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Jesus Hopped The A Train Review and Pics: Stephen Adly Guirgis’ Spiritual Killers

Sean Carvajal in Jesus Hopped the A Train

Two killers in adjoining prison cages face off about God in this killer revival of one of the earliest plays by Stephen Adly Guirgis, the streetwise New York playwright of such acclaimed recent dramas as the Pulitzer-winning Between Riverside and Crazy and Broadway’s The M-F With the Hat. Foul-mouthed funny and intense and thought-provoking, the play is a promising start to Guirgis’ 2017-2018 “residency” at New York’s Signature Theatre.

Full review on DC Theatre Scene 

Click on any photograph by Joan Marcus to see it enlarged.
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Ferguson Review: Michael Brown’s Killing, Via Grand Jury Transcript

“Ferguson,” a play by Phelim McAleer, presents verbatim testimony from the Grand Jury that declined to indict white Police Officer Darrell Wilson for the August 9, 2014 shooting death of black 18-year-old Michael Brown, an event in Ferguson, Missouri that led to demonstrations and debates nationwide.

Using 13 actors to portray 20 characters – prosecutors, eye witnesses, character witnesses, experts, grand jury members, and Wilson himself – the play boils down 25 days of testimony (a transcript of more than 4,000 pages ) to about 90 minutes. The result is a courtroom drama like none other, with many unanswered questions.
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Stephen Adly Guirgis’ 2011 Broadway Hit: The MotherF..ker With The Hat

In honor of the opening tonight of the revival of Jesus Hopped the A Train, and the launch of the 2017-2018 Signature residency of Stephen Adly Guirgis, below is my April, 2011 review of Guirgis’ only Broadway play so far: The Mothefucker With The Hat. He has since won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his Off-Broadway play, Between Riverside and Crazy.

Before Chris Rock even appeared on stage, “The MotherF**ker With The Hat,” despite its off-putting title, had me hooked. Veronica is talking on the phone with her mom, in-between snorts of cocaine, when Jackie enters with flowers and good news: He’s gotten a job, he’s ready for “grown-up plans,” “you and me plans.”  Read more of this post

Torch Song Review and Pics

Michael Rosen and Michael Urie.

It’s crazy, says Michael Urie as Arnold, that “after all these years I’m still trying to justify my life.” Arnold means his life as a gay man, and though he is talking specifically to his mother (Mercedes Ruehl), the comment lands with force in Torch Song, the Off-Broadway revival of the 1982 Broadway play that launched Harvey Fierstein’s mainstream career as both playwright and performer.

It would be terrific to report that the issues Fierstein wove into his Tony winning comedy about Arnold Beckoff’s life and loves make the play seem dated 35 years later…But the search for love and acceptance and self-acceptance remains as fresh as a wound….What does feel dated, though, is a steady beat of jokes as if set to the metronome of an old-fashioned Broadway comedy…Torch Song can probably best be appreciated, even celebrated, as a piece of living gay history.

Click on any photograph by Joan Marcus to see it enlarged

Full review on DC Theatre Scene 

Hair Hits 50. Lin-Manuel Asks Sondheim. The Boss Extends. Week in NY Theater

Fifty years ago, Hair was the very first show to play in the old Astor mansion, which was transformed into Joseph Papp’s first year-round Public Theater. (even though it feels like the Public has always been with us)

An assistant director of the original production recalls the new “love-rock musical” at the old Astor Library that Joseph Papp had convinced New York City to rent him for $1 a year

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Café Play Review: At the Cornelia Street Café, Overhearing Fellow Diners and Inanimate Objects

Café Play is a site-specific work of theater that’s being held at four different times of day in the back dining room at the Cornelia Street Café, with different food choices depending on whether you attend for breakfast, lunch, tea or late-night snack (all frankly paltry, though I did like my crème brulee). Put together by the endlessly innovative theater company This Is Not A Theatre Company (who’ve previously offered a play in a swimming pool, another in a private apartment, and “pod plays” to listen to on the subway and the Staten Island ferry), the conceit of the show is that we the diners are overhearing the conversations of fellow diners, and waiters, and one unwanted intruder (“Please don’t step on me!”)

click on any photograph by Maria Baranova Suzuki to see it enlarged

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Burning Doors Review: Belarus Free Theatre and Pussy Riot Unite to Fight For Human Rights

In “Burning Doors,” Belarus Free Theatre’s latest arresting, arousing, athletic and anarchic play about state-sponsored injustice, one of the eight cast members strips naked as he tells the story of a man who had been sentenced to death by firing-squad for a political crime, but was given a last-minute reprieve. The man was distraught at the thought of having to live on, having made his peace with dying.

The ironic story, as we’re told in a caption when it’s finished, is an excerpt from Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot. It presents in microcosm both the hypnotic appeal and the challenge of the work by this extraordinary 12-year-old avant-garde ensemble.

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