I have been writing on theater since 1982. A graduate from Manhattan College B.S. A member of Alpha Sigma Lambda, which recognizes excellence in both English and Science. I have produced 12 shows on and off Broadway. I've seen over700 shows
Kansas In Concert.
Kansas at MPAC. "Carry On Kansas". One of the great things about Kansas is that the band has many genres. progressive, alternative, country at times, as well as pop and of course rock and roll. The six musicians on stage tonight featured two original band members (Rich Williams and Phil Ehart). Under a spectacle of lights all evening, Kansas showed Morristown, N.J. exactly why its American- style boogie rock and complex symphonic arrangements with changing time signatures is both unique and resonant among its many fans. Kansas played for almost three hours tonight beginning with five acoustic numbers: "People of the South Wind" was a tight and heartfelt number, "Hold On" was a warm and sentimental song, "Memories Down the Line" was written by New Jersey native, keyboardist Tom Brislin, "Refugee" and Steve Walsh's "Lonely Wind".
"Jane Anger", "The Chinese Lady" and "A Day in Hollywood, A Night in the Ukraine"
For anyone who loves the PBS show" Upstart Crow", "Jane Anger" will delight you as well. This show at The Ohio Theater was written by Talene Monahon (who also played Anne Hathaway) and for the most part is a real good one. The show features four terrific actors and the premise is that a cunning woman, Jane Anger (Amelia Workman) is going to help William Shakespeare (Michael Urie) get over his writer's block; and that a pamphlet titled Jane Anger Her Protection for Woman" the author is title less even till this day. With the help of his not so young assistant who is willing to empty Shakespear's chamber pot because he is career obsessed, (Ryan Spahn), Shakespeare is able to get down to writing his new play, King Lear even though it was written years earlier by Thomas Kyd. What better time to be a cunning woman than during a plague? Jane Anger is a real woman as she tells us; before being a cunning woman she was a whore and before that she was a weaver's assistant. While the X's go on doors, we get the humorous puns about those times and our current time. Monahon brings 1606 into 2022.
Theater "On Sugarland"
The opening of "On Sugarland" has been further delayed, I am now told that March 3erd press will be allowed in to see it. After seeing the show tonight, I can understand the reticence for NYTW not opening "On Sugarland". The shows plot is a mobile home-lined cul-de-sac where grief is persuasive. In the center stage is a memorial of boots, helmets, dog tags as well as other personal items of the fallen soldiers as a reminder of its communities' loss due to war (we never are told which war) in this two hour forty-five-minute play. What seems like daily rituals (never truly put forth) of singing, dancing and shouting, writers Whitney White and Aleshea Harris (What to Send Up When It All Comes Down) are vague in a lot the messages put forth in this play. Whitney White who also directs this play will need to seriously adjust this play before it opens.
M J The Musical
"M J The Musical" "The Price for Fame" "M J The Musical" at the Neil Simon Theatre is not only the great music that Michael Jackson wrote and performed, but it also goes deeper than that in many ways. Lynn Nottage (Clyde's, Intimate Apparel) who wrote the book for the show brings forth at how the man was a perfectionist, how he saw the notes that segway eventually into the music, he could even tell his musicians just how to improve upon the melodies being played. Like Prince and James Brown, he was very demanding of his musicians and backing dancers; yet he was never forceful nor dismissive. Growing up with eight siblings in Gary, Indiana, his father, here played by Quentin Earl Darrington (he also doubled as Jackson's stage manager) was a tough man. Joseph Jackson made his sons practice all the time leaving very little personal time for each of the then Jackson Five. Michael, who was a very sensitive boy as Nottage points out, would carry many of these memories well into adulthood.
The Plot Gets Lost in The Séance "Ectoplasm" By Spit and Vigor has many good things working for it. The set and sound by Florence Scagliarini are first rate and so is some of the acting. The gothic set matches The Players Theatre like it was the theaters living room. Both the set and theater give off a "cool vibe". Like the last show put on at The Players by Spit and Vigor (The Wake of Dorcas Kelly), the audience was treated to the same gothic feel and the same undertone of a show that is Avant Garde in writing and design. Unlike "Dorcas", however, "Ectoplasm" is not well written. The show is billed as two woman who work together as mediums: Sara Marshall (Jillian Cicalese) and Kaye Schultz (Caitlin Dullahan-Bates). Sara fully believes in what she does and the life as a medium; Kaye is distraught in that she believes that they are charlatans and do nothing to help people.
What makes Aladdin at the New Amsterdam Theater is that the story is as good as the acting, costumes and dancing. Even though Genie (Michael James Scott) borders at times on Ru Pauls' Drag Race, he is a pleasant enough character in this blockbuster musical. Songs by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman (Little Shop of Horrors), this dynamic duo teamed up with Tim Rice (Aida) and Chad Beguelin for its lyrics.
"Crazy Meshugga Hurricane Earthquake"
"Crazy Meshugga" at the Theater for the New City is what I would call a "Claude Solnick" special. Solnick writes for TNC and is a in house writer in residence. Like Amy Coleman, Claude Solnick too is a run on sentence. Is there something in the water at Crystal Fields woke theater?
Sugar Ray" Gladiator. Born Walker Smith Jr., he would go on to be known as Sugar Ray Robinson; one of the greatest fighters of all time. At the Gene Frankel Theater we just witnessed Robinson's first fight in which he lost. Jake LaMotta was the winner. Unlike today, boxers of yesteryear considered themselves warriors, gladiators, men of men and a lose meant respect for the winner and conversely the winner didn't show up his opponent either. In Lawrence Holder's "Sugar Ray" we see a soft side, a human side to this man up on the stage solo for ninety minutes. In real life, however, Robinson ran with gangs, contrary to Holder's writing. Robinson had many wives, ran into trouble more often than what was portrayed here on stage.
"The Seach for Signs of Intelligent Life in The Universe"
"The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in The Universe" at The Shed is almost two plays' in one. We get Trudy the bag lady who makes clever, and at times hysterical observations of the society around her. She has the sticky post it's in her raincoat lining to prove it. Then we get the other eleven roles which includes sullen teen punk Agnus Angst; the feminist activists Edie, Lyn and Marge; and the wealthy posh Kate. Their scenes are interwoven by the character of Trudy, an enlightened vagrant who believes she is in communication with aliens. In 1986 "Signs" starred Lilly Tomlin and her performance won her a Tony for best actress in a play. Directed by John Bailey, the play would run for 391 performances and would tour for much longer throughout the United States. The play would be made into a film in 1991 and later would have a Broadway revival from 2000- 1.
Stop the presses; there is a new family musical in town and it is as bold as it is great! Coming into the theater this evening I did not know what to expect in that I had no idea how director Jerry Zaks would adapt this musical from the movie of the same title. Robin Williams who starred in the movie is not easily replaceable in this role, however, Mr. Rob McClure put that worry to rest in quick order .Like Williams, McClure had all the energy in the world on stage and he commanded this role with ease. Zaks, a master director had the entire cast in a whirlwind of energy and excellence.