All in Broadway

REVIEW: A prophet emerges in “Network” starring Bryan Cranston

Ivo van Hove brings his signature style to an intense and intelligent stage production of Paddy Chayefsky’s prophetic 1976 film “Network”.  An easy highlight of the Broadway season, Bryan Cranston gives a Tony Award-worthy performance as news anchor Howard Beale’s descent into a rage-filled demagogue.  The message is the medium, and vice versa, in this technically brilliant and thrilling new drama. 

REVIEWS: “King Kong” and “The Making of King Kong”

In this comparative review, I take a look at the $35M “King Kong” musical on Broadway—complete with its thrilling stagecraft and lackluster material underneath—and the decidedly low-budget Off-Off-Broadway play, “The Making of King Kong”—a playful deconstruction of the “Kong” myth and its attendant problems of white patriarchy, colonialism, and sexism.

REVIEW: “The Cher Show” on Broadway delivers what it needs to, bitches

“The Cher Show”, a new bio-musical, never tries to be anything it is not, wholly owning its own wry silliness and decadent camp while honoring the pop legend whose story it quite legibly tells, and remaining blissfully entertaining.  The show delivers exactly what it needs to—from songs to sequins—the costumes get entrance applause, and Stephanie J. Block embodies Cher in a career-high performance.  Capturing the self-effacing spirit and pizzazz of its pop diva, “The Cher Show” is aptly titled.

REVIEW: Elaine May devastates in “The Waverly Gallery”

Elaine May gives a searingly painful and simply heartbreaking performance as a woman descending into dementia in Kenneth Lonergan’s quietly sad play “The Waverly Gallery”.  Marking the Broadway debuts of director Lila Neugebauer and actor Lucas Hedges, this naturalistic memory play is a stunning achievement in dramatizing the indignity of aging and the emotional impact of long-term care on a family unit.  Perhaps Mr. Lonergan’s best play, Elaine May’s performance alone is worth the price of admission.

REVIEW: A triumphant “Torch Song” back on Broadway

Following a hit run Off-Broadway last year, Harvey Fierstein’s landmark gay play “Torch Song” is back on Broadway with an abridged text and title, but its heart and humanity intact.  On second viewing, this production feels more muted and a bit too comfortable, but the performances are richer and better, and the subject matter as timely as ever.  An uproarious comedy with a suite of characters you come to love, “Torch Song” is a must-see of the fall (or any) season.

REVIEW: “The Prom” is pure musical comedy gold

“The Prom”, a sweet and subversive original new musical, is a delicious gift from the musical comedy gods.  This tale of four Broadway performers descending on rural Indiana to help a lesbian teenager take her girlfriend to the prom packs non-stop laughs and high energy dance numbers alongside an important message of inclusion.  A good, old-fashioned musical, you can’t go wrong with a visit to “The Prom”.

REVIEW: Kerry Washington in “American Son”

“American Son”, a gripping new play on Broadway, is piercingly of the moment, thunderously bleak, written in all caps, and indulgently depressing.  Kerry Washington gives a devastating performance as a black mother living the nightmare of her son interacting with the police, but blunt writing provides shorthanded dialogue and characterizations that are unrealistic and convenient—tooled for the sake of advancing arguments, and provoking the audience, rather effectively serving a coherent social or political mission. 

REVIEW: Simply ravishing, Jez Butterworth’s “The Ferryman” is a must-see masterpiece

Jez Butterworth’s “The Ferryman” is an ecstatic and richly thrillingly new play about the intimate, domestic effects of “The Troubles” on one large, Irish family; a sprawling epic with a 22 person cast and running time over three hours, “The Ferryman” is a titanic dramatic achievement, and a must-see event of the season.  In short: a masterpiece without present peer on Broadway.

REVIEW: Exploring Truthiness in “The Lifespan of a Fact”

“The Lifespan of a Fact” is a poppy procedural and socially conscious comedy about facts, falsehoods, the nature of non-fiction, the boundaries of creative license, and the ethics of journalism.  Bobby Canavale, Cherry Jones, and Daniel Radcliffe are a radiant trio in Leigh Silverman’s swift and entertaining production.  This is the Trump-era play we’ve been waiting for: smart and funny, with a serious message about the importance of facts and fact-checking to the trust and integrity of institutions.

REVIEW: “The Nap”—prepare to be snookered

Manhattan Theatre Club presents Richard Bean’s hilarious new comedy, “The Nap”, a high-stakes, low-rent farce set in the world of Snooker (British pool).  A superbly comical, poised, and perfectly cast ensemble of kooky characters make this off-beat crime thriller comedy the kind of delightfully droll escape that only theatre can provide.  Silly, yes, but that’s never been more needed than right now.

REVIEW: “Bernhardt/Hamlet”—bold and incoherent

Theresa Rebeck’s “Bernhardt/Hamlet” is a backstage comedy-drama of historical fiction recounting Sarah Bernhardt’s groundbreaking 1897 turn as Hamlet in Paris; discursive, incoherent, and verbose, the play has nothing particularly interesting to say about gender politics as it ambitiously attempts to tackle a panoply of themes and ideas.  I’d much rather see Ms. McTeer play Hamlet than watch an endless series of rehearsals.