All in Review

REVIEW: “Choir Boy” sings and soars

The Broadway premiere of Tarell Alvin McCraney’s “Choir Boy” at Manhattan Theatre Club, finely acted and beautifully told, is transcendent.  The very presence of this play on Broadway about a black, queer teenage boy navigating private, Christian Prep school life is seismic, and Jeremy Pope offers a memorable debut in this timely and important work.

REVIEW: “Slave Play”

Jeremy O. Harrison’s scintillating debut play, “Slave Play” at New York Theatre Workshop, is not what you think it is, packing twists, some heavy satire, graphic sexuality, and an important discourse on race, gender, and sexuality in contemporary America.  To write about it is to spoil its surprises, but this sold out run will no doubt inspire future productions.

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.