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2014 Tony Award Nominations: A Gentleman’s Guide, Hedwig Lead

Tony Awards Statuette

Here are the nominations for the 68th annual Tony Awards.

Best Play

ACTONEposterAct One

Author:  James Lapine

Producers:  Lincoln Center Theater, André Bishop, Adam Siegel, Hattie K. Jutagir

 

 

allthewaylogoAll The Way

Author:  Robert Schenkkan

Producers:  Jeffrey Richards, Louise Gund, Jerry Frankel, Stephanie P. McClelland, Double Gemini Productions, Rebecca Gold, Scott M. Delman, Barbara H. Freitag, Harvey Weinstein, Gene Korf, William Berlind, Caiola Productions, Gutterman Chernoff, Jam Theatricals, Gabrielle Palitz, Cheryl Wiesenfeld, Will Trice, The Oregon Shakespeare Festival,

American Repertory Theater

 

 

The cast of cross-dressers in Casa Valentina, l to r: Nick Westrate, Tom McGowan, Gabriel Ebert, Patrick Page, Reed Birney, John Cullum, Larry Pine,  (This is a publicity shot. No such scene is in the play.)

Casa Valentina

Author:  Harvey Fierstein

Producers:  Manhattan Theatre Club, Lynne Meadow, Barry Grove, Colin Callender, Robert Cole, Frederick Zollo, The Shubert Organization

 

MothersandSonslogoMothers and Sons

Author:  Terrence McNally

Producers:  Tom Kirdahy, Roy Furman, Paula Wagner & Debbie Bisno, Barbara Freitag & Loraine Alterman Boyle, Hunter Arnold, Paul Boskind, Ken Davenport, Lams Productions, Mark Lee & Ed Filipowski, Roberta Pereira/Brunish-Trinchero, Sanford Robertson, Tom Smedes & Peter Stern, Jack Thomas/Susan Dietz

 

outsidemullingarlogoOutside Mullingar

Author:  John Patrick Shanley

Producers:  Manhattan Theatre Club, Lynne Meadow, Barry Grove

 

Best Musical

 

After Midnight

After Midnight LogoProducers:  Scott Sanders Productions, Wynton Marsalis, Roy Furman, Candy Spelling, Starry Night Entertainment, Hal Newman, Allan S. Gordon/Adam S. Gordon, James L. Nederlander, Robert K. Kraft, Catherine and Fred Adler, Robert Appel, Jeffrey Bolton, Scott M. Delman, James Fantaci, Ted Liebowitz, Stephanie P. McClelland, Sandy Block, Carol Fineman, Marks-Moore-Turnbull Group, Stephen & Ruth Hendel, Tom Kirdahy

 

aladdinlogoAladdin

Producers:  Disney Theatrical Productions, Thomas Schumacher

 

 

Beautiful – The Carole King Musical

beautifullogoProducers:  Paul Blake, Sony/ATV Music Publishing, Jeffrey A. Sine, Richard A. Smith, Mike Bosner, Harriet N. Leve/Elaine Krauss, Terry Schnuck, Orin Wolf, Patty Baker/Good Productions, Roger Faxon, Larry Magid, Kit Seidel, Lawrence S. Toppall, Fakston Productions/Mary Solomon, William Court Cohen, John Gore, BarLor Productions, Matthew C. Blank, Tim Hogue, Joel Hyatt, Marianne Mills, Michael J. Moritz, Jr., StylesFour Productions, Brunish & Trinchero, Jeremiah J. Harris

 

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder

LoveandMurder logoProducers:  Joey Parnes, S.D. Wagner, John Johnson, 50 Church Street Productions, Joan Raffe & Jhett Tolentino, Jay Alix & Una Jackman, Catherine & Fred Adler, Rhoda Herrick, Kathleen K. Johnson, Megan Savage, ShadowCatcher Entertainment, Ron Simons, True Love Productions, Jamie deRoy, Four Ladies & One Gent, John Arthur Pinckard, Greg Nobile, Stewart Lane & Bonnie Comley, Exeter Capital/Ted Snowdon, Ryan Hugh Mackey, Cricket-CTM Media/Mano-Horn Productions, Dennis Grimaldi/Margot Astrachan, Hello Entertainment/Jamie Bendell, Michael T. Cohen/Joe Sirola, Joseph & Carson Gleberman/William Megevick, Green State Productions, The Hartford Stage, The Old Globe

 

Best Revival of a Play

 

The Cripple of Inishmaan

cripplelogoProducers:  Michael Grandage Company, Arielle Tepper Madover, L.T.D. Productions, Stacey Mindich, Starry Night Entertainment, Scott M. Delman, Martin McCallum, Stephanie P. McClelland, Zeilinger Productions, The Shubert Organization

 

 

The Glass Menagerie

glassmenagerie logoProducers:  Jeffrey Richards, John N. Hart Jr.,  Jerry Frankel, Lou Spisto/Lucky VIII, INFINITY Stages, Scott M. Delman, Jam Theatricals, Mauro Taylor, Rebecca Gold, Michael Palitz, Charles E. Stone, Will Trice, GFour Productions, American Repertory Theater

 

 

 

A Raisin in the Sun

raisin3logoProducers:  Scott Rudin, Roger Berlind, Eli Bush, Jon B. Platt, Scott M. Delman, Roy Furman, Stephanie P. McClelland, Ruth Hendel, Sonia Friedman/Tulchin Bartner, The Araca Group, Heni Koenigsberg, Daryl Roth, Joan Raffe & Jhett Tolentino, Joey Parnes, S.D. Wagner, John Johnson

 

Twelfth Night

Mark Rylance as Olivia in Twelfth Night on Broadway

Mark Rylance as Olivia in Twelfth Night on Broadway

Producers:  Sonia Friedman Productions, Scott Landis, Roger Berlind, Glass Half Full Productions/Just for Laughs Theatricals, 1001 Nights Productions, Tulchin Bartner Productions, Jane Bergère, Paula Marie Black, Rupert Gavin, Stephanie P. McClelland, Shakespeare’s Globe Centre USA, Max Cooper, Tanya Link Productions, Shakespeare Road, Shakespeare’s Globe

 

Best Revival of a Musical

 

hedwigandtheangryinchlogoHedwig and the Angry Inch

Producers:  David Binder, Jayne Baron Sherman, Barbara Whitman, Latitude Link, Patrick Catullo, Raise the Roof, Paula Marie Black, Colin Callender, Ruth Hendel, Sharon Karmazin, Martian Entertainment, Stacey Mindich, Eric Schnall, The Shubert Organization

 

LesMislogoLes Misérables

Producer:  Cameron Mackintosh

 

 

 

violet logoViolet

Producers:  Roundabout Theatre Company, Todd Haimes, Harold Wolpert, Julia C. Levy, Sydney Beers, Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino, David Mirvish, Barry and Fran Weissler, Elizabeth Armstrong, Mary Jo and Ted Shen

 

Best Book of a Musical

Aladdin

Chad Beguelin

Beautiful – The Carole King Musical

Douglas McGrath

Bullets Over Broadway

Woody Allen

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder

Robert L. Freedman


Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre

Aladdin

Music: Alan Menken
Lyrics: Howard Ashman, Tim Rice and Chad Beguelin

The Bridges of Madison County

Music & Lyrics: Jason Robert Brown

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder

Music: Steven Lutvak
Lyrics: Robert L. Freedman & Steven Lutvak

If/Then

Music: Tom Kitt
Lyrics: Brian Yorkey


Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play

Samuel Barnett, Twelfth Night
Bryan Cranston, All The Way
Chris O’Dowd, Of Mice and Men
Mark Rylance, Richard III
Tony Shalhoub, Act One


Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play

Tyne Daly, Mothers and Sons
LaTanya Richardson Jackson, A Raisin in the Sun
Cherry Jones, The Glass Menagerie
Audra McDonald, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill
Estelle Parsons, The Velocity of Autumn


Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical

Neil Patrick Harris, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Ramin Karimloo, Les Misérables
Andy Karl, Rocky
Jefferson Mays, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder
Bryce Pinkham, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder


Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical

Mary Bridget Davies, A Night with Janis Joplin
Sutton Foster, Violet
Idina Menzel, If/Then
Jessie Mueller, Beautiful – The Carole King Musical
Kelli O’Hara, The Bridges of Madison County


Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play

Reed Birney, Casa Valentina
Paul Chahidi, Twelfth Night
Stephen Fry, Twelfth Night
Mark Rylance, Twelfth Night
Brian J. Smith, The Glass Menagerie


Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play

Sarah Greene, The Cripple of Inishmaan
Celia Keenan-Bolger, The Glass Menagerie
Sophie Okonedo, A Raisin in the Sun
Anika Noni Rose, A Raisin in the Sun
Mare Winningham, Casa Valentina


Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical

Danny Burstein, Cabaret
Nick Cordero, Bullets Over Broadway
Joshua Henry, Violet
James Monroe Iglehart, Aladdin
Jarrod Spector, Beautiful – The Carole King Musical


Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical

Linda Emond, Cabaret
Lena Hall, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Anika Larsen, Beautiful – The Carole King Musical
Adriane Lenox, After Midnight
Lauren Worsham, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder


Best Scenic Design of a Play

Beowulf Boritt, Act One
Bob Crowley, The Glass Menagerie
Es Devlin, Machinal
Christopher Oram, The Cripple of Inishmaan


Best Scenic Design of a Musical

Christopher Barreca, Rocky
Julian Crouch, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Alexander Dodge, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder
Santo Loquasto, Bullets Over Broadway


Best Costume Design of a Play

Jane Greenwood, Act One
Michael Krass, Machinal
Rita Ryack, Casa Valentina
Jenny Tiramani, Twelfth Night


Best Costume Design of a Musical

Linda Cho, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder
William Ivey Long, Bullets Over Broadway
Arianne Phillips, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Isabel Toledo, After Midnight


Best Lighting Design of a Play

Paule Constable, The Cripple of Inishmaan
Jane Cox, Machinal
Natasha Katz, The Glass Menagerie
Japhy Weideman, Of Mice and Men


Best Lighting Design of a Musical

Kevin Adams, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Christopher Akerlind, Rocky
Howell Binkley, After Midnight
Donald Holder, The Bridges of Madison County


Best Sound Design of a Play

Alex Baranowski, The Cripple of Inishmaan
Steve Canyon Kennedy, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill
Dan Moses Schreier, Act One
Matt Tierney, Machinal


Best Sound Design of a Musical

Peter Hylenski, After Midnight
Tim O’Heir, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Mick Potter, Les Misérables
Brian Ronan, Beautiful – The Carole King Musical

 

Best Direction of a Play

Tim Carroll, Twelfth Night
Michael Grandage, The Cripple of Inishmaan
Kenny Leon, A Raisin in the Sun
John Tiffany, The Glass Menagerie


Best Direction of a Musical

Warren Carlyle, After Midnight
Michael Mayer, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Leigh Silverman, Violet
Darko Tresnjak, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder


Best Choreography

Warren Carlyle, After Midnight
Steven Hoggett & Kelly Devine, Rocky
Casey Nicholaw, Aladdin

Susan Stroman, Bullets Over Broadway

 

Best Orchestrations

Doug Besterman, Bullets Over Broadway
Jason Robert Brown, The Bridges of Madison County
Steve Sidwell, Beautiful – The Carole King Musical
Jonathan Tunick, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder

 

* * *

 

Recipients of Awards and Honors in Non-competitive Categories

 

Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre

Jane Greenwood

 

Regional Theatre Award

Signature Theatre, New York, N.Y.

 

Isabelle Stevenson Award

Rosie O’Donnell

 

Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre

Joseph P. Benincasa

Joan Marcus

Charlotte Wilcox

 

* * *

 

Tony Nominations by Production

 

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder – 10

Hedwig and the Angry Inch – 8

After Midnight – 7

Beautiful – The Carole King Musical – 7

The Glass Menagerie – 7

Twelfth Night – 7

Bullets Over Broadway – 6

The Cripple of Inishmaan – 6

Act One – 5

Aladdin – 5

A Raisin in the Sun – 5

The Bridges of Madison County – 4

Casa Valentina – 4

Machinal – 4

Rocky – 4

Violet – 4

Les Misérables – 3

All The Way – 2

Cabaret – 2

If/Then – 2

Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill – 2

Mothers and Sons – 2

Of Mice and Men – 2

A Night with Janis Joplin – 1

Outside Mullingar – 1

Richard III – 1

The Velocity of Autumn – 1

#TonyAwards
www.TonyAwards.com

Here is the video of the announcement with surprise visit from Hugh Jackman, and announcement by Jonathan Groff and Lucy Liu

This is what the nominations announcement looked like last year:

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Hedwig and the Angry Inch Review: Neil Patrick Harris Rules, and Rocks, and Licks.

As Hedwig, a bewigged, be-glittered and bewildered “internationally ignored song stylist,” the performer Neil Patrick Harris — who has been anything but ignored in a protean 25-year entertainment career – doesn’t just rock, and roll, and roar, and rule. He also licks…as a form of tribute — more than once.

Soon after he’s descended onto the stage in “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” Harris honors the storied history of Broadway’s Belasco Theater: He’s “being supported by the same groaning planks,” he shouts “that cradled Brando’s debut and Barrymore’s farewell; where Tim Curry cracked wise and Mark Rylance batted his eyes.” That’s when he leans down and licks the stage. “Tastes like Kathy Griffin,” he says.

But that’s not his last lick.  Later, he lasciviously licks his bandmate’s guitar.

And there we have, in two licks, what is so impressive about this first Broadway production of a show that began life 20 years ago in a downtown drag-punk club called Squeezebox.

“Hedwig and the Angry Inch” is a cleverly satirical, layered (and lewd) work of theater steeped in both popular culture and Western tradition (The song “Origin of Love” is based on Aristophanes’ speech from Plato’s Symposium.) But it is simultaneously a thrilling rock concert – exciting enough on its sequined surface to satisfy glam-rock fans (or Neil Patrick Harris fans) who don’t speak a word of English.

Everything works in concert here: Harris’s high-energy performance; playwright John Cameron Mitchell’s updated script; Stephen Trask’s 10 loud, tuneful, propulsive songs (see song list below); the inspired direction by Michael Mayer (“Spring Awakening,” “American Idiot”); the trailer-park wigs and glam-punk makeup by Mike Potter; the sexy, silly, in-your-face costumes designed by Arianne Phillips, who is making her Broadway debut but did the costumes for the 2001 movie adaptation of “Hedwig” and – more to the point – is Madonna’s long-time stylist, putting together the look of her concert tours. Particular kudos go to Julian Crouch, Kevin Adams and Benjamin Pearcy – the set, lighting and projection designers, respectively – for brilliantly translating this initially intimate work for the Broadway stage.

I had the pleasure of seeing “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” when it premiered Off-Broadway in 1998 in the then deceptively named Jane Street Theater; it was really more a site specific performance in a flophouse of a hotel in the pre-chi-chi Meatpacking District. We sat just a few feet away from John Cameron Mitchell performing the character he had created, as he sang and spat out Hedwig’s sad/shocking/(deliberately absurd) story:

Born Hansel in East Berlin, he met an American military officer named Luther, who wanted to marry him and bring him home to the United States, if he underwent a sex change operation. It was botched — hence the “angry inch” – and soon Luther abandoned the newly-named Hedwig in Kansas. Divorced, scraping by, Hedwig worked as a baby sitter, which is how he met Tommy. “I had recently returned to my first love, music. I had tried singing once back in Berlin. They threw tomatoes. After the show I had a nice salad. But newly motivated, I bought a cheap electric piano.” Hedwig taught Tommy everything she knew about music. But Tommy, too, abandoned Hedwig, and became a big rock star using Hedwig’s melodies. Now Hedwig and his band, the Angry Inch, were performing in this dive of a hotel while at the same time, coincidentally, his former protégé was holding a giant concert at Giants Stadium (called his “Tour of Atonement,” for reasons you’ll have to see the show to find out.) Tommy’s concert was right across the river, and distinctly audible. The contrast was meant to be humiliating.

In the Broadway production, Hedwig and his band are no longer performing in a downtown dive but at the beautiful Belasco on Broadway, which opens up an opportunity for an elaborate and pretty good joke: They are able to perform at the Belasco because the evening before saw the opening of “Hurt Locker: The Musical,” which closed at intermission. (Parody Playbills of “Hurt Locker: The Musical” were scattered on the seats as we entered the theater.)  Hedwig and his band are performing on the set of the shut-down musical, which allows for Crouch’s stunning and hilarious opening tableau: a proscenium full of detritus hanging in the air as if an explosion had been captured by one of those state-of-the-art high-speed cameras.

Meanwhile, now, instead of performing in Giants Stadium, Tommy is holding an outdoor concert in Times Square.  Quibblers have complained that this adjustment doesn’t make much sense – the Belasco is hardly a humiliatingly low-rent venue in contrast. But their complaints don’t make much sense to me, because the story makes no sense to begin with; it’s not supposed to make any sense: It’s satire that’s over the top and in your face, a kind of blunt performance art.

The creative team has smartly realized that the way to translate this subversive, foul-mouthed downtown show to Broadway is by turning it into a spectacle.

One could be forgiven for thinking that Neil Patrick Harris is singlehandedly responsible for the thrill of this show, overlooking the excellent Lena Hall as Hedwig’s drag-king husband Yithak, the terrific “Angry Inch” musicians, Kevin Adams’ pulsating light show, Spencer Liff’s sinuous choreography. That is because the wholesome child TV star of “Doogie Howser  MD” and adult star of “How I Met Your Mother,”  the charming host of Tony and Emmy Awards, the experienced Broadway veteran, last time on Broadway exactly ten years ago in Sondheim’s “Assassins,” seems, for the 90 minutes of this spectacular show, to have become Neil Patrick Hedwig.

 

Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Belasco Theater.

Book by John Cameron Mitchell; music and lyrics by Stephen Trask; directed by Michael Mayer; musical staging by Spencer Liff; sets by Julian Crouch; costumes by Arianne Phillips; lighting by Kevin Adams; wig and makeup design by Mike Potter; sound by Tim O’Heir; projections by Benjamin Pearcy for 59 Productions; dialect coach, Stephen Gabis; music supervisor/coordinator, Ethan Popp; music director, Justin Craig; vocal supervisor, Liz Caplan

Running time: 90 minutes, no intermission.

Cast: Neil Patrick Harris (Hedwig), Lena Hall (Yitzhak) and Justin Craig, Matt Duncan, Tim Mislock and Peter Yanowitz (the Angry Inch)

Tickets: $49.00 – $152.00

“Hedwig and the Angry Inch” is scheduled to run through August 17.

Song list:

Tear Me Down

The Origin of Love

Sugar Daddy

Angry Inch

Wig in a Box

Wicked Little Town

The Long Grift

Hedwig’s Lament

Exquisite Corpse

Wicked Little Town (Reprise)

Midnight Radio

 

Bullets Over Broadway Review: Woody Allen’s Contempt For The Theater

What would Woody Allen have thought of “Bullets Over Broadway” if he hadn’t written it? Would he have enjoyed this overbearing Broadway musical full of recycled, flat and vulgar jokes;  dazzling design; knock-em-over-the-head choreography set to mostly 90-year-old novelty tunes; and a cast of proven talent forced to mug their way to a paycheck?  My guess is: Allen would never have been caught dead inside the St. James Theater.

Allen seems to have little affection for the stage. This is evident in the mean-spirited portraits of the Broadway characters in his new musical, based on his 1994 film.

In Prohibition-era New York, a novice, pretentious and hopeless playwright David Shayne (Zach Braff) gets backing for his Broadway debut from a vicious mobster Nick Valenti (Vincent Pastore) in exchange for casting Nick’s talentless girlfriend Olive (Helene Yorke.)

An example of Allen’s wit: Olive whines to her boyfriend that she wants to be the lead.

Nick: You want the lead — go to acting school.

Olive: Why? You never went to extortion school.

David cheats on his long-time girlfriend with the drunken self-dramatizing diva Helen Sinclair (Marin Mazzie) who is cast as the lead of his play. The rest of the cast of the play-within-the-musical are one-note jokes, far more so than they were on screen: Leading man Brooks Ashmanskas is a compulsive eater whose girth expands before our eyes; supporting player Karen Ziemba is obsessed with her dog.

About the only figures on stage who come out sympathetically – both the performer and the character – are the dog Mr Woofles, played by a Pomeranian named Trixie, and Olive’s bodyguard, the one-named Cheech, portrayed to perfection by Nick Cordero (who is best-known up to now as the original star of Off-Broadway’s Toxic Avenger.) In the one clever twist in the musical, the unschooled hitman Cheech turns out to have a natural talent for playwriting, and, fed up with watching rehearsals for this awful show day after day, he takes matters into his own hands, and rewrites it, turning it into a hit. Whether or not “Bullets Over Broadway” itself winds up a commercial hit, Cordero – who has already been nominated for both Outer Critics and Drama Desk awards for his performance – is the only person sure to benefit from his association with the show….and deserve it.

To gauge Allen’s contempt for Broadway, one can look not just at this musical but at a track record that stands in startling contrast to his work as a filmmaker.  Now, Allen is himself no theatrical novice: “Bullets Over Broadway” is his sixth show on Broadway; the first was way back in 1960. But while he’s produced at least one movie every year since 1977,  in that same period he’s only been involved in two Broadway shows before “Bullets.” The last one, in 2011, was “Honeymoon Motel,” Allen’s contribution to the triptypch of ghastly, unfunny plays that made up “Relatively Speaking.” It was nothing more than an old burlesque routine.  The constantly evolving and experimenting film director and screenwriter seems to see the theater as old-fashioned and ridiculous – and has helped make it so.

“Bullets Over Broadway” is not without some splendid moments of entertainment, but they can be clearly traced back to director and choreographer Susan Stroman, helped by William Ivey Long’s extravagant, playful sexy costumes, and Santo Loquasto’s ambitious scenic design, which includes a real car and a moving train.

Most of the dance numbers are over the top, but in a good way – the best of what I’ve called The Broadway Effect. If “The Hot Dog Song” has an excess of adolescent phallic humor, it’s offset by the splendid show-stopping tap she gives Cordero and his fellow goons to the tune of “Tain’t Nobody’s Biz-ness If I Do.”

Stroman and her design team deserve the credit for what’s right  about “Bullets Over Broadway – or at least what keeps our eyes dancing happily while our ears and minds shut down.  I am convinced Stroman could create a razzle-dazzle stage adaptation of “The Curse of the Jade Scorpion.”

 

Bullets Over Broadway

At the St. James Theater

By Woody Allen, based on the screenplay by Mr. Allen and Douglas McGrath; directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman; music adaptation and additional lyrics by Glen Kelly; sets by Santo Loquasto; costumes by William Ivey Long; lighting by Donald Holder; sound by Peter Hylenski; hair and wig design by Paul Huntley; makeup design by Angelina Avallone

Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes, including one intermission.

Cast: Brooks Ashmanskas (Warner Purcell), Zach Braff (David Shayne), Nick Cordero (Cheech), Marin Mazzie (Helen Sinclair), Vincent Pastore (Nick Valenti), Betsy Wolfe (Ellen), Lenny Wolpe (Julian Marx), Heléne Yorke (Olive Neal), Karen Ziemba (Eden Brent) and Jim Borstelmann (Vendor, Victim, Ensemble).

Casa Valentina Review: Straight Men in Dresses On Broadway

It is no surprise that Harvey Fierstein is the one who authored “Casa Valentina,” a remarkably well-acted if under-cooked play about a 1960’s Catskills resort for heterosexual men who liked to wear dresses. In his Broadway debut 32 years ago, Fierstein wrote and starred in  “Torch Song Trilogy,” portraying a drag queen longing for the same three things everybody in New York wants – an affordable apartment, a job that’s bearable, and somebody to share it all with – as well as an implicit desire to be accepted as is.  Since then, Fierstein has helped turn his fascination with cross-dressers into something of an industry-wide trend – writing the book for the musicals  “La Cage Aux Folles” and “Kinky Boots,” and playing Edna Turnblad in “Hairspray.” He even portrayed Robin Williams’ brother, a makeup artist who transforms Williams into the title character of the film “Mrs. Doubtfire.” Most of his dress-wearing characters seem to have a different primary “want” than the original Arnold Beckoff in “Torch Song Trilogy” – above all, they want to entertain. But now, with his first non-musical Broadway play in three decades, Fierstein returns admirably to his first impulse – to acquaint theatergoers with precisely observed characters from a little-known world.

It is 1962, and a married couple run the Chevalier d’Eon Resort in the Catskills. George is portrayed by Patrick Page, the best thing about both Spider-Man and A Time To Kill , and his wife Rita is played by Mare Winningham, the former brat pack movie idol who has lately made a splash on the New York stage, in such works as Tribes, After The Revolution and Picnic. When George is dressed as a woman, her name becomes Valentina. One by one we meet their six guests, all married men here by themselves to relax as women for the weekend. Jonathon (Gabriel Ebert, who won a Tony playing Mr. Wormwood in Matilda) is a newbie. Most of the others are regulars. Tom McGowan plays short, stout Bessie, an Army Sergeant with three grown children who spouts Oscar Wilde and otherwise cracks wise. The handsome Nick Westrate portrays the beautiful Gloria. The accomplished veteran actors Reed Birney, John Cullum and Larry Pine each play distinctive and very different characters. The greatest strength of “Casa Valentina”  is how it defies the long tradition of cross-dressing as comic shtick  and implicitly asks us to respect these characters – some of whom, let’s face it, appear awkward and faintly ludicrous in costume designer Rita Ryack’s dresses. It is a testament to Fierstein’s writing, Joe Mantello’s direction and above all the acting by this terrific cast that we have no problem treating them seriously.

The play is engaging when we get glimpses into the lives of each man through their reminiscing and simply by seeing them changing from their male to their female identities. Jonathon explains how “Miranda” first emerged in his life when he was a young child, and how, on his wedding night, he put on his bride’s wedding dress. His wife caught him, and laughed, thinking he had done it as a joke, and grateful that her new husband finally showed that he had a sense of humor. Jonathon has not put on women’s clothes in front of her again, waiting until she is out of the house, and dressing only as Miranda in the windowless basement…until this weekend. The other guests offer makeup and other tips to Jonathon to turn him into Miranda

But the playwright clearly figured that such scenes were not enough for a full-length drama, and so injects some conflict…a plot…some melodrama.

The resort is going bankrupt, and Valentina hopes to have it rescued by Charlotte (Birney), who is the editor of a nation-wide movement magazine, with a readership of heterosexual cross-dressers who might flock to the resort upon Charlotte’s endorsement.  Charlotte is very taken with her own activism — “Not to toot my own horn, but there’s a Christ-like element to my journey.” This is just an early clue of what eventually becomes unavoidably clear: Charlotte is the villain. (Her resemblance to the cigarette-smoking Bette Davis of the later melodramas may not be coincidental.)

Charlotte insists that the members of this new East Coast chapter of her organization, The Sorority, publicly reveal their identities, and that they sign an affidavit affirming that they are not homosexual: “Our goal is to see the laws against cross dressing expunged for once and for all. As long as transvestite is synonymous with homosexual it will never happen. No decent society will ever welcome us.”

What ensues is a debate. The best line in the debate (albeit stacked), again from Charlotte: “Fifty years from now, when homosexuals are still scuttling about as the back-alley vermin of society, cross dressing will be as everyday as cigarette smoking.”

Theoretically such a discussion should be intriguing, but it goes on way too long; it’s as if the play had been hijacked for an organizational meeting or a  hearing. (Even Rita comments: “Are we running a resort or Congress?”)

Meanwhile, George/Valentina is also in legal trouble; a postal inspector has interrogated him about an envelope mailed to him full of cross-dressing, homosexual pornographic images – images meant for somebody else at the resort, although it is not clear who…initially. Charlotte’s villainy comes to full flower in the resolution of this melodrama, complete with blackmail, violence, emotional confrontation… .the end of Paradise (with many unsubtle allusions to the Garden of Eden.)

Notes in the program and at the end of the script by the playwright and the director make clear that “Casa Valentina” is based on an actual bungalow colony (which is now a summer camp for Hasidic families!) and that at least some of the characters were drawn from real people. The Sorority – officially Tri-Ess, the Society for the Second Self – is an actual organization that currently has 30 chapters. We are even offered the beginnings of a glossary: “The gentlemen in our play are not drag queens or female impersonators.” Much of this is interesting; some of it provokes more questions than it answers. None of it guarantees a satisfying work of theater.

Casa Valentina

Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, New York

Written by Harvey Fierstein

Directed by Joe Mantello

Set design by Scott Pask, lighting design by Justin Townsend, costume design by Rita Ryack, music and sound design by Fitz Patton, fight direction by Thomas Schall

Cast: Reed Birney, John Cullum, Gabriel Ebert, Lisa Emery, Tom McGowan, Patrick Page, Larry Pine, Nick Westrate, Mare Winningham

Running time: 2 hours 15 minutes, including an intermission.

Tickets: $67.00 – $125.00 

Casa Valentina is set to run through June 15

Of Mice and Men Review: James Franco, Chris O’Dowd Relive the Great Depression

There are more unemployed Americans now than there were when “Of Mice and Men” debuted on Broadway in 1937, making its third-ever production on Broadway something more than just an excuse to debate the performance of the multitalented, multitasking James Franco in his Broadway debut. Some, oddly, seem to dismiss the relevance of John Steinbeck’s work because it’s assigned regularly in high school, or because its two main characters, the itinerant, homeless farm workers George and Lennie, have become such familiar figures in our culture.
There is no denying that some elements of the play are an alienating reminder of outmoded values from the past, and other aspects seem not so much outdated as clunky or strange. But there is still power in this look at a desperate era, last seen on Broadway 40 years ago. Director Anna D. Shapiro has assembled a splendid design team and a competent 10-member cast, with a surprising, stand-out performance by Chris O’Dowd as Lennie.
We first see Lennie and his far smarter friend and protector George (Franco) out in the sandy bank of the Salinas River, with a spectacular setting sun (courtesy of lighting designer Japhy Weideman), that is somehow hemmed in both above and below by overhanging rock — the first of the solid sets by Todd Rosenthal that are both evocative and symbolic.
O’Dowd is impressively transformed – unrecognizable — as Lennie, a hulking giant of a man, mentally disabled, who doesn’t know his own strength; the two men are on the road again, in effect on the lam, because of his child-like attraction to beautiful things. As George later explains: “Dumb bastard like he is he wants to touch everything he likes. Jest wants to feel of it. So he reaches out to feel this red dress” – except a young woman was wearing it. It is a foreshadowing of the tragedy to come after they arrive at the ranch where they’ve been newly hired as hands.
George and Lennie have been friends since childhood, and their friendship is remarked upon as something unusual by nearly every other character in the play – as if Steinbeck were saying that isolation and loneliness are standard in tough times.
The hands “never seem to give a damn about nobody,” says Slim (Jim Parrack.)
The two friends share a dream – to get a little land of their own.
Crooks, one of the other ranch hands, at first dismisses it bitterly: “Everybody wants a little piece of land. Nobody gets to heaven, and nobody gets no land.” But then he too wants in on their dream. Ron Cephas Jones is spot-on in his portrayal of Crooks, a resentful African-American man who is banned from the bunkhouse because of his race.
The attitude of the play towards Crooks is far less problematic for modern sensibilities than that towards Curley’s wife, credibly portrayed by Leighton Meester, best-known as the star of Gossip Girl. She, like Franco and O’Dowd, is making her Broadway debut. George and most of the other ranch hands at various times call her a bitch, a tart, and a tramp – which could be Steinbeck’s comment on the attitudes of George and the other men, except the woman is not even given a name: She’s just “Curley’s Wife.” Whatever the playwright’s intention, the director and the actress have chosen, wisely I think, to tilt us towards thinking the men all sexist by playing down the character’s sexuality.
The key to appreciating “Of Mice and Men” is in focusing on each individual character, and seeing how they illustrate the meaning behind the play’s title, which derives from a Scottish poem by Robert Burns in 1785:
The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft agley [often go wrong]
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

Jim Norton is touching as old man Candy who lost a hand in an accident and now feels as ancient and useless as his dog, who was once a great sheepherder, but now stinks so badly the other hands want to shoot him. His predicament recalls
the popular song from the 1930’s:

Once I built a railroad, I made it run
Made it race against time
Once I built a railroad, now it’s done
Brother, can you spare a dime?

There might be something incongruous in the role of humorless, impatient George being taken on by the hip, mischievous actor James Franco — a star of the cult TV show Freaks and Geeks; of films as diverse as Milk , the Spider-Man franchise, 127 Hours, and Rise of the Planet of the Apes; and the star as well of many art projects and clever/misbegotten Instagrams. His performance in “Of Mice and Men” is ultimately disappointing; in the climactic scenes, he exhibits a screen presence, centered on stoic facial expressions, when what’s called for is a formidable stage presence: We need to see his entire body expressing the emotion of the moment. But this amounts to little more than a quibble for two reasons. His natural magnetism fits the character for the bulk of the play. And it is surely thanks to him and his adventurous spirit that this new worthwhile production of “Of Mice and Men” exists at all.

Of Mice and Men
At the Longacre Theater
By John Steinbeck; directed by Anna D. Shapiro; sets by Todd Rosenthal; costumes by Suttirat Larlarb; lighting by Japhy Weidman; sound by Rob Milburn and Michael Bodeen; music by David Singer; fight direction by Thomas Schall; hair and wig design by Charles G. Lapointe.
Cast: James Franco (George), Chris O’Dowd (Lennie), Leighton Meester (Curley’s Wife), Ron Cephas Jones (Crooks), Alex Morf (Curley), Joel Marsh Garland (Carlson), James McMenamin (Whit), Jim Ortlieb (the Boss), Jim Parrack (Slim) and Jim Norton (Candy).
Running time: 2 hours 20 minutes, including one intermission.
Tickets: $37.00 – $147.00
“Of Mice and Men” is scheduled to run until July 27, 2014

2014 Drama Desk Awards Nominations

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Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Bobby Lopez and  Fran Drescher announcing the Drama Desk nominees.

Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Bobby Lopez and Fran Drescher announcing the 2014 Drama Desk nominees.

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder had the most nominations for the 59th Annual Drama Desk Awards, followed by The Bridges of Madison County, Aladdin and Rocky. Winners will be announced June 1 at The Town Hall. The nominations are:

Outstanding Play
Nell Benjamin, The Explorers Club
Steven Levenson, Core Values
Conor McPherson, The Night Alive
Richard Nelson, Regular Singing
Bruce Norris, Domesticated
Robert Schenkkan, All the Way
John Patrick Shanley, Outside Mullingar

Outstanding Musical
A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder
Aladdin
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
Fun Home
Love’s Labour’s Lost
Rocky
The Bridges of Madison County

Outstanding Revival of a Play
I Remember Mama
London Wall
No Man’s Land
Of Mice and Men
The Cripple of Inishmaan
The Model Apartment
Twelfth Night – Shakespeare’s Globe Production

Outstanding Revival of a Musical
Hedwig and the Angry Inch
LES MISERABLES
Violet

Outstanding Actor in a Play
Bryan Cranston, All the Way
Hamish Linklater, The Comedy of Errors
Ian McKellen, No Man’s Land
David Morse, The Unavoidable Disappearance of Tom Durnin
Chris O’Dowd, Of Mice and Men
Daniel Radcliffe, The Cripple of Inishmaan
Denzel Washington, A Raisin in the Sun

Outstanding Actress in a Play
Barbara Andres, I Remember Mama
Tyne Daly, Mothers and Sons
Audra McDonald, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill
Laurie Metcalf, Domesticated
J. Smith-Cameron, Juno and the Paycock
Harriet Walter, Julius Caesar

Outstanding Actor in a Musical
Neil Patrick Harris, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Adam Jacobs, Aladdin
Andy Karl, Rocky
Jefferson Mays, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder
Steven Pasquale, The Bridges of Madison County
Bryce Pinkham, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder

Outstanding Actress in a Musical
Sutton Foster, Violet
Idina Menzel, If/Then
Jessie Mueller, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
Kelli O’Hara, The Bridges of Madison County
Margo Seibert, Tamar of the River
Barrett Wilbert Weed, Heathers: The Musical

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play
Reed Birney, Casa Valentina
Chuck Cooper, Choir Boy
Peter Maloney, Outside Mullingar
Bobby Moreno, Year of the Rooster
Bill Pullman, The Jacksonian
Brian J. Smith, The Glass Menagerie

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play
Betty Buckley, The Old Friends
Julia Coffey, London Wall
Diane Davis, The Model Apartment
Celia Keenan-Bolger, The Glass Menagerie
Jan Maxwell, The Castle
Sophie Okonedo, A Raisin in the Sun

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical
Danny Burstein, Cabaret
Nick Cordero, Bullets Over Broadway: The Musical
Joshua Henry, Violet
James Monroe Iglehart, Aladdin
Rory O’Malley, Nobody Loves You
Bobby Steggert, Big Fish

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical
Stephanie J. Block, Little Miss Sunshine
Anika Larsen, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
Adriane Lenox, After Midnight
Sydney Lucas, Fun Home
Laura Osnes, The Threepenny Opera
Jennifer Simard, Disaster!
Lauren Worsham, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder

Outstanding Director of a Play
Joe Calarco, A Christmas Carol
Tim Carroll, Twelfth Night
Thomas Kail, Family Furniture
Bill Rauch, All the Way
Anna D. Shapiro, Domesticated
Julie Taymor, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Outstanding Director of a Musical
Sam Gold, Fun Home
Michael Mayer, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Bartlett Sher, The Bridges of Madison County
Susan Stroman, Bullets Over Broadway: The Musical
Alex Timbers, Rocky
Darko Tresnjak, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder

Outstanding Choreography
Warren Carlyle, After Midnight
Steven Hoggett, Kelly Devine, Rocky
Danny Mefford, Love’s Labour’s Lost
Casey Nicholaw, Aladdin
Susan Stroman, Bullets Over Broadway: The Musical
Sonya Tayeh, Kung Fu

Outstanding Music
Jason Robert Brown, The Bridges of Madison County
Andrew Lippa, Big Fish
Steven Lutvak, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder
Alan Menken, Aladdin
Kevin Murphy and Laurence O’Keefe, Heathers: The Musical
Jeanine Tesori, Fun Home

Outstanding Lyrics
Howard Ashman, Tim Rice, and Chad Beguelin, Aladdin
Jason Robert Brown, The Bridges of Madison County
Robert L. Freedman and Steven Lutvak, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder
Michael Friedman, Love’s Labour’s Lost
Michael Korie, Far from Heaven
Lisa Kron, Fun Home

Outstanding Book of a Musical
Chad Beguelin, Aladdin
Robert L. Freedman, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder
Joe Kinosian, Murder for Two
Lisa Kron, Fun Home
Douglas McGrath, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
Marsha Norman, The Bridges of Madison County

Outstanding Orchestrations
Jason Robert Brown, The Bridges of Madison County
John Clancy, Fun Home
Larry Hochman, Big Fish
Steve Sidwell, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
Michael Starobin, If/Then
Jonathan Tunick, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder

Outstanding Music in a Play
Lewis Flinn, The Tribute Artist
Elliot Goldenthal, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Rob Kearns, The Life and Sort of Death of Eric Argyle
Tom Kochan, Almost, Maine
Nico Muhly, The Glass Menagerie
Duncan Sheik, A Man’s a Man

Outstanding Revue
After Midnight
I’m a Stranger Here Myself: Musik from the Weimar and Beyond
Le Jazz Hot: How the French Saved Jazz
Til Divorce Do Us Part
What’s It All About? Bacharach Reimagined

Outstanding Set Design
Christopher Barreca, Rocky
Alexander Dodge, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder
Richard Hoover, Small Engine Repair
Santo Loquasto, Bullets Over Broadway: The Musical
Ian MacNeil, A Doll’s House
Donyale Werle, The Explorers Club

Outstanding Costume Design
Constance Hoffman, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
William Ivey Long, Bullets Over Broadway: The Musical
Zane Pihlstrom, Nutcracker Rouge
Loren Shaw, The Mysteries
Jenny Tiramani, Twelfth Night
David C. Woolard, The Heir Apparent

Outstanding Lighting Design
Christopher Akerlind, Rocky
Jane Cox, Machinal
David Lander, The Civil War
Peter Mumford, King Lear
Brian Tovar, Tamar of the River
Japhy Weideman, Macbeth

Outstanding Projection Design
Robert Massicotte and Alexis Laurence, Cirkopolis
Sven Ortel, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Aaron Rhyne, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder
Shawn Sagady, All the Way
Austin Switser, Sontag: Reborn
Ben Rubin, Arguendo

Outstanding Sound Design in a Musical
Kai Harada, Fun Home
Peter Hylenski, Bullets Over Broadway: The Musical
Peter Hylenski, Rocky
Brian Ronan , Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
Dan Moses Schreier, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder
Jon Weston, The Bridges of Madison County

Outstanding Sound Design in a Play
M.L. Dogg, The Open House
Katie Down, The Golden Dragon
Paul James Prendergast, All the Way
Dan Moses Schreier, Act One
Christopher Shutt, Love and Information
Matt Tierney, Machinal

Outstanding Solo Performance
David Barlow, This is My Office
Jim Brochu, Character Man
Hannah Cabell, Grounded
Debra Jo Rupp, Becoming Dr. Ruth
Ruben Santiago-Hudson, August Wilson’s How I Learned What I Learned
John Douglas Thompson, Satchmo at the Waldorf

Unique Theatrical Experience
Charlatan
Cirkopolis
Mother Africa
Nothing to Hide
Nutcracker Rouge
The Complete & Condensed Stage Directions of Eugene O’Neill Vol. 2

Special Awards
Each year, the Drama Desk votes special awards to recognize excellence and significant contributions to the theater. For 2013-2014, these awards are:

? To Soho Rep.: For nearly four decades of artistic distinction, innovative production, and provocative play selection.

? To Veanne Cox: For her ability to express the eccentricities, strengths, and vulnerabilities of a range of characters, and notably for her comedic flair as evidenced in this season’s The Old Friends and The Most Deserving.

? To Ed Sylvanus Iskandar, the Sam Norkin Off-Broadway Award: For his visionary directorial excellence. This season’s The Golden Dragon and The Mysteries exemplify his bold and strikingly original imagination.

? To the ensembles of Off-Broadway’s The Open House and Broadway’s The Realistic Joneses and to the creator of both plays, Will Eno: For two extraordinary casts and one impressively inventive playwright.

? The Open House: Hannah Bos, Michael Countryman, Peter Friedman, Danny McCarthy, and Carolyn McCormick

? The Realistic Joneses: Toni Collette, Michael C. Hall, Tracy Letts, and Marisa Tomei

PRODUCTIONS WITH MULTIPLE NOMINATIONS:

12 – A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder
9 – The Bridges of Madison County
8 – Fun Home
7 – Aladdin
7 – Rocky
6 – Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
6 – Bullets Over Broadway: The Musical
5 – All the Way
4 – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
3 – After Midnight
3 – Big Fish
3 – Domesticated
3 – Hedwig and the Angry Inch
3 – London Wall
3 – Love’s Labour’s Lost
3 – The Glass Menagerie
3 – Twelfth Night*
3 – Violet
2 – A Raisin in the Sun
2 – Cirkopolis
2 – Heathers: The Musical
2 – I Remember Mama
2 – If/Then
2 – Machinal
2 – No Man’s Land
2 – Nutcracker Rouge
2 – Of Mice and Men
2 – Outside Mullingar
2 – Tamar of the River
2 – The Cripple of Inishmaan
2 – The Explorers Club
2 – The Model Apartment

The winner of the Sam Norkin Off Broadway Award will receive a $1,000 honorarium, a gift from Mrs. Francie Norkin.

 

The Drama Desk Awards, which are given annually in a number of categories, are the only major New York theater honors for which productions on Broadway, Off-Broadway and Off-Off Broadway compete against each other in the same category. Formed in 1949 by a group of New York theater critics, editors, reporters, and publishers, the organization was born out of the desire to educate the community on vital issues concerning the theater.

 

Here are last year’s Drama Desk Awards nominees and winners. The 2013-2014 Drama Desk nominating committee is composed of Barbara Siegel, chairperson; Morgan Jenness; Samuel L. Leiter; Chad McArver; Martha Wade Steketee; and James Wilson.

Cabaret Reviews and Photographs

“Cabaret,” the Kander and Ebb musical about a naif in pre-Nazi Germany, is opening on Broadway for the fourth time, almost half a century after its first production, starring Alan Cumming reprising his role as the Master of Ceremonies, and featuring the Broadway debut of Michelle Williams as Sally Bowles. It is directed by Sam Mendes, co-directed and choreographed by Rob Marshall. 

What did the critics think?

Jonathan Mandell, New York Theater:From the very beginning of the Roundabout’s re-revival of “Cabaret,” when a spotlight first illuminates Alan Cumming’s eyes — as if he has opened the rectangular slot in the door of a speakeasy deciding whether to let us in — and then switches focus to his beckoning hand, Cumming’s sensuous, sinuous, insinuating performance has us hooked…But there are many other reasons besides Alan Cumming’s mesmerizing performance to see “Cabaret,” which can lay claim to being one of the greatest musicals ever written for the American theater.”

Jesse Green, New York Magazine: “It’s an irony of this production, which for all my quibbles is nevertheless excellent and needs to be seen, that it is most excellent in the old ways: the pre-Cabaret ways.”

Joe Dziemianowicz, Daily News: Great musical dramas like “Cabaret” — entertaining, tuneful and illuminating — are all too rare.Though Michelle Williams is credible but not memorable in her Broadway debut as songstress Sally Bowles, her performance can’t mar the Roundabout’s redo (re-revival?) of its Tony-winning 1998 take at Studio 54.

Ben Brantley, NY Times: A little more than 16 years after it first opened, and only a decade after it closed, it feels as if the popular Roundabout Theater Company production of “Cabaret” never left Studio 54…. Alan Cumming, who won a Tony as the nasty M.C. in 1998, is back, offering a slightly looser, older-but-wiser variation on the same performance. The show’s co-directors, Rob Marshall (also its choreographer) and Sam Mendes, have returned, too, along with their ace design team, and they haven’t messed around much with a successful formula….The promiscuous, hard-partying Sally is now embodied by a very brave Michelle Williams, who doesn’t look all that happy to be there. I’m assuming that’s more a matter of character interpretation than of personal discomfort, but it does put sort of a damper on the festivities.

Marilyn Stasio, Variety:  “Alan Cumming must have sold his soul to the devil to acquire his divinely debauched persona as the Emcee of the Kit Kat Klub in “Cabaret.” It seemed nuts, but proved shrewd of Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall to retool their dazzling 1998 revival of the Kander and Ebb masterpiece, fit Cumming with a new trenchcoat for his triumphant return, and bring the decadent netherworld of 1920s Berlin back to Studio 54, the revival’s ideal venue. Inspiration flagged, however, in casting Michelle Williams, so soft and vulnerable in “My Week With Marilyn,” as wild and reckless party girl Sally Bowles.”

Mark Kennedy, Associated Press:   a revival of a revival, this “Cabaret” …is as thrilling as ever, a marvel of staging…One big change is the woman in the bob: Michelle Williams makes her Broadway debut as Sally Bowles and she does an excellent job, playing both scared and daffy superbly and singing with real heart….Cumming is as lascivious as ever….Not much is new here. But great things don’t always need them.”

Linda Winder, Newsday:  “Cumming is better than ever — wiser, more dissipated, even more deeply entertaining in the role he stunningly recreated from Joel Grey’s iconic original. And that freshness is so infectious it spills over into a landmark production that closed in 2004 but feels, with one uneasy exception, as confident — and about as dangerous — as if it has been running ever since. The exception, alas, is Michelle Williams…Her Sally is timid, bland and covered up in costumes that make her seem almost chaste.”

David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter: “There’s simply no wrong time to revisit Sam Mendes‘ and Rob Marshall‘s thrilling production, which is even sharper this time around, with Alan Cumming reprising his louche Emcee alongside Michelle Williams‘ shattering Sally Bowles…Underneath her cultivated Mayfair accent and party-girl bravado, Sally can’t quite hide the fear that people will see through her. Williams, whose ability to convey porcelain vulnerability makes her such a compelling screen actress, ideally captures that duality. What’s more surprising is the assurance with which she handles the song-and-dance requirements. “

Dave Quinn, NBC New York:  “The Roundabout Theatre Company has produced an exact restaging of Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall’s 1998 Tony-winning production. From the Playbill cover design to the fringe on the lamps of the tables of the Kit Kat Klub, you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped into a time machine. That’s not necessarily a bad thing….“Cabaret” is a seductive piece of theater, beautifully designed and with stellar performances throughout.”

Adam Feldman, Time Out New York: 5 out of 5 stars:  “Why so soon? A better question might be: Why not? This Cabaret is a superb production of one of the great Broadway musicals of all time—an exhilarating, harrowing masterpiece. In Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall’s staging, Cumming is the corroded soul of the show; he haunts it and intrudes on it, magnetically mercurial….Cumming’s bouncy downtown energy keeps Cabaret from seeming like a period piece, and his new costars pull their weight.”

Matthew Murray, Talkin Broadway: “This Cabaret is today what it’s always been: a terrible idea brilliantly executed, an erotic embrace that crushes the material it’s ostensibly trying to arouse. Remounting, rather than rethinking, what was done in 1998 only exacerbates the old problems, and though this version served then, as now, as a necessary corrective for the dull and sloppy 1987 revamp, it’s tough not to wish a decade and a half had inspired wisdom to employ tactics other than photocopying.”

David Finkle, Huffington Post: the overall feel is of something being recreated by the numbers….The electricity that charged the air in 1998 and for the length of that run is somehow missing.