Review: The Gut Punch that is "Soft Power"

Review: The Gut Punch that is "Soft Power"

It’s not often I find myself sitting behind the playwright of the production I’m attending but that was the case as I was directly behind David Henry Hwang during his latest work, “Soft Power”. Hwang has had great luck and success at Center Theatre Group, where he premiered Pulitzer Prize finalist “Yellow Face” and his Tony-nominated revival “Flower Drum Song.”

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Review: “There's Blood at the Wedding” at La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club

Review: “There's Blood at the Wedding” at La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club

Of the many problems in America today, police brutality and racial discrimination have been some of the most toxic and recurring problems that have constantly plagued our society. While a number of highly-publicized incidents – and the subsequent Black Lives Matter movement – have helped draw more attention to these serious issues over the past decade, the reality is that they’ve been going on for much, much longer than that. It’s a reality that’s put on full display in There’s Blood at the Wedding, the latest production to be presented at La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club.

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Review: “The Legend of Georgia McBride” at Greater Boston Stage Company

Review: “The Legend of Georgia McBride” at Greater Boston Stage Company

Contemporary comedies are commonplace in theater, but very rarely does a production surface that manages to produce the sought-after balance of humor and heart needed to make an impact that lasts longer than a well earned laugh.

Greater Boston Stage Company’s “The Legend of Georgia McBride,” directed and choreographed by Russell Garrett, is one of these productions.

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Broadway Review: “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical”

Broadway Review: “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical”

“Call the DJ, call the station/Dancing all across the nation/Here for every generation/Now you know your queen is back.” – “The Queen Is Back” by Donna Summer

The fact is that she never really left, and the proof is that her music is alive on Broadway at the Lunt-Fontaine Theatre in the new jukebox bio-musical “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical.” To describe it as an exceptional theatrical accomplishment would be a bit of a stretch; however, it can be defined as a relatively respectable attempt to pay tribute to the music of the late queen of disco.

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Review: "The Girl on the Train" at West Yorkshire Playhouse

Review: "The Girl on the Train" at West Yorkshire Playhouse

Paula Hawkins’ novel The Girl on the Train regularly sits atop worldwide bestseller lists, and since its publication in 2015, has embarked on an even greater journey to well and truly cement itself in popular culture as an unforgettable thriller. This journey began with its adaptation to film in 2016, which brought it to even wider audiences; the next logical step in this journey was a theatre adaptation. Over three years since the novel’s publication, the West Yorkshire Playhouse has taken on the task, with a new adaptation by Rachel Wagstaff and Duncan Abel, prior to its imminent closure for major refurbishment.

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Review: "Forever Bound" at the Atwater Village Theatre

Review: "Forever Bound" at the Atwater Village Theatre

The name of the show Forever Bound has so many innuendos, starting with the program featuring a large cockroach bound by tape. The opening of Forever Bound begins with a lovely redhead girl Miranda (Emily Goss) walking slowly with vacant eyes, while holding a gas mask. Is she “Forever Bound” to believe that her world is about to end? Playwright Steve Apostolina’s literary comedy turns into a chilling thriller, with a surprising moral twist.

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Review: "Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom" at Soulpepper

Review: "Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom" at Soulpepper

In the early 1980s, African-American playwright August Wilson began writing what would become known as his Pittsburgh Cycle, a series of ten plays —each set in a different decade of the 20th Century — telling stories about the Black experience in America. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom tackles the 1920s. Ma Rainey was an early Blues singer who earned the title “Mother of the Blues” and who, decades after her death, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It is mainly through Ma Rainey’s session musicians that much of the story of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is told.

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Off-Broadway Review: “The Gentleman Caller” at the Cherry Lane Theatre

Off-Broadway Review: “The Gentleman Caller” at the Cherry Lane Theatre

“The Gentleman Caller” was the predecessor of Tennessee Williams first successful play “The Glass Menagerie” which opened in 1944 in Chicago and happens to be the title of a new play by Philip Dawkins which is having its New York premiere at Cherry Lane Theatre, being produced by Abingdon Theatre Company. Perhaps Mr. Dawkins should have taken the hint from the playwrights he pays homage to and realize this present manifestation should be considered a precursor to a script that reveals the underlying pain and struggle of his characters to counterpoise the gay sexual farce that is currently being presented. Humor without substance or emotion can be nothing more than a manner to foist laughter, and there is enough risible physicality, references and one liners woven into this dialogue to undermine the essence at the core of his two characters.

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Review: OC's Segerstrom Center for the Arts Finally Becomes the Room Where “HAMILTON” Happens

Review: OC's Segerstrom Center for the Arts Finally Becomes the Room Where “HAMILTON” Happens

Like most Broadway and musical theater fans who live on the west coast without unlimited access to a jet plane or a big enough disposable income to go to New York constantly to see every theatrical offering on the Great White Way, my first exposures to new Broadway musicals are usually either by viewing short clips online or, even better, by listening to the original cast album.

So, naturally, when a very buzzed-about, Drama Desk-winning new musical from Tony winner Lin-Manuel Miranda finally moved from its off-Broadway home at the Public Theater to the Richard Rodgers Theatre in 2015, I was more than excited to know that the cast album for this monumental project will finally be available for those of us common folk unable to snag a flight or a ticket to experience it live in New York.

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Review: Clare Barron’s “Dance Nation” Explores the Angst of Adolescence with Cathartic Wit

Review: Clare Barron’s “Dance Nation” Explores the Angst of Adolescence with Cathartic Wit

Separation-individuation is one of life’s most difficult passages: it is completed successfully by most; however, more than might be suspected remain in the mire of adolescence all their lives. Prepubescence is supposed to erupt in adulthood – adults emerging where clingy parent-dependent pre-teens once held sway. It is a passage equally traumatic to boys as it is to girls, but in “Dance Nation” currently running at Playwrights Horizons’ Peter Jay Sharp Theater, playwright Clare Barron chooses to focus on this process from the point of view of “pre-pubescent” girls. The trope chosen to immerse the audience in this time of trauma is the extended metaphor of the dance studio.

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Broadway Review: "Carousel"

Broadway Review: "Carousel"

The beloved Rogers and Hammerstein “Carousel” has not often been revived on the Broadway stage since it first opened to critical acclaim in 1945, so this third incarnation, after a long hiatus since the highly successful production at Lincoln Center in 1994, will be welcomed by audiences who savor the familiar lavish score. Theater aficionados will be delighted by the superb vocals that illuminate such favorites as “If I Loved You,” “June Is Bustin’ Out All Over,” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone” along with the new sumptuous orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick. Although the score is still heralded as one of the best among the classic musicals of its era, the book is quite complex and does not withstand the test of time.

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Review: "Kiss" at Yale Rep

Review: "Kiss" at Yale Rep

When I was asked to review “Kiss,” Guillermo Calderón’s Rubik’s cube of a political play now appearing at the Yale Repertory Theatre, I assumed that the most difficult part would be having to type out the piece one-handed due to a pesky finger injury. As it turns out, my bum knuckle is the least of my problems. “Kiss” is a fascinating play. It’s an ambitious and inventive work with a lot on its mind. It’s the kind of play I’d love to discuss and analyze at length, but “Kiss” contains a myriad of twists and turns I have been asked to not talk about. It’s probably for the better. The surprises in store at the Yale Rep are among the key pleasures of seeing “Kiss.” So, forgive me if I seem like I’m skirting the matters at hand. I am.

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Review: "Maggie & Pierre" at Tarragon Theatre

Review:  "Maggie & Pierre" at Tarragon Theatre

In this one woman show, Kaitlyn Riordan plays Henry, a reporter who investigates the global fascination around one of Canada’s most iconic prime ministers and his flower child wife.  She then segues fluidly and naturally between two radically challenging performances as a bombastic and pompous Pierre Elliott Trudeau and his insecure and, at times, unstable wife, Margaret Sinclair.

I never saw Maggie & Pierre with Linda Griffiths when It premiered in Toronto years ago. I did not want to miss this opportunity again.

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U.K. Review: "Wicked" - U.K. & Ireland Tour

U.K. Review: "Wicked" - U.K. & Ireland Tour

Wicked is one of the most iconic musicals in the world, with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, book by Winnie Holzman and original direction by Joe Mantello. It’s latest UK & Ireland tour has just landed in the UK's largest theatre, the Edinburgh Playhouse, so I flew along to see if the story of the witches of OZ was still as popular as ever.

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Review: "The Addams Family" at Rooftop Productions

Review: "The Addams Family" at Rooftop Productions

I recently had the pleasure of seeing Addams Family the Musical at The Center for the Arts in Manassas, Virginia. The musical, as expected, is based on the old Addams Family TV show and the 1990’s films. The show, put up by Rooftop Productions, follows an older Wednesday Addams who believes she has fallen in love with a young man, Lucas. Lucas and his family come from Ohio, which is a stark contrast to the Addams’s interesting lifestyle. Trouble in sues when Wednesday asks her father, Gomez, to keep the couples potential marriage a secret from Morticia, Gomez’s wife and Wednesday’s mother. This causes a rift in the family and all relationships involved.

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Broadway Review: Valor Rules Supreme in “Three Tall Women”

Broadway Review: Valor Rules Supreme in “Three Tall Women”

What if the seven “characters” in Jacques the melancholy’s monologue in Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” could “meet” and share with one another the experiences they had in their particular “stage of life?” What if “the lean and slipper'd pantaloon” could let the “soldier” know how his life would change, or if both could warn the “infant” of the pitfalls of adolescence and adulthood? And then what if “second childishness and mere oblivion; sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything” could communicate to all his “stages” the importance of humor and perspective? The protagonist in “Three Tall Women,” currently running at the John Golden Theatre, manages that achievement with grace and charming caprice.

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Review: "SCHOOL OF ROCK" is now in Session

Review: "SCHOOL OF ROCK" is now in Session

It’s been a while since I’ve walked out of a theatre humming a song from a musical. After seeing School of Rock on opening night, I found myself not only humming, but singing “Stick it to the Man” while driving home. The next day, I sang it again while doing chores around the house. Not only is this song catchy, it had the audience up and out of their seats at the end of the show.

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Review: Singing about the "Blues in the Night" at The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts

Review: Singing about the "Blues in the Night" at The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts

Listening to some of the best jazz and blues music from the 1920’s and 30’s, Blues in the Night features four exquisite singers and six soulful musicians transporting the audience on a historical journey while performing 27 songs by the great Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, Bessie Smith, Ida Cox, Benny Goodman and Johnny Mercer.

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Review: “Randy Writes A Novel” at Theatre Row

Review: “Randy Writes A Novel” at Theatre Row

It’s Friday night, and as I am most days, I am spending my night at the theater. This time, rather than a show that involved the usual dialogue of sorts between humans, I was off to see a PUPPET SHOW! I have to say, although I knew from the beginning that tonight’s show I’d be reviewing would be a bit different, it turned out to be more different – and more hysterical – than I’d honestly been expecting from Randy Writes a Novel.

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