Broadway’s New Musicals: Retro Rules

I am starting to get discouraged about the Broadway musical.  A half-dozen new ones have opened this fall, but the chances of finding something really original or musically adventurous are increasingly slim. It’s not just the surfeit of jukebox musicals— shows that repurpose old pop songs, either to celebrate a particular artist or to embellish … Continue reading Broadway’s New Musicals: Retro Rules

Broadway’s ‘Trigger Warnings’: How Safe Is Too Safe?

This piece of mine is in today's Washington Post, and judging by the many comments, it's an issue that provokes strong reactions. Read it on the Post's website, or I've reprinted it here: Broadway theatergoing is finally back to something close to normal. No more pandemic-era lines outside the theater to show proof of vaccination; … Continue reading Broadway’s ‘Trigger Warnings’: How Safe Is Too Safe?

Paying Your Taxes: A Democratic Plot?

I’ve been immersed in local politics for the past few weeks, trying to put some of my ideas on Democratic messaging into practice, in support of Bridget Fleming’s campaign for Congress (from the Suffolk County congressional district that Lee Zeldin just gave up to run for governor).  Her Republican opponent, Nick LaLota, has been faithfully regurgitating … Continue reading Paying Your Taxes: A Democratic Plot?

Before the Fall: Revisiting ‘Ragtime’

A few months ago I wrote an article for the New York Times on Garth Drabinsky’s comeback to Broadway. The Canadian theater producer was riding high in the 1990s with prestige hits like Kiss of the Spider Woman and Ragtime, but suffered an ignominious fall when his company imploded, he was charged with financial improprieties, and he wound up serving a … Continue reading Before the Fall: Revisiting ‘Ragtime’

Elvis and the Colonel: How Baz Luhrmann Blew It

I wrote a book called Elvis in Vegas, so I probably know too much about the subject to fairly judge Baz Luhrmann’s new biopic, Elvis. But it’s hard not to have strong reactions to Luhrmann’s frenetic, fast-cut, over-the-top treatment of the King’s life and career.  Some of the movie is gratifying. I was glad, for instance, that it … Continue reading Elvis and the Colonel: How Baz Luhrmann Blew It

Democrats, Get Your Messaging Act Together

I generally try to stay away from politics on this blog. But I’m obsessed with Democratic messaging — mainly, how bad it usually is — so, with the primary season heating up, let me play amateur political strategist for a few minutes.  Like many liberal Democrats, I’m constantly frustrated at the way the party has … Continue reading Democrats, Get Your Messaging Act Together

Could ‘Suffs’ Be the Next ‘Hamilton’?

Suffs, the new musical at the Public Theater, may be the first clear descendant of Hamilton. Like Lin-Manuel Miranda’s smash hit, the show is a lesson in American history, dense with exposition, mostly sung-through, and the product of a single creative mind. Like Miranda, singer-composer Shaina Taub has written the book, music, and lyrics — and also … Continue reading Could ‘Suffs’ Be the Next ‘Hamilton’?