Saturday, May 23, 2015

Join Conversation with Michael Cerveris

Screen Actors Guild Foundation and
Invite You and A Guest
to a Conversations on Broadway
Q&A with
Michael Cerveris 
(2015 Tony Nomination for
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical)
Thursday, May 28th, 2015
2:00 pm
The New School - Auditorium on 12th Street
66 West 12th Street
New York, NY 10003
Screen Actors Guild Foundation and have partnered for a filmed Conversations Q&A series to recognize and celebrate the vibrant theatre community in New York City and the actors who aspire to have a career on the stage and screen. Please join us for a career Conversations with 2015 Tony NomineeMichael Cerveris currently starring in Fun Home on Broadway. Fun Home received 12 Tony Nominations Including Best Musical!
Moderated by's Richard Ridge of "Backstage with Richard Ridge!"

Passcode: broadway
You may register for a guest.
Please direct any questions to and write “Fun Home” in the subject line
Panelist Bio:
Michael Cerveris (Nominated for Best Performence by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical)
Michael Cerveris recently received his sixth Tony Awardnomination for his role as Bruce Bechdel in the Broadway production of Fun Home based on Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel memoir of the same name.Previously, Cerveris received a Tony Award for his portrayal of John Wilkes Booth in Assassins, and nominations for his roles in Evita,LoveMusikSweeney Todd, and The Who’s Tommy. On screen, Cerveris has appeared in films and television series including The Good WifeTreme, and Fringe. In addition to acting, he has recorded two solo albums, Dog Eared and the upcoming, Piety. His country band Loose Cattle recently released their live debut record, North of Houston.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Hamilton Wins Obie

Lin-Manuel Miranda (center) and the company of Hamilton. Photo: Joan Marcus.
The Public Theater’s Hamilton by Lin-Manuel Miranda (including special citations for Andy Blankenbuehler, Thomas Kail, and Alex Lacamoire) received the OBIE Award for Best New American Theatre Work, which is accompanied by a $1,000 check.

The Signature Theatre’s Founding Artistic Director James Houghton received the OBIE Award for Sustained Achievement.

Usman Ally, The Invisible Hand (New York Theatre Workshop)

Firdous Bamji, Indian Ink (Roundabout Theatre Company)

Brooke Bloom, You Got Older (Page 73 & HERE Arts Center)

Stephen McKinley Henderson, Between Riverside and Crazy (Atlantic Theater Company & Second Stage Theatre)

April Matthis, Sustained Excellence of Performance

John Douglas Thompson, Tamburlaine (Theatre for a New Audience) & The Iceman Cometh (BAM)


Ayad Akhtar, The Invisible Hand (New York Theatre Workshop)

Clare Barron, You Got Older (Page 73 & HERE Arts Center)

Suzan-Lori Parks, Father Comes Home From the Wars Parts I, II, & III (The Public Theater)


Trip Cullman, Punk Rock (MCC Theater)

Anne Kauffman, Sustained Excellence of Direction

Darko Tresnjak, The Killer (Theatre for a New Audience


Abigail DeVille, Prophetika: An Oratorio (La MaMa)

Christine Jones, Sustained Excellence of Set Design

Ben Stanton, Sustained Excellence of Lighting Design

Japhy Weideman, Sustained Excellence of Lighting Design

Special Citations

Kate Benson (writer) and Lee Sunday Evans (director), A Beautiful Day in November on the Banks of the Greatestof the Great Lakes (New Georges)

Bootycandy, writer/director Robert O’Hara, actors Philip James Brannon, Jessica Frances Dukes, Jesse

Pennington, Benja Kay Thomas, Lance Coadie Williams (Playwrights Horizons)

Catch (performance series), Andrew Dinwiddie, Caleb Hammons, Jeff Larson

Bridget Everett, Rock Bottom (Public Theater)

Bush Moukarzel and Dead Centre, Lippy (Abrons Arts Center)

Andrew Schneider, Youarenowhere (PS 122 / COIL Festival)

 OBIE Grants ($2,500 to each theater)

Horse Trade Theater Group / The Fire This Time Festival

JACK (Arts Center)

The Ross Wetzsteon Award (includes $1,000 check)

Ars Nova
Best New American Theatre Work (includes $1,000 check)

Hamilton by Lin-Manuel Miranda, choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler, direction by Thomas Kail, arrangements/orchestrations/music direction by Alex Lacamoire (The Public Theater)

Sustained Achievement Award

James Houghton

Monday, May 11, 2015

Curious Incident, American in Paris lead Outer Critics Circle Award Winners

Broadway’s Michael Cerveris, Nick Cordero, Raúl Esparza, Katie Finneran,  Montego Glover, William Ivey Long and Jefferson Mays will serve as gala award presenters at the upcoming 65th Annual Outer Critics Circle Awards ceremony on May 21st (4PM) at the legendary Sardis Restaurant. In addition to being acclaimed stage performers, the stars are also former recipients of the esteemed Outer Critics Circle Award.

Celebrating its 65th season of bestowing awards of excellence in the field of theatre, the Outer Critics Circle, is an association with members affiliated with more than ninety newspapers, magazines, web sites, radio and television stations, and theatre publications in America and abroad.
(Winners names are preceded by an asterisk. *)

 Outer Critics Circle
2014-2015 Award Nominations


The Audience

*The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Wolf Hall


*An American in Paris

It Shoulda Been You

The Last Ship

Something Rotten!

The Visit


*Between Riverside and Crazy

The City of Conversation

The Nether

Rasheeda Speaking

The Village Bike


A Christmas Memory


The Fortress of Solitude


Lonesome Traveler


(Broadway or Off-Broadway)


It Shoulda Been You

The Last Ship

Something Rotten!

The Visit


(Broadway or Off-Broadway)


It Shoulda Been You

The Last Ship

Something Rotten!

The Visit


(Broadway or Off-Broadway)

The Elephant Man

Fashions for Men

The Heidi Chronicles


*You Can’t Take It With You


(Broadway or Off-Broadway)

Into the Woods

*The King and I

On the Town

On the Twentieth Century

Side Show


Stephen Daldry    The Audience

*Marianne Elliott    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Scott Ellis   The Elephant Man

Scott Ellis    You Can’t Take It With You

Jeremy Herrin    Wolf Hall


Scott Ellis    On the Twentieth Century

Thomas Kail    Hamilton

Casey Nicholaw    Something Rotten!

David Hyde Pierce    It Shoulda Been You

*Christopher Wheeldon    An American in Paris


Joshua Bergasse   On the Town

Andy Blankenbuehler    Hamilton

Warren Carlyle    On the Twentieth Century

Casey Nicholaw    Something Rotten!

*Christopher Wheeldon    An American in Paris


(Play or Musical)

*Bunny Christie    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Bob Crowley    An American in Paris

Scott Pask    Something Rotten!

David Rockwell    On the Twentieth Century

Michael Yeargan    The King and I


(Play or Musical)

Gregg Barnes    Something Rotten!

Bob Crowley    The Audience

William Ivey Long    On the Twentieth Century

Christopher Oram    Wolf Hall

*Catherine Zuber    The King and I


(Play or Musical)
*Paule Constable    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Jeff Croiter     Something Rotten!

Rick Fisher     The Audience

Natasha Katz     An American in Paris

Japhy Weideman    The Visit


Reed Birney    I’m Gonna Pray For You So Hard

Bradley Cooper    The Elephant Man

Stephen McKinley Henderson    Between Riverside and Crazy

Ben Miles    Wolf Hall

*Alex Sharp    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time


Greta Gerwig     The Village Bike

Jan Maxwell    The City of Conversation

*Helen Mirren    The Audience

Elisabeth Moss    The Heidi Chronicles

Tonya Pinkins    Rasheeda Speaking


Christian Borle    Something Rotten!

Brian d’Arcy James    Something Rotten!

*Robert Fairchild    An American in Paris

Peter Gallagher    On the Twentieth Century

Tony Yazbeck    On the Town


*Kristin Chenoweth    On the Twentieth Century

Leanne Cope    An American in Paris

Tyne Daly    It Shoulda Been You

Kelli O’Hara    The King and I

Chita Rivera    The Visit


Paul Jesson     Wolf Hall

*Richard McCabe   The Audience

Alessandro Nivola   The Elephant Man

Nathaniel Parker    Wolf Hall

Bryce Pinkham     The Heidi Chronicles


*Annaleigh Ashford   You Can’t Take It With You

Patricia Clarkson   The Elephant Man

Francesca Faridany   The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Julie Halston   You Can’t Take It With You

Lydia Leonard   Wolf Hall


John Cariani   Something Rotten!

Josh Grisetti   It Shoulda Been You

*Andy Karl   On the Twentieth Century

Paul Alexander Nolan   Doctor Zhivago

Max von Essen   An American in Paris


Heidi Blickenstaff   Something Rotten!

Victoria Clark   Gigi

Megan Fairchild   On the Town

*Ruthie Ann Miles    The King and I

Mary Louise Wilson   On the Twentieth Century


Joe Assadourian     The Bullpen

*Jim Dale    Just Jim Dale

Tom Dugan    Wiesenthal

Cush Jumbo    Josephine and I

Benjamin Scheuer    The Lion


(Presented for an American play, preferably by a new playwright)

*Ayad Akhtar     The Invisible Hand

Halley Feiffer     I’m Gonna Pray For You So Hard

Elizabeth Irwin     My Mañana Comes

Markus Potter     Stalking the Bogeyman

Benjamin Scheuer     The Lion

Friday, May 8, 2015

Broadway Theater Review: An American in Paris -- TOP PICK

An Old Fashioned, Wowser of a Musical With a Modern Flare
By Lauren Yarger
I wasn't expecting much more than getting to hear excellent Gershwin tunes. I came away thinking I had just experienced one of the best musicals I ever have seen on a Broadway stage.

An American in Paris, based on the 1951 motion picture starring Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron, brings a fresh, modern feel to the glorious old-fashioned musical and has the audience saying, "Oooh, la la!"

Christopher Wheeldon, artistic associate at England's Royal Ballet, makes his Broadway directing debut and also choreographs this breathtaking show, which looks like a works of art. Within 10 minutes, I knew I was watching the likely Tony Award winner for choreography (and it is, of course, nominated). Dance is storytelling here. Whole scenes, wordless, are communicated through dance and movement which can include something as complicated as ballet or as simple as someone dancing a prop onto the stage. It's amazingly staged and blew me away -- and with all of the excellent theater I see, that usually is a sign that something is VERY, VERY good indeed. Wheeldon;s direction is genius as well as he takes unconnected scenes happening simultaneously on stage and somehow connects the participants. It's exciting and riveting stage craft.

Craig Lucas (The Light in the Piazza) gets the task of writing the book and does an outstanding job of translating the light movie plot into a solid story that is propelled by the elements around it. Three men, artist Jerry Mulligan (Robert Fairchild, a principal dancer with the NYC Ballet, making his Broadway debut), singer Henri Baurel (Broadway vet Max von Essen) and a composer, Adam Hochberg (Brandon Uranowitz) become fast friends in post World War II Paris -- then, without realizing it, they all fall in love with the same girl, ballerina Lise Dassin (Leanne Cope, a Royal Ballet School grad also making a sensational Broadway debut).

As you might  guess, complications abound. Henri already is engaged to Lise, the choice of his parents, Madame and Monsieur Baurel (Veanne Cox and Scott Willis), who have protected the girl during the war and made it possible for her to follow in her famous ballerina mother's toe shoes. The heir to the family's textile business, Henri hides his true desire to be a musical entertainer (with a hidden reference to his homosexuality) from his parents.

Jerry forms an alliance with wealthy American, Milo Davenport (Jill Paice), who becomes a supporter of his artwork and who wants a little more than paintings in exchange for her patronage. Adam, meanwhile, is unable to express his love for the beautiful Lise, who is hiding a secret of her own, except through his music.

Ah, and then there are the George and Ira Gershwin lyrics and music adapted, arranged and supervised by Rob Fisher. “I Got Rhythm,” “‘S Wonderful,” “But Not For Me,” “Stairway to Paradise,” “Our Love Is Here To Stay," “They Can’t Take That Away” and orchestral music including “Concerto in F,” “2nd Prelude,” “2nd Rhapsody” and “An American In Paris" all sound as though they were written just for this story (with excellent orchestrations under the direction of Christopher Austin). The action plays out on fabulous sets designed by Bob Crowley (who also does the meticulously created costumes) that appear -- with the help of projections (designed by 59 Projections) and lighting (designed by the always excellent Natasha Katz) --  to be sketches and paintings leaping off Jerry's sketch pad or on exhibit in a museum.

Fairchild and Cope dance magically and lend decent singing voices as well.

It's S Wonderful, and absolutely delightful in every way.  It's the "don't miss" of the season. An American in Paris has been nominated for 12 Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Other nominations, besides choreography are: direction, book, scenic design, costumes, orchestrations and the performances by Cope. Fairchild, Uranowitz and von Essen.

An American in Paris mesmerizes at the Palace Theatre, 1564 Broadway, NYC. Performances are Tuesday and Thursday at 7 pm; Wednesday at 2 and 8 pm; Friday at 8 pm; Saturday at 2 and 8 pm; Sunday at 3 pm. Tickets are $47 - $147.

Christians might also like to know:
-- God's name taken in vain (in a joking context). Really don't let this keep you away.

Broadway Theater Review: Something Rotten!

A Play By Any Other Name -- Like A Musical --  Would Smell As Sweet
By Lauren Yarger
Shakespeare's a rock star, but his closest rivals, the Bottom Brothers, have come up with a great new concept to battle his fame with all of those plays -- a musical!

That's the zany concept behind Something Rotten!, the new hit musical conceived by brothers Karey and Wayne Kirkpatrick, who write the music and lyrics. Karey has written the music for some Disney films and Grammy Award winner Wayne has written for pop, country and Christian music stars. Karey teams with John O'Farrell, one of the United Kingdom's best know comic authors and script writers, for the very funny book. Kudos also to the marketing team, which prior to opening, displayed banners on the theater with pull-out quotes from the New York Times saying, "We Haven't See it Yet!"

It's 1590 England, home of the Renaissance, and the theatrical troupe run by manager Nick Bottom (Brian D'Arcy James) and his poet/writer brother , Nigel (John Cariani), plan to produce a brand new play about Richard II! They were inspired by the success of their theatrical rival, Shakespeare (a hysterical Christian Borle) who made a killing with Richard III and now is the talk of all England. But blast! -- the bard decides to go back in time and writes his own version of Richard II, which of course, is a monster hit like everything else the swaggering, scream/faint-producing writer of iambic pentameter does.

Facing economic collapse, especially when loan shark Shylock (Gerry Vichi) comes to collect his debt, Nick is desperate to find a way to provide for the troupe and his feisty wife, Bea (and energetic and amusing Heidi Blickenstaff), who offers to get a job. It's the '90s, but job opportunities for women still are a bit scarce for women in Elizabethan England, so Bea has to don a disguise to pass as a man. (Gregg Barnes designs the many costumes; Josh Marquette does hair and Melagros Medina-Cerdeira does makeup).

For help, Nick consults the most famous fortune teller of the time, Nostradamus (Brad Oscar), to try to get a beat on what Shakepeare's most famous play of all time will be. He'll just produce it first! Nostradamus gets some images from the future and discovers something called a "musical" will be all the rage, where actors suddenly burst into song for no apparent reason and dance around the stage.

Nick immediately sets to creating the phenomenon, but the visions Nostradamus gets are a bit sketchy resulting in bits and pieces of many musicals coming together in an extravaganza entitled, "Omelette, the Musical" (thanks to a mispronunciation of Hamlet.) Theater lovers will thoroughly enjoy the scrambled mess that brings to mind the villager's telling of the history of Joseph Smith's religion in The Book of Mormon with a bunch of tap-dancing eggs in the mix (Casey Nicholaw directs and choreographs).

Writer Nigel is a bit hesitant with the ridiculous sounding material for Omelette and would much rather develop his idea for a man tortured with asking himself whether he should be or not be. He also has his mind on something else: forbidden love with the beautiful poetry-loving Portia (Kate Reinders -- think young Kristin Chenoweth), the daughter of uptight Puritan Brother Jeremiah (Brooks Ashmanskas), who wants to shut down all the theaters because of their immoral nature (this despite the fact that he seems to  be repressing some homosexual lust of his own. Of course. Just once, I would love to see a "Christian" character on stage who is not a repressed homosexual.....)

Meanwhile, there's a ridiculously funny concert given by Shakespeare in the park (what a concept!) where Borle excels at shaking his stuff and feeling the love while presenting his latest sonnet in musical form.

Much mayhem ensues when Shakespeare goes under cover as an actor in the Bottom Brothers troupe.

Something Rotten! is anything but. It's fresh and funny, with plenty of out-loud laughs and a couple of showstopping numbers (Phil Reno directs the music and provides vocal arrangements). Nicholaw achieves spot-on performances from D'Arcy James, Borle and Blickenstaff  as well as supporting characters like the comedic Peter Bartlett, as Lord Clapham, the Bottom Brothers' reluctant patron. The one place the director misses is in the miscasting of playwright Cariani (Almost Maine) in the role of Nigel, where "indeed, he does not fit" to quote the Bard.

The musical is up for numerous awards, including Tonys for Best Musical, Best Direction, Choreography, Best Book, Score, Orchestrations (by Larry Hochman),  Costumes, and the performances by James, Borle and Oscar.

Something Rotten! proves that all the world's a stage at the St. James Theatre, 246 west 44th St., NYC. Performances are Tuesday and Thursday at 7 pm; Wednesday at 2 and 8 pm; Friday at 8 pm; Saturday at 2 and 8 pm; Sunday at 3 pm. Tickets are $37.00 - $142.00:

Christians might also like to know:
-- Language
-- God's name taken in vain
-- Double entendre sexual references in the dialogue

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Broadway Theater Review: Finding Neverland with Matthew Morrison TOP PICK

After a year and a half of performances, Broadway’s Finding Neverland will play its final performance at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater on Sunday, Aug. 21, 2016. The production will transfer to London’s West End to open in the spring of 2017. Full details of the London production will be announced  with tickets for the show going on sale in the summer. The US national tour will launch Oct. 11 in Buffalo. More info:

Matthew Morrison (center) and Kelsey Grammer (Captain Hook, front right) with the ensemble of Finding Neverland
A Magical Journey for Peter Pan -- and for the Audience
By Lauren Yarger
The story of how Peter Pan came to be might feel like a lost boy in the shadow of all the other shows getting Tony Award nominations, but Finding Neverland can crow because it easily flies to the top of the list of this season's best musicals.

With music and lyrics by Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy and book by James Graham (based on the film written by David Magee and the play The Man Who Was Peter Pan by Allan Knee,) Finding Neverland stars "Glee"'s Matthew Morrison and Kelsey Grammer (TV's "Frasier") in the tale of  J. M. Barrie and the real-life boy who inspired Peter Pan, who has been loved by generations.

Theater producer Charles Frohman (Grammer, who provides good comic relief -- especially when a reference is made to a 20th-century TV show) is hoping his favorite playwright, Barrie (Morrison), will come up with another hit. The writer, however, is uninspired, until he meets a widow, Sylvia Llewelyn Davies (Laura Michelle Kelly), and her brood of children: George, Peter, Jack, and Michael (the roles are shared by multiple kids).

Barrie becomes a father figure for the boys, especially shy, brooding Peter. They play games (Director Diane Paulus expertly weaves threads of Peter's Pan's story around the main action) and Barrie finds himself spending more and more time with them and their beautiful mother, who is upbeat despite recent setbacks, her judgmental mother, Mrs. DuMaurier (Carolee Carmello)  and her own declining health. 

To have faith is to have wings," she tells Barrie, lifting his spirits.

Kelly melts hearts with "All That Matters," a ballad about having the strength to go on. Beautiful scenes of London designed by Scott Pask, projections by Jon Driscoll and expert lighting by Kenneth Posner help set the soft, magical mood (Illusions are designed by Paul Kiev with “Air Sculpting” by Diane Wurtzel.) In one brilliant scene, Sylvia and Barrie's shadows tell more of the story than their actions. Suttriat Anne Larlarb designs the turn-of-the-century costumes and Richard Mawbey designs hair and makeup.

Sylvia's warm heart is a direct contrast with Barrie's cold, socially climbing wife, Mary (Teal Wicks), who turns elsewhere for affection. Barrie takes Peter's story idea and turns it into a new idea, with adult actors playing the parts of children and animals on stage (there's a large ensemble here with Paul Slade Smith  and Josh Lamon standing out). 

Performances here, as well as singing voices, are excellent across the board. And the music (directed by Mary-Mitchell Campbell) is excellent, with several tunes standing out and annoyingly replaying themselves in your head for days and weeks (the way songs from a good musical should). Music Supervision/Dance and Incidental Music are by David Chase with Orhcestrations by Simon Hale and Vocal Design by Annemarie Milazzo. My favorite: "When Your Feet Don't Touch the Ground." The original Broadway cast recording will release on June 23.

Mia Michaels of TV's "So You ThinkYou Can Dance" choreographs.

The two-hour, 30-minute run time could use a trim -- I'd love to see the ending tightened and a rather creepy Peter Pan (played by Melanie Moore) at beginning and end cut altogether. His/her flitting about was distracting. Otherwise, it's an engrossing story (most of which I had not heard before) and vastly entertaining with the best darn fairy dust I have ever seen (illusions by Paul Kieve; air sculpting by Daniel Wurtzel and flying effects by ZFX., Inc.). There were a ton of smiling kids in the audience -- a good thing for Broadway. And there is a nice message about people being able to change.

An American in Paris, Fun Home. Something Rotten! and The Visit shut Neverland out of a Tony Award nomination for Best Musical. It didn't receive any nominations at all, which is a bit puzzling, unless you understand the politics behind most of the Tony decisions....  The show did receive some Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle nods, however.

Finding Neverland plays at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, 205 West 46th St., NYC through Aug. 21, 2016.  Performances are Tuesday and Thursday at 7:30 pm; Wednesday at 2 and 7:30 pm; Friday at 8 pm; Saturday at 2 and 8 pm; Sunday at 3 pm. Tickets are $72 - $147:

Christians might also like to know:
-- Minor language
-- Adultery

Note: Australian actor Anthony Warlow will step in for Grammer in mid-July. An exact date will be announced shortly. Grammer will return to the production Sept. 13. 

Full Disclosure: Music Director Campbell once was a pianist for a show I produced.

Broadway Theater Review: The Visit with Chita Rivera

The cast of The Visit. Photo: Joan Marcus
It's Always Wonderful to Visit a Kander and Ebb Show
By Lauren Yarger
Which is sweeter, love or revenge, asks the tag line promoting The Visit, the last musical of John Kander and Fred Ebb. My answer? It doesn't matter -- it's a Kander and Ebb musical and starring Chita Rivera in what could be her last Broadway role to boot. The plot hardly matters!

Kander and Ebb have long been favorites of mine. The team has given us Chicago, Cabaret, Fosse, Kiss of the Spider Woman and many others, including The Scottsboro Boys, which is one of my all-time favorites. The stories aren't always great,but the music (Kander) and lyrics (Ebb) are always superb (Kander has received a Tony nomination for The Visit's score; Rivera is nominated in the Best Actress category and Terrence McNally's darkly humorous and odd book, based on the play by Friedrich Dürrenmatt as adapted by Maurice Valency, is nominated as well.)

The Visit's score has more than 20 musical numbers (in its breezy 95 minutes with no intermission) and offers strains of Kander's trademark sound as well as a piece that sounds like a section from Les Miserables. The cast, directed by John Doyle (Sweeney Todd; Company) is made up of something we don't see very often on a Broadway stage: a lot of older folks.

Rivera at 82, offers a raspy singing voice and is joined by an equally raspy voiced Roger Rees, 71. The plot revolves around  the return of very wealthy Claire Zachanassian (Rivera) to her struggling home town in Brachen, Switzerland, after many years away. Anton Schell (Rees) was the boy who abandoned her years ago to marry Matilde (Mary Beth Peil). He took over his father-in-law's shop and raised a family  (his now-grown kids are played by played by Elena Shaddon, and George Abud). Claire went off, literally lost an arm and a leg --  I told you the story was odd -- but married many times and amassed a vast fortune.  The townspeople hope she will share some of her money with them to improve their schools, hospital and police force.

Claire arrives with a butler, Rudi  (Tom Nelis) and two eunuchs named Louis Perch (Matthew Deming) and Jacob Chicken (Chris Newcomer) --  all faceless and wearing formal attire with yellow shoes and gloves (costume design is by Ann Hould-Ward). They tote a ton of baggage (which the townsfolk symbolically carry around and use in movement by choreography by Graciela Daniele) and seem grateful to be enslaved.

Claire is willing to forgive the town for their part in a trial that had forced young Claire to leave Brachen in disgrace. We discover she already found a solution for the butler and eunuchs, who were participants. She will give the town the money it wants -- and even include a bonus for each resident, she generously announces, but there is one catch. Claire is willing to trade the money for the life of her betrayer, Anton. As she straddles the fine line between love and hate, she reveals plans to keep him near by carrying him off in a shiny black coffin she has stored at the bottom of her luggage pile.

While the townsfolk think about her offer, and try to see whether anyone is willing to pull off the dastardly deed, Claire and Anton reminisce about their lust-filled youth (which we already have witnessed -- very graphically--  in the show's opening scene as John Riddle (who has an outstanding singing voice in his Broadway debut) and graceful Michelle Veintimilla play out the younger selves of the old couple). Doyle and Daniele deftly combine their direction, along with Tony-Award-nominated lighting design by Japhy Weideman, to create effective sequences simultaneously shared by the older couple in the present and their younger counterparts in their memories. Doyle has the young couple sitting on the coffin, twirling it around in nonchalant fashion with their feet, as though it's some kind of joy ride, while being totally unaware of the significance it will play in their future.

Scott Pask's looming and depressingly brooding sets add to the other-worldly feel of the show, which examines the depths to which people will go to extract revenge and satiate their greed. Those yellow shoes and other props in that hue come to represent gold's influence.  It's odd, perhaps not fully comprehended, but interesting. And any time we get to hear a Kander-and-Ebb score, I'm happy to pay a visit to the theater.

The Visit plays at the Lyseum Theatre, 149 West 45th, NYC. Performances are Tuesday-Thursday at 7 pm; Friday and Saturday at 8 pm; Wednesday and Saturday at 2 pm; Sunday at 3 pm.

Christians might also like to know:
-- Graphic sexual activity

Broadway Review: Doctor Zhivago

Lora Lee Gayer - Photo by Matthew Murphy

Dr. Zhivago
Book by Michael Weller based on Boris Pasternak’s Nobel Prize-winning novel
Directed by Des McAnuff
Music by Lucy Simon
Lyrics by Michael Korie and Amy Powers
Choreography by Kelly Devine
The Broadway Theatre
Through May 10

What's It All About:
Well, here's the press release quick condensed version: Doctor Zhivago stars Tam Mutu making his Broadway debut as the passionate Doctor and poet Yurii Zhivago, Kelli Barrett as the alluring Lara Guishar, Tom Hewitt as the cynical bourgeois magistrate Viktor Komarovsky, Paul Alexander Nolan as political radical Pasha Antipov, and Lora Lee Gayer as Tonia Gromeko, Zhivago’s devoted wife, in a cast of 32.

It is an epic romance, revolving around the search for love during the final days of Czarist Russia, the First World War and the chaos of the Russian revolution. Raised as an aristocrat, Zhivago is a political idealist, physician and poet whose life is tossed by the tides of history as he is torn between a life with his devoted wife, Tonia Gromeko and the passionate and mysterious Lara Guishar. Zhivago however, is not alone in his yearnings for Lara, and must compete with both revolutionaries and aristocracy alike to win the heart of the woman he cannot live without.

What Are The Highlights?
Few, really, and that is perhaps why the show received no Tony Award nominations and has posted an early closing notice for this Sunday.

What Are the Lowlights?
Lots. This was so bad, it was funny, and I actually laughed out loud a couple of times, not exactly what you'd expect when the soldiers arrive..... The woman next to me was laughing so hard she was snorting. Adding an unmemorable score (and let's sing about every single emotion and thing we possibly can and hold belting notes as long as we can, as often as we can) to what I already find to be a pretty boring story, didn't help. Hokey-sounding lyrics, creepy looking projections and an amateurish performance by Barret (whose facial expressions and lower register notes evoke memories of Carol Burnett at her over-dramatic, comedic best in musical parodies). At moments I thought I had tuned into one of those over-the-top Spanish soap operas, only this one wanted to be in Russian. Probably the worst show I saw this season.

More Information:
The show features scenic design by Michael Scott-Mitchell, costume design by five-time Tony Award nominee Paul Tazewell, lighting design by Tony Award winner Howell Binkley, sound design by Tony Award winner SCK Sound Design, projection design by Sean Nieuwenhuis, hair and wig design by Charles G. LaPointe, special effects design by Greg Meeh, fight directions by Steve Rankin, orchestrations by Danny Troob, music arrangements by Eric Stern, with musical direction and supervision by Ron Melrose (full disclosure: I once produced a show of his).

Performances are Tuesday and Thursday at 7 pm; Wednesday at 2 and 8 pm; Friday at  8 pm; Saturday at 2 and 8 pm; Sunday at 3 pm.

Christians might like to know:
-- God's name taken in vain
-- Drug abuse
-- Adultery
-- Suicide

Gracewell Prodiuctions

Gracewell Prodiuctions
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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 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. Her play concept, "From Reel to Real: The Jennifer O'Neill Story" was presented as part of the League of professional Theatre Women's Julia's reading Room Series in New York. Shifting from reviewing to producing, Yarger owns Gracewell Productions, which produced the Table Reading Series at the Palace Theater in Waterbury, CT. She trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Intensive and other 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 wrote reviews of Broadway and Off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (, an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She was a contributing editor for She previously served as theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer, Connecticut theater editor for and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

She is a Co-Founder of the Connecticut Chapter of the League of Professional Theatre Women. She is a former vice president and voting member of The Drama Desk.

She is a freelance writer and playwright (member Dramatists Guild of America). She is a member if the The Outer Critics Circle (producer of the annual awards ceremony) and a member of The League of Professional Theatre Women, serving as Co-Founder of the Connecticut Chapter. Yarger was a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly 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.


All material is copyright 2008- 2022 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact


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 or people of a certain race 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. 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 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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