KINK HAÜS Review: Underground Gay Clubbing Celebrated in Dance

“What’s the password?” asked the woman with a punk blonde bouffant, stiletto heels and a penis brooch.
I stammered, tried to show her my ticket. She just glared.
“Um, La MaMa?”
“You can do better than that.”
“The Deuce.”
She let me into the underground club, in the basement theater of La MaMa, for “KINK HAÜS,” an hour of debauchery straight from the gritty gay bars of Berlin. Actually, performance artist and choreographer Gunna Montana has transferred this flagrant, fabulous, fun and sexy show from the Philadelphia Fringe Festival.

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Girl From the North Country: Dylan Musical Pics and Review

Using 20 songs that Bob Dylan composed over half a century, playwright Conor McPherson has fashioned a slow, sad, elliptical and occasionally exquisite theater piece set in a run-down boarding house in Duluth, Minnesota, Dylan’s hometown, in 1934, seven years before Dylan was born.
The stories in “Girl From The North Country,” are not about Dylan. They focus on the desperate family that runs the boarding house, and the many struggling people around them. The show presents a harsh and familiar Dust Bowl Americana. But it does so in a way that recalls how Dylan tapped into Woody Guthrie – in homage and imitation, yes, but rearranged into something that can feel new and compelling. The odd pairing of McPherson’s scenes of hard luck lives with Dylan’s songs of yearning, delivered by a splendid 17-member cast, work better than you might expect, but not as well as you might have hoped.

Full review on DC Theater Scene

The Nap on Broadway: Pics, Review

How, one wondered, would British playwright Richard Bean, whose hilarious farce One Man, Two Guvnors made a star out of James Corden, create something as funny for Americans out of the British game of snooker?

He hasn’t, as it turns out. No, “The Nap,” Bean’s sophomore effort on Broadway, is not as soporific as its title suggests. It’s worse than that. The title actually has nothing to do with sleep; a nap is a term in snooker (which is the British version of pool) used for the coarse, fuzzy green surface of the snooker table. And The Nap is indeed coarse and fuzzy.

Full review on DC Theatre Scene


Bernhardt/Hamlet: Pics, Review

Bernhardt/Hamlet, a new play on Broadway by Theresa Rebeck about Sarah Bernhardt deciding to perform as Hamlet, is being given a first-rate production, with a winning cast led by Janet McTeer as Bernhardt, lively direction by Moritz von Stuelpnagel (Hand to God) , and a sumptuous design, especially the grand rotating set by Beowulf Boritt and the glorious costumes by Toni-Leslie James. But we don’t leave the American Airlines Theater with any clearer understanding than when we entered of whether or not Hamlet is (as one character says) “the greatest part ever written” or Sarah Bernhardt “the greatest actress ever born” – and if so, what makes them so.

Full review on DC Theatre Scene

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.

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.

Broadway Photographs from the Museum of the City of New York

The Theater Collection at the Museum of the City of New York contains over 190,000 objects that document theatrical performance in New York City from 1785 on. These include more than 30,000 photographs, documenting over 5,000 Broadway production, which are currently in the process of being put online. Below is a sample, including Sarah Bernhardt in an 1880 production of “Adrienne Lecouvreur,” and “New Faces of 1952” featuring Eartha Kitt and Paul Lynde, as well as Lunt and Fontanne, Katharine Cornell and Basil Rathbone, Fanny Brice and a Fanny Brice female impersonator, Paul Robeson, Patty Duke, Celeste Holm, Lillian Gish, Tallulah Bankhead, Glenda Jackson. Click on any picture to see it enlarged, and read the caption.

Mary Page Marlowe by Tracy Letts: How Six Actresses Portray One Ordinary Woman

Six actresses — from Tatiany Maslany of “Orphan Black” making her New York stage debut, to Tony winner Blair Brown — play the title character in “Mary Page Marlowe.” The play by Tracy Letts, opening tonight at Second Stage’s Tony Kiser Theater, presents 11 moments over 70 years in the life of an ordinary woman.

As I explain in an article on “Mary Page Marlowe” in TDF Stages, the play presented director Lila Neugebauer with a challenge: how to get the audience to accept six actresses as one character. A dialect coach helped, but one unusual move was encouraging all the Mary Pages to sit in on one another’s rehearsals and share feedback. “You were allowed to comment on other people’s scenes because it was actually your character as well,” says Susan Pourfar, who portrays Mary Page at ages 40 and 44. “Together, as a community, we created the backstory of this woman.”

Click on any photograph by Joan Marcus showing the different Mary Page Marlowes. Not shown: Mary Page Marlowe as an infant (portrayed by a baby doll.)

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.