Water For Elephants ***

Marissa Rosen, Gregg Edelman, Taylor Colleton, Sara Gettelfinger, Joe De Paul, and Stan Brown.

By: Isa Goldberg

April 4, 2024: Known for their crafty storytelling, and several albums, Pigpen Theatre Co.’s new musical, Water for Elephants, is an adaptation of Sarah Gruen’s titular novel, that later became a popular film. It’s just the kind of coming of age story that the company has mastered in such works, as The Old Man and The Old Moon. 

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Stalker ***1/2

Peter Brynolf and Jonas Ljung.

By: Paulanne Simmons

April 1, 2024: Although it’s called Stalker, street magicians and illusionists Peter Brynolf and Jonas Ljung’s New York theatrical debut has nothing to do with following and watching anyone for a long period of time, and certainly in no way that is annoying or frightening. Rather their show, directed by Edward Af Sillén, is a combination of magic tricks, mentalist feats and mesmerizing illusion.

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Water For Elephants ****

Grant Gustin

By: Paulanne Simmons

March 31, 2024: In a theater season that has been rather sedate, the new musical, Water for Elephants comes as a welcome shot in the arm. Like so many other recent Broadway offerings, Water for Elephants is based on a novel (a 2006 historical romance by Canadian-American author Sara Gruen) that was later turned into a film (a 2011 romantic drama starring Reese Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson, Christoph Waltz and Hal Holbrook). But in this case the printed word translates equally well to both stage and screen.

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Ibsen’s Ghost ****

Charles Busch

Charles Busch’s campy fantasy, Ibsen’s Ghost, delights.

By: Patrick Christiano

March 29, 2024: The incomparable Charles Busch is at it again stirring up a hornet’s nest of fun with his new play, Ibsen’s Ghost, subtitled “An Irresponsible Biographical Fantasy,” which is now playing at 59E59 Theaters. The tale presented by Primary Stages in association with George Street Playhouse centers on Suzannah, the widow of the Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen, played by Charles Busch.  Need I say more? Busch turns the bereaved widow of the story into a campy diva on a mission.

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Water For Elephants *****

The Cast of “Water For Elephants”.

By: Samuel L. Leiter

March 30, 2024: Pop quiz: two recently opened Broadway musicals include the following: 1) a heartwarming story in which an elderly man, living in a facility, has good reason to look back on his youth; 2) the old man recalls falling in love with a lovely young woman; 3) after overcoming big obstacles, the lovers marry and share their lives for half a century; 4) the old gent views his memories acted out as he steps into them beside his younger self. Name the shows.

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Corruption ****, Eddie Izzard Performing Hamlet ****

John Behlmann, Eleanor Handley and Toby Stephens in “Corruption”.

By: David Sheward

March 28, 2024: Though J.T. Rogers is an American playwright, his new work Corruption at Lincoln Center’s Off-Broadway Mitzi Newhouse Theater, has a distinct British feel to it. And it’s not just because of the subject matter—the phone-hacking scandal of 2010-11 that temporarily damaged Rupert Murdoch’s media empire and forced the closing of his sensation-seeking English tabloid News of the World. Corruption examines a political issue and how it impacts society as a whole, not just in one country but the entire world. The British tend to tackle contemporary issues in their theater while Americans are mostly content with escapist musicals or dramas of personal or family dynamics. Rogers has become the preeminent American dramatist addressing such political topics. His multiple award-winning Oslo (2016) chronicled the complex negotiations leading to the 1990s peace accords between Israel and Palestine, while Blood and Gifts (2010) shone a spotlight on the international struggle for power in Afghanistan in the 1980s. (Both were also presented at the Newhouse and directed by Bartlett Sher, who stages Corruption.)

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The Notebook ****

Jorrdan Tyson (Younger Allie) and John Cardoza (Younger Noah)/

By: Isa Goldberg

Much 28 , 2024: Daring it is, that Bekah Brunstetter and Ingrid Michaelson’s new musical, The Notebook, arrives in such a crowded musical season.  It’s subject, nearly unspeakable, is Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia. Not a comedy, and not a show with A list movie stars. But a show that is meaningful, surprisingly.

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The Notebook: The Musical ***

John Cardoza (Younger Noah) and Jordan Tyson (Younger Allie)).

By: Samuel L. Leiter

March 22, 2024: If a Broadway show’s success could be measured by how many buckets of tears it produced, The Notebook: The Musical, at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, would be a shoo-in. As I moved up the aisle at both the intermission and final curtain it was impossible not to notice the many playgoers dabbing at their eyes. (If you forget to bring your own tissues, don’t fret. The show sells packets at a concession stand.) Even my middle-aged daughter fell victim to the unapologetic sentimentality. Asked by friends on Facebook for her response, she wrote: “Not fantastic but I bawled like a baby,” and “Didn’t love it but I cried my eyes out.”

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The Notebook ** 1/2

Jordan Tyson (Younger Allie) and John Cardoza (Younger Noah)/

By: Paulanne Simmons

March 22, 2024: If there were an award for putting the most clichés into one work, surely the new musical, The Notebook, would win it. In about two hours and twenty minutes, we see all the familiar themes: rich girl meets poor boy, parents don’t approve, poor boy goes off to war, mother steals poor boy’s letters, girl finds new man, poor boy comes home from war and the lovers are reunited, rich girl (painlessly) abandons new guy, lovers live happily ever after and die in each other’s arms.

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Brooklyn Laundry ****, Pericles ****

David Zayas and Cecily Strong in “Brooklyn Laundry”.

By: David Sheward

April 22, 2024: Comedy, tragedy and romance collide in Brooklyn Laundry, John Patrick Shanley’s latest depiction of damaged souls stumbling towards connection, at Manhattan Theater Club’s Off-Broadway City Center space. Like his Oscar-winning screenplay for Moonstruck, Brooklyn Laundry matches two unlikely lovers coming together despite their troubled pasts. The comedy begins gently but after numerous twists and turns into darker territory, this witty, endearing play evolves into a wise lesson on playing the hand life has dealt you. Stanley’s hand as director of his own work is as sure and steady as the one he uses to write the detail-laden and character-revealing dialogue.

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Dead Outlaw ****, A Sign of the Times **1/2

Andrew Durand and Jeb Brown in “Dead Outlaw”.

By: David Sheward

March 20, 2024: In this crowded Broadway season of movie adaptations, revivals and Off-Broadway transfers, the most original and captivating tuner so far in 2023-24 can be found far from Times Square at the intimate Minetta Lane Theatre. Dead Outlaw is a dark, fiercely funny satire on America’s warped obsession with crime, fame and death. Based on a true story, the titular stiff is one Elmer McCurdy, a small-time, incompetent train robber whose mummified cadaver is discovered in an amusement park horror ride in 1976. The journey from the desolate lawless West of the early 20th century to that sad amusement pier is one of desperation, alienation and longing to fit in.

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Corruption ***1/2

John Behlmann, Eleanor Handley and Toby Stephens.

By: Samuel L. Leiter

March 18, 2024: American playwright J.T. Rogers’s Corruption is a sprawling, two hour and 40-minute, political docudrama based on a major British scandal involving the hacking into as many as 11,000 private phones—from the royal family to the person in the street—by unscrupulous journalists.  It broke out during this century’s first decade and played out in 2010 and 2011, when the play is set.The riveting details were described in a 2012 book by two of its central participants—Labour Party member of Parliament Tom Watson and Guardian journalist Martin Hickman—titled Dial M for Murdoch: News Corporation and the Corruption of Britain

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Melba Moore @ 54 Below ****1/2

By: Patrick Christiano

Melba Moore’s Dynamite new show, From Broadway With Love, @ 54 Below.

March 16, 2024: The marvelous Tony winner Melba Moore is trying out a new show, MELBA MOORE: FROM BROADWAY WITH LOVE, at 54 Below, the intimate supper club in the theater district on 54th Street, just off Broadway.  She will do another performance tonight at 7pm. If you are free and can score a ticket, don’t hesitate. The lady is the real deal with an unbelievable voice and a commanding presence. She lights up the entire room. Her song list is spectacular with an emphasis on highlights from her Broadway Career.

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Doubt: A Parable *****

Liev Schreiber (Father Flynn) and Zoe Kazan ( Sister James).

By: Samuel L. Leiter

March 15, 2024: The Roundabout’s revival of John Patrick Shanley’s taut-as-a-tripwire 2004 drama Doubt: A Parable has been racked by health setbacks to its acting company. First, Tyne Daly had to drop out of the role of Sister Aloysius Beauvier, requiring the distinguished Amy Ryan to step in with very little time to prepare. Then, on the day I was booked, I learned that one of the principals would be out and that critics—most of them awards voters—would need to reschedule so they could see the complete regular company. A friend who happened to be at that performance told me that Liev Schreiber had appeared before the play began to apologize for not being able to perform, his role of Father Flynn being taken by Chris McGarry, who, my friend said, turned in a fine performance. I was finally able to attend last night and can assure you it was well worth the wait.

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The Notebook ***, Illinoise ***

Joy Woods (Middle Allie) and Ryan Vasquez (Middle Noah) in “The Notebook”.

By: David Sheward

March 14, 2024: If sentimentality is your thing, The Notebook is definitely for you. Based on Nicholas Sparks’ 1996 best-selling novel, which became Nick Cassavetes’ 2004 cult-favorite film, this musical mines every treacly plot point for maximum tearjerking effect. 

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