My Fair Lady Review: Unromantic Eliza in Lavish Revival

Lincoln Center’s sumptuous fourth Broadway revival of “My Fair Lady,” the supremely tuneful and witty 1956 Lerner and Lowe musical adapted from George Bernard Shaw’s pointed 1913 play “Pygmalion,” features a revelation and a looming question for those who know the musical.
The revelation is Lauren Ambrose as Eliza Doolittle, and the question is: Does the story still work if we see no romantic feelings develop between Eliza and Henry Higgins, her bullying speech teacher?

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Summer: The Donna Summer Musical, Review and Pics

The real Donna Summer

Summer features 23 of Donna Summer’s songs, including such dance hits as “Hot Stuff” and “Last Dance,” that a talented cast performs in glitzy disco drag. That may be all some fans need from this thin Broadway musical that purports to tell the life story of the singer born LaDonna Adrian Gaines, who had a wildly successful career from the mid 1970s to the mid 1980s.

“With her doe eyes, cascade of hair and sinuous dance moves, Ms. Summer became the queen of disco,” an obituary writer summed up Summer when she died six years ago from cancer at the age of 63.

It’s probably inaccurate to say that most theatergoers would be disappointed by Summer: The Donna Summer Musical – because few would expect much in the first place from yet another commercial bio drama jukebox musical.

Full review on DC Theatre Scene

How To Get Discounts to Broadway’s Newest Shows This Season

Fifteen Broadway shows have opening dates in March and April, 2018, the bulk of the 2017-2018 season. Tickets are made available to them for as little as $10, but more often about $40, which is still as much as about a 75 percent discount off full price. How does this work? Below, listed alphabetically, are the shows and the official ways to get (relatively) inexpensive tickets to them Read more of this post

Mean Girls Review: Tina Fey’s Ill-Timed Broadway Musical About High School

At the end of “Mean Girls,” Cady, the new girl in high school who tries so hard to fit in that she’s become phony and superficial, tells her classmates that she’s learned her lesson: “I wanted everyone to like me so bad, I kind of lost myself in the process.” Had Tina Fey and her collaborators learned the same lesson, they surely would not have turned her smart, funny 2004 movie into the overlong, ill-timed Broadway musical that is currently running at the August Wilson Theater.
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Children of a Lesser God Review: Deaf Rights and Romance, Four Decades Later

The first Broadway revival of “Children of a Lesser God,” the award-winning, boundary-breaking 1980 play by Mark Medoff about the romance and eventual marriage between a hearing teacher at a school for the deaf and a deaf graduate, is the only show on Broadway whose creative team includes a “director of artistic sign language.” It is the only show on Broadway to project supertitles of the entire script at EVERY performance, and to schedule sign language interpreters regularly. And, above all, it is of course the only show that marks the stunning Broadway debut of Lauren Ridloff, who portrays Sarah Norman, whose language (like the actress’s) is American Sign Language.
These are reasons enough to welcome this production, and to consider it pioneering, even as the play it’s remounting feels dated.
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April 2018 New York Theater Openings

The nine shows opening on Broadway in the month of April include four musicals and five plays – the old ones among the most beloved (Carousel, My Fair Lady) or respected (by Eugene O’Neill, George Bernard Shaw, Tom Stoppard), the new nes among the most anticipated (Harry Potter, Mean Girls.).

But Off-Broadway is generating excitement this month too — with, for example, a one-two punch at the Public, of a new musical by Quiara Alegria Hudes (In The Heights) and a new play by Lynn Nottage (Ruined, Sweat.) and the debut of new plays at Playwrights Horizons by up-and-comers Lindsey Ferrentino and Clare Barron

Below is a list, organized chronologically by opening date, with descriptions. Each title is linked to a relevant website.
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Three Tall Women: Review and Pics

“I was tall and I was strong,” recalls the oldest woman in Edward Albee’s Three Tall Women, and you believe it, because it is Glenda Jackson, who commands even as she winces in pain or cries in embarrassment or drifts into sad memories.
Jackson hasn’t been on a Broadway stage since 1988; she took a long detour from acting to become a member of the British Parliament . Three Tall Women has never been on a Broadway stage before. The 1994 Off-Broadway production of the play restored Albee’s reputation after 20 years of critical drubbing, winning him his third Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
Jackson makes clear how much we’ve missed out by her absence from acting. But this is just one of the many triumphs of this exquisite Broadway premiere directed by Joe Mantello and co-starring Laurie Metcalf and Alison Pill. It is hard to imagine a better production of Albee’s humorous, caustic, secretly compassionate look at a life – and a death. It feels a fitting homage to the playwright, who died in 2016.

Full review at DC Theatre Scene

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

Lobby Hero Review: Chris Evans, Michael Cera in Modest Comedy of Moral Quandaries

Chris Evans and Michael Cera in Lobby Hero, at the Helen Hayes

“Lobby Hero,” which presents a quartet of characters (two security guards and two cops) in the lobby of a high rise apartment building in Manhattan, is more than just the modest comedy it initially seems to be. It is less, though, than what we were promised.

Brian Tyree Henry

When Second Stage announced it had bought itself a Broadway home, the Helen Hayes, the non-profit theater company declared it would use it to present new American plays by living American playwrights. For the inaugural production at the newly renovated Hayes, however, Second Stage has chosen to revive “Lobby Hero,” an old American play (which debuted at Playwrights Horizons in 2001), by Kenneth Lonergan, a playwright (“This Is Our Youth”) whose greatest successes have been in Hollywood: He wrote and directed the Oscar-winning “Manchester by the Sea.”
That “Lobby Hero” also co star Chris Evans (“Captain America”), in his Broadway debut, and Michael Cera (“Juno,” “Arrested Development”) make the Hollywood connections feel more than an accident. It follows the recent formula for mounting a straight play on Broadway: Get screen stars. That usually doesn’t mean the playwright too.
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Rocktopia Review: Fusing Rock with Classical, Tuneful with Tacky

Singer Tony Vincent and guitarist Tony Bruno

“Imagine Mozart and Beethoven talking, and suddenly Freddie Mercury arrives,” singer Rob Evans said (in the only words anybody spoke all evening) about halfway through “Rocktopia.” If imagining this is painful to you, then you’re not a good fit for “Rocktopia,” which is subtitled “A Classical Revolution,” although it would be more accurate to subtitle it “A Rock Concert.”
“Rocktopia” mashes up pieces by, yes, Mozart and Beethoven as well as a dozen more classical composers with rock songs by, yes, Queen, as well as Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, Elton John, the Beatles and more. (See full playlist below) I suspect Rocktopia would please rock fans more than classical music lovers, many of whom might consider it blasphemous – or at least blast-phemous. However, while some of the song pairings work better than others, for the open-minded (open-eared?), “Rocktopia” is an intriguing idea. If it winds up better than it sounds, it sounds way better than it looks.

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Frozen on Broadway, Pics, Videos and Review

What most engaged me about Frozen, if I’m honest, is Sven the reindeer. This said more than I initially realized about the Broadway musical adaptation of the highest-grossing animated film of all time.
“Frozen” features a terrific 40-member cast, led by Caissie Levy as Elsa the princess with the chilly ice-making powers, and Patti Murin as Anna, her younger and more sociable sister. The show doesn’t neglect “Let It Go,” the Oscar-winning song and pop music phenomenon composed by the extraordinary songwriting team, the married couple, EGOT winner Robert Lopez (Avenue Q, The Book of Mormon) and Kristen Anderson-Lopez (In Transit.)

Full review at DC Theatre Scene 

Click on any photograph by Deen van Meer to see it enlarged