The Crucible ****

By: Bernard Carragher

December 3, 2019: Bedlam’s production of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible directed by Eric Tucker at the Connelly Theatre in the East Village is a generally strong and stimulating rendering of Mr. Miller’s stunning drama of witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692. There is something to admire in its clean, honest excitement and it is so very different from Ivo van Hove’s opaque controversial Broadway revival back in 2016. The Crucible was originally titled Those Familiar Spirits, a vivid reverberation of the McCarthy 1950’s anti-Commmunist doings that stimulated Mr. Miller turning it into a theatrical witch hunt.

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The Inheritance ***, The Young Man from Atlanta ***

Samuel H. Levine, Kyle Soller and Andrew Burnap “The Inheritance”

By: David Sheward

December 2, 2019: Every generation or so since the late 1960s, a new play encapsulating the gay experience opens in New York. The Boys in the Band, Torch Song Trilogy, Love! Valour! Compassion!, and Angels in America have defined their respective gay moment and how the general society is reacting to it. Matthew Lopez’s The Inheritance isthe latest theatrical chronicle of the American gay journey. The massive work checks all the right boxes for a certifiable hit. A smash production in London complete with Olivier Awards, glowing reviews and snob appeal, an epic two-evening running time of over seven hours, a fluid, funny, clever production from director Stephen Daldry, and moving, intense performances. The play itself, inspired by Howard’s End, E.M. Forster’s classic novel of connection and redemption, is a mixed bag of brilliant moments of pathos, insight and observation, as well as extraneous, melodramatic and forced scenes. 

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A Christmas Carol ***, David Byrne’s American Utopia ****

Campbell Scott and LaChanze in “A Christmas Carol”

By: David Sheward

November 26, 2019: The holiday cheer begins at the Lyceum Theater before the latest incarnation of Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol even commences. The holiday outing arrives on Broadway after a hit run in London. Lighting designer Hugh Vanstone has created a warm 19th century glow aided by lit candles throughout the theater. Patrons are greeted by cheerful staffers dressed in period costumes offering free cookies and clementine oranges. Cast members and musicians stroll onstage and play traditional yuletide favorites. The atmosphere is comfy and cosy for the beloved tale of the cold-hearted Ebenezer Scrooge and his redemption by a gaggle of benevolent ghosts, told with new shadings and vigor. 

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Einstein’s Dreams ***1/2

Zal Owen

By: Paulanne Simmons

November 20, 2019: Alan Lightman is an American physicist who has served on the faculties of Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research has focused on relativistic gravitation theory. He’s even studied what causes that mystery of mystery, the black hole.

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Everything’s Coming Up Rosie ****

By: Paulanne Simmons

November 18, 2019: Singer and musical theater veteran Rosemary Loar says she was “raised in musical theater.” Her mother would escape New Jersey (and her seven children) for Broadway and return refreshed, with a cast album in hand. It was surely those cast albums that gave Loar her love of musical theater. That affection is on melodious display in Loar’s new cabaret act, Everything’s Coming Up Rosie, which debuted this fall at Don’t Tell Mama.

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DruidShakespeare: Richard III ****, Macbeth **, Cyrano **

Aaron Monaghan in DruidShakespeare: Richard 111

By: David Sheward

November 17, 2019: A trio of the most iconic and sought-after male title roles in world theater are currently being tackled Off-Broadway in a variety of productions ranging from wickedly sublime to well-intentioned but wrongheaded. The Irish company DruidShakespeare sets the Bard’s Richard III in a comic abattoir while CSC offers a tepid Macbeth and The New Group musicalizes Cyrano with lukewarm results. 

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Taiten: Noh & Kyogen ****

Mikata Shizuka

“Beautiful Harmony at the Japan Society”

By Samuel L. Leiter

By the time this is posted, it will be too late to see the Japan Society’s interesting program, Taiten: Noh and Kyogen, since it was around for only three days (November 14-16). Japan’s classic theatrical forms, noh and kyōgen, may have some interest among Theater Life’s readers, so what follows is for the record. 

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The Great Society ***1/2

Barbara Garrick, Brian Cox

By: Isa Goldberg

November 14, 2019: Given the state of political gridlock, and partisan politics we’re in, Robert Schenkkan’s The Great Society – Part II of The LBJ Plays, is a timely production, currently at Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beautmont Theater. Set during LBJ’s administration, Schenkkan expounds on Part I of his work, All The Way, which played on Broadway starring Bryan Cranston in 2014. 

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Kristin Chenoweth Live on Broadway ****1/2

Broadway dynamo brings For The Girls to Nederlander for 8 performances.

By: Patrick Christiano

November 12, 2019:  The curtain rises on Tony and Emmy Awarding winning dynamo, Kristin Chenoweth’s Broadway show For The Girls, to reveal the petite star dressed in only an oversized promotional t-shirt for her show, inside out. It’s a staged moment that Kristin calls the prologue. In hardly a flash she is back and bedazzling, in a bedded mini dress, with her dynamic two co-stars for the, evening, Crystal Monee Hall and Marissa Rosen, who the star shares much of the spotlight with, for a rousing rendition of Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman.” For The Girls is a celebration of powerful women and features songs by women, some of which are on Chenoweth’s recently released album of the same name. These three women are superb and form the heart of the evening, backed by five musicians and the renowned Mary-Mitchell Campbell on piano, providing musical direction as well.

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Tina: The Tina Turner Musical ****, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf ****

Adrienne Warren (center) and company in “Tina: The Tina Turner Musical”

By: David Sheward

November 11, 2019: Nowhere is the contrast between today’s Broadway and Off-Broadway more sharply defined than in the productions of Tina: The Tina Turner Musical at the Lunt-Fontanne and the revival of Ntozake Shange’s 1976 groundbreaking For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When The Rainbow Is Enuf, Off-Broadway at the Public Theater. 

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The Michaels *****

Haviland Morris, Brenda Wehle, Maryann Plunkett, Jay O. Sanders

By: Isa Goldberg

November 13, 2019: Much as I’ve enjoyed many a repast with The Apple Family, and The Gabriels, mealtime at The Michaels is among the most gratifying experiences I’ve had. Home baked bread, local cheeses, and Kate’s crepes are all divine, though by the end of the evening they’ve hardly been touched. Still, it’s a meal befitting a Chekhovian toast.

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An Enchanted April ****

By: Paulanne Simmons

November 8, 2019: The Enchanted April, British writer Elizabeth von Arnim’s novel inspired by a month-long holiday to the Italian Riviera, was a best seller in 1923. Set in a 15th century castle, the novel focuses on four women who, sometime in the 1920s, get out of their ruts and leave the rain in England for the sunny Mediterranean.

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Soft Power ****, Is This A Room ***, Bella Bella ****

The company of “Soft Power”

By: David Sheward

November 6, 2019: Soft Power, the gloriously messy but idea-packed new musical from two of our most vital and prolific theater artists, David Henry Hwang and Jeanine Tesori, is anything but soft. The title refers to countries’ gaining world dominance through cultural influence rather than military hardware and muscle flexing. Hwang’s hilariously satiric and complex book also addresses the 2016 election, ethnic stereotyping, romantic comedies, musical theater conventions, hate crimes, and China’s relationship with the US. Yeah, it’s a lot to take in, but the creators and their inventive director Leigh Silverman, address all of these issues and more in a fast-paced, funny yet deep concoction which, unlike most musicals, actually makes you think while it entertains you.

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Dr. Ride’s American Beach House **1/2

Marga Gomez, Erin Markey, Kristen Sieh

“When Harriet Met Sally”

By: Samuel L. Leiter

November 5, 2019: Ars Nova, one of New York’s premiere homes for innovative works (Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812, Underground Railroad Game), is now offering something a bit more conventional but nonetheless typically offbeat. It’s a quirky, 90-minute comedy by Liza Birkenmeier called Dr. Ride’s American Beach House, directed by Katie Brook. The audience laughed regularly but I remained stuck in another dimension.  

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Seared ****, The Michaels ****

Raúl Esparza, W. Tré Davis, Krysta Rodriguez, David Mason “Seared”

 By: David Sheward

November 2, 2019: “People suck. Only food is real,” rails Harry, the temperamental genius chef, in Theresa Rebeck’s riotous comedy Seared atMCC Theater. Harry is engaged in one of many contentious debates on the purity of his gastronomic art over commercial viability with the more practical Mike, his partner in a small restaurant in trendy Park Slope, Brooklyn. He’s stating his essential dilemma: life would be perfect if he didn’t have to deal with his fellow man and could just be left alone to cook. This is one of the better plays by the prolific Rebeck. The central conflict of a great but difficult artist against the realities of business is scarcely fresh, but her zesty dialogue and spot-on characterization gives a tasty tang to a familiar dish.  

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