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Tag: L.A. Theater (1-3 of 3)

This Week on Stage: Debra Messing's Broadway debut and Christopher Plummer in L.A.

Two-time Oscar nominee Bradley Cooper announced this week (in an EW exclusive) that he’ll be returning to Broadway this fall to star in a revival of The Elephant Man opposite Patricia Clarkson and Alessandro Nivola. (Yes, it sounds like a stretch for People‘s former Sexiest Man Alive — especially since Bernard Pomerance’s play does not require any prosthetics for the title role.) The David Byrne-Fatboy Slim musical Here Lies Love, which made EW’s Top 10 list last year, will return to the Public Theater in March for an open-ended run. And there were a handful of notable openings on both coasts, including the Broadway debut of Will & Grace star Debra Messing. For full reviews, click on the links below.

Outside Mullingar The new romantic comedy by John Patrick Shanley (MoonstruckDoubt) stars Brían F. O’Byrne and Debra Messing as middle-aged loners living side by side on Irish farms but struggling to connect with each other. I found it to be a “sweet but peculiar” play that’s “wispier than the smoke from a peat bog.” How does Messing fare? “Though she seems ill at ease through the first half of the show, too aware of the audience and of the effort to keep up her accent, she settles in toward the end when she’s able to deploy her gifts for physical comedy.” EW grade: B

A Word or Two Christopher Plummer’s one-man show in L.A., first performed at the Stratford festival in his native Canada, is less a staged memoir than a reflection on life incorporating influential texts from Lewis Carroll to the Bard. As EW’s Jake Perlman writes, “His commanding stage presence makes you want to watch. But in A Word or Two, he also makes you want to listen.” EW grade: A

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner In a new stage adaptation of Alan Sillitoe’s 1959 short story at the Off Broadway Atlantic Theater Company, Sheldon Best plays a 17-year-old at a youth correctional facility who has a mixed response to his innate athletic skills. “While moving and at times inventive as a showcase for Best’s athletic charisma,” Stephan Lee writes, the play “doesn’t inject enough new energy into the tired tropes.” EW grade: B

This Week on Stage: Fantasia in the Jazz Age, Neil Patrick Harris serves up magic

November is shaping up to be the busiest in recent memory, but the hustle and bustle is costing Broadway a few shows. John Grisham’s A Time to Kill became A Time to Close with an end date of Nov. 17, and the Zachary Levi-Krysta Rodriguez musical rom-com First Date will have its last date on Jan. 5. With as-yet-unannounced premiere dates for shows like Tracy Letts’ Killer Joe (making a spring Broadway bow), Will Eno’s The Realistic Joneses (starring Michael C. Hall, Toni Collette, Marisa Tomei and…Letts — busy guy!) and Terrence McNally’s Mothers and Sons with Tyne Daly, it seems there are more productions than theaters to hold them. Stay tuned for which ones make the cut. Meanwhile, there have been a bevy of new openings, including Fantasia’s return to Broadway, Ed Harris and real-life spouse Amy Madigan in a new Beth Henley drama, a new play by Pulitzer winner Bruce Norris, Neil Patrick Harris directing a new magic show, and Julie Taymor’s major comeback (click on the links below for full reviews):

After Midnight  The Cotton Club era gets a jazzy jolt with this new Broadway revue already being called the sleeper hit of the season. Did senior editor Thom Geier share the enthusiasm? Ab-scat-lutely! “There are showstoppers aplenty in the ebullient new musical revue..After Midnight is a show that’s as light on its feet as its very talented ensemble.” EW grade: A-

The Black Suits Call it School of Rock with an age upgrade; Joe Iconis’ take on a high school rock band opened in L.A., but EW.com’s Laura Hertzfeld felt they could use a little more practice: “The Black Suits never gets deep enough into the roots of suburban angst to make you feel like these guys really have something to rage about — nor does it come up with light, frothy pop numbers that urge you to bop along.” EW grade: C+

Disaster!  Off Broadway gets invaded by killer bees, tidal waves, and disco-era hits in Seth Rudetsky and Jack Plotnick’s wacky take on disaster movies. The show doesn’t hit any icebergs on the way to hilarity. As I write in my review, “It’s the perfect antidote to those lamenting the lack of Forbidden Broadway in their urban lives…scrappy but irresistible.” EW grade: B+

Domesticated  Jeff Goldblum and Laurie Metcalf star in Bruce Norris’ dark comedy about a disgraced politico and his put-upon wife weathering a Spitzer/Wiener/Good Wife-like scandal. Thom Geier had mixed feelings on this follow-up to the author’s Clybourne Park: “[Norris] strives to make a larger point about modern gender relations and the utility (and possibility) of male monogamy. But despite Anna D. Shapiro’s crisp, well-paced direction, Domesticated is better on caustic humor and verbal one-upmanship than real insight or character development.” EW grade: B

How to Make Friends and Then Kill Them  Actress Halley Feiffer takes a hand at playwriting in a new work at Off Broadway’s Rattlestick Theatre, but Stephan Lee firmly believed she may want to hone her craft a little more. “How to Make Friends and Then Kill Them opens with three girls shrieking at the top of their lungs, and over the next 90 minutes, they never really stop.” EW grade: C

The Jacksonian  Staff writer Keith Staskiewicz took a look at the NYC premiere of Beth Henley’s eerie Southern drama about a motel barkeep (Bill Pullman) corralling his oddball patrons (including multiple Oscar nominee Ed Harris). “Robert Falls’ eerie direction has more than a hint of David Lynch…here’s a healthy vein of black humor running throughout which turns Henley’s Southern Gothic soap opera into an even more surreal experience.” EW grade: B+

La Soiree  The naughty burlesque revue — already a hit in Europe — settles in downtown NYC to make the city blush. Marc Snetiker was among those wooed by the circus-like, raunchy fun. “There is an abundance of charm oozing from the cast, who each exude a gleeful passion for their talent (be it sexy, silly, or downright strange). If traditional circus isn’t your thing, you’re in luck.” EW grade: A-

A Midsummer Night’s Dream  Visual stylist Julie Taymor trades Spidey for fairies with an opulent new version of the Shakespeare comedy, the inaugural production at Theatre for a New Audience’s new Polonsky Shakespeare Center in Brooklyn. Thom Geier found himself much enchanted by Taymor’s reborn ingenuity: “There’s a magnificent muchness of her approach to the Bard’s most durable of comedies, as she tosses in everything from pillow fights to a grass-upholstered reclining chair to achieve her vision. But remarkably, this Midsummer never tips over into a too-muchness.” EW grade: A-

Nothing to Hide  It’s no secret that beloved star Neil Patrick Harris likes magic, but he’s fan of his peers too, and decided to helm a new 70-minute variety show featuring upstart showmen Derek DelGaudio and Helder Guimarães. Did Hillary Busis surrender to the sleight of hands? “[The performers are] clever, surprising, and altogether incredible, in both the literal and figurative senses.” EW grade: A-


This Week on Stage: Romeo, 'The Seagull,' and 'Wait Until Dark' in L.A.

More Bard, more Chekhov, and some choice revivals pepper this week’s lineup of new plays on the boards, with some notable stars getting their feet wet in classics (Alison Pill, Elizabeth Olsen, Alessandro Nivola, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio), and expect more of the same this spring: Toni Collette, Michael C. Hall, and Oscar winner Marisa Tomei will join recent Best Actor Tony recipient (and acclaimed scribe) Tracy Letts in a new play by Will Eno on Broadway. Moreover, buzz has restarted that James Franco may finally make his long-awaited Main Stem debut in a revival of Of Mice and Men (or is he just trying to get even more attention?). And the stars will keep on comin’ — check back next week for reviews of new plays featuring Mary-Louise Parker and David Hyde Pierce (click on the links below to read the newest full reviews):

The Model Apartment  After an Off Broadway debut 20 years ago, Donald Margulies’ (Time Stands Still) unsettling play about Holocaust survivors weathering a temporary apartment and family dysfunction has long been considered one of the playwright’s most challenging works. Did Melissa Rose Bernardo find it worth reviving? A resounding yes: “It’s almost certainly the only Holocaust comedy you’ve ever seen…how Margulies conceived this nightmarish dream world I’ll never know. But I do know it’s one I’m not likely to forget.” EW grade: A-

Romeo & Juliet  Martha Marcy May Marlene star Elizabeth Olsen stars alongside T.R. Knight and Daphne Rubin-Vega in a modern-dress take on the tragedy about star-crossed lovers (the second of two this fall season, after Orlando Bloom’s critically drubbed Broadway take). Senior editor Thom Geier found this one considerably less than a rose by any other name, dubbing it “sadly amateurish… [Tea] Alagic’s production makes [little] sense…the cast seems to have been left to its own devices to create their characters and block their scenes.” EW grade: D+

The Seagull  Trudie Styler (known to most of us as Sting’s longtime spouse and producer extraordinaire) hits the stage as Anton Chekhov’s actress Arkadina (dubbed Isobel here) in an Irish-set downtown revival of the oft-produced country drama. Does this Seagull have wings? Stephan Lee claims Styler “shines” but adds that “director Max Stafford-Clark doesn’t stray too far from the original spirit of this classic, but his production is unlikely to win new fans.” EW grade: B

Wait Until Dark The Newsroom’s Alison Pill takes a stab (pun intended) at a role created memorably by Audrey Hepburn in Jeffrey Hatcher’s adaptation of the spooker about a blind woman terrorized by con men. Lindsey Bahr insists the tense thriller still has a kick. “[The production] reminds CGI-infected audiences that a few shadows, a shiny knife, and compelling characters can still go a long way to create suspense… the famous showdown does not disappoint.” EW grade: A–

The Winslow Boy  Roundabout Theatre Company revives Terrence Rattigan’s 1946 English drama about a family’s efforts to clear their son’s good name from a crime, starring Roger Rees, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, and Alessandro Nivola. Thom Geier had mixed feelings about the production: “Director Lindsay Posner, who previously staged the show at London’s Old Vic, brings a crisp precision to the proceedings. But there’s only so much you can do with the material, which feels like an over-long and decidedly twee Masterpiece Theatre drama.” EW grade: B-

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