Come from Away *** – Idomeneo ***

Come From Away

By: David Sheward

Is it appropriate for a Broadway musical to address the staggering impact of the 2001 attacks on America? Come from Away, the new Canadian tuner, answers with a resounding yes. Husband and wife librettist-songwriters Irene Sankoff and David Hein have solved the problem of their super-heavy subject matter by focusing on a positive aspect of the tragedy. When terrorists were using planes as bombs targeting the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, several hundred flights were diverted to Gander, a tiny town in New Foundland where thousands of passengers had to remain for days. How the citizens and their guests from around the world coped with this logistical nightmare forms the main thread of the show with several individual story-strands interwoven throughout. The New Foundlanders respond to the demands with grace and humor and the panicked “plane people” gradually warm to them.

Read more >

The Glass Menagerie ** – Sweeney Todd **** – Man from Nebraska ****

Joe Mantello and Sally Field in The Glass Menagerie

By: David Sheward

“Yes, I have tricks in my pocket, I have things up my sleeve,” says Tom, the melancholy narrator of Tennessee Williams’ beloved The Glass Menagerie. “But I am the opposite of a stage magician. He gives you illusion that has the appearance of truth. I give you truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion.” In the new Broadway revival, the seventh since its 1945 premiere, director Sam Gold has stripped this delicate memory play of the magic Tom evokes. The stage is bare, the walls of the Belasco Theatre are exposed, there are few props, and Adam Silverman’s lighting is as unforgiving as the naked lightbulb which exposes Blanche DuBois’ true age.

Read more >

Sunset Boulevard ****1/2

Glenn Close

By: Isa Goldberg

When Glenn Close created the role of Norma Desmond in the original 1994 Broadway production of Sunset Boulevard, it was something of a camp Hollywood event. Her oversized gestures and vibrant voice seemed like a humorous counterpoint to the image of the fading silent film star, which she portrayed.

Read more >

The Penitent ***1/2

Rebecca Pidgeon Chirs Bauer

By: Isa Goldberg

Victim or victimizer? In David Mamet’s new play The Penitent, off Broadway at The Atlantic Theater Company, a mass murderer, whom we never meet, is the central figure. But he’s not the one who is on trial here, anyway. It’s his psychiatrist, Charles (Chris Bauer), who becomes the object of the inquisition that surrounds the murder of ten innocent people. In the metaphorical sense, Charles, his wife Kath (Rebecca Pidgeon), and his attorney (Jordan Lage) count foremost among the triage. Their lives are ruined.

Read more >

If I Forget ***

Tasha Lawrence, Jeremy Shamos, Maria Dizzia, Larry Bryggman, Kate Walsh, Gary Wilmes, Seth Steinberg

By: Isa Goldberg

In Steven Levenson’s If I Forget, the dysfunctional American family stands at the verge of self-destruction – with no safety net in sight. Billed as a comedy, it doesn’t take long before this tale, produced by the Roundabout Theatre at the Laura Pels Theatre, starts to sound like the Book of Job.

Read more >

Man from Nebraska ****

Annette O’Toole, Reed Birney

By: Paulanne Simmons

In Tracy Letts’ quiet but luminous Man from Nebraska, Reed plays Ken Carpenter, an unassuming family man who wakes up one night and discovers he’s lost his faith in God. Neither his wife, Nancy (Annette O’Toole), nor his married daughter, Ashley (Annika Boras), can help him. But the young Reverend Todd (William Ragsdale) suggests he may need a change of atmosphere and time away from his wife. So Ken decides to return to London, where he was stationed while he was in the service. 

Read more >

Audrey Appleby ***1/2

Audrey Appleby

Ladies Cheap Cocktails: Concoctions and Confessions ***1/2

By: Paulanne Simmons

Audrey Appleby may live in Greenwich, Connecticut, but, to judge by her cabaret show, Ladies Cheap Cocktails: Concoctions and Confessions, she’s not exactly your typical soccer mom. Wearing sexy black lace, she took the stage at Cafe Noctambulo at Pangea and backed by the Daryl Kojak Sextet, sang in French, Spanish, Italian and English. What’s more, she wrote many of these songs herself.

Read more >

Sunday in the Park with George **** – Linda ***1/2

By: David Sheward

“Stop worrying if your vision/Is new/Let others make that decision/They usually do/You just keep moving on.” When Stephen Sondheim wrote these lyrics for Sunday in the Park with George (1984), he was faced with a creative crisis similar to that of his lead character, the revolutionary impressionist painter Georges Seurat. The legendary composer-lyricist had just broke with his longtime collaborator Harold Prince after their short-lived production Merrily We Roll Along.

Read more >

Orphans ****

Alex Montaldo (Phillip), Gregg Prosser (Harold)

By: Paulanne Simmons

Lyle Kessler’s 1983 play, Orphans, features three actors in some of the most intense moments you could ever expect to see onstage. The play premiered at The Matrix Theatre Company in Los Angeles. Since then it has been produced by Steppenwolf Theatre and on Broadway in 2013. 

Read more >

If I Forget ***1/2

Jeremy Shamos, Kate Walsh, Maria Dizzia

By: Paulanne Simmons

What’s the difference between a good family drama and soap opera? Depends on whom you ask. But for the most part, if a playwright can write really good dialogue and insert some meaningful observations on life, and the director can gather a cast of really good actors, it’s a safe bet the play will avoid being cast into the unredeemable world of daytime drama.

Read more >

Sunset Boulevard *** – Everybody ***

Glenn Close

By: David Sheward

Most Broadway revivals of classical musicals featuring the original stars have been museum pieces vainly attempting to recreate the first incarnation’s magic. The resurrections of Yul Brynner in The King and I, Carol Channing in Hello, Dolly! and Angela Lansbury in Mame are some examples of this waxwork genre.

Read more >

Evening at the Talkhouse ***

Matthew Broderick. Claudia Shear, Larry Pine, Michael Tucker

By: Isa Goldberg

Entering the soiree at the Signature Center off Broadway, we’re greeted with cocktails (colored water) and some sugary snacks. Indeed, EVENING AT THE TALK HOUSE, written by Wallace Shawn, who also plays Dick, one of the central characters, is a gathering of theater’s most illustrious. We meet Robert (Matthew Broderick), Annette (Claudia Shear), Tom (Larry Pine), Nellie (Jill Eikenberry), and Ted (John Epperson), among others. The occasion is the 10th anniversary of a show they had all worked on, and which had been a flop. 

Read more >

Fade ***

Annie Dow, Eddie Martinez.

By: Isa Goldberg

Set in “Trump’s America”, Tanya Saracho’s new play, FADE, produced by Primary Stages at the Cherry Lane Theatre, is a soulful, engrossing two-person drama. Portraying the newcomer on a staff of television writers in LA, Lucia (Annie Dow) befriends the only person who will give her the time of day.  That’s Abel (Edie Martinez), a janitor who wears his tough edge with noticeable tattoos. A Mexican American worker, Abel sticks to himself, until he gets swept up in Lucia’s overtures of friendship.

Read more >

The Great Comet of 1812 ****

Josh Groban

By Isa Goldberg

Seeing THE GREAT COMET OF 1812 for the third time, and now with Josh Groban as Pierre at the Imperial Theatre on Broadway, I found the story itself so much clearer. Based on a segment of Tolstoy’s WAR AND PEACE, the musical’s plot is dense, and the relationships between the characters so tangled, that the story gets lost in the epic scope of the show. While its impact lies in this sense of endearing mystery, the underlying human experience remains inexplicable and otherworldly.

Read more >