This Week on Stage: James Bond on Broadway, 'Wicked' turns 10

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Image Credit: Brigitte Lacombe

Who says it’s not easy being green? Well, Kermit the Frog did actually, but if you’re literal high-flyer Elphaba in the musical Wicked, it’s pretty darn boss, especially give that the teen-adored Stephen Schwartz musical (which received mixed reviews upon opening in 2003) just celebrated 10 years on Broadway this week. (EW just featured leads Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel on our annual Reunions cover). And unless Halloween rendered you deaf from overzealous trick-or-treaters, Broadway became all abuzz with the debuts of real-life, smoldering couple Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz in a revival of Harold Pinter’s Betrayal, but if seeing James Bond tortured and anguished over love affairs wasn’t your thing, you had plenty of other downtown NYC options, like a new Wallace Shawn effort, a remounting of one of last year’s most acclaimed Brecht pieces, or That 70’s Show‘s Debra Jo Rupp taking on diminutive, football-helmet-topped Dr. Ruth Westheimer in a new one-woman show (click on the links below for full reviews):

Becoming Dr. Ruth  Debra Jo Rupp arrives to the NYC stage in a 100-minute bioplay about everyone’s favorite cuddly German sex therapist, accent and all. Was it better than a good shag? Senior writer Jessica Shaw found it more to just lie there, even in a tightened-up version from what played in New England in past seasons. “Amateurish and heavy-handed” is how Ms. Shaw describes the play, adding that “as Dr. Ruth herself could tell you, sometimes you don’t need to push so hard.” EW grade: C

Betrayal  Mike Nichols (after a triumph with the Philip Seymour Hoffman-starring Death of a Salesman last year) takes on a new revival, Harold Pinter’s chilly, reflective backwards glance at an unlikely love triangle, starring Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz and Rafe Spall. Senior editor Thom Geier found it worthwhile, calling it a “handsome, well-staged production” and proclaims costar Rafe Spall “sensational” but had some reservations: “[With the cast] unable to engage with each other, they may prove a challenge for audiences to embrace as well.” EW grade: B+

Good Person of Szechwan  The Foundry Theatre’s much-acclaimed, cross-dressed, music-laden take on Bertolt Brecht’s redemption parable gets a remount at the Public Theater, and Melissa Rose Bernardo was absolutely smitten with the results, citing the “absolutely inspired casting of playwright/actor/director/performance artist Taylor Mac as Shen Te” and praising the visionary work of director Lear deBessonet: “somehow, deBessonet has transformed Brecht’s too-often-didactic and dull allegory into an utterly engaging, emotionally involving experience.” EW grade: A

Grasses of a Thousand Colors  Ever wanted to experience a three-hour plus Wallace Shawn play about a pompous scientist who dabbles in graphic sex talk and feline curiosity? Well, here’s your chance! Shawn returns to the Public Theater after a heralded return of his play The Designated Mourner with this even more mind-bending odyssey. My review dubs it an affair only for the truly adventurous but lacking the pull of Shawn’s previous works: “His personal ability to hold an audience with simple prose remains undiluted…but Shawn notwithstanding, this production is more like a protracted appetizer when you crave a full meal.” EW grade: B-


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