Broadway Review: “Network”

Broadway Review: “Network”

When Howard Beale (a tortured yet determined Bryan Cranston) first admonishes his listeners to get out of their chairs, go their widows, stick out their heads and yell, “I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore,” the audience at the Belasco Theatre erupts with a nostalgia that since the 1976 release of Paddy Chayefsky’s “Network” has morphed into a current state of being: an irrepressible rage about the state of the world, particularly about the current political environment. The satire in Chayefsky’s iconic film transfers well to Lee Hall’s adaptation currently running at the Belasco.

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Broadway Review: “The Ferryman”

Broadway Review: “The Ferryman”

If you are a fan of Irish plays you will most likely recognize the characters and may recall hearing similar stories as you listen and watch the epic family drama “The Ferryman” by Jez Butterworth now playing at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre. That is where the familiarity stops, allowing the brilliant dialogue of Mr. Butterworth and the sagacious, meticulous direction of Sam Mendes to take you on a three hour and fifteen-minute journey through the hearts and minds of the expansive Carney family. The plot is thick with the burdens of politics and religion that are complicated by love, loss and tradition. Except for the prologue, all the action takes place in the expansive kitchen and living area of the Carney family in rural County Armagh, Northern Ireland, late summer in 1981. This punctilious set designed by Rob Howell is authentic, dominated by a soaring staircase that members of this unsettled family might climb, in order to retreat from the agitated activities of everyday life. Mr. Howell’s costumes are never intrusive, only fortifying the ambience of time and place, while also placing another layer on top of the already genuine characters. Punctuate each scene with the atmospheric lighting design of Peter Mumford and you are transported into the suspension of disbelief.

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Broadway Review: "The Cher Show"

Broadway Review: "The Cher Show"

Anyone who is or was a fan of Cher during the past six decades will find it difficult to resist the urge to see the new Broadway musical based on her fascinating life and intriguing career that is now playing at Neil Simon Theatre. It would be wise to follow that urge and see for yourself how the beat still goes on. “The Cher Show” follows the same format as a similar musical currently running on Broadway – that show scheduled to close at the end of the year after its successful nine month run.

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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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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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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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Broadway Review: “Straight White Men”

Broadway Review: “Straight White Men”

When entering The Hayes Theater to see “Straight White Men, the audience is bombarded by loud music – so loud, one cannot speak to one’s neighbor. Person in Charge 1 (more later) approaches to ask if the music is too loud. If one answers ‘yes,’ one gets a free set of earplugs. If one answers ‘no,’ one finds out later that they are “privileged.” The audience learns in a pre-curtain sharing that the loud music (now stopped) is meant to make the audience feel uncomfortable. The only discomfort is the ensuing ninety-minute new play by Young Jean Lee.

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Broadway Review: “Saint Joan”

Broadway Review: “Saint Joan”

Before “Saint Joan” closes on its scheduled June 10, 2018 date, it is important toremember the significance of Shaw’s 1923 play in the current Broadway season. “Saint Joan” received a singleTony Award nomination forCondola Rashad’s brilliant performance in the title role: Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play. Additionally, the production featured a stunning set by Scott Pask and highly effective lighting by Justin Townsendandsound design by Obadiah Eaves. Most important, however, are the rich enduring questions Shaw raises in his drama.

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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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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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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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Broadway Review: “Children of A Lesser God”

Broadway Review: “Children of A Lesser God”

The current Broadway revival of the groundbreaking play “Children of a Lesser God,” the first since it opened thirty-eight years ago to win the Tony award for best play, does not seem to have the emotional impact as the original. Playwright Mark Medoff has penned the love story of James Leeds, a speech therapist at a school for the deaf, and Sarah Norman, deaf since birth, who is not a student but works as a custodian at the school. The technique used to present the play is intriguing, since the actor portraying James speaks his dialogue and repeats Sarah’s words as she signs her responses, speaking for both characters. This is certainly an enormous task, and although an ingenious concept, it does lend itself to complications in relating emotional content and depth of character.

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Broadway Review: "Mean Girls"

Broadway Review: "Mean Girls"

The new Broadway musical “Mean Girls,” based on the 2004 hit movie, is sure to secure a home on the Great White Way for some time to come, as it tickles the fancy of a new generation of young woman who might be liberated by the recent movements of empowerment and anti-bullying. It is certainly a crowd pleaser and whether you are a fan of the movie, you will enjoy the flashy, energetic production which aims to please form start to finish. The book by Tina Fey remains close to the screenplay, repeating some of the same popular quips and smart wit while also adding new material to update and take full advantage of current social and political events.

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