from Dubuque on Saturday, Mar 10th, 2012
Something Got Lost In This "Transport"
Although well set and well acted, with an outstanding performance by Morgan Spector as the sinister Uncle Boris, "Russian Transport" suffers from flimsy construct and a tepid presentation of such dark material. Everything seems to be too ho-hum rather than suspenseful. The characters are too trite. Where this could have been a superior drama recreating the plight of immigrants pursuing the American dream, and the lenghs they would go to achieve it, it ultimately ends up like a weak cup of chai or a watered down bottle of vodka.
Russian Transport on Sunday, Feb 5th, 2012
Over the years, the musical " Follies" has been derided for its book by James Goldman. In this production, so close to the original, the clarity of the book is made crystal clear. The cast is excellent, despite the fact that I felt Bernadette Peters was miscast. Dorothy Collins in the original was the definitive Sally, playing off the elegant, soigne, Alexis Smith. She also lost her one big moment in the show with the 11 oclock number, the torchy "Losing My Mind" one of Sondheims best compositions. That being said, you do get a sizzling Jan Maxwell, a comedic and also dramatic Danny Burstein, a debonair Ron Raines, a world weary Elaine Paige, an adorable Jayne Houdyshell and an excellent Terri White, who brings down the house with "Whos That Women"? Brilliant production values..sets,costumes and lighting complete an almost perfect package. Eric Schaffers direction was choppy at times, but its hard to recreate two Broadway icons Harold Prince and Michael Bennett who co-directed the original. By far, the best revival of the show since the original production and one of Stephen Sondheims classics.
Follies on Thursday, Sep 1st, 2011
The Only "Trick" Pepetuated is On The Audience
An unmitigated mess from start to finish...I wouldnt wish it on my worst enemy. Some scenes play as if Tennessee Williams were on crack, rather than just an alcoholic, some scenes play like the worst sitcom produced on TV, and some play like grand guignol Southern gothic. The only redemption is found in Beth Grants performance, and as the play progressed, I felt extremely sorry for her, as she gave her all and received no help from the playwright/director in return. How things like this get produced is a major question circulating in theatre circles today! Absolutely appalling!
Tricks the Devil Taught Me on Sunday, Aug 14th, 2011
Great tour-de-force performance by Tyne Daly. I saw Zoe Caldwell and Patti LuPone as Maria Callas, and Tyne is just as good if not better. A must see for theatre lovers. Alexandra Silberry impresses as one of Madame Callas victim/students. I throughly enjoyed it!
Master Class on Saturday, Jul 30th, 2011
Take Your Holiday Elsewhere
An absolute waste of Broadway talent
Death Takes a Holiday on Sunday, Jul 3rd, 2011
RE:Nothing "unnatural" in these acts
Profoundly moving and socially relevant this play tells of a time where being a homosexual was akin to being a murderer. Because of this, the students at Harvard who were gay had to ban together in order to act "naturally" away from the prying eyes of the bigoted and coservative society reining at the school. The performances are all brilliant, and the sets, lighting, and costuming could not be improved upon. The only drawback is the direction at times. All of the emotions are heightened to a fever pitch, as if the director felt that the audience would not feel the pain and emotion surging through the characters. A notch smaller is called for, as at times I felt the actor was rather false, than utterly true. All in all this is a play that should bee seen by all discerning theatregoers.
Unnatural Acts: Harvard's Secret Court of 1920 on Sunday, Jul 3rd, 2011
Excellent Acting Can't Save Misdirected Production
The performers in "The Mother***With the Hat, are all excellent, with stand-out Tony nominated performances by Bobby Cannavale and Yul Vasquez. The play, however, was totally misdirected. There is probably only one scene in the whole play, between Mssrs. Cannavale and Vasquez that rings true. Everything, as well as the able cast is directed to play their roles as out-and-out vulgar, boistrous stereotypes, not very funny ,since youre dealing with totally damaged people. I know that the material is often bleak and unrelenting, but must every line and action be delivered in order to get a laugh? I would like to see this play done under another directors aegis one day, since it did have a good story line, dealing with contemporary subjects.
The Motherf**ker with the Hat on Wednesday, May 25th, 2011
Meet Vera For Act 1
A great departure from Lynn Nottages award winning "Ruined", Vera Stark has many redeaming qualities and does point a finger at racial biases in Hollywood. Act 1 is a brilliant satire, while Act 2 is a rather mordent account of how the Hollywood system sometimes breaks down true talent with its stereotyping and prejudiceracial,ethnic, and sexual. Good cast with Sanaa Lathan a standout in the title role.
By the Way, Meet Vera Stark on Tuesday, May 10th, 2011
RE:A Little Too Intelligent Homosexual
Ponderous, Pedantic, and Pretentious and that are only words that begin with P...Tony Kushners new play is so uninvolving, that after 3:45 minutes of philosopical preaching, you, like the protagonist are ready to commit suicide. Every scene includes some mumbo-jumbo involving philosophy, communism, capitalism, socialism and quite a few other isms. Also a dash of theology and Mary Baker Eddy thrown in just for fun. There is not one true character, other than Michael Cristophers youngest son portrayed splendidly by Stephen Pasquale. The others are so annoying that you wish someone had placed a muzzle on them in between acts. The set design is good and considering the poor playwrighting the director Michael Grief does the best he can. If you enjoyed attending Philosophy 101 in college you may like it. If not, avoid like the plague.
The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures on Wednesday, Apr 13th, 2011
De-Lovely De-licious Anything Goes
In brief...a wonderful production from start to finish. Sutton Foster makes the iconic role of Reno Sweeney previously potrayed by Ethel Merman and Patti LuPone her own. Joel Grey in a suppoting role puts his all into it, and shows you what a real Broadway veteran is all about.. The ingenues and comic relief are great, and Kathleen Marshalls direction and choreography supurb. For an evening in the theatre that is as bubbly and light as sipping a glass of champagne on the deck of a cruise ship ...see Anything Goes immediately.
Anything Goes on Monday, Apr 4th, 2011
Gallop on over to Lincoln Center Immediately
I cannot praise the total production of War Horse enough. I had heard so many positive things about it from those who saw it in London, and I was not disappointed. I do agree though with the party who claimed that the accents between the French and German became rather muddled and did take away some of the emotion of the scene.. I felt the direction and the performances of the main leads, and the puppeteers who operated Joey, the horse, more than compensated for any minor flaws in the transition from London to the Vivian Beaumont stage. I highly recommend it to all audiences from 8-80. Toward the end even I shed a lttle tear. What more can you ask for at the theatre?
War Horse on Wednesday, Mar 30th, 2011
Are Any Of Us Really "Good People"?
Good People by David Linsay-Abaire raises many important and interesting questions while at the same time being very funny. The questions raised basically have to do with human nature. Can we ever really ever leave our past behind us? Are the decisions we make for ourselves and others really the right ones? Who are really "good people" and who is really not? Class, race, and other weighty social issues are stirred into the mix as well. While all of the themes are rather thought provoking and serious...as I said there are plenty of laughs throughout. The entire cast is excellent, with special mention to Becky Ann Baker and Estelle Parsons as two old Southie broads who dont take no guff from nobody, and especially Oscar winner Frances McDormand who manages to pull off a rather complicated role, with bravura.. I highly recommend this play if you are willing to think about it after youre done smiling.
Good People on Wednesday, Mar 23rd, 2011
A Little too much "Queen" in This Desert
Lets start with the pros...excellent costuming, lighting, and a heartfelt performance by Tony Shelton make this worthy viewing for those enamoured of glitz and spectacle. Believe me both are served up in non stop.. For anyone looking for any dramatic resemblace to the original source materialthe film you will be sorely disappointed. The whole show has the look of a frenetic Las Vegas floor show circa 1960. The staging of musical numbers which are practically every scene is static, repetitive and rather unimaginative ...look at an old variety show from the 60s and youve just about have seen the show. The two other leads...Will Swenson and Nick Adams are sorely short changed in the acting department...If Wills is the lead role..you sure could have fooled me. This adaptation of a hit cult movie favorite provides an entertaining, and mildly diverting evening in the theatre but what you really come away rememberingr are the few non musical scenes, the costumes, and a twirling bus.
Priscilla Queen of the Desert the Musical on Wednesday, Mar 16th, 2011
Championship Season Is Over
The burning question in my mind all through the performance was...Why did they even bother to revive this play? This is a play so rooted in the political and social climate of the 1970s, that it is almost a comedy today. This is by no means..Arthur Miller...Tennesee Williams or August Wilson. That being said the performances were good excellency was achieved by Brian Cox as the "Coach". Direction by Gregory Mosher was good, as well as production design. My critique was in the writing. The characters almost became a male version of Sex and The City...stock stereotypes with no emotional arch. Mediocre at best.
That Championship Season on Monday, Feb 28th, 2011
RE:Gurney's Black Tie...Like a Bright Dinner Jacket
Black Tie by "Pete" Gurney goes over familiar Gurney territory..in this case, is being a WASP becoming extinct? Now, everbody is multi-ethic, multi racial and multi everything else that along with the descendants of the Mayflower we are losing all sense of "Class". The theme is not a grand one, but is a valid one in the age of facebook and match.com. The performances are breezy and bright with kudos to Gregg Edelman and Daniel Davis as the extinct dinosaurs and the rest of the cast as representations of the distaff side...liberal democrats to be precise. Although not one of Gurneys best..it is diverting and pleasant enough providing a few laughs for the Primary Stage subscription audiences.
Black Tie on Sunday, Feb 27th, 2011
Would Return to This Desert City
I hope they do decide to bring this show to Broadway, as is being discussed. It is an excellently written drama that captures you from beginning to end. One of the best Ive seen so far this season. The cast,direction and design could not have been better. If they could transfer Time Stands Still to Bway from last seasonalso a good play Other Desert Cities deserves a wider audience as well.
Other Desert Cities on Tuesday, Jan 25th, 2011
Rather Give Blood
Id rather give blood than sit through this show again. A totally waste of talent.
Blood From a Stone on Tuesday, Jan 25th, 2011
Elf.. Not Tiny in Big Broadway Production
When a bright, breezy show like Elf, finally arrives on Broadway, it is savaged by the NY theatre critics.To me ,Elf is what Broadway should be...a show in which younger children could see as an introduction to Broadway. It does not aspire to be a great American musical at all. It is a very pleasant afternoon in the theatre for the whole family. I wasnt feeling very well today, and I was going to give my ticket to a friend, but I was so glad I went. It cheered me up enormously.Bravo to the entire cast and production team involved.
Elf on Wednesday, Nov 24th, 2010
RE:Al Pacino Shines in Merchant
Shakespeare is a very hard sell in the United States..as Americans are used to things being over quickly, especially in the age of instant messaging and the internet. If you do decide to go to this production of Merchant of Venice and give it your attention, I assure you will not be disappointed. The cast is great and the production is fairly simple in design and execution. At the performance I attended a Sunday matinee there were alot of teenagers there and they did not seem to be bored. I personally had some minor qualms with time and place..At first you feel its the 1920s around the time of the stock market crash but nothing was changed in the dialogue to imply that it was not 17th century Venice. The costuming is rather off...Men are in semi-modern dress and women adhere to the dress of Shakesperean times...This is rather minor as you quickly become absorbed in the play and the characters.. Bravo Al and company.
The Merchant of Venice on Monday, Nov 1st, 2010
"Daisy" Smells like a Rose
Although hokey and trite this production of Driving Miss Daisy is endearing and heartwarming thaks to three great performances...Vanessa Redgrave...James Earl Jones and Boyd Gaines.You will not see better acting I assure than what is provided by these pros. This is a master class in the art of stage acting. I urge anyone interested in superior theatre not to miss it !
Driving Miss Daisy on Monday, Nov 1st, 2010
RE:A Don't Miss Musical
This is the best show Kander and Ebb did since Spider Woman... You will not be disappointed if you are a musical theatre lover. Strong book, innovative staging, and an ensemble cast to die for..not one can be singled out..all excellent...should win a Tony for Best Ensemble Cast.
The Scottsboro Boys on Sunday, Oct 24th, 2010
What a Shame
I really had high hopes for The Addams Family and was I dissapointed...I woulnt even recommend it to out of towners who deserve to see a better representation of a Broadway musical. I do feel sorry for all the talent involved, since they are trapped in such a dismal show,,,Noy scary, funny or kooky..just plain ooky !
The Addams Family on Friday, Apr 9th, 2010