October 6, 2019: As I washed my hands in the men’s room after seeing Liba Vaynberg’s Round Table, a senior critic of my acquaintance quietly asked, “What was that?” I was, however, still too deep in its murk to process an appropriate answer. I can now confess that Round Table is a quirky, clunky, confusing, concoction of romantic comedy that seems (I’m hedging here) intent on exploring the clash between reality and the illusions we sometimes take for reality.
October 3, 2019: French playwright Florian Zeller, well known in New York theater for his plays, The Father (Frank Langella) and The Mother (Isabelle Huppert), tells stories in a most outré fashion. Currently, The Height of The Storm translated by Christopher Hampton, at the Manhattan Theatre Club, stars two masters of the British stage, Jonathan Pryce and Eileen Atkins.
October 2, 2019: What woman doesn’t dream of having her own washing machine? Usually, however, it isn’t a momentous issue – at least not in the way Lois Robbins’ claims it to be in her solo show, L.O.V.E.R.
Broadway’s 2019 Fall Season – Bigger Than Ever — Is Off to a Roarin’ Start — Headlining Acclaimed Stars, Playwrights, and Directors
By: Ellis Nassour
September 27, 2019: There’s something new or old due any day. Wait! No, it’s already here. Broadway’s 2019-2020 Season leaped out of the gate no sooner than the 2018-2019 season ended, even before the Tony Awards. And now you can contemplate all the new and revived works coming or, actually already here, on Broadway this Fall with stellar casts, writers, and directors.
September 26, 2019: The Gingold Theatrical Group is presenting Bernard Shaw’s cool comedy of a very young Cleopatra (Teresa Avia Lim) and an elderly Julius Caesar (Robert Cuccioli) at Theatre Row on West 42nd Street. The wit is slim in this production of “Caesar and Cleopatra,” though the Shavian jokes remain in director David Staller’s new version of a modern classic about ancient characters of another era. Mr. Staller has shaved the cast down to seven actors. The last Broadway incarnation with Rex Harrison and Elizabeth Ashley had a cast of thirty. He also lets Cleopatra’s servant lady, the grim and brutal Ftatateeta played by the statuesque Brenda Braxton also serves as a contemporary guide who ushers us through events in Egypt beginning in October 38 B.C.
Eileen Atkins and Jonathan Pryce in “The Height of the Storm”
By: David Sheward
September 25, 2019: Reality is a slippery proposition in the plays of French dramatist Florian Zeller. In both The Father and The Mother, the title characters are lost in a maze of conflicting and confusing circumstances. So is the audience since everything is seen via the protagonists’ perceptions which are altered by dementia or mental illness. Zeller’s latest work, The Height of the Storm, translated by Christopher Hampton, is now on Broadway at Manhattan Theater Club’s Samuel J. Friedman Theater, after hit runs in Paris and London. Here the skewed perspective is doubled and perhaps trebled since we seem to be viewing the story through several different lens. Until the very end of its brief but absorbing running time, we’re not entirely sure whose eyes we are looking through and even if it’s the same point of view, since the perspective shifts several times. The result is a disturbing, unsettling portrait of how we deal with—or don’t deal with—death. Director Jonathan Kent is a reliable guide on this labyrinthine journey of the mind. An expert cast lead by acting legends Jonathan Pryce and Eileen Atkins provide the necessary signposts to lead us to the heartbreaking conclusion.
September 24, 2019: Lewis Carroll, you’ll recall, declared, “Twas brillig, and the slithy toves/Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:/All mimsy were the borogoves,/And the mome raths outgrabe.” Carroll’s immortal, made-up “Jabberwocky” words—or equally obscure ones attributable to writers like James Joyce—register with crystal clarity in comparison to those of Mac Wellman’s largely incomprehensible verbal carousel, The Invention of Tragedy. This oddly entertaining headscratcher, written in 2004 but only now getting its world premiere, will either intrigue or infuriate you. My own response was a little of both.
September 24, 2019: Theater lovers have been and should be delighted that West Side Story is once again being revived on Broadway. The production, directed by Ivo van Hoveand featuring all-new choreography by “Belgian modern dance luminary” De Keersmaeker, will officially open Feb 6, 2020. And already we are being told by producer Scott Rudin “This is not like any West Side Story anybody has seen.”
Book Review: The Coffee Connection by Paulanne Simmons
By: Lauren Yarger
September 27, 2019: If you are a reader who enjoys sitting back with a cup of coffee and a good mystery, “The Coffee Connection” by Paulanne Simmons (Austin Macauley, April 30, 2019) offers a bonus: a novel about a mystery connected with the history of coffee. What more could you want?
FIFTH ANNUAL BROADWAY BACK TO SCHOOL GALA@EDISON BALLROOM
September 23, 2019: Broadway legend Chita Rivera, Tony Award winners Laura Benanti, Gavin Creel, and Celia Keenan-Bolger, Tony nominees Hunter Bell, John Cariani, and Megan Hilty, Broadway stars J. Harrison Ghee, and Will Pullen, tap dancer Evan Ruggiero, and honorees (and Tony winners) Marc Shaimanand Scott Wittman, and more celebrated the Fifth Annual Broadway Back To School Gala @ The Edison Ballroom in NYC.
September 20, 2019: An actor of imposing presence, Keith Hamilton Cobb is also the scribe of American Moor, currently at The Cherry Lane Theatre. Cobb’s size alone would command the audience’s attention, but beware the spoiler alert. This is a highly confrontational piece about race, and racism in America. And Cobb directs his message quite pointedly, to us.
Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick
will star in a revival of Neil Simon’s “Plaza Suite”
By: David Sheward
September 15, 2019: Creative casting distinguishes two new Broadway productions. Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker are not the first two stars that come to mind when thinking of leads for Neil Simon’s 1968 three-part comedy Plaza Suite. The real-life couple are comedic talents but they’re not exactly versatile.