All in Concert

REVIEW: City Center Encores! Off-Center presents “Working”

the annual Encores! Off-Center summer season kicks off with a newly re-conceptualized, site-specific production of Stephen Schwartz’s 1978 flop “Working” that interpolates a series of new monologues based on interviews with facilities staff at New York City Center; an admirable concept that makes for a touching tribute to these workers, the effect blunts the power of the show and cuts short its escalating emotional resonance.  A suite of uneven performances and an oversized venue also hamper the effort.

NOTES: “Reich Richter Pärt” and Björk’s “Cornucopia” at The Shed

The Shed, New York’s newest cultural institution and a crown jewel of the controversial Hudson Yards development, is off to an impressive start with its multidisciplinary arts programming. As part of its initial offerings, I check out the immersive art and performance exhibition “Reich Richter Pärt”, and Icelandic icon Björk’s “sci-fi pop concert” show, “Cornucopia”.

REVIEW: Encores! “Call Me Madam” with Carmen Cusack

Carmen Cusack shines in Encores! revival of its 1995 landmark revival of Irving Berlin’s “Call Me Madam” (1950), originally written as a vehicle for Ethel Merman.  A topical piece of light satirical fare that’s more about comedy and songs than plot, this simple but well-performed production is Encores! at its truest: a concert revival of a classic musical that would not otherwise be seen on stage again. 

REVIEW: “The Gospel at Colonus” in Central Park

The Public Theater and the Onassis Foundation USA present a six performance concert of “The Gospel at Colonus” in Central Park; this gospel-infused re-telling of Sophocles’ “Oedipus at Colonus” is set at a black Pentecostal service and delivered as a sermon.  The concept is genius, the storytelling muddled, and the music a little labored. Nevertheless, it is an experience to be remembered.

REVIEW: “Me and My Girl” Fizzes and Froths

“Me and My Girl” is a fizzy, frothy, and funny British musical from the 1930s, updated in the 1980s, presented with period pizzazz as part of City Center’s Encores! concert series.  With a fancifully simple story and charming, if forgettable score, this show offers pure lighthearted escapism.  If you’re looking to think, skip it, otherwise, serious musical theatre fans should catch this chance to see a classic.

REVIEW: “Rocktopia”

“Rocktopia” is a one-trick rock concert in which snippets of top-shelf, survey deep classical compositions are mashed-up with and swallowed whole by beloved rock songs from the 1970s and 1980s.  Garishly self-indulgent, sublimely absurd, bland, and loud, you can skip this well-intentioned musical experiment gone awry.