Photo by Don Kellogg

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Apple Tree

Kristin Chenoweth is certainly a (big) Broadway star. However, right now, she's a star without a big show (if that is possible). The Apple Tree is not so much a show, but rather a showcase. It certainly allows Kristen to demonstrate her versatility and her comedic talents (and there's lots!). She's a dream to listen to and our little girl has a pair of lungs for sure.

The Apple Tree is actually a series of 3 vignettes - all dealing with love, desire, fantasy, and the forbidden fruit (both literally and figuratively). The first is a version of the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden Of Eden. The second is the age old story of the choice and the equality of chance as told in the middle ages - a king, a princess, a warrior, forbidden love, and the ultimate choices they make (or do they?). The final scene is a fantasy dream sequence of an ordinary woman who becomes a star - Passionella - that takes place in the 1960's .

Brian d'Arcy James and Marc Kudisch pull through with solid supporting roles and the chorus boys are pretty darn cute.

The show is cute and fun, not great- but certainly worth seeing if you can get a discounted ticket. I think that Kristin will find that "role of a lifetime" pretty darn soon!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Scene

Theresa Rebeck, the playwright, seems to have a few issues she'd like us to know about. And boy, did Tony Shalhoub, Patricia Heaton, Anna Camp, and Christopher Evan Welch show us what they were!

In an unusual treat of elaborate sets (not the norm for 2ndStage), the cast presented us peek into the lives of one married NYC couple (Tony and Patricia as Charlie and Stella), their NYC friend (Evan as Lewis) and an interloper from Ohio (Anna as Clea).

The scene, as it were, is supposed to represent the "social" scene. These folks seem to be in TV and movies - Charlie is an actor and Stella is a booking agent for an undisclosed, yet quite familiar afternoon or morning substance-less talk show. They talk about friends who has made it big and all the "Hollywood-esque" behavior that you would imagine might follow suit (the unseen friend, Nick, is the primary object of their angst).

Charlie and Stella are not exactly happy people - and into their lives strolls Clea, the sexy, young, blond from Ohio. She's dumb (isn't everyone the mid-west?). Tony's character is struggling both professionally and emotionally (mid-life straight male stuff). What follows suit is not a happy scene for any of them.

The 2 hour and 30 minute performance will probably get trimmed down close to 2 hours once they get the lighting queues crisper, the scenery changes quicker, and the director takes his knife to the dialogue and executes some precision cuts.

Check out "Monk" and "Debra Barone" do something totally different than what you know them from on TV. It's worth the off-Broadway ticket price of $50!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Room Service

Billed as a side-splitting, screwball comedy - this show seemed to present itself as merely silly. I'm not sure why there were so many people doubled over with belly laughter in the audience -perhaps all friends of someone in the rather large cast for such a small theater? While the plot is clever, I found the stage way to small to deliver the physical nature of the comedy (imagine the Marx brothers X 2 - crammed on a 15 foot stage!).

Plenty of "characters", lots of chuckles, but it really seemed to be a mismatch of the talent, physical size, ethnicity, and age. Kudos do go out to Sterling Coyne (Gregory Wagner) - a stand out performance! ("God Damn it!"). But even he could not rescue the sinking ship.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Spring Awakening

Brace yourselves - This one is gonna be a hit! Broadway finally has a new, edgy Rock n' Roll musical that will stick. Grammy award winning Duncan Sheik wrote all the music - a fact that many a theater-goer might even pick up on even without reading the Playbill. And let's not forget this story must have been a true shocker when written in 1891 by Frank Wedekind who is considered one of the founders of modern drama and a real pioneer of the concept of expressionism in the theatre.

The musical today so cleverly juxtaposes the Wedekind dialogue of teenage coming of age in the 1890's with Sheik's biting and angst filled Rock n' Roll lyrics. The resulting message is clear and ageless - kids through all ages have the same problems - - suicide, abuse, growing up gay, sex, abortion, not fitting in, and of course, parental influence. All that really changes is the calendar and the costume.

The actors in this production have a deep connection to the subject matter. Most all of them are actually between 16 and 21 and have grown up with this production over the past 6 years as it made its way to Broadway from the Atlantic Theater Company off-Broadway. The talent is raw, true, and natural. It's not a bunch of 30 year old actors on stage pretending to be kids. It makes all the difference. You feel for these kids and connect with their emotions.

For many of the actors, this is their Broadway debut. While there is a true lead actor and actress (Jonathan Groff as Melchoir and Lea Michele as Wendla) - it's the ensemble that makes this one pop! We get to see the boys belt out their talents right from the beginning in "The Bitch of Living" and the entire ensemble rock the house in "Totally Fucked". It would really be a treat to see John Gallagher, Jr. (Moritz) walk up on stage next July at Radio City Music Hall to collect his Tony for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical.

With an "open" stage and steps down to the first row in the audience the actors seem to flow right into your world on several occasions. There's also 4 rows of bleacher style seating on stage on each side. Be prepared if you sit there. The cast sits among you when they are not performing; they burst into song and jump to their feet and stand on the chairs when you least expect your neighbor to be doing so! The Band is also placed upstage and in a rare move joins the cast and takes a formal bow with the cast - emphasizing their importance to the show's delivery. Each of them also has an individual mention in the playbill. Just as the show is about juxtaposition - so must the lighting be. Kevin Adams, lighting designer, takes the stage from monologue to dialogue to solo and melancholy ballads to foot stomping rock and roll and back all over again flawlessly.

These kids earned the standing ovation they got... and then some! Run, don't walk.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

The Coast of Utopia - Shipwrecked

Quite a difference from the first (Nov 2006) installment! More engaging. Thicker plot. Less Boring. While Ethan Hawke dominated the first installment (Voyage), this time Brian F. O'Byrne took charge(Shipwreck).

Russian history seems to make just a little more sense now. Even after spending $300 on the whole saga, I'm still no expert on philosophy and intellectualism in Europe in the 1800's.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

High Fidelity

I went in with low expectations and came out with a smile from ear to ear! Never read the book. Never saw the movie. But I've heard all about both. Admittedly, the target audience is men - the single, 20-something and straight kind...but I won't hold that against the show. It's definitely a hard thing to get that demographic into a theater for a musical show on Broadway, now isn't it?!

Will Chase - all American cutie boy - works his heart out weaving an interesting tale of the girlfriends (mostly the 'ex' kind) in his life. Jen Colella (last seen in "Slut") happens to be the current one. And there are plenty of interesting characters in the supporting cast (friends, record store employees, customers). And keep an eye out for Hipster - by far the best dancer - and a favorite of many o' the boyz in the audience!

There was plenty of high energy, toe tapping, foot stomping rock and roll music all of which accompanied the clever, plot (see book, movie). There's even a "guest appearance" by Bruce Springsteen!

Find a discount ticket and rock on over to the Imperial Theater for a rockin' good time!

Sunday, December 3, 2006

My Name is Rachel Corrie

Naive. If I came away with one thing from this show it was that Rachel Corrie was naive.

Reluctantly, I went to the show, expecting to hear a bunch of political babble and administration bashing. This is the main reason I had stayed away so long. I'm not big on these things. I must say that despite my predisposition, I felt I saw a suburb one woman show. It was insightful, powerful, personal, and believable. I saw Kerry Bishe play Rachel. She is billed as the person who does "select performances" (I scoured the playbill and did not see anyone listed as "understudy", so take that for what it's worth).

Right off the bat, I was handed a little white card on the way in the theater. Interesting, I thought. I wonder how complex this show is going to be that they have to hand me a card to "help put the show in context"? Those really were his words. I read through it, eager to find out what it was that i had to be told. When I finished it, I quickly realized that this card was not at all associated with the show and that it was what someone might call "the other side of the coin".

First off, this show is about the Israeli-Palestinian struggle. Since this card seemed to take the Israeli point of view - I surmised that the show was going to probably take the Palestinian Point of view. Indeed it did.

I was actually once again surprised. The show was not a Bush-Bashing or specifically political work. It was rather the poignant retrospect of a young girl's life and struggles with the world around her.

So how do we get to Naive? Well, it is my interpretation that Rachel Corrie was indeed an activist. She cared deeply about people, about peace, about solving the problems of the world. But here's where I think the naive part comes in. She came of age in the time of one of the larger Israeli -Palestinian conflicts. She, as an American (Internationalist), tried to show the world the plight of the Palestinian people. She lived with them in Gaza. She seemed to take the point of view that they were the "innocents". What I find hard to believe is that she blindly believed this. What about Hamas? What about the underground tunnels where bombs and arms were smuggled in? She seemed to be so naive about it that all she saw were the innocent people caught in the middle and associated the entire conflict to be against them.

Rachel Corrie was a compassionate, peaceful, and deeply caring person. Kerry Bishe did an outstanding job of making us believe this. I'm pretty sure that she was young, impressionable, and used by the Palestinians for her beliefs and convictions. In the end, that is what killed her. She took her bravery and ideals to the grave - fighting for something she really thought was just.

More than many of us can say...

Saturday, December 2, 2006

Great Expectations

90 Minutes - No Intermission - Charles Dickens on speed! The play by Bathsheba Doran seemed to be more like the play based on the Cliff's Notes of the aforementioned author's novel. All the highlights were hit. The salient facts disclosed. Not a minute wasted.

Kathleen Chalfant looked ancient and raggedly appropriate. The quick pace of the show obviated the need for opulent sets. Good thing, because the Lortel theater always seems one day away from the wrecking ball! Christian Campbell, the handsome, long haired dreamy-boy, aptly handled the role of Pip, transforming before our eyes from poor country bumpkin to a sophisticated, educated London gentleman.

Perhaps theater purists might scoff at this production. I'm torn. By liking this, am I secretly admitting that today we are all really part of the "microwave generation"?

What will be next? Les Miserables - the abridged version? Hmm...

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Suddenly Last Summer

Mrs Venable and Miss Holly rule the stage in a battle of wills at the Laura Pells Theater on West 46th. Blythe Danner and Carla Gugino weave Tennessee Williams' scandalous tale originally written in the early 20th century.

Violet and Sebastian - mother and son. What dark secret does this relationship hold? Why will Violet, the very rich and protective mother, go to the extreme of sending her niece to a mental hospital for a lobotomy?

Of course the answer lies in the fact that Sebastian was gay. His mother hid the secret all his life, but let him live his life in secret at home and through their worldly travels. But when he travels with his cousin Catherine instead of his mother this past summer things unravel. He's not able to deal in the same way he would have under the protective wing of his mother and ultimately that change is the cause of his horrific death on the street while traveling. The elderly Violet refuses to let this story get out and ruin her son's (and her) reputation, but her niece is "blabbing" the story all around. Violet's remedy is to seek out (and bribe) a doctor - (played rather stiffly by Gale Harold) who has a new procedure - the Lobotomy - to shut her up.

We learn about all the characters in Act I, and in Act II, when the doctor arrives, we ultimately hear the long, dramatic story of this past summer's vacation taken by Sebastian and Catherine in a poetic, dramatic, and poignant monologue. The crescendo, highlighted perfectly by a dramatic lighting effect, is, of course, the horrible death of Sebastian.

In what could only have been a shocking ending in its day - is the doctor's simple admission that perhaps the whole story could indeed be true, that Catherine is indeed not crazy, and not a candidate for the extreme procedure. (Lights Out).

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Antoinette Perry - get ready for this one! Company - Best Revival of a Musical- 2007 Season!! Hands down, a top notch performance all around. Raul Esparza - Best Actor in a Musical. A classy, elegant, sophisticated and entertaining look at marital bliss (and not so bliss) through the eyes of a friend and bachelor.

John Doyle - fresh off another Sondheim piece - Sweeney Todd - has pulled off another total re-creation of a musical. Actors on stage with musical instruments - this time a shiny black grand piano center stage with all the complementing instruments carried by the cast. It's similar in concept, but different enough in delivery and content from to be fresh. Doyle didn't have to sacrifice (as he did in Sweeney) any key stage elements in this already "concert-like, ensemble piece.

Sondheim's music is fast-paced, witty, often discordant (lots of sharps and flats!) and it's wordy and full of story. Bobby's (Raul Esparza) vocal performance could not have been better. He finally blossoms at the end of the story, symbolically by taking up an instrument for the first time and singing the 11 O'clock number - "Being Alive" like no one I've ever heard before.

Just as you would suspect, it's the same music, but all done with a unique flair - never sounding like the original - just like a pop star who re-makes an old cover tune. Joanne puts a clever spin on "The Ladies Who Lunch" (by the way - i didn't mention who was actually sitting next to me in the audience - none other than Elaine Stritch, the original Joanne!). Amy flawlessly fired off "Getting Married Today" (it's sung in triple time- meaning it sounds like the disclaimer at the end of a car advertisement). Robert and the entire cast ushers in Act II with a rousing rendition of "Side by Side" - showcasing their vocal, instrumental, dancing, and acting abilities!

Despite it's 1970's origins- you'd never know it in this performance. It's relevant and current and fresh - get your running shoes on... cause this one's a "run don't walk" over at the Ethel Barrymore Theater on West 47th! I think Miss Perry is going to like this one next July!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Big Voice: God or Merman?

Oh boy, this one really is a cocktail party story - best left to be told over 3 or 4 (or maybe more) gin and tonics.

Catholic boy from Brooklyn who thinks he should be a priest - or maybe in musical theater like his idol (Ethel Merman!) either way - he's gay - meets southern baptist boy who is not sure there are actually any other boys who feels like he does (read, gay). They meet on a cruise ship (um, yes) and move in together for 20 some odd- years.

The good times... and bad times (and there are plenty) ... but they're here... well, at least until the temple they have temporarily taken over on 47th street realizes they aren't getting an audience and hence any profits!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Mimi Le Duck

Eartha Kitt still has that razzle dazzle!! Can you believe it? She's still got the legs, the eyes - and of course that cat-woman purr- grrrrr!

This is a rather contrived story of a frustrated Mormon housewife, Miriam (later to be known as Mimi) from Ketchum, Idaho who decides she needs to see life in color rather than her current black and white (read boring) version. This is all brought about by the vision of Ernest Hemingway (Allen Fitzpatrick was a solid "old, yet dead, man). Once in Paris, she takes up residence in the same hotel that Ernest Hemingway had his visions. Well - of course what follows is a mad-cap adventure - where she meets an aging night club owner (Tom Aldridge) and gets a job as Mimi le Duck (the costume that goes along with this one is hysterical!); befriends an street cart -oyster shucker come cross dressing Miss Marple wanna-be detective (Robert DuSold); compares life stories with another "street artist" (Candy Buckley); and, of course, mixes it up with the lady of the house, herself, Madame Vallet (Eartha!).

What was supposed to be 2 hrs and 20 minutes turned out to be a little under 2. Thank God they cut some dialogue and a song or two. This is another one that should be 90 or 100 minutes - no intermission. Mr. Director - do some more tightening here. Actually, the stage and scenery was coordinated very nicely. With little room in the wings, they used every inch of the stage to block out the scenes and set changes. And last but not least, the music - I wish we could have seen the live orchestra! Not even a peak at the end... but Brian Feinstien's music was delicious and quite appropriate for the story. Kudos!

Not sure that Mimi will be a candidate for a Broadway Transfer - but certainly entertaining and worth the TDF ticket price of $25 bucks just to sit in the 2nd row and watch the legend Eartha Kitt draw that glamorous red dress up and show you her fabulous legs and purr at you!!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The American Pilot

A country torn up by a long civil war - somewhere, you are led to believe, in the middle east. A small village. The local tribe of freedom fighters. A local farmer and his family just looking to eek out a living. In crashes an American Pilot and the whole place explodes - brimming with hope, with fear, and possibilities.
The story was well told on a small intimate stage at City Center (Manhattan Theater Company). I'm not one for these political plays. You can only imagine how this one ends. The Americans rescue one of their own in the grand finale erasing all the hope and innocence that may have once existed.

Thursday, November 9, 2006

The Vertical Hour

David Hare opened his new play, The Vertical Hour, directly on Broadway. That takes guts... and talent. Casting Julianne Moore and Bill Nighy sealed the deal.

The title of the play comes from the world of combat medicine and refers to the period directly after a disaster where one can be of the most help. Well, this play is certainly not a disaster. This is one of those play written by a very intelligent man. Early on, Iraq was a quagmire. Julianne Moore's character felt she could help. She went to the White House to advise President Bush. She was a liberal voice of decent, but went to try and influence the course of events - at the time she felt it would do the most good -- The Vertical Hour. Hence the theme of the play is established. And rings true in many ways in the several other relationships in the course of the play.

The play is about complex individuals. And it draws parallels to government and politics. It deals with how parents meddle in their children's lives; how a teacher gets drawn into her students' lives; and need you guess - how a government meddles in foreign affairs (i.e. Iraq).

Seems there are quite a few political play on Broadway this year. More than ever before. But you have to imagine it was bound to happen with the current world political environment.

I'm a sucker for a play with meaning, depth, and intelligence. At the same time, I know i didn't "get" probably half of what David Hare would intend me to have gotten. But that's OK - what i did get was that Julianne Moore and Bill Nighy were magical on stage. The intrigue and the tension were palpable. The dialogue, flawless. You feel the sense of attraction, of intellect and desire. I do think that Julianne needs to adjust to stage acting a bit, however. (and i did see it on the it's first preview - the world premire). With time, let's hope she moves into a more comfortable place because she does seem to fit the character quite nicely.

Kudos to David Hare for a magnificent (and intelligent) evening of theater.

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Regrets Only

Christine Baranski and George Grizzard - what a delight! This one came out of left field - really it did. Not the part about the two leads being delightful - that I assumed was going to be the case. It was the part about how if all the gays in New York City went on strike - it would cripple the city!

Ok - so that might actually not happen, but the message behind the farce is that there are gay people everywhere - and of all kinds. And some of them could be your very best friends.

What could be more delightful than Christine Baranski, George Grizzard and Jackie Hoffman (you'll know her from Hairspray and Kissing Jessica Stein) in an upper-crusty comedy about Manhattan, an wedding, and the gays! Eat your heart out Cybil.

Saturday, November 4, 2006

The Little Dog Laughed

One last Taboo - who's gay in Hollywood - or at least - who's willing to admit it?! This smash hit off Broadway transfer seems to be right at home on Broadway. 

Written by Douglas Carter Beane, the show is a witty, biting commentary on one of the last taboos in Hollywood today.

Julie White steals the show as the overbearing, neurotic, power-broker agent, Diane, for the not yet out of the closet actor, Mitchell - played by Thom Everett Scott. Johnny Galecki plays his hot little rent-boy (plenty of shirt off scenes and one full frontal to verify this all around!) but with a twist - he and Mitchell fall for each other - So much so that Mitchell wants to come out of the closet! But how can he do so without hurting his Hollywood acting career?! Herein lies the dilemma.

Oh yeah - another twist - the rent-boy's girlfriend gets pregnant... (girlfriend? yes!)... But here's the catch - the agent must save the day! And does she ever with her non-stop energy and drive - not to mention her omni-present cell phone!

Done in little vignettes, the action could be a bit faster - but I think that will come as they grow into their new cast members... and new home at the Cort Theater.

OK - did I say enough good things about dreamy-boy Johnny to warrant a date?! (Somehow, I doubt it.).

Thursday, November 2, 2006

Heartbreak House

You have to know George Bernard Shaw, i guess. Well, I didn't. So I spent the entire act 1 and some of act 2 trying to figure out what was going on!

You really should read the following article before attending. http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117931831.html?categoryid=33&cs=1

After you do - you will be much more informed. As far as performances go - this was top notch! Swoozie Kurtz was a gem - sarcastic, hilarious, never missed a beat. Philliip Bosco, who sometimes is hit-and-miss, was firmly the commanding patriarch of the house.

In the Roundabout tradition, the sets and lighting were magnificant. Top notch on Broadway as usual. Just read the review first!! Be informed!

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

The Coast of Utopia - Voyage

It's big. It's Complicated. Russian history on broadway. Only Tom Stoppard could pull this off. 'Tis an agressive production of Lincoln Center Theater. Voyage is part 1 of 3 parts. 3 hours each - oh my. Packed with stars, but will it pull the audience in? I doubt it will. Theater afficianados, yes, but beyond that, i doubt. There are plenty of stand-out performances, but overall, too complex for this theater-goer.

 The verdict is still out, but I hold little hope that it will catch much more of my attention.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

Cynthia Nixon delights! Jean Brodie was an outspoken, progressive teacher at a very conservative girls school in Scotland. She's in top form (her self professed "prime") and the girls simply adore and idolize her. She intends to make them the Creme de le Creme. She preaches art, love, beauty, and independence. She is bold and brazen. Did she go too far? Did her jealousy end up destroying her? You be the judge. Come see her mezmorize the girls at the Acorn Theater.

Just on thing... don't expect the best Scotish accent. It comes... and goes....

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Grey Gardens

Grey Gardens is Christine Ebersole's show to shine in. And boy-oh-boy - did she ever! This recent transfer to Broadway is the story of Edith Bouvier Beale, her daughter, Edie, and their extreme relationship. The show is filled with wealthy family drama, the back-story of their connections to the Kennedy Clan, their extreme transformation with age, and of course a good dose of music - something Edith herself used to fill the many voids in her life.

Act I portrays the gay days (taken both literally and figuratively!) of the family in 1941 at the Beale Summer House - Grey Gardens - out in the Hamptons. This is the time period that young Edie meets and almost marries a young Joe Kennedy. Christine plays Mother Edith - the strong willed, powerful, yet extremely vulnerable matriarch of the Beale Family (while her husband is off fooling around on Wall Street and cheating on his wife). Kudos go out to John McMartin who plays a wonderfully entertaining Father to Edith - Major Bouvier.

In Act II Christine transforms herself into her own daughter - and Mary Louise Wilson takes over as her aging Mother in 1974 - - in what can only be described as the extreme decline of Grey Gardens. She is a recluse, the house is falling apart and they are both quite eccentric and have become locally infamous for the squalor they live in - - So much so that Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis actually made several public statements on the situation of her aunt and cousin.

The quick witted and sharp tongued Ebersole tears thru both acts with gusto. Showing us at first her desire as Edith to impress and entertain - and then later her personal struggle as Edie with having her life "ruined" by her mother. In the end - she's not strong (or sane) enough to leave - despite her regrets, anger, and desire to do so.

The feelings of gaiety and lyrical music turn to hopelessness, desperation, and squalor in a mere 3 hours on Broadway at the Walter Kerr Theater on West 48th.


SubUrbia - Powerful. A dose of social truths. Is this how our kids are really growing up today? I'd say it's pretty darn close. Kids are messed up today. Who and what is the cause? Our parents? Our culture? Did this happen overnight? I think not.
Perhaps some might think it's a bit of everything thrown into the pot and stewed for 2.5 hours... others might say - well.. the same thing and that's just how it is today.

The cast - superb. Peter Scanavino - a shocking and honest standout. Kieran Culken and Michael Esper - Real. Honest. Funny. Fucked up. Like everyone else. All of the above.

We'll see more of these actors. And it was unanimous leaving the theater - the problems portrayed aren't going away any time soon. And lots of kids with these problems are now the adults with more kids... I see a pattern here.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Ben Butley -- Meet Virginia Woolf. The mind games, the booze, the deep seated acrimony... sardonic wit, cut-to-the-bone sarcasm, bitter laughter, but most of all the internal hate, or shame, or desire?! Subtext. Keyword. It's all about what is said indirectly, or, "point-in-fact", not said at all. Is he gay? Or was it all just speaking figuratively. One thing for sure, he's happiest when others are broken down - or is he?

After the Odd Couple, I had mixed expectations about seeing Nathan Lane again... Worried it would be Bialistock and Bloom all over again (and again). Well, sir - not tonight. Nathan gave a top notch performance. Deep. Emotional. You left feeling sorry for Ben Butley. But oh, what a ride along the way. He just may have met his match with his latest conquest. Then again, can you really call it a conquest any longer.... Virginia - you just might have met your match!

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Losing Louie

Truly an entertaining evening at Manhattan Theater Club's first production of the 2007 season. Louie, the namesake about which the play transpires, is dead. The story seamlessly eases between the current and the past. Two stories - one the story of his life, the other the story of his funeral and all the dirt that finally comes out. Aren't all families twisted in some familiar way?

This is the story of family, conflict, and infidelity in the 1960's. It's the story of secrets, lies, and the extent to which people go to cover them up and smooth things over. It's about the truths you are afraid to tell yourself. Perception is reality? Possibly.

Matthew Arkin leads the talented lineup on the stage at the Biltmore. The staging and direction by Jerry Zachs is brilliant. The use of lighting to change the mood and time periods was brilliant. It all comes together in the end and the truth always comes out... or does it?

It really struck me that while this story, chock full of twists, turns and laughs just might contain some element of truth or relevancy to just about everyone in the audience.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A Chorus Line

We all know the story - and many of us have seen the movie. But despite this - the Broadway revival of A Chorus Line is destined to stay around on Broadway for another long run.

The bare stage, the spotlight, the empty theater, the solitary white line painted down the middle of the stage, the dancers, the stories and emotion all add up to... A singular sensation! (ok, i just had to say that!).

Each of the 17 dancers has something to share and each of them makes you feel like the story and the struggle is personally theirs. Many a show has an ensemble cast - and the story within this story is about the very same thing - The desire to make it on "the line". The hopes and dreams not to become "the star", but just to "make it" and then shine thru! This ensemble cast takes you there!

I found myself in awe at how the dancers (we all know they must be TOP notch to have been cast in the show) switch back and forth between the hesitancy and awkward nature of their characters, the tears, the "learning the routines" to the flawless execution of the dance routines in the show numbers. I just have one comment to Bob Alian (the show is still in previews, so changes can officially be made) -- Bring down the mirrors at the end and let the darn cast come out for another bow!

It takes hard work and a lot of rejection before you "get there". The 17 dancers showed us all through their individual stories that this fall's revival of A Chorus Line is going to be "The One"!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

An Evening of Brecht, Fo and Pinter

Talent can be found in the basement of the Drama Bookshop on W.40th Street in the Arthur Seelen Theater. Joel Bischoff worked for me for a short while on a temporary assignment as did a few other actors/musicians. What a pleasure for our paths to cross.

This show had a short run - 3 days - but well worth the $8 ticket! Three one act plays - one each by Brecht, Fo, and Pinter. An interesting combination - Brecht's drama set in Nazi Germany in the 1930's, Fo's farce set in a city square "any time, anywhere" and Pinter's 8 minute dramatic sketch set in "a room".

A black box theater is... well... a black box theater - but it's so refreshing to see some raw talent close-up in such a small setting. Kudos to Hyphenate Theater for bringing these talented actors together!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Pig Farm

If you like Saturday Night Live, you will love this show. It's basically the extended version of SNL. I personally don't like this type of show (at least not on stage), but I must say that the cast did a superb job at the crazy antics and slapstick humor! Dennis O'Hare stole more than a handful of scenes. Logan Marshall-Green was simply adorable as the boy from Juvie Hall.

Just a little taste of the humor - all the characters were all named with the letter "T" - Tim, Tom, Tina, and Teddy. It started with that and never looked back... If it's your thing - enjoy!

Friday, June 2, 2006

Three Penny Opera

I have never been more disappointed by the performance, direction, and production-quality of a show in my life. Each and every actor, director and producer, and staff member of the Roundabout Theater should be professionally embarrassed at the "performance" we were subjected to.
Roundabout - shame on you! You should be publically repremanded for this 19 car pile-up on West 54th Street.

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

The History Boys

Here we go - once again - BEST PLAY is in the works for this one! The ensemble cast - all from the original run in London on the West End - is here on Broadway for another go at it. This one is a Don't Miss. The boys are adorable and likeable and believable - and to say that Richard Griffiths is theatrical perfection understating his performance. The one-woman stand out in the play was Francis De La Tour. Her sardonic wit about academia and men was biting and yet, we all know, true.

The play is about the games of academia as played by the adults and the games of youth as played by the boys and how those two games often intersect and produce the unique consequences we call "life". Two parallel storylines yet really one story. Alan Bennett (playwright) has a true gift for humor, wit, and irony. All around an intelligent, well acted, and well written peice.

It's a great evening of theater - you'll truly be entertained - by at least 2 or 3 members of the cast. I really can't pick a favorite I must say. If you're in academia - this one is for you. The message is clear - Pass it On. (you'll get it when you see it, don't worry).

The name may have been The History Boys, but let me tell you, they sure did well in Chemistry too !

Thursday, May 4, 2006

The Pajama Game

What a treat! There is simply nothing musically better on Broadway right now! The leading roles couldn't have been cast any better - - Chemistry... yeah chemistry. Harry Connick, Jr. and Kelly O'Hara were simply glowing the entire performance.

The story, of course, is one of those saccharine, 1950's style musicals! (based on the novel 7 1/2 cents). Lots of singing and dancing for no particular reason! More than one great tune you already knew - - "Steam Heat", "Hernando's Hideaway", and the song simply made for Harry Connick Jr to sing - "Hey There" (you with those stars in your eyes)... The supporting cast is the best kept secret too. Roz Ryan (Chicago, Ain't Misbehavin', Dream Girls), Michael McKeen (Lenny from Laverne and Shirley), and a cast of wonderfully fun and colorful dancers and singers.

And when Harry Connick Jr. opens his mouth - - I can only compare it to perhaps watching Barbra Streisand in concert. He was magnificent. (ok, i'm not even going to mention the part when he takes his shirt off - - ooohh child!). The trade off, you see, is that HCJ can't really dance very well and the acting was ok (better than i expected!). But I tell you that it won't phase you one bit! He more than makes up for it with his voice.

Unfortunately, this one is sold out - - so unless you're scalping a very expensive ticket you're going to have to just trust me on this one.


Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Faith Healer

This is one tremendous peice of drama. Powerful, well written, brilliant storyline. Tremendous performances by all 3 stars - Ian McDiarmid, Cherry Jones, Ralph Finnes each turn in an extremely strong performance.

Never having seen or read this play before - I was mezmorized by the twist each character gave to the same story - - Who's truth is the real truth?

I must say that as powerful as the show was (Ralph Finnes was tremendous!) - I was a bit disappointed that the show was really 3 mini-monolouges - and none of the actors were ever on stage at the same time! With a smidge of regret - I also have to say the play dragged on a bit. Not that I would ever suggest changing anything, but perhaps shortening it up a bit (Ralph) might help even more.

But then again, who am I?