Sunday, March 26, 2017

Off-Broadway Theater Review: Wakey, Wakey

Wakey, Wakey
Written and Directed by Will Eno
Signature Theatre Company
Extended through April 21

By Lauren Yarger
What's It All About?
A man named Guy (Michael Emerson), who really is "every guy," is facing his own mortality. When we first meet Guy, he is in his PJs on the floor, when he gets a "wakey, wakey" call: he apparently has been given news that he is living his last days on earth. A calendar on the wall of Christine Jones' enigmatic set shows days being crossed off, if a morbid sort of countdown (cardboard boxes are strewn about the set).

 "Is it now," Guy asks several times throughout the 75-minute presentation.

In a flash (Nevin Steinberg, sound design and David Lander, lighting design), Guy is in a wheelchair, his condition obviously worse. He begins a monologue that is mostly stream of consciousness, speaking to the audience, though we're not quite sure why we are sitting in his room at what appears to be an end-of-life care facility, where he is helped eventually by a kind person named Lisa (January Lavoy).

The script contains some humor as well as some soul searching and thought provoking points:
  • Death is inevitable; we are always saying goodbye to someone. 
  • If we feel something like joy, where does that feeling go?
  • Whoever you are now is probably who you are going to be on your death bed, so make the most of every minute of every day to be the best person you can be.
  • Don't take anything for granted.
  • What's important in life is not what is lost, but what is still here.
What Are the Highlights?
Eno is a witty writer. Emerson (“Person of Interest,” “Lost”) conveys the humor as well as melancholy, giving us a portrait of a man trying to press up on the importance of what he has realized in the face of death and amidst frightening symptoms and the loss of control over his body.

Eno fans appeared to be in attendance laughing boisterously as lines that didn't seem all that funny.

What Are the Lowlights?
Some of the ramblings are vague and hard to follow. Even at only 75  minutes, I felt my mind wander. The woman next to me fell into a deep sleep.

More Information:
Wakey, Wakey has been extended at the Signature Center, 480 West 42nd St., NYC, through April 21. Tickets and Performance info: signaturetheatre.org.

Additional credits: 
Michael Krass (Costume Design), Peter Nigrini (Projection Design)

FAMILY-FRIENDLY FACTORS:
-- No content notes

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Broadway Theater Review: The Price



The Price
By Arthur Miller
Directed by Terry Kinney
Roundabout Theatre Company
Through May 7

By Lauren Yarger
Talk about a dream cast! Tony Shalhoub, Jessica Hecht, Danny DeVito, along with Mark Ruffalo, show what character acting is all about in a limited Broadway run of Arthur Miller's The Price presented by Roundabout and directed by Steppenwolf Theatre Company co-founder, Terry Kinney.

Shalhoub and Ruffalo play estranged brothers Walter and Victor Franz, who are reunited to sell the remains of their father's household before the building is razed. When his father lost everything in the Depression, Victor gave up his chance at college and a career in science to stay home and take care of him. Walter, however, went on to become a successful doctor, Something about why one got his chance and the other didn't has festered for 16 years and kept the brothers apart.

Victor's wife, Esther (Hecht), is tired of living on a policeman's salary and urges her husband to retire. She also urges him to accept Walter's offer of a job and his half of the money they might get for the the household furniture and possessions.  Walter seems eager to make amends with his brother but Victor hesitates. At what price does this come?

Picking a name randomly from the phone book, Victor contacts Gregory Solomon (DeVito), an eccentric 90-year-old furniture appraiser to see what the old stuff, no longer in vogue, can bring. Set Designer Derek McLane litters the stage with all kinds of dusty, old antiques with many pieces suspended around the border of attic ceiling, a portend of how the past is looming, threatening to crash down on the brothers.

The play is one of Miller's best, in my opinion, giving thorough development to the characters and peppering the philosophical monologue about life with humor. Not wanting to give spoilers, let me just say that after watching Solomon eat a hard-boiled egg --  which seems to trigger genuine laughter from Ruffalo -- you will never eat one again without thinking of DeVito. Lines about movie tickets costing $2.50 (it is set in 1968) and about the federal government not being reliable generate bonus laughs as the original dialogue takes on new meaning in current times.

The play runs a bit long at to hours and 30 minutes with an intermission, and at times Miller seems to have forgotten he has stashed Solomon in the bedroom, but overall, it's a very human and raw, honest look at the ghosts in families and how they affect us when we try to reconcile the past with hopes for the future.

Hecht and Shalhoub are excellent and bring depth to characters we might otherwise not like. Esther is at once a fed-up housewife who is ashamed of a husband who doesn't seem to know how get ahead and his devoted wife and friend. Walter is a combination of a condescending brother trying to one-up his sibling and a display of humility by a man who has realized the folly of his ambition.

DeVito's comedic timing is a charm, even if we don't fully buy him as an aging Jew. Ruffalo, however, struggles to bring layers to Victor and the character comes off as clueless instead of a son who has been taken advantage of by his father.

The Price plays at American Airlines Theatre, 227 West 42nd St., NYC. Performances are Tuesday through Saturday at 8 pm; Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at 2 pm
Tickets are $69-$169: roundabouttheatre.org; 212-719-1300.

Sarah Holden (Costume Design), David Weiner (Lighting Design), Rob Milburn and Michael Bodeen (Sound Design), Jesse Tabish (Original Compositions), Tom Watson (Hair and Wig Design), Thomas Schall (Fight Director)

FAMILY-FRIENDLY FACTORS:
--God's name taken in vain

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Off-Broadway Review: The Light Years

Rocco Sisto, Aya Cash & Erik Lochtefeld. Photo: Joan Marcus
The Light Years
By Hannah Bos and Paul Thureen
Developed and Directed by Oliver Butler
Presented by The Debate Society
and Playwrights Horizons
Through April 2

By Lauren Yarger
What's It All About?
It's 1893 and 1933 all at the same time, in this world premiere of the new play written by The Debate Society Co-Artistic Directors Hannah Bos (The Open House) and Paul Thureen (Blood Play). Circumstances around the World's Fair in Chicago merge with family struggles 40 years later, both linked by the light of a star.

In 1893, Hillary (Erik Lochtefeld) works on the piece de resistance for fair,  the 12,000 seat "Spectatorum" theater, the vision of Steele MacKaye (Rocco Sisto). It's a moon that, with the help of assistant Hong Sling (Brian Lee Huynh) will make an electrifying entrance for the crowd -- if they don't electrocute themselves in the effort.

Hillary's wife, Adeline (Ava Cash) is an enthusiastic supporter of the project until tragedy occurs. Some 40 years later, another family lives in the same house and the wife, Ruth (also Cash), bears a striking resemblance to Adeline. Her husband, Lou (Ken Barnett), is having a hard time supporting his wife and son, Charie (Graydon Peter Yosowitz) as a jingle writer and Ruth find work at the fairgrounds in a pancake shop. Sling and Hillary show factor in with a surprise for Ruth.

What Are the Highlights?
Cash, who is known as Gretchen on the FX series “You’re the Worst,” is excellent as both female protagonists. The action is not linear with action from both time periods intermingling. She makes some quick costume changes and effectively portrays two separate, yet linked characters. 

Oliver Butler's direction is tight and focuses, giving the two time periods distinction while avoiding confusion. Lighting by Russell  H. Champa provides lighting which helps convey the mystical feel of the piece as well as providing direct routes of light from the star that links the action to earth on the front of the proscenium.

The play gets point just for being different. This is not your typical story or presentation (a trademark of shows presented at Playwrights Horizons). An amazing amount of storytelling occurs in one hours and 45 minutes with no intermission. I really enjoyed the adventure of traveling through time and thinking through the mind of an inventor.

What Are the Lowlights?
The play can be a bit scattered and struggles to find its ending.

More Information:
The Light Years plays at Playwrights Horizons, 416 West 42nd St., NYC through April 2. playwrightshorizons.or

Additional credits:
Scenic Design by Laura Jellinek, Costume Design by Michael Krass, Sound Design by Lee Kinney, Original Music by Daniel Kluger, Wigs by Paul Huntley. 

Off-Broadway Theater Review: The Penitent


The Penitent 
By David Mamet
Directed by Neil Pepe
The Atlantic Theater Company
Through March 26

By Lauren Yarger
What Is It All About?
The world premiere of a new play from David Mamet with hardly an F bomb to be found. It's an interesting study on just how far a person is (and should be) willing to go to stand up for what is right -- or to defame someone else just to get what you want. The themes seem particularly vital in the midst of current culture where false news can drive an agenda and where not being on the perceived "right side of an issue' can result in a person's being targeted with hatred and loss of livelihood.

Charles (Chris Bauer of "True Blood"" fame) is a renowned psychiatrist who refuses to testify on behalf of a client. The client claims homophobia is the reason and goes public with his allegation citing a paper Charles once wrote calling homosexuality an aberration. Charles claims his decision not to support the youth with his testimony is instead because of the heinous crime committed by the boy -- the shooting of 10 people. The "aberration" remarks are an incorrect reporting of what Charles actually wrote in the paper, but that doesn't seem to matter.

The press focuses on Charles' character, rather than on the crime and soon his marriage and career are threatened. He seeks advice from his colleague, Richard (Jordan Lage, who appeared in Mamet's Pulizer Prize-winning play Glengary Glen Ross on Broadway). He understands Charles' ethical objections to releasing any records of his sessions with the boy -- even if they will help exonerate him.

His wife, Kath (a miscast Rebecca Pidgeon), doesn't appreciate having her life turned upside down. The stress becomes too much with more devastating effects on her than even her husband who is the target of public hatred experiences. Joining in the pressure to just give in and testify is Charles' attorney (Lawrence Gillard, Jr. from "The Walking Dead"). He remains opposed, especially in light of the his recent religious awakening. He isn't quite sure exactly what he believes about God or his Word in the bible, but he feels that testifying on behalf of the boy would be wrong morally.

What Are the Highlights?
The themes are contemporary and thought-provoking. What is the price of being forced to commit an act one feels is immoral? The interaction between Charles and his attorney in the second act is the most engaging.

What Are the Lowlights?

The play can be unclear at times about who some of these folks are. I took me a while to verify in my mind that Kath was Charles' wife and for a while, I thought Richard was his attorney and a prosecutor before realizing he was a colleague.  It is two acts and does not need to be -- an 80-minute, no-intermission format would better serve it. So would some edits. We wonder where Charles' attorney is through most of the first act. Pigeon ("The Unit") seems to have trouble looking or sounding natural in the role. Pepe has her taking walks away from Charles and talking into space rather than directly to him which points out the distance between them, but unfortunately also contributes to her not fitting. The sharp, quick banter that is Mamet's trademark doesn't fall naturally off her tongue.

More Information:
The Penitent plays through March 26 at the Atlantic Theater Company's Linda Gross Theatre, 338 West 20th St., NYC. atlantictheater.org 

Additional credits:
Scenic Design by Tim Mackabee, Costume Design by Laura Bauer, Lighting Design by Don Holder.

FAMILY-FRIENDLY FACTORS:
-- Language
-- God's name taken in vain

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Off-Broadway Theater Review: Man from Nebraska TOP PICK

Man From Nebraska
By Tracy Letts
Directed by David Cromer
Second Stage Theatre
Extended through March 26

By Lauren Yarger
What happens when one day you realize that you no longer believe what you believe? That's the question poignantly explored by Pulitzer-Prize winning playwright Tracy Letts in Man From Nebraska getting an extended Off-Broadway run at Second Stage Theatre

For Ken Carpenter (the always-excellent Reed Birney), suddenly the stars are out of alignment and he isn't sure what he wants out of life. After all, he can't complain. He and his devoted wife, Nancy (the also always-excellent Annette O'Toole) have settled into the routine of comfortable life. They seem in sync as they go to church, visit Ken's mother, Cammie (Kathleen Pierce), in the nursing home, eat a silent meal together and finish off the day watching some bad TV.

They go through the motions of a normal life and Director David Cromer is the star here, allowing the drama to take its time to reveal the monotony of the couple's routine by not falling into the temptation to speed up the action. The result is that through an extended silence, or the subtle way Ken instinctively hands Nancy the napkin she needs, we get a sense of two that have become one, even if that one is fairly boring.

But one night, in what is probably the best depiction of a crisis of faith on stage (and one of the finest moments of acting you will ever see), Ken breaks down and confesses to Nancy that he doesn't believe in God any more. He is full of sorrow and despair and doesn't think God hears his prayers. He thinks people are not rewarded for what they do right and punished for what they do wrong, he sobs. Maybe we're all just accidental science and when we die, we're done.

He tries to talk with his daughter, Ashley (Annika Boras), with whom he works, but with whom he doesn't have a real friendship, but doesn't get anywhere. His other daughter is away at school and apparently not interested in interrupting her studies for a master's degree to deal with family matters. Nancy wants to help her husband, but doesn't know how, so she reaches out to their pastor, Rev. Todd (William Ragsdale). The understanding pastor doesn't seem phased, however, saying it just sounds like a bunch of questions have come up that Ken thought he had already answered. He suggests Ken take a vacation, get out of Lincoln, and spend some time by himself.

Ken heads to London, the only other place he has ever been (he had been stationed there while in the service) and strikes up an unlikely friendship with hotel barkeep Tamyra (Nana Mensah) and her flatmate (and comic relief character) Harry Brown (Max Gordon Moore). Soon, Ken isn't taking calls from home and is finding new ways to express himself through sculpture and a fling with the very willing and kinky Pat Monday (Heidi Armbruster).

Meanwhile, Nancy is left on her own to deal with Cammie, life in Lincoln and with the romantic attentions of Rev. Todd's father, Bud (Tom Bloom). The skies of Nebraska hang over all Ken experiences and finally call him home (thanks to Set Designer Takeshi Kata and Lighting Designer Keith Parham). Original music and Sound Design by Daniel Kluger adds to the mood.

Letts' script is sensitive and probing. These are real people with real issues tinged with messages about acceptance, friendship, forgiveness and what is real in life. The sadder elements of the story are balanced with humor, including some laugh-out-loud moments. The tightly written script runs a perfect two hours with an intermission. My only criticism is an obscure reference to Ken's not understanding the stars that doesn't seem to fit with the rest of his quandary about faith (but it does lend itself to a nice special effect).

Man From Nebraska has been extended at Second Stage Theatre, 305 West 43rd St., NYC. Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 7 pm; Friday and Saturday at 8 pm; Saturday at 2 pm; Sunday at 3 pm. Tickets are $56-$100: http://2st.com; 212-246-4422.

FAMILY-FRIENDLY FACTORS:
-- Language
-- Drug use
-- Nudity
-- Sexual activity
-- Explicit dialogue

Monday, March 6, 2017

Off-Broadway Theater Review: The Most Reluctant Convert

Max McLean. Photo:  Jeremy Daniel.
The Most Reluctant Convert
Written by Max McLean
Co-directed by Max McLean and Ken Denison
Fellowship for the Performing Arts
Extended through May 21

By Lauren Yarger
What's It All About?
The story of the the conversion of author C.S. Lewis (the creator of the Narnia books) from atheism to Christianity. Max McLean, who adapted the script form Lewis' autobiography "surprised by Joy and his "Collected Letters" as well as other materials, stars as Lewis and co-directs the one-man show with producer Ken Denison. Set in Lewis' Oxford study (designed by Kelly James Tighe with projections for backgrounds designed by Rocco Disanti)  in 1950, Lewis relates the story of how he fell away from the faith -- he was baptized in the Church of Ireland and harsh father was not an example of the kinder side of faith. He came to the belief that God did not exist, that religion was something mankind made up to answer terrifying questions.

"I didn't believe in God, but was angry with God for not existing."

He delves into erotica and the occult to fill the void, but never is able to find what he is looking for until later study and conversations with friends like poet Owen Barfield and author J.R.R. Tolkien ("The Hobbit;" "Lord of the Rings") that he realizes he does believe in God. Believing in Jesus as God incarnate came a bit later.

What Are the Highlights?
Lewis went on to become one of the greatest writers about the Christian faith. His books "Mere Christianity" The Narnia Chronicles and "The Screwtape Letters" -- which Fellowship for the Performing Arts also turned into a stage adaptation starring McLean -- have been a source of growth for Christians and conversation with non believers for decades, so it's always great to see this type of work highlighted on a New York Stage.  The always excellent John Gromada provides original music and sound design to enhance the atmosphere. Disanti's projection pulls portraits off the study walls to highlight the people mentioned in Lewis' narrative. A run time of 80 minutes with no intermission is a treat.

What Are the Lowlights?
It's pretty dry, even if you are interested in the Christian perspective of Lewis' conversion. McLean's heavily accented voice (Claudia Hill-Sparks does the dialect coaching) develops a cadence that tends to lull. Introducing some conversation with Tolkien might have broken up the monologue and provided interest for audience members who probably know the Middle Earth author as well or better than Lewis. The "most" reluctant convert seems a stretch for this conversion story which hinges on a a realization and slow acceptance of belief. Believe me, I was a much more reluctant convert! But again, it is a blessing to be able to have this kind of faith-based theater offering in New York and I have already recommended it to many planning trips into the city. Talk-back sessions are offered after most of the performances.

More information:
The Most Reluctant Convert concludes this season for Fellowship of the Performing Arts (previous shows were The Screwtape Letters and Martin Luther on Trial, the company's first original play.) Performances through April 2: Wednesdays at 7 pm; Thursdays at 7 pm; Fridays at 8 pm; Saturdays at 4 and 8 pm; Sundays at 3 pm.

Beginning on April 4: Wednesdays at 2 pm; Thursdays at 7 pm; Fridays at 8 pm; Saturdays at 3 and 8 pm; Sundays at 3 pm.

Exceptions: There will be no 2 pm performance and no 7 pm performance on Wednesday, March 15 and Wednesday, March 29, no 7 pm performance on Friday, April 14 and no 3 pm performance on Sunday, April 16. There will be an additional 7 pm performance on Tuesday, April 11 and Wednesday, April 12.

Tickets are $65: Acorn Theatre, 410 W. 42nd St., NYC; FPAtheatre.com; 212-239-6200

Additional credits:
Costume Design by Michael Bevins; Lighting Design by Geoffrey D. Fishburn

FAMILY-FRIENDLY FACTORS:
-- No content notes. The theater recommends this show for age 13 and up.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Broadway Theater Review: Sunset Boulevard

Glenn Close. Photo: Joan-Marcus.
With One Look, It's As if She Never Said Goodbye
By Lauren Yarger
Glenn Close reprises the role which won her a Tony n 1995 and brings down the house in retooled version of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Sunset Boulevard.

Close delivers a mature, yet more fragile Norma Desmond and when it comes time for her close up, we're surprised by the number of layers that have been revealed beneath the facade of a has-been movie star.

Despite Close's tour-de-force performance, which stops the show with "As If We Never Said Goodbye" and "with One Look," director Lonny Price's skilled direction keeps the other performances from being lost in the sweep of one of Norma's many flowing, glittering outfits (costumes designed by Tracy Christensen). In fact, some of Close's co-stars, who reprise their roles from the company's sold-out and acclaimed run in London's West End, add nuance to the characters.

We have lots of actors we could compare them too, but there is no need. Michael Xavier is a handsome, silky-voiced Joe McGillis, a down-on-his-luck Hollywood screen writer who stumbles into a sweet deal at Nora's mausoleum-like mansion on Sunset Boulevard. The actress lives alone with her chauffeur/servant Max von Mayerling (Fred Johanson, who made me fall just a little bit in love every time he sang in his deep baritone). But the free lodgings and clothes Joe receives while pretending to edit a horrible script Norma has penned to pave the way for her comeback on the big screen come at too high a price. Joe feels trapped when Norma declares she's "mad about the boy" and manipulates his emotions to hold onto her lover while her own mental facilities decline.

Both of Norma's men come into focus in a way I hadn't seen previously in the original Broadway production or in the Billy Wilder Film on which the musical (with a book and lyrics by Don Black and Christopher Hampton) is based. Joe is meaner, calculating and less sympathetic; Max is less transparent and we notice his sacrifice and pain.  

Siobhan Dillon lends a lovely soprano as she sings the part of Betty Schaefer, with whom Joe falls in love as they work on a screenplay together.

The score sounds fabulous thanks to the huge 40-piece orchestra which takes up the rear of the stage. It is the largest orchestra to play a Broadway show in 80 years. Music Supervision and Direction is by Kristen Blodgette, who was brought out for the curtain call. It was well deserved. The first strains of "With One Look" brought goosebumps and its finale brought an extended ovation for Close -- those not as long as the one she received for "As If We Never Said Goodbye."

OK, so what's not to like about this fourth Lloyd Webber musical currently playing on Broadway (it joins CATS, School of Rock and Phantom of the Opera)? 

While Close's performance is stunning, her singing voice is less than optimal, especially in the higher ranges. It works because she acts through the songs and an older singing voice isn't completely out of place in a show about an aging movie star, but I think her voice sounded a bit strained and I would have loved to have these favorite songs belt me out of my seat.

The set is minimally designed by James Noone for this concert staging, but it was very hard not to miss the opulent split set of the original production. Having Joe's dead body floating overhead throughout lends an ominous feeling to the production at first, but loses intensity by the end of the two hours and 40 minutes and is a bit distracting. I also wasn't crazy about people masquerading as cars (by carrying flashlights simulating headlights. If it's a concert version, so be it.)

These are minor complaints. Go see this piece of theater history before the sun sets on Sunset. The run has been extended through June 25 at the Palace Theatre,  1564 7th Ave., NYC. Performances are Wednesdays at 2 and 8 pm; Thursdays at 7 pm; Fridays at 8 pm;  Saturdays at 2 and 8 pm and Sundays at 3 pm. Tickets are $65-$199: www.ticketmaster.com/sunset; 877-250-2929.

Additional cast:
Nancy Anderson, Mackenzie Bell, Barry Busby, Preston Truman Boyd, Britney Coleman, Julian Decker, Anissa Felix, Drew Foster, David Hess, Brittney Johnson, Katie Ladner, Stephanie Martignetti, Lauralyn McClelland, T. Oliver Reid, Lance Roberts, Stephanie Rothenberg, Graham Rowat, Paul Schoeffler, Andy Taylor, Sean Thompson, Matt Wall and Jim Walton.

FAMILY-FRIENDLY FACTORS:
-- Language
-- God's name taken in vain
-- Horoscope
-- Suicide attempt

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/.

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com), an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com and is a theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer. She previously served as Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle and the CT Press Club.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.

Copyright

All material is copyright 2008- 2017 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact reflectionsinthelight@gmail.com

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Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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