A Steady Rain

Saucy Cops and Bud Lite: Whatever Happened to Family Dinners?
Think fisticuffs instead of bare-knuckle boxing. It’s the classical term that suggests the genre of "A Steady Rain": male action tale laced with tragedy and cast with heavyweights, Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig.

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The Retributionists

Senseless killing revenged by more senseless killing is the subject of Daniel Goldfarb’s new play. Set between Paris, Nuremberg and Palestine during the years 1943-46, “The Retributionists” misfires as badly as the plot these Jewish youths cook up to revenge themselves against the German people.

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Sex Ed

Ask me what “Sex Ed” is about and I’ll tell you it’s what everyone learns from other kids on the street or, in this case, in the subbasement of a New York City private elementary school. That’s where Suzanne Bachner’s short play is set.

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Burn The Floor

Twenty feverish, hot bodies take to the stage in “Burn the Floor”. The convulsive energy that goes into their performances is as erotic as anything you can find in Times Square these days. (Entertainment that sexy was supposed to have been outlawed years ago.)

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White Christmas

Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, a beautifully gift wrapped holiday entertainment adapted from the 1954 Bing Crosby film, has finally made its way to Broadway after playing several US cities the past four years. The evening directed by Walter Bobbie is light and breezy with some fantastic production numbers. The show adds additional Berlin standards, like “Blue Skies,” “I Love a Piano,” and “Let Yourself Go,” to the already terrific score that includes gems like “White Christmas,” “Snow,” “ Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep,” “ Sisters,” and “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm.”

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Top Girls

Manhattan Theatre Club’s impressive revival of Caryl Churchill’s 1982 groundbreaking play “Top Girls” marks the British playwright’s Broadway debut, 25 years after the play was first presented to much acclaim downtown at the Public Theater. Directed by another Brit, James Macdonald, the well acted production is a bold reminder of just how wonderfully good Churchill’s early work really is and of her consummate skill even before she pared down her powerful writing style. “Top Girls,” although over talkative, is an adroit examination of the legacy of feminism, both the accomplishments and the sacrifices inherent in the struggle to succeed in a man’s world.

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Rock Of Ages

 When Rock of Ages  debuted  Off- Broadway, the comic jukebox musical was a campy romantic delight with cute American Idol’s hunk Constantine Maroulis. Having moved to Broadway the evening is now two hours of non stop 1980’s pulsating hard rock minus the charm of the original. 

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The Norman Conquests

Stephen Mangan

An uninhibited libido in the guise of a shaggy headed slightly pot-bellied rumpled librarian, Norman (Stephen Mangan), makes for a riotous good time in the superlative British import of Alan Ayckbourn’s masterful 1973 trilogy, The Norman Conquests The Broadway revival (winner of the 2008 Tony Award for best revival of a play) features the original heralded cast of six from London’s Old Vic giving a master class in acting under the skillful eye of Tony Award winning director Matthew Warchus, who carves out continuous waves of hilarious moments intermingled with profound insights.

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Shrek the Musical

Shrek the Musical is a delightful winner. Here is a fun loving big Broadway show for the entire family. Retaining the heart and style of the immensely popular 2001 animated film “Shrek,” the musical stays close to the original story, while expanding on the background of the beloved characters in enchanting ways. And there is a fresh pop score by Jeanine Tesori (Thoroughly Modern Millie) with blues and gospel influences. The clever lyrics are by David Lindsay-Abaire (2007 Pulitzer Prize winner), who is also responsible for the book.

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Benny


Photo: Scott Wynn

Morgan Lindsey Tacho portrays the central character in the play about “Benny”. On stage throughout the entire 90 minutes, Tacho has an alluring stage presence. Plump and quite pretty, she can also appear too intense, and her features too severe. That’s just the right mix for Anna – the adoptive child of a dysfunctional family who, suffering from bipolar disease, sexual abuse, a bad therapist, and a birth mother who is absolutely crazy, winds up at the end of the play divorcing her alcoholic husband.

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The Tin Pan Alley Rag

It is difficult to find anything flattering to say about the Off Broadway musical “The Tin Pan Alley Rag” which opened at Roundabout’s Laura Pels Theatre. That is especially disappointing because it celebrates the works of two iconic American composers, Irving Berlin (Michael Therriault) and Scott Joplin (Michael Boatman).

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Why Torture Is Wrong, ……..

Well known for his political and social satire, playwright Christopher Durang is at it again with “Why Torture Is Wrong, And The People Who Love Them”. Like the unwieldy title, this new work at the Public Theater takes up a litany of topical issues from terrorism, American militarism and spousal abuse, to suburban life, Hooters (the restaurant), Looney Tunes and Jane Fonda.

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33 Variations

Any play that begins by projecting the word “theme” across the stage must be making a statement. In Moises Kaufman’s new drama that statement leads to some thick soup.

In “33 Variations”, Fonda portrays Dr. Katherine Brandt, a musicologist who is writing a monograph about the birth of Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations, how it came about, and what it is. Sadly, this academic quest which frames the story, also dominates it. Parallels between Beethoven’s deafness and Brandt’s terminal illness, between Beethoven’s creative process and Brandt’s personal revelations proliferate.

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Exit The King

Geoffrey Rush, Susan Sarandon

Geoffrey Rush’s portrayal of the megalomaniacal ruler, King Berenger, in the Broadway revival of Eugene Ionesco’s 1962 absurdist comedy Exit the King is pure genius. Granted Ionesco may be an acquired taste, but working with a new translation by Neil Armfield , who also directs, Rush’s brilliant interpretation of the dying monarch carries the rarely seen play to tragicomic heights. The King’s incompetence has left his country in near ruin, giving the evening a timeliness that feels all the more relevant in the wake of the Bush administration.

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Joe Turner’s Come and Gone

 

Call it the “wow” effect. Or, in the idiom of “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone”, “Hosanna”. For what a glorious revival this is of August Wilson’s play about African Americans in a Pittsburgh boarding house in 1911. Here the melody of daily life juts up against religious and folkloric ritual, symbolism blends with realism, human and divine comedies merge.

 

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