Keira Knightley, New British Monarch, and a Mutt: The Week in New York Theater

Clockwise from upper left: Thérèse Raquin, King Charles III, The Humans, Sylvia
Clockwise from upper left: Thérèse Raquin, King Charles III, The Humans, Sylvia

A new month comes with two traditions –

my monthly quiz testing how well you were paying attention to theater in October.

NewYorkTheaterOctober2015quizand my monthly preview of the shows opening in New York in November. which promises not just the usual stars but an unusual range of subjects on and Off Broadway.


There’s one day left to enter my contest for two free tickets to Spring Awakening.

Austin P McKenzie with company
Austin P McKenzie with company

The Week in New York Theater Reviews

Before Your Very Eyes 1
My review of Before Your Very Eyes

Dress-up has never seemed more sophisticated than in “Before Your Very Eyes,” the intriguing 70-minute theater piece at the Public Theater by the Gob Squad, the European experimental troupe, which declares at the start that the audience will witness “seven lives lived in fast forward, from age ten to eighty.” We watch seven children, whose actual ages range from nine to 14, as they put on clothing, wigs and makeup in order to pretend to age, on a stage that’s like a playroom, separated by a scrim that’s supposedly a one-way mirror: The audience can look in, but the children can only see their own reflection.

“You do know why you’re here, don’t you?” a pleasant official-sounding female voice says to the children, as her words are posted in supertitles above the stage. “You’re here to live and then die.”

Robert Sella, Annaleigh Ashford, Matthew Broderick
Robert Sella, Annaleigh Ashford, Matthew Broderick


Annaleigh Ashford has starred on Broadway in Wicked, Legally Blonde, Hair and Kinky Boots; accepted a Tony for what she called “the worst dancing that ever happened on Broadway” and portrays the ex-prostitute in the Showtime series Masters of Sex. All that has led to Sylvia, where Ashford is the best show dog ever.

Yes, she’s better than Lassie or Toto or even Uggie; she certainly beats out any animal trained by William Berloni. Her only competition may be Snoopy.

Ashford’s consistently hilarious, sometimes touching, always spot-on canine impersonation is the reason to see the first Broadway production of A.R. Gurney’s play about a man who falls in love with a stray dog that he finds in the park, endangering his marriage.


Thérèse Raquin

Nobody applauds Keira Knightley when she first appears on stage for her Broadway debut in Thérèse Raquin. The audience doesn’t recognize her; she’s in the background under faded light, the third character in what is mostly a two-character scene in the breathtaking adaptation of Emile Zola’s breakthrough novel of adultery and murder.

That staging is a deliberate choice by director Evan Cabnet to avoid the standard Broadway reaction to the stage entrance of a movie star; it is one of the production’s many smart choices.

Tim Pigott-Smith as King Charles III
Tim Pigott-Smith as King Charles III

King Charles III

Is there some reason why an American audience should care about the future of the British monarchy? That’s the question that hangs over King Charles III, playwright Mike Bartlett’s cleverly conceived play, simultaneously stately and subversive, that imagines what will happen after the death of Queen Elizabeth II, when the Prince of Wales ascends the throne.

…Bartlett has crafted an imitation of a Shakespeare history play; it labels itself “a future history play.” King Charles III is  written in iambic pentameter, and filled with allusions to famous scenes from the Bard’s work, given a modern spin. The ghost of Princess Diana, for example, appears (à la Hamlet) to Charles, as well as to his eldest son Prince William, and delivers a prophecy that (Macbeth-like) is a riddle with a twisty pay-off.

The Week in New York Theater News

The Humans, with its cast intact, will move to Broadway in the Spring of 2016. Meanwhile, it’s been extended Off-Broadway until January 3, 2016.


Empanada Loca has been extended at Labyrinth Theater to November 15


Futurity has been extended at Connelly Theater to November 22

Leslie Odom as Aaron Burr and the cast
Leslie Odom as Aaron Burr and the cast

Twenty thousand New York City public school 11th graders will see Hamilton for $10, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, and supplemented by a curriculum created around the show.


Steven Pasquale (Reasons to be Pretty, The Bridges of Madison County; Rescue Me on TV) will star in a revival of the 1975 Broadway bluegrass musical The Robber Bridegroom directed by Alex Timbers, at the Roundabout Feb 18-May 29, 2016.. Alfred Uhry (“Driving Miss Daisy”) wrote the book and lyrics for the  music by Robert Waldman based on the 1942 novella by Eudora Welty about a Robin Hood-like bandit who falls for the daughter of a rich plantation owner


Christopher Sergel’s dramatization of Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird will be presented at Queen’s Theater, November 13 to 22.

Critics Corner

Eighty playwrights signed a letter to the theater editor of the New York Times to restore the designer credits in reviews and listings, prompted by a campaign by the union United Scenic Artists for greater visibility for set,sound,lighting, and costume designers as well as stage managers.

Dear NY theaters: You complain about the dominance of NY Times critics, yet you cause this by quoting only them in your marketing




A.P. on Show Score

(Please follow me on Show-Score)

How high ticket prices endanger theater AND the city’s future, by Daniel Gallant of Nuyorican Poets Cafe.

Thanksgiving 2015 Parade

Cast members from The Wiz Live!, as well as Broadway’s Fiddler on the Roof, Finding NeverlandThe King and I, On Your Feet! and Something Rotten! will perform in the 89th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade,  broadcast live on NBC November 26 starting at 9 am. The School or Rock will have its own float.


Author: New York Theater

Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

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