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The Boys in the Band on Broadway: Review, pics

The boys are on Broadway, and they are fabulous.
Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Matt Bomer and the rest of the nine-member cast of “The Boys in the Band” look like they are enjoying themselves as they trade quips and kisses; eat cake and unwrap birthday gifts; and dance the Madison to 1960’s R&B music.
Fifty years after the Off-Broadway opening of Mart Crowley’s groundbreaking play about a group of gay men at a birthday party, “The Boys in the Band” is debuting on Broadway with an all-gay cast of A-list actors who make the play pop. The show is often fun, funny and inviting.
Is the script dated? Yes. That’s surely why it’s trimmed to 110 minutes for this production, turned into one act, and presented as a period piece, set in April, 1968, which is the month it premiered on stage. (The movie, with the original Off-Broadway cast, came out in 1970.)  Does the play traffic in stereotypes and depict characters who are self-loathing, as it’s long been accused of doing? Well, yes, especially in the second half. Yet, at the same time, helped by the alchemy of Joe Mantello’s smart direction and a stellar cast, the play can still feel daring, and its characters delightfully defiant.

Full review on DC Theatre Scene

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

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The Beast in the Jungle Review: Henry James and John Kander’s “Dance Play” of Love and Frustration

Reaction occurs in three distinct stages to “The Beast in the Jungle,” an unusual new show at Vineyard Theater, inspired by a novella by Henry James, with music composed by John Kander. The production is directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman, and stars Tony Yazbeck and newcomer Irina Dvorovenko, engaging in a frustrated dance of love over 50 years.
The first reaction is excitement: Read more of this post

Peace for Mary Frances Review: Lois Smith as dying matriarch of dysfunctional family

“We don’t want you to suffer and die,” one of her granddaughters says to Mary Frances (Lois Smith), as she lies in bed. “We just want you to die.”

“Yeah,” agrees Mary Frances with a laugh. She is 90 years old, in ill health, and ready to go. “Peace for Mary Frances,” a play by Lily Thorne, chronicles the last few weeks of Mary’s life after she contacts a hospice, so that they can help her die at home with as little pain as possible, surrounded by her family.
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Our Lady of 121st Street Review: Phylicia Rashad directs Stephen Adly Guirgis’s early play.

“What kinda f—in’ world is this?”
It is the first line in the first scene of “Our Lady of 121st Street,” asked by a man in his underwear, ranting to a detective at the Ortiz Funeral Home in Harlem, where the funeral for Sister Rose is supposed to take place, except that somebody has stolen the dead nun’s body. The same thief has stolen the agitated man’s pants.

It’s also a good question for theatergoers to ask of Stephen Adly Guirgis’s 2002 play, revived as part of his Signature season. Read more of this post

Maple and Vine review: Make America 1955 Again

In the original 2011 production of Jordan Harrison’s prescient play, a married couple overwhelmed with the stresses and complications of their lives in the city, leave their high-powered jobs behind, as well as their lattes and laptops, for a simpler world – the one that existed in 1955. A cult has re-created the world of 1955 in a gated community in the Midwest.
In the 2018 revival of “Maple and Vine” at the Flea, the actors and the audience enter another world as well – the world of the deaf.
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Bump Review: Pregnancy as Playful and Painful, Childbirth as Inventive

Bump, a play by Chiara Atik that is as entertaining as it is informative, intertwines three different threads about pregnancy and childbirth – the most surprising of which turns out to be based on a true story.

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Me and My Girl Review: Wonderful and Disappointing, Like Encores

Christian Borle clowns like an old-time vaudevillian, Laura Michelle Kelly sings like a classic chanteuse, and director Warren Carylyle choreographs the topnotch cast like a 1930s showman; they’re tap-dancing on tabletops!  “Me and My Girl,” closing out the 25th anniversary season of Encores!, shows off what’s most wonderful about this “concert series,” but also what’s disappointing about it.

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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.

The Gentleman Caller Review: Tennessee Williams Advises, Seduces William Inge

William Inge jumps Tennessee Williams within the first few minutes of meeting him, ripping off his clothes to have sex with him, in “The Gentleman Caller,” a new, two-character play by Philip Dawkins, who imagines the first two encounters between these future eminent playwrights as the steamy sexual cat and mouse game of two gay young men.
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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