EXTINCTION at Guild Hall

Gabe McKinley’s dark, yet funny drama Extinction opens at Guild Hall in East Hampton

By: Patrick Christiano

Josh Gladstone, Artistic Director of Guild Hall, helms a strong production of Extinction starring Sawyer Spielberg as Finn and Eric Svendsen as Max. The actors turn in impressive work as two friends at odds with one another in Gabe McKinley’s scorching drama. The story about male bonding is set in adjoining rooms circa 2007 at The Borgata Hotel in Atlantic City, where the two long-time college buddies have come to renew their bond, or have they?

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Joan of Arc: Into the Fire ****

Jo Lampert

By: Paulanne Simmons

Joan of Arc, also known as “The Maid of Orleans” and “St. Joan,” has been a source of artistic inspiration for centuries. As early as 1429, when the peasant warrior was still alive, Christine de Pizan wrote a poem eulogizing her. In 1801, Friedrich Schiller wrote Die Jungfrau von Orleans, a tragedy based on her life, which Tchaikovsky turned into an opera. Subsequently, George Bernard Shaw, Bertolt Brecht, Maxwell Anderson and Jean Anouilh all dramatized her life.

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Ring Twice For Miranda ***

Katie Kleiger, George Merrick

Dark comedy by filmmaker/playwright/director/novelist Alan Hruska at NY Center Stage II.

By: Patrick Christiano

There are hard times outside Sir’s mansion in Ring Twice for Miranda, Alan Hruska’s satire on power, but inside the chambermaid Maranda and her former lover, the butler Elliot, are well fed, warm and cozy. Their relationship has recently hit the skids much to Elliot’s chagrin, and as they pass time in the servant’s wing waiting for Sir, who rules the nameless district, to break their tedium, Elliot begs Miranda for access to her bed once more.  A massive wall of 24 bells hangs nearby, where one ring is for Elliot and twice is for Miranda.  Clearly Miranda performs some special function for Sir, which she insists is non-sexual, nonetheless Elliot is jealous and doesn’t believe her.

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Diva: Live from Hell ***

Sean Patrick Monahan

A demented Diva’s downfall plays out in a dark musical satire by Sean Patrick Monahan and Alexander Sage Oyen

By: Patrick Christiano

The immensely gifted Sean Patrick Monahan is Desmond Channing, a demented teenager with delusions of grandeur, in his new musical, Diva: Live from Hell, a dark comedic sendup of madness directed with smart intensity by Daniel Goldstein at Theater for the New City’s Community Space through April 9th. Monahan also wrote the book and plays all the characters in Diva with more than serviceable music and lyrics by Alexander Sage Oyen. One ballad concerning unrequited love is excellent. Musical accompaniment is a nifty trio of Sammy Wags (drums), Rob Taylor (double bass), and Evan Tylor (piano and sound mixer).

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Sweat at Studio 54 ****

John Earl Jelks, Michelle Wilson, Johanna Day, Alison Wright, and James Colby in background.

Explosive new drama by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Lynn Nottage.
By: Patrick Christiano

Following an Off-Broadway run at The Public Theatre last fall, Sweat, a timely new play by Lynn Nottage, opened on Broadway at Studio 54 on March 26. The cast is the same with the exception of Alison Wright, who replaces Miriam Shor as Jessie. The following is Patrick Christiano’s review of the Off-Broadway production for TheaterLife.

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The Price **** 1/2

Mark Ruffalo, Danny DeVito in Arthur Miller’s “The Price”

By: Isa Goldberg

Having found The Price to be an oddly quotidian play, given that Arthur Miller wrote it, it is an unexpected pleasure to see this revival by The Roundabout Theatre, at the American Airlines Theatre on Broadway. Under Terry Kinney’s insightful direction, this revival is, most importantly, comic, which is a damn good thing when you’re sitting in an attic filled with memories of the 1929 stock market crash. Here we meet the two surviving brothers, Victor, an understated Mark Ruffalo, his wife, an optimistic, albeit disappointed Jessica Hecht, and his brother Walter, Tony Shalhoub. While outgoing and generous, Shalhoub’s Walter, spares no one from his personal sense of justice.

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Sunday In The Park with George **** 1/2

Jake Gyllenhaal in “Sunday in the Park with George”

By: Isa Goldberg

Looking haggard and deep in thought, Jake Gyllenhaall makes his Broadway musical debut as George Seurat in this, the second Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Sunday In The Park with George. Watching this production at a Wednesday matinee, the audience greeted Gyllenhaal with an unprecedented silence – a rare moment of respect for a movie star, while Annaleigh Ashford (Dot), who makes her entrance just moments after his, received thunderous applause. A Broadway legend, in her own day, Ashford delivers a subtle performance – as serious as it is humorous.

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Angry Young Man ****

Christopher Daftsios, Nazli Sarpkaya, Rami Margron, Max Samuels,

American Premiere of critically acclaimed British comedy opens at Urban Stages

By: Patrick Christiano

Angry Young Man, a satirical comedy by award winning playwright Ben Woolf about Yussef, a surgeon from an unidentified Middle Eastern country who comes to London after a bungled operation in search of work, is an entertaining little gem. When Yussef doesn’t realize how far the airport is to central London, a cab driver cons him out of all of his cash, and he is left stranded in a park talking to the ducks.

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Joan of Arc: Into The Fire ****1/2

Jo Lampert in “Joan of Arc: Into The Fire”

By: Isa Goldberg

With book, music, and lyrics by David Byrne of the Talking Heads, Joan of Arc: Into The Fire, at The Public Theater, is completely sensational. Byrne’s, Here Lies Love, about the life of Imelda Marcos, premiered at The Public a few years ago, also to a euphoric reception. Sensation is Byrne’s coat of arms.

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The Strangest **

July Henly-Cohn, Andrew Guilarte, Jacqueline Antaramian, Brendan Titley, Roxanna Hope Radja

By: Paulanne Simmons

In Albert Camus’ 1942 novel, The Stranger, a French Algerian named Merusault kills an Arab the day after attending his mother’s funeral, where he shows no emotion. Merusault is sentenced to death, in great part because the prosecutor, using the evidence of his Mersault’s behavior at the funeral, paints him as an individual with neither conscience nor sympathy for fellow human beings.

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The Price *** – Joan of Arc: Into the Fire **

By: David Sheward

“You can do anything as long as you win.” That’s not a quote from the playbook of Donald Trump, but a line from Arthur Miller’s drama The Price, now in a Roundabout Theatre Company revival at the American Airlines Theatre.

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Come from Away *****

Jenn Colella and the cast of Come from Away

By: Paulanne Simmons

When writing about “Come from Away,” husband and wife team Irene Sankoff and David Hein’s musical that pays tribute to Gander, the small Newfoundland town where 38 planes were forced to land after 9/11, the first word that comes to mind is “uplifting.” 

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Linda @ MTC ***

Janie Dee

By: Patrick Christiano

An ambitious new play by Penelope Skinner that originated at London’s Royal Court makes New York debut at Manhattan Theatre Club.

The acclaimed award-winning British actress Janie Dee, renowned for her comic flair, is the title character in Penelope Skinner’s satire Linda about a 55- year-old successful marketing executive at the top of her game, working for Swan cosmetics, where she has risen through the ranks to have it all. We first meet the self-assured married mother of two, who can still fit into the same size 10 dress she did 15 years ago, as she likes to point out, at the opening of the play. She is at the office pitching a new anti-aging cream for woman over 50, intent on bringing attention to the 50+ women and keeping them from becoming invisible. Despite Linda’s polished veneer of a successful career and marriage the cracks are beginning to show, and Linda herself is starting to feel invisible.

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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.

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