The Golden Apple Review: Glorious American Music, Silly Homeric Satire

The Golden Apple, a 1954 Broadway musical, got the Encores! treatment at its most glorious over the weekend – with a sonorous 31-piece orchestra directed by Rob Berman, and a splendid 40-member cast including such go-to musical theater talents as Lindsay Mendez and Ryan Silverman, as well as two thrilling newcomers.

It’s hard to picture a more apt musical for the long running “concert series” at New York City Center, since the score is delightful, a veritable catalogue of mid-twentieth century American music — Copland-like orchestral, operetta, jazz, ragtime, vaudeville, country and get-down blues (including the hit song Lazy Afternoon, which has been interpreted by Tony Bennett, Marlene Dietrich, Eartha Kitt and Barbra Streisand, among others) – all composed by a man, Jerome Moross, who never wrote another Broadway musical. At the same time, the book by John Latouche is a busy, overly ambitious effort to transpose Homer’s epics The Iliad and The Odyssey to the State of Washington in 1900, attempting satire, more often achieving…cutesiness and clutter. Although many have praised Latouche’s lyrics (sample: “Miss Helen is a blue-eyed daisy/If I don’t get her, I’ll go crazy.”) I am surely not alone in finding them inadequate for a full-length, sung-through musical. Possible proof: The original Broadway production lasted about four months. A full-on revival seems unlikely.

And so, it’s left to Encores! to allow us to revel in the seduction of the slutty farmer’s daughter Helen (the funny and mellifluous Lindsay Mendez) by Paris, a traveling salesman who arrives in the rural Washington town of Angel’s Roost (near Mt. Olympus of course) via hot-air balloon. Paris is portrayed by the spectacular dancer Barton Cowperthwaite, who never opens his mouth, speaking eloquently with his torso, hands and feet – part of the eye-catching choreography by Joshua Bergasse. It is up to Ulysses, the always reliable and frequently swoon-worthy Ryan Silverman, to bring Helen back, thus separating once again from his wife Penelope, portrayed by golden-voiced newcomer Mikaela Bennett, who is still an undergraduate at Juilliard.

That’s all just in the first act, and I left out a lot. I don’t have the stamina to go into a detailed description of the second, which takes place largely in the slick city of Rhododendron and takes us through all seven deadly sins for some reason, including an extended soft-shoe routine and a song, “Goona Goona,” by a character named Lovely Mars (the incomparably lovely Carrie Compere), dressed in sultry red, with the lyrics:


By a goona goona goona
By a goona goona goona lagoon

We will croon-a croon-a croon-a
We will croon-a croon-a real jungle tune


Lovely Mars is playing The Siren – you know, like the Sirens in The Odyssey whose angelic voices lure strong men to their doom? The next song is, logically, “Doomed Doomed Doomed,” although it features, not Ulysses’ men, but a scientist….


So….still, I hope they issue a cast recording.


The Golden Apple

Music composed by Jerome Moross; Written by John La Touche; Musical direction by Rob Berman; Choreography by Joshua Bergasse; Directed by Michael Berresse

Cast Mikaela Bennett, Ashley Brown, Carrie Compere, Jason Kravits, Alli Mauzey, Lindsay Mendez, N’Kenge, Ryan Silverman, Rasta Thomas, Florrie Bagel, Daniel Berryman, Michael Buchanan, Brian Cali, Max Chernin, Andrew Cristi, Laura Darrell, Dionne Figgins, Hannah Florence, Tamar Greene, Jeff Heimbrock, Leah Horowitz, Monté J. Howell, Jones Jr., Andrea Jones-Sojola , Naomi Kakuk, Evan Kasprzak, Reed Kelly, Bruce Landry, Quentin Oliver Lee, Brandon Leffler, Michael X. Martin, Skye Mattox , Sarah Meahl, Justin Prescott, Lindsay Roberts, Sarrah Strimel, Joseph Torello, Kathy Voytko, and Nicholas Ward

The Golden Apple was on stage at New York City Center May 10-14, 2017.


Dianne Wiest in Happy Days: Review, pics


“Another happy day,” Dianne Wiest exclaims as Winnie in Samuel Beckett’s bleak, comic and compassionate play, written decades before Groundhog Day, but similarly focused on somebody who is trapped in an endlessly repeated day. But Winnie is also buried up to her waist in a mound of dirt. And then, in Act 2, it gets worse for her.

It’s a role, Wiest has said, that is “the ‘Hamlet’ for women….I had wanted to do ‘Happy Days’ for 30 years — I was terrified of it.”

Full review on DC Theatre Scene


2017 Theatre World Award Winners

The Theatre World Awards for outstanding New York stage debuts during the 2016-2017 theatrical season have been given to:

Carlo Albán, Sweat
Christy Altomare, Anastasia
Denée Benton, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
Jon Jon Briones, Miss Saigon
Barrett Doss, Groundhog Day
Amber Gray, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
Josh Groban, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
Lucas Hedges, Yen
Raymond Lee, Vietgone
Eva Noblezada, Miss Saigon
Jeremy Secomb, Sweeney Todd
Cobie Smulders, Present Laughter

* * * * *

Dorothy Loudon Award for Excellence in the Theater Honoree
Outstanding Performance in a Broadway or Off-Broadway production
during the 2017-2017 theatrical season
Katrina Lenk, Indecent, The Band’s Visit

* * * * *

John Willis Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theater Honoree
Glenn Close, Sunset Boulevard

Special Theatre World Honoree
In recognition for his Broadway debut as composer, writer, lyricist, orchestrator, actor
Dave Malloy, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812


The 73rd Annual Theatre World Awards Ceremony will be held on Monday evening, June 5, 2017 beginning at 6:30 p.m. at The Imperial Theatre,  current home of Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812.

2017 Guide to New York Theater Awards

Arlington Review: Enda Walsh’s Happy Orwellian Love Story

With his new play “Arlington,” playwright and director Enda Walsh presents an unusual love story set against a future dystopian society, which might shock New York theatergoers who know Walsh only as the Tony-winning book writer for the charming Broadway musical “Once.” It will be less shocking to those who attended “Lazarus,” Walsh’s collaboration with David Bowie at the New York Theater Workshop in 2015, with which it shares a general theatrical approach. “Arlington” invests more attention on sensory stimulation than clarity or coherence.

Isla (played by Charlie Murphy) is in a waiting room, complete with the number being served (3097.)  It is sterile, white, un-softened by the fish tank and large Swiss Cheese Plant common to doctor’s offices the world over. But this waiting room also has surveillance cameras. Isla is being monitored. A young man (Hugh O’Conor) is doing the monitoring in an adjoining room cluttered with filing cabinets and computer screens.

The (never named) young man is new, replacing an older man who, we eventually learn, summoned him and then dropped dead.

We sense a connection between Isla and the young man from the get-go. Walsh’s gift for dialogue shines through in what could almost pass as a conventionally charming scene of boy meets girl, as he speaks to her over a microphone, and she talks into the surveillance equipment in her room.

Isla: Are you handsome?
Young Man: Not really no.
Isla: You’re not just saying that?
Young Man: Well in a certain light I can be – in a very darkish light.

Then she asks him whether he thinks she’s attractive and urges him to be honest.

Young Man: Sort of.
Isla: I think that’s a bit too honest.
Young Man: Sort of attractive is better than a bit attractive….It’s also a little better than slightly attractive.

The conventional ends here, however. We are given enough information to piece together a vague understanding of the unsettling world they inhabit. Isla has lived in this “waiting room” since the age of four, which is in a tower, one of many towers that long ago replaced the village or city – or country? – in which they were built. The prisoners – for that’s what they seem to be – spend their days telling stories to themselves of a better past, or dreams of a better future.

The drama, such as it is, is interrupted by a 20-minute dance by Oona Doherty, to Emma Martin’s choreography and Teho Teardo’s music,  that evokes the individual prison that the world has become, and the fate of the prisoners.

Unlike “1984,” with which Walsh’s work can be compared, “Arlington” ends more happily than it begins – although it’s uncertain whether we can trust the ultimate scene as happening for real, or just an imagined story. In either case, the path to get there is one that resembles no conventional love story, which is in some ways refreshing (admittedly not the best adjective to use in conjunction with such a bleak universe.)

For those theatergoers with a taste for avant-garde, multimedia performance art, “Arlington” is well done. The two actors and the dancer are appealing and credible. The  rock score is fast and furious.  The design offers a near-constant barrage of in-your-face lighting changes, sound effects and projections.  There is even a companion art installation entitled Rooms that fills out information about the world that Walsh has created. That installation, with a separate admission charge, is at the future home of the Irish Arts Center, on 11th Avenue in Manhattan, while “Arlington” is at St. Ann’s Warehouse on Water Street in Brooklyn. It’s too bad they couldn’t be in the same place.

St. Ann’s Warehouse
Written and directed by Enda Walsh
Choreographed by Emma Martin
Set and Costume Designer          Jamie Vartan
Lighting Designer                         Adam Silverman
Sound Designer                            Helen Atkinson
Composer                                      Teho Teardo
Video Designer                              Jack Phelan
Isla                                                   Charlie Murphy
Young Man                                     Hugh O’Conor
Young Woman                               Oona Doherty
Featuring the voices of Olwen Fouéré, Helen Norton and Stephen Rea
Running time: 90 minutes with no intermission.
Tickets: $36-$81
“Arlington” is scheduled to run through May 28, 2017.

2017 Tony Awards – Who YOU Want As Winners

Here are the results of the survey in which I asked you to pick your personal preferences (not predictions) in 15 of the 24 categories in the 71st annual Tony Awards.

Best Musical

Nominated:Come From Away, Dear Evan HansenGroundhog DayNatasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812, 

*Your preference: Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812,


Best Play

Nominated:A Doll’s House, Part 2Indecent  Oslo

Your preference: A Doll’s House, Part 2


Best Revival of a Musical

Nominated: Hello, Dolly!FalsettosMiss Saigon

Your preference: Hello, Dolly!


Best Revival of a Play

Nominated: JitneyPresent LaughterSix Degrees of SeparationThe Little Foxes

Your preference: Jitney


Best Lead Actress in a Musical

Nominated: Denee Benton, Great Comet; Christine Ebersole, War Paint; Patti LuPone, War Paint; Bette Midler, Hello Dolly; Eva Noblezada, Miss Saigon

Your preference: Bette Midler, Hello, Dolly!

Best Lead Actor in a Musical

Nominated: Christian Borle, Falsettos; Josh Groban, Great Comet; David Hyde Pierce, Hello Dolly; Andy Karl, Groundhog Day; Ben Platt, Dear Evan Hansen
Your preference: Ben Platt, Dear Evan Hansen

Best Lead Actress in a Play

Nominated: Cate Blanchett, The Present; Jennifer Ehle, Oslo; Sally Field, The Glass Menagerie; Laura Linney, The Little Foxes; Laurie Metcalf, A Doll’s House, Part 2

Your preference: Laurie Metcalf, A Doll’s House, Part 2

Best Lead Actor in a Play

Nominated: Denis Arndt, Heisenberg; Chris Cooper, A Doll’s House Part 2; Corey Hawkins, Six Degrees of Separation; Kevin Kline, Present Laughter; Jefferson Mays, Oslo

Your preference: Kevin Kline, Present Laughter

Best Featured Actress in a Musical

Nominated: Kate Baldwin, Hello Dolly; Rachel Bay Jones, Dear Evan Hansen; Stephanie J. Block, Falsettos; Jenn Colella, Come From Away; Mary Beth Peil, Anastasia

Your preference: Rachel Bay Jones, Dear Evan Hansen

Best Featured Actor in a Musical

Nominated: Gavin Creel, Hello Dolly; Mike Faist, Dear Evan Hansen; Andrew Rannells, Falsettos; Lucas Steele, Great Comet; Brandon Uranowitz, Falsettos

Your preference: Lucas Steele,Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812

Best Featured Actress in a Play

Johanna Day, Sweat; Jayne Houdyshell, A Dolls House Part 2; Cynthia Nixon The Little Foxes; Condola Rashad, A Dolls House Part 2; Michelle Wilson, Sweat

Your preference: Cynthia Nixon, The Little Foxes

Best Featured Actor in a Play

Nominated: Michael Aranov, Oslo; Danny DeVito, The Price; Nathan Lane, The Front Page; Richard Thomas, The Little Foxes; John Douglas Thompson, Jitney

Your preference: Danny DeVito, The Price

Best Choreography

Andy Blankenbuehler, Bandstand; Peter Darling and Ellen Kane, Groundhog Day; Kelly Devine, Come From Away; Denis Jones, Holiday Inn, The New Irving Berlin Musical; Sam Pinkleton, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812

Your preference: Sam Pinkleton, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812

Best Direction of a Musical

Christopher Ashley, Come From Away; Rachel Chavkin, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812; Michael Greif, Dear Evan Hansen; Matthew Warchus, Groundhog Day The Musical; Jerry Zaks, Hello, Dolly!

Your preference: Rachel Chavkin, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812

Best Direction of a Play

Sam Gold, A Doll’s House, Part 2
Ruben Santiago-Hudson, August Wilson’s Jitney
Bartlett Sher, Oslo
Daniel Sullivan, Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes
Rebecca Taichman, Indecent

Your preference: Sam Gold, A Doll’s House, Part 2

* Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 is separated by only a single percentage point from Dear Evan Hansen,
Jitney is separated by three percentage points from The Little Foxes.

More than 350 people have replied to this survey,  which is still open.

2017 New York Drama Critics Circle Award: Oslo, The Band’s Visit.

The New York Drama Critics’ Circle has named Oslo as the best play and The Band’s Visit as best musical.

Special Citations: were given to Paula Vogel ,Taylor Mac and the ensemble cast of Jitney

The awards include a cash prize of $2,500 for Best Play, made possible by a grant from the Lucille Lortel Foundation. The awards will be presented at a private cocktail reception on Thursday, May 18.

The 22 critics (from what are deemed the major New York publications) that make up the New York Drama Critics Circle, were originally established in 1935 as an alternative to the Pulitzers. They meet in May to determine the best play, foreign play, and best musical of the season, as well as usually a couple of “special citations.” They choose from any New York theater, and frequently pick Off-Broadway shows.

It’s striking to notice how many of the current (and recent) membership of the Drama Critics Circle have lost or left their jobs.

Check out my 2017 Guide to New York Theater Awards

2017 Outer Critics Circle Award Winners

Oslo won for new Broadway play, Come from Away for new Broadway musical in the 67th annual Outer Critics Circle Awards. If I forget won for Off-Broadway play, The Band’s Visit for Off-Broadway musical.

Complete list of winners:

2016-2017 Awards





(Broadway or Off-Broadway)
Irene Sankoff & David Hein     Come From Away

(Broadway or Off-Broadway)
David Yazbek     The Band’s Visit

(Broadway or Off-Broadway)

(Broadway or Off-Broadway)
Hello, Dolly!

Rebecca Taichman     Indecent

Christopher Ashley     Come From Away

Warren Carlyle     Hello, Dolly!

(Play or Musical)
Mimi Lien     Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812

(Play or Musical)
Catherine Zuber     War Paint

(Play or Musical)
Bradley King     Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812

(Play or Musical)
Aaron Rhyne     Anastasia

(Play or Musical)
Gareth Owen     Come From Away

Larry Hochman     Hello, Dolly!

Kevin Kline     Present Laughter

Laura Linney     The Little Foxes

Andy Karl     Groundhog Day

Bette Midler     Hello, Dolly!

Danny DeVito     The Price

Cynthia Nixon     The Little Foxes

Gavin Creel     Hello, Dolly!

Jenn Colella     Come From Away

Simon McBurney     The Encounter

(Presented for an American play, preferably by a new playwright)
Bess Wohl     Small Mouth Sounds

2017 Outer Critics Circle Award nominations

Celebrating its 67th season, the Outer Critics Circle is an association focused on New York theater, with members from more than 90 newspapers, magazines, websites, radio and television stations, and theater publications in the United States and abroad.

Check out my 2017 Guide to New York Theater Awards

Please Note:  The Off-Broadway productions of “Dear Evan Hansen,” “InTransit,” “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812” and “Significant Other” were evaluated, nominated and/or received awards from Outer Critics Circle in previous seasons and therefore were not considered for this year. In the case of the Broadway musical “Sunset Boulevard,” Glenn Close won the Outstanding Actress Award in a Musical for her original performance. Any new elements for these current productions were assessed for this year’s awards. In addition, due to OCC’s nomination deadline last season, the producers of the Broadway musical “Shuffle Along,” asked to be included with this year’s entries. 

2017 Lucille Lortel Award Winners: Oslo, The Band’s Visit

The Band’s Visit won best musical and Oslo the best play in the 32nd Annual Lucille Lortel Awards for Outstanding Achievement Off-Broadway.

LortelAwardstrophyOutstanding Play: 


Outstanding Musical:

The Band’s Visit 

Outstanding Revival:  Sweeney Todd

Outstanding Solo Show: Notes From The Field (Anna Deavere Smith)

Outstanding Director: Bartlett Sher, Oslo

Outstanding Choreographer: David Dorfman, Indecent

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Play: Joe Morton, Turn Me Loose

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Play: Jennifer Ehle, Oslo

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Musical: Ben Platt, Dear Evan Hansen

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Musical: Katrina Lenk, The Band’s Visit

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play: Michael Aronov, Oslo

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play:  Randy Graff, The Babylon Line

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical: Joel Perez, Sweet Charity.

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical: Rachel Bay Jones, Dear Evan Hansen

Outstanding Scenic Design: Laura Jellinek, A Life

Outstanding Costume Design: Susan Hilferty, Love Love Love

Outstanding Lighting Design:  Mark Barton, Signature Plays

Outstanding Sound Design: Mikhail Fiksel, A Life

Outstanding Projection Design: Jared Mezzochi, Vietgone



Lifetime Achievement Award: William Ivey Long

Playwrights Sidewalk Inductee: Lynn Nottage

Edith Oliver Service to Off-Broadway Award: Harold Wolpert.

See list of 2017 Lucille Lortel nominees

Check out my 2017 Guide to New York Theater Awards

Harry Potter Sets Date. Amelie Ends.Telly Leung’s Back. Awards Up The Wazoo. Week in NY Theater

The Tony nominations announced last Tuesday set off what will be five weeks of prediction, debate and suspense. But the suspense ends this week for many of the other major New York theater: Lucille Lortel Award winners will be presented at a ceremony tonight (Sunday); both Outer Critics Circle and New York Drama Critics Circle award winners will be announced Monday, Theatre World Awards later this week.

Guide to 2017 New York Theater Awards

Week in Awards

Tony nominations

Tony nominees collages
Tony nominees – a closer look

Watch videos of four Best Musical nominees

Tony Award Winners – YOUR Picks?

Week in New York Theater News

Shut out of Tony nominations, “Amelie” will close May 21 after 27 previews and 56 regular performances.

The play “Harry Potter And The Cursed Child” will open at Broadway’s Lyric Theater Sunday, April 22, 2018. New Twitter – @HPPlayNYC

Telly Leung (last on Broadway in In Transit and a  veteran of five other Broadway shows, including the lead male role in Allegiance) will take on the title character of Aladdin beginning June 13. He’ll be the fourth Aladdin. The original Broadway Aladdin, Adam Jacobs, left in February after three years.



Power Struggle on Broadway: Escapist vs. Socially Conscious Shows in the 2016–17 Season

Can Socially Conscious Theater Make A Difference?



2017 Tony Award Winners — YOUR Pick?

Make your pick for 15 of the 24 categories in the 71st annual Tony Awards, honoring Broadway’s best. The awards ceremony will take place on June 11th at Radio Music Hall in New York City. Most of it will be broadcast live on CBS.

This is for who and what YOU want to win, not who you think the Tony voters will pick — preference, not prediction. I’ll post the results later this month.