All in Off-Broadway

REVIEW: “Forbidden Broadway: The Next Generation”

After a five year hiatus, the Broadway parody revue “Forbidden Broadway” is back with a new edition that makes fun of Broadway shows, actors, and personalities through sketches that satirize the form.  Mostly funny, this iteration is undercut by a tinge of bitterness and resentment toward shifting cultural mores and trends on Broadway.  But, in the end, it’s still the same scrappy, low-budget comedy revue that’s been playing, off and on, since 1982. 

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: Shaw’s “Caesar & Cleopatra” is superbly rendered by the Gingold Theatrical Group

The Gingold Theatrical Group is currently presenting a rare revival of Shaw’s 1898 play “Caesar & Cleopatra”; superbly rendered, well-acted, and keenly directed, this production makes a convincing case for reconsidering “Caesar & Cleopatra” as a play worthy of more examination and rightful placement in the canon of classics.

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.

REVIEWS: “Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow”, “The Rolling Stone”, and “Toni Stone”

Three new plays opened at three of Off-Broadways best non-profit theatre companies over the course of the last month.  I take a brief look at “Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow” at MCC Theater, “The Rolling Stone” at Lincoln Center Theater, and “Toni Stone” at the Roundabout Theatre Company—all three of which are critic’s picks!

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.