All in Review

REVIEW: “All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914”

“All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914” is a beautifully moving epistolary oratorio about the remarkable true story of British, French, and German soldiers emerging from their trenches and ceasing conflict on Christmas Eve 1914 to celebrate together.  Gorgeously sung by an ensemble of ten men, and keenly structured and staged with gripping immediacy and emotion, this tribute to an unheralded moment in an increasingly forgotten war provides a glimpse of our common humanity at its greatest.

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: “Usual Girls”

Ming Peiffer’s shattering new play, “Usual Girls”, presented in a world premiere through Roundabout’s Underground series, offers a blistering dramatization of rape culture through the lens of one Korean-American woman’s journey from girlhood to adulthood.  Raw, explicit, and joltingly explosive, this is a bold and important new play.

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.