The Prom Review: Divas, Hams and Lesbians in Broadway Satire

“The Prom” is really two musicals in one. One is a funny, knowing backstage comedy, satirizing the self-regard of theater folk. The other is a loud, fast high school musical. What ties them together, somewhat glibly, is a story of homophobia inspired by true events at a high school far from New York.



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What to See on Broadway Thanksgiving Week 2018

Both King Kong and Olaf, the goofy snow man from Frozen, will loom large on Thanksgiving Day — but not on Broadway; neither current musical is one of the four Broadway shows performing on Thursday. (see Thanksgiving Week Broadway schedule below.)

Olaf will be one of the huge balloons hovering over Sixth Avenue during the 92nd annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and the cast of “King Kong” will be performing a number from the new musical during CBS’s coverage of the parade. (Also performing on CBS: the casts of “Dear Evan Hansen.” and “Head Over Heels.” Performing at the parade itself, broadcast by NBC: “Mean Girls,” “My Fair Lady,” “The Prom,” and “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical.”)


both Frozen and King Kong have added a matinee on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving — as have most other Broadway shows. Many have also added a Monday night performance.

Below is the Broadway schedule for Thanksgiving Week, as well as a list of my four favorite shows that have opened this season so far, and another four that are evergreens suitable for young children.

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King Kong Review: Going Apeshit Over a Puppet on Broadway

King Kong is spectacular — those dreamy eyes, that expressive sniffing of his nose, the earthquake of a roar. He is such a singular creature that, like Ann Darrow, the damsel he picks up in his impressively flexible hand, I started feeling protective towards him – and, by extension, toward the Broadway musical that he dominates.
No, “King Kong” didn’t need to be made into a musical. But here it is, and it’s fun.
No, the book is neither “Grapes of Wrath“ (“Apes of Wrath”?) nor “Rocky Horror Show” – neither profound nor campy – and the score isn’t especially memorable. But both deserve a vigorous defense.

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Old Reviews of New Transfers: Mike Birbiglia’s New One, Daniel’s Husband, School Girls or the African Mean Girls Play

“The New One “isn’t literally new. Mike Birbiglia’s solo show debuted Off-Broadway three months ago – where it sold out quickly. It’s now on Broadway – same cast (i.e. Mike Birbiglia), same creative team, a bigger stage, a few new producers.
I liked it when it was at the Cherry Lane. I’m happy that Birbiglia is making his Broadway debut. I feel no need to see the show again, just so that I can write something like: He’s still funny in a larger theater.
For different reasons, I also don’t want to see “Daniel’s Husband” again, which is also transferring from the Cherry Lane, nor “School Girls, or the African Mean Girls Play”, which, with a few cast changes, isn’t even transferring: It’s being presented a year later in the same theater. So, below are summaries of my old reviews of the three productions, plus links to the full reviews, and new photographs.
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Broadway Poll: Your Favorite Play With Puppets

My favorite character in Frozen on Broadway by far is Sven the reindeer. I’ve been a fan of Avenue Q  before it opened Off-Broadway the first time. Does anybody doubt The Lion King or War Horse owe much of their appeal to their  puppetry?

Now that King Kong has opened on Broadway, with unmitigated acclaim for its star puppet,  a one-ton, 20-foot marionette, it seems a good time to choose your favorite Broadway show with puppets, or the Broadway show with your favorite puppets. (I’ll leave that up to you.)

I’ve included the obscure 1961 musical Carnival starring Jerry Orbach as a puppeteer and four puppets. Feel free to choose an even more obscure show not on this list.

Click on any photograph to see it enlarged.

American Son: Pics and Review

While anxiously waiting in a Miami police station for word of what happened to her son Jamal, an educated African-American woman named Kendra (Kerry Washington) talks with her estranged white husband Scott (Steven Pasquale) about the nightmares she’s had over the years about Jamal – of “nooses and crosses,” but, far worse and far more often, “getting stopped by a cop.”

That nightmare has turned into Kendra’s reality in American Son, a timely if flawed drama whose power comes largely from Kerry Washington’s intense performance.

Full review on DC Theatre Scene

Torch Song on Broadway: Review and Pics

The 1982 Broadway production of Torch Song Trilogy, starring Harvey Fierstein as Arnold Beckoff, a sometime drag queen and gay Jewish romantic searching for love and acceptance, could be credited with having made history. But no such claim would be credible for the revival, renamed Torch Song, starring Michael Urie as Arnold and Mercedes Ruehl as his mother.  It’s just an entertainment now, unthreatening and largely unchallenging,…

But if Torch Song suffers in comparison to the spate of first-rate gay plays over the last few decades, and the excellent revivals over the past year, there’s no denying how witty and well-meaning it is. Many in the barrage of one-liners are still quite funny, and the strong performances of Urie and Ruehl in particular help make more palatable the artificial feel to many of the scenes.

Full Review at DC Theatre Scene

Click on any photograph by Matthew Murphy to see it enlarged.

The Ferryman Review: A Breathtaking Feast of Stories and Character

By the time “The Ferryman” has ended, we have been treated to a breathtaking mix of revenge action thriller, romance, melodrama, family saga, and a feast of storytelling – ghost stories, fairy stories, stories of Irish history and politics, stories of longing and of loss.

Jez Butterworth’s play about farmer Quinn Carney and his sprawling, colorful family is rich, sweeping entertainment — epic, tragic….and cinematic.
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The Waverly Gallery with Elaine May, Lucas Hedges: Pics, Review

Elaine May is back on a Broadway stage after more than 50 years, and making the most of it in The Waverly Gallery, Kenneth Lonergan’s meticulously observed, funny and sad play about a woman’s decline and its effect on her family. May is not alone. She is one of five stellar cast members, notably Lucas Hedges making a splendid Broadway debut. They turn this 18-year-old play into…if not required, certainly well-rewarded viewing. So does Lila Neugebauer in her overdue Broadway directorial debut.

But it is especially thrilling to watch May, who is herself 86 years old..

Full review on D C Theater Scene

Click on any photograph by Brigitte Lacombe to see it enlarged.

The Lifespan of a Fact with Daniel Radcliffe, Bobby Cannavale, Cherry Jones: Pics, Review

I take “The Lifespan of a Fact” personally.
On the one hand, Cherry Jones, Bobby Cannavale and Daniel Radcliffe, are three of my favorite actors in the universe, performing in a  comedy directed with a light, fast touch by Leigh Silverman, who’s helmed much theater I’ve enjoyed (Harry Clarke, Sweet Charity, Chinglish.)  I’m even partial to the set designer, Mimi Lien, Tony Award winner for Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812…
On the other hand, the play purports to examine several serious and timely issues. John’s article is about a teen suicide. The debate between John and Jim is about the nature of truth, and what obligations literary nonfiction has towards factual accuracy…
I find The Lifespan of a Fact a slight play that simply doesn’t do full justice to the issues underneath the comedy.

Full review on DC Theatre Scene