Secrets Of The Trade

    
       ‘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.

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Finian’s Rainbow

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.
 

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‘Dietrich and Chevalier’

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.

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La Cage Aux Folles ****

Kelsey Grammer
Douglas Hodge

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.

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The Miracle Worker **1/2

                       By: Isa Goldberg

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.

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Looped ****

                   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.

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YANK! *****

                 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.

 

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Candida ***1/2

                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.

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The Merchant of Venice

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.

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Everyday Rapture ****

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.

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American Idiot ****

  In ‘American Idiot John Gallagher  is Broadway’s New Antihero
          By: Isa Goldberg
There’s a tsunami erupting on the stage of the St. James Theatre. Bodies are hurtling; fever is raging; casualties are reported. Call it just another rock opera, call it imperfect, call it what you will, but “American Idiot” announces a break from the predictability of typical Broadway musicals.

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Love Is My Sin ****

Photo: Pascal Victor

By: Patrick Christiano
Love Is My Sin
presented by Theatre for a new Audience in the intimate Duke Theater on 42nd Street is a truly haunting experience. The great English director Peter Brooks (probably best known to American audiences for his films “Lord of the Flies,” Marat/Sade,” and ‘King Lear’) has conceived and adapted 31 of Shakespeare’s sonnets into a magnificently potent brew of romantic exchanges performed by his wife Natasha Parry and Michael Pennington.

 

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The Glass Menagerie

Photo: Gary Mamay

Artistic Director Josh Gladstone has inaugurated the beautifully restored John Drew Theater at Guild Hall with a handsome production of Tennessee Williams’ haunting memory play "The Glass Menagerie" helmed by the acclaimed director Harris Yulin. Amy Irving a well respected stage and screen star for decades heads the wonderful cast as the bewildered Amanda, a fading Southern belle, who within her dull existence longs for nothing more than her children’s welfare.

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Mary Stuart

Schiller’s revisionist history about the rivalry between the Queen of England and her cousin Mary Queen of Scots frames this historical drama. And what a complex web of political scandal it is!

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The Gayest Christmas

Joe Marshall

At The Actors’’ Playhouse on 7th Avenue South in the West Village 24 actors play over 40 different characters in Joe Marshall’s The Gayest Christmas Pageant Ever!, a silly spoof that sends up the traditional holiday spectacular. Directed by Mr. Marshall, as well, the evening’s bold style is decidedly camp with a touch of lunacy served by actors doing their thing with bravado and heart. What more could you ask?  

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