Mike Birbiglia’s The New One Review: Hating Kids, Having A Kid

When Mike Birbiglia announced that his fourth one-man show would be playing at the Cherry Lane, he wouldn’t say what it would be about; he simply called it “The New One.” (“I hate it when people tell me what anything is about or really any details at all,” he explained in a press release.)

How arrogant, I thought. Who does he think he is?
He’s someone who can sell out the entire run of a show at the Cherry Lane in a matter of hours.
Read more of this post


August 2018 New York Theater Openings

Two shows are opening this month on Broadway, one a musical adaptation of a 1990 Julia Roberts movie, “Pretty Woman,” starring Andy Karl and Samantha Barks; the other, “Gettin’ The Band Back Together,” a musical comedy about a 40-year-old re-engaging in a Battle of the Bands.

Off-Broadway, there are musicals about a romance between neurotic New Yorkers, a revolution by redheads, the second man to walk on the moon, and an average teenager (portrayed by Dear Evan Hansen’s Will Roland) who swallows a supercomputer and becomes cool. The Mint is offering a rare revival of a rare flop by Lillian Hellman.  Off-Off Broadway, the Flea presents a play about the repercussions of a police shooting.

Yes, August is not the most crowded month for theater in New York, especially since the 21st New York Fringe festival has moved to October.  But a couple of other theater festivals are opening this month, and several more are still running

Below, shows with August openings arranged chronologically by opening date. Click on any title to get to its website.

Read more of this post

Twelfth Night Review: Shakespeare as a Popcorn Musical

I compared Shaina Taub’s musical adaptation of “Twelfth Night” to a party and to a variety show when the Public Theater presented it in Central Park over Labor Day weekend in 2016. The unusual production featured a cast of professional actors mixed with some 200 New Yorkers from community groups from all five boroughs, as part of what the theater calls its Public Works project.
The show was evidently pleasing enough to enough people that the Public has brought it back as one of the Delacorte’s two major summer offerings, running now through August 19th. Read more of this post

New York Theater Quiz July 2018

How well were you paying attention to New York theater news and reviews in July? Answer these 10 questions and find out.

Read more of this post

The House That Will Not Stand Review: Free women of color face female slavery in 1813 New Orleans

In “The House That Will Not Stand,” Marcus Gardley’s historically fascinating, lyrical and surprisingly funny play, nobody much cares for Beartrice Albans – not her three beautiful daughters, not her mad sister, not her slave, and certainly not her rival, Madame La Veuve, who accuses her of murder.

“You may be the wealthiest colored woman in New Orleans,” La Veuve says to Beartrice, “but you built this house on sand, lies and dead bodies.”

Beartrice’s slave Makeda tries to defend her: “I’d think I’d know if the Madame was a murderer,” Makeda says. “She may be crass, calculating, cunning and unkind, but the woman is still a Christian.”

Beartrice, a free woman of color, will need all her cunning in order to face what is about to befall the Albans household. Read more of this post

The Lin-Manuel Miranda Weekly Chronicle. Brantley vs. Them. The Week in New York Theater

Soon after this…

…this was announced

Also: Lin-Manuel Miranda has been cast, along with James McAvoy and Ruth Wilson, in the BBC’s forthcoming series “His Dark Materials,” based on the bestselling fantasy novels by British author Philip Pullman.


Miranda sets up arts fund for Puerto Rico, the Flamboyan Arts Fund

Read more of this post

This Ain’t No Disco Review: Studio 54 Where are You?

For all its high-energy hedonism featuring handsome half-clad bodies, “This Ain’t No Disco,” the rock opera at the Atlantic Theater set in the New York City club scene of the 1970s, doesn’t elicit desire or delight or nostalgia so much as it does confusion.

The confusion starts with the title, which is a line taken from a 1979 Talking Heads song entitled “Life During Wartime,” about a post-apocalyptic landscape, that includes the verse:

This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco,
This ain’t no fooling around
This ain’t no Mudd Club, or C. B. G. B.,
I ain’t got time for that now

But “This Ain’t No Disco” mostly takes place in a disco, the notorious Studio 54, and one of its characters is named Steve Rubell, after the actual co-owner of Studio 54 (portrayed as a fun-loving, coke-snorting sleaze by Theo Stockman.)  A few scenes are set in the downtown Mudd Club, where the Mudd Clubbers sing “we party all night long.”So life for the characters in this sing-through musical IS a disco; it IS a party; they DO fool around; and that’s what they mostly spend their time doing – even while they dream of stardom.

Read more of this post

NYMF Review ’68: A Musical about the 1968 Chicago Convention and the Limits of History


Before the musical “’68” begins, newspaper headlines are projected on the stage, marking some of the tumultuous events in the year 1968 — the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr and Robert F Kennedy, campus protests and city riots across the United States….and the events surrounding the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

But, despite the title of their musical,  which is an entry in the New York Musical Theater festival, librettist/lyricist Jamie Leo and composer Paul Leschen focus on just one of those events; the NYMF program bills “’68” as “inspired by the volatile events of the 1968 Democratic Convention and their place in history and our future.”
Read more of this post

Don’t Bother Me I Can’t Cope Review: Savion Glover Brings Back 1970s Black Musical Revue

There is a full-out gospel number, with swaying red choir robes, heavenly belting and devilishly deft dancing, in this last of this season’s Encores Off-Center concerts. But, as directed and choreographed by Savion Glover, whatever the talented cast is performing at any given moment —  whether the blues, soul, funk, jazz, rock, calypso or spoken-word poetry – “Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope”  is entertaining enough to feel like a near-religious experience.  Or to put it the way I said it to myself during the very first song: “Holy Cow!”

Read more of this post

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