Thoughts of a Colored Man *****, Chicken and Biscuits **1/2

Luke James, Esau Pritchett, Da’Vinchi, Forrest McClendon, Dyllón Burnside, Tristan Mack Wilds, Bryan Terrell Clark in Thoughts of a Colored Man.

By: David Sheward

October 13, 2021: While Broadway theaters were shuttered and demonstrations erupted across the country protesting the killing of George Floyd, an African-American, by a white police officer, the industry underwent a reckoning to be more inclusive and diverse. As stages are slowly reopening, the number of productions written by African-Americans like Keenan Scott II’s Thoughts of a Colored Man and Douglas Lyons’ Chicken and Biscuits has increased above the usual token two or three per season.

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South Pacific ***1/2

Michael Santora, Sarah Colt, Eriel Milan Brown, Tierney Rose Bent, Katherine Leidlein, Lauren Anne O’Brien, Kate Wesler, Madison Claire Clark (Nellie), Jordan Bell (Luther Billis)

“Most People Long for Another Island”

By: Samuel L. Leiter

October 11, 2021: Theatre-loving residents of Nassau County (not to mention the nearby borough of Queens) have reason to rejoice in the presence of Plaza’s Broadway Long Island (a name in need of a redo). The county’s only professional (Equity) company, it just opened its agreeable production of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein’s 1949 musical classic, South Pacific, the first in an ambitious 2021-2022 musical theater season. Following it will be Man of La Mancha, The Color Purple, and Something Rotten! If you’re still pandemic-hesitant about going to Broadway, why not let Broadway come to you?  

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Six the Musical ***

Abby Mueller (Jane Seymour), Samantha Pauly (Katherine Howard), Adrianna Hicks (Catherine of Aragon), Andrea Macasaet (Anne Boleyn), Brittney Mack (Anna of Cleves), & Anna Uzele (Catherine Parr)

“Six is a Seven”

By: Samuel L. Leiter

October 7, 2021: The number of shows, films, and TV series inspired by the marital maelstroms of British monarchs is legion. For sheer numbers, none, however, not even the recent outpourings about Princess Diana and her death by paparazzi, can compete with the sixteenth-century tale of King Henry VIII and his six wives. For starters, take a peek at this list of film and TV versions

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Diana: The Musical **

Jeanna de Waal in “Diana: The Musical”.

By: David Sheward

October 6, 2021: The disappointing Diana—The Musical occupies an awkward position—not entertaining enough to be a guilty pleasure and not bad enough to be a campy hoot. Puerile, tasteless, and simplistic, this tabloid tuner is the first show to be streamed on TV before it opens on Broadway and will probably suffer big time at the box office as a result. The live version of the musical portrait of the late Princess of Wales was forced to close up shop while in previews because of the COVID pandemic. Perhaps anticipating a long quarantine and a massive financial loss, the producers sold the streaming rights to Netflix and taped a performance in the empty Longacre Theater in September 2020. The video edition began airing on Oct. 1, weeks before the official Broadway opening on Nov. 17. It will be interesting to see if this move will damage the show’s fate. Will virus-shy audiences be willing to plunk down cash for a production they can watch from their couches?

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Sanctuary City ***

Jasai-Chase-Owens, Sharlene-Cruz

By: David Sheward

September 29, 2021: Martyna Majok’s intense, well-meaning Sanctuary City has a split personality. The first hour of this tale of two young people struggling to deal with our inequitable immigration laws is told in short, fragmentary shards. Sometimes they are repeated to demonstrate the endless cycle of hope and betrayal encountered on the endless path to becoming legal. Most of these vignettes are less than a minute and their cumulative impact is like standing in the middle of a dramatic sand storm.

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The Last Night at the Oki Dog ***

The Cast of The Last Night of the Oki Dog

By: Paulanne Simmons

September 28, 2021: The year is 1985. It’s a warm winter day on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood, where the Oki Dog, a hot dog stand run by a middle-aged Asian-American named Eddie (Amir Malaklou), serves as the meeting place and battleground for a rowdy clientele of drifters, drug dealers, pimps and prostitutes. The place is deserted, except for Twilight (Kara Arena), who sleeps on the table, and Eddie, who’s cleaning up, getting ready for the hot dog stand’s last day before the police shut it down for good. Apparently, the neighbors have had enough. 

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A Commercial Jingle For Regina Comet **1/2

Ben Fankhauser, Bryonha Marie Parham, Alex Wyse

By: Samuel L. Leiter

September 27, 2021: It takes a lot of chutzpah for a show to announce beneath the title on its Playbill cover, almost as a subtitle, “A New Musical Hit in the Making.” This is, after all, a city where the “h”-word rightfully belongs to works of creative genius, like Come from Away, Hadestown, and Hamilton, to name a few. In the case of A Commercial Jingle for Regina Comet, though, with its sixteen producers,it’s hard not to feel that pride goeth before a fall. 

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Between Fire & Ice ***** 

Adrienne Haan

Between Fire & Ice: A Diabolical Weimer Berlin Kabaret

By: Paulanne Simmons

September 27, 2021: The year may be 2021. And The Triad Theater may be located at 158 West 72 Street in New York City. But on Saturday afternoon, Sept. 25, Adrienne Haan transported the audience at the Triad to Weimar Germany. Despite Germany’s “sad attempt at democracy,” this was a time when populism, militarism, racism and anti-Semitism were all on the rise. But, said Haan, it was also “the creative time of the great cabaret artists.”

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The Last of the Love Letters **1/2

Ngozi Anyanwu

By: David Sheward

September 21, 2021: At first, Ngozi Anyanwu’s The Last of the Love Letters seems like a conventional breakup story. The audience enters the Atlantic Theater Company’s Linda Gross Theater to find Anyanwu herself on stage as a character listed in the digital program as “You.” (The others are enigmatically called You No. 2 and Person.) This You is scribbling in a notebook, evidently she is writing the missive alluded to in the title. As the play begins, Anyanwu launches into a 20-minute monologue describing the defects of her relationship with the addressee and the reasons why she is breaking up with him or her. It’s funny and entertaining enough, with some sassy barbs aimed at the rejected lover. Anyanwu is a sharp writer and a confident performer, but this is familiar territory.

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Sanctuary City ***

Sharlene Cruz, Jasai Chase-Owens

By Samuel L. Leiter

September 21, 2021: Martyna Majok, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 2018 for Cost of Living, her touching play about disabled people, continues to examine issues relevant to the socially dispossessed in Sanctuary City. It’s at the Lortel after its opening at the New York Theatre Workshop last year was suspended when the pandemic hit. Still under the NYTW’s aegis, the fitfully engaging Sanctuary City offers insights into the lives of young immigrants, the kind usually referred to as “dreamers.” Those, of course, get their name from the Dream Act proposal—swiftly alluded to-that would allow undocumented immigrants eventually to be granted permanent residency. It has other things on its mind as well.

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What Happened? The Michaels Abroad ****

Jay O. Sanders, Maryann Plunke

By: David Sheward

September 18, 2021: “I don’t know” is the answer the characters in Richard Nelson’s What Happened? The Michaels Abroad give when asked what they will do next after a year and a half of the COVID-19 pandemic. Gathered in an apartment in Angers, France for a dance festival, the Michaels and their friends ponder their future in an uncertain world. Just like the previous works in his Rhinebeck Panorama, there is very little plot or action and some may find the play dull or uninvolving, but this final work in Nelson’s 12-play cycle offers an intimate and detailed account of the current frightening moment as we deal with the continuing pandemic. Like the previous plays, there are no dramatic fireworks, the acting and staging are low-key. It’s like a visit to catch up with old friends, familiar and comforting after the rug has been pulled out from under you.

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Pass Over ***1/2

Jon-Michael-Hill, Namir-Smallwood, Gabriel-Ebert

By: Isa Goldberg

September 9, 2021: In Antoinette Chinonye Nwandu’s “Pass Over” a couple of tramps – homeless black guys – dream about getting off the block,” getting some food and regular housing.  

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Pass Over ****

Namir Smallwood and Jon Michael Hill

By: David Sheward

August 22, 2021: The first Broadway show to open since the pandemic shutdown of March 2020 is appropriately a blast of fresh air for the naughty, bawdy Great Bright Way. After productions in Chicago in 2017 and at Lincoln Center’s Off-Broadway Clara Tow Theatre in 2018, Antoinette Chinonye Nwandu’s Pass Over arrives freighted with history and portend, heralding a new moment in commercial New York theater. Since the COVID crisis and the racial reckoning America has undergone, Nwandu’s powerful allegory on what it means to be young and black in this country has taken on new significance and explores what we’ve gone through, though it was written before the killing of George Floyd and the subsequent protests for racial justice. (Nwandu has made some scripts revisions since the last staging.)

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Trial on the Potomac ***1/2

By George Bugatti
Directed by Josh Iacovelli
Theater at St. Clement’s
Through Sept. 4, 2021

By: Lauren Yarger

August 17, 2021::We all remember the scandal: Richard Nixon left the White House in disgrace following investigative reports by Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein and the famous Watergate hearings that exposed corruption and crimes by the president’s re-election campaign.

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Broadway Belters SING! ****1/2

Lianne M. Dobbs, Carole J. Bufford

By: Paulanne Simmons

August 14, 2021: Scott Siegel, writer, host and all-around impresario, opened Broadway Belters SING! by thanking the audience for “braving the heat and the Delta variant” to come see his show at The Green Room 42. He then offered a definition of a belter: “You know it when you hear it.” The rest of the show gave the audience abundant opportunities to prove him right.

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