Young Frankenstein *****

It’s a No-Brainer! Young Frankenstein is a Phenomenal Halloween Treat

By: Iris Wiener

October 29, 2023: It doesn’t get better than a comedic musical by Mel Brooks, but one that serves as much hilarity and creativity as CM Performing Art Center’s Young Frankenstein exceeds all bounds. Now running through November 5th in Oakdale, Long Island, the astounding production is so stunningly imaginative that it feels like a short step away from Broadway. 

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BroadwayHD

The Prince of Egypt: The Musical on BroadwayHD November 15 with songs by Grammy & Academy Award winner Stephen Schwartz, the composer of Wicked.

October 1, 2023: The West End sensation, The Prince of Egypt: The Musical, will be released on BroadwayHD from November 15 and available to Buy or Rent on Digital from December 5.

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Pay The Writer **

Bryan Batt as Burston Fischer and Marcia Cross as Lana Holt.

By: David Sheward

August 29, 2023: Playwright Tawni O’Dell uses the same gag twice in her new play Pay the Writer at the Signature Center (the play is not a production of the Signature Theater Company, but is renting the space). African-American literary lion Cyrus Holt (a robust Ron Canada) twice stops himself after uttering an eloquent observation on life, says “That’s good” and rushes to jot it down in a note book for future reference. The bit is supposed to reinforce the theme of writers living outside their authentic selves in order to observe the human condition and thereby alienating their family and friends. Hardly a novel topic, but a worthy one. The trouble is O’Dell makes the point twice and it’s one of too many themes and plotlines running through this confusing, occasionally entertaining work. 

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Here Lies Love ****1/2

Arielle Jacobs (Imelda Marcos) and Jose Llana (Ferdinand Marcos).

By: Samuel L. Leiter

July 27, 2023: Ten years ago, I was standing on the crowded floor of a modestly-sized space at Off Broadway’s Public Theatre with a couple of hundred other human sardines, feeling the beat of a rocking disco-like score, originally produced as a concept album three years earlier. We were watching Here Lies Love, a mostly sung-through musical about the rise and fall of Imelda Marcos, world-famous Filipino political leader and glamorous celebrity figure. Bopping along next to me was one of its brilliant creators, the white-suited David Byrne, of the Talking Heads, who had conceived the show, composed its music (with Fatboy Slim), and written its lyrics. Large yellow ear plugs were provided as protection from the music’s eardrum-shattering volume.

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Wet Brain ****

Frankie J. Alvarez and Arturo Luis Soria in “Wet Brain”.

By: David Sheward

June 21, 2023: After you’ve seen as many dysfunctional families plays as this critic has, you may begin to doubt the absolute truth of Tolstoy’s famous maxim that each unhappy family is unique. They tend to blur together and you can’t tell one weepy clan stage saga from another. The woes of the Hispanic, Arizona-based family in John J. Caswell, Jr.’s surprisingly spicy, funny and gut-wrenching play Wet Brain , a co-production of Playwrights Horizons and MCC Theater, may be familiar, but the way Caswell conveys their fractured dynamic is inventive and different.

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Jeff Harnar, Alex Rybeck

Jeff Harnar, Alex Rybeck

Happy 40th Anniversary

By: Alix Cohen

June 4, 2023: Ham and eggs, Abbott and Costello, A bushel and a peck – when a performer and musical director achieve artistic symbiosis, bloom in friendship and finish one another’s sentences, we have a match made in cabaret Heaven. Though neither artist is exclusive, what they have together continues to grow and enhance the careers of arguably two of the best, most creative people in the field. This is (kind of) how it happened.

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Christine Andreas: Two For The Road

By: Alix Cohen

April 21, 2023: Broadway Baby Christine Andreas adapted to cabaret and concert stages as if doing it all along. Elegance, authority, enunciation, vocal control and story awareness have always been signatures. And oh that radiant voice! The artist and her husband/MD/pianist/composer Martin Silvestri loosely frame this show on their joint travels, thirty-one years of musical meanderings, many newly minted.

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Bob Fosse’s Dancin’ ***1/2

Bob Fosses DANCIN’ at The Music Box Theatre.

By: Samuel L. Leiter

March 31, 2023: Don’t be deceived by the essentially bare stage facing you at the start of Bob Fosse’s Dancin’, a revival at the Music Box of Fosse’s 1978 multi-Tony-nominated all-dance revue (originally called just Dancin’). What you’re about to see is nothing like the scenery-less version of A Doll’s House over at the Hudson Theatre. Robert Brill’s skeletal scenic concept will soon explode with such fantastic lighting by Robert Grill and video designs by Finn Ross you may feel as visually overwhelmed by them as by the incredible dancing they’re designed to illuminate and enhance. Reid Bartelme and Harriet Jung’s numerous striking costumes help pile on the eye candy.

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The Museum of Broadway – It’s About Time!

“You’ve got to have a dream, if you don’t have a dream, how you gonna make a dream come true?” Oscar Hammerstein II (South Pacific)

By Alix Cohen

November 15, 2022: That Broadway brought in 1.43 billion dollars in the 2018/2019 season employing 97,000 people are just statistics unless you own a business in the neighborhood or among those employed. That its cluster of theaters has illuminated and entertained us since 1735 when the first venue opened is something personal to each of us who experiences The Great White Way, referring to its multitude of lights. Remember the thrill of your first show, of seeing an actor known only by reputation, of laughing, crying, thinking differently, humming new tunes? How many aspiring thespians has it fueled? How many celebrations has it seen?

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Vineyard Theater

The cast and creative team of David Cale’s SANDRA on the first day of rehearsal — composer Matthew Dean Marsh, star of SANDRA Marjan Neshat, playwright David Cale, and director Leigh Silverman.

Proclamation from the Mayor’s office will celebrate November 3, 2022, as Vineyard Theater Day & on that same day the Vineyard Theater will launch their 40th Season with a new thriller Sandra.

October 30, 2022: Vineyard Theatre Artistic Directors Douglas Aibel and Sarah Sternand Managing Director Suzanne Appelannounced that the company will be receiving a proclamation from the Mayor’s Office on November 3 to celebrate Vineyard Theatre Day, recognizing the institution’s contributions to the city of New York and its neighborhood of Union Square. In celebration of their 40th anniversary season, Vineyard Theatre also recently announced a new visual identity that honors the company’s 40 years of fearless theatre-making in New York and will unveil its new awning. 

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James Monroe Iglehart

James Monroe Iglehart

James Monroe Iglehart Shares His New Cabaret Show Ahead of a Performance at NJPAC

By: Iris Wiener

April 21,2022: Due to his remarkable, distinct talent, James Monroe Iglehart steals every show in which he is cast. His head-turning, Tony Award winning performance in Aladdin and his breakout spot in Memphis were only the beginning of an illustrious career which now spans stage and screen. Not many entertainers can boast performing in two Broadway shows running simultaneously (see last year’s Freestyle Love Supreme and Hamilton), nor can they say they worked on Disney movies and guest roles throughout the pandemic (see Disenchanted and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, respectively). However, despite a laundry list of credits that demonstrate his versatility, what truly sets Iglehart apart from the rest is his enormous heart. He takes center stage in his new concert, The JMI Show, premiering at the NJPAC on April 22nd as part of the American Songbook series. He spoke with Theaterlife about returning to cabaret, sharing a bill with Jim Dale, and his latest guest-star turn with the ladies of Girls5Eva.

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English ****, The Hang ***

(l-r) Tala Ashe (Elham), Pooya Mohseni (Roya), Marjan Neshat (Marjan), Hadi Tabbal (Omid) and Ava Lalezarzadeh (Goli) in “English”.

By: David Sheward

February 27, 2022: Our relationship with language is the subject of Sanaz Toossi’s perceptive new play English, presented in a taut and affecting production by Knud Adams in a co-production from Atlantic Theater Company and Roundabout Theater Company. It’s so refreshing to hear from a new voice and gain perspective outside the American kitchen sink. Set in a English language classroom in 2008 Iran, this funny and moving work follows four adult students and their teacher as they prepare for the all-important TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language). A high score can mean the difference between menial work and better job opportunities and possibly moving to the West. 

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ACA Galleries

Hugh Mangum

The Photography of Hugh Mangum 1897-1922 will be on view at ACA Galleries, 529 West 20th Street, 5th Floor through October 23.

September 12, 2021: ACA Galleries is presenting Where We Find Ourselves -The Photography of Hugh Mangum 1897-1922 through October 23. Mangum was a self-taught photographer born in Durham, North Carolina. As an itinerant portraitist in the shadow of the segregationist laws of the Jim Crow era, Mangum welcomed into his studios a clientele that was both racially and economically diverse. After his death, his glass plate negatives remained stored in a tobacco barn on his family farm for 50 years. Slated for demolition in the 1970s, the barn was saved at the last moment, and with it, this unparalleled document of life at the turn of the 20th century. 

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The New Group

Abby Merrill, Brandon Victor Dixon, Tamika Lawrence, Jennifer Damiano

Cocktails on the lawn showcased songs from The New Group’s upcoming new musical, Black No More, opening January 2022 at the Signature.

August 27, 2021: Scott Elliott, Founding Artistic Director of The New Group, and Abby Merrill, the Board President, hosted “Cocktails on the Lawn” at Abby’s home in Quoque. The meet and mingle on Thursday celebrated The New Group’s return to live theater in January 2022 with Black No More. Broadway stars Brandon Victor Dixon and Tamika Lawrence performed emotional renditions of songs from the new musical, originally slated for Fall 2020.

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The David Desk Awards

By: David Sheward

June 7, 2020: Today normally would have been one of the best days of the year, Tony Award Day! But because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Broadway theaters have been shut down since March 12 and are not likely to reopen until January 2021 at the earliest. In a May 25 interview with Tim Teeman of the Daily Beast, Broadway League president Charlotte St. Martin was cautiously optimistic about the Main Stem lights being relit. But she stressed social distancing and playing to half-empty housing would not fit with the Broadway economic model which requires packing in as many bodies as possible for maximum profit. A few shows such as Plaza Suite, MJ: The Michael Jackson Musical and 1776 have announced opening dates for the spring of 2021, but those may be aspirational like Trump saying he wanted packed churches on Easter.

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