All in Musical

REVIEW: Adrienne Warren’s star turn in “TINA: The Tina Turner Musical”

Adrienne Warren gives a spell-binding, jaw-dropping, star turn in “TINA: The Tina Turner Musical”.  There’s nothing earth-shattering about the show’s conception, construction, or execution—but not much that offends, either.  “TINA”, among the best of its sub-genre of bio-musicals, is a rather unremarkable musical as far as the form is concerned but a terrific entertainment that tells a good story and does it well.  See it for Adrienne Warren’s transcendent performance.

REVIEW: “A Chorus Line” at Signature Theatre is one singular sensation!

A sensational new production of “A Chorus Line” at Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia makes a compelling case for experimenting beyond the container of Michael Bennett’s iconic original.  A well-cast ensemble of triple threats breathes new life and new energy into “one of the best musicals ever”, and reclaim the magic that made the show such a milestone in the first place.  This production is a must-see for any D.C.-area theatre fans.

REVIEW: The heartbreak of democracy in “Soft Power”

“Soft Power”, David Henry Hwang and Jeanine Tesori’s dramaturgically breathtaking new musical-within-a-play, experiments with form while rendering a sort of reverse version of “The King and I”.  The resulting satire of American culture and politics brims with an unpretentious intelligence and an unexpectedly penetrating sense of patriotism.  If democracy will break your heart, “Soft Power” can mend it.  

REVIEW: Ross Golan’s “The Wrong Man” at MCC Theater

Joshua Henry stars in “The Wrong Man”, a buoyantly rendered original new noir musical about a man falsely accused of murder that is the brain child of multi-platinum pop music singer, songwriter, and producer Ross Golan.  A narrative song-cycle set in an intimate, concert-like atmosphere, this musical gets rhythmically rote, and suffers for a lack of specificity, but is nevertheless saved by a great score, fluid choreography, and Mr. Henry’s titanic performance.

REVIEW: Confronting the past in “jazz singer”

In “jazz singer” a group of artists grapple with making a piece of theatre about the film “The Jazz Singer” by examining its roots in Jewish mythology, wrestling with its use of blackface, exploring vital themes of assimilation, appropriation, and atonement, and questioning its legacy.  While the piece substantively evinces the feel of a work still in progress, the production design is impeccable and unimpeachable, and its mission is achieved.

REVIEW: “Bat Out of Hell—The Musical” is exactly what you think it is

“Bat Out of Hell—The Musical” is exactly that: a reverse-engineered jukebox musical fashioned from the beloved tunes of Meat Loaf’s eponymous trilogy of albums.  This is not an especially good musical, but its virtue is that it isn’t trying to be—instead delivering on the audience’s desire to hear the songs they love performed well within the loose framework of a story in line with its musical aesthetic and sensibility.  A must-see for Meat Loaf fans.

REVIEW: “Moulin Rouge! The Musical”—opulent and empty

Director Alex Timbers’ stage adaption of “Moulin Rouge!” is visually and aurally opulent, boasting a lavish production design of the utmost scale and expense; however, the story itself gets short shrift.  Emotionally inert between dazzling musical numbers, the whole musical ends up lacking the depth and intensity necessary to properly anchor all its glitz, and is ultimately less rewarding, enjoyable, and theatrical than the 2001 film it takes as its basis.

REVIEW: “Broadway Bounty Hunter” is a bust

“Broadway Bounty Hunter”—an original new musical about an aging actress who becomes a bounty hunter—uses the imagery, language, and music of exploitation films in an inchoate attempt at camp based around the story of a white woman who is surrounded by an ensemble of racial stereotypes.  It’s a show that isn’t good enough to be bad or bad enough to be good, instead living in a musical purgatory somewhere in between.  Skip it.

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.

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.