Broadway review by Adam Feldman Reducio! After 18 months, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has returned to Broadway in a dramatically new form. As though it had cast a Shrinking Charm on itself, the formerly two-part epic is now a single show, albeit a long one: Almost three and a half hours of stage wizardry, set 20 years after the end of J.K. Rowling’s seven-part book series and tied to a complicated time-travel plot about the sons of Harry Potter and his childhood foe Draco Malfoy. (See below for a full review of the 2018 production.) Audiences who were put off by the previous version’s tricky schedule and double price should catch the magic now. Despite its shrinking, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has kept most of its charm. The spectacular set pieces of John Tiffany’s production remain—the staircase ballet, the underwater swimming scene, the gorgeous flying wraiths—but about a third of the former text has been excised. Some of the changes are surgical trims, and others are more substantial. The older characters take the brunt of the cuts (Harry’s flashback nightmares, for example, are completely gone); there is less texture to the conflicts between the fathers and sons, and the plotting sometimes feels more rushed than before. But the changes have the salutary effect of focusing the story on its most interesting new creations: the resentful Albus Potter (James Romney) and the unpopular Scorpius Malfoy (Brady Dalton Richards), whose bond has been reconceived in a s
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Hamilton: Theater review by David Cote What is left to say? After Founding Father Alexander Hamilton’s prodigious quill scratched out 12 volumes of nation-building fiscal and military policy; after Lin-Manuel Miranda turned that titanic achievement (via Ron Chernow’s 2004 biography) into the greatest American musical in decades; after every critic in town (including me) praised the Public Theater world premiere to high heaven; and after seeing this language-drunk, rhyme-crazy dynamo a second time, I can only marvel: We've used up all the damn words. Wait, here are three stragglers, straight from the heart: I love Hamilton. I love it like I love New York, or Broadway when it gets it right. And this is so right. A sublime conjunction of radio-ready hip-hop (as well as R&B, Britpop and trad showstoppers), under-dramatized American history and Miranda’s uniquely personal focus as a first-generation Puerto Rican and inexhaustible wordsmith, Hamilton hits multilevel culture buttons, hard. No wonder the show was anointed a sensation before even opening. Assuming you don’t know the basics, Hamilton is a (mostly) rapped-through biomusical about an orphan immigrant from the Caribbean who came to New York, served as secretary to General Washington, fought against the redcoats, authored most of the Federalist Papers defending the Constitution, founded the Treasury and the New York Post and even made time for an extramarital affair that he damage-controlled in a scandal-stanching pamphle
Broadway review by Adam Feldman Sixteen is not sweet for the heroine of the bruisingly joyful new musical Kimberly Akimbo. Adapted by David Lindsay-Abaire from his own 2001 play, with music by Jeanine Tesori (Caroline, or Change), the show has a central conceit that verges on magical realism: Kimberly Levaco suffers from an unnamed, “incredibly rare” genetic disorder that makes her age at a superfast rate. Played by the 63-year-old Victoria Clark, she is physically and psychically out of place among her high school peers, who have more conventional adolescent problems like unrequited crushes. “Getting older is my affliction,” the usually mild-mannered Kimberly sings in a rare burst of confrontation. “Getting older is your cure.” Life at home in New Jersey with her boozy, incompetently protective father (Steven Boyer) and her pregnant, hypochondriacal and self-absorbed mother (Alli Mauzey) is even less appealing. But as Kimberly stares into a cruelly foreshortened future—the life expectancy for people with her illness is, yes, 16—two agents of disruption reframe her perspective. The first is her aunt Debra (the unstoppable Bonnie Milligan), a hilarious gale force of chaos who blows into town and quickly recruits her niece into an elaborate check-fraud scheme. The other is Seth (the winsome and natural Justin Cooley), a gentle, tuba-playing classmate with an affinity for anagrams that suggests, to Kimberly, that maybe he could shake her up and rearrange her too. Kimberly Aki
If theater is your religion and the Broadway musical your sect, you've been woefully faith-challenged of late. Venturesome, boundary-pushing works such as Spring Awakening, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and Next to Normal closed too soon. American Idiot was shamefully ignored at the Tonys and will be gone in three weeks. Meanwhile, that airborne infection Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark dominates headlines and rakes in millions, without even opening. Celebrities and corporate brands sell poor material, innovation gets shown the door, and crap floats to the top. It's enough to turn you heretic, to sing along with The Book of Mormon's Ugandan villagers: "Fuck you God in the ass, mouth and cunt-a, fuck you in the eye." Such deeply penetrating lyrics offer a smidgen of the manifold scato-theological joys to be had at this viciously hilarious treat crafted by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, of South Park fame, and composer-lyricist Robert Lopez, who cowrote Avenue Q. As you laugh your head off at perky Latter-day Saints tap-dancing while fiercely repressing gay tendencies deep in the African bush, you will be transported back ten years, when The Producers and Urinetown resurrected American musical comedy, imbuing time-tested conventions with metatheatrical irreverence and a healthy dose of bad-taste humor. Brimming with cheerful obscenity, sharp satire and catchy tunes, The Book of Mormon is a sick mystic revelation, the most exuberantly entertaining Broadway musical in years. The high q
For one night only, the prominent Italian actor Monica Bellucci—whose résumé ranges from The Passion of the Christ to two Matrix films and the James Bond movie Spectre—plays the peerless dramatic soprano Maria Callas in a solo show by Callas expert Tom Volf, who also directs the show. The text is drawn from the diva's previously unpublished writings and correspondence, as compiled by Volf; the Wordless Music Orchestra provides musical accompaniment.
Theater review by Raven Snook The queer coming-of-age memoir of a self-declared "two-hit wonder," F*ck7thGrade is a charmingly laid-back musical chronicle of Jill Sobule's divalution from middle school through middle age. Even if you don't recognize her name, you may have heard her snarky song "Supermodel" from the movie Clueless. Its absence from this theatrical concert demonstrates how the undersung singer-songwriter values storytelling above success. Book writer Liza Birkenmeier supplies vivid details and poignant punchlines to connect the musical dots of Sobule's eclectic folk-rock catalog. Starting in seventh grade, Sobule realized she wasn't like the other girls. While they obsessed over horses, clothes and boys, she loved her chopper bike, her guitar and Suzi Quatro. ("Everyone had secrets: Me, my mom, Nixon.") After growing up, landing a record deal and releasing the 1995 single "I Kissed a Girl," Sobule still felt like an outsider who wasn't even out; she recalls hearing music execs talking smack about Melissa Etheridge and Tracy Chapman and then saying, "Thank God Jill's not gay." Sporting an adorable pixie cut and an Orange Crush tee, and belting in fabulous voice, Sobule fronts a badass band of women—Kristen Ellis-Henderson on drums, Nini Camps on bass and the invaluable musical director Julie Wolf on keyboards—who also play small but pivotal roles in this journey of self-acceptance. With battered lockers behind her, Sobule plays guitar and even drums on "Bitter
Theater review by Adam Feldman [Note: Matt Doyle currently plays Seymour, and Lena Hall is now Audrey; Bryce Pinkham and Brad Oscar play Orin and Mushnik, respectively. Maude Apatow takes over as Audrey starting February 7.] Little Shop of Horrors is a weird and adorable show with teeth. Based on Roger Corman’s shlocky 1960 film, Howard Ashman and Alan Menken’s 1982 musical tells the Faustian story of a dirt-poor schlub named Seymour (Jonathan Groff), a lowly petal pusher at a Skid Row flower shop, who cultivates a relationship with a most unusual plant. What seems at first a blessing—a way for the lonely Seymour to earn money and to get closer to his boss, Mushnik (Tom Alan Robbins), and his used and bruised coworker, Audrey (Tammy Blanchard)—soon turns sinister. The plant, whom he names Audrey II (designed by Nicholas Mahon and voiced by Kingsley Leggs), requires human blood to grow, and Seymour doesn’t have enough of his own to spare. He doesn’t want to feed the beast, but he can’t resist the lure of the green. Arguably the best musical ever adapted from a movie, Little Shop does for B flicks what Sweeney Todd does for Grand Guignol. Librettist Ashman and composer Menken—who, between this show and their Disney animated films, did more than anyone to return musical theater from its mass-culture exile in the late 20th century—brilliantly wrap a sordid tale of capitalist temptation and moral decay in layers of sweetness, humor, wit and camp. Their extraordinary score bursts
Theater review by Rossilynne Skena Culgan Gabe Mollica begins his one-man show with a declaration: “I turned 30, and it occurred to me that I don’t have any friends.” Sure, the comedian explains, there are guys he grew up with and bros he’s befriended through the years. But what about the kind of close friends you can talk about the Big Stuff with? When his mother faced a health crisis, he began to notice a dearth in that department. Mollica weaves humor with vulnerability throughout Solo: A Show About Friendship. Striding onstage at SoHo Playhouse in khaki pants, sneakers and a plain T-shirt, he presents himself as a pretty normal dude. While some of his stories are complicated, Mollica keeps us engaged for the whole ride, whisking us to bars, apartments and summer camps along the way; he is also often hilarious, with a low-key delivery that sneaks in jokes when you least expect them. (I’m still laughing at the suggestion that his mother should’ve been in charge of finding Osama bin Laden, since moms seem to know where everything is.) As much fun as raunchy humor can be, it’s refreshing to see a comedy show with a downright wholesome charm. Mollica is so endearing, in fact, that I’d now count his enemies among my own. Why then, is it hard for him to make the kind of friends he wants? That question goes beyond the parameters of this show; according to a recent study, less than half of American men feel satisfied with their friendships. But Mollica is rare in his incisive abi
Broadway review by Adam Feldman Honesty is a suspect policy in Between Riverside and Crazy, Stephen Adly Guirgis’s profanity-laced love letter to New York City seediness. Its characters are so enmeshed in ulterior motives and lies—the ones they tell each other and the ones they tell themselves—that their seeming excess of candor can never quite be trusted. Behind the fronting they present to the world are messes of guilt, regret and greed—but also hope, affection, maybe even love. Like Guirgis’s Pulitzer Prize–winning script, which features 35 uses of the s-word and 85 uses of the f-word in 90 pages, they’re all a little full of shit, with more fucks to give than they let on. This being a play by the author of Our Lady of 121st Street and Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train, plenty of conflict is on the horizon. At the eye of the gathering storm is the magnificently human and self-assured Stephen McKinley Henderson as the cuddly-irascible Walter “Pops” Washington, a retired Black cop who lives in an enviably spacious apartment on Riverside Drive. (Walt Spangler’s revolving set lets us see it in all its sprawl.) Mourning the recent death of his wife, he spends his time parked in her old wheelchair, moping and toping around the place—"a rent-controlled Palace ruled by a grieving despot King," per the stage directions—attended by shady younger courtiers: his resentful son, Junior (Common), who has been in and out of prison and now traffics stolen goods; Junior’s airhead girlfriend, Lu
Theater review by Adam Feldman Here’s my advice: Go to hell. And by hell, of course, I mean Hadestown, Anaïs Mitchell’s fizzy, moody, thrilling new Broadway musical. Ostensibly, at least, the show is a modern retelling of the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice: Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy goes to the land of the dead in hopes of retrieving girl, boy loses girl again. “It’s an old song,” sings our narrator, the messenger god Hermes (André De Shields, a master of arch razzle-dazzle). “And we’re gonna sing it again.” But it’s the newness of Mitchell’s musical account—and Rachel Chavkin’s gracefully dynamic staging—that bring this old story to quivering life. In a New Orleans–style bar, hardened waif Eurydice (Eva Noblezada) falls for Orpheus (Reeve Carney), a busboy with an otherworldly high-tenor voice who is working, like Roger in Rent, toward writing one perfect song. But dreams don’t pay the bills, so the desperate Eurydice—taunted by the Fates in three-part jazz harmony—opts to sell her soul to the underworld overlord Hades (Patrick Page, intoning jaded come-ons in his unique sub-sepulchral growl, like a malevolent Leonard Cohen). Soon she is forced, by contract, into the ranks of the leather-clad grunts of Hades’s filthy factory city; if not actually dead, she is “dead to the world anyway.” This Hades is a drawling capitalist patriarch who keeps his minions loyal by giving them the minimum they need to survive. (“The enemy is poverty,” he sings to them in
For more than two decades, this proudly old-school series has offered a different lineup of professional magicians every week: a host, opening acts and a headliner, plus two or three close-up magicians to wow the audience at intermission. Housed since 2011 at the unprepossessing Players Theatre, it is an heir to the vaudeville tradition. Many of the acts incorporate comedic elements, and audience participation is common. (If you have children, bring them; they make especially adorable assistants.) Shows cost just $42.50 in advance and typically last well over two hours, so you get a lot of value and variety for your magic dollar. In contrast to some fancier magic shows, this one feels like comfort food: an all-you-can-eat buffet to which you’re encouraged to return until you’re as stuffed as a hat full of rabbits. For a full schedule, visit the MNM website.
Theater review by Raven Snook [Note: This is a review of the 2019 production of The Appointment. The show now returns for an encore run, with nearly all the same cast.] At The Appointment, fetuses get in your face. With goo-goo eyes, cutesy voices and dangling umbilical cords, they sing to you, flirt with you and even demand your snacks. It's so ridiculous you can't help laughing, but there's a palpable unease underneath. Those expecting straightforward pro-choice messages may wrestle with intense feelings as they watch this satirical musical, a feverish explosion of the abortion debate that replaces rigid political views with a visceral exploration of the emotions that fuel both sides. Buoyantly directed by Eva Steinmetz, The Appointment is a devised theater piece from Lightning Rod Special, the Philadelphia outfit behind the incendiary Underground Railroad Game. Discomfort is their calling card, but in service of discovery, not only shock. A collection of scenes and songs that touch on reproductive rights, The Appointment uses absurdity as connective tissue: The all-male staff of a clinic serenades patients with abortion-regret stories, as required by law; a soothsaying turkey disrupts a family Thanksgiving dinner; the fetuses, who just want to entertain you, keep getting yanked offstage by a vaudevillian hook that looks unsettlingly like the top of a hanger. When they’re playing those fetuses, the seven performers are consummate clowns who know how to manage the crowd, eve
Broadway review by Adam Feldman Who doesn’t enjoy a royal wedding? The zingy Broadway musical Six celebrates, in boisterous fashion, the union of English dynastic history and modern pop music. On a mock concert stage, backed by an all-female band, the six wives of the 16th-century monarch Henry VIII air their grievances in song, and most of them have plenty to complain about: two were beheaded, two were divorced, one died soon after childbirth. In this self-described “histo-remix,” members of the long-suffering sextet spin their pain into bops; the queens sing their heads off and the audience loses its mind. That may be for the best, because Six is not a show that bears too much thinking about. Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss wrote it when they were still students at Cambridge University, and it has the feel of a very entertaining senior showcase. Its 80 minutes are stuffed with clever turns of rhyme and catchy pastiche melodies that let mega-voiced singers toss off impressive “riffs to ruffle your ruffs.” The show's own riffs on history are educational, too, like a cheeky new British edition of Schoolhouse Rock. If all these hors d’oeuvres don’t quite add up to a meal, they are undeniably tasty. Aside from the opening number and finale and one detour into Sprockets–style German club dancing, Six is devoted to giving each of the queens—let’s call them the Slice Girls—one moment apiece in the spotlight, decked out in glittering jewel-encrusted outfits by Gabriella Slade that are Tu
Review by Adam Feldman The low-key dazzling Speakeasy Magick has been nestled in the atmospheric McKittrick Hotel for more than a year, and now it has moved up to the Lodge: a small wood-framed room at Gallow Green, which functions as a rooftop bar in the summer. The show’s dark and noisy new digs suit it well. Hosted by Todd Robbins (Play Dead), who specializes in mild carnival-sideshow shocks, Speakeasy Magick is a moveable feast of legerdemain; audience members, seated at seven tables, are visited by a series of performers in turn. Robbins describes this as “magic speed dating.” One might also think of it as tricking: an illusion of intimacy, a satisfying climax, and off they go into the night. The evening is punctuated with brief performances on a makeshift stage. When I attended, the hearty Matthew Holtzclaw kicked things off with sleight of hand involving cigarettes and booze; later, the delicate-featured Alex Boyce pulled doves from thin air. But it’s the highly skilled close-up magic that really leaves you gasping with wonder. Holtzclaw’s table act comes to fruition with a highly effective variation on the classic cups-and-balls routine; the elegant, Singapore-born Prakash and the dauntingly tattooed Mark Calabrese—a razor of a card sharp—both find clever ways to integrate cell phones into their acts. Each performer has a tight 10-minute act, and most of them are excellent, but that’s the nice thing about the way the show is structured: If one of them happens to fall
Theater review by Adam Feldman Red alert! Red alert! If you’re the kind of person who frets that jukebox musicals are taking over Broadway, prepare to tilt at the windmill that is the gorgeous, gaudy, spectacularly overstuffed Moulin Rouge! The Musical. Directed with opulent showmanship by Alex Timbers, this adaptation of Baz Luhrmann’s 2001 movie may be costume jewelry, but its shine is dazzling. The place is the legendary Paris nightclub of the title, and the year is ostensibly 1899. Yet the songs—like Catherine Zuber’s eye-popping costumes—span some 150 years of styles. Moulin Rouge! begins with a generous slathering of “Lady Marmalade,” belted to the skies by four women in sexy black lingerie, long velvet gloves and feathered headdresses. Soon they yield the stage to the beautiful courtesan Satine (a sublimely troubled Karen Olivo), who makes her grand entrance descending from the ceiling on a swing, singing “Diamonds Are Forever.” She is the Moulin Rouge’s principal songbird, and Derek McLane’s sumptuous gold-and-red set looms around her like a gilded cage. After falling in with a bohemian crowd, Christian (the boyish Aaron Tveit), a budding songwriter from small-town Ohio, wanders into the Moulin Rouge like Orpheus in the demimonde, his cheeks as rosy with innocence as the showgirls’ are blushed with maquillage. As cruel fate would have it, he instantly falls in love with Satine, and she with him—but she has been promised, alas, to the wicked Duke of Monroth (Tam Mutu)
Once a week, after closing time, 10 people convene at the city’s oldest magic shop, Tannen’s, for a cozy evening of prestidigitation by the young and engaging Noah Levine. The shelves are crammed with quirky devices; there's a file cabinet behind the counter, a mock elephant in the corner and bins of individual trick instructions in plastic covers, like comic books or sheet music. The charm of Levine's show is in how well it fits the environment of this magic-geek chamber of secrets. As he maneuvers cards, eggs, cups and balls with aplomb, he talks shop, larding his patter with tributes to routines like the Stencel Aces and the Vernon Boat Trick—heirlooms of his trade that he gently polishes and displays for our amazement.
Broadway review by Adam Feldman Some Like It Hot is a well-aimed throwback: a jubilant, oldfangled, crowd-pleasing musical comedy. Like many recent Broadway tuners, it is adapted from a well-loved movie—in this case, Billy Wilder’s classic 1959 sex-and-sax farce about a pair of Prohibition-era musicians, on the run from the mob, who pose as women in an all-girl traveling band. The musical version reheats this story with abundant production values and canny attention to modern sensibilities. If it wobbles a little in its borrowed heels at first, it finishes in the confident stride of a hit. Directed and choreographed with zest by Casey Nicholaw, Some Like It Hot taps into a classic vein of musical theater, and I do mean taps: This show doesn’t stint on the clickety-clack of shoe against stage. Its central characters, best friends Joe (Christian Borle) and Jerry (J. Harrison Ghee), are not just instrumentalists but also perform a side act as the Tip Tap Twins. (Joe is white and Jerry is Black but, as they sing, ”We’re brothers under the skin.”) After witnessing a gangland rubout in Chicago, they are forced to race off in drag; under the noms de plumage Josephine and Daphne, they soon wrangle their way into a jazz ensemble led by Sweet Sue (NaTasha Yvette Williams) and fronted by a hard-knocked singer named Sugar Kane (Adrianna Hicks). As Joe and Jerry bond with Sugar, and recruit her into the expanded Tip Tap Trio, romantic complications ensue. Josephine, as Joe, starts fall
Broadway review by Adam Feldman [Note: Below is our original two-star review of the revival of Funny Girl that opened in April with Beanie Feldstein as Fanny Brice. Lea Michele assumed the role on September 6 (joined by Tovah Feldshuh as Mrs. Brice), and she is sensational—leading us to raise the star rating of the production overall to four stars. Click here for a full assessment of the production with Lea Michele. At some performances, the role played by Julie Benko.] The rain clouds gather early over the misplaced-pride parade that is the Broadway revival of Funny Girl. The audience is primed for a boffo old-fashioned musical comedy, which this production promises. Even before the curtain—which itself depicts a curtain!—goes up, the audience claps at the overture’s most famous songs; when Beanie Feldstein makes her first appearance as Ziegfeld Follies comedian Fanny Brice, stares into an invisible mirror and delivers her famous opening self-affirmation (”Hello, gorgeous!”), the crowd goes wild. But then she starts to sing. It is unfair, but unavoidable, to compare Feldstein to Funny Girl’s original leading lady, Barbra Streisand, who was not only a fresh comic talent at the time but also one of the greatest vocalists in Broadway history. But there’s a reason Funny Girl hasn’t been revived since its original run in the early 1960s: Despite several memorable songs (with first-rate tunes by Jule Styne and second-rate lyrics by Bob Merrill), there’s not much to the story, whic
Steve Cohen, billed as the Millionaires’ Magician, conjures high-class parlor magic in the marble-columned Madison Room at the swank Lotte New York Palace. Audiences must dress to be impressed (cocktail attire is required); tickets start at $125, with an option to pay more for meet-and-greet time and extra tricks with Cohen after the show. But if you've come to see a classic-style magic act, you get what you pay for. Sporting a tuxedo and bright rust hair, the magician delivers routines that he has buffed to a patent-leather gleam: In addition to his signature act—"Think-a-Drink," involving a kettle that pours liquids by request—highlights include a lulu of levitation trick and a card-trick finale that leaves you feeling like, well, a million bucks.
Broadway review by Adam Feldman [Note: Take Me Out is returning to Broadway for an encore run this fall with Bill Heck as Kippy and the rest of the original cast intact.] The multiple meanings in the title of Richard Greenberg’s Take Me Out give some sense of the play’s ambition. It refers, of course, to “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” that carefree celebration of being part of a crowd. But it can equally be taken as a demand for acceptance from Darren Lemming (Jesse Williams), the Derek Jeter–like star outfielder of the fictional New York Empires who casually comes out of the closet at the start of the first act. It evokes, too, baseball’s capacity to let ordinary people, like Darren’s unathletic gay accountant Mason (a wondrous Jesse Tyler Ferguson), connect with the larger world and escape their daily lives. The title also connects in various ways with events that occur later in the plot; more generally, it suggests the fraught process of revealing a private self to the public. Nearly 20 years after its Tony-winning run in 2003, Take Me Out has returned to Broadway at Second Stage’s up-close-and-personal Helen Hayes Theater. Directed by Scott Ellis, it remains provocative, intelligent and engaging. Greenberg likes big words, big themes and messy complications. The civility and open-endedness of baseball—not to mention the sheer volume of stats—have always attracted contemplation, and Take Me Out enjoys tossing its ideas around. “Baseball is a perfect metaphor for hope in a
Self-described “bubble scientist” Fan Yang's blissfully disarming act (now performed in New York by his son Deni, daughter Melody and wife Ana) consists mainly of generating a dazzling succession of bubbles in mind-blowing configurations, filling them with smoke or linking them into long chains. Lasers and flashing colored lights add to the trippy visuals.—David Cote TIME OUT DISCOUNT TICKET OFFER:THE GAZILLION BUBBLE SHOWIt will blow you away!!!Tickets as low as $49 (regular price $79) Promotional description:After twenty years as a Master of Bubbles, Fan Yang brought his unique brand of artistry to the Big Apple in 2007 and has since wowed bubble lovers of all ages. The Gazillion Bubble Show truly is a family affair for Fan: His wife Ana, son Deni, daughter Melody and brother Jano all can be found on stage in New York and around the world performing their bubble magic. Audiences are delighted with an unbubblievable experience and washed with a bubble tide; some even find themselves inside a bubble. Mind-blowing bubble magic, spectacular laser lighting effects and momentary soapy masterpieces will make you smile, laugh and feel like a kid again.THREE WAYS TO BUY TICKETS:1. Online: Click here to buy tickets through Telecharge2. By phone: Call 212-947-8844 and mention code: GBTONYF453. In person: Print this offer and bring it to the New World Stages box officePerformance schedule: Friday at 7pm; Saturday at 11am, 2pm and 4:30pm; Sunday at 12pm and 3pm Running time: 1hr. No
Three deadpan blue-skinned men with extraterrestrial imaginations carry this tourist fave, a show as smart as it is ridiculous. They drum on open tubs of paint, creating splashes of color; they consume Twinkies and Cap'n Crunch; they engulf the audience in a roiling sea of toilet paper. For sheer weird, exuberant fun, it's hard to top this long-running treat. (Note: The playing schedule varies from week to week, with as many as four performances on some days and none on others.)
Director-designer Julie Taymor takes a reactionary Disney cartoon about the natural right of kings—in which the circle of life is putted against a queeny villain and his jive-talking ghetto pals—and transforms it into a gorgeous celebration of color and movement. The movie’s Elton John–Tim Rice score is expanded with African rhythm and music, and through elegant puppetry, Taymor populates the stage with an amazing menagerie of beasts; her audacious staging expands a simple cub into the pride of Broadway, not merely a fable of heredity but a celebration of heritage. RECOMMENDED: Guide to The Lion King on Broadway Minskoff Theatre (Broadway). Music by Elton John. Lyrics by Tim Rice. Book by Roger Allers and Irene Mecchi. Directed by Julie Taymor. With ensemble cast. Running time: 2hrs 40mins. One intermission.
To untimely rip and paraphrase a line from Macbeth: Our eyes are made the fools of the other senses, or else worth all the rest. A multitude of searing sights crowd the spectator's gaze at the bedazzling and uncanny theater installation Sleep No More. Your sense of space and depth—already compromised by the half mask that audience members must don—is further blurred as you wend through more than 90 discrete spaces, ranging from a cloistral chapel to a vast ballroom floor. Directors Felix Barrett and Maxine Doyle, of the U.K. troupe Punchdrunk, have orchestrated a true astonishment, turning six warehouse floors and approximately 100,000 square feet into a purgatorial maze that blends images from the Scottish play with ones derived from Hitchcock movies—all liberally doused in a distinctly Stanley Kubrick eau de dislocated menace. An experiential, Choose Your Own Adventure project such as this depends on the pluck and instincts of the spectator. You can follow the mute dancers from one floor to the next, or wander aimlessly through empty spaces. I chose the latter, discovering a room lined with empty hospital beds; a leafless wood in which a nurse inside a thatched cottage nervously checks her pocket watch; an office full of apothecary vials and powders; and the ballroom, forested with pine trees screwed to rolling platforms (that would be Birnam Wood). A Shakespearean can walk about checking off visual allusions to the classic tragedy; the less lettered can just revel in the f
This musical prequel to The Wizard of Oz addresses surprisingly complex themes, such as standards of beauty, morality and, believe it or not, fighting fascism. Thanks to Winnie Holzman’s witty book and Stephen Schwartz’s pop-inflected score, Wicked soars. The current cast includes Lindsay Pearce as Elphaba and Ginna Claire Mason as Glinda.
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