Thursday, May 31, 2012

Quick Hit Theater Review: Title & Deed

Title and Deed
By Will Eno
Directed by Judy Hegarty Lovett
Signature Theatre

What's it About?
Well... in a Becket sort of way, it's about nothing and everything. A traveler, known only as Man(Conor Lovett), arrives with his baggage (literally and figuratively) from a far off land to chat with the audience about life.

"I'm not from here ... and probably never will be."

In the course of the dialogue, Man touches on the things we all have in common: hopes, dreams, love, loss, happiness, wanting to be home -- all the things that make up life.


What are the Highlights?
Eno's prose is touching, humorous, lyrical and engaging storytelling. Lovett's performance is commanding and understated. Man is very likable and the Irish lilt in Lovett's voice lends to the melodic sound of the piece which is produced at Signature in association with Gare St. Lazare Players Ireland.


What are the Lowlights?
If you're not a fan of Becket, you probably won't enjoy this. If you are, or if you're just a fan of Eno's work like Pulitzer-Prize-finalist Thom Pain (based on nothing), the wonderful Realistic Jonses which just had a run at Yale Rep; or Horton Foote Promising New American Play winner Middletown, you will enjoy Title and Deed.

What Else Do I Need to Know:
Title and Deed runs through June 17 at Signature Theatre, 480 W 42nd St., NYC. Tickets are $25. Call 212-244-7529 or visit http://www.signaturetheatre.org/.

Christians might also like to know:
-- Language

Quick Hit Theater Review: The Common Pursuit

The Common Pursuit
By Simon Gray
Directed by Moises Kaufman
Roundabout Theatre Company

What is it about?
A group of friends at Cambridge idealistically begins a literary magazine called The Common Pursuit edited by Stuart Thorne (Josh Cooke). Contributing to the periodical are self-loathing poet Humphry Taylor (Tim McGeever), chain-smoking, coughing Nick Finchling (Lucas Near-Verbrugghe), Peter Whetworth (Kieran Campion), known to the gang as Captain Marvel for his numerous female conquests and Martin Musgrove Jacob Fishel), who handles the business side of things when he isn't lusting after Stuart's girlfriend, Marigold Watson (Kristen Bush). Jump nine years later and the magazine is in trouble. So is Stuart's and Marigold's relationship -- she's pregnant, but economics say she will have to abort the child. Some of the friends offer possible solutions to save The Common Pursuit including using their influence to get an arts grant, but Stuart is adamant about keeping it free of influence. Besides, Martin's offer to go into a business partnership with Stuart seems motivated more by his desire to be a part of Marigold's life rather than by a passion to continue publishing literary material. The plot jumps forward again and then back in time to follow the plight of these friends over 20 years who discover that life doesn't always turn out the way you plan.

What are the Highlights?
Cooke, Fishel and McGeever turn in some solid performances and bounce well off of each other at the highly different personalities. Derek McLane's set quickly adapts with a few changes to create the various locations.

What are the Lowlights?
The story tends on the boring side. It's hard to bond with any of the rather unlikable characters except for Martin, and well, there's only so far you can go in bonding with a guy whose best friend is a cat. Stuart really lost me when he seemed to think that being broke and printing the highest quality poetry was more important than Marigold's obvious desire to have the baby or the life of his child despite clear options to allow him to continue printing and support his family. Near-Verbrugghe's smoker's cough isn't believable.

What Else Do I Need to Know?
The limited engagement plays at the Laura Pels Theatre, 111 East 46th Street, NYC through July 29. For tickets and performance information: http://www.roundabouttheatre.org.

Christians might also like to know:
-- Language
-- Abortion
-- Lord's name taken in vain

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

New plays by LaBute, Gurney Among Shorts About Disabilities

Mary Theresa Archbold (Ginger), Anita Hollander (Rose) and Tiffan Borelli (Gorgeous) in Bekah Brunstetter's GORGEOUS, part of Tlast year's theater Breaking Through Barriers' SOME OF OUR PARTS at the Clurman Theatre (410 West 42nd Street). Photo by Carol Rosegg.
Theater Breaking Through Barriers (TBTB), the renowned Off-Broadway
company known for its productions that integrate able-bodied actors
with artists with disabilities, presents MORE OF OUR PARTS – its
second annual festival of short plays about disabilities and the
people affected by them.
The festival features world premieres by Neil LaBute,
A.R. Gurney, Bekah Brunstetter, Bruce Graham, Samuel D. Hunter, and
Jeffrey Sweet – with performances to run June 21 through July 1 at
Theatre Row's Clurman Theatre (410 West 42nd Street).

TBTB artistic director and founder Ike Schambelan, Tony-nominee Pamela Birch,
Christopher Burris, TBTB company member Christina Roussos, and Russell
Treyz, and direct.

The world-premiere plays, each commissioned by TBTB, include Bekah
Brunstetter's AFTER BREAKFAST, MAYBE; Bruce Graham's THE AHHHH FACTOR;
A. R. Gurney's THE INTERVIEW; Samuel D. Hunter's GEESE; Neil LaBute's
THE WAGER; and Jeffrey Sweet's A LITTLE FAMILY TIME.

The ensemble of MORE OF OUR PARTS includes Melanie Boland, Tiffan
Borelli, Donna Bullock, Shannon Devido, Stephen Drabicki, Joshua Eber,
Shawn Elliott, Warren Kelley, Shawn Randall, Jonathan Todd Ross,
Nicholas Viselli, and Blair Wing. The production features set design
by Bert Scott; costume design by Kristine Koury and dramaturgy by
Julius Novick. Brooke Elsinghorst is Production Stage Manager.
ABOUT THE PLAYS:
In Bekah Brunstetter's AFTER BREAKFAST, MAYBE, a young woman plots to
take over the world, while her mother serves her blueberry
smiley-faced pancakes. Christina Roussos directs.

In Bruce Graham's THE AHHHH FACTOR a producer and writer argue over
whether they should shoot a sex scene for a beautiful, deaf movie
star. Russell Treyz directs.

In A.R. Gurney's THE INTERVIEW, a young, deaf man has an admissions
interview at a prestigious college. Ike Schambelan directs.

Samuel D. Hunter's GEESE looks at a wheelchair-using young woman who
wants to save the geese in a city park. Christopher Burris directs.

In Neil LaBute’s THE WAGER, on their way home from a club in NYC, a
guy and his girlfriend are stopped by a homeless man and a game of
chance quickly begins to escalate into something more dangerous. Ike
Schambelan directs.

In Jeffrey Sweet’s A LITTLE FAMILY TIME a celebrated writer is forced
to introduce his fiancée to a corner of his life he has tried to keep
hidden. Patricia Birch directs.

Theater Breaking Through Barriers, formerly Theater by the Blind, is a
critically acclaimed company integrating able-bodied actors with
artists with disabilities. Founded in 1979, by Artistic Director Ike
Schambelan, the company's mission is to change the image of people
with disabilities from one of dependence to independence, to fight
stereotypes and misperceptions associated with disability, and to show
how vibrant, fluid and exuberant the work of artists with disabilities
can be.

MORE OF OUR PARTS runs June 21-July 1 at Theatre Row's Clurman Theatre
(410 West 42nd Street): Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30pm;
Friday at 8pm; Saturday at 3pm and 8pm; Sunday at 3pm. Tickets are
$19.25. For reservations, call 212-239-6200 or visit
www.telecharge.com. For additional information, visit www.tbtb.org.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

New Victory announced Season of Family-Friendly Fare

The New Victory Theater will launch its 40th anniversary season with the U.S. premiere of URBAN by Circolombia, an edgy, thrilling and inspiring circus featuring young Colombian performers who share their real-life stories through acrobatics, aerial work and tremendous feats of strength. URBAN, which was originally commissioned by Roundhouse London as part of CircusFest 2010, will run from October 12 through October 21. 

The season:
Urban
U.S. Premiere
Circolombia
Cali, Colombia
October 12 – 21
Circus
Playing at The New Victory Theater

An original commission for CircusFest 2010 at London’s Roundhouse, URBAN, created in the barrios of Colombia, features autobiographical performances with “an edginess that lifts them above the everyday” (The Stage). Vigor, danger and attitude infuse every act, from feats of strength to the trapeze, tightrope and triple dutch routines. Reggaeton music underscores lyrics like escribe con los pies, poeta de la calle—write with your feet, poet of the street— in this 2010 Brighton Fringe Festival Audience Choice Award winner.

URBAN is recommended for everyone over the age of 8.

Ring A Ding Ding
U.S. Premiere
Oily Cart
London, England
October 17 – Nov 11
Theater
Playing in Studio 3A/B at the New 42nd Street Studios

Alice and her dog are having a “wuff” day. When she demands that her furry friend stop chasing his tail “right now,” he runs away, sending her into a tricycle-riding tizzy. From London’s acclaimed Oily Cart, creators of innovative, multi-sensory and interactive productions for the very young, RING A DING DING is an imaginative and energetic work of participatory theater. 

RING A DING DING is recommended for ages 3-5.

Mojo
U.S. Premiere
Theatre-Rites
London, England
October 26 – Nov 4
Physical Theater
Playing at The New Victory Theater

Objects take new forms and spring to life in fantastical and funny ways in MOJO, a collage of puppetry, illusion, dance and live music by Theatre-Rites (Mischief, New Vic 2009). Lauded internationally for their distinct interest in multi-disciplinary work for young people, Theatre-Rites collaborates with a variety of sculptors, poets, painters, and video or installation artists to present children with unusual contemporary imagery and push the boundaries of theatrical form.

MOJO is recommended for everyone over the age of 5.

Black Violin
Miami, Florida
November 9 – 25
Music        
Playing at The New Victory Theater

They played to sold-out houses at The New Victory in 2009, and now, virtuoso violinists Kev and Wil B return with their funky fusion of classical, jazz, hip-hop, blues and R&B. With DJ TK on the turntables, Beatdown on the drums, and Joe Cello on the cello, these Apollo Legends perform a concert of new compositions, classic favorites and pop cover tunes. Black Violin has toured with Alicia Keys, Kanye West, Akon, Diddy and Linkin Park.

Black Violin is recommended for everyone over the age of 6.

FROM THE GROUND UPU.S. Premiere

Circus Oz
Melbourne, Australia
November 30 – December 30
Circus
Playing at The New Victory Theater

Circus Oz returns to The New Victory for the fifth time this holiday season when they launch the U.S. tour of their brand new show, FROM THE GROUND UP. Starring acrobats, jugglers, trapeze artists, and a live rock band, FROM THE GROUND UP features all the hallmarks of a Circus Oz show: irreverence, eccentricity, and astounding circus feats -- each one topping the last.

FROM THE GROUND UP is recommended for everyone over the age of 5.

I, Malvolio

U.S. Premiere
Tim Crouch
Brighton, England
January 11 – 20, 2013
Theater
Playing at The Duke on 42nd Street

The puritan killjoy of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night finally has his say in this poignant one-man tour-de-force by British scribe Tim Crouch. A hilarious, charged and often unsettling rant from a complex man full of pride, passion, rage and humiliation, I, Malvolio is a compassionate deconstruction of one of classical literature’s most misunderstood characters.

I, MALVOLIO is part of a series of solo Shakespeare pieces written and performed by Tim Crouch that was commissioned by the Brighton Festival. The series also includes: I, CALIBAN (inspired by The Tempest), I PEASEBLOSSOM (inspired by A Midsummer Night’s Dream), and I, BANQUO (inspired by Macbeth). Mr. Crouch received the award for Best Male Performer for his performance in I, MALVOLIO at the Brighton Festival 2010.

I, MALVOLIO is recommended for everyone over the age of 11.

The Mark of Zorro

Visible Fictions
Glasgow, Scotland
February 8 – 24, 2013
Theater
Playing at The New Victory Theater

From acclaimed Scottish theater company, Visible Fictions (Jason and the Argonauts, New Vic 2009), comes THE MARK OF ZORRO, a timeless tale about a mysterious masked avenger. Using simple props and physical ingenuity, the cast of three conjures all the drama, wit and suspense of an action flick.

The script for THE MARK OF ZORRO was originally commissioned by and co-produced with the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh, Scotland. Visible Fictions has collaborated with The Seattle Children’s Theatre, The Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles and The Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis.

THE MARK OF ZORRO is recommended for everyone over the age of 7.

GRUG

Windmill Theatre
Adelaide, Australia
February 20 – March 17, 2013
Puppet Theater
Playing in Studio 3A/B at the New 42nd Street Studios

Windmill Theatre (Plop!, New Vic 2012) returns with GRUG, a new puppetry show for the littlest theatergoers and their families. Based on author Ted Prior’s hugely popular character about the top of a Burrawang tree that comes to life, this playful show’s protagonist serves as an inspiring role-model with perception, curiosity, determination and creativity.  

GRUG is recommended for ages 2-5.

As You Like It

Acting Company
New York, New York
March 1 – 10, 2013
Theater
Playing at The New Victory Theater

When Rosalind’s uncle banishes her from the palace, she, her cousin Celia and the court jester, Touchstone, flee to the Forest of Arden, where they soon find themselves entangled in a beguiling game of love, deceit, desire and mistaken identity. This production of Shakespeare’s AS YOU LIKE IT by Tony Honors recipient for Excellence in Theatre, The Acting Company, is directed by Pig Iron Theatre’s Dan Rothenberg (Chekhov Lizardbrain).

AS YOU LIKE IT is recommended for everyone over the age of 12.

Bello Mania

U.S. Premiere
Bello Nock
Sarasota, Florida
March 15 – 31, 2013
Circus

The circus superstar Time Magazine calls “America’s Best Clown” performs and directs his brand new show, BELLO MANIA. With his signature gravity-defying hairdo, Bello Nock, a former Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey clown along with his talented troupe of circus all-stars performs trampoline and bungee jumping routines, handstands on a high wire and much, much more “all the while making audiences laugh with his brilliantly comic timing and gusto” (The New York Times).

BELLO MANIA is recommended for everyone over the age of 4.

The Intergalactic Nemesis

Book One: Target Earth
The Robot Planet                 
Austin, Texas
April 5 – 14, 2013
Live Action Comic Book
Playing at The New Victory Theater


Originally crafted as a radio play in 1996, THE INTERGALACTIC NEMESIS was subsequently published as a comic book, and then staged as a theatrical production.

THE INTERGALACTIC NEMESIS was an Official Selection of Fantastic Fest 2010 (Austin, TX), the biggest genre film festival in the country, specializing in fantasy, sci-fi and action films. It's been featured on “Conan O'Brien” and NPR.

THE INTERGALACTIC NEMESIS is recommended for everyone over the age of 7.

Le Grand C

U.S. Premiere
Compagnie XY
Lille, France
April 18 – 28, 2013
Circus
Playing at The New Victory Theater

In LE GRAND C, a collective of 17 acrobats performs heart-stopping stunts with distinctive style and trust in each other as their only safety net. They create one astounding human formation after another to make a portrait of expressive movement, powerful physicality and continuous surprise. “Wonderfully unfussy yet loaded with delightful surprises and genuine risk” (The London Times).

LE GRAND C is recommended for everyone over the age of 7.

Fragile

U.S. Premiere
Le Clan des Songes
Toulouse, France
April 25 – May 12, 2013
Puppetry
Playing in Studio 3A/B at the New 42nd Street Studios

In FRAGILE, a word-free work of Puppet Theater, an inquisitive, Chaplin-like fellow embarks on a journey carrying a suitcase filled with magical surprises. Bunraku and shadow puppetry combine with haunting original music to provide a poetic narrative for each vignette in the story. Inspired by the Italian animation series, “La Linea” (The Line, 1975-84) by Osvaldo Cavandoli, FRAGILE is part two of a trilogy created in 2007.

For the past 20 years, Le Clan des Songes has developed theater with powerful and dreamlike imagery, primarily using puppets and animated forms. The Company has performed in many major theaters and festivals throughout France, including the prestigious Charleville Mézières International Festival.

FRAGILE is recommended for everyone over the age of 4.

David Bruce and Glyn Maxwell’s

The Firework Maker’s Daughter
B
ased on the Novel by Philip Pullman

U.S. Premiere
Co-produced by The Opera Group and Opera North in association with ROH2 and Watford Palace Theatre
London, England
May 3 – 12, 2013
Opera
Playing at The New Victory Theater

Based on the enchanting novel by celebrated author Philip Pullman (His Dark Materials trilogy), this new opera tells the story of one girl’s quest to become a firework maker. David Bruce and Glyn Maxwell’s THE FIREWORK MAKER’S DAUGHTER Based on the Novel by Philip Pullman, which is directed by John Fulljames (The Enchanted Pig, New Vic 2010), boasts a grand, expressive score by Mr. Bruce and a witty libretto by Mr. Maxwell, both of which are inspired by world folk traditions. Accompanying a cast of five singers are stunning creations from Cambridge-based puppet design company, Indefinite Articles.

This production was co-commissioned by The Opera Group and ROH2.

THE FIREWORK MAKER’S DAUGHTER is recommended for everyone over the age of 8.

Rennie Harris Awe-Inspiring Works
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
May 17 – 26, 2013
Dance
Playing at The New Victory Theater

Urban dance guru and Alvin Ailey Award recipient, Rennie Harris (Legends of Hip-Hop, New Vic 2004, 2006; Puremovement, New Vic 1999), delivers street dance with straight-up Philly soul in Rennie Harris Awe-inspiring Works, aka RHAW. With music as diverse as its dance styles, RHAW features a youthful company of nine dancers who put fresh spins on pop and lock, b-boy, house, hip-hop and boogaloo to create funky, upbeat depictions of city life, young love and growing up.

Mr. Harris started Rennie Harris Awe-inspiring Works in 2007 as a youth organization driven by community outreach, education and mentorship. In 2001, in addition to receiving an Alvin Ailey Award for Choreography, he received three Bessie Awards for Rome & Jewels and was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award.

This project is partially supported by a grant from Pennsylvania Performing Arts on Tour, a program developed and funded by The Heinz Endowments; the William Penn Foundation; the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency; and The Pew Charitable Trusts; and administered by Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation.

RHAW is recommended for everyone over the age of 6.

The Girl who Forgot to Sing Badly

Theatre Lovett
Dublin, Ireland
May 31 – June 9, 2013
Theater
Playing at The Duke on 42nd Street

In The Girl Who Forgot to Sing Badly, actor Louis Lovett spins a fantastical yarn about a young heroine with the voice of an angel (an angel who can't sing at all) who knows it's up to her to save the day and rescue an entire city . This “riotously inventive” (The Scotsman) one-man production written by Finegan Kruckemeyer is directed by Lynne Parker, one of Ireland’s most celebrated directors.

For her contributions to Irish theater, Ms. Parker was awarded the Irish Times Special Tribute Award in 2009 and an Honorary Doctorate in Letters from Trinity College Dublin. 

This production was originally commissioned by The Ark, A Cultural Centre for Children, and produced by The Ark in association with Theatre Lovett.

THE GIRL WHO FORGOT TO SING BADLY is recommended for everyone over the age of 7. 

A sneak peek at The New Victory Theater 2012-2013 Season can be found on YouTube at the following address: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ooMcmymFaag

Ticket Information : Available online starting July 17 or by telephone starting July 24. To purchase tickets online, visit NewVictory.org, and to purchase by phone, call 646-223-3010. 

Full-price tickets for individual productions, as low as $14 each, will also be available from August 7, 2012, either online or by phone. Beginning September 4, The New Victory Theater box office (209 West 42nd Street) will be open Sunday and Monday from 11am-5pm and Tuesday through Saturday from 12pm-7pm.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Brooke Shields, Brian D'Arcy James Will Host Drama Desk Awards June 3

Brian D'Arcy James
Award winning actress, model and author Brooke Shields and past Drama Desk Award winner Brian d’Arcy James will cohost the 57th Annual Drama Desk Awards Sunday, June 3 at Town Hall.

This year’s award show is being written by cast album producer, playwright, and two-time Drama Desk Award winner Bill Rosenfield and directed by multi-award winning director Mark Waldrop (Divine Miss Millennium Tour, When Pigs Fly, Bea Arthur on Broadway: Just Between Friends). 
Brooke Shields

“Brian and I can’t wait to honor our colleagues at this celebration of New York theater.” Shields said.

“The Drama Desk Awards are legendary and winning the award for Shrek was a true highlight," D'Arcy James said. "I am thrilled to co-host this year’s awards next to the great actress Brooke Shields.”

The Drama Desk nominees were announced at Feinstein’s at Loews Regency on April 27 and celebrated at an exclusive Nominees’ Reception May 8 at Oceana Restaurant in Manhattan. For a list of the nominees, click here.

Executive Producer Gretchen Shugart, CEO of TheaterMania, will present the awards ceremony with Robert R. Blume and David S. Stone in association with Renee McCurry. TheaterMania has engaged Joey Parnes Productions to produce and manage the event.

The show begins at 8 pm June 3 at Town Hall, 123 West 43th St., NYC. Tickets for the general public, ranging from $45 to $175, can be purchased by visiting www.dramadeskawards.com/tickets.html.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Theater Review: Nice Work if You Can Get It

Nice Work Reviewing Shows Like Nice Work if You Can Get It
By Lauren Yarger
Gershwin tunes, Matthew Broderick and book writer Joe DiPietro. Nice! Add in humorous performances by Estelle Parsons, Judy Kaye, Michael McGrath and Jennifer Laura Thompson. Nicer! End of review.

Seriously, there's much more to like than not in Broadway's light-hearted, toe-tapping musical Nice Work if Your Can Get It. It's silly funny with a role that almost seems tailor-written for Broderick's nerdy, clueless characterization and well, any show that has "But Not for Me" in the list of songs is OK in my book.

There is an actual story here and the Gershwin songs seem to be selected to help tell it, rather than what we see in "jukebox" musicals, where a number of songs are selected, then some ridiculous story is invented to connect them. That's because DiPietro (Memphis, The Toxic Avenger, I Love You, You're Perfect. Now Change) is the writer here. I am a big fan and have been keeping an eye on him as one of the more promising book writers on Broadway for a number of years. He's funny and skilled at crafting a cohesive book. This show runs a little long (at two hours and 40 minutes) and some of the Gershwin songs selected are a little more obscure but the lyrics seemed to fit perfectly into the story. It's Gershwin. I'll listen -- though I couldn't help but wish the orchestra under the musical direction of David Chase (who provides arrangements) was even larger.

In a send up of screwball comedies and dance films of an age gone by,  the story here follows playboy Jimmy Winter (Broderick), taking a fourth wife, modern -- and I use the term loosely -- dancer Eileen Evergreen (Thompson) in the hopes that his formidable mother, Millicent (Parsons), will finally approve and allow him to take over the family business, though he isn't sure exactly what the family does to earn its vast fortune.

Outside a speakeasy, Jimmy meets up with bootlegger Billie Bendix (Kelli O'Hara) and her two cohorts, Duke Mahoney and Cookie McGee (Chris Sullivan and Michael McGrath). The gang decides Jimmy's mother's unused beach house mansion will be the perfect place to store their illegal booze, but when Jimmy, Eileen and others arrive unexpectedly, they are forced to change plans with Cookie posing as the butler and Duke as the cook. When sparks fly between Jimmy and Billie, things get even more complicated. (Sparks didn't fly for me about O'Hara's performance. I'm guessing she was under the weather the day I saw this show, since I know what she can do. I'll give her a pass.) The large ensemble cast is strong.

McGrath and Kaye have some great comic bits -- don't miss Kaye as the righteous, prohibitionist Duchess Estonia Dulworth who gets a little tipsy at dinner -- but this show is just nice to look at too. Besides Derek McLane's opulent sets, which seem to have a cartoonish quality that compliments the mood of poking fun at depression-era musicals without detracting from it, there are lovely period costumes by Martin Pakledinaz (I want them all in my closet) and really terrific stage direction and choreography by Kathleen Marshall (who keeps delivering great old-fashioned, bog-dance musicals to Broadway like Anything Goes and Wonderful Town).

Broderick and O'Hara dance up a storm and for "S Wonderful," the choreography is absolutely furniture and gravity-defying. In other numbers, chorus girls pop out of a bathtub, chorus boys pop out of the wood work and even Thompson's horrible "modern dance" steps are fun to watch. There's a brain-tilting image of O'Hara singing "Someone to Watch over Me" while cocking a rifle -- the audience couldn't stop laughing.

It's easy on the eyes and easy on the ears. Its S Wonderful, and for me, this fun, smile-inducing romp turned out to be the last Broadway show to review for the season. Nice work if you can get it.

Nice work if You Can Get It runs at the Imperial Theatre, 249 West 45th St., NYC. Tickets: 212-239-6200; 800-432-7250.

Christians Might Also Like to Know:
-- Scanty costumes

Monday, May 14, 2012

Theater Review: Don't Dress for Dinner

Spencer Kayden is the Charm in this Sequel to Boeing Boeing
By Lauren Yarger
I've got to give credit to playwright Marc Camoletti. His plays might not be all that charming themselves (after all, just how funny are we supposed to think stupid women and men taking advantage of them are), but a few of his characters are the type that a skilled comedic actor can rip into and make their own.

Mark Rylance went on to a Tony Award win for his turn as hapless Robert caught in between his airplane pilot friend Bernard and the three stewardesses he has stowed away in his Paris flat in Boeing Boeing, and now Spencer Kayden gets to shine as a cook hired to cater another of Bernard's affairs in the play's sequel, Don't Dress for Dinner produced on Broadway by the Roundabout Theatre Company. She just won the Outer Critics Circle award and is up for the Tony. She deserves it.

In Camoletti's farce, adapted by Robin Hawdon, it's 1960 and Bernard (Adam James) is married to Jacqueline (Patricia Kalember), who won the stewardess contest in Boeing Boeing, and they live in their quiet converted barn outside of Paris (John Lee Beatty, design). Believing his wife is off to visit her mother Bernard arranges a weekend tryst with buxom mistress, Suzanne (Jennifer Tilly). Just like old times, he tries to cover the plot with a visit from Robert (Ben Daniels), but Jacqueline decides to stay home when she hears he is coming -- she and Robert are secretly involved with each other too. Kayden's character, Suzette, is hired to cater for this fiasco, but is mistaken for Suzanne and assumes the role of Robert's mistress to throw off suspicion. Many other cases of mistaken or assumed identity ensue, all needing explanation when Suzette's husband, George (David Aron Damane), shows up.

Kayden makes the tediously long double entendre all worth sitting through. She's a hoot, mastering physical humor and comedic timing. William Ivey Long provides a terrific break-away costume that helps her in one bit and dresses straight-man Kalember in some interesting frocks as well.

Director John Tillenger isn't able to get the same natural comedy out of the other actors, however, and some of the other physical pranks look too staged.

Do dress, get some dinner, then see Spencer Kayden in Don't Dress for Dinner through June 17 at the at the American Airlines Theater, 227 West 42nd St., NYC. Tickets: 212-719-1300; www.roundabouttheatre.org.

Christians might also like to know:
-- Adultery

Quick Hit Theater Review: Tribes


(L to R) Susan Pourfar, Gayle Rankin, Mare Winningham, Jeff Perry, Russell Harvard in the NY premiere of the new play "Tribes" by Nina Raine. Directed by David Cromer, the cast also includes Will Brill. Now in performance at Barrow Street Theatre. Photo: Gregory Costanzo.
Tribes
By Nine Raine
Directed by David Cromer
Barrow Street Theatre

Summary:
Billy (Russell Harvard) has never felt part of his family. His parents, Christopher and Beth (Jeff Perry and Mare Winningham) are an eccentric pair who believe Billy shouldn't be thought of as different just because he can't hear. They and their other children, Daniel (Will Brill) and Ruth (Gayle Rankin) have never learned to sign and communicate with Billy as he reads their lips. Suddenly Billy meets Sylvia (Susan Poufar) who introduces him to the deaf community and the world of sign language (the translation of which is projected on surfaces around the room). As Billy's family realizes they never have heard him in the past, Sylvia copes with the fact that her genetic hearing condition slowly is taking away her ability to hear anything in the future. The play also nicely explores other issues with which the family members struggle.

Highlights:
The ensemble is top notch.Each character is distinct, yet part of the whole in the telling of a thought-provoking, touching piece. Winningham brings a depth of character in slight motions -- a tug on her kimono, a smile -- that speak volumes. Poufar expertly changes tone and volume of voice as her character's hearing fails. David Cromer knocks another one out of the park (or at least this critic out of her seat) again. When the acting and story are this good, but you find yourself  marveling instead at the staging and the depth of vision to the overall work, you know the person directing has to be Cromer. His placement of actors in the intimate setting (designed by Scott Pask) transcends the fourth wall and at times, almost seems to defy space and time. One scene almost levitated off of the stage and appeared to be a hologram of characters and their emotions hovering on display in front of us. Simply amazing.

Lowlights:
None

Information:
Tribes plays at the Barrow Street Theatre, 27 Barrow St., NYC, through June 3. Tickets: 212-868-4444, smarttix.com.


Christians might like to know:
-- God's name taken in vain
-- Sexual dialogue
-- Language

Once. One Man, Two Guvnors Top Outer Critics Circle Awards


Outer Critics Circle
* * 2011-2012 Award Winners * *
Winners are notated in BOLD

Outer Critics Circle2011-2012 Award Nominations

OUTSTANDING NEW BROADWAY PLAY
The Lyons
One Man, Two GuvnorsSeminar
Stick Fly
OUTSTANDING NEW BROADWAY MUSICALBonnie & Clyde
Newsies
Once
Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark
OUTSTANDING NEW OFF-BROADWAY PLAYBlood and Gifts
The School for Lies
Sons of the Prophet
Tribes


OUTSTANDING NEW OFF-BROADWAY MUSICAL
Death Takes a Holiday
Lucky Guy
Play It Cool
Queen of the Mist

OUTSTANDING BOOK OF A MUSICAL
(Broadway or Off-Broadway)
Newsies
Nice Work If You Can Get It
Once
Queen of the Mist

OUTSTANDING NEW SCORE
(Broadway or Off-Broadway)
Bonnie & Clyde
Death Takes a Holiday
Newsies
Queen of the Mist

 
OUTSTANDING REVIVAL OF A PLAY
(Broadway or Off-Broadway)
The Best Man
Death of a Salesman
The Lady From Dubuque
Private Lives

OUTSTANDING REVIVAL OF A MUSICAL
(Broadway or Off-Broadway)
Carrie
Evita
Follies­
Porgy and Bess
OUTSTANDING DIRECTOR OF A PLAY
Mark Brokaw The Lyons
David Cromer Tribes
Nicholas Hytner One Man, Two Guvnors
Mike Nichols Death of a Salesman

OUTSTANDING DIRECTOR OF A MUSICAL
Jeff Calhoun Newsies
Michael Grandage Evita
Kathleen Marshall Nice Work If You Can Get It
John Tiffany Once

OUTSTANDING CHOREOGRAPHER
Rob Ashford Evita
Christopher Gattelli Newsies
Steven Hoggett Once
Kathleen Marshall Nice Work If You Can Get It

OUTSTANDING SET DESIGN
(Play or Musical)
Bob Crowley Once
Derek McLane Nice Work If You Can Get It
Christopher Oram Evita
George Tsypin Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark

OUTSTANDING COSTUME DESIGN
(Play or Musical)
Gregg Barnes Follies
Eiko Ishioka Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark
William Ivey Long Don’t Dress for Dinner
Martin Pakledinaz Nice Work If You Can Get It

OUTSTANDING LIGHTING DESIGN
(Play or Musical)
Neil Austin Evita
Donald Holder Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark
Brian MacDevitt Death of a Salesman
Hugh Vanstone Ghost: The Musical

OUTSTANDING ACTOR IN A PLAY
James Corden One Man, Two Guvnors
Santino Fontana Sons of the Prophet
Russell Harvard Tribes
Philip Seymour Hoffman Death of a Salesman
Hamish Linklater The School for Lies

OUTSTANDING ACTRESS IN A PLAY
Tracie Bennett End of the Rainbow
Tyne Daly Master Class
Linda Lavin The Lyons
Nicole Ari Parker A Streetcar Named Desire
Laila Robins The Lady From Dubuque

OUTSTANDING ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
Danny Burstein Follies
Raúl Esparza Leap of Faith
Jeremy Jordan Newsies
Steve Kazee Once
Norm Lewis Porgy and Bess

OUTSTANDING ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL
Jan Maxwell Follies
Marin Mazzie Carrie
Audra McDonald Porgy and Bess
Cristin Milioti Once
Kelli O’Hara Nice Work If You Can Get It

OUTSTANDING FEATURED ACTOR IN A PLAY
Will Brill Tribes
Tom Edden One Man, Two Guvnors
Andrew Garfield Death of a Salesman
James Earl Jones The Best Man
Jefferson Mays Blood and Gifts

OUTSTANDING FEATURED ACTRESS IN A PLAY
Joanna Gleason Sons of the Prophet
Spencer Kayden Don’t Dress for Dinner
Angela Lansbury The Best Man
Judith Light Other Desert Cities
Daphne Rubin-Vega A Streetcar Named Desire

OUTSTANDING FEATURED ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
Phillip Boykin Porgy and Bess
Andrew Keenan-Bolger Newsies
Michael McGrath Nice Work If You Can Get It
Patrick Page Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark
Chris Sullivan Nice Work If You Can Get It

OUTSTANDING FEATURED ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL
Jayne Houdyshell Follies
Judy Kaye Nice Work If You Can Get It
Rebecca Luker Death Takes a Holiday
Da’Vine Joy Randolph Ghost: The Musical
Melissa Van Der Schyff Bonnie & Clyde

OUTSTANDING SOLO PERFORMANCE
Judy Gold My Life as a Sitcom
David Greenspan The Patsy
Denis O’Hare An Iliad
Stephen Spinella An Iliad

JOHN GASSNER AWARD
(Presented for an American play, preferably by a new playwright)
Robert Askins Hand to God
Gabe McKinley CQ/CX
Erika Sheffer Russian Transport
Jeff Talbott The Submission
Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara along with Josh Gad, last year's OCC winner for Outstanding Actor in a Musical (The Book of Mormon), Montego Glover, 2010 OCC winner for Outstanding Actress in a Musical (Memphis) and playwright Jon Robin Baitz, last year’s OCC winner for Other Desert Cities--- will serve as presenters at the organization's 62nd Annual Award ceremony on Thursday, May 24 at Sardi's Restaurant.

Celebrating its 62nd season of bestowing awards of excellence in the field of theatre, the Outer Critics Circle, is an association with members affiliated with more than 90 newspapers, magazines, web sites, radio and television stations, and theatre publications in America and abroad.

Theater Review: Ghost

Richard Fleishman, Cassie Levy and  Da'Vine Joy Randolph . Photo: Joan Marcus  
Technology Creates Ghostly Effects, but Goes a Little Too Extra on the Sensory
By Lauren Yarger
A hit movie that starred Demi Moore, Patrick Swayze and won an Oscar for Whoopi Goldberg is the latest story to transfer from the big screen to the little stage -- only Ghost does it big. Suspend your belief, the slogan urges us to do (like the characters in the story) and we can believe that a 20-year-old blockbuster movie can have an afterlife on Broadway. And it does. After a hit run in London's West End.

With unmemorable music and sometimes weak lyrics by Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard (Grammy-winning Pop music backgrounds) this version relies on amazing special effects rather than star power as its medium to the story of lovers separated by his untimely murder (designer, Rob Howell, illusions by Paul Kieve, amazing lighting by Hugh Vanstone, video and projection design by Jon Driscoll.) From the appearance of specters to their walking through doors and walls it's all stunning, very well done and executed on a scale larger than anything we've seen on Broadway. Director Mathew Warchus fails to rein in the creative team, however, and those projection effects run wild creating an assault on the senses.

There are dancing shadows, which follow along with actors doing Ashley Wallen's choreography, moving street shots and even walls of dancing crabs. The sequence on the subway cars also is overdone. It's all way too much and has you wishing you had brought a supply of Dramamine to the theater. (It reminded me of presentations in Power Point where the designer uses every single graphic transition, just because they can).

A lack of equilibrium makes it difficult to concentrate, but if you know the story from the movie, you'll be able to follow along. For the book, Bruce Joel Rubin (who also wrote lyrics) adapts his Academy-Award-winning screenplay and follows pretty closely -- most of your favorite scenes are in there and a little of "Unchained Melody" too.

For those of you who somehow missed the movie, banker Sam Wheat (Richard Fleishman) is murdered, but refuses to leave his love, Molly Jensen (Cassie Levy) to cross over into the light. She doesn't know that the one responsible for the murder is close by -- Sam's best friend Carl Bruner (Bryce Pinkham), who needs to find Sam's password to retrieve stolen money from an account. Sam enlists the help of phony spiritualist Oda Mae Brown (Da'Vine Joy Randolph) who finds she really can hear Sam's spirit, to communicate with Molly. (Fleishman and Levy reprise their west end roles).

Randolph is outrageously funny as the reluctant medium. Vocals are good (and I'll pretend it didn't annoy me that Levy has longer blond, curly hair instead of that cute little cut Demi Moore made famous).

Ghost suspends belief at the Lunt-Fontaine Theatre, 205 West 46th St., NYC. Tickets:  800-745-3000.

Christians might also like to know:
-- Language
-- God's name taken in vain
-- Theological issues: obviously we're talking ghosts here, ability to communicate with the dead, possession of a body by a spirit; implied that good people go to heaven and bad people go to hell.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Theater Review: Leap of Faith


Leap of Faith
Music by Alan Menken
Musical Supervision: Michael Kosarin
Lyrics by Glenn Slater
Book by Janus Cercone and Warren Leight
Choreography by Sergio Trujillo
Sets: Robin Wagner
Costumes: William Ivey Long
Sound: John Shivers
Lighting: Dan Holder
Directed by Christopher Ashley

Summary:
In between when I saw this and when I was able to post the review, the show announced it was closing (today, May 13). I give it a quick through here so you will have some idea about it since it was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Musical, and if by some miracle it wins, there could be a tour of it.

Based on the movie starring Steve Martin, Leap of Faith is the story of conman Jonas Nightingale (Raul Esparza) who travels with his fake tent revival church managed by his sister, Sam (Kendra Kassebaum) and bookkeeper Ida Mae Sturdevant (Kecia Lewis-Evans), who heads the choir. When their bus breaks down in out-of-the-way Sweetwater, Jonus decides to  pop his tent (nicely designed by Wagner) and bilk the poor townfolks out of whatever money he can, especially when he intimates that that his revival services and prayer will bring much needed rain to the drought-ridden town. On to his schemes, however, is sheriff Marla McGowan (Jessica Phillips), who gives him two days to get out of town. Sam urges Jonas to use Marla's wheel-chair-bound son  Jake (Talon Ackerman) as the focus for his "healing" service since the boy really believes in miracles. Visiting, however, is Ida Mae's seminary-student son Isaiah (Leslie Odom, Jr. of TV Smash fame), who starts to, well preach to the choir, and prick at the consciences of his mother, his sister, Ornella (Krystal Joy Brown) and other members of the Angels of Mercy Choir about what they are doing. A romance between Jonas and Marla complicates things as well.

Highlights:
The choir, some 15 strong, sound good, and OK, I am a sucker for good old gospel-sounding music in a Broadway theater. Odom has a lovely voice and brings depth to his character, torn between loyalty to his family and a sense of right and wrong and his calling to genuine ministry for God. There are some nice questions about faith addressed. At one point, Marla bitterly scoffs at her need for God. "If God's plan was to take my husband and put my son in a wheelchair, then no thanks," she says. I'm not sure it ever is made clear that she isn't seeing that clearly, though. In fact, there isn't much of the good word in the revival services -- just emotionally packed conclusions to them.

Lowlights:
If only Jonas really could perform miracles and heal this show... The book is weak and repetitive. The score is pretty boring. Not one of Meken's best. The production had the feel of not quite being ready, an indeed may have been rushed in its development to hit the Broadway stage in time for a Tony nomination (the one for best show is the only one it received). Trujillo's choreography was uninspired (no pun intended, and I have never seen church choirs move quite like that, even in churches where they get into their music). The vocal and acting skills needed for little Jake are more than young Ackerman has yet attained and most disappointing was Esparza himself who frankly seemed miscast. The engaging, fine voiced actor certainly has proven his Broadway chops in past endeavors, but here, he seemed out of place and without charisma.

The show goes to a better place today at the St. James Theatre.

Emily Frankel Launches Website; Readings by John Cullum

Once celebrated as a modern dancer who dazzled audiences at New York’s Lincoln Center with a 70-minute, virtuoso performance of Mahler's "Fifth Symphony ," Emily Frankel continues to explore new life arenas and reinvent herself.

On stage and off -- as a dancer, choreographer, director, playwright (seven plays), and the writer of
the provocative daily blog, Em’s Talkery (www.emtalkery.blogspot.com) -- Emily Frankel has known success.

And now, as a novelist, she's fired a shot across the bow of the romantic novel genre with the publication of six dramatic, romantic, suspenseful works of fiction: "Circle of Ivy," "Heart City," "Karen of Troy," "Splintered Heart, "Three Miles East of Rose," and "Somebody: Woman of the Century."

The books, which feature strong, complex heroines who deal -- sometimes gracefully, sometimes not -- with the vagaries of life, from love and betrayal to ambition, loss, and redemption, have been published as e-books through Amazon.com, Smashwords.com and available on Overdrive.com, Barnes and Noble and other e-book outlets.

Adding even more flavor to the mix is renowned stage, television and film actor John Cullum -- who also happens to be Frankel's husband. In tandem with the books' release, Cullum has recorded dramatic readings from each of Emily’s books. The videos are available on the couple's Youtube channel, Airbroadcasting (www.youtube.com/airbroadcasting).

"Yes, there's sex in all of my six novels -- like spice -- enough to evoke a reader's interest," Frankel said. "But this sex is not meant to induce orgasms. It’s meant to advance the storyline and fill out my characters. I delve truthfully into all the stuff -- bad and good, sad, ugly, repulsive, and the courageous (because a lot of it is sexual). I don the disguises, some of them outlandish and not very comfortable, but always, as genuine as possible. I write from the spirit, soul, child dream that sent me into dancing. I know that my words -- when I write -- truly express what I'm feeling. My books offer readers a trip into someone else's life -- even though there is a lot of me in there.”

Frankel has known drama and adversity in her own life. A car crash left her almost dead, then threatened to steal away her gift and passion for dancing with a terrifying and permanent diagnosis of paraplegia. After an arduous recovery, doctors told her she would never walk again -- let alone dance! But surrender is not in Emily Frankel's DNA. With steely determination, she conquered her paralysis and lived -- not only to dance again, but to triumph! The crowning glory of her dance career was that breathtaking performance at LincolnCenter’s Alice Tully Hall.

Her story has been dramatically chronicled in Teague Jackson's “ENCORE: The Professional and Private Triumph of Emily Frankel."

Emily Frankel's daily blog, "Em's Talkery" offers her candid and frank take on what's happening in the world today -- from politics and pop culture to art and entertainment.

Together, each week, Frankel and Cullum record a videocast from their home in New York City.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Sons of the Prophet, Tribes, Once Take NY Drama Critics Awards

Santino Fontana and Joanna Gleason (Photo: Joan Marcus)
Sons of the Prophet by Stephen Karam has won the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award (NYDCC) for Best Play of the 2011-2012 season.  The award for Best Foreign Play went to Tribes by Nina Raine and Once received the award for Best Musical. 

The selections were made at the 77th annual voting meeting of the organization today at the offices of Time Out New York in Manhattan. Special Citations were awarded to Mike Nichols and Signature Theatre Company. The awards will be presented at a cocktail reception to be held on Monday, May 14, at Angus McIndoe Restaurant, NYC.
 
The award for best play carries a cash prize of $2,500. Also, a cash award of $1,000 goes to the winner for best foreign play. The prizes are made possible by a grant from the Lucille Lortel Foundation.
 
Sons of the Prophet,  directed by Peter DuBois, premiered at the Roundabout Theatre Company’s Laura Pels Theatre on October 20, 2011.
 
Tribes, directed by David Cromer, had its North American premiere at the Barrow Street Theatre on March 4, 2012, where it is currently running.  The play’s world premiere was at London’s Royal Court Theatre in 2010.
 
Once, which features music and lyrics by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, book by Enda Walsh, and direction by John Tiffany, received its world premiere at New York Theatre Workshop on December 6, 2011, and opened at Broadway’s Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre on March 18, 2012 where it is currently playing.
 
Mike Nichols, who is currently represented on Broadway by the revival of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, has been one of the leading directors of stage and screen for more than 40 years.  His Broadway directing credits also include Barefoot in the Park, Luv, The Odd Couple, Plaza Suite, The Prisoner of Second Avenue, The Real Thing, and Spamalot, each of which has garnered him a Tony for best direction.  Film credits include Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, The Graduate (Academy Award for best direction), Catch-22, Carnal Knowledge, Silkwood, Working Girl, Postcards from the Edge, Primary Colors, Closer, and Charlie Wilson’s War, and for HBO “Wit” and “Angels in America.”

Founded in 1991 by James Houghton, Signature Theatre Company makes an extended commitment to a playwright’s body of work, and during this journey, the writer is engaged in every aspect of the creative process.  Signature is the first theatre company to devote an entire season to the work of a single playwright, including re-examinations of past writings as well as New York and world premieres.  By championing in-depth explorations of a living playwright’s body of work, the company delivers an intimate and immersive journey into the playwright’s singular vision.  Playwrights whose work has been featured at Signature as part of residency seasons include Romulus Linney, Lee Blessing, Edward Albee, Horton Foote, Adrienne Kennedy, Sam Shepard, Arthur Miller, John Guare, Maria Irene Fornes, Lanford Wilson, Bill Irwin, Paula Vogel, August Wilson, Charles Mee, and Tony Kushner.
 
For more information on the New York Drama Critics’ Circle and details of this year’s voting, visit www.dramacritics.org.  In keeping with NYDCC’s tradition of openness, a full breakdown of the vote will be posted on the website.
 
The New York Drama Critics’ Circle comprises 26 drama critics from daily newspapers, magazines, wire services and websites based in the New York metropolitan area. The New York Drama Critics' Circle Award, which has been awarded every year since 1936 to the best new play of the season (with optional awards for foreign or American plays, musicals and performers), is the nation's second-oldest theatre award, after the Pulitzer Prize for drama.

Adam Feldman, theatre critic for Time Out New York, has served as president of the NYDCC since 2005. Elisabeth Vincentelli of the New York Post serves as vice president; Joe Dziemianowicz of the Daily News is treasurer. Eric Grode is recording secretary.
In addition to Feldman, Vincentelli, Dziemianowicz and Grode, the members of the New York Drama Critics' Circle are:
 
Hilton Als, The New Yorker; Melissa Rose Bernardo, Entertainment Weekly; Scott Brown, New York; David Cote, Time Out New York; Michael Feingold, Village Voice; Robert Feldberg, Bergen Record; David Finkle, TheaterMania; Elysa Gardner, USA Today; Jeremy Gerard, Bloomberg News; Erik Haagensen, Back Stage; Mark Kennedy, Associated Press; Jesse Oxfeld, New York Observer; David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter; Frank Scheck, New York Post; David Sheward, Back Stage; John Simon, Westchester Guardian; Alexis Soloski, Village Voice; Marilyn Stasio, Variety; Steven Suskin, Variety; Terry Teachout, Wall Street Journal; Linda Winer, Newsday; and Richard Zoglin, Time.  Michael Sommers serve as an emeritus member.
 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Theater Review: The Columnist

Rather Dry Treatment Reads Like Old News
By Lauren Yarger
In the current political climate, when we hear almost daily accusations about the bias of news media, a play about an influential journalist might seem timely.
David Auburn’s (Proof) The Columnist getting its world premiere on Broadway at Manhattan Theatre Club, doesn’t quite earn a place above the fold, however.

It’s a great vehicle for star John Lithgow, but unless you are a journalist or a political junkie over the age of 50, you probably won’t have much interest in the protagonist, Joseph Alsop. Alsop began his career in the 1930s and came to prominence for his New York Herald Tribune coverage of the trial for the “crime of the century”  -- the Lindbergh baby kidnapping. He went on to become one of the most influential political columnists, partying with the Kennedys following his inauguration, grieving over his assassination, then advocating  LBJ to escalate action in Viet Nam.

The story here focuses on Alsop’s personal life. Friend Susan Mary Alsop (Margaret Colin) is aware of his closeted homosexuality, but accepts his marriage proposal because she wants the social life he can offer. Brother Stewart (Boyd Gaines) is skeptical at first, but soon becomes a support for Susan, who wants more companionship than her husband can offer. Alsop becomes a devoted stepfather to Susan’s daughter, Abigail (Grace Gummer), but his secret life, and particularly an encounter he had in Soviet Russia with young Andrei (Brian J. Smith), might be just the ammunition his highly place political enemies need to shoot down his career.

Stephen Kunken as Pulitzer-Prize-winning rival reporter David Halberstam and Marc Bonan as Abigail’s unfortunate date, Philip, round out the cast.

Auburn’s treatment tends on the boring side. Journalists using their power to influence history isn’t new – it’s done now with such abandon that we don’t even think of it as unusual any more, so the significance of Alsop (and his fellow journalist brother) is lost. And do we really need another exploration of a guy struggling with his sexuality?

John Lee Beatty’s set nicely changes into the various locations with added projections of typewriting (Kenneth Posner, lighting design) enhanced by original music and sound design by John Gromada. The highlights here are a couple of performances: Lithgow, as the troubled, driven man not comfortable in any world and Colin as the love-starved wife trying to cope. Gaines is solid, as usual, as well, but these characters don’t really have anywhere to go here.

Meanwhile, Director Daniel Sullivan miscasts Gummer as Abigail, then fails to guide the least-skilled actor in the troupe through the character’s growth (she seems to be playing about 8 when we first meet her, but probably she’s supposed to be about 14?)

The Columnist has a closing deadline of June 24 at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, 261 West 47th St., NYC. Tickets: www.manhattantheatreclub.com.

Christians also might like to know:
-- Homosexuality
-- God’s name taken in vain
-- Language
-- Sexual Dialogue

Theater Review; The Lyons


hael Esper, Dick Latessa, Linda Lavin, and Kate Jennings Grant. Photo: Carol Rosegg
These Lyons Roar -- and Devour Each Other
By Lauren Yarger
She growls and pounces and the audience roars as Rita Lyons (Linda Lavin) attacks. In Nicky Silver’s Broadway play The Lyons, however, the unfortunate prey who find themselves devoured in her deadly jaws are her husband and children.

Rita’s husband, Ben (Dick Latessa) lies in his hospital bed wishing for impending death to come a little quicker than the doctors hope – just so he doesn’t have to listen to the endless stream of verbal abuse hurled his way by his wife, who among other things, constantly asks for input on her plans to redecorate the living room once he’s gone. She’s never liked it and can’t wait . . . 

“I’m dying, Rita,” he whines like a wounded animal.

“But try to be positive,” she replies. 

There’s not a lot of love lost here and things aren’t too much better between Ben and the children who have been summoned for a final goodbye. 

The reunion doesn’t go too well. Homosexual Curtis (Michael Esper)  has never felt his father’s approval and alcoholic Lisa (Kate Jennings Grant) hits the bottle again to cope with her failed marriage and her mother's constant disapproval.  

A melee of insult hurling ensues, and this dysfunctional family is off on the hunt for fresh blood with Ben giving that wounded cry every so often. Despite the depressing subject matter, the first act is non-stop laughs thanks to claw-sharp zinger lines and Lavin’s impeccable delivery and timing. 

The second act veers off target, however, and while it’s not quite the implosion that too often can follow such a sizzling first act, it does lose steam and focus. The scene shifts to an apartment Curtis is thinking of buying, his encounter with the real estate agent (Gregory Wooddell) -- which is weird to put it mildly -- then ends up back at the hospital where Curtis receives care from the same plain-talking nurse (Brenda Pressley) who helped his father. (Set design is by Allen Moyer). 

Director Mark Brokaw can’t help us make the abrupt shift. Silver’s goal in this disappointing second half is to trade realism for laughs (and when Brokaw doesn’t tighten timing, laughs get trampled. 

This one is worth it for the first act, however. Don’t miss the wickedly funny carnage that earned Lavin this season’s best actress award nominations and which will give Tracie Bennett's turn as Judy Garland in End of the Rainbow, some serious competition for the Tony. 

The Lyons roar at the Cort Theatre, 138 West 48th St., NYC. Tickets: 212-239-6200; 800-432-7250.

Christians might also like to know:
-- Language
-- God’s name taken in vain
-- Sexual dialogue
-- Theological issue: there’s a sort of purgatory. I kind of liked that Ben starts being afraid he might end up in hell.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

2012 Tony Award Nominations Announced

Pictured L-R: Frank Wood, Annie Parisse, Christina Kirk, Jeremy Shamos, Damon Gupton, and Crystal A. Dickinson in Clybourne Park. Photo credit: Nathan Johnson.
Nominations for the 2012 American Theatre Wing’s Tony Awards®
Presented by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing. Check for reviews (some still coming) at left.


Best Play
Clybourne Park by Bruce Norris
Other Desert Cities by Jon Robin Baitz
Peter and the Starcatcher by Author: Rick Elice
Venus in Fur by David Ives

Best Musical
Leap of Faith
Newsies
Nice Work If You Can Get It
Once

Best Revival of a Play
Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman
Gore Vidal’s The Best Man
Master Class
Wit
Best Revival of a Musical
Evita
Follies
The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess
Jesus Christ Superstar

Best Book of a Musical
Lysistrata Jones by Douglas Carter Beane
Newsies by Harvey Fierstein
Nice Work If You Can Get It by Joe DiPietro
Once by Enda Walsh

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre
Bonnie & Clyde
Music: Frank Wildhorn
Lyrics: Don Black


Newsies
Music: Alan Menken
Lyrics: Jack Feldman


One Man, Two Guvnors
Music & Lyrics: Grant Olding

Peter and the Starcatcher
Music: Wayne Barker
Lyrics: Rick Elice


Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
James Corden, One Man, Two Guvnors
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman
James Earl Jones, Gore Vidal’s The Best Man
Frank Langella, Man and Boy
John Lithgow, The Columnist



Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
Nina Arianda, Venus in Fur
Tracie Bennett, End of the Rainbow
Stockard Channing, Other Desert Cities
Linda Lavin, The Lyons
Cynthia Nixon, Wit


Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Danny Burstein, Follies
Jeremy Jordan, Newsies
Steve Kazee, Once
Norm Lewis, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess
Ron Raines, Follies



Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
Jan Maxwell, Follies
Audra McDonald, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess
Cristin Milioti, Once
Kelli O’Hara, Nice Work If You Can Get It
Laura Osnes, Bonnie & Clyde


Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play


Christian Borle, Peter and the Starcatcher
Michael Cumpsty, End of the Rainbow
Tom Edden, One Man, Two Guvnors
Andrew Garfield, Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman
Jeremy Shamos, Clybourne Park

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
Linda Emond, Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman
Spencer Kayden, Don’t Dress for Dinner
Celia Keenan-Bolger, Peter and the Starcatcher
Judith Light, Other Desert Cities
Condola Rashad, Stick Fly



Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
Phillip Boykin, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess
Michael Cerveris, Evita
David Alan Grier, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess
Michael McGrath, Nice Work If You Can Get It
Josh Young, Jesus Christ Superstar

Richard Fleeshman, Caissie Levy and DaVine Joy Randolph in Ghost. Photo: Joan Marcus

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Elizabeth A. Davis, Once
Jayne Houdyshell, Follies
Judy Kaye, Nice Work If You Can Get It
Jessie Mueller, On A Clear Day You Can See Forever
Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Ghost the Musical



Best Scenic Design of a Play
John Lee Beatty, Other Desert Cities
Daniel Ostling, Clybourne Park
Mark Thompson, One Man, Two Guvnors
Donyale Werle, Peter and the Starcatcher



Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Bob Crowley, Once
Rob Howell and Jon Driscoll, Ghost the Musical
Tobin Ost and Sven Ortel, Newsies
George Tsypin, Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark



Best Costume Design of a Play
William Ivey Long, Don’t Dress for Dinner
Paul Tazewell, A Streetcar Named Desire
Mark Thompson, One Man, Two Guvnors
Paloma Young, Peter and the Starcatcher



Best Costume Design of a Musical
Gregg Barnes, Follies
ESosa, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess
Eiko Ishioka, Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark
Martin Pakledinaz, Nice Work If You Can Get It


Best Lighting Design of a Play
Jeff Croiter, Peter and the Starcatcher
Peter Kaczorowski, The Road to Mecca
Brian MacDevitt, Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman
Kenneth Posner, Other Desert Cities


Best Lighting Design of a Musical


Christopher Akerlind, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess
Natasha Katz, Follies
Natasha Katz, Once
Hugh Vanstone, Ghost the Musical

Best Sound Design of a Play
Paul Arditti, One Man, Two Guvnors
Scott Lehrer, Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman
Gareth Owen, End of the Rainbow
Darron L. West, Peter and the Starcatcher


Best Sound Design of a Musical
Acme Sound Partners, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess
Clive Goodwin, Once
Kai Harada, Follies
Brian Ronan, Nice Work If You Can Get It


Best Choreography
Rob Ashford, Evita
Christopher Gattelli, Newsies
Steven Hoggett, Once
Kathleen Marshall, Nice Work If You Can Get It


Best Direction of a Play
Nicholas Hytner, One Man, Two Guvnors
Pam MacKinnon, Clybourne Park
Mike Nichols, Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman
Roger Rees and Alex Timbers, Peter and the Starcatcher


Best Direction of a Musical
Jeff Calhoun, Newsies
Kathleen Marshall, Nice Work If You Can Get It
Diane Paulus, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess
John Tiffany, Once


Best Orchestrations
William David Brohn and Christopher Jahnke, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess
Bill Elliott, Nice Work If You Can Get It
Martin Lowe, Once
Danny Troob, Newsies


Recipients of Awards and Honors in Non-competitive Categories

Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre

Emanuel Azenberg 

Regional Theatre Award

The Shakespeare Theatre Company, Washington, D.C. 

Isabelle Stevenson Award

Bernadette Peters 

Special Tony Award

Actors’ Equity Association

Hugh Jackman

Tony Honor for Excellence in the Theatre

Freddie Gershon

Artie Siccardi

TDF Open Doors

TheWritePros.com

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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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