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Photograph: Joan MarcusHamilton

Critics’ picks for theater and Broadway in New York

Time Out New York’s theater critics guide you to the best musicals and plays in New York right now

Adam Feldman
Written by
Adam Feldman
&
Time Out editors
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At any given moment there's a dizzying array of musicals, plays and experimental works for theater lovers in New York City to choose from. But the sheer volume of choices can make it hard to decide what to see. Let us give you a hand with that! Here is an alphabetical short list of our critics' picks: all the shows that Time Out New York's critics have seen, reviewed and liked, plus a few that we feel confident recommending in advance. For a wider view of what's playing in NYC, check out our complete list of current Broadway shows and our extensive Off Broadway and Off-Off Broadway listings.

RECOMMENDED: Best Broadway shows

Critics’ picks for theater in New York

  • 3 out of 5 stars
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  • 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

Blue Man Group
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • Comedy
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  • 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.)

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • 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.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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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
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  • Drama
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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

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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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
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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

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • 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

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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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

Hamilton
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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  • price 4 of 4
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Hamilton: Theater review by David Cote What is left to say? After Founding Father Alexander Hamilton’s prodigious quill scratched out 12 volumes of nation-building fiscal and military policy; after Lin-Manuel Miranda turned that titanic achievement (via Ron Chernow’s 2004 biography) into the greatest American musical in decades; after every critic in town (including me) praised the Public Theater world premiere to high heaven; and after seeing this language-drunk, rhyme-crazy dynamo a second time, I can only marvel: We've used up all the damn words. Wait, here are three stragglers, straight from the heart: I love Hamilton. I love it like I love New York, or Broadway when it gets it right. And this is so right. A sublime conjunction of radio-ready hip-hop (as well as R&B, Britpop and trad showstoppers), under-dramatized American history and Miranda’s uniquely personal focus as a first-generation Puerto Rican and inexhaustible wordsmith, Hamilton hits multilevel culture buttons, hard. No wonder the show was anointed a sensation before even opening. Assuming you don’t know the basics, ­Hamilton is a (mostly) rapped-through biomusical about an orphan immigrant from the Caribbean who came to New York, served as secretary to General Washington, fought against the redcoats, authored most of the Federalist Papers defending the Constitution, founded the Treasury and the New York Post and even made time for an extramarital affair that he damage-controlled in a scandal-stanching pamphle

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • 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

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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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

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • 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

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • 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.

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  • 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

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • 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.

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  • price 2 of 4
  • Greenwich Village

For more than two decades, this proudly old-school series has offered a different lineup of professional magicians every week: a host, opening acts and a headliner, plus two or three close-up magicians to wow the audience at intermission. Housed since 2011 at the unprepossessing Players Theatre, it is an heir to the vaudeville tradition. Many of the acts incorporate comedic elements, and audience participation is common. (If you have children, bring them; they make especially adorable assistants.) Shows cost just $42.50 in advance and typically last well over two hours, so you get a lot of value and variety for your magic dollar. In contrast to some fancier magic shows, this one feels like comfort food: an all-you-can-eat buffet to which you’re encouraged to return until you’re as stuffed as a hat full of rabbits. For a full schedule, visit the MNM website.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • 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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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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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

  • 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

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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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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The dance-theater duo Welcome to Campfire, which consists of of Sleep No More alums Ingrid Kapteyn and Tony Bordonaro, premieres its largest installation-performance to date. In this immersive sci-fi tale, set in New York City after a nuclear war—and staged in a large space on 42nd Street that has been christened the Memredux Laboratories for this show—the dancers play test subjects for a new drug designed to erase traumatic memories.  

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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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
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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
  • Theater
  • Musicals
  • 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.

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