All in Critic's Pick

REVIEWS: Charting new musical frontiers with “A Strange Loop” and “Octet”

Two new Off-Broadway musicals that are marquee productions of the summer experiment with form and content in exciting ways that portend well for the future of the art form.  Unique for musicals, both are also the product of a single author.  Here I take a look at Michael R. Jackson’s “A Strange Loop” at Playwrights Horizons andDave Malloy’s “Octet” at Signature Theatre.

REVIEW: “Beetlejuice” is a ghoulishly good time

“Beetlejuice”, the last new musical of the 2018-2019 Broadway season, is a ghoulishly good time that pays loving homage to the mythology of the movie while fundamentally reorienting the story and lending it an unexpected punch of pathos amid its crass and crude mania.  Gorgeously designed with a Tim Burton aesthetic, and featuring a relentless series of bawdy jokes and entertaining songs, this hyperactive musical comedy might not meet the elevated aesthetic standards of some, but I had a blast.

REVIEW: York Theatre revives “Enter Laughing”—a musical comedy gem

The York Theatre Company presents a top-notch revival of “Enter Laughing: The Musical” that is easily among the best musicals to have played New York all year.  A tuneful 1930s period piece about a girl-crazy boy from the Bronx taking his first, comically misadventurous steps into the world of theatre, this once-forgotten gem is sure to have you exit laughing, and remembering why you love musicals.

REVIEW: A must-see immersive production of “A Streetcar Named Desire” in Brooklyn

A new, immersive Off-Off-Broadway production of “A Streetcar Named Desire” makes history as the first to feature a genderqueer actor as Blanche DuBois, but that’s only one reason to see this uncensored and visceral take on an American classic, performed mere feet from the audience and loaded with complex and raw performances.  A must-see.

REVIEW: Get ready, “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations” is out of sight

“Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations” is a seamless, slick, and exuberantly entertaining new musical that reclaims the “jukebox” genre with an energetic, fast-moving, and engrossing portrait-like study of The Temptations.  This show looks good, sounds good, and feels good, and is easily one of the best catalogue musicals ever to grace The Great White Way.

REVIEW: “Hadestown”—an exquisitely crafted musical triumph

Breathtaking and exquisitely crafted, “Hadestown” is easily the most tautly constructed and beautifully realized musical on this side of “Hamilton”—a riveting, heart-wrenching, and sumptuous folk opera that vibrantly renders some of mankind’s oldest and most enduring myths as an epic and compelling piece of modern musical theatre.  This musical triumph is a must-see.

REVIEW: An athletic and thrilling “Julius Caesar” at Theatre for a New Audience in Brooklyn

Theatre for a New Audience in Brooklyn presents a new nondescript production of Shakespeare’s “The Tragedy of Julius Caesar” featuring an athletic use of choreographed movement to summon the emotional charge created by crowd and battle scenes, elevating and sustaining the intensity of the political drama.  “Julius Caesar” is hard to get right; TFANA pulls it off with this well-acted, smartly staged, deeply engaging, and flat-out thrilling production.

REVIEW: Reinterpreted for today, “Oklahoma!” on Broadway is a must-see

Fresh from an acclaimed Off-Broadway run, director Daniel Fish’s reinterpretation of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s groundbreaking 1943 musical “Oklahoma!” completely deconstructs this canonical and totemic masterpiece of American musical theatre by stripping it of its corn and highlighting the darker themes of violence and injustice that have always been simmering underneath.  Sexually charged and presented with a striking naturalism, this bold new production is a revelation and a must-see.

REVIEW: The sublimely surreal satire of “Do You Feel Anger?”

Mara Nelson-Greenberg’s new play “Do You Feel Anger?” at the Vineyard Theatre is a razor-sharp, whip-smart satire of contemporary workplace culture that is the blissful antithesis of complacent theatre-making, this play serves up a highly digestible, surrealist critique of mores around empathy consciousness, sexual harassment, hyper-masculinity, and female agency that is equal parts hilarious and horrifying. 

REVIEW: Now on Broadway, “What the Constitution Means to Me” is a stirring act of resistance

To see Heidi Schreck’s “What the Constitution Means to Me” is to participate in an act of resistance, of reclaiming hope for the future by doing the hard work of grappling with the past.  Part civics lesson, part memoir, Schreck recounts her formative experience of wrestling with the constitution’s meaning as a teenager through the lens of her adult self, the women in her family, and the bitterly divided nation it serves.  It is the most important play of this or any season—an act of profound social consciousness expanding, community building, and democratic participation—and a must-see.