Monopoly ****

Billie Roe

Monopoly: Singing the Lives  from Baltic Avenue to Boardwalk

By: Paulanne Simmons

From its earliest beginnings in 16th century France, cabaret has always been the purlieu of writers and artists. So it should not be surprising that cabarets have always been subversive. Billie Roe must have had this in mind when she created her newest theme show, Monopoly: Singing the Lives from Baltic Avenue to Boardwalk, which she brought to Don’t Tell Mama on Feb. 12

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The Object Lesson ***

By: Patrick Christiano

Be forewarned The Object Lesson created by Geoff Sobelle and directed by David Neumann, also a choreographer, dancer and actor, is a performance art piece running roughly 100 minutes at the New York Theatre Workshop. Sobelle is also the only credited actor, although another person in the guise of an audience member interacts with him.  In his biography Sobelle calls himself an actor, director and maker of absurdist performance art, and the press release says he is mainly interested in moments of “the sublime ridiculous.” 

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Evening at the Talk House **

Mathew Broderick, Wallace Shawn

By: David Sheward

As you enter the Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre at the Pershing Square Signature Center for Wallace Shawn’s new play Evening at the Talk House, you’re greeted by a familiar-looking lady dressed in the traditional white shirt and black pants of a waitron. “Would you like a sweet or some sparkling water?” she asks. It takes a minute to realize this is Jill Eikenberry, best known for LA Law. Wait, isn’t that the still-boyish Matthew Broderick wandering around Derek McLane’s cosy clubhouse set? And the squeaking voice of the Yoda-like playwright himself, also a cast member, can be heard chatting with the audience. From this relaxed and inviting opening, you might think you’ll be experiencing a nice, warm night with familiar faces from stage and screen delivering cute career anecdotes. But, you’re in for a surprise.

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Protest Songs *****

Classic Protest Songs: Second Edition
By: Paulanne Simmons

When many of us think of protest songs, we picture Bob Dylan, Joan Baez or Phil Ochs strumming guitars and singing at marches, cafes and concert halls. But as Scott Siegel showed in his Classic Protest Songs: Second Edition at Metropolitan Room on Friday, Feb. 10, the history is much richer.

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The Liar **** – Yen **** – Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 ***1/2

Kelly Hutchinson, Carson Elrod

By: David Sheward
Could there be a more appropriate historical moment to mount a new adaptation of Corneille’s comedy The Liar? As our newly-elected president and his spokespeople substitute “alternative facts” for truth, Classic Stage Company presents David Ives’ intricate semi-updating of the hilarious tale of Dorante, an epic braggart exaggerating and fabricating his way through romantic entanglements in 17th century Paris. He’s accurately described as “a lying genius, if a moral zero” (sound familiar?) This is Ives’ third foray into refashioning French theatrical meringues. He has previously adapted Moliere’s The Misanthrope (as The School for Lies) and Regnard’s The Heir Apparent, both of which have played CSC.

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The Present *****

Cate Blanchett, Richard Roxburgh

By: Isa Goldberg
Is it a bomb? Will there be a postmortem?  Simply, questions people are asking about the The Present.

The Sydney Theatre Company makes its Broadway debut with this contemporary adaptation of Platonov, an early, unwieldy play, by Anton Chekhov. In its current incarnation, by Andrew Upton, directed by John Crowley, the setting (by Alice Babidge) is a contemporary country home in Russia, in a village that might as well be East Hampton, NY. To coin a Chekhovian joke, it’s a place everyone is dying to go to, but even at 110 miles from Manhattan, the trip is far too treacherous.

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Jitney ****1/2

By: Isa Goldberg

Director Ruben Santiago-Hudson’s revival of Jitney delivers a heartfelt optimism all within the harsh realism of August Wilson’s drama, about a group of African American men in the Hill District of Pittsburgh in 1977. This is Wilson’s well-known turf, after all, and he knows these characters with an almost innate intimacy, that this director shares.

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The Liar ***1/2

By: Isa Goldberg
The dictum “the unexamined life is not worth living”, is merely a set up for hilarious antics, or so it would appear, in David Ives’ The Liar, currently at the Classic Stage Company (CSC). In fact, at this performance, it behooves us to put any thought of morality aside. Unless it sort of tumbles out of the lampoon, it is hardly with our time.

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Not That Jewish ***1/2

Monica Piper

By: Paulanne Simmons
Monica Piper is a very funny woman. She comes by her skills naturally. Her father, was a touring comic before he decided to settle down to raise a family, and even her more sedate mother knew how to tell a dirty joke.

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Author directing Author ****

“I don’t know what I can save you from” By Neil LaBute with Richard Kind & Gia Crovatin

By: Iris Wiener

Though the roles of playwright and director often overlap in the rehearsal process, their work is usually distinguished by their prescribed jobs; this is what makes Author directing Author so special. In the third annual edition of the series that pairs international playwrights with one another as directors of each other’s work, boundaries become non-existent, and the roles behind the scenes are blurred, adding more layers to already poignant pieces.

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Get Happy *****

Stephen DeRosa, Erin Dilly, Klea Blackhurst, Nathaniel Stampley

By: Linda Amiel Burns

The 2017 Lyrics & Lyricist Season opens with a tribute to the Early Years of Harold Arlen with Vince Giordano and The Nighthawks and featuring a terrific cast.

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Jitney *****

Michael Potts, John Douglas Thompson, Anthony Chisholm, Keith Randolph Smith, Andre Holland

By: David Sheward

It’s hard to pick one, but Jitney is probably my favorite in August Wilson’s decade-by-decade, ten-play cycle of the African-American experience in the 20th Century. It’s kind of the underdog of this mammoth collection and maybe that’s why I like it best. There are no star parts. There are no flashy elements of mysticism which can be found in The Piano Lesson and Gem of the Ocean. Jitney was one of Wilson’s early plays, written even before his first breakout hit (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom). It was the first Wilson play to premiere in NYC in an Off-Broadway theater (Second Stage in 2000) and is only now making its Broadway debut in a dynamic revival from Manhattan Theatre Club.

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The Present ***1/2

Richard Roxburgh, Cate Blanchett

By: David Sheward
The box-office draw of radiant Cate Blanchett may be the reason The Present, Australian playwright Andrew Upton’s adaptation of Chekhov’s first untitled play in a production from the Sydney Theatre Company, is now on Broadway. But the double-Oscar-winning star is just one shining jewel in a mostly dazzling show full of farcical humor, heartbreaking pathos, and pointed political observation. Clocking in at three hours, the comedy-drama does have its slow points—the third of four long acts is especially lead-footed. Yet the intense and witty moments more than make up for the snooze-inducing snatches.

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Come Together *****

By: Paulanne Simmons

British cabaret dynamo Barb Jungr grew up in Rochdale, Lancashire, just a few miles from Liverpool. So it’s not surprising she has a special attraction to the Beatles. In fact, she told the audience at Don’t Tell Mama on Jan. 9 that growing up in the 1960s, she was convinced her country had produced no modern popular icon. Then the Beatles came along and Great Britain was back on the map.

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Piaf! The Show *****

By: Paulanne Simmons

In1957 Edith Piaf gave her second and last concert at Carnegie Hall. The concert included “La vie en rose,” “Padam Padam,” and “L’Accordéoniste.” Sixty years later, on Jan. 6, Anne Carrere dazzled the audience at Carnegie Hall with her brilliant performance in Piaf! The Show. She sang many of those songs the audience longed to hear again.

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