The Front Page with Nathan Lane et al: Review, Pics

The best way to sum up the fourth Broadway revival of The Front Page, the 1928 play about Chicago newspapermen, is the way their ads do: Nathan Lane, John Slattery, John Goodman,Jefferson Mays, Holland Taylor….Robert Morse. The show’s appeal, in other words, rests largely in its star turns, which often feel like cameos…

Only one illustrious member of the large cast entirely escapes cameo status — Nathan Lane as Walter Burns, a scheming editor for whom no ploy is too low. Through the alchemy of his barking brilliance, Lane turns the entire third act into more or less a one-man show, everybody else transformed into his supporting players. But he doesn’t even appear on stage until the end of Act II.

Full review at DC Theatre Scene

Oh Hello on Broadway: Review, Pics

I was surprised at how little I laughed during Oh, Hello on Broadway, a comedy act by Nick Kroll and John Mulaney, who have been called “two of the hottest voices in comedy.” They portray Gil Faizon, a “Tony Award viewing” actor, and George St. Geegland, a failed novelist, who have been roommates for 40 years.

Click on any photograph to see it enlarged.

What’s on stage at the Lyceum is not quite a real play with a plot, but also not quite a series of comedy sketches. It’s reminiscent of Wayne’s World, but without the narrative consistency, and The Pee-Wee Herman Show but without the colorfully inventive design… It’s 100 anarchic minutes of shtick and weirdness and throwaway notions and one-liners and scenes that mock the idea of scenes — the characters read aloud the stage directions, and make fun of such theatrical conventions as the one-sided telephone conversation. About halfway through, they offer a live episode of their Too Much Tuna parody prank show, in which an oversized tuna salad is delivered from above to a celebrity guest they’ve just interviewed.

Full review at DC Theatre Scene

The Encounter: Review, Pics.

The eerie true story of National Geographic photographer Loren McIntyre’s encounter with the elusive Mayoruna tribe while lost in the Amazon rainforest is made stranger still in Simon McBurney’s one-man play. The tribal “headman” communicated with McIntyre telepathically; McBurney communicates with the audience aurally, through individual headphones at each seat.

… Relying on sounds and downplaying the visual struck me as an odd way to tell the story of a professional photographer. But it soon becomes clear that McBurney’s enthusiasm is not really so much about the technology, as about the cosmic questions provoked both by his storytelling and by the story he is telling

Full review on DCTheatreScene

Holiday Inn Review, Video, Pics

It is possible to enjoy Holiday Inn, subtitled “The New Irving Berlin Musical,” although there is little new about it. The Broadway adaptation of the 1942 Crosby/Astaire movie features a hard-working, elegantly costumed cast in one pleasantly diverting musical number after another. But it’ll help to check your sense and sensibility in the coatroom.

Let’s be blunt: Bryce Pinkham and Corbin Bleu are no Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire. But let’s also be fair: Bleu’s performance is a revelation.

Full review at DC Theatre Scene

Click on any photograph below to see it enlarged.


October 2016 Theater Openings


October is stuffed — to use the title of one of the many shows opening this month. There are seven shows opening on Broadway alone (eight if you count a concert with a week-long run.)  Three are classic plays, a fourth a revival of a beloved musical, a fifth derived from a beloved/classic movie musical.

Off-Broadway, there are revivals of shows by Rent composer Jonathan Larsen,

Holiday InnStudio 54Horton Foote on the centennial of his birth,  and playwright David Hare, as well as a first play by an insult comic (the one who wrote “Stuffed”) and a puppet parody of an old sitcom.

It’s a starry month too, with such familiar faces as Nathan Lane, John Goodman, John Slattery, Jefferson Mays, Holland Taylor and Robert Morse — and they’re all just in one show. Other shows star Diane Lane, Christian Borle, Corbin Bleu, Mary Louise Parker, Andrew Rannells, Rachel Weisz

Below is a selection of the plays, musicals and difficult-to-label theater pieces opening in October, organized chronologically by opening date. Each title is linked to a relevant website.

Color key: Broadway: RedOff Broadway: Purple, blue or black. Off Off Broadway: Green.

For a look at the entire season, check out Broadway Preview Guide 2016-17 and Off Broadway Fall 2016 Guide

October 2

Afterplay (Irish Rep)

Brian Friel revisits the lives of two of Chekhov’s enduring characters- Sonya, Uncle Vanya’s dutiful niece, and Andrey, the downtrodden intellectual brother of The Three Sisters. They meet by chance in a late night cafe in 1920s Moscow


October 3

That Golden Girls Show, A Puppet Parody (DR2)


Miami’s four favorite girls reunite in this live puppet parody of the old TV series.


October 5

The Roads to Home (Primary Stages at Cherry Lane)


A revival of this play by Horton Foote (on the Centennial of his birth) about three women in the 1920s who have all moved to Houston and are now grappling with the eternal question, “What is home?”

October 6

Holiday Inn, the New Irving Berlin Musical (Studio 54) 

Megan Sikora and Corbin Bleu

Megan Sikora and Corbin Bleu

A stage adaptation of the 1942 film that introduced White Christmas and other Irving Berlin hits.


Daddy Issues (Theatre at St. Clements)

Donald, a gay man in the 1980s, hires the ten-year-old kid from downstairs to play his son in order to get his own parents off his back.

October 7


Stuffed (WP at McGinn/Cazale)

A first play by comedian  Lisa Lampanelli about four women — a bulimic, a compulsive eater, a confident overweight gal, and a chronically thin chick.

October 8

Simon Dawes Becomes a Planet (Access Theatre)

Equal parts fable, music hall panto, and modern farce about a boy born the size of a pea who grows to cosmic proportions.

October 9

Slumber (House of Yes)

A girl squad comprised of elite international circus performers and dancers on the last night of their lives….Who lives? Who dies? You decide.

The Folk Singer (Theatre for the New City)

A new musical about a young musician who wants to write songs as relevant today as those of Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan and Joan Baez were in their heyday

October 10

Oh, Hello (Lyceum) 


The comedy duo Nick Kroll and John Mulaney portray their alter egos  Gil Faizonand George St. Geegland, “outrageously opinionated, 70-something,  bachelors born and bred in New York.”


October 13

Heisenberg (Samuel J. Friedman)

The playwright of A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time penned this play, which debuted Off Broadway last year, starring Mary Louise Parker.  “Amidst the bustle of a crowded London train station, Georgie spots Alex, a much older man, and plants a kiss on his neck. This electric encounter thrusts these two strangers into a fascinating and life-changing game.”


Chris Gethard: Career Suicide (The Lynn Redgrave Theater)

The solo show from the Edinburgh Fringe about Gethard’s experiences with mental illness, ethically questionable psychiatry, and finding hope in weird places

October 16

The Cherry Orchard (American Airlines Theater)

John Glover, Diane Lane, Joel Grey

John Glover, Diane Lane, Joel Grey

Diane Lane in Chekhov’s play about “a family on the edge of ruin—and a country on the brink of revolution.”


She Stoops to Conquer (TACT at Theatre Row)

The 18th century romantic play by Oliver Goldsmith that pits county manners against city snobbery.

October 18

Sell/Buy/Date (MTC Studio at Stage II)


Sarah Jones (Bridge & Tunnel) portrays multiple characters in a new show inspired by the real-life experiences of people affected by the sex industry.


October 19

Love, Love, Love (RTC’s Laura Pels Theater)

A new play from Mike Bartlett (King Charles III, Cock.)  “London, 1967. Beatlemania is in full effect, the “Me” generation is in its prime and Kenneth and Sandra are in a world of  sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll….But what happens when they have babies of their own.”


October 20

The Front Page (Broadhurst)


Nathan Lane, John Slattery, John Goodman, Jefferson Mays, Sherie Rene Scott, Holland Taylor and Robert Morse star in the fifth Broadway revival of the 1928 comedy about old-time reporters who would do anything for a scoop. Even the supporting cast is hot — Lewis J. Stadlen, Dylan Baker, Micah Stock, Halley Feiffer, et al.

Tick…Tick…Boom (Keen Company at Theatre Row)

A revival of Rent composer Jonathan Larsen’s autobiographical musical, the story of an aspiring composer questioning his life choices on the eve of his thirtieth birthday.


Puffs (Elektra)

‘Puffs, or: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic & Magic” is a comedy about a young wizard named Wayne Hopkins and the Puffs–a group of well-meaning, loyal rejects with a thing for badgers.


October 21

Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons (Lunt-Fontanne)

The group that inspired “Jersey Boys” (which is closing in January) perform for a week their hits “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Sherry,” “Walk Like A Man,” “Oh, What A Night”

October 23

Plenty (Public Theater)

Rachel Weisz and Corey Stoll star in a revival of David Hare’s play about  Susan Traherne, a fiercely intelligent British secret agent flown into France during the second world war, who has trouble adjusting in the years after the war.

Not That Jewish (New World Stages)

From her show business family in the Bronx, to a WASP wedding, to her first step on a comedy club stage and life as a single mom, Monica Piper shares the milestones and moments that shaped her life with the same signature wit found in her writing on, “Roseanne” and “Mad About You.”

One Flea Spare (Sheen Center)

The 20th anniversary revival of this play by Naomi Wallace set in plague-ravaged 17th-century London, where a wealthy couple is preparing to flee their home when a mysterious sailor and a young girl appear sneaking into their boarded up house. They are all quarantined together for 28 days.


October 24

A Life (Playwrights Horizons)

After another breakup, Nate resorts to astrology. In this new play by Adam Bock,  “the answer he receives, when it comes, is shockingly obvious — and totally unpredictable.”


The Harvest (Lincoln Center Theater)

A new play by Samuel D. Hunter (The Whale) about a Mormon missionary who has bought a one-way ticket to the Middle East, but is confronted by his sister, who doesn’t want him to leave.


October 25

Vietgone (MTC City Center)


The award-winning play by Qui Nguyen is a love story about a boy and girl who are refugees from the Vietnam War newly settled in a relocation camp inside Middle America.


October 27

Falsettos (Walter Kerr Theater)


A revival of the 1992 Tony-winning musical about a middle-aged man named Marvin and his decision to leave his wife, Trina, for a man, Whizzer. “Falsettos” combined two early Off-Broadway musicals, the 1981 “March of the Falsettos,”  and the 1990 “Falsettoland.” The new production stars Christian Borle, Stephanie J. Block, Andrew Rannells, and Brandon Uranowitz.


The Babies (St. Lukes)

A musical about babies from the womb to preschool; “they sing and dance and tell you what they really think.”


Duat (Soho Rep at the Connelly)

“Two halves of a soul hunt through a hall of records.
A librarian breaks the seal of a mysterious archive.
A teacher and her class prepare the pageant to end all pageants.”


October 30

Les Liaisons Dangereuses (Booth Theatre)


Janet McTeer and Liev Schreiber star in a production from the Donmar Warehouse of the 1985 play about sexual intrigue in 18th century France.

Coriolanus (Red Bull at Barrow Street)

Shakespeare’s play, with some special relevance –” Economic inequality strains the social fabric. Debates rage throughout a nation riddled with dissension and distrust. It’s election year in Rome, 493 B.C.E., and as unscrupulous politicians manipulate public opinion, the hypocrisy and humiliation of political campaigns drive away the country’s finest….” — featuring a cast that includes the incomparable Patrick Page.

September 2016 New York Theater Openings

Politics is in the air,  and it inevitably lands on the New York stage, with some half-dozen shows opening in September that one could call political theater, including an American president put on trial, and the next installment of the in-real-time Gabriel series at the Public Theater.



This also includes Lewis Black’s stand-up routine, one of two solo shows opening on Broadway this month. The other, a hit in the UK, tells the true story of a wild adventure in the Amazon (the jungle, not the website.) Off-Broadway, Judith Light is starring in a solo play by Neil LaBute. There are also biographical shows about actor Edwin Booth, composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein, “Queen of Race Records” Sister Rosetta Tharpe, 19th century insurrectionist Nat Turner, and one of the first women police detectives in New York. Salsa singer Tito Nieves makes his musical theater debut. And then there’s something called “Wild Women of Planet Wongo,” which sounds like an escapee from the Fringe.

Below is a selection of the plays, musicals and difficult-to-label theater pieces opening in September, organized chronologically by opening date. Each title is linked to a relevant website.

Color key: Broadway: Red. Off Broadway: Purple, blue or black. Off Off Broadway: Green.


September 2

Twelfth Night (Shakespeare in the Park)

This Public Theater Public Works production that features some 200 performers from all five boroughs runs for just four performances.

September 8

Edwin (Great Circle Prods at Theatre at St. Clement’s)

Edwin Booth poster

The story of Edwin Booth, the most celebrated American actor of the 19th century, on the night of his return to the stage after his brother assassinated President Lincoln–braving death threats, public outrage, and his own scarred past.

Bliss (Black Moon Theatre Company at The Flea) 

Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead; “a visual and poetic dance/theatre odyssey within the mind of an individual striving to awaken to a Higher Consciousness.”

September 11

 The Wolves (Playwrights Realm at the Duke)

The Wolves at Playwrights Realm

A play by Sarah DeLappe, making her professional debut, featuring an all-female ten-member cast as a suburban girls’ soccer team coming to terms with the world and their own changing adolescent bodies.


 Maestro (59 E 59)


A solo show about Leonard Bernstein. “Conductor, composer, pianist, author, teacher, librettist, television star, and composer ofWest Side Story, Candide, and On the Town, Bernstein pushed all boundaries to become the world’s first serious musical superstar. In Maestro, Hershey Felder combines narrative with Leonard Bernstein’s composition and the music of Beethoven, Wagner, Mahler, Copland, and others, to bring to life the man the entire world knew as “Lenny.””


September 12

Aubergine (Playwrights Horizons)


A new play by Julia Cho. “A man shares a bowl of berries, and a young woman falls in love. A world away, a mother prepares a bowl of soup to keep her son from leaving home. And a son cooks a meal for his dying father to say everything that words can’t. In Julia Cho’s poignant and lyrical new play, the making of a perfect meal is an expression more precise than language, and the medium through which life gradually reveals itself.”


Black to the Future (Marquis)


(four Mondays Sept 12 – Oct 24)

Lewis Black’s political stand-up on six Monday nights when On Your Feet isn’t playing.


September 14

Marie and Rosetta (Atlantic Theater)

Marie and Rosetta poster

A drama about the “Queen of Race Records” Sister Rosetta Tharpe, who influenced Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Ray Charles and Jimi Hendrix


September 15

Missed Connections: A Craigslist Musical (New Ohio Theater)


Based on real Craigslist Ads – “Your Personal Ads Set To Music” A hit in Canada

Dead Shot Mary (Bridge Theatre at Shetler Studios)


“A pioneer for females in law enforcement, Mary Shanley joined the NYPD in 1931, quickly becoming a Gotham all-star and tabloid sensation. Making a staggering 1,000 career arrests, she became the 4th woman in history to make detective 1st grade, and then nearly lost it all.”


Occupation: Dragonslayer (The Robert Moss Theatre)

A musical tale of 9/11 “retold for the 15th anniversary…In Christmas Eve in 2002, a mysterious stranger in fire deparmtnet garb pays a visit to a doomed diner at Ground Zero and changes the lives of all within. The musical was originally commissioned by the Public Theater


 September 16


What Did You Expect (Public Theater)

What did you expect gabriels

The latest in the three play cycle by Richard Nelson, “The Gabriels: Election Year in the Life of One Family.” The first play in the cycle, Hungry, opened March 4, which is the date in which it is set.  The cycle will culminate with the third play, Women of a Certain Age, which will be both set and open – and which the playwright will finish writing – on Election Day, November 8, 2016.


September 18


 On The Rails (777 Theatre)

Three tales of different couples, set on board “a mystical, timeless locomotive”

How To Be An American (York Theatre Company)

HowToBeAnAmerican poster

Based on Plunkitt of Tammany Hall — A Series of Very Plain Talks on Very Practical Politics (a notorious book among students of American political history that introduced the concept of  “honest graft.” ) “The year is 1905. One week before the next election. New York City. Tammany Hall politician George Washington Plunkitt has gathered a group of new immigrants for the purpose of educating them on the subtleties of the American political system.” Only ten performances.


September 19

 Where Did We Sit on the Bus? (Ensemble Studio Theatre)


During a third grade lesson on the Civil Rights movement and Rosa Parks, a Latino boy raises his hand to ask, “Where did we sit on the bus?” and his teacher can’t answer the question. This autobiographical solo show, written and performed by Brian Quijada, examines what it means to be Latino through the eyes of a child, turned teenager, turned adult.


September 22

 I Like It Like That (Puerto Rican Traveling Theater)


Salsa star Tito Nieves stars in the first musical theater role of his career, in the story of the Rodriguez family living in New York City’s East Harlem in the early 1970s, when music was the lifeline and proudest expression of El Barrio.


September 26

 Nat Turner in Jerusalem (New York Theatre Workshop)

Nat Turner in Jerusalem

In August 1831, Nat Turner led a slave uprising that shook the conscience of the nation. Turner’s startling account of his prophecy and the insurrection was recorded and published by attorney Thomas R. Gray. NYTW 2050 Fellow Nathan Alan Davis makes his New York debut with a timely new play that imagines Turner’s final night in a jail cell in Jerusalem, Virginia, as he is revisited by Gray and they reckon with what has passed and what the dawn will bring.


Underground Railroad Game (Ars Nova)


Good morning, America! Welcome to Hanover Middle School, where a pair of teachers are getting down and dirty with today’s lesson. The nimble duo goes round after round on the mat of our nation’s history, tackling race, sex and power in this R-rated, kaleidoscopic and fearless comedy.


September 28


 All The Ways To Say I Love You (MCC @ The Lucille Lortel)


Judith Light stars in this hour-long solo show by Neil LaBute about a high school English teacher and guidance counselor in a loving marriage. “As she recounts her experiences with a favored student from her past, Mrs. Johnson slowly reveals the truth that is hidden just beneath the surface details of her life.”


 Verso (New World Stages)


An evening of illusion with one of the world’s premier close-up magic artists, Helder Guimarães.


Wild Women of Planet Wongo (Parkside Lounge)


An immersive, outer space comedy about two astronauts who land on a planet of beautiful warrior women who have never seen men. The show will be performed “party-style” meaning they expect audience to drink, dance and otherwise be part of the show.



September 29


 The Encounter (John Golden Theater)

The Encounter photo by Stavros Petropoulos

The Encounter is a solo show written and performed by Simon McBurney: Twenty years ago Simon McBurney was given a book written by a Romanian who escaped the Ceaușescu regime to reinvent himself as a Los Angeles screenwriter. Amazon Beaming tells the story of photographer Loren McIntyre, who in 1969 found himself lost amongst the remote people of the Javari Valley, on the border between Brazil and Peru. It was an encounter that changed his life: bringing the limits of human consciousness into startling focus.”


The Trial of an American President (Theatre Row)

The Trial of an American President

Will President George W. Bush be found guilty of launching an illegal war that caused civilian deaths and spawned the growth of Al-Qaeda and ISIS and the use of brutal torture? Members of the audience are selected as the jury for this trial.

Watch Something Rotten With Its New Cast – Will Chase, Rob McClure et al

“Something Rotten” recently replaced most of its principal cast– Will Chase is now the sexy William Shakespeare, Rob McClure and Josh Grisetti the  Bard-envious Bottom Brothers, Leslie Kritzer  Nick Bottom’s liberated wife, and Catherine Brunell as Nigel Bottom’s love interest.

Will Chase as Shakespeare singing "Will Power" in Bryant Park.

Will Chase as Shakespeare singing “Will Power” in Bryant Park.

Watch the videos below of their performances at the last Broadway in Bryant Park lunchtime concert of the summer.

When the musical comedy about the first-ever (made-up) musical opened on Broadway in April, 2015, the reviews were mixed, including from me. But I saw it again recently with most of the replacement cast and found the pacing much improved, and while some of the content still revels in bad taste in service of an outdated humor, the acting is less winky-winky (Andre Ward as the Minstrel is especially welcome.)

Watch Corbin Bleu, Bryce Pinkham in Irving Berlin Musical Holiday Inn


Corbin Bleu sang “Cheek to Cheek” with Lora Lee Gayer. Bryce Pinkham sang “Blue Skies,” and Megan Lawrence sang “Shaking the Blues Away” in a preview of “Holiday Inn: The New Irving Berlin Musical” at the Broadway in Bryant Park lunchtime concert today.

“Holiday Inn,” which is set to open at Roundabout Theater’s Studio 54 on October 6, 2016 is “inspired” by the 1942 movie of the same name starring Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby that introduced Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas.” The Broadway musical will have several hit Berlin songs that were not in the movie.

Here is how Roundabout describes the story of Holiday Inn the musical: “Jim [Bryce Pinkham}leaves the lights of show business behind to settle down on his farmhouse in Connecticut… but life just isn’t the same without a bit of song and dance. Jim’s luck takes a spectacular turn when he meets Linda [Lora Lee Gayer], a spirited schoolteacher with talent to spare. Together they turn the farmhouse into a fabulous inn with dazzling performances to celebrate each holiday, from Thanksgiving to the Fourth of July. But when Jim’s best friend Ted [Corbin Bleu] tries to lure Linda away to be his new dance partner in Hollywood, will Jim be able to salvage his latest chance at love?”

The book is co-written by Gordon Greenberg, who is also making his Broadway directorial debut, and Chad Hodge. It is choreographed by Denis Jones.


Watch Preview of Broadway’s Great Comet of 1812

Great Comet of 1812 preview photoThe Broadway cast of “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812” — minus Josh Groban — sang three songs at the Broadway in Bryant Park lunch-time concert on Thursday.  Dave Malloy’s musical, which is set to open in Broadway’s Imperial Theater on November 14, was exuberantly praised in its various incarnations Off-Broadway, including by me.

The story: Natasha (Denee Benton) is a beautiful ingénue visiting Moscow while she waits for her beloved fiancé Andrey to return from the war. In a moment of indiscretion, she is seduced by the dashing but already married Anatole (Lucas Steele) and her position in society is ruined. Her only hope lies with Pierre (Josh Groban),  the lonely outsider whose love and compassion for Natasha may be the key to her redemption… and to the renewal of his own soul.

The Prologue introduces the characters and the plot of the show, which is based on a sliver of Tolstoy’s War and Peace.


Denee Benton, who will portray Natasha on Broadway, sings “No One Else”

Lulu Fall as Helen sang “Charming.” The role will be played on Broadway by Amber Gray.

It’s interesting to compare these videos with three made at a Broadway in Bryant Park concert three years ago. Many of the cast members in the 2013 production, such as Amber Gray and Brittain Ashford, will be on Broadway as well.

Brittain Ashford will be playing Sonya again on Broadway:

Watch Les Miz, Fiddler, Paramour at Broadway in Bryant Park

C2E2 2016 - Cosplay Sunday Floor

Below, cast members from the Broadway shows Les Miserables, Fiddler on the Roof, and Cirque du Soleil’s Paramour, as well as the Marvelous Wonderettes Off-Broadway, sing and dance during the July 21, 2016 Broadway at Bryant Park concert.

From Les Miserables:
John Owen-Jones as Valjean sings “Bring Him Home”
Alison Luff as Fantine sings “I Dreamed a Dream”

From Fiddler on the Roof:
Sarah Parker, Marla Phelan and Silvia Vrskova sing “Matchmaker, Matchmaker”

From Paramour
“The Honeymoon Days of Fame”

From the Marvelous Wonderettes

Diana DeGarmo, Christina Bianco, Jenna Leigh Green and Sally Schwab sing “Mr. Sandman”