Grand Illusions: Vitaly: An Evening Of Wonders ***

By: Samuel L. Leiter

June 21, 2018:  Shows featuring the work of talented magicians have become part and parcel of most recent theatre seasons, from the Las Vegas-style conjurations of multiple entertainers in The Illusionists: Live on Broadway to the more intimate trickeries of brilliant soloists like Ricky Jay or the dueling talents of Helder Guimarães and Derek DelGaudio (as in their Nothing to Hide).

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Judy Gold ****1/2

Judy Gold at West Side Comedy Club

By: Paulanne Simmons

June 21, 2018:  There’s a lot to be annoyed about these days. Just ask Judy Gold. In fact her whole catalogue of complaints was in hilarious display for Gold’s comedy special live recording at West Side Comedy club on June 18.

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The Most Painted Woman: All I Want Is One Night **1/2

Rachel Austin, Jessica Walker

By: Samuel L. Leiter

June 15, 2018:  I have a hunch that most knowledgeable New York theatregoers of a certain age, if asked to name the top French cabaret singers (i.e., chanteuses) of the 1930s and 1940s, would come up with such stars as Edith Piaf, Mistinguett, Josephine Baker, Arletty, and perhaps, among others, Lucienne Boyer, Rina Ketty, and Fréhel. One name that might not often be dropped, despite her once considerable fame, is that of Suzy Solidor (1900-1983), the subject of All I Want Is One Night, a humdrum musical biodrama, performed at 59E59 Theaters with most of the audience at tiny cabaret tables equipped with battery-operated candles.

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Fruit Trilogy ****

Liz Mikel, Eve Ensler, Kiersey Clemons, Mark Rosenblatt

By: Isa Goldberg

June 15, 2018:  Watching Eve Ensler’s, Fruit Trilogy, currently at the Lucille Lortel Theater, one feels as if they were entering an existential hell, as in Waiting for Godot. Only here the quest to be rescued from a terrible fate is massaged for a happy ending. And we all know about happy endings, in the corporeal sense.

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Dan Cody’s Yacht ***

Rick Holmes, Jordan Lage, Meredith Forlenza, Kristen Bush, Laura Kai Chen

By: Isa Goldberg

June 15, 2018:  Anthony Giardina’s new drama, Dan Cody’s Yacht at The Manhattan Theater Club, City Center Stage I, plays with the simplicity of boulevard comedy, while addressing complex issues of education and class, in America today. But it’s not just the divide between the wealthy and the poor that is being addressed here. More importantly, it’s about the divide between being real and genuine, versus getting away with easy answers.

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Half Time ***1/2

Georgia Engel, André De Shields, Lillias White, and Donna McKechnie in Half Time East Coast Premiere at Paper Mill Playhouse

By: Ellis Nassour

June 14, 2018 – There’re enough Tony winners among the creative team in the East Coast premiere of Jerry Mitchell’s production of the musical Half Time for you to expect a championship game.

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The Boys in the Band ***

Matt Bomer, Jim Parsons

By: David Sheward

June  13, 2018:  When The Boys in the Band, Mart Crowley’s groundbreaking play focusing on the gay experience, opened Off-Broadway in 1968, critics praised it as a sympathetic portrait of a persecuted sexual minority. But many reviewers tellingly revealed their bias. One expressed disgust at having to watch men dance together while another described the work as an accurate depiction of those suffering from a disease. The current revival at the Booth of this devastating artifact—the first one for Broadway after two major Off-Broadway stagings—shows how far we have come as far as gay acceptance goes. The director Joe Mantello, all of the producers,  and the entire nine-man cast are all openly gay and have not suffered any career damage.

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Dan Cody’s Yacht **1/2

Rick Holmes, Jordan Lage, Meredith Forlenza, Kristen Bush, Laura Kai Chen

By: David Sheward

June 8, 2018:  A wealthy parent confronts his son’s economically strapped teacher over a failing grade for an essay on The Great Gatsby. As the scene progresses, the dad sits at the instructor’s desk, questions her qualifications, her teaching methods, and finally slaps a handful of bills down. The teacher is appalled at the blatant bribe, but she hesitates for a split second, giving the obnoxious parent his opening.

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Secret Life of Humans ***1/2

Richard Delaney, Olivia Hirst

“The Descent of Man”

By: Samuel L. Leiter

June 7, 2018:  Forty-five years ago, shortly after viewing “The Ascent of Man,” scientist and mathematician
Jacob Bronowski’s 13-part, groundbreaking BBC documentary series, broadcast on PBS in 1973, I purchased the substantial tome accompanying it. Although I’ve never had the time to read it, I have on many occasions leafed through its wonderfully illustrated pages, looking at its fascinating pictures.

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Fellow Travelers at Bay Street ****

Wayne Alan Wilcox, Rachel Spencer Hewitt

World premiere of Fellow Travels, a provocative new drama by Jack Canfora, opens the 2018 Mainstage Season at Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor.

By: Patrick Christiano

June 3, 2018:  Jack Canfora’s compelling tale set during Hollywood’s infamous Blacklist period, when the United States government was targeting artists suspected of being Communist, focuses on the little-known details of the complicated friendship and working relationship of two theater icons, the esteemed playwright Arthur Miller and the renowned film and stage director Elia Kazan. Film legend Marilyn Monroe, who was intimately involved with Kazan and ultimately became Miller’s second wife, figures prominently in Canfora’s shrewd new play that unfolds in Hollywood, New York, Washington D.C. and Connecticut over a period from 1951, when Miller was first introduced to Monroe, to its final fade out in 1963, two years after the legend’s tragic death.  

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The Iceman Cometh ****

Denzel Washington

By: Isa Goldberg

June 2, 2018:  The booze-soaked Eugene O’Neill drama, The Iceman Cometh, with Denzel Washington stoking the madness, is an experience. Running nearly four hours, it takes more than just the gift of gab to hold our attention. And this bar full of weirdos, with their all of their crazy delusions, make for a fascinating bunch. Not to mention Washington, a robust energetic Hickey, a salesman, who ultimately trades in disappointment, and failure.

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Peace For Mary Frances ***

Natalie Gold, Lois Smith, Heather Burns

By: Isa Goldberg

June 2, 2018:  In the final days of life, Mary Frances, (Lois Smith), gets to watch her children vie for her love, and the family inheritance. Set in the home where she raised her three children, the staging (scenic design by Dane Laffrey) feels very slice of life, a literal – or as close to literal – reflection of a family home as one could find. Peering through the fourth wall, we observe their behaviors, so dysfunctional that it makes our own look “normal” by comparison.

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Tchaikovsky: None But The Lonely Heart ***

Joey Slotnick in the title role in a scene from Tchaikovsky: None but the Lonely Heart

THE MUSIC LOVERS: TCHAIKOVSKY: NONE BUT THE LONELY HEART

By: Samuel L. Leiter

June 1, 2018:  Eva Wolf’s Tchaikovsky: None but the Lonely Heart is the latest contribution from the Ensemble for the Romantic Century, a company Wolf, a pianist, founded in 2001 with, what the program says was “the intention of creating an engaging and innovative approach to chamber music concerts.” It continues: “ERC’s theatrical concerts interweave letters, memoirs, diaries, poems, and other literature with chamber and vocal music; the music’s historical context is reinforced through its connections with history, politics, philosophy, psychology, and the other arts to create a compelling new performance experience.”

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My Fair Lady **** – Dance Nation **** – Summer: The Donna Summer Musical *1/2

Lauren Ambrose, Diana Rigg “My Fair Lady”

By: David Sheward

May 30, 2018:  Alan Jay Lerner, the librettist and lyricist of My Fair Lady, once joked to Rex Harrison, the original Henry Higgins of that classic musical, that they both should have been gay because of their terrible history with women. Lerner had eight wives and Harrison six. Lerner’s misogyny permeates Lady and Barlett Sher’s new production for Lincoln Center attempts to counter it. This new version with its steely heroine is the latest in a trend of reshaping Golden Age tuners to address the Me Too movement (Jack O’Brien’s Carousel is another example.)

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So In Love with Cole ***1/2

By: Paulanne Simmons

May 28, 2018:  Susan Hodgdon is in love with Cole Porter. And after listening to her new album, “So in Love with Cole,” many people will fall in love with Ms. Hodgdon.

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