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Tag: This Week on Stage (21-30 of 181)

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

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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.)
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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):

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This Week on Stage: Zachary Quinto and Cherry Jones slay critics, Walter White as LBJ

If you had anything to do with John Tiffany’s new revival of Tennessee Williams’ classic memory play The Glass Menagerie, chances are you had an extremely good week, as the production received raves by NY critics, signaling a must-see to the theaterati. (And make sure you get tickets soon, as it closes Jan. 5.) Actually, Tennessee Williams seemed to inform much of this past week; joining Menagerie is an unearthed work by William Inge that explicitly references another Williams play (they were famously pals), and look sharp for an upcoming review of True Blood star Joe Manganiello in a revival of A Streetcar Named Desire, playing up in New Haven, CT. And yes, he does appear shirtless, but don’t even think of snapping a photo of him during the show! And a little-known TV star named Bryan Cranston (you know, from that small show Breaking Bad) takes on Lyndon Johnson in a new play with designs on Broadway (click on the links below for the full reviews): READ FULL STORY

This Week on Stage: Cirque du Soleil takes on Michael Jackson, plus new fall shows

Summer has officially taken hold, but all eyes seem to be on fall and spring, with nearly all of the 40 Broadway houses having scooped up shows to call their own if they don’t already have a tenant. This fall, we will see the arrival of a new Janis Joplin musical, A Night With Janis Joplin, which has been making the rounds nationally and finally setting up camp for a long run. Ethan Hawke is returning to Lincoln Center for his take on Macbeth, John Grisham gets his first Broadway salute with a Main Stem mounting of his legal thriller A Time to Kill, and look for the starry likes of Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz, Mark Rylance, Orlando Bloom, Mary-Louise Parker, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Cherry Jones and Zachary Quinto in already-announced shows, which will make for a busy season. And this spring will feature the musical debuts of both Woody Allen’s Bullets Over Broadway (which is to star Zach Braff) and The Bridges of Madison County (reuniting Kelli O’Hara and Steven Pasquale after their recent coupling in the musical adaptation of Far From Heaven). READ FULL STORY

This Week on Stage: Tony season ends, Jenna Fischer makes her stage debut

The 2012-2013 theater season came to a close this past week with this year’s Tony Awards — up 20 percent in the TV ratings over last year — as Neil Patrick Harris proved an unstoppable host. (Seriously, you need to watch that opening number again.). In other news, the much-utilized TKTS discount booths, present in Manhattan and Brooklyn and a great assist for all those on a budget, turns 40 this month! (Click here to see the various incarnations of the booth over the past four decades.) Neil LaBute’s latest premiered (and the drama wasn’t all on stage, it seems), with The Office’s Jenna Fischer making her stage debut opposite Josh Hamilton in the author’s follow-up to his Tony-nominated 2009 play Reasons to Be Pretty. (Click on the links below for the full reviews):

3 Kinds of Exile  At age 75, playwright John Guare shows no signs of slowing down, and he even acts in his newest, a triptych centering on Eastern European émigrés in the 20th century. Is Guare still in his prime? EW’s Thom Geier says “despite some verbal stumbles, Guare proves a natural onstage performer, delivering the ultimate cocktail-party show-stopper” but that the final segment “is a kind of manic tedium that undercuts the touching portraits that come before it.” EW grade: B

Reasons to Be Happy  Neil LaBute revisits the foursome made famous in his 2009 Reasons to be Pretty, this time with a fully new cast and a new set of events. Did it make reviewer Melissa Rose Bernardo happy? She states, “Happy stands on its own, of course; so if you didn’t see Pretty, don’t worry — LaBute gives us all the necessary background. I just wish he’d given us a credible female character or two as well.” EW grade: B

Venice  Othello meets In the Heights meets dystopic terror in this new musical at the Public, starring The Visitor’s Haaz Sleiman and Next to Normal’s Jennifer Damiano. Should you rise up and buy a ticket? “What should be a taut, efficiently told story gets undone by some head-scratching stylistic and structural choices”, says Kyle Anderson, “there are a lot of inspired ideas and killer traditional music theater numbers…but you have to dig pretty deep beneath Venice‘s stylistic overkill to truly savor them. EW grade: B-

 

Read more:
EW Stage Hub
Broadway’s ‘Ann,’ starring Holland Taylor, closing early
On-the-scene at 2013 Tony Awards: Cyndi Lauper talks about big winner ‘Kinky Boots’

This Week On Stage: It's Tony weekend!

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It’s finally here — Broadway’s version of the Super Bowl — and EW’s own Melissa Rose Bernardo and Thom Geier have already firmed up who they think are going to win the big trophies at the Tonys on Sunday evening. It’s one of the most unpredictable years on record, so that, plus fourth time host Neil Patrick Harris (click here for our recent interview with Harris) and the promise of a boatload of show performances should make for one good time. (See below on how you can join us for the Tonys live).

In the land of Off Broadway, however, there are still quite a few new openings this week, including a quite-pregnant and lovely-as-ever Kelli O’Hara returning to the stage for the first time since her Tony-nommed performance in Nice Work If You Can Get It and Glee’s Jane Lynch takes on the Great White Way  for the very first time (click on the links below for the full reviews): READ FULL STORY

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