St. Ann’s Warehouse in Dumbo, Brooklyn, has been recast as a crowded and vibrant refugee camp called the Calais Jungle on the coast of France. The theater’s ticket booth is in a ramshackle hut, its bar relocated to a dome of canvas and metal. The audience doesn’t so much sit as huddle, as if around a campfire.Continue Reading
In Anton Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya at the Hunter Theater Project, Jay O. Sanders plays the title character as the kind of wisely figure you’d like to have as your own uncle. That is, until a brother-in-law announces he wants to sell the family estate that Vanya has managed for 35 years.
“Thanks to you,” Vanya bellows, “I destroyed, I annihilated the best years of my life!” He’s initially terrifying, then almost befuddled at the intensity of his own outburst. “What am I saying? I’m losing my mind.”
Some theatrical ideas are so ambitious it almost doesn’t matter whether they succeed or fail – the fun is in seeing them play out. In his audacious, stripped-down staging of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!, which opened Sunday at St Ann’s Warehouse, director Daniel Fish exposes the repression, lust, and violence that always lay beneath the surface of this seminal musical.
It may seem necessary, before an American audience, to provide a primer on snooker, that English variant of billiards. But the unseen, bone-dry play-by-play snooker announcers in Richard Bean’s charming new comedy about the sport, The Nap, which opened Thursday at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, are reluctant to expend the effort.
One begrudgingly explains a few elements of the game, in an Alan Rickman-adjacent whine, “if you’re watching on the Internet in Antarctica,” or “for those on a canoe in Tahiti.” In other words, let’s assume we know the basics, and get on with the fun bits.Continue Reading
Lillian Hellman’s second play, Days To Come, was a flop when it premiered on Broadway in 1936. Sources differ on why — but it certainly wasn’t the writing.
The well-acted production that opened Sunday, smoothly directed by J.R. Sullivan for the Mint Theater Company, at the Beckett Theatre at Theater Row, proves a fascinating family drama set in a time of economic hardship and labor unrest. This Days To Come, the first in New York in 40 years, makes a compelling case for the play’s continued relevance.Continue Reading
Pretty Woman: The Musical, the over-amplified wannabe tourist trap that opened Thursday at the Nederlander Theatre, illustrates the limits of vision-free Broadway producing.
The music is monotonous and draining, the book simplistic and clichéd (much more so than the film), and the acting wooden. The best elements are its Vegas-flashy sets (by David Rockwell) and its choreography (by director Jerry Mitchell).
The musical Be More Chill has some baggage. It’s about high school angst that verges on cliché, and it’s a showcase for the kind of head-banging pop, in this case by composer/lyricist Joe Iconis (Smash), that’s commonplace in today’s musical theater. It also has an out-there sci-fi premise: Hopelessly uncool high school sophomore Jeremy Heere (Dear Evan Hansen’s Will Roland) swallows a pill-shaped supercomputer called a SQUIP that implants itself in his brain and instructs him in the finer points of teenage social etiquette.Continue Reading
Early in his funny and poignant off-Broadway show, The New One, the comedian Mike Birbiglia expresses a low tolerance for children. “We gotta get babies off planes,” he says. “We got rid of smoking in the eighties, so we could get rid of babies now. Or bring back smoking and get those babies some cigarettes, because they’re too stressed out and they’re too powerful.”
REVIEW : The question at the heart of Head Over Heels is whether Elizabethan comedy and the music of the Go-Go’s go together. Sadly, the answer is no.
(See below for other opinions about the first musical of the season, which was capitalized for at least $11.6 million, according to investment papers.)
The jukebox musical that opened Thursday at the Hudson Theatre is (bizarrely) ostensibly based on Sir Philip Sidney’s 16th century Greek-mythological prose poem, The Arcadia. Thus the not-quite-iambic pentameter of the shepherd Musidorus (Andrew Durand), when he finds the skeletons of actors in the woods accompanied by a note: “These sad remains are of our theatre troupe, / Starved for lack of Serious Message.” This could charitably be called meta-commentary.