Critics and audiences are all over the map on the new Broadway revival of West Side Story, staged by avant-garde Belgian director Ivo Van Hove. Some find it a striking reinvention of the beloved 1957 Leonard Bernstein-Jerome Robbins-Stephen Sondheim musical. For others, it’s a confusing desecration. My own reaction is complicated by a somewhat embarrassing … Continue reading Coming Late to ‘West Side Story’
Just how bad can a Broadway comedy be and still get uproarious laughter from a theater audience? The new benchmark, I would propose, is Grand Horizons, the new play from Bess Wohl that has just opened at the Second Stage. The presence of two solid old pros, Jane Alexander and John Cromwell, in the lead … Continue reading ‘Grand Horizons’: The Laugh’s On Us
Hard to believe we’re at the end of a decade. The 2010s don’t seem to have acquired much of a profile, at least not yet. But in retrospect it was a pretty great decade for theater: a lot of disappointments for me, but the high points were really high. Here’s my 10 Best list of the … Continue reading 10 Best Theater of the Decade
Just when I was about to give up hope for serious theater in New York, after sitting through overpraised trifles (The Sound Inside), overwritten behemoths (The Inheritance), and boringly au-courant political plays (Heroes of the Fourth Turning), my faith was restored by the most exciting theater event of the year. It’s Richard Jones’s new production … Continue reading ‘Judgment Day’: The Show of the Year
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?