The real test for a jukebox musical — those shows that mine a rock artist’s song catalogue and use them to embellish a newly concocted story, often the artist’s own biography — should be whether it works for an audience that doesn’t know the songs. Shows like Jersey Boys, The Cher Show and Beautiful: The … Continue reading ‘Jagged Little Pill’: A Songbook Show to Savor
The Inheritance may not be the best play of the Broadway season, but it is certainly the most play. Matthew Lopez’s drama (just arrived in New York after winning much acclaim in London) runs for six and a half hours, in two separate evenings. It revolves around a group of contemporary gay New Yorkers, who … Continue reading Slogging Through ‘The Inheritance’
I spent a truly wonderful evening this week at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater, where a couple of dozen singers paid tribute to one of my favorite composers, Frank Loesser. It was part of the Cabaret Convention, an annual series of concerts sponsored by the Mabel Mercer Foundation, dedicated to keeping alive the classic cabaret tradition … Continue reading The Stubborn Survival of Cabaret
At times like these, I’m grateful not to be reviewing theater regularly: I’d be too much of a downer. Most of the big offerings of Broadway’s fall season thus far have disappointed me. I’ve already shared my reservations about the critically acclaimed Slave Play. I had high hopes for Linda Vista, the latest from the always … Continue reading Fall Update: David Byrne To the Rescue
When the a sign adorning the theater marquee announces that the play inside “demands to be seen”; when the critical praise includes adjectives like “challenging,” “shocking” and “explosive”; when you take your seat and the first thing you see onstage is a mirror reflecting the audience right back at you; when the work in question … Continue reading Do We Have to Love ‘Slave Play’?
Derren Brown’s Secret, the new one-man show from London starring the popular British mentalist/magician, presents a conundrum for theater critics. It is the most riveting, literally mesmerizing show on Broadway. And yet no one can say much about it. Everything is a potential spoiler. But allow me to do just a little spoiling. Brown’s main … Continue reading Derren Brown Mesmerizes Broadway. How?
Is Annie Get Your Gun the greatest of all American musicals? I doubt many musical-theater scholars would regard it as a contender. And I might not either, if I hadn’t just seen a wonderful revival of the show at the enterprising Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor, New York. First of all, I could make … Continue reading Sun in the Evening: A Bright New Annie
Apologies for the long absence from posting. For the past month I’ve been consumed with the launch of my new book, Elvis in Vegas: How the King Reinvented the Las Vegas Show. My mini-book tour culminated last week with a trip to Memphis for the tail end of Elvis Week, the annual fan festival marking … Continue reading Going to Graceland: A Visit to Elvis Country
I have not read Sue Monk Kidd’s bestselling novel The Secret Life of Bees, nor seen the (less successful) 2008 movie, so I came to the new off-Broadway musical based on her story without any preconceptions. I also came fresh from seeing Fairview, Jackie Sibblies Drury’s much acclaimed, stylistically adventurous, aggressively woke exploration of racial … Continue reading ‘The Secret Life of Bees’: Sweet Redemption
While slogging through a slow period for theater, I thought I'd revisit a topic I've been following closely ever since my 2016 TIME cover story, "The New Politics of Late Night": The doctored video of Nancy Pelosi that went viral recently — her remarks slowed down just a hair to exaggerate her slurring speech patterns — … Continue reading Can Seth Meyers Run for President?