Review: 'Girlfriend' at TheaterWorks

Review: 'Girlfriend' at TheaterWorks

It’s understandable how Matthew Sweet’s power-pop album, “Girlfriend,” could be a score to a musical. The songs were all recorded by him following his divorce in 1990 and they expose his feelings about the entire relationship. He commented to Rolling Stone, “It's funny how the album ended up showing everything I needed to feel. Everything I needed as an antidote is there." There is emotion throughout the songwriting with a natural timeline feel and flow, making it a great fit for the musical theatre genre.

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Review: “Twelfth Night” at Yale Repertory Theatre

Review: “Twelfth Night” at Yale Repertory Theatre

Shakespeare fans: Hold on to your ruffled collars because this version of “Twelfth Night” is unlike any you’ve seen before – and it’s marvelous. Illyria has been reimagined by director Carl Cofield as Wakanda where George Clinton, Sun-Ra, and T’Challa decided to produce this Shakespeare classic of mixed-up gender identity. If that sounds out of the ordinary, that’s because it is, and I loved every minute of it.

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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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“King Kong” at the Broadway Theatre – A Review Rebuttal

“King Kong” at the Broadway Theatre – A Review Rebuttal

Having read the New York Times review of “King Kong,” I found it to be utterly unwarranted and pretentious. In an effort to use my indignation productively (rather than writing angry letters which only seems to get me in trouble), I asked my fellow critic, Tim Leininger from the Journal Inquirer, to join me in a sit-down in response to Ben Brantley and Jesse Green’s “evisceration” of the $35 million Australian production that recently opened at the Broadway Theatre.

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Review: "Man of La Mancha" at Westport Country Playhouse

Review: "Man of La Mancha" at Westport Country Playhouse

Inspired by the Miguel de Cervantes’ literary masterpiece, Don Quixote, Westport Country Playhouse brings us the classic musical, Man of La Mancha. It tells the story of a man, Alonso Quijano, who is convinced that he is “Don Quixote de la Mancha,” a determined and valiant knight-errant. The tale is told as a play-within-a-play by Cervantes himself, as part of a mock trial of the prisoners he is detained with, waiting to be questioned by the Spanish Inquisition.  Truth be told, I am not a fan of “old-school” musicals, but this production feels contemporary thanks to its choreography, staging, and casting. 

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Review: "Make Believe at Hartford Stage"

Review: "Make Believe at Hartford Stage"

air warning: this is a play that will be difficult for parents to watch. Knowing how our actions can affect our children permanently and profoundly is difficult for many to swallow. While the scenario presented here is extreme and (I presume) fictitious, it still demonstrates how what we do in front of our children will shape who they become. And often few people want to take on the burden of that kind of responsibility.

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Review: "THE AЯTS" at La MaMa

Review: "THE AЯTS" at La MaMa

We could have had an exciting portrayal of these congressional hearings, as there is no doubt that these performers (Dracyn Blount, Alexander Chilton, Shayna Conde, Nick Daly, and Georgia Lee King) would have all excelled at telling that story; they were excellent. Instead, we get part history and mostly art, and frankly, this wasn’t advertised and not what I signed up for.   

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Review: "The Understudy" at Westport Country Playhouse

Review: "The Understudy" at Westport Country Playhouse

“Sometimes fate is like a small sandstorm that keeps changing directions. You change direction, but the sandstorm chases you. You turn again, but the storm adjusts. Over and over you play this out, like some ominous dance with death just before dawn. Why? Because this storm isn't something that blew in from far away, something that has nothing to do with you. This storm is you.” – Franz Kafka

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2nd Opinion Review: "Be More Chill"

2nd Opinion Review: "Be More Chill"

Have you ever wished that you could just take something, and you’d be cool instantly?

No? You probably thought junior high was fun, too, I’ll bet. So, for those of you who remember the teen years as something resembling medieval torture, you know what I’m talking about. Those times where everything you said and did rendered you eating your lunch alone… again.

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Review: "Oliver!" at Goodspeed Musicals

Review: "Oliver!" at Goodspeed Musicals

Director Rob Ruggiero appears to have a special place in his heart for Lionel Bart’s iconic musical, Oliver! Based on Charles Dickens’ classic Victorian novel, Oliver Twist, Mr. Ruggiero tells us what he feels the story is about in his director’s notes: “…the change that Oliver provokes comes from him simply being: his special connection to the people he meets stimulates change and action.” I would agree with his assessment; the role of Dickens’ title urchin does not require much acting beyond simple presence. Oliver is a catalyst for action taken by others, otherwise, it would be a dull story of an orphan made legitimate through chance.

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Review: "A Flea in Her Ear" at Westport Country Playhouse

Review: "A Flea in Her Ear" at Westport Country Playhouse

In its second offering this season, Westport Country Playhouse has teamed up with the Resident Ensemble Players at the University of Delaware to bring us a new translation of Feydeau’s A Flea in Her Ear, considered by many to be his exemplar work. Directed by Mark Lamos and translated by David Ives, this production is no cheap, floozy farce, but high-brow satire complete with the familiar hallmarks of the theatrical style, (refined): multiple doors, (clever) physical comedy, confusion, misunderstandings, and (smart) bawdy humor.  I like my jokes served with a sharp wit rather than a lazy tongue, and A Flea in Her Ear delivers.

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Review: "whatdoesfreemean?" Nora’s Playhouse at The Tank NYC

Review: "whatdoesfreemean?" Nora’s Playhouse at The Tank NYC

Nora’s Playhouse, a NYC-based women’s theatre collective dedicated to producing women-centric stories, brings to The Tank, whatdoesfreemean?, a world premiere work by Catherine Filloux, an award-winning playwright whose works focus on human rights and social justice themes.  Sometimes “Theater with a Message” can be preachy or heavy-handed, but this show is far from that. Visceral and impactful, whatdoesfreemean? approaches incarceration with depth and candor and a bit of whimsy.

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Off Broadway Review: "Desperate Measures" at New World Stages

Off Broadway Review: "Desperate Measures" at New World Stages

The Wild West meets the British Bard with New World Stages’ Desperate Measures. With a musical score by David Friedman and book and lyrics by Peter Kellogg, it premiered at York Theater in 2017 with three extensions, and it’s easy to see why: It’s a madcap musical with heart, and there’s lots to love about it. 

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Review: "A Lesson from Aloes" at Hartford Stage

Review: "A Lesson from Aloes" at Hartford Stage

Hartford Stage’s final offering for its 2017/18 season, A Lesson from Aloes by Athol Fugard, has a setting that is at once dated and timely: during Apartheid in South Africa. For those unfamiliar with Apartheid, it was a legal system instituted after World War II to suppress nonwhite citizens of South Africa; think of it as a combination of the Jim Crow laws against the Blacks in America’s southern states and the Nuremburg laws against the Jews in Germany. It was an oppressive, extreme form of racism and social injustice, finally lifted in 1994, after negotiations following the release of Nelson Mandela in 1990.

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Review: "Crowns" at Long Wharf Theatre

Review: "Crowns" at Long Wharf Theatre

There is something about gospel music that I find irresistible: It’s uplifting and redeeming; it moves you to tap your foot or clap your hands.  Mix that with blues and hip hop and you have the multi-generational musical story, Crowns.  Inspired by the book, Crowns: Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats, Regina Taylor creates and directs a musical jubilee that brings to life the portraits of six African-American women through triumphant song, movement, story, and, of course, hats. First performed in 2002, the Long Wharf production is a revision of the original, updated in conjunction with Emily Mann’s McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton where Crowns was first produced.

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Review: "The Age of Innocence" at Hartford Stage

Review: "The Age of Innocence" at Hartford Stage

When I heard that Hartford Stage was putting an Edith Wharton novel on stage, I jumped for joy. Wharton was one of my favorite novelists in my late teens and early twenties. Having started with Ethan Frome in high school, I quickly devoured her other novels and short stories. I found her descriptions of beautiful, rich interiors and high society manners engrossing, mostly due to my interest in historical fiction at the time. I also adored the tragedy that befell on her characters, and the sacrifices made by them (usually for love – because I was a typical swooning young woman at the time). For me, film adaptations vary from excellent (House of Mirth with Gillian Anderson) to mediocre (Age of Innocence with Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Winona Ryder), but lucky for us, Douglas McGrath’s smart, concise adaptation of Age of Innocence definitely leans toward the former: It is a worthy reworking of Wharton’s Pulitzer-prize winning novel with standout performances and stunning staging.

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Review: "The Legend of Georgia McBride" at TheaterWorks

Review: "The Legend of Georgia McBride" at TheaterWorks

Grab your false eyelashes, size 12 pumps, and Judy Garland quips, and go see Theaterworks’ latest offering, The Legend of Georgia McBride. Written by Matthew Lopez (The Whipping Man, Reverberation), it relays the journey of a young man finding his place in the world in the last place he probably ever thought of: in a drag show. I will tell you how much I liked this show: After curtain call, a woman behind me in the audience commented that I appeared to be enjoying myself; apparently, I couldn’t hide my enthusiasm. It’s hysterical and heartfelt, provided you have no problem with men dressing up as women and lip-syncing. Obviously, I don’t.

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