If you're looking to find the best Broadway shows, or are curious about what's happening Off Broadway or Off-Off Broadway, we can help. Time Out New York's theater critics are constantly on the lookout to guide you to the most exciting, original and moving shows in the city—and to steer you away from the ones that might not be worth your time. Here is a complete list of our reviews of productions that are currently playing in New York City.
Theater review by Adam Feldman The Temptations are hard to resist. No matter how much you may chafe at the clunky machinery of Broadway’s latest jukebox biomusical, Ain’t Too Proud, the hits just keep coming, distracting your critical faculties with zaps of R&B greatness. And when the show is at full power—when its lavishly gifted stars are lined up for duty in natty matching suits, moving and singing in synch through songs like “My Girl,” “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me,” “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” and “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg”—the gleam of well-polished nostalgia is strong. Is that enough, though? The problem with telling the story of the Temptations is that there isn’t a clear central story to tell. Much of Ain’t Too Proud focuses on the so-called Classic Five period from 1964 through 1968, when the quintet’s main frontman is the bespectacled and charismatic David Ruffin, played by the sensational Ephraim Sykes with a riveting combination of showboating dance moves and rough-edged soul vocals. High tenor Eddie Kendricks (the expressive Jeremy Pope) occasionally takes the lead vocals, backed by baritones Otis Williams (Derrick Baskin) and Paul Williams (James Harkness) and bass Melvin Franklin (the impressively deep-throated Jawan M. Jackson). But since the group’s membership has been in continual flux since its Motown debut in 1961, Ain’t Too Proud entrusts its narration entirely to the last Temp standing: Otis, who has been with the group from the start and performs with it
Aladdin. New Amsterdam Theatre (see Broadway). Music by Alan Menken. Lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice. Book and additional lyrics by Chad Beguelin. Directed by Casey Nicholaw. With Adam Jacobs, James Monroe Iglehart, Courtney Reed. Running time: 2hrs 20mins. One intermission. Aladdin: In brief Disney unveils its latest cartoon-to-musical project: the tale of a boy, an uncorked spirit and an aerodynamic rug. Composer Alan Menken adds new tunes to the 1992 original soundtrack, and Chad Beguelin provides a fresh book. Reputed highlights include James Monroe Iglehart's bouncy Genie and the flying-carpet F/X. Aladdin: Theater review by Adam Feldman What do we wish for in a Disney musical? It is unrealistic to expect aesthetic triumph on par with The Lion King, but neither need we settle for blobs of empty action like Tarzan or The Little Mermaid. The latest in the toon-tuner line, Aladdin, falls between those poles; nearer in style (though inferior in stakes) to Disney’s first effort, Beauty and the Beast, the show is a tricked-out, tourist-family-friendly theme-park attraction, decorated this time in the billowing fabrics of orientalist Arabian fantasy. “It’s barbaric, but hey, it’s home,” sings the genial Genie (a game, charismatic Iglehart) in the opening song, and that’s the tone of Aladdin as a whole: kid-Oriented. As in the 1992 film, the Genie steals the show from its eponymous “street rat” hero (Jacobs, white teeth and tan chest agleam). The musical’s high point i
Theater review by Adam Feldman Whatever else it may or may not be, Beetlejuice is spectacularly weird. The best creative work in this musical adaptation of Tim Burton’s 1988 film—about a pair of sweet ghosts trying to rid their house of its distasteful new inhabitants—has gone into its physical form: The designers come at it from all kinds of crazy angles. David Korins’s haunted-house set seems to buckle in the middle and stretch at the edges; William Ivey Long’s costumes are a batty vision of colors and patterns at war. There are magic tricks and giant worms and a starkly linear idea of the afterlife that contrasts well with the chaotic world of the living. If only so much of the rest of Beetlejuice were not a busy mess. The film’s protagonists, milquetoast “newlydeads” Adam (Rob McClure) and Barbara (Kerry Butler), no longer seek out the loathsome “bio-exorcist” demon Beetlejuice (Alex Brightman, working overtime); he targets them in a scheme to leave the netherworld, even though only a living person is capable of making him visible there. Much of Adam and Barbara’s function has been reassigned to Lydia (the gifted young Sophia Anne Caruso), the goth teenage daughter of the house’s new owner (Adam Dannheisser), a widower with an insecure New Age girlfriend (comic dynamo Leslie Kritzer). A little of the hyperactive, rattle-voiced, lecherous Beetlejuice goes a pretty long way, but the show makes him its central figure. Sometimes he’s a murderous pansexual scuzzball (he ref
Theater review by Adam Feldman “I’m what you call a schreier,” explains Bella Abzug in Harvey Fierstein’s solo show Bella Bella, a lively and deeply affectionate portrait of the hat-wearing, barrier-breaking 1970s liberal firebrand. That’s a Yiddishism—Fierstein’s script is generously schmeared with them—and it means that she’s the kind of person who yells. As a woman trying to break through the doors of American political culture, she didn’t have much choice. “The rules of the patriarchy were not invented to include us,” she says. “They were, in fact, designed to exclude us. If we wanted to be heard, we had to be loud.” As a three-term U.S. Congresswoman from New York City, she raised her voice against the war in Vietnam and for the impeachment of Richard Nixon. Bella Bella finds her waiting for her entrance onto an even larger stage: It is the night of the 1976 Democratic primary for an open Senate seat, and she is sequestered in the bathroom of a fancy hotel, waiting for the votes to be tallied. (At the time, there were no women in the Senate at all.) But it was not meant to be: Abzug lost in a squeaker to the more moderate Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Shouting only gets you so far if people won’t listen. “I’ve never entered a race I didn’t win,” Abzug claims. “Eventually.” Since many of her races are still being run, their batons having been passed to the likes of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Bella Bella feels politically relevant, if always a little bit strange. Although muc
Broadway review by Adam Feldman The 1978 drama Betrayal is mostly told backward, but, paradoxically, it may be Harold Pinter’s most straightforward work. The first scene depicts a meeting between Jerry (Charlie Cox) and Emma (Zawe Ashton), two years after the end of the long extramarital relationship they conducted behind the back—or at least to the side—of her husband, the slick Robert (Tom Hiddleston), who was Jerry’s close friend at the time; the final scene, set nine years earlier, shows the night their duplicity began. In between, Pinter traces the disintegration of each side of the play’s romantic triangle, sketching in details of events that have already been alluded to. (The back-to-front structure is not rigorous; three of the scenes follow the ones before them in chronological order.) But unlike, say, The Birthday Party or The Homecoming, Betrayal has no overarching sense of enigma. The solutions to its mysteries are handed to us in advance; since we already know what will happen, the play's interest largely involves our knowledge of who knows what when, and who knows that they know it, and what they aren’t saying. As is Pinter’s wont, the script is replete with moments when the characters don’t speak—a very slow cover of Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy the Silence” is heard between scenes—which invites us to fill in the play’s emotional blanks. These are pauses that send out tasteful announcements of their pregnancy. Pinter’s bone-dry, stiff-lipped tale of infidelity reli
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.)
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
After more than 15 years at the Waldorf Astoria, Steve Cohen, billed as the Millionaires’ Magician, now conjures his 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 $100, 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.
This John Kander–Fred Ebb–Bob Fosse favorite, revived by director Walter Bobbie and choreographer Ann Reinking, tells the saga of chorus girl Roxie Hart, who murders her lover and, with the help of a huckster lawyer, becomes a vaudeville sensation. The cast frequently features guest celebrities in short stints.
Broadway review by Adam Feldman If you want to see a stage version of Charles Dickens’s holiday ghost story A Christmas Carol in New York this year, you are—like you are every year—in luck. As always, there are plenty to choose from: a candlelit reading at the Merchant's House, an uptown update at the Classical Theatre of Harlem, a marionette show in the East Village. Or you could opt for the large, classy, rather gloomy production at the Lyceum, adapted by Jack Thorne and directed by Matthew Warchus. The look of the show is attractively dark. Dozens and dozens of lanterns hang on chains from the ceiling, with more of them piled in the two back corners of Rob Howell’s cross-shaped set; four skeletal doors tilt up from the floor to create the suggestion of walls; the moneylending office of the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge (Campbell Scott) consists of boxes that he neatly slots into the ground. A small group of live musicians is augmented by an ensemble that divvies up the narration, sings carols and, in the show’s prettiest touch, creates a chorus of handheld bells. Thorne takes pains to flesh out characters from Scrooge’s past: his stingy and abusive father (Chris Hoch, who doubles as the ghost of Jacob Marley), his kindly sister (Rachel Prather), the woman he once loved (Sarah Hunt). Yet there’s not much payoff to this attempt at psychological depth; mostly it just adds length to the show, which would be more effective with a few trims and no intermission. And Warchus, perha
One of the more unlikely musicals on Broadway this season, Come from Away is the tense but humane story of an airport in Gander, Newfoundland, where 38 planes and more than 6,000 passengers were forced to land on September 11, 2001. The book, music and lyrics are by the Canadian team Irene Sankoff and David Hein. Read the full review.
Theater review by Naveen Kumar There has never been an inopportune moment to stage The Crucible, but with impeachment hearings underway, Arthur Miller’s indictment of miscarried justice seems especially instructive. Bedlam’s characteristically smart, stripped-down production pulses with an electric current and lays bare the play’s bitter truths. It is as gripping and revelatory a Miller production as New York has seen in years, and a bracing reminder of what a real witch hunt looks like. What begins as seemingly absurd paranoia—provincial and insular, funny in the style of Christopher Guest—gradually expands into terrifying life-and-death drama, as in a fun-house nightmare. In 17th-century Salem, rumors of witchcraft spread after a group of girls are caught dancing in the woods at night. John Proctor (Ryan Quinn) sees his life methodically turned inside out when their ringleader, his dismissed servent and onetime dalliance Abigail Williams (a blood-chilling Truett Felt) points her finger at his wife out of jealous vengeance. The quiet restraint of Susannah Millonzi’s breathtaking performance as Elizabeth Proctor cements a shift in tone that endures until the tragedy’s final heartbreak. Bedlam artistic director Eric Tucker, who also plays Reverend Hale, at first frames the story as a kind of wry pageant. The ensemble gathers in tableaux in the Connelly lobby—the first of the production’s many striking images. In John McDermott’s scenic design, the stage and seating areas i
Theater review by Raven Snook As a platform for the swoon-worthy Peter Dinklage, the New Group’s musical take on Edmond Rostand’s classic 1897 romance, Cyrano de Bergerac, has seductive moments. But it’s hard to fall in love with this confounding production. Director-adapter Erica Schmidt mostly sticks to the story of the source material. Cyrano, a soldier equally skilled with swords and words but who believes he’s too ugly to love, attempts to quash his crush on Roxanne (a ravishing Jasmine Cephas Jones) and helps the witless pretty boy Christian (Blake Jenner) woo her in his stead. But Schmidt has excised all the poetry and much of the nasty humor; the jokes about Cyrano’s enormous nose are replaced with weak colloquial stabs at comedy (“Whaaa?”). Members of the indie-rock band the National have written atmospheric incidental music, but most of their full-fledged numbers stop the show dead in its tracks, regardless of whether they’re sung with confidence (by troopers Jones and Jenner) or hesitation (Dinklage is still figuring out how to maximize his brooding baritone). Cyrano may be trying for a Spring Awakening–style juxtaposition, with contemporary tunes revitalizing a period romantic tragedy. But the lyrics are banal and repetitive, and, aside from a few group numbers—eye-catchingly choreographed by Jeff and Rick Kuperman—the songs do little to move the narrative forward. (As two previous Broadway flops suggest, Rostand’s play seems to resist musicalization.) Yet Di
In this captivating original musical, actual teenager Andrew Barth Feldman now plays the title role of a high school student thrust into social relevance after a classmate's suicide. Benj Pasek and Justin Paul's score combines well-crafted lyrics with an exciting pop sound, and Steven Levenson’s book gives all the characters shaded motives. Read the full review.
Broadway review by Adam Feldman The British mentalist Derren Brown is up to his old tricks in Secret, and very fine tricks they are. Not for nothing has Brown become a celebrity in his native England: He is a first-class stage magician, and in his Broadway debut he commands our fascination for nearly two and a half hours. Deploying a mixture of techniques (cold reading, subtle psychological manipulation, even mass mesmerism), he repeatedly gets members of the audience to seem to do his bidding. But although much of his act looks like mind reading, he renounces any claim to psychic ability—cannily disarming us of our skepticism, the better to catch us off guard. With help from directors Andy Nyman and Andrew O’Connor, he misdirects us in plain sight. The secret of Secret’s success lies not in the big-reveal tentpoles of the act (which are highly skillful variations on standard mentalist routines) but in the partly improvised patter that cloaks them in genuine risk and spontaneity. When things don’t go perfectly smoothly—when the good-natured and self-assured Brown bobbles a prediction or two—the hitches only add to the tension and impressiveness of what he is doing, as when a juggler’s dropped ball reminds you how many are still in the air. The show leaves you in a state of joyful bafflement. Can you believe it? You don’t have to, and that’s the fun. It’s a con game, and Brown is a consummate pro. Cort Theatre (Broadway). By Andy Nyman, Derren Brown and Andrew O’Connor. Di
Theater review by Adam Feldman Kimie Nishikawa’s rooftop set of Dr. Ride’s American Beach House is so steeply slanted to one side that for the first few minutes of Liza Birkenmeier’s compelling new play, I actually felt a little off-balance. So, perhaps, do Harriet (Kristen Sieh) and Matilda (Erin Markey), who have met there on the eve of astronaut Sally Ride’s historic space trip in 1983. Enmeshed since high school, they have set aside their dreams of writing poetry, and now work as waitresses in St. Louis. Although they float in a tank of lesbian signifiers—they call their meeting the Two Serious Ladies Book Club, after a novel by Jane Bowles—and are unusually physically close, both of these women have male partners. The benefits of their intimate friendship are unspoken; they may flirt with queer self-knowledge, sometimes brazenly, but it’s always with an escape hatch of denial, firmly monitored by the dominant Matilda. Intensely blasé, Markey brings a burning charisma to the role of the attention-hungry Matilda; Sieh’s Harriet, sensitive and interior, is her equal and opposite, inured to being in Matilda’s shade but just beginning to find her own shine. The two have been dancing the same steps for years, but this is not to be a night like the others, thanks in part to the disruptive presence of Meg (an amiably tough Marga Gomez), a bulldyke medical worker with cropped hair and combat boots. (A fourth character—Harriet’s landlord, a bottled-up spinster played with halti
The Builders Association invites audiences over the technological rainbow via an augmented-reality app designed to complement the show's deconstruction of L. Frank Baum's The Wizard of Oz. Marianne Weems directs a piece written by James Gibbs and Moe Angelos; presented at 3LD in 2016, the show now returns for a brief encore at Skirball. The rainbow connections are sometimes oblique, but the show provides a lively and diverting look at the gears of artistic wizardry and the ways in which we get caught up in them. Read the full 2016 review here. Try viewing the image above with the Builders Association's special Augmented Reality app.
Theater review by Raven Snook Folksbiene's Yiddish-language Fiddler became an unlikely hit last summer—see our original review, below—prompting multiple extensions and now, a move to a larger theater uptown. Those who get shpilkes imagining what that migration might do to Tevye the dairyman and his brethren can breathe easy. They've arrived with their stripped-down aesthetic and emotionally lucid production intact. In fact, it feels even more resonant thanks to beautifully evolved performances, the recasting of a few key roles and, sadly, a heightened sense of vulnerability due to the recent spike in anti-Semitism. (Be prepared to be wanded at the door.) Once again, Steve Skybell's Tevye is rich and real as he avoids the trap of scenery chewing. (Beowulf Boritt's barely-there set of parchment wouldn't make much of a meal, anyway.) Under Joel Grey's actor-friendly direction, Skybell consistently goes for nuanced naturalism instead of laughs or apoplexy, and he has a lived-in chemistry with newcomer Jennifer Babiak as his anxious wife, Golde. The strong-voiced Drew Seigla as Pertshik, the Bolshevik revolutionary who woos Tevye's second oldest daughter, is another welcome addition. The rest of the returning romantic leads are as charming as ever, making sure never to cross into cloying, and Jackie Hoffman's Yente provides plenty of comic relief without succumbing to caricature. Admittedly, this may not be the most spectacularly sung, danced or designed Fiddler ever to hit the
Theater review by Raven Snook A theatrical time capsule that feels eerily timely, Anna Deavere Smith’s solo documentary play Fires in the Mirror is getting an appropriately fiery revival at the Signature. An exploration of identity and tribalism in the wake of the 1991 Crown Heights riots, a violent three-day clash in Brooklyn between members of the Jewish and black communities, the show is a collage of verbatim interviews that Smith conducted both with everyday New Yorkers and with bold-faced names like activist Al Sharpton, feminist writer Letty Cottin Pogrebin and the late playwright Ntozake Shange. The piece has been performed by the playwright herself since its premiere 27 years ago—until now. Using only his remarkable talent and a few key accessories, Michael Benjamin Washington conjures 25 individuals of various ages, genders, ethnic backgrounds and viewpoints. While he doesn’t possess Smith’s uncanny abilities as a mimic (her career-making performance was filmed for PBS’s American Playhouse, and can be viewed on YouTube), he imbues each person with specificity, authenticity and soul. Director Saheem Ali deserves credit for eliciting this impressively fluid performance, and although there are minor missteps in this production—too much stage business, an excessively literal set—it is a stirring account of an urgent work of art. Smith’s structure is meticulous: She arranges the monologues to enhance and echo each other as they reveal the personal tolls of racism, anti
Theater review by Regina Robbins The cast of Zawe Ashton’s for all the women who thought they were Mad comprises six black women, a black girl and one white man, and it’s the outsized influence of that one male figure—sometimes a boss, sometimes an amorous coworker or a concerned medical professional—that drives the drama. The play revolves around the ambitious Joy (Bisserat Tseggai), an African-born woman living in a western nation. Wholly focused on her corporate career, she is beginning to crack under the pressure of innumerable daily humiliations, from backhanded compliments about her hair to people barging into her office without knocking. The other women onstage confer about how to help her if it isn’t too late. Could their collective power counteract the toxic environment in which Joy finds herself trapped? “We speak with one voice or not at all,” declares the motherly Margaret (Sharon Hope). It turns out that’s not so easy. Actor-playwright Ashton, who is currently appearing on Broadway in Harold Pinter’s Betrayal, weaves her poetic text around an all-too-realistic scenario that slowly evolves into a full-on fever dream. Past, present and future converge as Joy finds memories of her mother country intruding on her thoughts—and sometimes her body—while she tries to prepare for a crucial business meeting. The other women try to throw her a lifeline, offering various forms of black female solidarity, but Joy stubbornly clings to her professional identity: sexless, ch
Theater review by Raven Snook The Great White Way has changed a lot over the past four decades, but Forbidden Broadway is still much the same. That’s both a comfort and a limitation. In Forbidden Broadway: The Next Generation, the first new edition since 2014 of his (mostly) affectionate satirical revue, musical parodist Gerard Alessandrini takes fresh aim at Broadway’s newcomers. But like Scott Rudin last season, he ends up with as many misses as hits. If that last reference confounds you, Forbidden Broadway may not be up your Shubert Alley: Much of its humor assumes a more-than-working knowledge of theater culture on Broadway and slightly beyond. Lampoons of Fosse/Verdon and Renée Zellweger in Judy are highlights of the evening, thanks to series vet Jenny Lee Stern, who convincingly conjures those divas along with Julie Andrews (in a clever spoof that transforms Mary Poppins Returns’s “The Place Where Lost Things Go” into a memorial for flop shows). An uproarious Oklahoma! medley pokes fun at woke cowpokes, and a zany bit about The Ferryman finds the comedy in Irish drama. Alessandrini’s mordant wit is less in evidence as he struggles to find what’s funny about some other shows; his takes on Tootsie, The Prom and Harry Potter miss the mark widely. And while Stern and the sparkling Aline Mayagoitia are crack impressionists who can sell the slighter material, the male performers (Immanuel Houston, Chris Collins-Pisano and child actor Joshua Turchin) are stronger as singer
Theater review by Naveen Kumar Atop a patinated brown floor encircled by a shuffled deck of mirrors, the Public Theater’s landmark revival of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf cracks open like a precious gem, flashes of insight cascading out as if by magic. The incantation begins with Ntozake Shange’s singular text, first performed at the Public in 1976 and described as a “choreopoem” by its creator. Shange’s ingenious fusion of language, music and movement conjures one soul-stirring revelation after the next. “Bein alive & bein a woman & bein colored is a metaphysical dilemma/ i haven’t conquered yet,” says Lady in Yellow (Orange Is the New Black’s Adrienne C. Moore), one of seven players dressed in colors from the rainbow. Shange’s interlocking poems flow like dialogue, weaving vivid tales of longing and loss, self-discovery and deceit, everyday pleasures and injustice. Director Leah C. Gardiner creates a visceral happening: The call-and-response rhythm that begins with the performers spreads through an audience seated in the round. (Do snap your fingers when the spirit moves you.) Choreography by Camille A. Brown (Choir Boy) turns the swirling of hips, thrusting of limbs, and smacking of butts and thighs into a kind of animated hieroglyphics of black female experience. The powerhouse ensemble includes rafter-splitting vocalist Sasha Allen (Lady in Blue), superbly expressive deaf actor Alexandria Wailes (Lady in Purple) and the razo
Broadway review by Adam Feldman Freestyle Love Supreme is a dream of a show: the scheme of a team of thespians from Wesleyan who went with their flow, 16 years ago, to improvise a hip-hop musical. Their act is virtuoso. FLS is a phenomenon, uncommon and on-the-fly—a high wire where performers get by without a guide for the words that pour out from their lips and their lungs (as they try not to trip on the tips of their tongues). Their abilities, their skill and ease, are always impressive, but it’s less of a show-off than a love-in with a geek streak. There’s a reason FLS is so buzzy: It’s not just cool, it’s also warm and fuzzy. In the show’s new incarnation, at a venue on Shubert Alley, the emcee of emcees is Anthony “Two-Touch” Veneziale. He genially handles all the crowd participation, gleaning vital information that will fuel improvisation. The roster of performers varies, but a core group carries much of the weight: Utkarsh Ambudkar is a brash and quick star; beatboxer Chris Sullivan fulfills his mission with precision, as does pianist Arthur Lewis, while the group’s newest addition, Aneesa Folds, is a singer and a smarty who brings welcome fresh eggs to what had been a sausage party. Special guests each night keep it light and tight as they join Veneziale at the monster-track rally. When I was there, the spare chair was filled by FLS cofounding father Lin-Manuel Miranda—cuddly-cute as a panda, and just the man to land a toss-off joke and lend his hand to his band o
Theater review by Adam Feldman At the end of the first act of Frozen, there is a moment that zaps the audience to life like a blast of cold air. Elsa (Caissie Levy), the young queen of a Nordic realm, has witchy ice-creation powers that she has been forced to keep hidden; now, self-exiled to a Fortress of Solitude–like castle, she exults in reckless freedom and power. As she belts the show’s takeaway number, “Let It Go,” her heavy royal garments transform, in one thrilling instant, into a shimmery frost-blue party dress. It’s “Defying Gravity” on the rocks, and for the duration of this Wicked-cool number, Frozen breaks free from the forces that keep most of Disney’s latest musical earthbound. Otherwise, there is altogether too little magic in the kingdom of Arendelle, which Elsa’s impulsive younger sister, Anna (Patti Murin), must save from the eternal winter to which Elsa has unwittingly condemned it. In adapting their smash 2013 movie to the stage, Frozen’s creators—including screenwriter Jennifer Lee and songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez—faced a challenge: Many of the film’s key sequences are adventure scenes (a wolf attack, a giant snow monster, a climactic blizzard) that are hard to re-create onstage. Julie Taymor solved this problem in The Lion King by coming up with a comprehensive aesthetic vocabulary of her own, but Frozen director Michael Grandage’s reach is less ambitious. In lieu of the great outdoors, he moves much of the show to lofty and stu
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 SHOW It 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: 1h
Broadway review by Adam Feldman In All the Way, which ran on Broadway in 2014, Robert Schenkkan offered a largely sympathetic portrait of Lyndon Baines Johnson’s first year in office: his accession to the presidency after the assassination of John F. Kennedy and his canny machinations to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That play depicted the compromises that undergirded Johnson’s success; its informative sequel, The Great Society, shows the following four years, in which the compromises rise and overwhelm him. This is a very different Johnson indeed. Whereas Bryan Cranston brought a dogged vitality and wily command to the role, the version played by Brian Cox (Succession), though still spouting folksy Texas wisdoms and able to manipulate his foes, seems older, wearier and less secure in his power. This is appropriate to Johnson’s story during this period of upheaval: The great strong-armer and glad-hander is losing his grip. But in the absence of Cranston’s central charisma, the play—already spread thin by the longer time frame—seems even more like an illustrated lecture. As history classes go, this is a classy one. Director Bill Rauch has assembled a large and capable cast of pros for the supporting roles, which are sketched in quick strokes: Bryce Pinkham’s callow Bobby Kennedy, Gordon Clapp’s looming J. Edgar Hoover, Frank Wood’s droll Everett Dirksen, Matthew Rauch’s rueful Robert McNamara, Marc Kudisch’s galumphing Richard Daley, David Garrison’s juicily mean Georg
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 i
Theater review by Raven Snook A frisky, feminist crowd-pleaser, The Half-Life of Marie Curie radiates empowerment—which is fitting, since it centers on the woman who coined the term radioactivity. In 1912, after an affair with her late husband’s protégé threatens to derail her life and career, two-time Nobel Prize winner Curie (Francesca Faridany) accepts an invitation from fellow female physicist Hertha Ayrton (Kate Mulgrew, a force of nature) to spend the summer at her English seaside home. There they bond and bicker, touching on a wide range of topics, including suffrage, motherhood, grief, carnal joy, and the damaging effects of sexism in science and society. Lauren Gunderson is America’s most frequently produced living playwright, though her work is rarely mounted in New York. Her well-researched one-act has a slightly didactic quality—especially in the coda, when the women talk directly to the audience about their lives after 1912, including how their inventions saved soldiers’ lives during World War I. But while The Half-Life of Marie Curie may not be as inventive as the women it celebrates, it’s enlightening and entertaining. Under Gaye Taylor Upchurch’s unfussy direction, Faridany fleshes out the passive-depressive Curie with revealing flashes of intense passion for science and sex. Impressively, she holds her own opposite supernova Mulgrew, who is playing the lesser-known figure but has all the best lines. (Mulgrew’s expressive voice will certainly be a highlight
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 pamp
Theater review by Adam Feldman The world of Harry Potter has arrived on Broadway, Hogwarts and all, and it is a triumph of theatrical magic. Set two decades after the final chapters of J.K. Rowling’s world-shaking kid-lit heptalogy, the two-part epic Harry Potter and the Cursed Child combines grand storytelling with stagecraft on a scale heretofore unimagined. Richly elaborated by director John Tiffany, the show looks like a million bucks (or, in this case, a reported $68 million); the Lyric Theatre has been transfigured from top to bottom to immerse us in the narrative. It works: The experience is transporting. Jack Thorne’s play, based on a story he wrote with Rowling and Tiffany, extends the Potter narrative while remaining true to its core concerns. Love and friendship and kindness are its central values, but they don’t come easily: They are bound up in guilt, loneliness and fear. Harry (Jamie Parker) is weighted with trauma dating back to his childhood, which hinders his ability to communicate with his troubled middle son, Albus (Sam Clemmett); it doesn’t help that Albus’s only friend is the bookish outcast Scorpius Malfoy (the exceptional Anthony Boyle), son of Harry’s erstwhile enemy, Draco (Alex Price). Despite the best intentions of Harry’s solid wife, Ginny (Poppy Miller), and his friends Hermione (Noma Dumezweni) and Ron (Paul Thornley), things turn dark very fast. Set designer Christine Jones and lighting designer Neil Austin keep much of the stage shroude
Broadway review by Adam Feldman Even before the evidence piles up—before parts of scenes repeat themselves, and names and places start worming their way into stories where they don’t belong—audiences at The Height of the Storm may feel an eerie sense of déjà vu. Three years ago at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Club presented Florian Zeller’s The Father: a play about a man named André who has daughters named Anne and Élise, and who is losing his mind to dementia. The Height of the Storm gives us a different André (Jonathan Pryce), also with daughters named Anne (Amanda Drew) and Élise (Lisa O’Hare). This André is a literary lion instead of an engineer, however, and he has a wife: Her name is Madeleine (Eileen Atkins), in a polite nod to Proust, and she might be dead—or perhaps she is not, or maybe André is the dead one. (As he says: “You think people are dead, but it’s not always the case.”) For at least half an hour, Zeller keeps us guessing; as in The Father, confusion is both his subject and his prime dramatic strategy. “Imagine a dream you never wake up from,” muses André. “It’d be a real nightmare!” The play is skillfully woven with dream logic. Details bleed from one narrative into another; two non-family figures, identified as the Woman (Lucy Cohu) and the Man (James Hillier), have unstable identities. It’s a deliberately frustrating experience, like a jigsaw puzzle in which the pieces fit together but yield no coherent picture. Translated from
Theater review by Naveen Kumar Adapted from Édouard Louis’s autobiographical novel, History of Violence tells a painful personal narrative, revisiting the scene of a crime and parsing the trauma it caused. As directed by the visionary German theater-maker Thomas Ostermeier, it is a brutal and bracingly intimate act of reclamation. The violence in question is clear from the outset. The play’s narrator (Laurenz Laufenberg), a proxy for Louis, tells the audience, his sister and the police about the night he was raped and held at gunpoint in his Paris apartment. The cops don’t quite understand how ordinary it is for a gay man to invite a stranger home at 4am, and seize on a detail he wishes they wouldn’t stress: that the assailant (Renato Schuch) is North African. The incident also becomes a lens through which the narrator examines his ambivalence toward his provincial family. The performances by members of the Schaubühne Berlin ensemble are uniformly sharp, particularly that of Alina Stiegler as the narrator’s no-bullshit sister. Ostermeier’s confrontational and probing multimedia aesthetic brings the story so close that you can make out fingerprints, sweaty pores, tears trembling before they fall. But it also keeps the night of terror at an almost clinical distance; while the action is explicit, the mediation of a handheld microphone or live-projection camera separates us from more violent and tender moments. Though not for the faint of heart, History of Violence’s impact
[Note: The review below is for a 2014 version of this show, which was then titled The Imbible. A revised version now plays at New World Stages. A different, brunch-theater edition, titled Day Drinking, plays on weekend matinees.] Remember Bill Nye the Science Guy? Great! Now imagine him as a bartender who is deeply interested in the history of ethanol alcohol, really likes wigs and costumes, and just joined a coed barbershop quartet. That description of Anthony Caporale’s The Imbible: A Spirited History of Drinking may sound far-out, but the show is both educational and entertaining. (It's also a fine showcase for a cappella classics arranged by Josh Ehrlich and performed by a gifted ensemble that includes the show's director, soprano Nicole DiMattei.) Mixing whimsy and information, Caporale makes the story of our relationship with alcohol remarkably compelling. And the show's lessons—on subjects like the drinks served at Prohibition-era speakeasies, the origin of the gin and tonic, and the difference between a cocktail and a mixed drink—can be washed down with complimentary, thematically appropriate beverages. As Caporale says, “Trust me, I get funnier with every sip.” That makes the show a must-see for anyone who enjoys free booze, which is probably nearly everyone.—Amelia Bienstock
Broadway review by Adam Feldman The Inheritance is in many ways a ghost story: It is set among a group of gay men in present-day New York City, but it is animated by spirits of the past. Foremost among them is the English novelist E.M. Forster (the marvelous Paul Hilton), whom Matthew Lopez’s script—like Forster’s friends—calls Morgan. In the prologue, when the play’s characters are fishing for a way to tell their story, Forster appears to them as a plummy, chummy guide. So begins Lopez’s intimate Broadway epic: a searching, expansive and sometimes very moving exploration of love, money, community and memory. The play is presented in two parts, each more than three hours long. But as directed by Stephen Daldry, who helmed its premiere in London last year, the production mostly goes by fast: With two intermissions in each half, it's not unlike binge-watching six episodes of a Netflix series. Lopez borrows heavily from Forster’s 1910 novel Howards End for his characters and plot, but shuffles them to suit his purposes. The Schlegel sisters of the novel are recast, grosso modo, as kind-hearted otter Eric Glass (a gentle Kyle Soller), soon to be evicted from his rent-controlled apartment, and his extroverted and impetuous boyfriend, Toby Darling (the blazing Andrew Burnap, tossing his hair to fine effect). Toby is adapting his young-adult book, the aspirationally titled Loved Boy, into a play that might star their new friend Adam (Samuel H. Levine, who doubles as a hard-up te
Theater review by Adam Feldman Remember Reality Winner? A 25-year-old Air Force veteran working as a translator for the National Security Agency, Winner was arrested in 2017 for leaking a classified report about Russian interference in the previous year’s presidential election, a crime for which she is currently serving a five-year prison sentence. But you can be forgiven if all you recall about the case is its subject’s striking name: Given the chaos of today’s news cycles, Winner was just one snowflake in an avalanche. Tina Satter’s highly absorbing Is This A Room, which played briefly at the Kitchen this year and has now returned at the Vineyard, is based on the verbatim transcript of the FBI’s initial interview of Winner on June 3, 2017, at her home in Augusta, Georgia. Refocusing our attention on Winner’s case, if only for an hour, it asks us to pause and take a breath of cold air. Satter’s staging presents the inquisition austerely but with a mounting sense of tragedy. With spectators seated on two sides of the minimalist-classical set, we watch as Winner (Emily Davis) is questioned by Agent Garrick (the excellent Pete Simpson) and Agent Taylor (TL Thompson); an unidentified third man (Becca Blackwell) is also present. It’s clear that they know more than they're letting on—and, in fact, more than what the transcript tells us, since parts of it have been censored. The production smartly balances vérité and stylization, offering its own interrogation of the event: The
Theater review by Helen Shaw It's possible that you think you’ve already had your fill of dick jokes. If so, the sly, digressive comedian Jacqueline Novak might be able to turn you around. In her languid one-woman stage special Get On Your Knees, Novak talks for nearly 90 minutes about blow jobs, discussing men’s strangely shy appendage (“Calling it a cock is…telling it what it wants to hear”), the vulva (which she assures us does not look like a rose) and her own winding path through high-school self-consciousness and collegiate anxiety toward full oral confidence. There’s no non-innuendo-y way to say that the show has a slow build, that Novak and director John Early delay its climax a little too long, and that the poetry-minded Novak sometimes extends her riffs to the point that they’re serving her pleasure more than ours. But Novak’s ultimately winning show does what the best comedy can do: It changes the conversation. Chevy Chase made Gerald Ford permanently seem like a bumbling yo-yo; Novak does the same for the D. The show’s most effective section is her systematic dismantling of the male-determined phallic lexicon. “Rock hard”? She rolls her eyes, then does a very good imitation of a penis flopping daintily over “the fainting couch that is the inner thigh.” This is but one example of how Novak can be absurd, real, hilarious and—though I hate to sound uncool—useful. While the show is sex-positive as hell, it’s crucially aggression-negative. The next time a guy on th
Broadway review by Helen Shaw In order to enjoy the The Lightning Thief, a myth-filled musicalization of Rick Riordan’s first Percy Jackson novel, you’ll need to read the book. Many of the show’s current attendees obviously have: Secondary characters get entrance applause. But while those young theatergoers can fill in any missing details from memory, the challenge of turning a YA bildungsroman full of epic battles and road trips and snake-haired monsters into a musical has overwhelmed the creative team. In staying faithful to the novel, they’ve wound up with a mess. Young Percy Jackson (Chris McCarrell) can’t figure out why he’s such a troubled kid or why demons are assaulting him on field trips—until he’s sent to Camp Half-Blood. There, he learns that he’s a demigod, the son of an Olympian, and destined for mighty works. He must sort himself into a cabin, where he meets a tough know-it-all girl, Annabeth (Kristin Stokes), whose clear heroic qualities play second fiddle to his own. Riordan’s debt to Harry Potter is, as you can see, extreme. Those old patterns work. In its original incarnation as a scrappy TheaterWorks/USA show, The Lightning Thief’s connection to Riordan’s book was its core strength: At a nonprofit aimed at young audiences, it was manifestly meant to trigger interest in the page. Now that the lightning’s supposed to strike on Broadway, however, this sweet, small project seems out of place. Much of Stephen Brackett’s production doesn’t work in the bigger r
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. 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.
Theater review by Adam Feldman 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 with colorful rock & roll, doo-wop, girl-group pop and R&B; Ashman’s lyrics blend masterful character comedy with carefully seeded double meanings. And Michael Mayer’s deeply satisfying reviva
Theater review by Naveen Kumar Coldy lit and swathed in drab tartan, Classic Stage Company’s Macbeth resembles an especially severe fall runway show. Color, emotional and otherwise, is out. Stage blood on the hands of its doomed thane (Corey Stoll) is the first sign of life in director-designer John Doyle’s odd and funerary production. The condensed company of nine proceeds through Shakespeare’s tightest tragedy as though in a preordained ritual. The actors assume various roles, assembling into a chorus of witches as needed. The action is clear enough—prophecies are spoken, human obstacles dispatched, a crown untimely snatched—but the motivations are largely opaque. It’s as though a chic cult had been discovered and an investigative Netflix doc were still forthcoming. Stoll makes clear sense of the verse, though his Macbeth doesn’t seem to find a doomed descent into treachery too out of the ordinary. But even in a production that skims the surface, Nadia Bowers seems out of her depth as his conniving wife. As the body count mounts and real feeling is required, the result is melodrama and inadvertent humor. When the hurlyburly’s done, the battle’s far more lost than won. Classic Stage Company (Off Broadway). By William Shakespeare. Directed by John Doyle. With Corey Stoll, Nadia Bowers. Running time: 1hr 40mins. No intermission. Follow Naveen Kumar on Twitter: @Mr_NaveenKumarFollow Time Out Theater on Twitter: @TimeOutTheaterKeep up with the latest news and reviews on
Thrice a week, after closing time, 20 people crowd into 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.
Theater review by Adam Feldman Teenage girls rule in the tart but sweet new Broadway musical Mean Girls. But their system of high-school government is far from a democracy: It’s a reign of terror, angst and mall fashions, where popularity is arrogated and then ruthlessly enforced. Having spent her childhood being home-schooled in Kenya, nature and math enthusiast Cady (Erika Henningsen) is initially confused by the rigid caste system of her new school in Chicago. She tries to be nice, but the ruthlessness of American teenage culture brings out Cady’s predatory instincts. She reverts to the mean. A canny crossbreed of Heathers and Hairspray, the musical has been adapted by Tina Fey from her own 2004 cult movie, and updated to reflect the new realities of smartphones and social media. Fey is one of the sharpest comic writers in America, and the show remains, in some sense, her vehicle: an auto de Fey, burning with bookish anger at the limits young women place on each other and themselves. (Her film role as a pushy calculus teacher is amusingly evoked by Kerry Butler, who also plays the other adult women.) But this version of Mean Girls is not just a copy of the original. The most famous lines from the screenplay are here, but Casey Nicholaw’s energetic staging wisely breezes past them; the newer jokes get bigger laughs, while the score—by Jeff Richmond and Nell Benjamin—successfully builds on Fey’s knowingly corrective tone. (“This is modern feminism talkin’,” sings a high-
Theater review by Diane Snyder For nearly a decade, Richard Nelson has been chronicling, with subtle insight, the impact of American politics on the residents of Rhinebeck, New York, the liberal-leaning upstate community where he lives. The last time he transported us there for an intimate family dinner—a regular feature of the plays—was in 2016’s Women of a Certain Age, set on Election Day. Yet Nelson’s previous Rhinebeck plays, presented in two cycles about the fictional Apple and Gabriel clans, have been only lightly sprinkled with overt political talk. That dusting is even milder in The Michaels, a tenderly moving stand-alone drama about Rose Michael (Brenda Wehle), a modern dance choreographer facing mortality, and the effect of this brilliant, challenging woman on the people around her. These include Rose’s new partner, Kate (Maryann Plunkett), who is taking on caregiver duties; Rose’s ex-husband, David (Jay O. Sanders); and her former dancers Irenie (Haviland Morris) and Sally (Rita Wolf), who is now married to David. For the first time in this group of plays, Nelson includes a pair of millennials: Rose’s daughter, Lucy (Charlotte Bydwell), and niece, May (Matilda Sakamoto), both dancers who re-create the elder woman’s work within the confines of her kitchen. (The choreography is based on the work of Dan Wagoner.) Since these characters have a looser bond than his previous family units, it takes time for them, and the play, to congeal. Slowly, themes emerge about o
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 Mu
Theater review by Adam Feldman After a hit run at St. Ann's Warehouse last year, Daniel Fish’s fascinating and unsettling reimagination of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma! has moved to Broadway, with its immediacy, strangeness and eerie sense of danger intact. (See original review below.) The show is now played in deep thrust, with the audience on three sides of the action. Nearly the entire cast of the Off Broadway version returns: Rebecca Naomi Jones and Damon Daunno are the main couple, Laurey and Curly, stained in this version by their unkind treatment of Jud (a rivetingly emotional Patrick Vaill); Ali Stroker and James Davis provide superb (and much-needed) comic relief as the sexed-up Ado Annie and her ardent wooer Will Parker, and Will Brill has assumed the part of the commitment-averse suitor Ali Hakim. Seeing the production a second time allows one to appreciate not only the striking darkness that Fish and company have teased out of the material, but also the light they shine on small details. (Mallory Portnoy and Mitch Tebo are marvelous in small roles.) It's thrilling to see a Broadway classic rise to the challenge of so modern a conception. Oklahoma! it remains, but there's nothing corny about it. RECOMMENDED: A guide to Broadway's shocking revival of Oklahoma! [Note: The following is a review of the 2018 production at St. Ann's Warehouse.] Director Daniel Fish’s bold, spare revival of Oklahoma! gives us the ranch but not the dressing. The musical’s ca