Review: “As You Like It” at the Players Theatre

Review: “As You Like It” at the Players Theatre

Like all other revivals, productions of William Shakespeare’s large canon of plays tend to be a mixed bag. Some prove to be colorful and innovative takes on these classics, while others make you fall asleep, if not scratch your eyes out. This past weekend at the Players Theatre, I found myself viewing the worst of the worst in this category of productions, when director/producer Carrie Isaacman’s production of “As You Like It” made me wish I weren’t there as a reviewer, so I could feel like I didn’t have to stay in the theater from beginning to end.

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Review: “It’s A Wonderful Life” at Greater Boston Stage Company

Review: “It’s A Wonderful Life” at Greater Boston Stage Company

Greater Boston Stage Company provides a theatrical take on a classic Christmas story with its production of “It’s A Wonderful Life.” Similar to the beloved film, the stage version, which has been adapted from Frank Capra’s original screenplay by Weylin Symes, features many of the same famous characters, themes, and morals, with a couple unique elements that turn this well-known tale into something fresh and new.

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Review: “Shadows” at the Connelly Theatre

Review: “Shadows” at the Connelly Theatre

Dancing! Romance! Ghosts!

To some theatergoers, the above combination is certainly one that is bound to lead to a night of entertainment that they will love. I will confess, neither ghost stories nor romances are exactly the genres that excite me most, when heading out for a night of theatre. However, not even I can deny that the recent production of Shadows is one of the most impressive and sophisticated musicals to premiere in the NYC indie theatre scene within the past year or so.

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Off-Broadway Review: “Lewiston/Clarkston” at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater

Off-Broadway Review: “Lewiston/Clarkston” at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater

There is quite an intriguing theatrical event occurring at the Rattlestick Theater, where two ninety-minute plays separated by a thirty-minute communal dinner break takes the stage to engage an audience of fifty, in two compelling dramas. The playhouse is stripped down to its original walls discovering weathered multi paned windows and worn wainscoting, wearing years of neglect, with some sections beyond repair. This is the performance space, perhaps a foreshadowing of a shared theme of discovery, as two brave young people make a journey following the steps of their ancestors only to reveal the ugly past and face the troubled and turbulent present.

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Off-Broadway Review: “The Hello Girls” at 59E59 Theaters

Off-Broadway Review: “The Hello Girls” at 59E59 Theaters

There is no doubt that the so called “Hello Girls,” the bilingual operators that were sent to the front line to operate secured switchboards, were invaluable to the Signal Corps units in World War I. It is unfortunate that they needed to fight for sixty years to be recognized as veterans of that war in order to receive appropriate benefits. It was just one more example of the historic and ongoing women’s crusade for equal rights. So, it is fitting that there be an acknowledgement of their service in any form, including the documentary and the current stage musical by the same name now running at 59E59 Theaters. This recent tribute is produced by Prospect Theater Company and features a remarkable cast of performers who do triple duty as actors, vocalists and musicians playing multiple instruments.

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Review: “The Brutes” at New Ohio Theatre

Review: “The Brutes” at New Ohio Theatre

In their mission statement, the independent theatre company spit&vigor describes themselves as being dedicated to producing works that are both “spirited” and “innovative”. Indeed, this troupe of performers does come off as spirited, and there’s a fair amount of talent and energy to be seen. However, a better word to describe the play they’ve selected for production – The Brutes by Casey Wimpee – feels less innovative and more middling than anything else.

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Broadway Review: “The New One”

Broadway Review: “The New One”

When he walks onto stage to applause at the Cort Theatre to begin his show “The New One,” It is evident that Mike Birbiglia has a huge following and some dedicated fans. The one-man show recently transferred to Broadway after a successful off-Broadway run at The Cherry Lane Theater. Mike Birbiglia is casual, an everyman, as he proceeds to mic himself as though he is just getting ready for another day at the office. This action sets the audience on par, making them feel comfortable. This is a great introduction to his observational humor that relies mostly on the audience being able to relate to the situations he is about to expound upon. He speaks softly, in an unassuming tone, projecting a demure character, without a mean bone in his body so when his thoughts drift over to a negative perspective, there is absolution. He immediately attempts to win over his audience, to assure smooth sailing for the 90-minute show.

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Off-Broadway Review: “The Other Josh Cohen”

Off-Broadway Review: “The Other Josh Cohen”

“The Other Josh Cohen,” currently running at the Westside Theatre/Downstairs, has been bemoaning the hapless and lackluster life of Josh Cohen (Steve Rosen) through his Doppelganger narrator Josh (David Rossmer) since October 2012. That’s a long time to celebrate having one’s apartment robbed of everything, rehearsing one’s dysfunctional family, recounting a string of failed romantic relationships, and resolving the mystery of a letter and check for a substantial sum of money – yet, audiences continue to cheer Josh on, apparently identifying with this fictional character’s “hard luck life” and his ability to overcome misfortune and re-create himself and his future.

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Off-Broadway Review: “Thom Pain (based on nothing)”

Off-Broadway Review: “Thom Pain (based on nothing)”

In this revival of “Thom Pain (based on nothing)” at The Pershing Square Signature Center’s Irene Diamond Stage, Will Eno steps over, under, and in between the resting places – and the writing desks – of the literary canon’s most prominent surrealist writers of the past and present. Eno seems to stop there to chat, listen, tremble (who wouldn’t), and laugh with these greats, echoes of whom cascade across the stage in a stunning performance by Michael C. Hall.

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Review: "School of Rock"- National Tour(Toronto)

Review: "School of Rock"- National Tour(Toronto)

Need to pay your rent? Try forming your own rock band. Just make sure the lyrics can be heard.

It has been years since I’ve seen the film version of ‘School of Rock’ with Jack Black. I will admit I was never a fan of his to begin and wasn’t certain if I was going to like this production.

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Review: ‘Tribes’ At Gaslight Theatre

Review: ‘Tribes’ At Gaslight Theatre

Tribes’, written by Nina Raine, is about what makes a family and the importance in how we communicate with those we love. It follows ‘Billy’ who is deaf as he discovers the Deaf World and British Sign Language (BSL). His family is hearing, so he never experienced sign and read lips to communicate instead, as is the case with many deaf people born into hearing families. He meets ‘Sylvia’ who is a Hard of Hearing and a Child of Deaf Adult (HoH and CODA) that changes his life. Raine does not hold back and touches on some crucial issues. Isolation, language deprivation, finding love, and employment are over analyzed by the family of academics that are all struggling to find a way to connect.

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Second Opinion Broadway Review: "The Prom"

Second Opinion Broadway Review: "The Prom"

If anyone is looking for a fun night out, grab your significant other, or for that matter just pick yourself up, get dressed and go to “The Prom” where everyone is welcomed, and you are almost guaranteed to have a good time. The good old fashioned musical has returned to Broadway and just like those legendary shows from an era gone by, this new musical confection with a book by Bob Martin and Chad Beguelin, music by Matthew Sklar and lyrics by Mr. Beguelin, is big, broad and brassy. It is full of stereotypes, theatre references, production numbers and a lot of laughs from characters you learn to love. What sets this show apart, is that it takes a chance, betting against the odds, that an important subject matter can be addressed and resolved, even if heavily sugar coated with humor, song and dance, as long as real, honest human beings emerge in the process. The ingenuity used here is that the characters are not transformed, they are revealed as their layers of protective armor are shed by the force of integrity.

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Review: "Every Brilliant Thing" at the Berkeley Street Theatre

Review: "Every Brilliant Thing" at the Berkeley Street Theatre

I have been sitting on this article for awhile because the impact of Duncan MacMillan’s ‘Every Brilliant Thing’ has finally hit me.

It’s a one-person story told in a theatre in the round bare stage setting at Toronto’s Berkeley Street house.  The narrator breaks the fourth wall in speaking to the audience and tells her story how she has coped with her mother’s suicidal thoughts and tendencies. In between moments that are not so pleasant, the narrator has written items and points of interest on every brilliant thing that life has to offer people no matter the darkest hour or fear that we may confront.

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Review: “Rule of 7x7: All-Stars” at The Tank

Review: “Rule of 7x7: All-Stars” at The Tank

Whether you’re a writer, an actor, or a director, timed challenges in theatre can often be wildly crazy and highly energizing for all of the artists involved. For the audience members who are lucky enough to be around for the final result, it often leads to some of the most strangely entertaining nights of live theatre that you’re bound to enjoy. If there’s ever been such an excellent example I’ve seen recently of that, it’s the recent “All-Stars” round of the Rule of 7x7 series that runs throughout the year at The Tank.

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Off-Broadway Review: “Gloria: A Life” at the Daryl Roth Theatre

Off-Broadway Review: “Gloria: A Life” at the Daryl Roth Theatre

It is not such a common occurrence that a playwright attempts to pay tribute to a living legend unless the work of that inspirational personality continues in the present as well as already being a pivotal part of history. That is why it is easy to understand the decision of Emily Mann to bring to the stage the life of the feminist activist Gloria Steinem. Under the astute direction of Diane Paulus, the two-hour multimedia piece fuses docudrama, theatre and talking circle, to review the life of Ms. Steinem but more importantly to remind the audience that in such uncertain times, the work she started is not yet done. It is not meant to preach, but to arouse and stimulate, so we may gather, communicate and understand the need for equality. It is not a resurgence but more like a recharge, taking power from one source and passing it on to another, who may then empower another, until all become enlightened, ready and able to fight until the battle is won. More so, it is steeped in reality.

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Review: “Wine and Magic” with Trigg Watson

Review: “Wine and Magic” with Trigg Watson

Award-winning illusionist Trigg Watson’s one-man show, “Wine and Magic,” at Checkered Past Winery in downtown Dallas delivered an intimate and truly-magically entertaining performance. Although wine and magic do not often enjoy a close association, Trigg capitalized on the unique features of this cozy, upscale wine bar venue to forge a connection to his audience and unleash a wide range of unique illusions from his deep bag of tricks. From conjuring wine bottles out of thin air to exploring the mysteries of time travel and more, Trigg Watson firmly demonstrated how he earned titles including Dallas’s Performing Artist of the Year as well as Dallas’s Magician of the year.

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Review: “The Bridge” at The Tank

Review: “The Bridge” at The Tank

When it comes to conceptual dance and performance pieces, I am always a fan of work that adapts poetry. When it’s done right, it often can feel like some of the most incredibly beautiful works of performance that there is. So when I was invited to review Natalia Roberts’s dance show inspired by Shel Silverstein’s “The Bridge”, I was certainly intrigued. When I got to the theater, however, I quickly realized that the show wasn’t necessarily an adaptation, so much as it was a response.

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Broadway Review: "The Prom"

Broadway Review: "The Prom"

Ah, the prom. It’s every high school kid’s biggest dream or worst nightmare, depending on how your teen years went. I remember my prom was spent mostly hiding in the basement of the after-party house with my best friend, avoiding my overly-handsy, drunk date.

Thankfully, this new musical from the creators of “The Wedding Singer” and the “Drowsy Chaperone” does not involve tipsy teens.

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Review: “Twas the Night Before Christmas” at Casa Manana

Review:  “Twas the Night Before Christmas” at Casa Manana

Fresh off the heels of a Thanksgiving spent with friends and family comes an energetic and heartwarming holiday romp through New York City on Christmas eve courtesy of the talented cast and crew of Casa Manana’s “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” With uptempo, high-energy fueled song and dance, it shook the audience out of a Black Friday-induced commercialized stupor for a glimpse into the heart of what makes the holiday season the most wonderful and magical time of the year.

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