Stroman Knocks 'Em Dead

 

Ladies and gentleman, Susan Stroman is back.

 

It's been thirteen years since the director/choreographer helped cause otherwise reasonable adults to consider selling their infants or offering sexual favors to box office personnel to acquire a pair for The Producers. Since then her Broadway efforts, always polished and professional and occasionally reaching brilliance, have been devoted to challenging, unconventional pieces (Thou Shalt NotThe Scottsboro BoysBig Fish), an intimate revival (The Frogs) and a film genre spoof (Young Frankenstein).

 

But with a new musical adapted from Woody Allen and Douglas McGrath's screenplay for 1994's Bullets Over Broadway, Stroman heads back into full tilt musical comedy mode and lights up the St. James with a stylish, witty evening full of exuberant Broadway panache. It's a great big sophisticated musical comedy for adults filled with big laughs and imaginative visuals.

 

Click here for my full review of Bullets Over Broadway.

 

Click here to follow Michael Dale on Twitter.

 

Posted on: Sunday, April 13, 2014 @ 05:47 PM Posted by: Michael Dale


Divine Silliness

 

"Well, I don't care what anybody says,

I am a one man Comedie Francaise!"

 

Few would argue with Carson Elrold's boastful pronouncement near the conclusion of Classic Stage Company's rollicking production of The Heir Apparent, as playwright David Ives and director John Rando have the versatile clown racing through a stageful of roles as his character attempts to guide the future of an elderly miser's fortune.

 

Click here for my full review of The Heir Apparent.

 

Click here to follow Michael Dale on Twitter.

 

Posted on: Sunday, April 13, 2014 @ 05:47 PM Posted by: Michael Dale


Nobody asked me, but...

 

I would have called the Julia Louis-Dreyfus sitcom The Mystery of Irma Veep.

 

Click here to follow Michael Dale on Twitter.

 

Posted on: Wednesday, April 09, 2014 @ 09:03 PM Posted by: Michael Dale


Cliques and Jocks Get Theirs

 

If you didn't know that Heathers was based on a 1988 film, you might question the good taste of composer/lyricist/bookwriters Kevin Murphy and Laurence O'Keefe in writing a musical comedy about a trench coat wearing high school outsider who gets revenge and kicks from doing in a snooty popular girl and shooting down a pair of bullying jocks.

 

But before the discomforting reminders of a past tragedy are introduced,Heathers gets off to a rousing start with an opening sequence that races through the ins and outs of the social warfare that is campus life at Westerburg High.

 

Click here for my full review of Heathers.

 

Click here to follow Michael Dale on Twitter.

 

Posted on: Wednesday, April 09, 2014 @ 08:14 PM Posted by: Michael Dale


Eno Hits Broadway

 
 

Given its quartet of name stars and, quite frankly, the fact that it's on Broadway, playwright Will Eno's Main Stem debut, The Realistic Joneses, will most likely be a lot of playgoers' first experience with the scribe best known for oblique downtown fare such as Thom Pain (based on nothing) andMiddletown; plays that seem satisfied to bask in their own quirkiness.

 

If consistency counts for anything, those who wish to peruse the critical consensus in an attempt to figure out what the hell it is they just saw will most likely find a reviewing press divided between enthusiastic admiration and annoyed distain.

 

Click here for my full review of The Realistic Joneses.

 

Click here to follow Michael Dale on Twitter.

 

Posted on: Wednesday, April 09, 2014 @ 08:13 PM Posted by: Michael Dale


Staying Too Perpendicular

 

Despite its reputation as the most daring and depraved piece of musical theatre to hit these shores courtesy of Weimar Germany, Bertolt Brecht (book and lyrics) and Kurt Weill's (music) masterpiece of social satire, The Threepenny Opera has never been a great commercial success on Broadway.

 

Its first stint in town folded after a dozen performances and two additional Broadway revivals were poorly received. A 1976 non-profit mounting produced by Joseph Papp set up shop at Lincoln Center for the better part of a year, but the show really earned its American reputation Off-Broadway during a run at Theatre de Lys (now the Lucille Lortel) that was such a surprise hit in 1954 that it had to temporarily close for a previously scheduled booking before returning for a nearly six year run in '55.

 

Click here for my full review of The Threepenny Opera.

 

Click here to follow Michael Dale on Twitter.

 

Posted on: Wednesday, April 09, 2014 @ 08:13 PM Posted by: Michael Dale


A Most Happy Encore

 

Along with every other musical that 1956-57 Broadway season, Frank Loesser's adaptation of Sidney Howard's They Knew What They Wanted was pretty much overshadowed by Lerner and Lowe's take on Pygmalion. In some circles,The Most Happy Fella would be best known as the musical Lucy, Ricky, Fred and Ethel tried seeing with only two tickets. (Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz were investors.)

 

With a book written by Loesser himself, The Most Happy Fella was a distinct departure from his previous musical comedy hits,Where's Charley? and Guys and Dolls; a lush, romantic musical drama in the fairly new Rodgers and Hammerstein tradition. But many also compared it with opera, with its three-act structure and unusual abundance of songs connected by very little dialogue. Loesser preferred to call it, "A musical with a lot of music."

 

Click here for my full review of The Most Happy Fella.

 

Click here to follow Michael Dale on Twitter.

 

Posted on: Wednesday, April 09, 2014 @ 08:13 PM Posted by: Michael Dale


A Sterling Second Go At It

 

Director Kenny Leon made his Broadway debut ten years ago with the first Main Stem revival of A Raisin In The Sun, and if he'd like to keep on mounting productions of Lorraine Hansberry's riveting classic every decade I'd be most happy to go see them all.

 

 

Denzel Washington, giving his finest New York stage performance since returning to Broadway as a Hollywood star, leads an exemplary company that gives the 55-year-old landmark drama a lively, endearing and emotion-pulling turn.

 

Click here for my full review of A Raisin In The Sun.

 

Click here to follow Michael Dale on Twitter.

 

Posted on: Wednesday, April 09, 2014 @ 08:12 PM Posted by: Michael Dale


Not Having It All

 

Despite the efforts of Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan and Sarah Jessica Parker, American women can still find themselves feeling they have to choose between a satisfying love life and a challenging career. In Tom Kitt (music) and Brian Yorkey's (book and lyrics) ambitious new musical If/Then, our heroine is literally divided between the two all night.

 

Click here for my full review of If/Then.

 

Click here to follow Michael Dale on Twitter.

 

Posted on: Monday, April 07, 2014 @ 09:11 PM Posted by: Michael Dale


Here's To The Ladies

 

He may have passed away over 50 years ago, but you might say John Van Druten is the hottest playwright in New York right now.

 

Joining the Mint Theater Company's sparking production of London Wall and the now-previewing return engagement ofCabaret (based on his I Am A Camera) is Transport Group's beautifully touching and non-traditionally cast mounting of his most famous and beloved play, I Remember Mama.

 

Click here for full review of I Remember Mama.

 

Click here to follow Michael Dale on Twitter.

 

Posted on: Monday, April 07, 2014 @ 09:11 PM Posted by: Michael Dale


Compassion In The Face Of Intolerance

 

A few days after counter-protesters greeted the gay-hating members of the late Fred Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church with a banner reading "Sorry For Your Loss," Terrence McNally opens a play on Broadway with the same message of showing compassion for those who would treat others with intolerance.

 

Click here for my full review of Mothers and Sons.

 

Click here to follow Michael Dale on Twitter.

 

Posted on: Monday, April 07, 2014 @ 09:11 PM Posted by: Michael Dale


Trudging To Broadway

 

Back in 2010, Cameron Mackintosh opened the North American tour of his 25th Anniversary production of Les Miserables at New Jersey's Paper Mill Playhouse in a freshly designed mounting by co-directors Laurence Conner and James Powell.

 

Gone was the original's signature turntable and Matt Kinley's set was highlighted by a gorgeously moody collection of drops and projections inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo.

 

That production, with a different cast, hit Broadway tonight with considerably less of an impact. Plagued with uninspired acting and singing voices that do not seem up to their tasks, this grand return is notably disappointing.

 

Click here for my full review of Les Miserables.

 

Click here to follow Michael Dale on Twitter.

 

Posted on: Monday, April 07, 2014 @ 09:11 PM Posted by: Michael Dale


Disney Does Musical Comedy Right

 

They used to call them tired businessman musicals; fast-moving, slickly-produced musical comedies that livened up evenings for overworked white-collar gents with lots of gags, some catchy tunes and pretty chorus girls in sexy outfits. They weren't meant to be art. They were meant to be hits.

 

Well, believe it or not, the latest entry in Disney's Broadway parade might be considered a 21st Century variation on the theme. Call Aladdin, based on the 1992 animated feature, a tired businessperson's musical. The laughs are plentiful, the songs are bright and jazzy, there's not an actor dressed as an animal (or inanimate object) in sight and romance and cuteness are kept to a minimum, as are many of the costumes worn by both male and female cast members.

 

Click here for my full review of Aladdin.

 

Click here to follow Michael Dale on Twitter.

 

 

Posted on: Monday, April 07, 2014 @ 09:10 PM Posted by: Michael Dale


Love As A Sideshow Attraction

 

Husband and wife performing artists Mat Fraser and Julie Atlas Muz are obviously crazy about each other. And the wild and humorous abandon with which they show how crazy about each other they are - a fully nude, fully lit simulated sex session that races through a catalogue of positions with giddy, bouncy enthusiasm - is the sweet capper to their very personal telling of the classic tale, Beauty and The Beast.

 

Click here for my full review of Beauty and The Beast.

 

Click here to follow Michael Dale on Twitter.

 

Posted on: Monday, April 07, 2014 @ 09:10 PM Posted by: Michael Dale


The Oldest Survival Tactic

 

Through dim lights shining past a thin curtain, the audience sees two shadowy figures, male and female, hesitantly, and with few words, going through the paces of the world's oldest business transaction. Money is placed on a table, the purchased service is forcefully taken upon that same table and the female figure is left alone, ashamed, disgusted and grief-stricken. Through the darkness, it's apparent she's wearing the black clothing of a woman in mourning.

 

Click here for my full review of Tales From Red Vienna.

 

Click here to follow Michael Dale on Twitter.

 

Posted on: Monday, April 07, 2014 @ 09:10 PM Posted by: Michael Dale


Unusual Love Story Sings Beautifully

 

Even if Rocky didn't start as an Academy Award winning Best Picture and the anchor of a major movie franchise, the pedigree of creative talent behind the new musical that opened at the Winter Garden tonight is enough to excite any devoted fan of musical theatre.

 

Click here for my full review of Rocky.

 

Click here to follow Michael Dale on Twitter.

 

Posted on: Saturday, March 15, 2014 @ 02:11 PM Posted by: Michael Dale


Chilling Puppet Drama

 

A brief plot description of Robert Askins' Hand To God, where a shy, introverted Christian teenager's sock puppet seems to have been possessed by a hard-truth spewing demon, might lead you to believe you're in for a night of silly, perhaps a little campy, blasphemous fun.

 

And sure, when we're first introduced to Tyrone, who lives on young Texan Jason's left forearm, his profane nastiness, contrasting with his goofy appearance, sets us up for an entertaining Exorcist-style satire.

 

But that's the comforting beginning that lulls you in. Before you know it, it turns out that Askins' drama, as well as Jason's puppet, has some powerful teeth, and director Moritz von Steulpnagel's serious-minded production will have the more squeamish playgoers averting their eyes at the bloody and desperate climax.

 


Click here for my full review of Hand To God.

 

Click here to follow Michael Dale on Twitter.

 

Posted on: Tuesday, March 11, 2014 @ 11:31 PM Posted by: Michael Dale


Conducting Politics

 

Like a symphony conductor's podium, President Lyndon B. Johnson's Oval Office desk is placed before three curved tiers of senators, governors, activists and anarchists, each trying to make his own music be heard above the cacophony of American politics.

 

A little bit U.S. Senate and a little bit New York Philharmonic, designer Christopher Acebo's spacious set, given location specificity through a parade of scenes by Shawn Sagady's projections, help the free-flowing pageantry of Robert Schenkkan's exciting and energetic drama, All The Way, gallop full speed in director Bill Rauch's pulse-racing production.

 

Click here for my full review of All The Way.

 

Click here to follow Michael Dale on Twitter.

 

Posted on: Tuesday, March 11, 2014 @ 11:25 PM Posted by: Michael Dale


Paying Tribute to the Peculiar

 

Playwright/actor Jim Brochu nabbed the 2010 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Solo Performance with one of the more 

 

Now Brochu returns Off-Broadway with Character Man, a terrifically funny and touching tribute to many of his other idols he was fortunate enough to encounter as a young actor. Directed by Robert Bartley, it's ninety minutes that will warm the heart of anyone who has ever looked out from an audience with awe and wonder.

 

Click here for my full review of Character Man.

 

Click here to follow Michael Dale on Twitter.

 

Posted on: Tuesday, March 11, 2014 @ 11:18 PM Posted by: Michael Dale


Antony and Cleopatra Go Caribbean

 

The characters still refer to themselves as Romans and Egyptians, but editor/director Tarell Alvin McCraney's vibrant and sexy production of Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra sets the story of the volatile mixing of romance and politics in French-colonial Saint-Domingue on the eve of revolution.

 

In collaboration with the Royal Shakespeare Company and Miami's GableStage, the intimate production opens at The Public with a cast of nine actors from the ranks of both British and American Equity. Perched above are four musicians, led by Akintayo Akinbode, filling the air with sweet Caribbean melodies.

 

Click here for my full review of Antony and Cleopatra.

 

Click here to follow Michael Dale on Twitter.

 

Posted on: Tuesday, March 11, 2014 @ 11:14 PM Posted by: Michael Dale


Jump to Blog Date:  

Next 20 Entries...

About Michael: After 20-odd years singing, dancing and acting in dinner theatres, summer stocks and the ever-popular audience participation murder mysteries (try improvising with audiences after they've had two hours of open bar), Michael Dale segued his theatrical ambitions into playwriting. The buildings which once housed the 5 Off-Off Broadway plays he penned have all been destroyed or turned into a Starbucks, but his name remains the answer to the trivia question, "Who wrote the official play of Babe Ruth's 100th Birthday?" He served as Artistic Director for The Play's The Thing Theatre Company, helping to bring free live theatre to underserved communities, and dabbled a bit in stage managing and in directing cabaret shows before answering the call (it was an email, actually) to become BroadwayWorld.com's first Chief Theatre Critic. While not attending shows Michael can be seen at Shea Stadium pleading for the Mets to stop imploding. Likes: Strong book musicals and ambitious new works. Dislikes: Unprepared celebrities making their stage acting debuts by starring on Broadway and weak bullpens.