Shipwreck, the second installment of Tom Stoppard’s trilogy The Cost of Utopia, is an impressive achievement; however the visually stunning production directed by Jack O’Brien is more dramatically engaging than the playwright’s unfolding storylines told by an enormous cast of over 40 actors. O’Brien and his design team have created many astonishing images that have trumped Stoppard’s epic drama of 19th century Russian intellectuals during the repressive reign of Tsar Nicholas. Indeed the dramatic design elements are the real stars of the evening upstaging not only the actors, but the play as well. Set designers Bob Crowley and Scott Pask have provided diversely arresting images including: the Place de la Concorde, before, during and after the French revolution; a marvelous chandelier that hangs over many of the salon scenes commenting on the lavish lifestyle of the main characters; and many incandescent backdrops. Kenneth Posner’s imaginative lighting enhances the visual components to such a degree that several of the scenes have an awe inspiring effect. The intensity of the visuals will linger in your mind long after you have forgotten much of the evening’s philosophical debates.
Voyage now being presented at Lincoln Center, is the first part of Tom Stoppard’s ambitious project, The Coast of Utopia that premiered four years ago in London. Coast is a trilogy of plays chronicling the life of a group of 19th century Russian intellectuals longing for the revolution, and the magnificent Lincoln Center staging directed by previous Stoppard collaborator Jack O’Brien is visually stunning. However, the play over-brimming with smart ideas and detailed characters, although stimulating, ultimately fails to move.
The trilogy follows six young idealistic noblemen, who meet as students at the University of Moscow during the repressive reign of Tsar Nichols and forge lasting friendships that will propel them though their challenging lifetime, and guide their struggles with the events that will eventually bring Russia into the modern age. Voyage, the initial installment of Stoppard’s heady concept, begins with the image of Premukhino, a country estate in 1833 Russia, where we hear the first ruminations of the coming revolution. Part two, Shipwreck, will take us to Moscow and 1848 Paris, the epicenter of change in the world.
The press release hails Sealed for Freshness, the new Tupperware comedy written and directed by Doug Stone as “a hilarious journey of self discovery.” Don’t be taken in as there is nothing even remotely hilarious about this tasteless tale. Everything about the evening including the script, the set, the costumes and most definitely the direction is decidedly tacky. Sure you will laugh at the absurdity that anything about the play resembles a journey of self discovery, and you will roll your eyes in horror all the while laughing. No doubt there is an audience for this sort of exaggerated gross humor that pokes fun at five totally unconscious women and their attempts to spice up their lives with a Tupperware party, but I doubt that audience spends much time in a real live theatre.
With the death of Frank Ebb in 2004, Curtains marks probably the last original collaboration by Kander & Ebb, Broadway’s longest-running songwriting team. The duo gave us Cabaret, Zorba, Chicago, The Rink, Steel Pier and Kiss of the Spider Woman, not to mention The Act, Flora, the Red Menace, The Happy Time, 70 Girls 70, and Woman of the Year. And, the song “New York, New York.”Curtains has been developed by Mystery of Edwin Drood Tony winner Rupert Holmes from an original concept by the late Peter Stone, who won Tonys for his librettos for Titanic, Woman of the Year and 1776. Composer Kander has done additional lyrics with Holmes.
(Curtains is in previews at the Hirshfeld Theatre, Opening Night is March 22)
Broadway legends and rising stars gave their all for "Broadway Backwards 2," a benefit for the LGBT Center. The highlight of this marvelous evening at 37 Arts Theater was performances by Betty Buckley and Len Cariou
Nathan Lane is giving what many will consider a dazzling performance as the title character in the troubled revival of Simon Gray’s 1971 play Butley that premiered back in 2003 at Boston’s Huntington Theatre. Mr. Lane is undoubtedly one of the few bankable Broadway stars around today, and he appears to be the main reason for the re-staging of this rather dated study of a brilliant, but self loathing college professor.With a reported three million dollars in advance ticket sales, what remains to be seen is if the limited run will have the legs to be a bona fide hit and ultimately be extended.
“ON BROADWAY WITH MELBA MOORE,” a rare concert event will happen 2:00 pm this Sunday Feb 11 at the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts .Tony Award winning musical legend Melba Moore began her journey to fame as Dione in the original cast of the ground breaking Broadway musical, Hair, eventually replacing Diane Keaton, becoming the first black actress to replace a white actress in a leading role on Broadway. She won a Tony award in her next musical, Purlie, and stopped the show every night with her rendition of “I Got Love,” an amazing moment in Broadway history. Melba has never sounded better and she will be in concert at Walt Whitman Theatre on the campus of Brooklyn College this Sunday. For tickets call 718-9514500.
Witty conversation, cocktails, haute cuisine, beautiful women and ballroom dancing at the Copacabana. That was the scene on Monday, March 5th for the Pan Asian Rep’s 30th Anniversary Gala. The evening played like a Noel Coward comedy and a lot like the company’s 2006 production of “Private Lives” which featured an entirely Asian-American cast.
Playwright/lyricist Christopher Durang and composer Peter Melnick have crafted a zany new musical, Adrift in Macao, a parody of romantic Hollywood film noirs from the 1940s that is an entertaining romp from the docks of exotic Macao to a nearby smoky nightclub. The musical directed by Sheryl Kaller with seductive style is a playful love letter to films that featured alluring women, mysterious men, shady characters, and a murky Orient atmosphere where nothing is what it seems.Although little more than a gleeful lampoon of old Hollywood films set in the mysterious orient, Adrift in Macao is a little musical with a big heart, and little is the operative word here. The plot is paper thin, the characters barely two dimensional, the songs modest pastiches, and there is even some dancing. The mini-musical fits beautifully onto the relatively small stage of 59E59 Theater and everyone involved has made the send-up appear larger than life. References to the classic film Casablanca are obvious, but there are nods to Alfred Hitchcock and winks at various archetypes as well.
Imagine a lyrical little play couched as political theater and you would have a strange anomaly, like this new play “BFF” produced by WET, a young feminist theater company whose important voice is beginning to get heard. The subject appears way too simple. Call it mawkish if you like, but it’s certainly not trite. The story is about two girls who take the oath to be best friends forever, hence the title, “BFF”. But they wake up to adolescence, self consciousness and the fear that their affection for each other makes them lesbians. There are other problems, too, about family and loss that interfere with their coming of age. But the story clearly probes the impenetrable shell young women build around themselves and which we carry into adulthood, should we last that long.