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Photograph: Courtesy Joan MarcusThe Ferryman

New York theater and Broadway reviews

From the best of the best to the absolute worst of Broadway and beyond, we give you the inside look at what's on stage

Adam Feldman
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Adam Feldman
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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.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Theater
  • Musicals
  • price 3 of 4
  • Midtown West

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 t

Aladdin
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Theater
  • Musicals
  • price 3 of 4
  • Midtown West

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 is the

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Blue Man Group
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Theater
  • Comedy
  • price 4 of 4
  • Noho

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.)

  • 5 out of 5 stars
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  • Musicals
  • price 4 of 4
  • Midtown West

Note: Tickets for the return of The Book of Mormon go on sale on June 28. 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 revelatio

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Theater
  • Circuses & magic
  • price 4 of 4
  • Midtown East

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.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
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  • price 4 of 4
  • Midtown West

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. RECOMMENDED: Guide to Chicago on Broadway

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  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Theater
  • Comedy
  • price 3 of 4
  • Midtown West

Broadway review by Adam Feldman The beginning of Douglas Lyons’s broad comedy Chicken & Biscuits promises comic mayhem to come. The beloved pastor of a Black church in New Haven has died; his family is gathering to honor him, and his kindly son-in law, Reginald (Norm Lewis), also a pastor, is set to assume the pulpit. “Today should be a day of peace and healing for the family, not chaos,” he reminds his righteous wife, Beneatta (Cleo King). But her tacky sister Beverly (Ebony Marshall-Oliver) and Beverly’s teenage daughter, La’Trice (Aigner Mizzelle), don’t share that sense of decorum, and Beneatta’s gay son (Devere Rogers) has been to enough Black funerals to have a sense of what’s in store. “By the end of the night,” he assures his nervous white boyfriend (Michael Urie), “it’s a full on party.”  That party, sadly, never gets started. Just when the comedy should gain momentum, Lyons stops it cold with a lengthy and mostly unfunny memorial service: a succession of sincere tributes to a man we don’t know, culminating in a set-piece eulogy delivered by Lewis (who is otherwise wasted) and a last-minute surprise that comes out of nowhere and tends back there again. Sentimental confessions and reconciliations ensue, but the characters and situations have not been shaped carefully enough to earn them. Advertised as 100 minutes long, Chicken & Biscuits actually lasts two full hours without intermission, and despite some successful laugh lines and several game performances, it drags

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • Musicals
  • price 3 of 4
  • Midtown West

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.

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  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Theater
  • Drama
  • price 3 of 4
  • Midtown West

Broadway review by Adam Feldman Lucas Hnath’s uncanny and unsettling play Dana H. doesn’t channel the dead; it channels the living. Its subject is harrowingly personal. In 1998, when Hnath was in college, his mother, Dana Higginbotham, was beaten and held captive for five months by a violent criminal and white-supremacist gang member named Jim. In 2015, Steve Cosson, of the docutheater troupe the Civilians, interviewed her about this ordeal over the course of several days. Their conversations form the basis of Dana H., but instead of editing them into a conventional script, Hnath has kept them in audio form. In the title role, Deirdre O’Connell does not speak a word; for 75 minutes, calmly facing us in an armchair, she lip-syncs to Dana’s actual voice. O’Connell is nothing less than astonishing. Long-form lip-sync is not new—one thinks of Bradford Louryk’s Christine Jorgensen Reveals, Lypsinka’s The Passion of the Crawford, much of the Wooster Group’s oeuvre—but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it done quite so unshowily. This is a performance of virtuoso naturalism, radiant with inner life; the technique is so perfect that it disappears. At many points in the show, I would have believed she was talking into a body mic, even though Mikhail Fiksel’s astute sound design and editing make it clear that we’re listening to a recording. (The actor and magician Steve Cuiffo is credited as her lip-sync consultant.) The effect of this device is complex: The use of Dana’s voice gives her te

  • 5 out of 5 stars
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  • Musicals
  • price 3 of 4
  • Midtown West

In this captivating original musical, Jordan Fisher 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.

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Theater
  • Drama
  • price 3 of 4
  • Greenwich Village

Theater review by Adam Feldman The Fever begins with a dramatic feint to make everyone more comfortable. Lili Taylor, with an air of amiable familiarity, lopes up the aisle and chats with us as she sets the bare stage with a few simple pieces of furniture: a plush orange chair, a side table, a lamp. Soft-spoken and unassuming, she delivers much of Wallace Shawn’s purgatory 95-minute monologue curled up on the chair, looking cozy. If you’re familiar with Shawn’s work, however, you may know that this is a trap. As an actor, he has an adorably unthreatening persona; as a writer, though, he bites savagely at the hands that have fed him all his life: the high-minded, well-intentioned class of culturati that includes exactly the kind of person who is likely to attend a limited run of an Off Broadway play in the West Village, such as this one. He’s like a guest at a dinner party who distracts you with talk of literature and dance, then stabs you in the ribs with his salad fork. The narrator in The Fever, which Shawn first performed himself in 1990, is a traveler to a world that is not her own. “There's a small war going on in this poor country where my language isn't spoken,” she tells us, and she has gone to learn more about the government repression—torture, murder, mutilation—that is happening there. At night, in her hotel room, she is seized by a violent illness that serves (with apologies to Susan Sontag) as a metaphor. It is the physical manifestation of her growing self-disgu

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • price 3 of 4
  • Midtown West

UPDATE: This production will return to Broadway for a limited run at the Booth Theatre starting October 7, 2021. Tickets go on sale on June 23. 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 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 hip-hop 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 fille

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Theater
  • price 2 of 4
  • Hell's Kitchen

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

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Theater
  • Musicals
  • price 3 of 4
  • Midtown West

Broadway review by Adam Feldman  The wind is everywhere in Conor McPherson’s Girl from the North Country. You can’t see it, but you can hear it, insistently, in the lyrics of the 20 songs by Bob Dylan that McPherson has woven into his adumbral evocation of America in the Great Depression. It’s the heavy wind of the title song, the howling wind of “Hurricane,” the wicked wind of “Señor (Tales of Yankee Power),” the wind of change in “Make You Feel My Love,” the idiot wind in “Idiot Wind.” What the show doesn’t give us is “Blowin’ in the Wind,” and the omission seems deliberate. McPherson gracefully avoids the trap of a greatest-hits survey; only three songs in the score are from Dylan’s cultural heyday in the 1960s, and even the most famous ones have been rearranged, truncated, combined into medleys. The show makes Dylan’s songs as unfamiliar as it can; it freezes them in timelessness. Girl from the North Country takes place in 1934 at a boarding house in Dylan’s hometown of Duluth, Minnesota. Its exhausted proprietor, Nick (Jay O. Sanders), is on the verge of bankruptcy; his wife, Elizabeth (the superb Mare Winningham), has lost her mind, and absorbs her surroundings with the air of a fascinated, headstrong child. They have two children: Gene (Colton Ryan), a truculent would-be writer, and Marianne (Kimber Elayne Sprawl), who is pregnant. Guests include a sinister Bible salesman (Matt McGrath), a young black boxer on the run (Austin Scott), a widow (Jeannette Bayardelle) and

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Theater
  • Drama
  • price 1 of 4
  • Flatiron

The Grown-Ups: Theater review by Adam Feldman It is an unfortunate fact of small-scale theater that by the time you find out that something really cool is going on, it is often nearly impossible to get a ticket. And so it is that the hardest show to get into right now is not Hamilton, The Lion King or anything else you’ve probably heard of, but The Grown-Ups, a new immersive play by the youthful company Nightdrive. The Grown-Ups is, in fact, really cool; better than that, it is smart, funny, topical and very well-performed. It is also completely sold out through its current scheduled run. In this case, the issue has more to do with supply than demand. Skylar Fox and Simon Henriques’s play is set at a sleepaway camp, and it unfolds around a campfire, where the senior counselors—who are barely older than the kids under their charge—gather to unwind once their cabins have been put to bed. Nightdrive’s site-specific production, directed by Fox, takes place outdoors around an actual fire in a backyard in North Brooklyn, and the five actors perform the entire 100-minute play for only six to eight audience members at a time, with the spectators interspersed among the cast.  The members of the company quarantined together during the shutdown, and they share a deep rapport that fits well with the characters, of whom four have been attending Camp Indigo Woods continually since they were young. (The camp is more than a century old, but its name is new; the former one was Native American

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Theater
  • Musicals
  • price 3 of 4
  • Midtown West

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

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Hamilton
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Theater
  • Musicals
  • price 4 of 4
  • Midtown West

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

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Theater
  • Drama
  • price 4 of 4
  • Midtown West

[Note: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child returns to Broadway on November 12 in a new form: as a single show instead of in two parts. The new running time is estimated to be under 3.5 hours.] 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), a

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Theater
  • Drama
  • price 3 of 4
  • Midtown West

Broadway 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 was sentenced to five years in prison. But you can be forgiven if all you recall about the case is its subject’s striking name: Amid the chaos of the news cycles, Winner was one snowflake in an avalanche. Tina Satter’s highly absorbing Is This A Room 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. On a minimalist-classical set, the visibly nervous Winner (Emily Davis) is questioned by Agent Garrick (an excellent Pete Simpson, puffed with pseudo-bonhomie) and Agent Taylor (Will Cobbs); an unidentified third man (Becca Blackwell) is also present. Their talk starts small, but 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 FBI agents often stand unsettlingly close to Winner; some sections of text are sp

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Theater
  • Musicals
  • price 3 of 4
  • Midtown West

Broadway review by Adam Feldman The seemingly happy Healys are a well-to-do Connecticut nuclear family in serious danger of fissure. Perky mother Mary Jane (the excellent Elizabeth Stanley) is secretly hooked on painkillers, which puts a strain on her relationship with her too-absent lawyer husband, Steve (Sean Allan Krill). Son Nick (Derek Klena) is a star student athlete who feels pressured to overachieve; bisexual daughter Frankie (Celia Rose Gooding), who is black and adopted, feels unseen. This is the core of Jagged Little Pill, a sincere jukebox musical built around the songs of Alanis Morissette, including all 13 tracks from her era-defining 1995 alt-rock album of the same name. The script, by Juno screenwriter Diablo Cody, bears a strong familial resemblance to 2008’s Next to Normal—mother coming apart, father trying to keep it together, perfect son, invisible daughter—with elements of two other big musicals originally directed by Michael Greif. (From Dear Evan Hansen, we get high school angst; from Rent, a chorus of young people lining up to sing messages.) But Next to Normal has a strong focus on a single story, and an original score created to support that focus. Morissette’s songs, most of them cowritten with Glen Ballard, weren’t designed for that work. Cody has found clever places for some of them—“Ironic” is framed, self-deprecatingly, as a high school student’s gangly attempt at writing poetry—but the balance is off. Two of Morissette’s definitive numbers, “Ha

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Theater
  • Drama
  • price 3 of 4
  • Midtown West

Broadway review by Adam Feldman  In the first new Broadway production of the season, Pass Over, a grand picnic of home cooking is laid out onstage and then yanked away; the second, Lackawanna Blues, provides plentiful comfort food for its characters and its audience alike. Among the dishes mentioned in this show are fried fish, smoked ribs, pork chops, chicken feet and dumplings; when I saw it, a reference to glazed ham with cloves got a smattering of applause.  Ruben Santiago-Hudson’s autobiographical solo is a gentle and generous tribute to the staunch woman who raised him—Rachel Crosby, known to many in her wide orbit as “Nanny”—and the gallery of misfits who passed through her boarding houses in upstate New York. In the late 1950s, when Santiago-Hudson was born, the thriving steel town of Lackawanna was a magnet for ambitious Black workers, but not everyone found it easy. That’s where Crosby came in, providing sustenance, shelter, inspiration and occasional protection for the vulnerable people under her wing—including the young Ruben, who had been neglected by his birth parents. As Santiago-Hudson puts it, in the show’s biggest applause line: “Nanny was like the government if it really worked.”  Santiago-Hudson slides smoothly into dozens of roles in this 90-minute collage of vignettes, including Nanny, and many of the people he plays are wounded: older men with one leg or one arm or no fingers or no marbles and no place else to go. (Even the animals in the play are damag

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • Drama
  • price 3 of 4
  • Midtown West

Broadway review by Adam Feldman The Broadway epic The Lehman Trilogy, which tells the story of the Lehman Brothers and their finance company over the span of 164 years, rarely stops spinning. Es Devlin’s magnificent glass house of a set, designed to evoke the firm’s offices at the time of its collapse in 2008, rotates on a turntable as history moves forward; wrapped on the walls around it is a giant cyclorama, where Luke Hall’s black-and-white video design sweeps the action from New York Harbor to the antebellum South and beyond. Meanwhile, Stefano Massini’s play takes the raw materials of the Lehmans’ rise and fall and processes them into a vibrant yarn about greed and American values. It leaves you dazzled and a little dizzy.  This cautionary tale about capitalist excess is, in several senses, an embarrassment of riches. Many Broadway plays now clock in at under 90 minutes; The Lehman Trilogy is nearly three and a half hours long, with intermissions at the crisis points of the Civil War and the stock market crash of 1929. Director Sam Mendes’s dynamic production passes swiftly, though—it’s like binge-watching a creative documentary with three hour-long episodes—and it presents an engrossing survey of U.S. history since the middle of the 19th century. (Written by an Italian and adapted into English by the U.K.’s Ben Power, it assumes a slight distance from American culture; the set sometimes might be a terrarium at a zoo.) Adding to the power are Jon Clark’s lighting and Nic

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Theater
  • Musicals
  • price 4 of 4
  • Midtown West

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.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • price 3 of 4
  • Hell's Kitchen

Theater review by Adam Feldman  [Note: Jeremy Jordan assumes the role of Seymour when the production resumes performances in 2021.] 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 ch

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Theater
  • Circuses & magic
  • price 3 of 4
  • Midtown West

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.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • Musicals
  • price 4 of 4
  • Hell's Kitchen

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)

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  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Theater
  • Comedy
  • price 2 of 4
  • East Village

Theater review by Naveen Kumar A romance that begins with a proposal has a circuitous road ahead. From the moment Captain Wentworth (Rajesh Bose) drops to one knee in the opening scene of Persuasion, it’s clear he’s the only one for Anne (Arielle Yoder). Still, she’s dissuaded from him by her relations, especially the overbearing Lady Russell (Annabel Capper), a proxy for Anne’s deceased mother. Fast-forward seven years, and a still-single Anne is dangerously close to spinsterhood by Regency standards—but guess who just returned a hero from sticking it to Napoleon? Even in the age-old tradition of marriage plots, the outcome of this fated union is more obvious than most. So what’s a play to do? With its love plot sealed from the jump, Persuasion—adapted by Sarah Rose Kearns from the novel by Jane Austen—presents a gleeful if ultimately overstuffed exercise in diversion. This world-premiere production owes much of its theatrical appeal to the creative flourishes fans have come to expect from artistic director Eric Tucker and his acclaimed downtown company Bedlam, which has a knack for reinvigorating classic texts. Beneath the Connelly Theater’s compact but ornate proscenium, actors whistle birdsong into standing mics to conjure the English countryside. The light clack of fingernails across a plastic vase suggests rain, as do squirts from a spray bottle into the face of an arriving dinner guest. Tucker’s sly hand with striking tableaus is aided by Les Dickert’s lighting and Joh

  • 3 out of 5 stars
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  • Musicals
  • price 3 of 4
  • Midtown West

NOTE: A 25th-anniversary concert production of The Phantom of the Opera, recorded at the Royal Albert Hall, streams live on YouTube on April 17 and 18 and can also currently be found on BroadwayHD.More than three decades into its Broadway run, Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera continues to draw tourists to its candlelit lair. The plot, borrowed from a 1910 potboiler by Gaston Leroux, tells of Christine Daaé, a naïve young soprano whose secretive voice teacher turns out to be a deformed musical genius who lives beneath the Paris Opera House. (Although the Phantom is serial killer, extortionist, kidnapper and probable rapist, Christine and audiences are mysteriously drawn to him. Who doesn’t love a bad boy?) While the epic synth-rock chords of the title song may ground Phantom in the 1980s, the show’s Puccini-inflected airs are far grander than most of what one hears elsewhere on Broadway. And although there may not be much depth to the musical’s story (by Lloyd Webber and Richard Stilgoe) or lyrics (mostly by Charles Hart), the production—directed by Hal Prince—has been carefully maintained and refurbished over the years, and remains a marvel of sumptuous surfaces. Majestic Theatre (Broadway). Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Lyrics by Charles Hart. Book by Richard Stilgoe and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Directed by Harold Prince. Running time: 2hrs 30mins. One intermission.

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  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Theater
  • Comedy
  • price 3 of 4
  • Hell's Kitchen

Theater review by Adam Feldman [Note: This is a review of the 2017 Broadway production, which moves Off Broadway to New World Stages in 2019 with a new cast.] Ah, the joy of watching theater fail. The looming possibility of malfunction is part of what makes live performance exciting, and disasters remind us of that; the rite requires sacrifice. There is more than schadenfreude involved when we giggle at, say, a YouTube video of a high-school Peter Pan crashing haplessly into the scenery. There is also sympathy—there but for the grace of deus ex machina go we all—and, often, a respect for the efforts of the actors to somehow muddle through. Mischief Theatre’s The Play That Goes Wrong takes this experience to farcical extremes, as six amateur British actors (and two crew members who get pressed into service onstage) try to perform a hackneyed whodunnit amid challenges that escalate from minor mishaps (stuck doors, missed cues) to bona fide medical emergencies and massive structural calamities.  Depending on your tolerance for ceaseless slapstick, The Play That Goes Wrong will either have you rolling in the aisles or rolling your eyes. It is certainly a marvel of coordination: The imported British cast deftly navigates the pitfalls of Nigel Hook’s ingeniously tumbledown set, and overacts with relish. (I especially enjoyed the muggings of Dave Hearn, Charlie Russell and coauthor Henry Lewis.) Directed by Mark Bell, the mayhem goes like cuckoo clockwork.  If you want to have a goo

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Theater
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  • price 3 of 4
  • Chelsea

Theater review by Adam Feldman  “I really do think Broadway saved my life,” says Seth Rudetsky in his latest one-man show, and as though trying to repay that debt, he has spent his life in Broadway’s service. For the past 25 years, Rudetsky has been a ubiquitous, seemingly tireless force in the showtune world. To name just some of his endeavors: He has worked as a musical director, pianist, conductor, coach, actor and writer, including in his campy jukebox musical Disaster!; he hosts two shows on Sirius/XM and a weekly online concert series; in the pandemic period, his virtual interview series Stars in the House has raised over a million dollars for the Actors’ Fund in the past 18 months. Come rain or shine, his parade marches on.  In Seth’s Broadway Breakdown, Rudetsky delivers a lively tutorial on the art and appreciation of Broadway singing. The show’s set at Asylum is simple—two projection screens, a keyboard festooned with original cast albums, a prop record player, a line of Playbills clothespinned to a wire—but Rudetsky doesn’t need much decoration. He’s a one-man party, illustrating his points with a stream of short A/V samples from musicals past, with the motormouth excitement of a friend who can’t wait to share a clip you may not have heard. As his sassy seminar progresses, he touches on specific terms of art (vibrato, riffs, chest voice, pure vowels, floated high notes) and a few pet peeves (unwanted head voice, strange diction, errors of conducting). The result is

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • price 3 of 4
  • Midtown West

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

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Theater
  • Drama
  • price 3 of 4
  • Midtown West

Broadway review by Adam Feldman [Note: This is a review of the 2019 Broadway premiere of Slave Play. The production will return to Broadway for an eight-week encore run at the August Wilson Theatre on November, 2021, with Antoinette Crowe-Legacy taking over as Kaneisha.]  23Jeremy O. Harris’s lacerating play, a sold-out succès de scandale Off Broadway last season, has now moved north to Broadway, and it feels wonderfully incongruous on the mostly staid Great White Way. Brash, smart and gleefully confrontational, this is the kind of show that starts arguments. It begins on a perverse antebellum plantation, but as it moves forward, in three very different acts that successively reframe what we have seen before them, it keeps you off balance; even afterward, you may feel staggered. As I wrote of its incarnation at New York Theatre Workshop, “Slave Play is funny, perceptive, probing and, at times, disturbingly sexy. It snaps like a whip, and its aim is often outward.” Whatever you think it is, it's almost certainly not what you think. (Click here to read the entire Off Broadway review.) Director Robert O’Hara has reassembled the play’s original cast, with one exception: Joaquina Kalukango now plays the pivotal role of Kaneisha. The Broadway production is, perforce, a bit broader than the one at NYTW—especially in the bravura comedic performances of Annie McNamara, whose molestation of a four-poster bed is horny physical comedy for the ages, and James Cusati-Moyer, whose characte

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Theater
  • Interactive
  • price 4 of 4
  • Chelsea

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

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Theater
  • Circuses & magic
  • price 4 of 4
  • Chelsea

Todd Robbins (Play Dead) is a sideshow master who combines technical expertise with humor, historical knowledge and good old-fashioned showmanship. In his soirees at the McKittrick's Club Car venue, he welcomes a live jazz pianist to set the atmosphere and guest magicians (such as Alex Boyce, Jason Suran, Mark Calabrese, Matthew Holtzclaw, Prakash Puru and Rachel Wax) to perform feats of close-up magic in an intimate setting. 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

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  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Theater
  • Drama
  • price 3 of 4
  • Midtown West

Broadway review by Adam Feldman “But you don’t hear us, though!”: That is the refrain of the seven characters in Keenan Scott II’s Thoughts of a Colored Man, voiced in unison at the end of the play. It’s a direct challenge to the world at large, but also specifically to the Broadway audience—mostly white, unlike the actors onstage—that has come to see this full-hearted survey of seven Black men in modern Brooklyn. In language that moves between dialogue and slam-poetry style jazz verse, Scott gives each of them a hearing.  In some ways, the play suggests a companion piece to Ntozake Shange’s 1976 choreopoem For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf, but its characters are identified by personality traits instead of colors, and it incorporates far less music and movement (though the schoolteacher called Passion, played by Luke James, sings briefly and beautifully). Much of the show consists of personal monologues; there is also a storyline that follows the men from dawn to dusk on a single day as they interact in locations including a barbershop, a grocery store and a line to buy the latest Jordans. Lust (the likable Da’Vinchi) is a young guy on the make, and Love (Dyllón Burnside) is his dreamy, moony counterpart. Anger (Tristan Mack Wilds) is a once-promising athlete sidelined by an injury, and Depression (a distinctive, snappish Forrest McClendon) is a genius who has given up his studies to support his family by working at Whole Foods. Happiness

  • 3 out of 5 stars
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  • price 3 of 4
  • Midtown West

Broadway review by Adam Feldman  The test of any star is the ability to rise above adversity, and Tina Turner has had more than her share. Abandoned by her parents as a child in rural Tennessee, she ascended to R&B fame in the 1960s at the side of Ike Turner, who exploited her and beat her before she climbed to even greater heights as a solo artist in the 1980s. The hugely talented Adrienne Warren, who plays her in the jukebox biomusical Tina, has different obstacles to overcome. Mediocrity surrounds her at every turn: an overstretched narrative that, in trying to span more than three decades of personal and artistic history, feels both rushed and overlong; a time line that is often confusing; dialogue that is rarely more than functional when it doesn’t sink into corn (“You know, Carpenter, you always said I had a good ear, but, you know, I have a good nose, too… for bullshit”). Director Phyllida Lloyd (Mamma Mia!) has staged the show with minimal subtlety—whenever Ike (Daniel J. Watts, in the ultimate thankless role) does cocaine, which is often, he waves a big bag of white powder in the air—and several of the supporting actors pitch their performances to the second balcony. (The Lunt-Fontanne doesn’t have a second balcony.) These failings might not register as much in a lighthearted show, but they don’t serve the seriousness of Turner’s journey; this is a musical in which women and children are repeatedly brutalized onstage, and the heroine ends the first act with her face

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • price 3 of 4
  • Midtown West

Theater review by Adam Feldman  The defense never rests in Aaron Sorkin’s cagey adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird. That the play exists at all is an act of boldness: Turning Harper Lee’s 1960 novel into a play in 2018 is no easy task. The hero of the story, as every schoolchild knows, is Atticus Finch (Jeff Daniels), a lawyer in rural Alabama in the early 1930s, who bravely defends a disabled black man, Tom Robinson (Gbenga Akinnagbe), against a false accusation of rape. Slow to anger and reluctant to judge—“You never really understand a person,” he says, “until you climb into his skin and walk around in it”—Atticus is a paragon of that most fabled of American values: decency. But while To Kill a Mockingbird has a special place in the literature of American civil rights, the book is also now a minefield. As seen through the eyes of his preteen tomboy daughter, Scout (Celia Keenan-Bolger), Atticus is very much a white-daddy savior, albeit one who can’t perform miracles, in a narrative that has little room for the perspectives of black people beyond the respect and gratitude they show him. At its center is a story about a young woman—Tom’s accuser, Mayella (Erin Wilhelmi)—whose allegations of sexual assault must not be believed. Even more problematic, to some modern ears, is the scope of Atticus’s magnanimity. It is not just the black skins that he urges his children to walk around in; it is also the skins of the white farmers who try to lynch Tom Robinson before his trial. A

Waitress
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Theater
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  • price 3 of 4
  • Midtown West

Waitress: Theater review by David Cote [Note: After closing in early 2020, Waitress is returning for a limited run through January 9, with Sara Bareilles as Jenna through October 17. ]One’s sorely tempted to praise the delightful new musical Waitress using lots of bakery metaphors. After all, its hero is a pastry genius with relationship woes named Jenna (Jessie Mueller). She’s a perky Southern gal who can confect a mouthwatering Mermaid Marshmallow Pie but can’t measure the right ingredients for happiness. So, unable to resist, here I go: Fresh and delicious, Waitress has an excellent ratio of sweet to tart; supporting characters who provide crustiness (Dakin Matthews’s grumbly store owner) and flakiness (Christopher Fitzgerald’s loony admirer of another waitress); and cooked-to-perfection staging by Diane Paulus. The whole dish is—please forgive me—love at first bite.Based on the 2007 indie film by the late writer-director Adrienne Shelly, Waitress has been whipped (I’ll stop now) into an expertly constructed and emotionally satisfying tale of self-liberation in the face of limited options. Jessie Nelson’s broadly comic yet brooding book meshes wonderfully with a frisky, bright score by pop star Sara Bareilles, a seasoned songwriter who lets the Beatles and other Britpop influences shine through. Bareilles’s custom-built earworms address workplace pluck (“Opening Up”), first-date jitters (“When He Sees Me”), quirky, obsessive love (“Never Ever Getting Rid of Me”) and an ele

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • price 4 of 4
  • Midtown West

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.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
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  • Drama
  • price 3 of 4
  • Chelsea

Theater review by Raven Snook  Appropriately billed as "a ghost play in a pub," Stephen Mallatratt’s adaptation of Susan Hill’s horror novel The Woman in Black pairs shots with hair-raising shocks. Presented as a play within a play, it begins with a haunted old man named Arthur Kipps (David Acton) imploring an actor (Ben Porter) to help him tell his terrifying real-life tale as an act of purgation. So Porter becomes a young Kipps and reenacts a gothic story of woe, set in a secluded house by the sea in early-20th-century England. Even if you’re unfamiliar with any other version of The Woman in Black—it has also inspired a TV movie, a radio play and a film starring Daniel Radcliffe—you won't need extrasensory powers to predict where it’s going next. It’s about the mood, not the mystery. Mallaratt’s play was initially mounted in a small-town pub before transferring to London, where it’s been running since 1989. This production in the McKittrick Hotel’s Club Car space, helmed by original director Robin Herford and performed by alums of the West End version, returns the play to its low-tech roots. There are moments of spellbinding stage magic, conjured by Porter and Acton’s dedicated performances, Sebastian Frost’s chilling sound design and Anshuman Bhatia’s clever lighting. But unlike other theatrical ghost stories, such as those of Conor McPherson, The Woman in Black doesn’t cut deep. It winds you up—albeit much too slowly—until you're primed to scream-laugh your head off at a

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