PopWatch Entertainment Weekly's PopWatch Blog

Tag: This Week on Stage (11-20 of 175)

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: Rebecca Hall and Frank Langella take on the classics

The winter chill may still be in the air but the theater season hasn’t cooled down too much; an extension has been granted for the Patrick Stewart/Ian McKellen Pinter-Beckett duo on the Great White Way, the Mark Rylance Shakespeare plays recently entered the top 10 weekly Broadway grossers (an astonishing feat for classic plays), Oscar-winning filmmaker Steven Soderbergh will take on Off Broadway’s Public Theater with a new play by frequent collaborator Scott Z. Burns to star Chloe Grace Moretz (Carrie), and lots more big stars are soon to be touching down.

Daniel Radcliffe will return to NYC to take on the lead role in Martin McDonagh’s The Cripple of Inishmaan (for which he got rave reviews in London last year). The dream-team cast of The Realistic Joneses (Michael C. Hall, Toni Collette, Tracy Letts and Marisa Tomei) are definitely setting up camp this season, though curiously still have no theater (hmmm…). And some little birdies are chirping that megastar Hugh Jackman is eyeballing a Jez Butterworth play called The River as a return to Broadway in 2015 now that Houdini has vanished from the lineup. And this week marks an unusually busy week of openings for January, including the Broadway debut of rising British star Rebecca Hall, Frank Langella’s go to the Bard’s ultimate patriarch, and the auspicious breakthrough by one of our great new musical leading ladies (click on the links below to read the full reviews): READ FULL STORY

This Week on Stage: Ethan Hawke and Sarah Jessica Parker return, Spider-Man swings out

After three years on the boards, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark has decided to call it quits on Jan. 5 after a tumultuous, headline-grabbing ride on Broadway that will result in a reported $60 million loss. Will producers be leery of investing in the next wave of in-development super-musicals (including a buzzed-about King Kong that is eyeing New York after a successful run in Melbourne). Meanwhile, this week’s openings are significantly less costly, including Ethan Hawke’s first Shakespeare turn on Broadway in 10 years, Tony winner Jefferson Mays in an eight-role bonanza, a first-time play by actress Amanda Peet with some heavy-hitting leads, and Pretty Little Liars’ Keegan Allen and ubiquitous movie heavy James Badge Dale in a new bro play (click on the links below for full reviews):

The Commons of Pensacola The Madoff scandal influences another play, this time the playwriting debut of actress Amanda Peet. The biggest coup: Stage and screen titans Sarah Jessica Parker and Blythe Danner play the leads. Senior writer Jessica Shaw was less than enchanted by the results, though she has great things to say about Ms. Danner: “The show belongs to Blythe Danner… she brings class and wit…even when asked to pass gas.” EW grade: B-

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder  Wodehouse farce and classic musical theater blend together for this regional smash that has made its way to Broadway, with Jefferson Mays in arguably the toughest workout on Broadway playing the eight members of a homicidally unlucky family. Senior editor Thom Geier calls Mays’ performance “jaw-dropping” and adds, “no one is likely to get sick of the black comedy in A Gentleman’s Guide, which remains winsome and charming despite an alarming surfeit of devious and devilish characters. Quite simply, it’s a bloody good time.” EW grade: A

Macbeth In Lincoln Center’s bold new take on The Scottish Play, Ethan Hawke plays the beleaguered king and Anne-Marie Duff makes her Broadway debut as his scheming wife. According to EW’s Melissa Rose Bernardo, the Witches take center stage in this revival. “The craggy all-male trio of Malcolm Gets, John Glover, and Byron Jennings — pull all the strings, popping up in minor roles and causing toil and trouble at every turn” she writes. As for Hawke, she adds: “Though his scruffy, still-boyish looks suggest the prototypical Hamlet, Hawke makes a very convincing (and wonderfully sleazy) Scottish king.” EW grade: B-

One Night…  True Blood’s Rutina Wesley, who had a fiery turn a few seasons ago opposite Jonathan Groff in The Submission, returns to the stage in Charles Fuller’s new Off Broadway play about traumas facing women in the U.S. armed forces. Melissa Rose Bernardo cops to finding this new work overstuffed: “Operation Iraqi Freedom, hallucinations, PTSD, homeless veterans, rape, sexism, arson, and broken families. How do you pack all that into a 90-minute play? Not very tidily, as it turns out.” EW grade: C

Small Engine Repair  A quartet of guys with questionable histories meet up for a fateful evening in a New England auto repair shop, but senior writer Adam Markovitz wasn’t completely in tune with the Off Broadway play by John Pollono. “It’s a savvily written piece of punchline theater — the kind of play with 60 minutes of talky preamble leading up to one scene that’s funny, nerve-wracking, and ballsy enough to justify the whole show,” he writes. “For more ambitious work, you’re better off looking elsewhere.” EW grade: B-

Taking Care of Baby  Dennis Kelly — who won a Tony this year for his book for the smash musical hit Matilda — enjoys the American premiere of his 2007 British play about a young mother implicated in the deaths of her two young children, and the media circus that surrounds it. The “verbatim play,” as it is known, proved a mixed but worthy affair per my review: “For about half of the play’s two-plus hours, the gimmick is genuinely compelling…. but the production is blessed with a laser-focused principal cast.” EW grade: B

Too Much, Too Much, Too Many  A family copes with loss in this new work at Roundabout Underground, which highlights new works by up-and-coming scribes in an intimate Off Broadway black box space. “The cast gives passionate performances,” Stephan Lee writes, though he adds: “It’s a play in which a character says of another, ”He’s got loss in his voice,’ without a hint of irony.” EW grade: B

This Week on Stage: Billy Crystal hits a home run, Mark Rylance swaps sexes

Another week, another one swimming off the Great White Way as the large-scale musical of Big Fish announced it will play its final show on Dec. 29 after 98 regular performances. (But definitely count on it being remembered at Tony time, especially for fearless lead Norbert Leo Butz.) People are showing in droves, however, for two of this week’s new entries: The return of Billy Crystal’s 700 Sundays bagged over $1 million with only six performances last week (most shows have eight), and the Globe-inspired Shakespeare play duo at the Belasco is playing close to capacity every show, cementing Mark Rylance’s status as our premier import. Could he win, not one, but two more Tonys this season? He’s got competition aplenty already (including Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, also performing two shows in rep which open next weekend). But as a character in Twelfth Night says, “I have them at my fingers’ end.” Also this week is a radio play by the late Samuel Beckett (whom McKellen and Stewart are getting to know quite well with Waiting for Godot), and an Oscar-winning family dramedy that finds a new life on the NYC stage (click on the links below for full reviews): READ FULL STORY

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: James Bond on Broadway, 'Wicked' turns 10

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): READ FULL STORY

This Week on Stage: John Grisham, Mary-Louise Parker and David Hyde Pierce take NYC

snow-geese.jpg

News finally arrived that the upcoming Broadway revival of Les Misérables has its principal cast intact — with Iran-born musical-theater hunk Ramin Karimloo in his first Broadway role as the bread-stealing Valjean, Tony-nominee Will Swenson (Hair) as staunch Javert, Ghost‘s Caissie Levy dreaming a dream of time gone by as tragic heroine Fantine, and Book of Mormon Tony victor Nikki M. James as lovelorn Eponine. Will they duplicate the successes (or in Russell Crowe’s case, non-successes) of their film counterparts, this time without the fish-eye lenses? The spring will tell, but if you live up North and are dying of curiosity, Mr. Karimloo is currently playing the role in Toronto before they bring him home (hee-hee) to NYC.

Also, six new shows pushed through an already crowded fall theater season, including several debuts: playwright Sharr White (The Other Place) takes on Chekhov, sort of, with Mary-Louise Parker returning to the stage for the first time in four years, David Hyde Pierce appears in a piece by his nephew Greg and Curtains composer John Kander, and mega-author John Grisham finds one of his books adapted to the Great White Way for the first time. How did they fare? (Click on the links below for the full reviews.)
READ FULL STORY

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-

This Week on Stage: 'Big Fish' makes a splash, the return of Janis Joplin

A nice small cornucopia of new shows this week, including the long-awaited musical arrival of Susan Stroman’s take on Tim Burton, Tony Danza takes on New Joi-sey, Julius Caesar gets an estrogen makeover, and Janis Joplin takes another little piece of our hearts now baby! (Click on the links below to read the full reviews):

Big Fish  Daniel Wallace’s acclaimed book (which turned into Burton’s 2003 weepie) becomes an all singin’, all dancin’ mega-musical starring two-time Tony winner Norbert Leo Butz. Did senior editor Thom Geier think it swam? “Big Fish finds theatrically inventive ways to reel audiences into its central love story”, he says, adding much praise for its energetic leading man, “with his stocky build, short stature, and thinning hair, Butz is an unlikely leading man, but he has the loose-limbed energy and charisma of a young Dick Van Dyke”. EW grade: B+

Honeymoon in Vegas  Tony Danza returns to the stage in this musical comedy as a shady gambler who has fallen head over heels with a woman, and Chaplin‘s Rob McClure as the young man determined not to let him take said gal from him. Did it live up to the well-liked 1992 film version with Nicolas Cage and Sarah Jessica Parker? Thom Geier certainly thought so: “director Gary Griffin’s guffaw-out-loud production, playing through Oct. 27 at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, N.J., boasts an old-school showmanship and shtick-happy comic sensibility that recall the Sin City of the Brat Pack era.” EW grade: B+

Julius Caesar  Actress Harriet Walter and director Phyllida Lloyd (Mary Stuart) reunite for a female-centric take on the murderous Bard creation set in a women’s prison (that, sadly, has no traces of Pornstache or Officer Bennett). “As with many high-concept Shakespeare productions, Lloyd can stretch her gimmick to the breaking point”, says Thom Geier, but praises the audacity of the production overall, adding that  “this is a bracing approach to a familiar story”. EW grade: B+

A Night With Janis Joplin  After the long-running Off-Broadway hit Love, Janis several years ago, the unstoppable Janis Joplin returns in theatrical form, this time on Broadway with a full-length tale in her honor, belted out by the very game Mary Bridget Davies. Senior writer Melissa Maerz praised Ms Davies saying she’s “a genuine powerhouse” but takes issue with the the lack of detail in the production. “The raw ache in Davies’ phenomenal voice suggests that Joplin didn’t go out happily…but with such a shocking lack of context about Joplin’s life, [the show] feels like Davies is fronting an amazing tribute band, not a musical.” EW grade: C

This Week on Stage: Alcide makes some new fans, 'Kinky Boots' recoups

More shows a-comin’ in what looks to be a busy fall, but it’s a summer Tony winner that’s still packing ‘em in. Kinky Boots, which scored Best Musical, Best Score (for Cyndi Lauper), and Best Actor in a Musical (Billy Porter), among other trophies, recouped its running costs in what’s been a staggering seven months for Broadway (even The Book of Mormon took longer, though Kinky has a few hundred more seats per show to sell, in all fairness). The Glass Menagerie, boasting ecstatic reviews (including ours) has extended seven extra weeks to play through February 2014, Taxi stars Danny DeVito and Judd Hirsch take on Neil Simon in L.A., and the season’s love affair with Tennessee Williams continues in New Haven this time, with resident True Blood hottie Joe Manganiello (Alcide, to HBO fans) taking on brutish, bruised Stanley Kowalski: (click on the links below to read the full reviews):

READ FULL STORY

Latest Videos

Advertisement

TV Recaps

Powered by WordPress.com VIP