Friday, April 29, 2011

The People in the Picture

The Broadway season ends with a flaming fiasco: The People to the Picture, brought to us by the Roundabout. It's a well-meaning musical, but also completely pandering and clumsily executed.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Baby It's You!

The Florence Greenberg/Shirelles musical Baby It's You! has just opened on Broadway. It's not atrocious, but it's not very good either — mostly because of an insultingly broad book. Why do these people keep underestimating audiences??

The Normal Heart

Larry Kramer's 1985 pamphlet, The Normal Heart, makes its Broadway debut in a topnotch production. If someone's on a roll right now, it's Joe Mantello, who directed hits last year and is now back on stage — and great at it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The House of Blue Leaves

What a weird thing The House of Blue Leaves is. The new revival by David Cromer doesn't quite hit the wide, wide breadth of tones the play encompasses, but it stays with you. Edie Falco and Jennifer Jason Leigh are particularly great to watch. My review's over there.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Born Yesterday

Garson Kanin's 1946 play Born Yesterday comes back to Broadway. The lead reason to see it: a star-is-born turn by Nina Arianda. Oh yes, she is that good.

Friday, April 22, 2011


I'm glad for any opportunity I get to see Mark Rylance on stage but Jerusalem doesn't live up to its hype — Jez Butterworth really overreaches in that third act. Thataway for my review.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Sister Act

I don't have any particular attachment to the Whoopi Goldberg movie Sister Act, so it was fairly easy for me to enjoy the musical version as, ahem, superior.

I particularly loved Alan Menken's little tributes to Gamble & Huff (the story has been moved to 1978 Philly), and the cast is firing on all cylinders. Would it be wrong to say the show is a hell of a good time?


Christopher Shinn's new play, Picked, is a complete misfire. In a season as vibrant as the one we're in, it doesn't stand a chance.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


On the one hand, High is a pretty bad play. On the other, it stars Kathleen Turner. And boy, does she still have it! My review of this purple melodrama thataway.

Monday, April 18, 2011


Frank Wildhorn is back on Broadway! This time he tackles a loose Lewis Carroll adaptation with Wonderland, at the cavernous Marquis. Thank god for Susan Hilferty and her costumes, because there's not much else happening on that stage. Go there for my review.

Friday, April 15, 2011

War Horse

Today's review is of the extraordinary War Horse, currently at the Vivian Beaumont at Lincoln Center.

I'm not much of a horse person, but I sure am a WWI person — my mother's family is from Lorraine, where much of the bloodiest front was, and I've always been interested in that particular conflict. So the play's setting hit me particularly hard.

In any case, you just need to be a theater person to enjoy this show.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Sleep No More

The London company Punchdrunk lives up to its reputation with its first New York show, Sleep No More. I absolutely loved this immersive haunted-house ride, so much so that I'm already planning a return visit.

In short: You wander through 6 floors and 100 rooms, free to explore at will or follow actors. It's Macbeth (particularly Orson Welles' version) but also The Shining, Vertigo, Rebecca, Eyes Wide Shut and drum & bass. Just fantastic.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Go Back to Where You Are

David Greenspan's new Go Back to Where You Are just opened at Playwrights Horizons' upstairs space. My review's here.

Speaking of Playwrights, I was there last night to catch up with Kin. I wasn't the only one: Vanessa Redgrave was there, too. Star sighting!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Motherf**ker with the Hat

I really like Chris Rock so I'm a bit sad to report that he's underwhelming in his Broadway debut, The Motherfucker with the Hat (I use the marquee's spelling in the subject line). I hope people will give Stephen Adly Guirgis' play a chance though, because it's better than Rock.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Catch Me If You Can

You've seen the Steven Spielberg movie about a charming scammer, now see its musical adaptation on Broadway. Catch Me If You Can opened last night and all I can say is: Thank God for Butz! Norbert Leo Butz, that is: He's the heart and soul of the show, which would be flatlining without him. My review's over there.

Saturday, April 09, 2011


I went to the Philharmonic's Company on Thursday, and managed not to be blinded by the stars packed on that stage (review here). I have to admit, I feel that a lot of my colleagues drank the celebrity Kool-Aid on that one — it was fun, but not all that great from a production point of view.

Other than that, I discussed some Spring Broadway shows with Adam Feldman from Time Out on WNYC. You can hear the conversation here.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Anything Goes

Kathleen Marshall's revival of Anything Goes hits the Stephen Sondheim Theater. Ah, Sutton Foster … can she do any wrong? So she's not perfectly cast as Reno Sweeney — that doesn't make her less fun to watch. Click here for my review.

Thursday, April 07, 2011


It's the Spring of Macbeth here in New York. First there was the Theater for a New Audience version, now there's the Cheek by Jowl version at BAM. I usually like Declan Donnellan's work but this production is meh — yes, a meh Macbeth. How is that even possible?

Anyway, still to come if Punchdrunk's Sleep No More, which is Macbeth as a choose-your-own-adventure show. More on that next week.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Marie and Bruce

The New Group's revival of Marie and Bruce isn't a fun ride but it's definitely worth investigating. Fun fact: The Sheila and I saw the show on our anniversary night. Considering Wallace Shawn's play is about a toxic marriage, it was an auspicious, er, treat. We repaired to the West Bank Cafe afterwards. All in all, a good night out!

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Feeling stripey

I've been a fan of St. James T-shirts and sweaters for years now, and the Sheila has joined me in stripe love. So it's no surprise that I love the new away jersey that Nike has designed for the French soccer team — it's so effortlessly cool that even the über-trendy store Colette carries it. The two designs Nike has come up with for the team so far have both been winners — much better than the atrocities Adidas forked out by the end of their contract. The away version is a take on the classic marinière design, while the home version is a thing of beautiful simplicity, even if it looks like, well, a rugby jersey.

Add a good new coach, convincing victories over England and Brazil in the past few months, and I think we'll soon be able to put the last World Cup behind us.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Bring Us the Head of Your Daughter

I'm a big fan of the Amoralists' work but their latest, Bring Us the Head of Your Daughter, left me frustrated. More than plot problems, it raises the issue of what miscasting can do to a play.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

My Girlfriend's Boyfriend

Mike Birbiglia is back with another solo show, My Girlfriend's Boyfriend. I enjoyed it but at the end of the day, what's the line between stand-up and theater? The lack of a drink minimum at the latter? There should be more than that. My review's over there.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo

Rajiv Joseph's Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo was a Pulitzer finalist last year, but the true reason it's on Broadway is that Robin Williams is in it. I wasn't overly impressed — as with Gruesome Playground Injuries a few months ago, Joseph bites more than he can chew.