Pee-wee Herman, a late 1980s television icon for kids, is making his Broadway debut, where the now mature adults, who were fans of the show, have turned out in force to revisit childhood memories. Even if the evening is little more than a recreation of his original show with the same cast of television characters, played by the actors who created their roles, rest assured Pee-wee does not disappoint.
Obie award winning downtown playwright Adam Rapp’s first full length play, Ghosts in the Cottonwoods,which premiered in Chicago 12 years ago, has been reworked as a gritty showcase for the brave downtown theatre company known as The Amoralists. Rapp is a prolific playwright/novelist and a runner up for the Pulitzer Prize for his play Red Light Winter. Together The Amoralists and Rapp make for a combustible evening of theater. Under Rapp’s guidance the actors of this little company have taken on added modulations missing from their earlier one dimensional over wrought style.Here in Rapp’s black comedy about a debauched family the actors are very good indeed without sacrificing their customary intensity.
"Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown"… By Isa Goldberg The announcement of a Broadway musical with a cast of A list Broadway actors (Sherie Rene Scott, Patti LuPone, Laura Benanti, de’Adre Aziza, Mary Beth Peil, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Danny Burstein) and one American Idol (Justin Guarini), brings high expectations to the screen-to-stage adaptation of Almodovar’s 1988 film, “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.” It’s the film that brought him an international reputation.
Another Star Turn for Cherry Jones By Isa Goldberg There are pleasures to savor – along with some disappointments – in this revival of George Bernard Shaw’s sentimental parlor comedy. Some of the most delectable moments arrive early in the first act when we are introduced to the principal characters.
Brief Encounter Still Lives Run Deep By Isa Goldberg A fleeting romance – never consummated yet all consuming – is the subject of “Brief Encounter,” David Lean’s classic 1945 movie based on the Noel Coward play, “Still Life.” While the movie romance was recounted in somber tones of gray with meager scenic elements, and the barest touch of action, the story rolls into place faster than a roller coaster. As re-imagined, and told now by London’s Kneehigh Theatre, one can only hope that love like that will surely come their way.
‘Secrets of the Trade’ and Other Compromising Positions By Isa Goldberg Watching “Secrets of the Trade” the week Prop 8 was overturned feels like a throw back, and not a very fortunate one at that. Revelers, take that as an alert.
By Patrick Christiano Directed by Warren Carlyle the sparkling revival of the vintage musical Finian’s Rainbow, a classic from the Golden Age of Broadway and the first to be mounted in nearly 50 years, is a charming old fashioned delight that was considered risky back in 1947, the year it debuted. The lovely score by Burton Lane is sprinkled with well known standards like “Old Devil Moon,” “Look to the Rainbow,” “How are Things in Gloccca Morra,” When I’m Not with the Girl I Love,” and “If This Isn’t Love,” beautifully sung by a splendid cast and backed by a 24 piece orchestra. Yip Harburg is the clever lyricist and he has concocted a uniquely silly plot filled with satirically funny social comments. Inane and dated maybe, but ultimately Rainbow is witty and wise delivering the message in a candy coated package.
Goose Stepping through Song and History By Isa Goldberg She was the siren of the Western World and he was her lover. In “Dietrich and Chevalier,” Jerry Mayer’s cabaret style musical, the two strike up a romance from their adjoining dressing rooms on a Paramount lot. The year was 1932. Dietrich was filming “Shanghai Express” while Chevalier was suffering through another childish movie musical. It’s fascinating biography and as told primarily through song, it makes for some endearing moments. Set against the ravages of World War II, it even has the makings of a cathartic love story.
Jerry Herman’s dazzling musical La Cage Aux Folles is back on Broadway starring five-time Emmy Award winner Kelsey Grammer making his Broadway musical debut as Georges opposite the acclaimed British actor Douglas Hodge reprising his Olivier Award winning role as the drag queen Albin. The two make a nice match as the gay owners of a nightclub on the French Riviera, where Albin performs as Zaza in the glitzy drag revue, which goes on nightly in their downstairs club. The intimate heartfelt production directed by Terry Johnson with bold style began life at the Menier Chocolate Factory in London in late 2007 winning rave reviews before moving to the West End. Now La Cage is a New York treat worth savoring.
The 50th anniversary of the Broadway debut of “The Miracle Worker” as revived at Circle in the Square is spelled out, but not necessarily spellbinding. The production rests in the small hands of a child, the Oscar nominated Abigail Breslin (“Little Miss Sunshine”) and Alison Pill as Helen Keller’s teenage mentor Annie Sullivan, the two create resounding chemistry.
By Patrick Christiano Marking her return to Broadway as the scandalous Tallulah Bankhead Valerie Harper’s bravado performance in Mathew Lombardo’s new comedy LOOPED is a laugh out loud riot.Harper’s comic timing is flawless as Tallulah, the impetuous center of the playwright’s witty story about the cult icon, who’s audacious, devil may care hard hitting behavior was legendary. Harper’s hilarious interpretation of the larger than life Tallulah captures the star’s brash essence with a bold confidence that turns the rather slight, but clever play into an engaging romp.
By Patrick Christiano The York Theater Company’s new musical, YANK! set during World War II weaves a compelling romantic tale about two gay servicemen long before the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy. Openly gay brothers, Joseph Zellnik (music) and David Zellnik (book & lyrics), have created a musical in the old fashioned style of the period, which echoes shades of pop music from the era, while crafting a timely tale that delves into questions of prejudice, courage and survival.
By: Jason Clark Although The Irish Rep has presented several classics by George Bernard Shaw, one would be hard-pressed to find a more tenderhearted production than their current revival of his 1898 Candida, which happens to be one of the playwright’s most sly and unassuming works. In his pleasant production designer/director Tony Walton has guided a truly fine cast through a tricky text that blends Shaw’s astute observations on the melding of religion, politics and affairs of the heart.
Ah what treasures Central Park’s Delacorte Theatre does hold! The renowned actor Al Pacino is starring in the Public Theater’s staging of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice as Shylock, a viscous vindictive Jew in the Bard’s tricky tragicomedy tale. Directed by the predictably safe Daniel Sullivan the production features a top notch cast that includes an often radiant Lily Rabe, Bryon Jennings and Hamish Linklater along with a sturdy ensemble of accomplished actors. If Sullivan’s production offers little more than a literal interpretation of the text short on nuance and devoid of emotional layers, the actors nonetheless display a commanding flair for Shakespeare’s lush language and the stark revolving black metal staging with the sumptuous park backdrop is a visual delight.
While the Mennonite folk Sherie Rene Scott left behind and refers to in her new musical Everyday Rapture may still be waiting for the title’s religious occurrence, the blonde, long-limbed, angel-voiced diva is the embodiment of that rapture at the American Airlines Theatre. Her musical co written with her director Dick Scanlan is a captivating delight.