Grace

MCC Theater is presenting “Grace,” an acclaimed hit at London’s Soho Theater, now making its American premiere with Lynn Redgrave reprising her starring role. The distinguished actor is a commanding presence as the title character, a British professor of science, who calls herself a “naturalist” and has little need for God; considering the belief in a higher power or divine being to be “bollocks, complete and utter bollocks!”

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Hunting and Gathering

Seeking a Place of Refuge Off Broadway

There is something absolutely contrary to a Broadway play, something that resides in a private, inner space. Here the gestures are as big as they appear to the inner eye, regardless of whether the guy in the back row notices them or not. And that is what going to an Off-Broadway show is all about – about uncovering a secret… the songs of a young Jonathan Larson (“Rent”), or a first-time role for the likes of Dustin Hoffman.

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59E59 Theaters

A trio of new plays recently opened at all three theaters housed at the 59E59 complex, where Primary Stages is the resident company on the main stage. The playwrights on display are a diverse sampling of distinctly different talents all possessed with tantalizing ideas, provocative themes, and a good ear for contemporary dialogue.

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The Little Flower of East Orange

If you don’t want to see Ellen Burstyn lying in a hospital bed, you may not want to sit through Stephen Adly Guirgis’ new play “The Little Flower of East Orange”. But the amazing actress, looking her years, still exudes the innocent charm and eager optimism that made her performance in “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” so unforgettable.

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A Catered Affair

The new Harvey Fierstein/John Bucchino musical “A Catered Affair” is a heartfelt little gem, a lovingly subdued ode to real emotions and genuine feelings. If, however, the predictable evening doesn’t succeed as compelling musical theater there are many distinct charms to be savored from John Doyle’s intimate production. Here is a decidedly risky venture for Broadway, a musical that relies upon sincerity and simplicity, where the music underscores the action instead of overwhelming it, moving the story along with quiet introspection.

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Sunday In The Park

Roundabout Theatre Company’s stunning revival of Stephen Sondheim’s 1984 Pulitzer Prize winning musical “Sunday in the Park with George” beautifully illuminates the struggle and sacrifice inherent in the creative process. Directed by Sam Buntrock, the emotionally charged show arrives on Broadway by way of London, where Buntrock originated his innovative new production at the Menier Chocolate Factory in 2005. The sold out run transferred to the West End winning five Olivier Awards (London’s equivalent of the Tony) before coming to New York with the two leads, Daniel Evans and Jenna Russell, reprising their award winning performances.

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Cat On A Hot Tin Roof

The historic African-American production of Tennessee Williams’ 1955 Pulitzer Prize winning masterpiece “Cat On A Hot Tin Roof” directed by Debbie Allen, although not the crowning achievement one had hoped, scores as entertainment none the less. Approved by Williams’ estate for Broadway the revival has a star studded cast of charismatic actors, who understand the passions of Williams’ dysfunctional family, allowing the magic of the playwright’s language to overcome Allen’s uninspired direction.

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Passing Strange

Weaving a hypnotic spell the exciting new musical, “Passing Strange, has transferred to Broadway after a well received engagement downtown at the Public last summer. Breaking with tradition the musical is an amalgamation of styles that fuses a variety of distinctive forms from cabaret to gospel into a consistently inventive blend that feels more like a high concept hybrid performance art/ rock concert than a Broadway musical. Whatever you call it, there is no doubt this is beguiling theater, a new form that refuses to be pigeon holed.

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Spamalot

The advance buzz has been overwhelming, and we have been inundated with questions about the new Broadway musical Spamalot. Did you like it? Did they do a good job adapting it for the stage? Is it all that? Did you have to see the movie to follow it? Yes, yes, yes, and no with superlatives all around for the entire team. How could anyone not like this affectionate send up of the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, unless of course you are devoid of a sense of humor. The adaptation is amazing and then some with the added satire on Broadway musicals, especially skewing Andrew Lloyd Webber. Yes, indeed, we enthusiastically endorse Spamalot, an outrageously silly show and witty spoof, which will most assuredly entertain young as well as old.

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Spamalot

The advance buzz has been overwhelming, and we have been inundated with questions about the new Broadway musical Spamalot.  Did you like it? Did they do a good job adapting it for the stage? Is it all that? Did you have to see the movie to follow it? Yes, yes, yes, and no with superlatives all around for the entire team. How could anyone not like this affectionate send up of the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, unless of course you are devoid of a sense of humor. The adaptation is amazing and then some with the added satire on Broadway musicals, especially skewing Andrew Lloyd Webber. Yes, indeed, we enthusiastically endorse Spamalot, an outrageously silly show and witty spoof, which will most assuredly entertain young as well as old.

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Crimes of the Heart

Roundabout Theatre Company is presenting the film and stage star Kathleen Turner making her New York directing debut with a confident, yet flawed production of Beth Henley’s Pulitzer Prize winning play “Crimes of the Heart”. Ms.Turner’s staging bears her broad signature style, and while she has a talented ensemble doing her bidding, little about the evening feels organic. Much is quite funny, even touching, but the over the top approach does little to serve the playwright, turning her poignant character study into a superficial re-telling that accentuates the play’s shortcomings.

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November

Playwright David Mamet tackles American politics in his new satire “November” about an incompetent President running for a second term. Nathan Lane turns in a brilliant comic portrayal as the despicable President Charles Smith (Chuck for short), who’s unnamed political party has deserted him on the eve of the national election. Joe Mantello’s swift paced production whips Mamet’s slight spoof into a hysterical frenzy and the uniformly excellent cast delivers delicious support that keep the evening constantly amusing even as the farce falters.

 

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Come Back Little Sheba

Michael Pressman’s earnest revival of William Inge’s heartbreaking drama “Come Back Little Sheba” for Manhattan Theatre Club has a touching performance by television star S. Epatha Merkerson as the central character Lola. Considered raw and explicit when in debuted on Broadway in1950, “Come Back Little Sheba” feels decidedly tame and dated today, although hauntingly so.

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The Homecoming

Harold Pinter is one of the most acclaimed playwrights in the world. He is the author of over 30 plays and more than two dozen screenplays. His list of awards are too numerous to mention, but he has won just every award imaginable including the 2005 Noble Prize in Literature. His play "The Homecoming," which debuted on Broadway in 1967, is today considered a classic, although when it premiered in London two years earlier it was greeted with a mixed reception by the press and public alike.

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The Seafarer

The fascinating Irish playwright Conor McPherson weaves an engrossing tale in his newest play “The Seafarer,” arriving on our shores direct from its world premiere at London’s National Theater. The haunting story of redemption superbly acted by an ensemble of five immensely gifted actors is magnificently directed by the award winning playwright himself, an astonishing achievement.

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