Scott Siegel’s March Birthday Show ****

By: Paulanne Simmons

March 9, 2020: We all like birthday parties. But Scott Siegel’s idea of a birthday bash is unique. Every month Siegel creates, directs and hosts a concert celebrating famous songs by famous people born in that month. The event takes place at Feinstein’s/54 below, and it features many performers who are well-known in their own right. The superb Ross Patterson is at the piano.

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Anatomy of a Suicide ***, Cambodian Rock Band ***, The Unsinkable Molly Brown ***

Carla Gugino and Ava Briglia in “Anatomy of a Suicide”

By: David Sheward

March 8, 2020: Fractured narratives are featured in two recent Off-Broadway offerings depicting how families of severe trauma victims cope—or don’t—with their personal tragedies. Three generations of suicidal depression play out simultaneously in Alice Birch’s Anatomy of a Suicide at Atlantic Theater Company after a run at London’s Royal Court, while Laureen Yee’s Cambodian Rock Band, at Signature Theater Company following multiple regional stagings, traces the Khmer Rouge’s brutal legacy on a former rock musician and his daughter. In both plays the storyline twists and turns, sometimes even shatters, occasionally resulting in confusion, but mainly inducing the unsettling, disturbing effects of their respective sources of psychological damage. These are not comfortable pieces of theater, but they are affecting and memorable.

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Cambodian Rock Band ***, Suicide Forest ***

Signature Theatre Cambodian Rock Band By Lauren Yee Directed By Chay Yew Songs By Dengue Fever

By: Isa Goldberg

March 7, 2020: Lauren Yee’s new musical, Cambodian Rock Band at the Signature Theatre introduces a style of popular music that emerged around the country’s capital, Phnom Penh, in the 1960s and ‘70s. A mix of traditional Cambodian music with the jukebox songs American soldiers introduced to Vietnam, along with influences from Europe and Latin America, it defined a flourishing musical movement. 

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About Love **1/2

Will Pomerantz (standing center) and Nancy Harrow (seated center) with the company of “About Love”

By: Samuel L. Leiter

“Summer of ‘33”

March 4, 2020: In 1860, the great Russian writer Ivan Turgenev wrote a semiautobiographical novella called First Love that beautifully captured the agony and ecstasy of a teenage boy’s sexual and romantic coming of age. While on vacation with his parents, a boy falls in love with a beautiful, older woman only for his heart to be broken. Even after he grows up, the memory of that first rush of longing and its poignant outcome remains with him so indelibly he’s compelled to put it down in writing. 

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No Strings ***

Annabelle Fox, Luke Hamilton, Cameron Bond

By: Paulanne Simmons

March 1, 2020: For many people, the most significant fact about the 1962 musical, No Strings, is that it has the only Broadway score for which Richard Rodgers wrote both the music and the lyrics. In fact, the book was written by Samuel A. Taylor (more famous for screenplays for films such as Vertigo and The Eddy Duchin Story), and was arguably the first Broadway musical to address the Civil Rights movement that was about to coalesce in the 1963 March on Washington.

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West Side Story ****

Isaac Powell, Shereen Pimentel

By: David Sheward

February 23, 2020: When it was announced controversial director Ivo van Hove would be staging a revival of  the beloved West Side Story, you could practically hear the screams of musical theater purists. While many classic tuners have undergone significant reinterpretation—My Fair Lady and Oklahoma! being the latest—the classic street-gang remake of Romeo and Juliet has never been altered in a major way. Since its 1957 opening, all four of its previous Broadway revivals, as well as numerous touring companies, have featured Jerome Robbins’ original choreography. Robbins also directed all of those revivals expect for the one in 2009 (he died in 1998). That last one was staged by Arthur Laurents, the author of the book and his staging retained most of Robbins’ concepts. Van Hove has turned such non-musical classics as The Little Foxes, A Streetcar Named Desire, A View From The Bridge, and The Crucible inside out, so a radical reimagining of this firmly established favorite was in the offing. Then news leaked during rehearsals that there would be no intermission and the charming “I Feel Pretty” and the “Somewhere” ballet would be cut, eliciting further moans of despair from the traditionalists. Something was coming but would it be something good?

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A Soldier’s Play ****

Rob Demery, J. Alphonse Nicholson, McKinley Belcher III

By: Isa Goldberg

February 20, 2020: Charles Fuller’s 1982 Pulitzer Prize winning drama, A Soldier’s Play, finally makes its Broadway debut. An intense murder mystery that digs deep into the racism in our country, has found its day.

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Boom ***1/2

Rick Miller

By: Isa Goldberg

February 20, 2020: An unusually engaging piece of theater, Boom, at 59E59 St Theaters takes on the older generation from a Gen Xer’s point of view. That is the perspective of the Writer/Director/Performer Rick Miller. 

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Happy Birthday Doug ****

Drew Droege

By: Patrick Christiano

Michael Urie presents Drew Droege’s hysterical solo show, Happy Birthday Doug, at the SoHo Playhouse. 

February 16, 2020:  Happy Birthday Doug, a very funny and frequently insightful new one man-show by Drew Droege, RuPaul’s “AJ and the Queen” on Nexflix, opened at the SoHo Playhouse on Sunday.  Happy Birthday Doug is a follow up to Droege’s 2018 hit, Bright Colors and Bold Patterns directed by Michael Urie, which The New York Times hailed as “hilarious” during its five-month run at the SoHo Playhouse in 2018. The show was captured by BroadwayHD for its streaming platform. That time the setting was a gay wedding in Palm Springs, this time it’s a gay birthday celebration in the back room of a wine bar in the Silverlake section of Los Angeles. 

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Barb Jungr: Bob, Brel and Me *****

Barb Jungr

By: Paulanne Simmons

February 17, 2020: Several times a year, British chanteuse Barb Jungr comes to New York City. On those occasions she lights up the cabaret stage like few other performers. You can fall in love with Jungr because of her tremendous talent as a raconteur, her wicked sense of humor, and her insightful jazz and blues inflected interpretations of familiar and not so familiar songs. Or you can just thrill to her beautifully expressive voice that can be tender, vulnerable or furious.

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Hamlet ****

Ruth Negga, Fiona Bell

Hamlet: Dane in Pain

By: JK Clarke

February 16, 2020: There’s a moment in the Gate Theatre of Dublin’s production of Hamlet (at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn through March 8) when one realizes there are some very different, very unorthodox, things going on in this play.

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Unmasked ****

Unmasked: The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber Premieres at Paper Mill Playhouse

By: Ellis Nassour

February 14, 2020 – In Unmasked: The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber, the jukebox revue having its world premiere at New Jersey’s Paper Mill Playhouse [22 Brookside Drive, Millburn] through March 1, the composer — one of the most successful of all time, isn’t physically present. However, via video feed in a way that could feel immensely intrusive but isn’t, he chats away in various settings, playing piano, and adding background to his and his lyricist collaborators’ thought process. As Lloyd Webber hovers over his vocally-gifted cast, often denigrating himself, he reveals a rarely-seen charm and sense of humor.  

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Medea ** 1/2, The Confession of Lily Dare ****

Rose Byrne, Bobby Cannavale in “Medea”

By: David Sheward

February 12, 2020: Euripides’ Medea, the unforgettable story of a scorned woman whose thirst for revenge drives her to slaughter her own children, has reverberated through the ages, transcending time and culture. Along with Hedda Gabbler, it is the great role actresses long to play. Judith Anderson, Zoe Caldwell, Diana Rigg and Fiona Shaw drenched Broadway in blood, with the first three winning Tony Awards. Maria Callas starred in a film edition. Neil LaBute and Michael-John LaChiusa have created modern versions and just this past summer, Luis Alfaro transported the tale from ancient Greece to modern Queens while addressing immigration issues in Mojada.

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Medea ***

Gabriel Amoroso, Bobby Cannavale, Rose Byrne, Emeka Guindo

By: Paulanne Simmons

February 12, 2020: In Medea, a tragedy written by Euripides in the 5th century B.C.E., the eponymous princess from Colchis marries Jason, a Greek, who leaves her for a princess from Corinth. Medea takes revenge by killing the children she had with Jason as well as his new wife. Over the following centuries, the play has been interpreted from a psychological, political, cultural and feminist point of view.

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Chekhov/Tolstoy: Love Stories **

Katie Firth, Vinie Burrows

From Russia With Love

By: Samuel L. Leiter

February 10, 2020: The Mint Theater, founded in 1992, discovered its mission in 1995 when, as artistic director Jonathan Banks’s bio notes, it began focusing on “lost or neglected plays” that deserved another hearing. Over the years, it has had noteworthy successes, as with Hindle Wakes and London Wall,but has just as often stumbled, occasionally making one wonder why particular plays were chosen for resuscitation, or why a better job couldn’t have been done to bring them back to life. Often, even when the work was disappointing, however, one was grateful for the chance to see old plays one might never otherwise have seen. Not so with, though, with Chekhov/Tolstoy: Love Stories.

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