All in Review

REVIEW: Tom Hiddleston in “Betrayal”

Tom Hiddleston’s magnetic and gripping performance is the reason to see this otherwise pretentiously unadorned and wholly unremarkable production of Harold Pinter’s “Betrayal”—the third major revival on Broadway in just 19 years.  The text is gold but this muted and non-contextual production does not do it justice.

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: “Sea Wall / A Life” on Broadway

“Sea Wall / A Life”—two monologues by two different playwrights performed by two different actors—is a unique offering for Broadway: two well-written pieces of storytelling whose power derives from the strength of their solo performance, rather than from any theatrical trappings.  Following a transfer from the Public Theatre, the “play” still doesn’t justify its composition, but is saved by engaging performances by its marquee stars: Jake Gyllenhaal and Tom Sturridge.

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.

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.

REVIEW: Everett Quinton in Charles Ludlam’s “Galas”

For the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprisings and in celebration of World Pride, the Theatre at St. John’s presents the first-ever revival of Charles Ludlam’s 1983 play “Galas: A Modern Tragedy”, a broadly comical travesty of the life of iconic opera singer Maria Callas.  Downtown staple Everett Quinton (Ludlam’s partner) plays the titular role in a production that harkens back to a time when the West Village was the center of queer underground theatre.