The boards had a busy week. The Book of Mormon won a Grammy. Broadway’s upcoming Once musical gave us a video sneak peak. Jeff Goldblum announced that he is replacing Alan Rickman in Seminar. Chris Colfer, Kevin Bacon, and John C. Reilly joined the star-studded cast reading of Dustin Lance Black’s Prop 8 play. Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark’s producers reached a settlement with the union that represents Julie Taymor. The film adaptation of August: Osage County finally secured leads Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts. The stage version of The King’s Speech found a spot on the West End. The Bodyguard musical got closer to actually happening, while the Sleepless in Seattle musical was delayed. The Newsies cast asked Christian Bale to come see their show. And our critics reviewed five plays in New York and Los Angeles.
How I Learned to Drive: Film critic Lisa Schwarzbaum gives a B- to this off-Broadway revival of Paula Vogel’s Pulitzer Prize-winning two-hander about a girl who is molested by her wayward uncle. She describes the show as restless and clogged, adding that Twilight’s Elizabeth Reaser “has to work a little too hard to convince us that this [girl] really is vulnerable … and [Tony winner Norbert Leo Butz] chooses to create an Uncle Peck who is tormented, pitiable, and gallant — but not sinister.” The result, Schwarzbaum concludes, “is a niece who comes across as more petulant and teasing than defenseless, and an uncle who’s more ardent than twisted.”
Blood Knot: Writer Melissa Rose Bernardo calls Athol Fugard’s off-Broadway production of his own 1961 drama “overwritten and repetitive,” but still praises Colman Domingo’s performance as one of two newly reunited South African brothers living together in dilapidated shack. “He finds ways to be colorful and comic,” Bernardo writes about Domingo, adding that he “gets nearly all the laugh lines — without laying it on too thick.” She gives the play a B.
Shatner’s World: We Just Live in It: Correspondent Darren Franich calls William Shatner’s autobiographical Broadway show “agreeably ramshackle,” but finds his monologue ultimately disappointing and only worthy of a C+. “Every story is delivered at the same pitch,” Franich opines. “Because there’s no real connective material, Shatner’s World feels like the stage equivalent of watching 90 minutes of movie trailers for Michael Bay movies.”
CQ/CX: This off-Broadway drama, inspired by The New York Times’ Jayson Blair plagiarism scandal, earns a B+ from writer Stephan Lee. He praises its “popping, Aaron Sorkin-like dialogue,” but admits that the play is a little thin. “While gripping, CQ/CX occasionally feels like a beat-by-beat re-creation of an actual news story,” Lee writes. “We could use a little more editorializing to answer the question of ‘Why?’”
The Jacksonian: The world premiere of Crimes of the Heart writer Beth Henley’s newest twisted tale of the Deep South scores a B from staff writer Tanner Stransky. He calls the Los Angeles production “rough and slightly unfinished,” with “themes of race, family dysfunction, desperation, and crime [that] never seem to coalesce,” but has accolades for the star-studded cast of Amy Madigan, Bill Pullman, and Ed Harris.
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