Monday, March 26, 2018

Off-Broadway Theater Review: Admissions TOP PICK

Jessica Hecht, Andrew Garman, and Ben Edelman Photo: Jeremy Daniel

By Joshua Harmon
Directed by Daniel Aukin
Lincoln Center Theater
Through May 6

By Lauren Yarger
People of Color are good. White people are bad. So goes the liberal mantra that has been ruling the Admissions process at a private school in New Hampshire for years, but when the truth of that practice hits home in a personal way, a couple is forced to do some rethinking in Joshua Harmon's thought-provoking play getting an Off-Broadway run at Lincoln Center.

Sherri Rosen Mason (a mesmerizing Jessica Hecht) has been working for decades to change things at preppy Hillcrest School, where her husband, Bill (Andrew Garman) is the headmaster. The specific change she has been working toward is to make the school look less white and she is excited to announce that enrollment of students of color now is at 20 percent. She only needs to fund one more scholarship to make it happen. So, she's not happy to see a mockup of the school's catalogue with pictures showing mostly white students. She calls administrator Roberta (an engaging Ann McDonough) on the carpet and insists that she redo the booklet using pictures with more students of color.

Roberta is perplexed. She included some students of color, including the son of the mixed marriage of Sherri's best friend, Ginnie Peters (Sally Murphy). Apparently, he isn't easily identified as black, however, setting off a series of humorous questions from Roberta about just how dark-skinned the photo subjects need to be. Sherrie bristles when Roberta points out that she rarely thinks about a student's skin color -- that it is Sherrie who is obsessed with it. Sherrie pulls rank and shrugs off Roberta's observation.

"It must be nice to be sure you're right all the time," Roberta quips.

Doubt quickly fills Sherrie's mind, however, when her son, Charlie (Ben Edelman), is waitlisted at Yale, but Ginnie's son, whose test scores and grades aren't as good, gets in.  The two moms might be having a casual visit in Sherrie's warm kitchen (the comfortable home set is created by Riccardo Hernandez), but the atmosphere is chilly once that question comes up: Did he check the box (signifying his race)?

Meanwhile, a dejected Charlie realizes that as a white, privileged kid, he probably will be just as well off going to community school and rescinds his application at all of the top colleges where he had applied. And by the way -- that $60,000+ tuition at Yale? He'd like his parents to donate it and fund that last scholarship for a student of color at Hillcrest.  Just how much do the Masons believe in diversity? The whole reason Sherrie and her husband have been slaving away at Hillcrest is to make sure that their son could get into the right school... how far will they go now to make sure their white son gets a slot?

Admissions is a well-written script that brings into question equal opportunity beliefs and practices without becoming preachy. Director Daniel Aukin gets top-notch performances across the boards. We feel Sherrie's instinct to protect her son and the loss of the friendship with Ginnie. We understand Roberta's frustration with unrealistic desires to be politically correct and Charlie's perception of the irony that is determining his life's path. Meanwhile, Bill's irrational hatred of his own son for not getting on board with the liberal party line and for not hating himself for being white shows just how brainwashed some people allow themselves to be. It's an unsettling hour-and-45-minute play, perfectly timed in view of today's political and racial climate.

Admissions takes us to school at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater, 150 West 65th St., NYC, extended through May 6.

Additional credits:
Costumes by Toni-Leslie James, Lighting by Mark Barton, and Sound by Ryan Rumery

More information:

-- God's name taken in vain
-- Language

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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- 2024 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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