Lawrence Harbison brings you up to date with what’s hot and what’s not in New York. In this column, Larry reports on CINDERELLA, REALLY REALLY, THE REVISIONIST, BELLEVILLE, THE NORWEGIANS, BEARS, GOOD WITH PEOPLE, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S, HONKY, SAGA and ANN.

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, at the Broadway Theatre, is a charming if somewhat old fashioned musical for those of you who like charming and old fashioned and are looking for something to take your kid to, now that Mary Poppins has closed.

Douglas Carter Beane has provided a new book, which is quite witty, in the gay humor sorta way that Beane is cherished for. Cinderella’s prince, played with aplomb by Santino Fontana (who knew this gifted dramatic actor could sing so well?), is now a rather hapless weenie, dominated by his chief counselor, played with wonderfully swishy flair by Peter Bartlett as if he were still Mr. Charles, currently of Palm Beach. He’s the Dick Cheney of the kingdom. Laura Osnes is charming in the title role, and Harriet Harris is delightful, even though at times she appears to be doing a Peter Bartlett impersonation (come to think of it, she’s been doing that for years …). Director Mark Brokaw has made the show a lot of fun.

Paul Downs Colaizzo’s Really Really, which has unfortunately closed after an extended run at the Lucille Lortel Theatre, was a sensational debut by a gifted new playwright about soulless college students and featured an impressive turn by David Mamet’s daughter, Zosia, as the most soulless of them all. David Cromer’s direction was, as you might expect, brilliant. This should have had a commercial transfer, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s produced many times all over the country and made into a film.

Jesse Eisenberg’s The Revisionist, produced by Rattlestick at the Cherry Lane Theatre, is a huge hit, primarily because Vanessa Redgrave’s in the cast, playing an elderly Polish woman. A young writer, played by Eisenberg, comes to Poland to stay with a distant relative (Redgrave), in order to revise his second book. This is basically just a contrivance, but Eisenberg is excellent, though he’s basically playing only a slight variation on his character in The Social Network and in his own play Asuncion, and Redgrave is, as you might expect, great. The play, though, is No Great Shakes. Why this young man has chosen to come to Poland to hang out with a distant relative he hardly knows is never really explained, and Eisenberg has no concept about how to build an effective dramatic arc. It’s just a series of scenes until the old lady boots the kid out, For No Apparent Reason. Reportedly, this is transferring to a commercial house. You could skip it, unless you absolutely can’t miss seeing Vanessa Redgrave or you’re a Jesse Eisenberg fan.

Amy Herzog’s Belleville, at New York Theatre Workshop, is a largely effective drama about a young couple living in Paris. He’s a research scientist. There’s a Big Surprise in the end, having to do with who he really is, and the couple has to vacate their flat – after which their landlords spend about 5 or 6 silent minutes removing the couple’s belongings. The play is effectively over by this time, so you sit there going, “What could the playwright and director have been thinking?” Still, it’s a good production with fine actors.

C. Denby Swanson’s The Norwegians, at the Drilling Co., is probably the biggest hit that theatre has had. It’s received great reviews (for the most part justified), and is about a young  woman who wants to hire two hit men, Minnesotans of Norwegian descent, to bump off her ex-boyfriend, who’s dumped her. The acting and direction were a little broad for my tastes; but there’s no denying that the play, which is loaded with great Norwegian jokes, is hilarious.

Bears, at 59 E 59, which has now closed, was an offbeat comedy by Mark Rigney about three bears struggling to survive after the world has gone to hell in a hand basket. Two of the bears are complacent zoo bears, whose equilibrium is upset upon the arrival of a wild wild bear named Susie. The actors were terrific, but I especially enjoyed Jenna Panther (what a name!) as Susie. This was worth seeing – I’m sorry if you missed it.

Also at 59 E 59, you can still catch Scottish playwright David Harrower’s brief Good With People, about a middle aged woman who runs a bed and breakfast in a small Scottish town and a mysterious young man who stays at her establishment for one night. The play is rather slight, but both actors, Blythe Duff and Andrew Scott-Ramsay, are really excellent.

Anita Loos’ odd comedy Happy Birthday has been revived by the excellent T.A.C.T. at the Samuel Beckett Theatre (at the Theatre Row multiplex) and features a large cast of superb character actors, headed by the always-terrific Mary Bacon as a shy librarian who comes into a bar in New Jersey looking to find a man who hangs out there, and to escape her abusive drunk of a father. The director, Scott Alan Evans, has given this rather old-fashioned play a somewhat expressionist spin, which I found most effective.

As for Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Richard Greenberg’s adaptation of the Truman Capote novella at the Cort Theatre, the less said the better. Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke plays Holly Golightly. She does the best she can; but I found the character insufferable, so Clarke is too. And the play seems endless. This is definitely miss-able, and I expect will be gone soon.

Greg Kalleres, Honky (at Urban Stages) on the other hand, is terrific and has been extended. It’s a pithy comedy about a company which makes sneakers for the “urban market;” i.e., black teenagers, featuring terrific performances from the likes of Anthony Gaskins as a shoe designer appalled by the company’s ad campaign, which seems to encourage black kids to shoot each other for the company’s product, and Dave Droxler as the copywriter who wrote the ad. Honky is funny, and says a lot who we are as a country, in terms of racial attitudes. It’s a don’t-miss.

Another don’t-miss: Wakka Wakka’s amazing Saga, at the Baruch Performing Arts Center. For those of you who don’t know about Wakka Wakka, they are sort of a gonzo puppet theatre. Saga is about the economic crisis in Iceland, and how it affects one hapless man and his family. All the characters are puppets, manipulated by gifted onstage puppeteers. Wakka Wakka is that rarity, a company which does weird theatre but which does it well, with a truly amazing theatricality. They are totally unique, and not to be missed.

Also a don’t-miss: Holland Taylor as Ann Richards in Ann, at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre, which Taylor also wrote. Taylor plays the feisty Texas Governor to a T, and her script has a lot of trenchant observations about the Great Political Divide in this country.

Ann is one of the best one-person plays I have seen in quite some time. It’s vastly entertaining, and Taylor is amazing.

CINDERELLA. Broadway Theatre, 1681 Broadway
TICKETS: www.telecharge.com or 212-239-6200
REALLY REALLY. Lucille Lortel Theatre. Alas, closed.
THE REVISIONIST. Cherry Lane Theatre, 38 Commerce Street
TICKETS: 212-989-2020
BELLEVILLE. New York Theatre Workshop, 79 E. 4th St.
TICKETS: 212-460-5475
THE NORWEGIANS. Drilling Company, 236 W. 78th St.
TICKETS: www.smartix.com
BEARS. 59 E 59. Alas, closed.
GOOD WITH PEOPLE. 59 E. 59
TICKETS: www.ticketcentral.com or 212-279-4200
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Samuel Beckett Theatre, 410 W. 42nd St.
TICKETS: www.telecharge.com or 212-239-6200
BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S. Cort Theatre, 138 W. 48th St.
TICKETS: www.telecharge.com or 212-239-6200
HONKY. Urban Stages, 259 W. 30th St.
TICKETS: www.smartix.com
SAGA. Baruch Performing Arts Center, 150 E. 25th St.
TICKETS: 626-312-4085
ANN. Vivian Beaumont Theatre, Lincoln Center
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

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