Emma and Max ***

Zonya Love, Matt Servitto, Ilana Becker

By: Samuel L. Leiter

October 16, 2018:  Emma and Max is the playwriting debut of controversial, independent filmmaker Todd Solondz (Welcome to the Dollhouse, Happiness), who also directed. Part of the Flea Theater’s “Color Brave” season, it’s a well-acted, intermittently interesting, but overly garrulous, tortoise-slow, oddly shaped play satirizing (with too-few laughs) the racial attitudes of white so-called liberals, as well as the nasty effects—including on raising kids and wedlock—of white privilege.

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The Nap ****

Max Gordon Moore, Johanna Day, Alexandra Billings

By Isa Goldberg

October 14, 2018:  Watching a bunch of grifters, in The Nap, is a guilty pleasure because it’s silly, and delightfully inconsequential. It’s a comedy well timed for the zeitgeist.

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A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur ***

Kristine Nielsen, Jean Lichty, Annette O’Toole

By: David Sheward

October 12, 2018:  Even in his minor works, Tennessee Williams tenderly exposed the desperate longings of life’s dreamers and poets. In the age of Trump, they might be called losers because they fall between the cracks and do not possess the steely aggression to pull themselves out of their tiny tenements or expand their narrowly-defined lives. But this greatest of all American playwrights had compassion for these lost people and gave voice to their need for fulfillment and companionship. La Femme Theater Productions offers a glimpse of the dramatists’ fading but still moving storytelling power with a sturdy production of the delicate, rarely-seen A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur, presented Off-Broadway in 1979 and one of the last of Williams’ works to premiere in New York before his death in 1983.

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Hitler’s Tasters **

MaryKathryn Kopp, Kaitlin Paige Longoria, Hallie Griffin

By: Samuel L. Leiter

October 9, 2018:  For anyone in Nazi Germany during World War II, when food supplies were short and rationing in place, getting a job where you were guaranteed three delicious meals a day, even if they were vegetarian, must have seemed highly desirable. Especially if your only job responsibility was to eat those meals. On the other hand, since the purpose of the job was to ensure that the food, intended for Adolph Hitler, wasn’t poisoned, one could be forgiven for having reservations about gobbling it up.

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Bernhardt/Hamlet ****

Jason Butler Harner and Janet McTeer

By: Isa Goldberg 

October 13, 2018:  One should not be fooled by the title of the Roundabout Theatre’s current production, Bernhardt/Hamlet, by Theresa Rebeck. Regardless of the title, the soul gripping center of this show is Janet McTeer, and what a whirlwind she is.

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A Star Is Born ****1/2

Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga Light the Sky in A Star Is Born

By: Ellis Nassour

October 8, 2018:  Bradley Cooper and Lady Gage are no strangers to having their names in lights, but in A Star Is Born, [Warner Bros./M-G-M; 135 minutes] their names explode in such magnitude that they light up the sky. Except for a few moments of homage, it would be theatrically incorrect to call the just released A Star Is Born an updated remake of its three predecessors with the same title. Four-time Oscar nominee Cooper, as director, co-writer, and co-producer, has created a Star that won’t eclipse the powerful 1937 dramatic original or 1954 musical remake but which becomes a cinema legend of its own. In fact, it’s poised to become an instant classic. As far as the edgy 1976 box office blockbuster musical remake with the same title – the verdict is still out.

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Bernhardt/Hamlet *** The Nap ****

Janet McTeer in “BernhardtHamlet”

By: David Sheward

October 6, 2018:  The fall Broadway season opens with two new plays centered on an incomparable artist pitted against the forces of compromise. One has loftier ambitions and only partially succeeds, the other just wants to show us a good time and lands on the money. The former is Bernhardt/Hamlet from Roundabout Theatre Company at the American Airlines, Theresa Rebeck’s examination of the legendary stage actress in her revolutionary attempt to play Shakespeare’s most challenging role. The latter is The Nap, Richard Bean’s raucously dark comedy on the plot to rig a snooker championship presented by Manhattan Theatre Club after a hit run in London.

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The Evolution of Mann ***

Leslie Hiatt, Max Crumm, Allie Trimm

By: Samuel L. Leiter

October 4, 2018:  Musicals about New York singles looking for love in all the right places are not quite as common as plays about aging folks with Alzheimer’s but there are enough of them to qualify as a mini-genre of their own. The newest addition to the club, which includes titles like Company, Significant Other, First Date, and Marry Me a Little, is Douglas J. Cohen (music and lyrics) and Dan Elish’s (book and lyrics) The Evolution of Mann, a moderately well performed but ultimately tired rehash of familiar tropes, with too few original bones to qualify it as a member in good standing.

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Bernhardt/Hamlet ***

Janet McTeer, Brittany Bradford

By: Paulanne Simmons

 The great French actress Sarah Bernhardt enjoyed a life that was as dramatic onstage as it was off. The daughter of a high-class Jewish prostitute and (probably) the son of a wealthy merchant from Le Havre, Bernhardt possessed theatrical talents that were discovered at a convent school.

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Because I Could Not Stop: An Encounter with Emily Dickinson **

Angelica Page

By: Samuel L. Leiter

September 27, 2018:  As indicated by the title of this dully undramatic but musically interesting play—well, not really a “play”—Emily Dickinson is the latest 19th-century artist receiving a biographical homage by the Ensemble for the Romantic Century (ERC). Their recent productions (all, like this one, directed by Don Sanders) have focused on such creative geniuses as painter Vincent Van Gogh (Van Gogh’s Ear) and composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky (Tchaikovsky: None But the Lonely Heart), the only examples of their work I’ve seen. (Works based on Arturo Toscanini and Hans Christian Andersen are scheduled for later in the season.) 

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Intractable Woman: A Theatrical Memo on Anna Politkovskaya ***

Nadine Malouf, Nicole Shalhoub, Stacey Yen

By: Samuel L. Leiter

September 25, 2018:  Regardless of the title, some audience members attending the Play Company’s production of Intractable Woman: A Theatrical Memo on Anna Politkovskaya may not know who this woman is or what she represents until a good way into Stefano Massini’s 2008 play, expertly translated from the Italian by Paula Wing.

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The True **1/2

Edie Falco, Michael McKean, Peter Scolari

By: David Sheward

September 22, 2018:  The opening moments of Sharr White’s new play The True, presented by The New Group at the Signature Center, are not particularly riveting and while there are occasional brief fireworks in the following hour and forty minutes, the tension does not reach the excitement level.

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Fiddler on the Roof ****1/2

Steven Skybell

By: Isa Goldberg

September 20, 2018:  Translated into numerous languages for performances the world over, Fiddler is a popular tale, about tradition. That is why this Yiddish language production, directed by the Oscar and Tony-Award winning Joel Grey, for the National Yiddish Theatre  at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, is especially rich.

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The True ***

Edie Falco and Michael McKean

By: Isa Goldberg

September 20, 2018:  The first time I saw Edie Falco on the screen, in the 1999 black and white indie, Judy Berlin, it was an arresting experience.  Beyond the eerily dark story of loneliness and alienation in a Long Island suburb, there was Falco in the titular role, cheerily, and awkwardly challenging the status quo, with her dream of being in the movies. In its way, it was a cuttingly comic performance.

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You and I ***

Timothy C. Gordwin and Elisabeth Preston

By: Samuel L. Leiter

September 14, 2018:  New York enjoys two Off-Broadway companies devoted to the resurrection of lost, forgotten, or neglected plays. One is the Mint Theatre, led by Jonathan Bank, and the other is the Metropolitan Playhouse, headed by Alex Roe. Interestingly, both were born in 1992.

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