Golden Shield ***

Gillian Saker, Daniel Jenkins, and Max Gordon Moore

By: Samuel L. Leiter

May 22, 2022: In Golden Shield, now at the Manhattan Theatre Club’s Stage 1,Thai-Australian playwright Anchuli Felicia King has written a semi-fictional docudrama about a class action suit against a corrupt American-based multinational tech corporation. The Texas-based company is being sued by an American legal firm for its responsibility in creating an internet censoring system (the eponymous Golden Shield) for the equally corrupt Chinese government, which led to the punishment of eight Chinese dissidents who tried to scale its firewall. Even though the company, ONYS, is fictional, the case is similar enough to real ones (involving companies like Cisco and Yahoo) to have made a riveting courtroom drama. 

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Potus ****

Lilli Cooper, Rachel Dratch and Vanessa Williams

POTUS: Or, Behind Every Great Dumbass are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive

By: Paulanne Simmons

May 20. 2022: POTUS: Or, Behind Every Great Dumbass are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive, a lively new political farce, might have been simply an extended Saturday Night Live sketch that wears thin after the first half hour. But thanks to the spirited and clever writing of Selina Fillinger, director Susan Stroman‘s steady hand and the brilliant ensemble work of a group of talented women, it’s much more. If you need a good belly laugh, head right down to the Shubert Theatre, and do not pass Go. 

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jAmericano! A New Musical ***

By: Samuel L. Leiter

May 17, 2022: Among many things for which this addled season of Covid-based cancelations and postponements will be remembered is the abundance of those little slips of paper you find in your Playbill notifying you that at this performance the role of “_____” will be played by “_____.” This has been the season of understudies, so many, in fact, that articles, videos, and social media comments about their often remarkable contributions have flooded the internet. I can’t go on Facebook without reading, for example, about how a certain understudy in a certain long-awaited musical revival is superior to the performer she has sometimes had to replace. 

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Chekhov + Turgenev ***1/2

The Cast “About Love”

By: Paulanne Simmons

Mary 22, 2022: If you’re a fan of classic Russian literature, there’s a treat waiting for you at The Sheen Center, where Blueprint Productions in presenting in repertory the work of two iconic writers, Anton Chekhov and Ivan Turgenev. Both plays are adapted and directed by Will Pomerantz and feature an original jazz score by Nancy Harrow, performed nightly by a live jazz quartet.

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Macbeth **, Mr. Saturday Night ****

Asia Kate Dillon, Che Ayende, Danny Wolohan, Amber Gray, Daniel Craig, Emeka Guindo, Paul Lazar, Ruth Negga, Maria Dizzia, Grantham Coleman, Bobbi MacKenzie, Phillip James Brannon , Eboni Flowers in MacBeth.

By: David Sheward

Mary 16, 2022: You know you’re in trouble at a production of Macbeth when the three witches look like they’re about to start a cooking class at a suburban shopping mall. That’s what greets audiences at the Longacre Theater in the half-hour before Sam Gold’s bizarro interpretation of the Scottish Play. This highly-touted staging starring Daniel Craig (the big screen’s most recent James Bond) and the acclaimed Irish-Ethiopian actress Ruth Negga, doesn’t seem to trust the audience to take Shakespeare straight. Like his overstuffed King Lear featuring Glenda Jackson from a few seasons back, Gold’s take on the Bard’s tale of overweening ambition and imaginary daggers, panders to the lowest common-denominator crowd and has way too much going on. 

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American Buffalo ****

Darren Criss and Lawrence Fishburne

By: Samuel L. Leiter

MAY 13, 2022: David Mamet’s American Buffalo, often considered a modern, if minor, American classic, has been produced countless times worldwide since its late 1975 premiere at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre. It was shown soon after, in January 1976, for 16 performances, at Off Broadway’s St. Clement’s Theatre, with Mike Kellin as petty hoodlum Walter Cole (“Teach”), Michael Egan as junkshop owner Donny Dubrow, and J.T. Walsh as their young, drug-addled acolyte, Bobby. Around a year later came a dynamic Broadway production, starring a feral Robert Duvall in the commanding role of Teach, Kenneth McMillan as Donny, and John Savage—in a breakthrough performance—as Bobby. 

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Harmony ****1/2

Eric Peters, Blake Roman, Zal Owen, Steve Telsey, Sean Bell and Danny Kornfeld

By: Paulanne Simmons

March 12, 2022: Despite the fact that I was born and raised Jewish and have heard more stories of the Holocaust than I can remember, I knew nothing about the Comedian Harmonists until I saw Harmony, a not-so-new but wonderful musical The National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene is presenting at Museum of Jewish Heritage — A Living Memorial to the Holocaust.

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Paradise Square ***

By Samuel L. Leiter

May 12, 2022: Finally, after yet another cancellation setback caused by a backstage Covid outbreak, I was able to see Paradise Square, the final iteration (one assumes) of what began as an intimate musical called Hard Times, which I saw—and admired—in its 2014 revival at Nancy Manocherian’s tiny theatre, the cell, on W. 23rd Street. (It first played there in 2012.) That excellent, unpretentious little production, with only half a dozen actors, has been radically transmogrified into a Broadway behemoth that premiered in 2019 at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, and is presently at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, with a cast of nearly three dozen, and a shelf of ten Tony nominations, including Best Musical. It also marks the Broadway return of Canadian producer, Garth Drabinsky, whose felonious activities have gained him notoriety.

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How I Learned To Drive ****, American Buffalo ***

Alyssa May Gold, David Morse, Mary-Louise Parker, Johanna Day, Chris Myers in “How I Learned To Drive”.

By: David Sheward

May 10, 2022: Varying takes on toxic masculinity and dysfunctional families are on view in two Broadway reviews of powerful, late 20th century works. Paula Vogel’s How I Learned to Drive focuses on a woman’s recollection of her ambiguous, incestuous relationship with a pedophile uncle. On the surface, David Mamet’s American Buffalo examines a botched robbery among three incompetent petty thieves, but if you dig deeper, you’ll find a brutal,  but sympathetic look at a makeshift family. Both are given strong interpretations by their directors and cast, but Drive finds more layers beneath the surface while Buffalo is funnier and showier, yet doesn’t delve into the play’s depths.

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 jAmericano! ****

By: Paulanne Simmons

May 10, 2022: If you’ve ever wanted to know what it means to be an American, just ask someone who longs to be a citizen. Or go see the new musical ¡Americano!, which gives us the exuberant answer in words, music and dance. does.   

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American Buffalo **1/2

Sam Rockwell, Laurence Fishburne

By: Paulanne Simmons

Perhaps David Mamet and his plays are an acquired taste. If this is true, I am one reviewer who has never acquired that taste. 

May 13, 2022: American Buffalo, which opened at Circle in the Square Theatre April 14, features two of our finest actors as the drama’s small-time hustlers, Laurence Fishburne as Donny, and Sam Rockwell as Teach. And the up-and-coming Darren Criss does an admirable job as Bobby, Donny’s junkshop assistant. 

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The Minutes ***1/2

Tracy Letts and Noah Reid

By: Paulanne Simmons

May 7, 2022: The Minutes, Tracy Letts’s new play about an unwelcome revelation at a small-town City Council meeting, might have been a comic masterpiece or a tragic comment on our national delusions. But Letts decided to make his play a little of both. And in the end, the comic beginning, despite hints strewn throughout, does not emotionally prepare us for the bitter ending. This is both the play’s strength and its weakness.

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Hitler’s Tasters ****

Hallie Griffin, MaryKathryn Kopp, Kaitlin Paige Longoria, Hannah Mae Sturges, Lea Parker

Based on true events, Hitler’s Tasters, a dark comedy about the young girls, who were chosen to be Hitler’s food tasters, feels chillingly relevant.

By: Patrick Christiano

May 4, 2022: Hitler’s Taster’s, a captivating play by Michelle Kholos Brooks, opened for a limited run at Theatre Row through May 21, 2022. The dark comedy, based on true events, is about the young girls who were given the honor to serve Der Fuhrer, by being his food tasters and risking death at every meal.

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The Skin of Our Teeth ***, Potus: or Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive ****

Roslyn Ruff, Julian Robertson, Paige Gilbert and James Vincent Meredith as the Antrobus family in “The Skin Of Our Teeth”

By: David Sheward

May 3, 2022: Two over-the-top comedies illuminate the differing styles of their respective decades of origin. They also offer pointed observations on serious subjects such as the struggle for civilization amidst natural and man-made disaster and the absurdity of our political system in a sexist, social-media-driven world. Thornton Wilder’s 1942 Pulitzer Prize-winning allegorical fantasy The Skin of Our Teeth receives a gigantic, somewhat overblown, but still effective production at Lincoln Center’s huge Vivian Beaumont stage while a raucous new satire with a bizarre title, POTUS or Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive, explodes the Shubert Theater like a landmine of hilarity.

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Potus ***1/2

The Cast of “Potus”.

By: Isa Goldberg

May 3, 2022: While the ladies of “POTUS:”, the new Broadway comedy portray savvy politicians, it’s clear they wouldn’t make very good doctors. It’s their hysteria at the Prez’s medical emergency that ignites this slapstick comedy. 

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