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Cher Bests Howard Beale and the Ape

Arts

Cher Bests Howard Beale and the Ape

By the time the monkey shows up, the show is pretty much over. That’s because the new musical “King Kong” has very little going for it other than the enormous puppet, which, when at its full height, nearly reaches the top of the proscenium of the Broadway Theatre. It’s an impressive bit of engineering, design, and rigging brought to life by a team of about 10 puppeteers. The animatronic face and the voice are run by a team of technicians at the back of the theater. But, like most attractions from Barnum to Disney, once seen and marveled at, there’s not really much more to it. Feast your eyes, and head to the exits. Comments (1)
Arts

Far From Heinous

Arts

Far From Heinous

When jukebox musicals falter, and they often do, critics are quick to blame the book. Unlike traditional book musicals, where score and story are conceived hand-in-glove, jukebox musicals attempt to shoehorn a narrative between beloved, preexisting songs. The fit inevitably feels off. Comment
Arts

Finding Grace After Abuse

Arts

Finding Grace After Abuse

The long overdue #MeToo movement has empowered countless women, and more than a few men, to confront, if not avenge, their abusers and reclaim their dignity. Comment
Arts

Magic and Manipulation

Arts

Magic and Manipulation

My main concern in seeing Mike Birbiglia on Broadway was whether the intimate appeal of his previous Off-Broadway outings would translate to a much larger house. I shouldn’t have worried. His latest piece, “The New One,” has taken up residence at the Cort Theater, and it fits with the ease of your favorite jacket. Comment
In the Noh

Call Her Irrepressible

Growing up in the 1960s in Hawaii, TV may have largely presented an idealized, sanitized, largely white view of the world, but it also introduced a ton of richly variegated, mostly New York talent to me, stuck on an island — however beautiful — in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Comment
Arts

Making a Go of It

Arts

Making a Go of It

“The Other Josh Cohen” is a charming urban fairytale perfectly pitched to anyone who has struggled with living in the city, coping with loss and loneliness, and finding a way through in the end . Basically anyone who makes New York their home. Josh Cohen has no date for Valentine’s Day, his temp work is going nowhere, and his apartment’s been robbed, leaving him with only a Neil Diamond CD. The burglar even took the Bundt cake Josh would have used to stuff his feelings. Grim as this might be, this is the set-up for a wonderfully appealing and heartfelt musical comedy. The conceit that makes it work is that even at his most bereft, Josh is shadowed by the image of himself a year later when everything has turned out much better for him. Comment
Second Stage Theater, which brought “Harvey Fierstein’s Torch Song” to Off-Broadway and now to the Helen Hayes Theater on Broadway, honored him at a star-studded benefit November 12 that left playwright and actor Fierstein verklempt but still able to make his audience laugh. Comments (1)
Arts

Making the World Hate Again

Arts

Making the World Hate Again

The power of “Lured,” a gutsy new political drama exposing heinous crimes against gay men in present-day Russia, is felt well before the actors take the stage. Upon entering the tiny Cino Theater at Theater for the New City, we’re confronted with an ominous tableau (Steven Medina created the gritty set). Comment
Arts

Family Time

Arts

Family Time

Once or twice every decade, a play arrives that is so rich, complex, and beautifully rendered one is reminded of the theater’s primal power to touch the soul. “August: Osage County […]Comment
Arts

Burning at Both Ends

Arts

Burning at Both Ends

Edna St. Vincent Millay wasn’t just a poet, she was a culture-shifting rock star. Not only did she win the Pulitzer for poetry in 1923, but at the height of her fame toured America and filled top-notch venues like the Hollywood Bowl. Rabid crowds adored her. You might say she was the Katy Perry of her day. Comment
Piper Laurie, at 86, is having quite a year with the release of two movies, “Snapshots,” directed by Melanie Mayron of “Thirtysomething” fame, and the attention-garnering “White Boy Rick.” In the first, she plays an 85-year-old grandmother, who divulges to her disapproving, homophobic daughter (Brooke Adams) that she had a lesbian love affair when she was in her 20s, and in the latter she is the mother of Matthew McConaughey, a shady gun seller, and stoic wife to Bruce Dern. I leapt at the chance to gab with this bluntly honest and altogether winning lady. Comment
Nightlife

Into the Ring

Nightlife

Into the Ring

The intensity and eroticism of the new production of “Ferdinand Boylesque Bullfight” from Company XIV is only part of what makes this a must-see production — and the best argument I’ve found for heading to Bushwick. Comment
Arts

To Have and To Fold

Arts

To Have and To Fold

“Daniel’s Husband,” Michael McKeever’s jolting tragicomedy about a long-term gay couple at loggerheads over tying the knot, is a play that refuses to quit. The original version, staged by Penguin Rep in upstate Stony Point a couple of years ago, proved so popular that it quickly transferred to the Cherry Lane Theatre for a limited run, courtesy of Primary Stages, with the cast and creative team intact. Comment
Arts

Extraordinary People

Arts

Extraordinary People

With the smooth precision of a perfectly aimed snooker ball dropping into a corner pocket, Richard Bean’s adroit and amusing comedy “The Nap” has dropped on Broadway. The British import from the author who brought us “One Man, Two Guvnors” is as breezy and undemanding as it is charming and often hilarious. Comment
Arts

A Not-So-Fine Romance

Arts

A Not-So-Fine Romance

“Midnight at The Never Get” is a tale about resilience, both onstage and off. The plucky musical, about a forbidden romance between two male musicians on the cusp of the Stonewall uprising, was born at Don’t Tell Mama, then reshaped for a sold-out run at the 2016 New York Musical Festival, and the following year caused a sensation during its six-week run in Provincetown. Comment
Arts

Human Comedy

Arts

Human Comedy

What is the role of faith in the modern secular world or for those who find no solace in an abstract, invisible god in times of trial and tragedy? And what does suffering mean, anyway? Can tribulation make us better people or is it simply meaningless physical, emotional, or existential torment? These dark questions are at the center of Craig Lucas’ powerful new play “I Was Most Alive With You,” now at Playwrights Horizons. Comment
Arts

Lonely Hearts Club

Arts

Lonely Hearts Club

“A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur” is not one of Tennessee Williams’ top-drawer plays. But even as a middle-drawer work, it’s got a marvelous richness and poignancy to spare, thanks in no small part to a sturdy cast, led by the splendid Kristine Nielsen, nominated for a Best Actress Tony for the farcical “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.” Comment
Arts

Character Issues

Arts

Character Issues

The dazzling, diminutive production of “Heartbreak House,” now on Theatre Row, draws its emotional heft from several sources. It starts, of course, with the play and Shaw’s passionate condemnation of Britain’s institutional and cultural status quo that created the conditions for the first World War and then treated that war merely as a hiccup rather than the transformative event that should have awakened people to a new world but did not. Shaw wraps his polemics in characters for whom, however symbolic, an audience comes to care. Then there is Shaw’s nod to Chekhov in creating a darker domestic comedy, like “The Cherry Orchard,” where the characters are blinded to the world around them, making this one of his bleaker social commentaries. Comment
Arts

Getting All Up In There

Arts

Getting All Up In There

When I first heard about Jen Silverman’s feminist piece, “Collective Rage: A Play in 5 Betties,” I assumed it was about women’s empowerment in the age of the “Me Too” movement — an angry polemic against a president bent on rolling back women’s reproductive rights after grabbing them by the pussy. I was only partly correct. Comment
Arts

‘Tis a Pity She’s a Bore

Arts

‘Tis a Pity She’s a Bore

The Hollywood prostitute Vivian Ward, the character at the center of the movie-now-musical “Pretty Woman,” consistently refers to herself as a “sure thing.” She’ll deliver the basic goods, no need for any extraordinary attention or seduction. What she promises is a mechanical, largely impersonal transaction — a simulacrum of passion — with no kissing on the mouth because that’s too intimate. Comment
Arts

Working It

Arts

Working It

If you’re looking for pure, undemanding fun on Broadway this summer, well, there’s no shortage of shows. “School of Rock” is going strong. “Head Over Heels” is pure fun, and “SpongeBob SquarePants” is inspired silliness, but you’ll want to see that soon — it closes next month. Comment
Arts

The Sex and Gender Revels Are Unending

Arts

The Sex and Gender Revels Are Unending

If Ron Chernow’s weighty biography “Hamilton” seemed an unlikely source for a smash hit musical, how much more unexpected is it that Philip Sidney’s 1590 five-book epic, “The Arcadia,” should be the source material for the deliciously hilarious “Head Over Heels?” Comment
Austin Pendleton must be the hardest working man in New York theater; he always seems to be either acting in or directing some production. This year is an especially busy one for him, and I was thrilled […] Comment
I had a week of theater in London with a very high body count — from civilian victims of terrorism and war to post-war suicides to lives wrecked by infidelity. I saw one masterpiece, the world premiere of a 90-year-old gay-themed play, a joyful salute to a teen drag queen, and some well-intentioned misses. Comment
Midtown

Working It or Working Too Hard

Midtown

Working It or Working Too Hard

If you make no other theater plans in the next couple of weeks, do whatever you can to catch “Carmen Jones” at Classic Stage Company. This spectacular, intimate production of what has long been a problematic work is fresh, vibrant, and alive with extraordinary talent and emotion. John Doyle has stripped the show down to its essential humanity and the result is powerful and moving in a way that recalls the novels of Steinbeck. Comment
Chelsea

Enough Is Enough

When the Atlantic Theater Company announced a new rock opera about Studio 54 and the Mudd Club titled “This Ain’t No Disco,” featuring Stephen Trask on the production team, I was beyond thrilled. Trask, you may recall, was the creative force behind the cult rock sensation “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” and the Atlantic was the birthplace of the revolutionary “Spring Awakening,” which went on to a spectacular run on Broadway. Comment
Soho

Culture Keepers

A vibrant, groundswell movement is afoot to preserve gay history. Groups have sprung up such as Making Gay History, which features podcasts of interviews with LGBTQ luminaries, and the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, which documents key queer cultural sites with online interactive maps. There are books on the topic, like “A Passion to Preserve: Gay Men as Keepers of Culture” by Will Fellows. Comment
I want confess something right up front: I love this woman. It started back in 1970, when I went to a near-deserted Royal moviehouse in Waikiki to see “Made for Each Other” (1971), one of […] Comment

Songs, Socialists, and Saints

Songs, Socialists, and Saints

“On A Clear Day You Can See Forever” is a notoriously difficult musical. With a clumsy book and a very mixed score, were it not for Barbra Streisand in the 1970 movie (also a dud), it might be completely forgotten. The original 1965 production did run 280 performances, though the 2011 revival didn’t even reach one-third that number. Still, several of the songs have become enduring cabaret favorites, though others are not so great. So, it seemed like quite the risk for the Irish Repertory Theatre — I still can’t figure out what’s “Irish” about this show — to tackle this particularly problematic piece. Comment

Made to Measure

That said, there is something inherently cynical about creating a boot-scooting, over-the-top, Wild West romp out of a story about a government official using his power to coerce sex from a less powerful woman — a nun, no less &# Comment

Interrogating Jimmy

Jewelle Gomez is coming back to New York City. Comment

Defying Gravity

In 2015 Joshua Harmon charmed audiences with “Significant Other,” a comic appraisal of a covetous gay man being stuck and single while his straight pals couple off and move forward. The Roundabout Theatre production resonated so forcefully that it made the leap to Broadway. Comments (2)

The Green-Eyed Monster is Loose

It’s purely speculative, but it wouldn’t be remotely surprising if the Public Theater’s decision to stage “Othello” on a set of Gothic arches with actors in full Elizabethan drag is intended as a subtle, thumbed-nose response to the reactionary protesters of last season’s modern-dress “Julius Caesar” that provoke Comments (1)
Books

Butches and Femmes After Dark in the ‘50s

Merril Mushroom’s “Bar Dykes,” written in the 1980s, concerns a lesbian bar in the 1950s. It has a cast of 11, butches and femmes, who gather each night at the bar, cruising, dancing, and drinking, with the threat of Lily Law always imminent. Comments (2)
Features

Pride in the Theater

One of the great things about the current theater market is that if you want to see a show, you probably can. The total sold-out doesn’t exist, if you have the time or, more likely, the money. If you’ Comments (2)

When Empathy Falls Short

The intrepid Playwrights Horizons has ventured into uncharted territory with “Log Cabin,” a visionary, caustic drama that raises prickly issues about gender, race, friendship, and plenty more. Comments (1)

Bad Girls

If you weren’t there, then you probably don’t know. The influence of Donna Summer’s music was both liberating and profound in discos from New York to Los Angeles — and especially places like sleepy Wilmington, Delaware, whe Comment

Party Like It’s 1968

When “The Boys in the Band,” the comic drama about a hellish birthday party full of snarky, self-loathing homosexuals, premiered in a fringy venue in 1968, it was slated to run for only fie days. But the frank, nonjudgmental portrayal of this maligned minority, never before seen onstage, caused such a sensation that it transferred to Off-Broadway whe Comment

Band of Brothers

Simpering, self-loathing gay stereotypes. That’s why many naysayers are refusing to see the revival of “The Boys in the Band,” now on Broadway for the first time. And that’s a shame — shouldn’t the play be seen as a cautionary period piece, showing how strained life for gay men once was and how far Comments (3)

Oh, Boys

Does art serve any purpose? For Tom Stoppard, a prodigious linguistic artist, the answer, not Comments (1)

Brits Make America Great Again

Eugene O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey into Night,” his posthumously released play on his harrowing family life as a youth, is the great American play. And a stellar company from the Bristol Old Vic theater in England is rubbin Comment
Film

Spring Blossoms

On April 3, the Quad Cinema had a splashy celebration marking its one year anniversary since its big remodelling. If you haven’t been to the venerable movie house, founded in 1972, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. It’s been gleamingly overhauled into a state of the art venue, with an affordable wine bar, the seating is no longer the narrow, tortured affair it was Comments (2)

Tennesee and Bill

Tennessee Williams and William Inge: both playwrights, both gay, and both also deeply neurotic, given to substance abuse, and dead too soon: Inge a suicide at 60, in 1973, by carbon monoxide; Williams choking to death — a flop-ridden, drug and alcohol-soaked decade later — at 71, on a bottle cap he was tryin Comments (1)

Heroic Measures

If you’re going to go to the trouble of mounting a sprawling, expensive production of a classic warhorse musical like “My Fair Lady,” you had better have something to say if you don’t want it to end up with a museum piece. Fortunately, director Bartlett Sher does, and the resulting production at Lincoln Center i Comment

A Heaven of Invention

Joseph Papp’s mission in 1957 was to bring Shakespeare to everyone, and 60 years later that spirit lives on in the Public Theater’s Mobile Unit that brings professional productions to locations around the city. Papp believed that culture — and especially theater — belongs to everyone, and the Mobile Unit has toured shelters, Comments (1)

Hear Them Roar

“Unexpected Joy,” the latest original musical incubated by the esteemed York Theatre Company, has the distinction of having one foot planted in the past and one firmly in the present. It’s a delicate balancing act; despite somet Comments (2)

Women in the Spotlight

Anyone who has dealt with a headstrong, aging parent on the cusp or, or sliding deeper into, dementia will feel for the women named simply A, B, and C in the magnificent revival of Edward Albee’s “Three Tall Women” now on Broadway. A, a wealthy widow, is 92 claiming to be 91. She spen Comment
Nightlife

Homosexuality’s Historic Redesignation

Ain Gordon’s play, “217 Boxes of Dr. Henry Anonymous,” running nex Comments (1)

A Lear for Our Times

First things first. This splendid production of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s “King Lear”— directed by artistic director Gregory Doran with Sir Antony Sher as Lear in what he says will be his last Shakespeare performance (because what’ Comments (1)

Magic in the Making

Who knows where inspiration comes from? For master puppeteer Basil Twist, it came accidentally in the form of a small, broken aquarium found outside his East Village studio. He patched it up, filled it with water, attached a bit of fabric to a coat hanger, and started swirling it around in the water. And then he thought, “What else can I do?̶ Comment

Charles Busch’s Big, Beautiful Dare

Unbelievable as it seems, genius campmeister Charles Busch has never tackled pre-Code women’s pictures, namely those soaked-hankie epics of beleaguered mother love like “Madame X,” “Blonde Venus,” or “Frisco Jenny.” Consider that genre now officially done, to a side-splitting Comment

Making Fetch Happen

Broadway’s ravenous addiction to sourcing popular movies for the stage and setting them to music shows no signs of abating. In recent seasons we’ve seen “Legally Blonde,” “Bring It On: The Musical,” “Kinky Boots,” and “Groundhog Day,” among others. And let’s not f Comments (1)

A Heartbreaking Comedy of Hope

If you have seen “Angels in America” in any of its previous incarnations — the original 1993 Broadway production, the fine 2003 HBO film, many regional productions, or the 2010 Signa Comments (4)

These Shows are No Vacation

Playwright Lindsey Ferrentino is passionate about promoting the inclusion of the intellectually disabled in broader society and has chosen the theater as her platform for advocacy. Unfortunately, her “Amy and the Orphans” is tepid and largely unfocuse Comment

A Life Worth Living

Hidden histories, heroes and martyrs, oppressed people who said something, fought back, made a difference: those are the characters Barbara Kahn brings to life in her historical dramas, which are a staple of each season at Theater for the New City. Comments (1)

Losing Our Minds

“Jerry Springer — The Opera” is a joyfully explosive satire of culture both high and low. With music and lyrics by Richard Thomas and the book and additional lyrics by Thomas and Stewart Lee, like the TV show that inspired it, “Springer” is completely over the top. Comment
Nightlife

Power Dyke Joe Carstairs Comes Alive!

The first I ever heard of Joe Carstairs (1900-93) was in Charles Higham’s 1977 biography of Marlene Dietrich, in which he described this fabulous lesbian Standard Oil millionairess who was so besotted with the diva that she wanted to esconce her on a private island in the Bahamas. Comment

Shared Histories

“A Letter to Harvey Milk” is one of those rare musicals that dares to confront both LGBTQ history and Jewish history. And it does so with visceral wit, grace, and a full heart. Comments (1)
Nightlife

Into the Light

With a combination of New Age ideas, Southern Gothic storytelling, and supernova star power, Jomama Jones is blazing through Joe’s Pub with a new show, “Black Light.” Comments (2)
Music

Ute Lemper’s Tribute to Marlene Dietrich

The minute I heard Ute Lemper’s new show at the Café Carlyle was about Marlene Dietrich, I knew I had to talk to her. For me, that German superstar could very well be the most important woman of the last century. Her life spanned nearly all of it and took her in so many directions, to so many worlds: two World Wars, the latter of which saw her playing an important role, as an entertainer Comment

Hanging, Hanging In, and Just Hanging On

She’s back where she belongs. The magnificent Bernadette Peters has stepped into the role of Dolly Levi in the wonderful production of “Hello, Dolly!” still going strong and looking as fresh and sparkling as it has since it opened. I ponied up for a ticket last week because I couldn’t imagine not seeing Bernadette in the role. Not surprisingly, the role fits her Comments (1)

This Is Not My Play

“The Amateurs,” by Jordan Harrison, a 2015 Pulitzer Prize finalist for “Marjorie Prime,” is a formidably ambitious morality play within a morality play preoccupied with survival. But under the muddled direction of Oliver Butler, it is freighted with Comment
Features

A Moment at the Fence

For the past 10 months I’ve had the privilege and responsibility of representing Matthew Shepard in the Wandering Theatre Company’s production of “The Laramie Project.” As far as we know, this is the first time Matthew has been part of “The Laramie Project Cycle.” To add someone we lost almos Comments (1)
Music

Re-Toolng the Great American Songbook

New York can be such a small town, especially if you’re in the business of show. It had been a hectically busy week and I’d had to reschedule an interview with actress/ singer Lena Hall, who then coincidentally popped up that same day performing with John Cameron Mitchell at the opening night/ birthday party for Trudie Styler and her film “Freak Show” at the Public. With her genius, elec Comment
Features

Agile Blokes Go For Broke

When best buds Beren D’Amico, Louis Gift, and Charlie Wheeller graduated from the National Centre for Circus Arts in London a few years back, they were faced with a thorny dilemma. The Barely Methodical Troupe, as they are now known, had the chance to craft a piece to showcase their distinct Comment

Art Isn’t Easy

Terrence McNally’s spellbinding new play “Fire and Air,” now at CSC, is ostensibly about the impresario Sergei Diaghilev, the fate of his Ballets Russes, and his artistic and sexual relationship with dancer Vaslav Nijinsky. As a chronicle of early 20th century art and a stu Comment

Off-Putting Topic, Terrific Show

We’ve embraced shows about killing people and turning them into meat pies (“Sweeney Todd”), domestic violence (“Carousel”), and suicide (“Dear Evan Hansen”). But when you hear that there is a new play with music about an enclave of people on the sex offense registry, the tendency might be revulsion or d Comments (2)
Around Town

From Basketball to Modeling Mud

A decidedly unique human tale is being told as Terri Mateer unleashes her one-woman show, “A Kind Shot,” at TBG Studio Theatre. It’s recounts one wild roller coaster of a life, which sees this big beautiful Amazon as, variously, basketball star here and abroad, model, survivor of sexual trauma, and designer of Michael Jordan’s headboard. Comments (2)

Telling Tales

Few human qualities pack the potency of being able to invent, tell, and believe stories. Along with the opposable thumb, it’s one of the things that distinguish us from the lower beasts. Our religions are based on stories. Our identities are the result of the narratives we tell about — and to — Comments (4)

When Process Overwhelms Purpose

Upon entering the intimate Peter Jay Sharp Theater at Playwrights Horizons, we are struck by Amy Rubin’s meticulously curated set of a Phys Ed teachers’ lounge. And it’s a very dumpy lounge at that. Comments (2)

Treasure Trove of Legendary “Trinkets”

Ask if he’s a cop before getting into the car, don’t do anything until you’ve been paid, and contain your stroll to the Village side of the Meatpacking District — because the Chelsea precinct? “They will arrest a bitch in a minute.” Comments (1)

Our Precious Bodily Fluids at Risk

The clock is ticking. That’s the big takeaway from “Unexploded Ordnances (UXO),” the new show by Split Britches in the “Under the Radar Festival” at La MaMa. To zing the point home, they set a time-clock in the theater and instruct the audience to set their cell phone alarms to go off in an hour. The momen Comments (1)

Feeling a Bit Jumpy

Welcome back to dystopia. In Lucy Kirkwood’s new play, “The Children,” we once again find ourselves in a post-apocalyptic world. In this case, it’s the aftermath of a nuclear disaster in a remote cottage in England after an ill-planned plant near the coast erupted in an accident and poisoned the environment, perhaps for generations. Comment

Pregnant Pause

You might think that a play about a world where women are extinct would smack of misogyny. But Robert O’Hara’s wild, politically charged satire “Mankind” turns out to be highly sympathetic toward the female gender. The men, it soon becomes clear, are desperately lost without them. Comments (2)

Cape Cod’s New Impresario

Old Cape Cod is really gonna rock, theatrically speaking, with the recent appointment of writer and actor David Drake as artistic director of the esteemed 13-year-old Provincetown Theater. Comments (1)

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