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.)

Read more >

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.

Read more >

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.

Read more >

Merry Wives ***

By: David Sheward

August 10, 2021: Merry Wives, Jocelyn Bioh’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s bawdy comedy of laundry baskets and bedroom antics, is a significant event not because of its slight whimsy but because it marks a return to live theater after nearly a year and a half of COVID restrictions. This first production at Central Park’s Delacorte Theater since the shuttering of stages due to the pandemic in March 2020 is a celebration of the power of theater to unify a community and needs to be cheered for that. The show itself is fun and silly, perfect for a light summer frolic.

Read more >

Camelot Delights ****1/2

Jeremy Kushnier, Britney Coleman

Bay Street Theater’s intimate staging of Lerner & Loewe’s Camelot soars amidst a Bridgehampton Field.

By: Patrick Christiano

August 8, 2021: Bay Street Theater returns with a magical staging of Lerner and Loewe’s beloved musical, Camelot, which opened last night in Bridgehampton. The evening, directed by Scott Schwartz, Bay Street Theater’s Artistic Director, features a strong cast and a superb score by the gifted duo, who gave us another enduring classic, My Fair Lady, which Bay Street staged to stunning effect in 2016. And then, there are classic songs like, “If Ever I Would Leave You,” “Camelot,” “What Do the Simple Folk Do,” and “I Loved You Once In Silence,” songs you go out of the theater humming, which return to you, again, the following day.

Read more >

Judgment Day *****

Jason Alexander, Patti Lupone

By: Paulanne Simmons

July 29, 2021: In the late 15th century, the morality play, The Summoning of Everyman, examined salvation and determined that the only way we get to heaven is by doing good deeds. Many centuries later, producer and now playwright Bob Ulin’s Judgment Day, a comedic farce, comes to the same conclusion. 

Read more >

Fruma-Sarah (Waiting in the Wings) **1/2

Jackie Hoffman, Kelly Kinsella

By: David Sheward

July 8, 2021: It’s appropriate that the first indoor production with live actors I’m reviewing since the COVID pandemic shut down all NYC stages over a year ago is a celebration of theater and how it can heal communities and create families. E. Dale Smith’s Fruma-Sarah (Waiting in the Wings) is such a celebration but this backstage comedy is flawed, and somewhat forced. Fortunately, that prickly comedienne Jackie Hoffman makes it fly. 

Read more >

Tiny House ***

Sara Bues, Denver Miford, Elizabeth Heflin

By: David Sheward

July 2, 2021: As theaters across the country announce the return of live, post-pandemic performances, the number of Zoom and virtual shows has waned. But there are still companies presenting intriguing and innovative offerings via the Internet. Perhaps this hybrid of theater and technology will become a permanent new media, expanding the possibilities and accessibility of intimate performances. One such computer-broadcast play is Michael Gotch’s pleasant and proficient family comedy Tiny House, presented by the Westport Country Playhouse through July 18. Gotch displays an admirable facility for sharp dialogue, free of gotchas (pardon the pun), and the proceedings are smoothly directed for the small screen by Mark Lamos. 

Read more >

Four Chords and a Gun ***

By: Paulanne Simmons

June 30, 2021: Forty years ago, the legendary punk rock group, the Ramones, recorded the album “End of the Century” with the legendary producer Phil Spector. In 2016, John Ross Bowie’s Four Chords and a Gun, a play about the drama and sometimes violent conflicts surrounding this endeavor, premiered at L.A.’s Bootleg Theater. In April 2019 it landed at Toronto’s Fleck Dance Theatre, and in May of that year, the play ran at the Broadway Playhouse, in Chicago. Now it is being streamed at Play-PerView, available on demand through June 30.

Read more >

Scott Coulter & Friends From Dolly Parton to David Bowie! *****

By: Paulanne Simmons

June 29, 2021: The very last show Scott Coulter produced and hosted at Feinstein’s/54 Below before the pandemic shut everything down was a tribute to composer Jerry Herman. The house was packed, and the atmosphere was jubilant, as is frequently the case when people know the end is coming.

Read more >

Becoming Dr. Ruth ****

Tovah Feldshuh, Director Scott Schwartz, Dr. Ruth Westheimer Photo: Barry Gordin

By: Patrick Christiano

Renowned sex therapist, Dr. Ruth, attended the opening night of Becoming Dr. Ruth at Bay Street theater in Sag Harbor.

June 6, 2021:  The re-opening of Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor drew the renowned sex therapist, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, who attended the opening night of Becoming Dr. Ruth, the theater’s first post-pandemic production. The play, also, re-unites the six-time Tony and Emmy Award-nominee, Tovah Feldshuh, who stars as Dr. Ruth, with her Broadway, Golda’s Balcony’s director, Scott Schwartz, Bay Street Theater Artistic Director. Becoming Dr. Ruth, a one-woman play by renowned playwright, Mark St. Germain, chronicles, the remarkable life of the noted psychologist Dr. Ruth Westheimer and will play at Bay Street Theater through June 27th

Read more >

Home Project (excerpts-in-process) *****

By: Paulanne Simmons

May 28, 2021: For the past year, most of us have been taking refuge in our homes. Now that we’re at last venturing out, it seems like a perfect time to explore the many meanings of home. Tiffany Mills Company’s “Home Project (excerpts-in-process)” celebrates the home through video, dance, music and spoken word. The performance is now streaming as part of LaMaMa Moves! Dance Festival on Demand.

Read more >

pen/man/ship **1/2

Lynn Nottage Photo: Lynn Savarese

By: Paulanne Simmons

April 22, 2021: Based in Prospect Park, Molière in the Park boasts a mission statement reinforcing the belief that “provocative and high caliber theater performed in public spaces and available to all, has the power to unite communities.”

Read more >

John Cullum: An Accidental Star ****

John Cullum Photo: Carol Rosegg

By: David Sheward

April 17, 2021: Still spry and charismatic at 91, John Cullum offers an enchanting and charming solo turn  in John Cullum: An Accidental Star, a 80-minute career retrospective with songs. This virtual cabaret piece, available online until April 22, was produced by the Irish Repertory Theater, the Vineyard Theater and Goodspeed Opera House, three theaters Cullum has worked with, and is simplicity itself. Cullum relates stories about his seven-decade career with subtle musical accompaniment by pianist and musical director Julie McBride. From his early days in New York with Joseph Papp’s Shakespeare in the Park to his Broadway debut in Camelot to recent triumphs such as The Scottsboro Boys, the two-time Tony winning star offers amusing anecdotes and backstage insights as well as memorable performances of songs from his shows.

Read more >

Blindness ****

By: David Sheward

April 9, 2021: If a live event has no live actors, stage, sets or costumes, is it really theater? That’s the conundrum posed by Blindness, the unique gathering at the Daryl Roth Theater and the first indoor New York performance presented on or Off-Broadway since all NYC stages were shuttered due to the COVID-19 pandemic over a year ago. The piece was conceived in response to the pandemic and opened at London’s Donmar Warehouse last year. While it lacks the conventional accoutrements of a night at the theater, it does deliver a devastating emotional wallop—and that’s all any piece of entertainment requires to succeed.

Read more >