The Lightning Thief *** 1/2

Chris McCarrell

Theatreworks NYC presents a new version of The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical at Lucille Lortel Theatre

By:  Patrick Christiano

Joe Tracz adapted the book for The Lightning Thief from the best-selling young adult fiction series of the same name by Rick Riordan, and Rob Rokicki, who wrote the music and lyrics. The musical presented by Theatreworks NYC, a group that has produced over 130 children oriented shows since 1961, and directed by Stephen Brackett is a fast- paced fun filled delight. Low budget, yet thoroughly entertaining the evening for children of all ages centers on a young man, Percy Jackson intensely played by Chris McCarrell, who suddenly realizes he has powers he can’t fully control, when he discovers he is the son of Poseidon, the god of the sea. . 

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The Little Foxes *****

Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon in “The Little Foxes”

By: Paulanne Simmons

It’s an old play. And it could have been written yesterday. Lillian Hellman penned The Little Foxes in 1939. Set in a small town in Alabama in 1900, it chronicles the struggles of the avaricious Hubbards over who will control the family business. They are ruthless, deceitful and conniving. They know they will inherit the earth. And if you look around today, you may be convinced they are right.

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Daniel’s Husband **1/2

Ryan Spahn, Lou Liberatore, Leland Wheeler, Matthew Montelongo

Primary stages presents sentimental drama by Michael McKeever at Cherry Lane Theater.

By: Patrick Christiano

Playwright Michael McKeever tackles weighty thought provoking territory in his latest play, Daniel’s Husband, about the relationship of a successful gay couple, Daniel an architect played by Ryan Spahn, and his partner Mitchell, a writer of gay fiction played by Matthew Montelongo. For the past seven-years the two men have lived in their perfectly appointed home, which Daniel designed and where the play is set. Their story begins amusingly with some witty banter just after a dinner that Daniel, also an excellent chef has prepared for Mitchell’s agent Barry, an aging gay man played by Lou Liberatore, and his latest conquest Trip, a 23 year- old special home care aid played by Leland Wheeler. 

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Groundhog Day ***** Hello, Dolly! *****

Andy Karl in #Groundhog Day”

By: David Sheward

The future and past of musical theater are being triumphantly celebrated this week on Broadway with two exhilarating new productions. Groundhog Day, based on the 1993 film comedy starring Bill Murray, combines an innovative premise with a fresh, eclectic score influenced by many genres, while Hello, Dolly! is a sterling example of the Golden Age of Tuners employing a familiar template and tropes so well that it seems brand new.

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Fragmented Frida ****

By: Paulanne Simmons

Considering how few women, until modern times, have become artists, it’s easy to see why Frida Kahlo is such a fascinating figure. Not only is Kahlo noteworthy for her self-portraits that link pre-Columbian and Christian symbols, she was also praised by the likes of André Breton who considered her a feminine force within the Surrealist Movement. And she was the wife of the famed Mexican muralist Diego Rivera.

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War Paint **** Little Foxes ****

Cynthia Nixon as Birdie and Laura Linney as Regina in “The Little Foxes”

By: David Sheward

The new musical War Paint and the revival of Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes (1939) featuring alternating leading ladies represent more than just two spectacular rounds of dueling divas—though that would be reason enough for rejoicing. Both productions afford fascinating takes on the shifting role of powerful women and how they are portrayed in popular media.

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Present Laughter ***1/2

Kevin Kline

Kevin Kline shines as the aging star at the center of Noel Coward’s clever drawing room comedy.

By: Patrick Christiano

As soon as the curtain rises on David Zinn’s, eclectically detailed set of a London townhouse replete with a baby grand piano and an elegant staircase you know you are in for a stylish treat. This is the sophisticated drawing room of Gary Essendine, the aging stage star at the center of Noel Coward’s 1939 comedy the playwright dashed off for himself. And when Kevin Kline in a silk dressing gown finally enters and descends from the top of the stairs as Gary, a role he was born to play, the evening moves into another gear and escalates with charming intensity until the final chaotic fadeout.

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Present Laughter ***

Kristine Nielsen, Kate Burton, Kevin Kline

By: Isa Goldberg

With Kevin Kline and Kate Burton as the happily divorced couple at the center of the Noel Coward revival, Present Laughter, the entertainment is abundantly frothy. As you may recall, Gary Essendine (Klein) is a famous British actor, philanderer, and narcissist.  His ex-wife, Liz (Burton), does everything for him, including, literally, helping him keep his pants on. Incidentally, she is lovely in the role, exuding a warmth and vitality that have amplified with maturity. And Klein clowns, broods, mimics and performs the physical pratfalls for which he, like Gary, are so well known.

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The Glass Menagerie ***

Joe Mantello, Sally Field

Sam Gold’s ill-conceived staging at Broadway’s Belasco strips Williams’ classic of lyricism and more.

By: Patrick Christiano

Near the start of The Glass Menagerie Joe Mantello, as the story’s narrator Tom Wingfield, informs the audience, with the stage lights fully on, that what is to follow is a memory play and nothing is realistic, indicating his bare surroundings to emphasis the point.  Apparently, this is the concept Sam Gold intended for his audacious deconstruction of William’s classic 1944 breakthrough play. Nothing is authentic and the result, despite Sally Field’s gallant performance, is an unconvincing evening that fails to engage with emotional impact.

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War Paint ***1/2

Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole in “War Paint”

By: Isa Goldberg

That the women who portray Helena Rubenstein and Elizabeth Arden in Doug Wright’s new musical, War Paint on Broadway, are titans in their own right, is the obvious understatement. Patti LuPone, as the vampire-like Jewish immigrant (Rubenstein), and Christine Ebersole, as the Episcopalian socialite (Arden), each reveal the vulnerability of these two over achievers, who created an industry. Had their names been Henry Ford, they indeed would be remembered in just that way. In their case, however, it takes Wright to rediscover them.

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Sweat ****1/2

Johanna Day, Michelle Wilson, Carlo Alban, Alison Wright

By: Isa Goldberg

“Number 1, I’m representing for women, and No. 2, I’m representing for playwrights of color,” Lynn Nottage expressed in an interview with The Los Angeles Times, following the announcement of her second Pulitzer win for drama. Indeed, Nottage is the first woman in history to receive two Pulitzers.

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The Hairy Ape ***** – Sweat ***1/2 – The Play That Goes Wrong ***

By: David Sheward

There’s more than a tinge of irony in the fact that two current NYC productions depict the  travails of the American working class and none of the characters could probably afford the price of a ticket. Aside from this economic consideration, both The Hairy Ape and Sweat offer insightful looks at their struggling subjects.

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The Play That Goes Wrong ***

Jonathan Sayer, Greg Tannahill, Henry Lewis, Dave Hearn, Charlie Russell

Transfer of West End farce opens at Lyceum Theatre.

By: Patrick Christiano

The setting is an isolated mansion in a snowstorm with the owner’s corpse in the drawing room, and his killer at large. Enter a bumbling group of actors, who create a manic slapstick whodunit that is relentlessly hysterical, or is it?  One thing for sure the London import is relentlessly well performed. The entire ensemble is brilliant as they pull out all the stops in a physical comedy that never lets the air out for a second while delivering a persistent attack on our funny bone.

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Amelie ***

Adam Chanler-Berat, Phillipa Soo

Phillipa Soo stars in musical adaptation of beloved French film at the Walter Kerr Theatre.

By: Patrick Christiano

The French film Amelie enchanted audiences in 2001 winning five Oscar nominations, including one for Best Foreign Language Film. And now last week a whimsical new musical adaptation, starring Tony nominee Phillipa Soo (Hamilton) in the title role, opened on Broadway directed by Pam MacKinnon with a lovely, yet bland score by Daniel Messe that features precious lyrics by Nathan Tysen.

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Present Laughter *** – Amelie **** – How to Transcend a Happy Marriage ***

Kevin Kline, Kate Burton “Present Laughter”

By: David Sheward

Charm and whimsy are the main ingredients in three recent theatrical offerings on and Off-Broadway. Each has its own unique tastes and flavors—one is a reliable old favorite, the second a delightfully frothy new dessert and the third a strangely interesting souffle of emotions, ideas, and observations on modern life.

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