“On the Aisle with Larry” 27 May 2015

Lawrence Harbison, The Playfixer, brings you up to date with what’s hot and what’s not in New York. In this column, Larry reports on SKYLIGHT, FOREVER, THE OTHER THING, HAND TO GOD and NEW COUNTRY.

David Hare’s Skylight, at the Golden Theatre, is a poignant love story about a middle aged man and a much younger woman. He’s a wealthy businessman; she’s his former assistant and mistress who left him 7 years ago and now lives in a cruddy neighborhood in north London, where she teaches underprivileged kids. He turns up and pleads with her to come back to him, his wife having died. Will she or won’t she? Were the play written by an American, that’s pretty much all it would be – a love story. But for Hare, whose work more than once has put me in mind of Shaw, it’s much more than that. Skylight is a beautifully written, deeply felt examination of what makes life worth living. Are we on this Earth to try and make it a better place, or is “What’s in it for me” all that matters?

The current production, starring Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan, is superb. Nighy is far less twitchy than usual, and he’s very eloquent as he makes his case for her dumping poverty. Mulligan is equally eloquent, as she explains why she can’t.

Skylight has another couple of weeks in its run. If you like plays which make you think, don’t miss it – if you can get a ticket.

Forever, at NY Theatre Workshop, is a memoir written by and featuring Dael Orlandersmith, wherein she related how she came to be the person she is, taking us through her abusive childhood. It starts and ends at Paris’ Pere Lachaise cemetery, where many of the literary and musical figures who touched her life are buried. Orlandersmith’s writing is extraordinary, as is she in its delivery. Ordinarily, I am not a fan of narration as opposed to drama, but Forever is an exception. It’s very powerful, and not to be missed.

Emily Schwend’s The Other Thing, at Second Stage Uptown’s McGinn/Cazale Theatre, is a creepy horror story about a free-lance journalist who becomes possessed from time to time by a demonic personality who causes her to murder men. I found the play fascinating, though I was horrified that the playwright veers perilously close to saying that the more murdered men, the better. That said, Samantha Soule’s performance as the tortured anti-heroine, Kim, is very powerful, quite a tour de force. The Other Thing is not exactly feel good theatre, particularly for guys, but I applaud the playwright for her courage and her honesty in delving into the dark corners of the female psyche.

Robert Askins’ Hand to God, at the Booth Theatre, is also about a dual personality, a teenaged boy named Jason  whose hand puppet, whom he calls Tyrone, may or may not be the Devil. Hand to God is a lot funnier than The Other Thing, though, and what makes it a better play is the titanic struggle between Jason and the thing on his hand. Stephen Boyer is giving what deserves to be a “star is born” performance as Jason/Tyrone, and Geneva Carr, who plays his mother, is extraordinary as well.

Hand to God, a new American play with no stars, seems to be making a go of it on Broadway, which is quite an achievement which I attribute to strong word of mouth.

It’s definitely a don’t-miss.

Mark Roberts’ New Country, produced by Rattlestick at the Cherry Lane Studio Theatre, is a comedy about a callow, self-obsessed country music star named Jason and his entourage which includes, tonight, his slightly addled uncle, who has arrived in Las Vegas for his nephew’s wedding. Also in the mix is his ex-girlfriend, Sharon, who barges in not to disrupt the wedding but to demand a thank-you from Jason for everything she did for him before he became famous and dumped her. All the performances are wonderful, but particularly wonderful are Sarah Lemp as Sharon and the playwright (who is a very successful TV writer and producer) as Uncle Jim.

New Country is the kind of play I used to see regularly at the Humana Festival before it got all artsy-fartsy. It deserves to move; but it probably won’t, so see it while you can. It’s great fun.

SKYLIGHT. Golden Theatre, 252 W. 45th St.

TICKETS: www.telecharge.com or 212-239-6200

FOREVER. New York Theatre Workshop, 79 E. 4th St.

TICKETS: www.ticketcentral.com or 212-279-4200

THE OTHER THING. McGinn/Cazale Theatre, 2162 Broadway

Tickets: 212-246-4422

HAND TO GOD. Booth Theatre, 222 W. 45th St

TICKETS: www.telecharge.com or 212-239-6200

NEW COUNTRY. Cherry Lane Studio Theatre, 38 Commerce St.

TICKETS: www.telecharge.com or 212-239-6200

 

For discount tickets for groups of ten or more, contact Carol Ostrow Productions & Group Sales. Phone: 212-265-8500. E-Mail: ostrow1776@aol.com.

 

“It requires a certain largeness of spirit to give generous appreciation to large achievements. A society with a crabbed spirit and a cynical urge to discount and devalue will find that one day, when it needs to draw upon the reservoirs of excellence, the reservoirs have run dry.”

 

                                                                                      — George F. Will

 

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who actually does strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

 

                                                                                    — Theodore Roosevelt

 

Share

“On the AIsle with Larry” 13 May 2015

“On the Aisle with Larry”

Lawrence Harbison, The Playfixer, brings you up to date with what’s hot and what’s not in New York. In this column, Larry reports on AIRLINE HIGHWAY, DISENCHANTED, SOMETHING ROTTEN, THE VISIT, ON THE TWENTIETH CENTURY and IT SHOULDA BEEN YOU.

Lisa D’Amour’s Airline Highway, a Steppenwolf import currently at the Samuel J.Friedman Theatre, is something of a throwback which put me in mind of the glory days of Circle Rep. It’s a thoroughly realistic large-cast slice of life play more about its characters than its plot. Think The Hot L Baltimore. Think Balm in Gilead (which was also a Steppenwolf import, directed by John Malkovich, with a sensational performance by an unknown-to-New York actress named Laurie Metcalfe. Both plays were by the late Lanford Wilson). D’Amour’s play is about the denizens of a seedy motel in New Orleans called The Humming Bird. There’s a seen-better-days hooker (played wonderfully by Julie White); there’s a transvestite with a heart of gold named Sissy Na Na, played with quite a flair by J. Todd Freedman (both actors are nominated for Tony Awards, by the way). What plot there is concerned the funeral of an elderly resident named Miss Ruby, once a madam. She ain’t dead yet (she’s in bad shape up in her room) but has requested that her funeral be held before her imminent demise so she can attend it. Joe Mantello has elicited fantastic performances from his ensemble cast.

As a Lanford Wilson fan, I was thrilled to see that his legacy is carrying on.

Disenchanted, at the Westside Theatre, spoofs heroines from Disney animated films, such as Belle and the Little Mermaid, done by an energetic cast of 5 women. The songs by Dennis T. Giacino (who also wrote the sorta one-joke book) are tuneful and clever. This is a great “Girls Night Out” show. I rolled my eyes more than once, but the ladies in  the audience were whooping it up.

Something Rotten, at the St. James Theatre, is that rarity these days – a Broadway musical which is not based on a popular film. It’s about a failing theatre troupe in Elizabethan London who need to come up with a New Idea which will trump their main competition, a guy named Shakespeare. Nick Bottom, the troupe’s leader, goes to a soothsayer, who predicts that the Next Big Thing will be musical comedy, so Nigel and his writer brother, Nigel, come up with a ridiculous musical comedy called “Omelette,” about a Danish prince trying to make eggs (The addled soothsayer, trying to come up with Shakespeare’s next hit so the Bottom brothers can beat him to the punch, scrambles the title, as it were).

Brian D’Arcy James and John Cariani are hilarious as the Bottoms, and Brad Oscar equally so as the Soothsayer, Thomas Nostradamus (not him – his nephew). The book, by Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell and the  music and lyrics by Wayne and Carey Kirkpatrick are as funny as The Producers or Spamalot, loaded with witty references to musicals of the future, such as Cats.

You won’t find a funnier show on Broadway, except for maybe The Book of Mormon, and who can get into that?

The Visit, at the Lyceum Theatre, is a musicalization by Kander and Ebb of the great play of the same title by Swiss playwright Friedrich Durrenmatt, about the world’s wealthiest woman who returns to her impoverished home town to enact revenge on the man who wronged her as a girl. She offers to give every citizen a million marks if they will kill the guy. Of course, everyone refuses – and then starts buying things on credit. Chita Rivera, although she’s more than a little creaky by this point, is striking as Claire, the rich woman intent on revenge, and Rogers Rees is touching her lover long ago whom she wants killed.

I think this is well worth seeing – but do so soon, because after the Tony Awards I don’t think it will be around much longer. There’s just too much competition, and this is not exactly an “audience-friendly” show.

The revival of On the Twentieth Century (book by Comden and Green, music by Cy Coleman), at the American Airlines Theatre is, if anything, even better than the original production. It stars Peter Gallagher as an insolvent Broadway producer named Oscar Jaffe and Kristin Chenoweth as the screen goddess he discovered and bedded years ago, named Lili Garland. who are both on the Twentieth Century Limited on its way from Chicago to New York. If Oscar can get Lily to star in his next Broadway project, a ridiculous epic of Joan of Arc which hasn’t even been written yet, all his woes are over. Problem is, she hates him. She’s travelling with her boy toy and recent co-star, Bruce Granit, played wonderfully by Andy Karl. Gallagher and Chenoweth and simply sensational, as are Scott Ellis’ direction, Warren Carlyle’s choreography and William Ivey Long’s sumptuous costumes.

You’ll get real bang for your buck with this one. Don’t miss it.

On the other hand, you could skip It Shoulda Been You at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, a contrived, unfunny musical loaded with tired ethnic humor about a wedding. She’s Jewish – he’s a goy. Both, it turns out, are gay. Oy, vey …

AIRLINE HIGHWAY. Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, 261 W. 47th St

TICKETS: www.telecharge.com or 212-239-6200

DISENCHANTED. Westside Theatre. 407 W. 43rd St.

TICKETS: www.telecharge.com or 212-239-6200

SOMETHING ROTTEN. St. James Theatre, 246 W. 44th St.

TICKETS: www.telecharge.com or 212-239-6200

THE VISIT. Lyceum Theatre, 149 W. 45th St

TICKETS: www.telecharge.com or 212-239-6200

ON THE TWENTIETH CENTURY. American Airlines Theatre, 229 W. 42nd St

TICKETS: www.roundabouttheatre.org or 212-719-1300

IT SHOULDA BEEN YOU. Brooks Atkinson Theatre, 256 W. 47th St.

TICKETS: www.ticketmaster.com or 800-745-3000

For discount tickets for groups of ten or more, contact Carol Ostrow Productions & Group Sales. Phone: 212-265-8500. E-Mail: ostrow1776@aol.com

“It requires a certain largeness of spirit to give generous appreciation to large achievements. A society with a crabbed spirit and a cynical urge to discount and devalue will find that one day, when it needs to draw upon the reservoirs of excellence, the reservoirs have run dry.”

                                                                                      — George F. Will 

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who actually does strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” 

                                                                                    — Theodore Roosevelt

 

Share

“On the AIsle with Larry” 29 April 2015

Lawrence Harbison, The Playfixer, brings you up to date with what’s hot and what’s not in New York and, this time, in Louisville. In this column, Larry reports on 39 STEPS, FINDING NEVERLAND, THE KING AND I, DOCTOR ZHIVAGO, THE BELLE OF BELFAST and the HUMANA FESTIVAL.

The 39 Steps is back, this time Off Broadway at the Union Square Theatre, For Some Strange Reason “re-branded” as 39 Steps, once again directed by Maria Aitken but with a new cast except for Arnie Burton, who plays one half of the team of intrepid clowns who play multiple roles, often in a quick-change blink of an eye. The play is a spoof of the Hitchcock movie about an idle man who gets caught up in trying to foil a Nazi spy ring, done with 4 actors, 3 of whom play a cast of, seemingly, thousands. Aitken’s direction is as clever as ever, and Robert Petkoff, as Our Hero Richard Hannay, is as good as the guy who did it originally. Also wonderful is recent Juilliard grad Brittany Vicars, a gifted comic actress, who plays many of the female roles, from spy to Scottish housewife. I say “many” because equally many of the ladies are played wonderfully by the two aforementioned male clowns.

If you missed The 39 Steps before, here’s your chance to see it, albeit as “39 Steps.” If you saw it and loved it before, as I did, here’s your chance laugh with it once again.

Finding Neverland, at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre is a musicalization (book by James Graham, music & lyrics by Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy) of the movie which starred Johnny Depp as J.M. Barrie, the author or Peter Pan, which itself was adapted from Allan Knee’s play, The Man Who Was Peter Pan. It’s the story of how a rather conventional boulevard playwright came to write one of the great works of the dramatic imagination, inspired by his friendship with a widow and her 4 sons.

You may have heard that this show is a turkey. It’s not. It’s inventively staged by Diane Paulus and features terrific performances by Matthew Morrison, as Barrie, and Laura Michelle Kelly as the boys’ mother, with delightful supporting turns by Kelsey Grammer, as impresario Charles Frohman and a wonderfully wicked Captain Hook, and Carolee Carmello as the boys’ grandmother. There are several wonderful songs, by Gary Balow and Eliot Kennedy, beautifully sung by Morrison, Kelly and Carmello, and humorously sung by Grammer. I could quibble with this and that, but overall this is a very entertaining show. See it soon, though. It got shut out of the Tony Awards, so it’s a big loser in the Tony Roulette and probably won’t run much longer.

While I quite enjoyed Finding Neverland, I loved Lincoln Center Theatre’s wonderful revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I, at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre, featuring the always-incandescent Kelli O’Hara as Anna and Japanese actor Ken Watanabe as the King of Siam. My only quibble with Watanabe’s performance is that sometimes he is difficult to understand, which was a minor inconvenience to me as I know the show so well, but which will prove problematic if this is your first time seeing this great musical. Bartlett Sher’s direction is superb, and the supporting players are wonderful, my faves being Ruthie Ann Miles as Lady Thiang and Ashley Park as Tuptim. Catherine Zuber’s costumes are lush and lavish, and Michael Yeargan’s sets are spectacular. The Tony Award for best revival of a musical is shaping up to be quite a horse race. All three nominees (the others are On the Town and On the Twentieth Century) are terrific. I must confess, I hold a candle for On the Town, not only because it’s so good but because if it doesn’t win it will close. For some reason, although it has received excellent reviews it has struggled at the box office. On the Twentieth Century and The King and I have subscription audiences to jump-start them, and both have mega-stars (Kelli O’Hara and, in On the Twentieth Century, Kristin Chenoweth). I’m hoping that On the Town will turn out to be this season’s A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, which also struggled until it won the Tony, after which it started selling out. Such is the power of the Tony Awards. They can make you a hit or they can kill you.

Another supposed turkey, Doctor Zhivago, at the Broadway Theatre, got slammed in the NY Times by the Ish for imitating British pop musicals such as Les Miserables. And that’s a bad thing? The Ish also said that both the novel and the David Lean film, upon which this new show is based, are boring. Well, Mr. Ish, Boris Pasternak’s novel is one of the great master works of the 20th Century, and shortly after its publication in Italy (it was banned in the U.S.S.R.) Pasternak was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. And as for the film it, too, is a masterpiece. So much for critical objectivity.

That said, is the new musical version of Doctor Zhivago perfect? No. Michael Weller’s book has a Cliff Notes feeling to it, and I quibble strongly with the inclusion of “Lara’s Theme (Somewhere, My Love”) from the film. Tam Mutu, in the title role, sings beautifully but lacks the passionate intensity that Omar Sharif brought to the role in the film, and Kelli Barrett (Lara), although she too sings beautifully, seems like a generic blonde Broadway diva – and I never felt the chemistry that burned through the celluloid when Sharif and Julie Christie (Lara in the film) were together.

All of that said, Doctor Zhivago is still a great story, confusing and simplistic at times but still very compelling, with a lovely score by Lucy Simon, inventively directed by Des McAnuff. Like Finding Neverland, it lost in the Tony Roulette and will soon die the death. It’s too bad.

Irish Rep has been ensconced this season in the DR2 Theatre, where their current offering, The Belle of Belfast by Nate Rufus Edelman, has just opened in a beautiful production directed by Claudia Weill. The play is set in Belfast in 1985, during the height of the Troubles, and concerns a surly teenaged girl who has lost both her parents in an I.R.A. bombing, and a handsome young priest. She’s in love with him, and pursues him until he finally succumbs, with poignant consequences for them both. Kate Lydic and Hamish Allan-Headley are wonderful as the girl and the priest, and there is strong supporting work from Patricia Connoly, who plays a gossipy old lady who goes every day to confession to have someone to talk to, Arielle Hoffman, who plays the girl’s friend and Bill Meleady as an elderly priest more interested in getting drunk than in ministering to his flock – a stock Irish character, to be sure, but Mcleady is so delightful you don’t care.

The Belle of Belfast is one of the finest productions I have seen at Irish Rep, and well worth checking out.

Finally, I attended this year’s Humana Festival, which I have attended every year save two since 1980. I had to skip one year when I was on the Drama Desk Nominating Committee, because we had to see 23 shows in April (all before the 22nd, which was our cut-off date, and I boycotted last year’s festival when they brought back that humbug Anne Bogart for the 6th or 7th time, whose event most people felt was the Bomb of the Festival – as it has been every year they have inflicted her on their audience. They think she’s a genius. I say, the emperor has no clothes.

Fortunately, Actors Theatre of Louisville decided not to Bogart that joint this year. While there were no break-out hits, all the plays I saw were thoroughly engaging (I skipped the Chuck Mee play because I needed to get back, because I don’t get his work and because several people I talked to who had seen it disliked it (one called it the “worst pile of crap I have ever seen” – to which I replied, “Well, I guess you’ve never seen an Anne Bogart production”).

This year, my faves were Dot by Colman Domingo and The Roommate by Jen Silverman.

Dot was a conventional, realistic family drama about an African American family in Philadelphia dealing with Mom’s increasing dementia, with a terrific performance by Sharon Washington as the eldest daughter, Shelly, who’s been coping with Mom and who can’t seem to get her siblings to understand the scope of the problem. Marjorie Johnson as Dotty, the mother, was also a standout in director Merridith McDonough’s terrific cast. Domingo told me that there are plans afoot to bring this fine play to New York. I hope so – and I also hope that the cultural ayatollahs here will not damn it because it’s from the Humana Festival, as they have done so many times in recent years.

The Roommate was a two-hander about a middle aged Midwestern woman who takes in a roomie from New York who turns out to be not only a lesbian but a grifter on the lam. The two actresses (Margaret Daly as the landlord and Tasha Lawrence as the roommate) were wonderful under the subtle direction of Mike Donahue. The play kinda fizzled out at the end, but still it was a very humorous clash-of-cultures play which deserves a further life.

Erin Courtney’s I Will Be Gone was a rather convoluted drama about the denizens of a small town in California, living near an abandoned mining town which may be haunted. As it wore on, I got less and less interested. That said, the cast was great, as was Kip Fagan’s direction.

The weirdest play of the Festival was I Promised Myself to Live Faster, a gay sci-fi epic, which was a Ridiculous (in the Charles Ludlam sense) devised-text play by Gregory Moss with Pig Iron Theatre Company out of Philadelphia, wherein a depressed young gay guy gets sucked into an alternative universe by three nuns, who need him to recapture the Eternal Gay Flame, which enables the creation of more gay people and which has been stolen by the evil emperor, who plans to eat it. The play got sillier and sillier as it wore on, but the cast was delightful. It wouldn’t surprise me if it turned up here as Pig Iron has something of a reputation in New York, having won an Obie Award.

Although the Humana Festival is not nearly the Big Deal that it used to be, you still ought to make the hajj to Louisville at least once. Maybe next year?

39 STEPS. Union Square Theatre, 100 E. 17th ST

TICKETS: 800-982-2787

FINDING NEVERLAND. Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, 205 W. 46th St.

TICKETS: www.ticketmaster.com or 800-745-3000

THE KING AND I. Vivian Beaumont Theatre, Lincoln Center

TICKETS: www.telecharge.com or 212-239-6200

DOCTOR ZHIVAGO. Broadway Theatre, 1681 Broadway

TICKETS: www.telecharge.com or 212-239-6200

THE BELLE OF BELFAST. DR2 Theatre, 103 E. 15th St

TICKETS: www.irishrep.org

2015 Humana Festival. Actors Theatre of Louisville.

www.actorstheatre.org

For discount tickets for groups of ten or more, contact Carol Ostrow Productions & Group Sales. Phone: 212-265-8500. E-Mail: ostrow1776@aol.com.

“It requires a certain largeness of spirit to give generous appreciation to large achievements. A society with a crabbed spirit and a cynical urge to discount and devalue will find that one day, when it needs to draw upon the reservoirs of excellence, the reservoirs have run dry.”

                                                                                      — George F. Will 

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who actually does strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” 

                                                                                    — Theodore Roosevelt

 

Share

“On the Aisle with Larry” 21 April, 2015

Lawrence Harbison, the Playfixer, brings you up to date with what’s hot and what’s not in New York. In this column, Larry reports on WOLF HALL, THE AUDIENCE, GIGI, AN AMERICAN IN PARIS, BUZZER and THE HEIDI CHRONICLES.

Every year, a few West End hits are brought to Broadway. Earlier this season, we had The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which is still going strong and likely to receive 3 or 4 Tony Nominations, and the recent openings of Wolf Hall and The Audience, both historical dramas. Wolf Hall, at the Winter Garden Theatre, adapted by Mike Poulton from Hillary Mantel’s best-selling novels Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies, is about political maneuverings in Tudor England; The Audience, at the Schoenfeld Theatre, is about the reign of Queen Elizabeth II.

 

The central character in Wolf Hall is Thomas Cromwell, here depicted not as the devious, unscrupulous manipulator as history has it but as a man of principle who revered his predecessor in King Henry VIII’s favor, Cardinal Wolsey, and who understands the crisis which will occur if the King dies without a male heir. The first part of the play deals with the fall of Wolsey, the annulment of the King’s marriage to his first wife, Katharine, and his marriage to Anne Boleyn. The second part is about the plot to get rid of Anne and replace her with Jane Seymour, ending with Anne’s execution as well as that of her supposed lovers.

Wolf Hall is very compelling as drama but spurious as history. Here’s an example: Cromwell tricks the Queen’s musician, Mark Smeaton, into “confessing” he had sex with her and into naming everyone else who did as well, posing as his friend who is just trying to save him. In fact, Cromwell had Smeaton racked in the Tower. Cromwell is almost a Man for All Seasons here, almost a heroic figure.

That said, the production, directed by Jeremy Herrin, on Christopher Horam’s gloomy unit set, the actors costumed by Horam in monochromatic colors, lit by David Platner’s gloomy lighting, is a real gripper. Ben Miles is terrific as Mantel/Poulton’s Cromwell, though hardly history’s, and Nathaniel Parker equally so as the King. In fact, the entire cast is first rate, which you would expect from the Royal Shakespeare Company. Wolf Hall plays in two parts, so it’s quite an investment in time and money, but it’s worth it.

The Audience, by Peter Morgan, is structured as a series of meetings the Queen had with nine of her Prime Ministers, who included Sir Winston Churchill, John Major, Sir Anthony Eden and Margaret Thatcher. Apparently, she meets with her P.M. of the moment every Tuesday evening for twenty minutes, who briefs her about what’s going on in Parliament. Helen Mirren, spectacular as Queen Elizabeth, ages from a young princess awaiting her coronation to a woman well into sixties. This is a beautifully written and performed portrait of the human side of this iconic figure. Even if you’re not a fan, you’re likely to shout, “God save the Queen!” at the curtain call.

Gigi, at the Neil Simon Theatre, and An American in Paris, at the Palace Theatre, both celebrate Paris, though in different ways. The Belle Époque Paris of Gigi (a revival of the Lerner and Loewe musical which was first a film and then a short-lived Broadway show) is a lovely place filled with callow, superficial people. It’s about a young girl who’s being groomed for a woman’s highest calling, to be the mistress of a married man. The show itself is determinedly old-fashioned. The post-World War II Paris of An American in Paris, on the other hand, is a magical place where love reigns supreme. It’s about a young American serviceman who falls in love with an aspiring ballerina. He has two rivals, though – an American pianist and composer and a French man whose family, it turns out, hid Our Heroine from the Nazis during the war. She feels obligated to marry him, but finds herself falling in love with Our Hero, the ex-G.I. The nebbish-y pianist has no shot.

Of the two, I much preferred An American in Paris. It’s inventively directed and brilliantly choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon, and catapaults him into the front rank of Broadway stagers. Wheeldon’s choreography is even better than the dancing in On the Town – and that’s saying a lot. He has cast two world class ballet dancers as the leads who, it turns out, can also sing beautifully. Robert Fairchild is a fabulous dancer with the all the charisma of Gene Kelly, who played his role in the film, and Leanne Cope is wonderful as the ballerina. This one’s a don’t miss.

I also enjoyed Tracey Scott Wilson’s Buzzer, at the Public Theater. It’s a drama about a young couple (he’s black, she’s white) who move into a renovated luxury apartment right smack in the middle of the hood. Conflicts surface when they take in an old friend of his from prep school, a white guy who’s been in and out of rehab and who has no place else to go, and when she can’t take being harassed anymore by the local street toughs. I had a few credibility issues with the play, but still I found it an honest exploration of race as it effects three very likeable people.

Wendy Wasserstein’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play The Heidi Chronicles, at the Music Box Theatre, has been revived in a wonderful production by Pam McKinnon, starring Elizabeth Moss as the eponymous heroine, whose life from the 1960’s through the 1980’s becomes a  mirror of the lives of many women who hoped to have it all. In its time, it had a compelling contemporaneity – now, I’m afraid, it seems like something of a period piece. Still, the cast is terrific. I wouldn’t call The Heidi Chronicles a must-see, but it’s still worth checking out. 

WOLF HALL. Winter Garden Theatre, 1634 Broadway

TICKETS: www.telecharge.com or 212-239-6200

THE AUDIENCE. Schoenfeld Theatre, 236 W. 45th ST.

TICKETS: www.telecharge.com or 212-239-6200

GIGI. Neil Simon Theatre, 250 W. 52nd St.

TICKETS: www.ticketmaster.com or 800-745-3000

AN AMERICAN IN PARIS. Palace Theatre, 1564 Broadway

TICKETS: www.ticketmaster.com or 800-745-3000

BUZZER. Public Theater, 435 Lafayette St.

TICKETS: 212-967-7555

THE HEIDI CHRONICLES. Music Box Theatre, 239 w. 45TH St.

TICKETS: www.telecharge.com or 212-239-6200 

For discount tickets for groups of ten or more, contact Carol Ostrow Productions & Group Sales. Phone: 212-265-8500. E-Mail: ostrow1776@aol.com.

“It requires a certain largeness of spirit to give generous appreciation to large achievements. A society with a crabbed spirit and a cynical urge to discount and devalue will find that one day, when it needs to draw upon the reservoirs of excellence, the reservoirs have run dry.”

                                                                                      — George F. Will 

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who actually does strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

 

                                                                                    — Theodore Roosevelt

 

Share

“On the Aisle with Larry” 14 March, 2015

“On the Aisle with Larry”

Lawrence Harbison, The Playfixer, brings you up to date with what’s hot and what’s not in New York. In this column, Larry reports on FISH IN THE DARK, THE NETHER, ABUNDANCE, APPLICATION PENDING, JOHN & JEN and THE LION.

I don’t watch much television, so I have never seen Larry David’s show, “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” and I only saw a few episodes of Seinfeld, so I did not know what to expect when I went to see Fish in The Dark at the Cort Theatre, which David not only wrote but in which he appears. Turns out, the play is the sort of dysfunctional family comedy Charles Busch parodied brilliantly in The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife, a genre pretty much absent from Broadway since the heyday of Neil Simon. David plays one of two sons whose father is dying. When dear old dad finally kicks the bucket, the problem is what to do about Mom. Which son did the Dad want her to live with?

The play is often very funny, and so is Larry David – when you can understand him. His speech rhythms are almost always of the rapid fire variety but his poor diction makes it hard to get what he is saying. Who cares? The audience loves him, and he’s backed up by a wonderful cast, whose standouts include Jane Houdyshell as the Mom, Ben Shenkman as David’s brother and Rosie Perez as a housekeeper with a secret.

Fish in the Dark is surprisingly good. Go – if you can get a ticket.

Jennifer Haley’s The Nether, produced by MCC at the Lucille Lortel Theatre, is set in the future and is about the next generation of the internet, wherein people can actually enter virtual worlds and act out their fantasies. A detective is investigating a man who runs one such site, where pervs can go to have sex with little girls and then dismember them. It’s horrifying, but fortunately we never actually see this happening. Haley holds back some surprising secrets, which I never saw coming. Anne Kauffman’s direction is brilliant, and there are chillingly superb performances from Frank Wood and Peter Friedman, both of whom I have never seen do better work.

The Nether is shocking in its depiction of a possible dystopian future, but it’s nonetheless fascinating.

I somehow missed Beth Henley’s Abundance when it was produced by Manhattan Theatre Club in the early 90’s, so seeing TACT’s revival at the Samuel Beckett Theatre was for me like seeing a new play by one of my favorite playwrights. It’s about two mail order brides come to Wyoming from Back East. Macon marries a dull but dependable man while Bess marries her intended’s brother, her intended having passed away, who is, to put it mildly, a lout. One couple prospers, the other doesn’t. Eventually, Bess is captured by Indians. When she’s rescued several years later she’s catatonic and her face is covered with tattoos. Gradually, she begins to recover from the effects of her ordeal, and when a sharpie from Back East arrives to help her write her story she winds up rich and famous, while Macon  winds up destitute.

Abundance is a compelling story and features wonderful performances by Tracy Middendorf as Bess and Kelly McAndrew as Macon, under the lovely direction of Jenn Thompson. Definitely recommended!

Application Pending, at the Westside Theatre, is a comedy by Andy Sandberg and Greg Edwards about a frazzled admissions director at an elite elementary school, until recently a teacher at the school who’s been “promoted” when her predecessor left under a mysterious cloud. Christina Bianco plays Our Heroine and at least 40 other characters, from desperate parents willing to do anything to get their kid admitted to her monstrous boss to her unscrupulous opposite number at another school to, well, many others, and she’s hilarious. It’s a tour de force performance which is not to be missed.

As I have often stated, I am a theatre geezer. You know you’re a theatre geezer when you start seeing revivals of plays and musicals and you saw the original production. I saw the original production at the now-gone Lambs Theatre of the AndrewLippa/Tom Greenwald musical John & Jen and I remember being unimpressed. I am even less impressed after seeing the current revival by Keen Company at the Harold Clurman Theatre. This 2-character musical follows the lives of a sister and her younger brother, beginning with his birth and going on to their political divergence. Jen becomes a Vietnam War protester, while John goes into the military and fights in that war. The show is almost all through-sung, and almost all the songs go on and on and on, if you know what I mean. Kate Baldwin and Conor Ryan do the best they can, but they are hampered by Jonathan Silverstein’s uninventive direction.

Finally, at the Lynn Redgrave Theatre there is a wonderful one-man show called The Lion, written and performed by Benjamin Scheuer, wherein Scheuer tells the story of his life in song and story, detailing his contentious relationship with his father, who died young, and his girlfriend, who left him to “find herself,” to his fight against cancer, which almost killed him. Scheuer accompanies himself on several different guitars. The songs are very inventive often ineffably beautiful, and his musicianship is phenomenal. He’s hands-down the best guitarist I have even seen or heard. Add to this to his charismatic good looks (he kind of looks like a cuter, nicer version of the late Robert Palmer) and you have one of the most unusual and, indeed, moving shows currently running.

The Lion is not to be missed.

FISH IN THE DARK. Cort Theatre, 138 W. 48th St.

TICKETS: www.telecharge.com or 212-239-6200

THE NETHER.Lucille Lortel Theatre, 121 Christopher St.

TICKETS: 212-352-3101

ABUNDANCE. Samuel Beckett Theatre, 410 W. 42nd St.

TICKETS: www.telecharge.com or 212-239-6200

APPLICATION PENDING. Westside Theatre, 407 W. 43rd St.

TICKETS: www.telecharge.com or 212-239-6200

JOHN & JEN. Harold Clurman Theatre, 410 W. 42nd St.

TICKETS: www.telecharge.com or 212-239-6200

THE LION. Lynn Redgrave Theatre, 45 Bleecker St.

TICKETS: 866-811-4111 

For discount tickets for groups of ten or more, contact Carol Ostrow Productions & Group Sales. Phone: 212-265-8500. E-Mail: ostrow1776@aol.com.

“It requires a certain largeness of spirit to give generous appreciation to large achievements. A society with a crabbed spirit and a cynical urge to discount and devalue will find that one day, when it needs to draw upon the reservoirs of excellence, the reservoirs have run dry.”

                                                                                      — George F. Will 

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who actually does strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” 

                                                                                    — Theodore Roosevelt

 

Share

“On the Aisle with Larry 23 February, 2015

“On the Aisle with Larry”

Lawrence Harbison, The Playfixer, brings you up to date with what’s hot and what’s not in New York. In this column, Larry reports on HAMILTON, RASHEEDA SPEAKING, EVERYTHING YOU TOUCH, CHURCHILL and THE EVENTS.

I am, to put it mildly, not a fan of hip-hop, which I consider doggerel set to noise. Still, I always go to the theatre hoping that what I see will be wonderful, as I did when I went to Hamilton, at the Public Theater, even though I had heard it was mostly in the hip-hop idiom. This new musical, with book, music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda (he of In the Heights fame) tells the story of Alexander Hamilton. Yes, a lot of it is hip-hop. All of it is absolutely brilliant.

Thomas Kail’s staging of this wonderfully witty and ultimately very touching work is epochal, the best direction of a new musical this season, and Miranda is wonderful in the eponymous role. Also great are Phillipa Soo as Hamilton’s wife, Eliza, and Leslie Odom, Jr. as his nemesis, Aaron Burr.

Unfortunately, the entire run at the Public Theater is sold out, except for a handful of tickets sold by lottery for every performance. I went on a weekend matinee, and there were about 100 people waiting in the lobby, hoping their names would be called. Fortunately, Hamilton is almost certainly moving to Broadway. When it does, don’t miss it.

I also enjoyed Joel Drake Johnson’s Rasheeda Speaking, produced by the New Group at the Signature Center, about two clerical workers in a doctor’s office. Ileen, who has been there for several years, is white; Jaclyn, there for six months, is black. Jaclyn has quite an “attitude problem,” which concerns the doctor, who wants to get rid of her. In this day and age, though, that can be a real problem if the problematic employee is black, so he enlists the very reluctant Ileen to keep a record of all the problems Jaclyn causes. In a climactic monologue, though, Jaclyn brings home the root cause of her “bad attitude,” and what emerges is a thoughtful examination of what it means to be black in what is still a white man’s world.

Tonya Pinkins is, to put it mildly, sensational as Jaclyn; but she is matched by Dianne Wiest as the namby-pamby, go along to get along Ileen. These are two of the finest performances in any play this season.

Sheila Callaghan’s Everything You Touch, produced by Rattlestick at the Cherry Lane Theatre is a fascinating, surreal look at the fashion industry. Victor is an enfant terrible designer whose muse, Esme, pushes him to get more and more outrageous with his designs. Two women come into his world – Jess, a plain-Jane type and Lonella, a refugee from the Midwest, who influence him to begin designing clothes that women might actually wear. There is a chorus of models who move through the play, wearing Victor’s designs.

The actors, under Jessica Kubzansky’s fluid and inventive direction, are just plain wonderful. Everything You Touch is sometimes hard to figure out, but stick with it. Sheila Callaghan is a true visionary, that rare non-realistic playwright who manages to make it all cohere. And Jenny Feldenauer’s costumes are spectacular!

Churchill, at New World Stages, written by and starring Ronald Keaton in the eponymous roles, is a standard-issue biographical monodrama. Sir Winston is in his study, talking to us. Who “we” are is never made clear. Most of it covers Churchill’s military and political careers up until World War Two, and his fall from power after the war was won. Keaton looks a little like Churchill, but he lacks his stentorian growl. He seems more like your jolly uncle than one of the pivotal figures of the 20th Century. Still, his is a fascinating story. If you don’t know much about Churchill, here’s your chance to learn something.

Every year, philanthropist/producer Carol Tambor spends a month at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, sees a gazillion shows, and chooses what she considers to be the best of them all, which she then produces off Broadway. This year’s Tambor Award winner is David Greig’s The Events, at NY Theatre Workshop. It’s about a female cleric who runs the choir at her church. At every performance, a different choir participates. I saw/heard the Lafayette Inspirational Ensemble. There’s also a man who interacts with the minister, appearing to play various roles – but you’re never sure who he’s supposed to be at any given time. I think the play is about a mass shooting, but it’s so murky and confusing it’s hard to tell. The Events is interminable. It has no interval, and several audience members ditched in the middle of it, including half my row. Ah well, at least the music was enjoyable. 

HAMILTON. Public Theater, 435 Lafayette St.

TICKETS: The entire run is sold out.

RASHEEDA SPEAKING. Signature Center, 480 W. 42nd St.

TICKETS: www.ticketcentral.com or 212-279-4200

EVERYTHING YOU TOUCH. Cherry Lane Theatre, 38 Commerce St.

TICKETS: 212-989-2020

CHURCHILL New World Stages, 340 W. 50th St.

TICKETS: www.telecharge.com or 212-239-6200

THE EVENTS. NY Theatre Workshop, 79 E. 4th St.

TICKETS: www.telecharge.com or 212-239-6200 

For discount tickets for groups of ten or more, contact Carol Ostrow Productions & Group Sales. Phone: 212-265-8500. E-Mail: ostrow1776@aol.com.

“It requires a certain largeness of spirit to give generous appreciation to large achievements. A society with a crabbed spirit and a cynical urge to discount and devalue will find that one day, when it needs to draw upon the reservoirs of excellence, the reservoirs have run dry.”

                                                                                      — George F. Will 

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who actually does strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” 

                                                                                    — Theodore Roosevelt

 

Share

“On the Aisle with Larry” 5 February, 2015

Lawrence Harbison, The Playfixer, brings you up to date with what’s hot and what’s not in New York. In this column, Larry reports on HONEYMOON IN VEGAS, WINNERS, FILM CHINOIS, THE ROAD TO DAMASCUS and AMONTH IN THE COUNTRY.

Honeymoon in Vegas, at the Nederlander Theatre, is an old fashioned musical comedy of the sort once regularly directed by the likes of George Abbott. In this case, retro is a good thing. The show is great fun; pure, Broadway entertainment that’s been sorely missed. Not that I don’t enjoy all the “serious” shows I see night after night – I do. It’s just nice to have a break from all the alienation and despair once in a while.

It’s based on the movie which starred Nicholas Cage and Sarah Jessica Parker as a Brooklyn couple who come to Las Vegas to get married. The owner of their hotel, a rather shady character, takes one look at the bride to be and decides he’s gotta have her because she reminds him of his deceased wife. He snookers the groom in a poker game and basically wins her for a weekend, during which he tries to persuade her to marry him instead. Will she, or won’t she?

Rob McLure and Brynn O’Malley are charming as the couple, Jack and Betsy, although you have to suspend your disbelief that a total babe like Brynn is marrying a schmo like McLure. Tony Danza, as Tommy, the hotel owner, sings well, tap dances, plays the ukulele and completely steals the show. Also terrific are Nancy Opel as Jack’s dead mother, who nevertheless pops up from time to time to try and stop him from getting married, as no woman could possibly be good better than Mom, and David Josefsburg as a lounge lizard singer and the head of the parachuting “Flying Elvises.”

Jason Robert Brown’s songs are just plain wonderful. This gifted composer has finally found his groove.

Even with sheaves of great reviews, Honeymoon in Vegas is struggling at the box office. If it can hang on, it just might have a shot at the Tony Award. After all, remember what happened with A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder?

Winners, a comedy by Maggie Bofill at Ensemble Studio Theatre, turns the traditional dysfunctional family play on its ear. Dad’s been unemployed for a year and Mom, now the breadwinner, is having an affair with her boss. Their teenaged son Tommy has been fired from his after school job at the Gap for smoking weed. Dad goes over there to talk to the boss, who turns out to be an old friend, and winds up being hired to replace Tommy. The most interesting character, though, is daughter Gabby, part science geek, part performance artists and part superhero fanatic. Together, she and Tommy devise a hilarious production wherein they bring this troubled family together again. Pam Berlin’s direction is appropriately whacky, and there are fine performances – particularly from David Gelles and Arielle Goldman as the two kids.

Winners is a winner.

Damon Chua’s Film Chinois, at the Samuel Beckett Theatre, is a murky tale of deception and skullduggery in 1947 Beijing. Seemingly everyone is a spy of some sort. It gets more and more confusing as it plays out, and winds up being a real head-scratcher; but the production by Pan Asian Rep is one of the best I have seen in quite a while and the performances are all first rate.

Film Chinois, while not a must-see, ain’t bad.

Tom Dulack’s The Road to Damascus, at 59 E 59, is a must-see. It’s set in the not too distant future. There has been a terrorist attack in New York, and the U.S. government thinks the Syrians (who are now post-Assad) are behind it so they plan to bomb Damascus to rubble. Set against them is the first African Pope, who has decided to fly to Damascus to present the destruction as a human shield. Also involved are a female journalist from “Al Arabya” TV and a State Department official (with whom she is having an affair), who is sent to the Vatican to try and talk the Pope out of going to Damascus. There, he learns the truth about the terrorist bombing.

The Road to Damascus is a gripping geo-political thriller which will have you on the edge of your seat. It’s been superbly directed by Michael Parva and features a cast of terrific actors. My faves were Mel Johnson, Jr. as the Pope and Larisa Polonsky as the Chechnyan Muslim TV reporter.

Finally, there’s a new production of Turgenev’s A Month in the Country at Classic Stage Co., featuring TV stars Peter Dinklage (“Game of Thrones”) and Taylor Schilling (“Orange is the New Black”). It’s been mostly slammed by the press, faulting director Erica Schmidt’s production which many found languid. Well, folks, her direction isn’t outstanding but it’s OK. The problem is the play. It’s a proto-Chekhovian comedy set in a country house with none of the social context which makes Chekhov’s plays endure. Of the actors, Taylor Schilling comes off best. I hope she does theatre again, in a better play.

HONEYMOON IN VEGAS. Nederlander Theatre, 208 W. 41st St.

TICKETS: www.ticketmaster.com or 866-870-2717

WINNERS. Ensemble Studio Theatre, 549 W. 52nd St.

TICKETS: 212-247-4982

FILM CHINOIS. Beckett Theatre, 410 W. 42nd St.

TICKETS: www.telecharge.com or 212-239-6200

THE ROAD TO DAMASCUS. 59 E 59 Theatres, 59 E. 59th St.

TICKETS: www.ticketcentral.com of 212-279-4200

A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY. Classic Stage Co., 136 E. 13th St.

TICKETS: 212-352-3101

For discount tickets for groups of ten or more, contact Carol Ostrow Productions & Group Sales. Phone: 212-265-8500. E-Mail: ostrow1776@aol.com.

“It requires a certain largeness of spirit to give generous appreciation to large achievements. A society with a crabbed spirit and a cynical urge to discount and devalue will find that one day, when it needs to draw upon the reservoirs of excellence, the reservoirs have run dry.”

                                                                                      — George F. Will 

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who actually does strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” 

                                                                                    — Theodore Roosevelt

 

Share

“On the Aisle with Larry” 25 January 2015

Lawrence Harbison, The Playfixer, brings you up to date with what’s hot and what’s not in New York. In this column, Larry reports on THE RIVER, CONSTELLATIONS, SMOKE, A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN NOVEMBER ON THE BANKS OF THE GREATEST OF THE GREAT LAKES, WIESENTHAL, THE ELEPHANT MAN, I’M GONNA PRAY FOR YOU SO HARD and NEVERMORE.

Jez Butterworth’s The River, at Circle in the Square, is a murky, atmospheric drama set in a remote fishing cabin. A man has brought his new girlfriend there and he tries to persuade her to go fishing with him in the middle of the night. She does, and he loses her, but she turns up eventually with a fish she’s caught, which he proceeds to cook. They’re really hitting it off — until that is, she finds a sketch of a woman in a red dress with her face scratched off. Uh-oh – This guy’s Trouble! She ditches him. Then we meet the woman in the red dress in a flashback as he sketches her. She ditches him too. It seems Our Hero can’t keep a girlfriend for more than a day or two. Since he’s played by Hugh Jackman, I find that extremely hard to believe, but there you have it. Jackman’s the reason this odd play is on Broadway. Even though he’s completely miscast, he is so charming and charismatic that you don’t care.

Constellations by Nick Payne, at the Samuel J. Friedman, is another murky drama, a two-character play about a couple. He’s a beekeeper; she’s a physicist. The play is written in a series of repetitive scenes, variations on what happened or what might have happened. This, I take it, is metaphor for chaos theory. I call it annoying. It’s as if what we’re seeing is a series of film “takes,” waiting for an editor to put it all together into a coherent movie. It’s artsy-fartsy in extremis, on a platform surrounded by what look like white helium-filled balloons of various sizes. What sustains it are the fine performances by Jake Gyllenhaal and Ruth Wilson. I’m not impressed by weirdly structured plays. Give me a linear story any day. But if it were traditionally-structured, it would be nothing but a boy meets girl, they fall in love, she gets cancer play. Cue the violins.

The Flea Theatre has brought back Liz Davies’ Smoke for a second run. It’s a two-hander which takes place at an S & M sex party. A man goes into the kitchen for a smoke. After a while, a young woman comes in. It’s her first time at one of these parties, whereas he’s an old hand. He works for a famous photographer; she’s a college student. It turns out, coincidence of coincidences, that she’s his boss’ daughter! Yikes! He’s a “dom;” she’s a submissive. He likes to do some really kinky things involving knives. After much getting acquainted, they get into it. You keep thinking this is going to get bloody, but mostly it’s just erotic playing, disgusting to me but enticing to many. I kept thinking there was going to be a payoff, maybe a twist that we didn’t see coming, but no. So, this has the feel of a first act. One wonders what the second act could have been. That said, the actors, Stephen Stout and Madeleine Bundy, are fantastic.

A Beautiful Day in November on the Banks of the Greatest of the Great Lakes by Kate Benson , at City Center Stage II in a co-production by New Georges and the Women’s Project, is yet another weird play, a comedy about a family convening for Thanksgiving dinner done as a sort of athletic event on a set which looks like a basketball court, with two announcers in a booth above doing the play-by-play. The characters have names like Trifle, Cherry Pie, Cheesecake and Republican. A disaster is averted when the family’s matriarch, Snapdragon, who’s blind, comes off the sidelines to save the gravy – but the hapless Gumbo burns the turkey. It ends with a lengthy monologue wherein Gumbo describes the Horrifying Attack of the Killer Babies.

The play starts out very intriguing but slowly runs out of steam as its cleverness wears thin. So what if it pushes the envelope? Big whoop. It’s not that I detest new styles – only when they triumph over actual substance.

Wiesenthal, a commercial production by Daryl Roth at the Acorn Theatre, heretofore the home of non-profits such at the New Group, is a one man play about famed Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal, written and acted by Tom Dugan. We are in Wiesenthal’s office in Vienna, on the day he is retiring. ”We” are a group of students. Wiesenthal tells us the story of his life, high points of which include his surving Nazi concentration camps such as Aushwitz, his part in the capture of Adolph Eichmann and his reuniting with his wife after the war, who he thought died during the Warsaw uprising. Dugan is brilliant, and his play, though necessarily contrived as one-person plays tend to be, is very compelling. This is a story which needs to be told, and Dugan tells it most effectively.

The revival of Bernard Pomerance’s The Elephant Man at the Booth Theatre, starring film actor Bradley Cooper (currently to be seen in American Sniper), is mighty fine. You know the tale, about the horribly deformed John Merrick, saved from abuse and obscurity by a compassionate doctor. This production has been beautifully directed by Scott Ellis, and Cooper is magnificent as Merrick, carefully crafting his transformation from pathetic monster into a cultured Victorian gentleman. Also good are Alessandro Nivola as Treves, the doctor who rescues Merrick, and Patricia Clarkson as the actress Mrs. Kendall, who befriends him.

Halley Feiffer’s I’m Gonna Pray for You So Hard, at Atlantic Stage II, is a riveting drama about a nasty, contentious dad and his hero-worshipping daughter, who lives with him. He’s a famous playwright; she’s a young actress who’s just opened tonight in a production of The Sea Gull in which, to his outrage, she plays Masha instead of Nina, the lead. Most of the play consists of Dear Old Dad’s vitriolic rant about the theatre, as the two of them drink wine, smoke hash and eventually snort coke. His vitriol is focused particularly on the director of the production as well as the actress playing Nina, the role he thinks his daughter should have played. Eventually, he turns on his daughter, humiliating her, and she walks out. He collapses, praying to God to “Please help me.” Fast-forward 5 years. She has just opened in a one-woman play she wrote and is now a confident, self-assured, budding star. He comes backstage to congratulate her, hoping to make amends as he is now in a 12-step AA program. He is very frail, having had a stroke. Instead of patching it up with her father, she goes after him, knocking him down and pouring a bottle of wine on him. In effect, she has become him.

The play can be painful to watch, but what makes it work is the brilliant performance by Reid Birney, I think the finest of this great actor’s distinguished career; but he’s matched by Betty Gilpin, who morphs from a passive, insecure girl into a maniac. Her performance in the final scene made me think, this is another Nina Arianda.

Finally, lest you think I am totally against weird theatre, I come to praise Nevermore, at New World Stages, a bizarre musical bio-drama about Edgar Allen Poe, written, composed and directed by a brilliant Canadian named Jonathan Christenson done in “steam punk” style, which is sort of an amalgamation of Victoriana, punk and goth. The actors, all Canadians save one, are fabulous – particularly, Scott Shpeley as Poe. Shpeley incarnates Poe’s tragic life and he has a beautiful, effortless tenor voice. Bretta Shepley, who designed the production, is a Major Talent as well. Her costumes, in particular, are just plain amazing.

If you’re in a And Now For Something Completely Different sort of mood, you couldn’t do better than Nevermore. You might even encounter some of your fellow audience members all dolled up as steam punks. Wild!

THE RIVER. Circle in the Square. 235 W. 50th ST.

TICKETS: www.telecharge.com or 212-239-6200

CONSTELLATIONS. Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, 261 W. 47th St.

TICKETS: www.telecharge.com or 212-239-6200

SMOKE. Flea Theatre, 41 White St.

TICKETS: www.ovationtix.com

A BEATIFUL DAY IN NOVEMBER ON THE BANKS OF THE GREATEST OF

THE GREAT LAKES. City Center Stage II, 131 W. 55th St.

TICKETS: 212-581-1212

WIESENTHAL. Acorn Theatre, 410 W. 42nd St.

TICKETS: www.telecharge.com or 212-239-6200

THE ELEPHANT MAN. Booth Theatre, 222 W. 45th St.

TICKETS: www.telecharge.com or 212-239-6200

I’M GONNA PRAY FOR YOU SO HARD. Atlantic Stage II, 330 W. 16th St.

TICKETS: 866-811-4111

NEVERMORE. New World Stages, 340 W. 50th St.

TICKETS: www.telecharge.com or 212-239-6200

For discount tickets for groups of ten or more, contact Carol Ostrow Productions & Group Sales. Phone: 212-265-8500. E-Mail: ostrow1776@aol.com.

“It requires a certain largeness of spirit to give generous appreciation to large achievements. A society with a crabbed spirit and a cynical urge to discount and devalue will find that one day, when it needs to draw upon the reservoirs of excellence, the reservoirs have run dry.”

                                                                                      — George F. Will 

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who actually does strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” 

                                                                                    — Theodore Roosevelt

 

Share

“On the AIsle with Larry” 9 December 2014

“On the Aisle with Larry”

Lawrence Harbison, The Playfixer, brings you up to date with what’s hot and what’s not in New York. In this column, Larry reports on IT’S ONLY A PLAY, THE COUNTRY HOUSE, LOST LAKE, OUR LADY OF KIBEHO and PITBULLS.

Terrence McNally’s It’s Only a Play, at the Schoenfeld Theatre, is the biggest hit play Broadway has seen in many a moon, selling out every performance. The Main Event is the reunification of Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, with other stars thrown in for good measure, such as Stockard Channing, F. Murray Abraham and Rupert Grint (of the Harry Potter movies). Mine is very much a minority opinion: I hated it. Here’s why.

McNally’s characters inhabit a Broadway as most “civilians” imagine it, full of self-obsessed, narcissistic ninnies. All them are caricatures, from the fresh off the bus naïf who’s taking coats to the playwright (Matthew Broderick in Yet Another quivery high-pitched performance, pretty much the same one he’s turned in ever since his Finch in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying), to the coke-sniffing leading lady (Stockard Channing, in a too over-the-top performance) to the enfant terrible young British stage director (I saw Grint’s understudy), who is flabbergasted that the critics love everything he’s directed, even though he thinks most of it was crap, and as a result he’s had 15 straight hits. He desperately hopes for a flop. He’s been knighted and is soon to be made a peer. Remember, Rupert Grint is playing this part. When did this guy start directing, when he was 5? Abraham plays a vicious theatre critic, who For Some Strange Reason has been invited to the opening night party at the townhouse of the producer whose money comes, of course, from her husband (caricatured by an unrecognizable Megan Mullally as a shallow, rich dimwit). Back to Abraham’s character, do you really think that critics are invited to Broadway opening night parties, particularly ones as loathed as Abraham’s character is?

What little plot there is concerns everyone’s wait for the all-important Brantley review, which will decide their fate. The dialogue is mostly just one-liner after one-liner. Some of these, I admit, are funny, but all too many are just silly. Did I mention the costumes? All the male party guests are in tuxedoes, with the exception of the rumpled director and Broderick, who’s in top hat and tails, looking like he’s glided in from an Astaire/Rogers musical. Nobody wears tuxes any more, even to opening night parties. As I said, this is a civilian’s fantasy of Broadway, not Broadway as it is. It’s a silly (and I mean that not in a good way) send-up which made me think of Forbidden Broadway without the songs.

Far better was Donald Margulies’ The Country House, which has just closed at Manhattan Theatre Club’s Broadway venue, the Friedman Theatre. This also had a theatrical subject. It took place at the Williamstown home of a fading Broadway and film star who’s playing at the Williamstown Theatre Festival. She’s invited a hunky young TV star to stay at her home, and he becomes a source of lust for every female in the play. Also in the mix are Elliott, the brother, who’s a failed actor and now a failed playwright. He’s sort of a combination of Uncle Vanya and The Sea Gull’s Konstantin. In fact, this is Margulies’ most “Chekhovian” play – not rip off, but homage to the Russian master. It was funny, and poignant, and featured wonderful performances by the likes of Blythe Danner, Daniel Sunjata, David Rasche and Eric Lange. I hope you got a chance to see it.

Off Broadway, Manhattan Theatre Club has another beautiful production, this one at City Center Stage II, of David Auburn’s touching Lost Lake, a two-hander which takes place in a run-down cabin on a lake somewhere north of here, rented by woman from New York, who’s brought her two kids and one of their friends there for the summer. It turns out, the owner of the cabin has fallen on hard times (in fact his life has mostly been nothing but hard times, bad decisions and bad luck), who is living in his truck. John Hawkes is sensational as this touching loser, and Tracie Thoms is also touching as she turns out to be not unlike her summer landlord, with bad luck and bad decisions of her own.

Lost Lake: a perfect title for a play about two lost souls.

Katori Hall’s Our Lady of Kibeho, at the Signature center, is a drama based on the true story of three Rwandan girls who claimed to have visions of the Virgin Mary. It’s an astonishing play, beautifully directed by Michael Greif, with a jaw-dropping ending in which the girls reveal Mary’s terrible prophecy about Rwanda. Don’t miss it – it’s one of the best plays of this season.

Keith Josef Adkins’ Pitbulls, at Rattlestick, is a trailer trash play.What makes it unique is that all the characters are black. The central one is the woman who lives in the trailer with her teenaged son, supporting them by making wine and selling it by the roadside. The biggest form of entertainment in the town is big fighting, and everyone’s in on it from the Mayor on down. Problem is, someone’s been killing the dogs. Everyone in the play is great; particularly, Yvette Ganier as Our Heroine. Pitbulls marks the debut of a major new playwright and is not to be missed.

IT’S ONLY A PLAY. Schoenfeld Theatre, 236 W. 45th St.

TICKETS: www.telecharge.com or 212-239-6200

THE COUNTRY HOUSE. Friedman Theatre. Alas, closed

LOST LAKE. City Center Stage 1, 131 W. 55th St

TICKETS: 212-581-1212

OUR LADY OF KIBEHO. Signature Center, 480 W. 42nd St.

TICKETS: 212-244-7529

PITBULLS. Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre, 224 Waverly Pl.

TICKETS: www.rattlestick.org 

For discount tickets for groups of ten or more, contact Carol Ostrow Productions & Group Sales. Phone: 212-265-8500. E-Mail: ostrow1776@aol.com.

“It requires a certain largeness of spirit to give generous appreciation to large achievements. A society with a crabbed spirit and a cynical urge to discount and devalue will find that one day, when it needs to draw upon the reservoirs of excellence, the reservoirs have run dry.”

                                                                                      — George F. Will 

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who actually does strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” 

                                                                                    — Theodore Roosevelt

 

Share

“On the AIsle with Larry” 27 November 2014

“On the Aisle with Larry”

Lawrence Harbison, the Playfixer, brings you up to date with what’s hot and what’s not in New York. In this column, Larry reports on THE LAST SHIP, ON THE TOWN, LENNON: THOUGH A GLASS ONION, SIDE SHOW, ALLEGRO, MAJOR BARBARA, DISGRACED, STICKS AND BONES, THE REAL THING, INDIAN INK and the BIG APPLE CIRCUS.

The Last Ship, at the Neil Simon Theatre, has a score by the guy who calls himself “Sting,” and has, therefore been eagerly anticipated by fans of Mr. Sting’s music. The woman sitting next to me had travelled up from Virginia just to see the show. She loves Mr. Sting. She fell asleep about 20 minutes into the show and awoke periodically to applaud wildly after each song. Then, zzzzzz …

The Last Ship deals with the closing of a shipyard, and a conflict between two men over a woman. One of the guys went off to sea 15 years ago. Then he returns. He wants to start up with her again, but she’s involved with this other bloke, a former shipyard worked who has sold out and now works for the company which closed the yard. The workers decide to take over the yard and build one last ship, with the help of church funds provided to them by a supportive priest. Howsat? What are they going to build, a dinghy? Anyway, that’s basically the plot.

The attraction is, of course, Mr. Sting’s music, which is about the only thing the critics have praised about the show. The Ish, in the NY Times, says it’s the best score by a rocker ever. Well, no, Mr. Ish, that would be Chess, followed closely by Kinky Boots and Here Lies Love. I found the songs dull and somewhat repetitive, for the most part lacking in theatrical vitality. The visual look of the show is an eyesore, and the actors can carry a tune, but that’s about it. The choreography is negligible and Joe Mantello, the director, hasn’t come up with much to make the show interesting.

Far better is On the Town, at the Lyric Theatre. Unlike The Last Ship, this revival of the Bernstein/Comden/Green musical about three sailors ashore in the Big Apple for one day was not eagerly anticipated. The last time it was around, fifteen years ago or so, it flopped, even with good reviews. Well, it turns out this revival is hilarious, brilliantly staged by the king of comedy direction, John Rando, and with amazing choreography by Joshua Bergasse, who has resurrected the Agnes DeMillean dream ballet to music from Bernstein’s original ballet suites which inspired the show. I have never seen better dancing in a Broadway musical. The show is brimming with great bits of comic staging, and the performers are just wonderful, particularly Alyssha Umphree as that man-hungry taxi driver, Hildy, and Jackie Hoffman in a variety of roles.

I think this production is going to be a multiple award-winner in the spring. Don’t miss it.

I must confess, I had my doubts about Lennon: Through A Glass Onion, playing at the Union Square Theatre. It sounded to me to be exploitive of John Lennon and his music. Here’s what it is: John R. Waters, a lanky old guy with short hair, is Lennon – as he might have been had he lived. He talks about his life and then sings his songs, many of which are post-Beatles. I never had much appreciation for John’s songs after the Beatles broke up until now, as sung full-bore by this wonderful performer, accompanied on piano by Stewart Arrietta, who also contributes vocal harmonies. Waters does sound like Lennon, in spite of what you’ve heard; but that’s not the most important thing, which is that he embodies the man as he was and might have become.

Side Show, at the St. James Theatre, is a reconceived version of the Bill Russell (book) and Henry Krieger (music) musical (additional book material by the director, Bill Condon), which flopped the first time around even with, as I recall, pretty good reviews. It was felt at the time that the show was just too dark for the Broadway audience, with its ubiquitous side show freaks and, of course, the Hilton Sisters, conjoined twins who became vaudeville stars in the 1930s. This time around, it really connects. It remains to be seen if this will be enough to give it a substantial run.

The score is fabulous, and Condon has done a wonderful job of directing. Erin Davie and Emily Padgett, as Our Heroines the Hilton Sisters, are very compelling, and Ryan Silverman and Matthew Hydzik provide terrific support as the man who discovers them,  the man who teaches them how to be stars, and their love interests.

Go. For once, it’s not a rip-off of a movie. It’s a beautiful original story which will break your heart.

Allegro, at the Classic Stage Co., is also a reconceived version of an old musical, this one by Rodgers and Hammerstein which, like Side Show, was a financial flop the first time around (1947). Whereas, R & H’s first two shows, Oklahoma and Carousel, were based on plays, Allegro had an original plot and a structure which most have seemed confusingly experimental to the Broadway audience of its time, what with its allegorical depiction of the life of a man from his birth until he becomes a successful (but at what price?) doctor in his 30s and it’s Greek-style chorus. The original production had 78 performers and an orchestra of 35. This time around, director John Doyle has pared it down to 90 minutes, with 12 performers on a bare stage, some playing multiple roles, all of them playing musical instruments, Doyle’s signature staging, so there’s no separate orchestra.

Claybourne Elder is Joseph Taylor, Jr., the son of a small town doctor, who falls in love with a local girl, Jenny, who wants him to go into her father’s business so they won’t have to wait until he finishes medical school to get married. He does go to med school and then he’s faced with a choice: does he join his father’s practice and lead a modest middle class life or does he accept a position with a posh hospital in Chicago which will lead to wealth?

Doyle’s ensemble is uniformly strong. Elder is terrific as the young doctor, as is Elizabeth A. Davis as Jenny. You can’t take your eyes off her, and she sings and plays the violin beautifully.

Allegro had to wait 67 years for John Doyle to come along to be revealed as the masterpiece it is. It should move to Broadway but it probably won’t as Big Ben’s review wasn’t favorable enough. Don’t miss it.

Pearl Theatre Co., is presenting an adaptation (unacknowledged, of course) of Shaw’s Major Barbara, in partnership with the Gingold Theatrical Group, whose Artistic Director, David Staller is the director. Gingold is devoted to promoting Shaw’s plays, and Staller is something of a Shaw scholar. He should stick to scholarship. As a director, he’s clueless.

Staller has rearranged some of the text, starting the evening with a rant by Barbara to us, the audience, as various actors mill about making brief comments on what she‘s saying.

Then, the lights come up on a black lacquered unit set with gold trim, with staircases on each side of the stage, which looks like the Vestibule of Hell. There are various straight backed chairs positioned around this set. What this design concept means is anybody’s guess (if anyone would want to) but it has the effect of sucking all the humor out of the play like a Hoover sucks up dirt. I never saw a less funny production of a Shavian play.

The actors struggle valiantly. Two, Hannah Cabell as Barbara and Dan Daily as Undershaft, would have been terrific in a production of the play done by someone who knows what he’s doing. This Major Barbara has rocketed to the top of my Bomb of the Year list.

Ayad Akhtar’s Disgraced, last year’s Pulitzer Prize-winner, has reopened on Broadway at the Lyceum Theatre. It’s about a lapsed Muslim attorney named Amir, married to an caucasian artist, who thinks he can escape his Muslim upbringing, even as his wife embraces Islamic art, which inspires her work. During a dinner party at which the guests are the wife’s dealer and his black wife (an attorney who works at Amir’s firm) the sparks fly and revelations surface, leading to violence.

This is one of the strongest Pulitzer-winners in recent years, superbly directed by Kimberley Senior and featuring terrific performances throughout, especially from Hari Dillon, as Amir. It’s a don’t-miss.

Simon Stephens Punk Rock, produced by MCC at the Lucille Lortel Theatre, is about English teens at a private (i.e., public) school. It’s about bullying and the inevitable violence which ensues. It’s very powerful, if you don’t mind the upsetting subject matter, and it’s brilliantly directed by Trip Cullman, whose failure, still, to get a Broadway shot continues to mystify me. Cullman’s ensemble is brilliant, with special kudus to Douglas Smith as an extremely troubled youth, Will Pullen as the scary bully and Noah Robbins as a science nerd.

Punk Rock rocks.

Many years ago, I had the good fortune to score a pair of tickets to the opening night of a revival playing at the Morosco Theatre, down the street from the hotel where my wife and I were staying, tourists on our first trip to New York. This turned out to be the famous revival of O’Neill’s A Moon for the Misbegotten, directed by José Quintero and starring Jason Robards and Colleen Dewhurst, which took a forgotten American classic and brought it back into our permanent national dramatic repertoire. Scott Elliott’s superb production of David Rabe’s Stick and Bones at the Signature Center, where the New Group is ensconced this season, gave me the same feeling as when I saw A Moon for the Misbegotten all those years ago; this is an American classic.

The original production transferred from the Public Theater to Broadway, where it won the Tony Award, and then disappeared from our consciousness even as the Vietnam War receded into unhappy memory. It couldn’t be more timely, dealing as it does with the homecoming of a wounded warrior. Rabe makes his American family archetypal by giving them the names of the characters in a famous sitcom. The mom and dad are Ozzie and Harriet, whose sons are David and Ricky. David returns from Vietnam blind and tormented, and Ozzie and Harriet are at their wits end trying to help him get back to being their David. Ricky, on the other hand, is pretty much oblivious, his constant companion a guitar which he plays from time to time. Even the family priest, in a nice turn by Richard Chamberlain, can’t do anything with the hostile and angry David.

Bill Pullman and Holly Hunter are phenomenal as Ozzie and Harriet, and Ben Schnetzer is scarily good as David. This is a great production of a great American play. Don’t miss it.

Roundabout has two Tom Stoppard plays on the boards – Indian Ink at their off Broadway space, the Laura Pels, and The Real Thing on Broadway at the American Airlines Theatre. Indian Ink, which is receiving its New York premiere almost 20 years after it was first done in London, is beautifully-written and wonderfully staged by Carey Perloff. It takes place in two time frames, the 1930s and the 1980s. In the latter, a scholar is interviewing Eleanor, an elderly woman, about her sister Flora, a famous poet who died when she was a young woman. The scholar is editing a book of Flora’s letters, and he has many unanswered questions about various references in them. We then go back in time to the 1930’s, to India, where Flora has gone to try to recover her health. There, she meets am artist, who paints her picture. One of the unanswered questions pertains to him.

Romola Garai and Rosemary Harris are magnificent as Eleanor and Flora, and Firdous Bamji is touching as the artist.

This is a beautiful production of a beautiful play.

The Real Thing has gotten some rather negative reviews, which amazes me because this is a really fine production, directed by Sam Gold, of Stoppard’s classic about love and infidelity, featuring terrific performances by Ewan McGregor and Maggie Gyllenhaal. McGregor plays playwright Henry Boot and Gillenhal is Annie, first Henry’s lover and later his wife.

While I could have done without the sing-alongs Gold has inserted at the start of each act, overall his direction is first-rate. This one, like Indian Ink, is a don’t-miss.

The Big Apple Circus has pitched its tent in Lincoln Center’s Damrosch Park and it’s great fun. It’s got a Cirque de Soleil-esque meaningless title, “Matamorphosis,” which annoyed me a little bit, and there’s a clown who does a bunch of unfunny things, occasionally dragging members of the audience into the ring to do more unfunny things, but this is a minor quibble, as you can go out for more popcorn when he comes on. The acts, consisting of jugglers, contortionists, quick-change artists and a spectacular trapeze act, are amazing.

THE LAST SHIP. Neil Simon Theatre, 250 W. 52nd St.

TICKETS: www.ticketmaster.com or 800-745-3000

ON THE TOWN. Lyric Theatre, 213 W. 42nd St.

TICKETS: www.ticketmaster.com or 800-745-3000

LENNON: THROUGH A GLASS ONION. Union Square Theatre, 100 E. 17th St.

TICKETS: 800-982-2787

SIDE SHOW. St. James Theatre, 246 W. 44th St.

TICKETS: www.telecharge.com or 212-239-6200

ALLEGRO. Classic  Stage Co. 136 E. 13th St.

TICKETS: 212-352-3101

MAJOR BARBARA. :Pearl Theatre Co., 555 W. 42nd St.

TICKETS: 212-563-9261

DISGRACED. Lyceum Theatre, 149 W. 45th St.

TICKETS: www.telecharge.com or 212-239-6200

PUNK ROCK. Lucille Lortel Theatre, 121 Christopher St.

TICKETS: 212-352-3101

STICKS AND BONES. The New Group at Signature Center, 480 W. 42nd St.

TICKETS: www.ticketcentral.com or 212-279-4200

THE REAL THING. American Airlines Theatre, 227 W. 42nd St.

TICKETS: www.roundabouttheatre.org or 212-719-1300

INDIAN INK. Laura Pels Theatre, 111 W. 46th St.

TICKETS: www.roundabouttheatre.org or 212-719-1300

BIG APPLE CIRCUS. Damrosch Park, Lincoln Center

TICKETS: www.bigapplecircus.org

For discount tickets for groups of ten or more, contact Carol Ostrow Productions & Group Sales. Phone: 212-265-8500. E-Mail: ostrow1776@aol.com.

“It requires a certain largeness of spirit to give generous appreciation to large achievements. A society with a crabbed spirit and a cynical urge to discount and devalue will find that one day, when it needs to draw upon the reservoirs of excellence, the reservoirs have run dry.”

                                                                                      — George F. Will 

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who actually does strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” 

                                                                                    — Theodore Roosevelt

 

Share