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The True with Edie Falco: Photographs and Review

As Polly Noonan, Edie Falco, late of The Sopranos and Nurse Jackie, can make almost any show more engaging than it would otherwise be, even a relatively sedate one like “The True,”…
Except….Polly is only partly the fruit of the playwright’s imagination. “The True” is more or less true. There was an Albany Mayor Erastus Corning 2nd who in 1977 was facing his first primary challenge in 35 years; he did have a long-time aide named Dorothea “Polly” Noonan who was rumored to be in a romantic relationship with him. And what’s more, Polly Noonan gave birth to a daughter, also named Polly Noonan, and that daughter gave birth to Kirsten E. Gillibrand, now a U.S. Senator from New York, who is said to be a likely candidate for president in 2020. Gillibrand has called her grandmother “my greatest political hero.”

Full review on DC Theatre Scene

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Gettin’ The Band Back Together: Pics, Videos, Review

From its first moments, Gettin’ The Band Back Together feels like the tackiest show  on Broadway, an impression advanced by its lazy plot,  uninspired garage rock score, dopey jokes, and clichéd characters.  Yet, for all its obvious mediocrity, there is an odd and grudging realization by the show’s last moments: Gettin’ The Band Back Together is kind of fun.

What makes it so are the performers who portray the band members, each of whom gets at least one number that shows off a depth of talent that transcends the caricatures in which the show has trapped them.

Full review on DC Theatre Scene

Click on any photograph by Joan Marcus to see it enlarged.

Pretty Woman: Photos, Video, review

Vivian (Samantha Banks) is a hooker, Edward (Andy Karl) is a killer corporate raider who meets her on Hollywood Boulevard, and if the ensuing romance is no less a fable than it was in the hit 1990 movie, there are fewer charms and almost no surprises in Pretty Woman The Musical.

Full review on DC Theatre Scene

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

Be More Chill: pics, video and review

To outsiders, “Be More Chill” is a hyper-energetic pop-rock musical opening tonight Off-Broadway, starring Will Roland (“Dear Evan Hansen”) as a high school student named Jeremy Heere who sees himself as a loser but then swallows a pill containing a supercomputer and becomes cool.
Jeremy’s journey is of course a sci-fi fantasy. But thanks to its fans, the odyssey of the musical itself is also fairly far out…You don’t have to be 15 to be thrilled by the best moments in the Off-Broadway production of Be More Chill, a musical about high school, presented by a terrifically talented cast, that is too quirky and clever to be dismissed as the standard high school musical bestiary. But it might help to be a teenage fan in order to enjoy all two and a half hours of Be More Chill…

Full review on DC Theatre Scene

New song added to the Off Broadway production:

Click on any photograph by Maria Baranova to see it enlarged

Head Over Heels: Review, Pics

“Head Over Heels” is a mash-up that sounds weird and unworkable: It’s a jukebox musical using 18 songs by the 1980s all-female L.A. punk band The Go-Go’s. But it’s also a loose adaptation of Arcadia, a 1580s work of literature by Philip Sidney, a contemporary of Shakespeare.

Dressed in Elizabethan doublets, ruffs, crowns and long gowns, the performers speak in iambic pentameter when they’re not singing lyrics like “We got the beat/we got the beat/yeah we got it” and dancing the Cool Jerk.

This is silly, but the show doesn’t pretend otherwise, and, given the right mood, one can revel in its silliness. “Head Over Heels” is happy to be a musical comedy that winks at us, while under Michael Mayer’s fast-paced direction a ton of talented performers energetically deliver the songs, the shtick and the story in 19 colorful and sometimes off-color scenes.

But the musical also attempts something more beneath its busy surface

Full review on DC Theatre Scene

Click on any photograph to see it enlarged

Straight White Men: Review and Pics

“Straight White Men,” a thought-provoking play by Young Jean Lee with a terrifically entertaining cast of Broadway newcomers including Armie Hammer, Josh Charles and Paul Schneider as rowdy brothers, might to some theatergoers seem designed initially to mislead, and ultimately to befuddle. By its title alone, one could assume – incorrectly – that the play will be an acid satire. This impression is fortified by an unusual prologue….What follows, though, is more or less the same play that I saw at the Public Theater in 2014, a sympathetic and straightforward look at a family of four adult men, gathered together to celebrate Christmas. Each has adjusted to the world, and their privileged place in it, in different ways.

Full review on DC Theatre Scene.

Carmen Jones: Pics and Review

When Carmen Jones opened on Broadway in 1943, one critic hailed it as “something more than a major theatrical event.” Seventy-five years later, the Classic Stage Company is presenting what it bills as the show’s first major New York revival since its Broadway debut. If it may no longer be “more than” a theatrical event, it’s still pretty damn exciting, thanks to a cast led by Anika Noni Rose and the show’s fascinating history.
Between Oklahoma! and Carousel, Oscar Hammerstein II took a break from Richard Rodgers to collaborate with Georges Bizet, the long-dead composer of Carmen, the 19th century French opera that features two of the most familiar tunes in all of Western music – Habanera and the Toreador Song. Hammerstein kept intact both the opera’s music and its spicy story of a tragic love triangle in which a fiery seductress brings down a naïve soldier. But he changed the locale from Spain to the American South during World War II, and turned the Spaniards and Romani into African-Americans.

Full review on DC Theatre Scene

Click on any photograph by Joan Marcus to see it enlarged.

Log Cabin: Pics and Review

Near the beginning of Log Cabin, four old LGBT friends are so struck by their sudden societal acceptance that one of them jokes “It’s here, the gay takeover we’ve been plotting all this time.” But, as we soon realize in Jordan Harrison’s thought-provoking new play, there are some downsides to their entry into the mainstream.

Full review on DC Theatre Scene

Click on any photograph by Joan Marcus to see it enlarged.

Long Day’s Journey Into Night at BAM with Jeremy Irons: Review, pics

By the end of the Broadway revival of Long Days Journey Into Night two years ago, when Jessica Lange as mother Mary Tyrone rejoins her family, she is an ethereal ghost, her mind and body numbed by the morphine to which she is addicted. Now, at the same moment on stage in Brooklyn, Lesley Manville’s Mary practically does a jig. Hers is one of the unusually physical performances in the Bristol Old Vic production of Long Day’s Journey into Night at the Brooklyn Academy of Music this month. Eugene O’Neill’s domestic dance feels like a literal dance at times in this version directed by Sir Richard Eyre in a cast led by Jeremy Irons. The four members of the Tyrone family, stand-ins for O’Neill’s own, jostle each other violently; pounce and push, hug and jab; raise their arms in the air in drunken triumph; stretch their bodies oddly, as if the play’s long running time has caused a few cricks…

The distinctive touches of the production, some at variance with the playwright’s conception, don’t wind up seriously detracting from what most matters about Long Day’s Journey into Night. In the Bristol Old Vic’s version as in every other I’ve seen, the play is a powerful and insightful tragedy…

Full review on DC Theatre Scene

Click on any photograph by Richard Termine to see it enlarged.

Dance Nation: Review and Pics

Dance Nation is a surprise, and a shock, and a delight.  Although the characters are a team of 13-year-old competitive dancers from Liverpool, Ohio aiming to win the Boogie Down Grand Prix in Tampa Bay, Clare Barron’s play is not really about dancing. It is a funny, sharp and very blunt look at adolescent girls – portrayed by a terrific cast made up of actors as old as 60.

Although there are a couple of dance numbers, director and choreographer Lee Sunday Evans is not aspiring to be a next-generation Michael Bennett. Dance Nation is less reminiscent of Bennett’s musical A Chorus Line than of Sarah DeLappe’s The Wolves, a play about a soccer team of teenage girls, and Annie Baker’s Circle Mirror Transformation, a play about an adult acting class. As in those plays, the actual activity is only the frame for sometimes random-seeming scenes whose purpose is to get to know the characters. Dance Nation is at its most entertaining and revealing in between the actual dancing.

Full review at DC Theatre Scene

Click on any photograph by Joan Marcus to see it enlarged