Romeo and Bernadette ****

Anna Kostakis, Nikita Burshteyn

By: Paulanne Simmons

January 26, 2019: It may seem a little difficult to imagine Romeo and Juliet as a comedy. But Michael Saltzman’s Romeo and Bernadette: A Musical Tale of Verona and Brooklyn proves that with creativity and imagination, Shakespeare’s iconic tragedy can be turned into a comic tour de force.

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Grand Horizons ***

James Cromwell, Jane Alexander i

By: David Sheward

January 25, 2019: Few performers can endow the simple culinary acts of making a sandwich or ladling gravy with as much meaning as Jane Alexander. The reserved, precise manner she pours out the brown sauce for mashed potatoes or the laser-beam side-eye she gives a non-communicative spouse as she spreads peanut butter speak of every slight and grievance in a 50-year marriage. These seemingly minimal actions reveal volumes about Nancy, a 70-ish woman on the brink of a major transition, in Bess Wohl’s uneven but blisteringly funny new play Grand Horizons, presented by Second Stage on Broadway at the Helen Hayes Theatre. 

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My Name Is Lucy Barton ****, The Woman In Black **1/2

Laura Linney in “My Name is Lucy Barton”

By: David Sheward

January 23, 2019: Adapting a novel to the stage is a tricky business. A play needs to have a central action  executed within a playing time of a few hours while a novel can be a rumination on multiple themes over hundreds of pages. Even a short novel can dive into a character’s interior in a way a play can not. Theater is action, literature is thought. My Name Is Lucy Barton, Rona Munro’s stage version of Elizabeth Strout’s slim but powerful novel now presented by Manhattan Theater Club after a run in London, manages to combine the two strains in a moving evening featuring the luminous Laura Linney in a stunning solo—yet dual— performance.

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Tina *****

Adrienne Warren

By: Isa Goldberg

 January 23, 2019: “That voice that come tumbling out that mouth of yourn is like fire and heaven all at once,” a rotund, mystical, native American-looking woman (Gran Georgeanna) tells her granddaughterAnna Mae Bullock.  For Tina Turner fans that is a far gone conclusion.

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My Name is Lucy Barton *****

Laura Linney

By: Isa Goldberg

January 23, 2019: Laura Linney, truly an elixir of stage chemistry, commands a full 90-minutes of storytelling in the Manhattan Theatre Club’s production, My Name is Lucy Barton.  It’s beguiling to hear this master story teller convince us how essential it is to tell our own stories. 

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The Woman in Black ****

Ben Porter in “Woman In Black”

By: Paulanne Simmons

January 23, 2019: The horror story, The Woman in Black, has a long and distinguished history. It began as a 1983 novel by Susan Hill and spawned two films. The first was a British teleplay that premiered on Christmas Eve, 1989. The second was released in 2012 and featured Daniel Radcliffe as Arthur Kipps, a young lawyer who is sent to a remote English town to review documents left by the recently deceased Alice Drablow.

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Forbidden Broadway at York ****

Immanuel Houston, Aline Mayagoitia, Jenny Lee Stern, Chris Collins-Pisano, Joshua Turchin

Tony Award winning parodist Gerard Alessandrini is back with a hilarious all new Forbidden Broadway: The Next Generation!

By: Patrick Christiano

January 20, 2020: After a five-year hiatus Gerard Alessandrini is back with a long-awaited new edition of Forbidden Broadway. For the uninitiated Alessandrini and his troupe of fantastic performers have been spoofing Broadway musicals for 38 years with consistently hilarious results, garnering a somewhat cult following and raves from the critics. The new show is called Forbidden Broadway: The Next Generation, and this time out Alessandrini’s timely send-ups take aim beyond just theater to film and television, as well.

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How To Load A Musket ***

Carolyn Braver, David J. Cork

“Visions of History”

By: Samuel L. Leiter

January 16, 2020: It’s been six years since Row after Row, Jessica Dickey’s fictionalized play about historical battle re-enactors, was produced at City Center Stage II. Apparently, the zeitgeist is now ripe for someone else to try dramatizing this unusual, surprisingly popular hobby, giving it a more thoughtful sociopolitical foundation. 

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Harry Townsend’s Last Stand ****

Len Cariou, Craig Bierko

By: Isa Goldberg

January 9, 2020: The darkness inhabiting the season Off Broadway is ominous with forebodings of cataclysmic events such as we are informed of daily. Actually, it’s more than just darkness. Communing with and about death feels all pervasive in so many productions, A Thin Place (Playwrights Horizons), and The Greater Clements (Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater) among them.

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The Inheritance **1/2

John Benjamin Hickey, Kyle Soller, Arturo Luis Soria, Darryl Gene Daughtry Jr., Dylan Frederick and Kyle Harris

By: Paulanne Simmons

January 6, 2020: Somewhere in Matthew Lopez’s 7-hour epic, The Inheritance, there’s a fairly good two or two-and-a-half-hour play. Not a great play, or a terribly innovative play. But a play that has a plot and a few interesting characters. A play that doesn’t need a rest time between Part I and Part II.

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The Thin Place ****

Kelly McAndrew, Randy Danson, Triney Sandoval, Emily Cass McDonnell

By: David Sheward

December 30, 2019: Hot new playwright Lucas Hnath takes a great risk by naming his latest play The Thin Place. Its plot and premise could be taken as gossamer light and critics could easily take cheap shots employing the skinny title as emblematic of the work itself. But this haunting ghost story—pardon the pun—contains an unsettling power, enhanced by the subtle work of director Les Waters and an expert cast.

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Jagged Little Pill ***

Antonio Cipriano, Lauren Patten, Elizabeth Stanley, Celia Rose Gooding, Sean Allan Krill, Derek Klena and Kathryn Gallagher

By: Isa Goldberg

December 27, 2019: Take the incomprehensibility of everyday life and swallow it whole. That is the confection behind Jagged Little Pill, the new musical based on Alanis Morissette and Glen Ballard’s 1995 concept album of the same title. No spoiler alert there, it’s one of the all-time record-breaking albums. 

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Greater Clements ****, Sing Street **1/2

Nina Hellman, Judith Ivey, Ken Narasaki, Edmund Donovan and Andrew Garman in “Greater Clements”

By: David Sheward

December 25, 2019: Crushing economic forces devastate two communities in a pair of Off-Broadway productions. How the characters deal with these financial blows vary as does the level of credibility and connection. Samuel D. Hunter continues to document the disenfranchised of his home state Idaho in Greater Clements at Lincoln Center’s Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater, while some of the creative team behind the hit Once revisit the same locale (depressing Dublin) for another screen-to-stage examination of music transforming blighted lives with Sing Street at New York Theater Workshop.

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Judgment Day *** 1/2

Everything is Connected

By: Samuel L. Leiter

December 24, 2019: If you saw the recent movie, Marriage Story, you probably heard Adam Driver’s character, an Off-Broadway director, say he was doing a play by Ödön von Horváth. Ödön von who, you ask? If you’d like a more practical introduction to this Austrian playwright than a trip to the Internet, I suggest you visit the Park Avenue Armory for British director Richard Jones’s (The Hairy Ape)eye-boggling, more-is-more staging of Horváth’s 1937 play, Judgment Day, in a world-premiere adaptation by Christopher Shinn. 

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Greater Clements ***, Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven ***1/2

Judith Ivey and Ken Narasaki in “Greater Clements”

By: Paulanne Simmons

December 18, 2019: Greater Clements, by Samuel D. Hunter, directed by Davis McCallum; and Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven by Stephen Adly Guirgis, directed by John Ortiz have both opened this season, the first at Atlantic Theater Company’s Linda Gross Theater, the second at Lincoln Center’s Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater. Both are about three hours long But the shows have much more in common.

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