Putting a Full Nelson on the Vietnam War

 

If Dave Rabe's 1971 dark anti-war satire Sticks and Bones were written today, the iconic mom and pop characters of the piece might have been named Mike and Carol or Howard and Marian, but to those who get the reference, the names Ozzie and Harriet fit perfectly.

 

Click here for my full review of Sticks and Bones.

 

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Posted on: Monday, November 10, 2014 @ 12:42 AM Posted by: Michael Dale


Stoppard Sings?

 

Tom Stoppard's plays aren't exactly known for their warmth to begin with, so at first it seems like director Sam Gold is upping the chill factor with a clever little move to deny demonstrative Broadway audiences a chance to welcome the stars of Roundabout's revival of The Read Thing with entrance applause.

 

Click here for my full review of The Real Thing.

 

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Posted on: Monday, November 10, 2014 @ 12:42 AM Posted by: Michael Dale


A Civil War Odyssey

 

Though the idea of a cycle of plays chronicling experiences of Americans of African descent may bring to mind the work of August Wilson, Suzan-Lori Parks seems to have ancient Greek drama in mind with the first three entries of her ambitious 9-play cycle, Father Comes Home From The Wars.

 

Click here for my full review of Father Comes Home From The Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3).

 

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Posted on: Monday, November 10, 2014 @ 12:42 AM Posted by: Michael Dale


Gentrification, White Privilege and Superman

 

"Everybody singin' a different song / But if they all fit together then it can't be wrong," sings a naively idealistic mother shortly before we see her abandon her husband and son.

 

It's Gowanus, Brooklyn in 1975 and Rachel has moved her family here from California, convinced that white people like them can gentrify the predominantly black neighborhood into "another Berkeley."

 

Click here for my full review of The Fortress of Solitude.

 

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Posted on: Monday, November 10, 2014 @ 12:42 AM Posted by: Michael Dale


Sting's Old-Fashioned Musical Drama

 

Composer/lyricist Sting may be a theatre novice, but he has teamed up with quite an accomplished group for his debut musical, The Last Ship. The book is by John Logan, who won the Best Play Tony Award for Red, and Brian Yorkey, Tony and a Pulitzer winner for his work on Next To Normal. Joe Montello is a highly regarded director of both musicals and straight drama, especially adept at bringing wide-scope stage pictures to life.

 

Click here for my full review of The Last Ship.

 

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Posted on: Monday, November 10, 2014 @ 12:42 AM Posted by: Michael Dale


Earning Its Pulitzer

 

The opening scene of Ayad Akhtar's 2013 Pulitzer-winner, Disgraced, seems innocuous enough at first glance. An attractive and apparently well-off couple is relaxing in their apartment on Manhattan's Upper East Side, with the wife sketching a portrait of her husband.

 

But the portrait the blonde, white woman is working on, a sketch for what will be a painting, is modeled after Diego Velazquez's portrait of Juan de Pareja, a Moor who was his slave when the Spaniard portrayed him dressed as a nobleman.

 

Click here for my full review of Disgraced.

 

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Posted on: Monday, November 10, 2014 @ 12:41 AM Posted by: Michael Dale


Ironic Nerdiness

 

Just as the words Mark Twain Tonight! can barely escape ones lips without conjuring up images of Hal Holbrook wearing a white suit and a bushy mustache, theatregoers may be more likely to associate The Belle of Amherst with its original star,Julie Harris, than the subject of William Luce's solo play, Emily Dickinson.

 

Click here for my full review of The Belle of Amherst.

 

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Posted on: Wednesday, October 22, 2014 @ 12:20 AM Posted by: Michael Dale


Charmingly Fizzy

 

It's one of the great legends of Broadway. They say that on the 1953 opening night of Cole Porter and Abe Burrows' feisty musical comedy, Can-Can, a young unknown dancer named Gwen Verdon received such an enthused and sustained ovation after being featured in Michael Kidd's "Garden of Eden" ballet, that they had to drag her out of her dressing room, where she was already getting into her next costume, and throw her back on stage to take a bow.

 

Click here for my full review of Can-Can.

 

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Posted on: Wednesday, October 22, 2014 @ 12:20 AM Posted by: Michael Dale


Forwarded To Carol Burnett

 

By design, every production of A.R. Gurney's Pulitzer Prize finalist Love Letters shares the same staging. The actors playing Melissa Gardner and Andrew Makepeace Ladd III, both born of educated and cultured WASP privilege, sit center stage at a table and, never relating to each other directly, read aloud the lifetime of scribbles, notes, letters, post cards, formal invitations, obligatory holiday greetings and desperate pleas for help that served as their main form of communication during their decades-long relationship.

 

Click here for my full review of Love Letters.

 

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Posted on: Wednesday, October 22, 2014 @ 12:20 AM Posted by: Michael Dale


It Really Cooks

 

The inspiration for the original 1944 Broadway production of On The Town goes back to cartoon images in an art gallery; Paul Cadmus' controversial painting, "The Fleet's In!" The kinetically dazzling and raucously animated new Broadway revival gets its inspiration from the cartoon images of Tex Avery, whose fast, furious and wise-cracking way with animation proved that cartoons weren't just kid stuff.

 

Click here for my full review of On The Town.

 

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Posted on: Wednesday, October 22, 2014 @ 12:19 AM Posted by: Michael Dale


A Real Find

 

Artist comes up with something unique and interesting... Artist's work develops a niche underground following... Artist gets a chance to make a lot of money exposing the work to a national audience... Artist must choose between becoming rich by compromising the art for popular consumption or staying obscure and being faithful to original vision.

 

The story of Eli Bolin (score), Hunter Bell (book) and Lee Overtree's (book and direction) Found may be a familiar one, but the new musical at the Atlantic bursts with crazy, youthful energy in a clever and hip premiere production.

 

Click here for my full review of Found.

 

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Posted on: Wednesday, October 22, 2014 @ 12:19 AM Posted by: Michael Dale


Billy Porter Turns Playwright

 

Normally I would object to playgoers voicing their approval of the actions of the evening's drama while the play is in progress, and even finishing actors' lines with them, but I'll bet that vocal displays of spirituality are exactly what Tony Award-winning actor turned playwright Billy Porter had in mind.

 

Click here for my full review of While I Yet Live.

 

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Posted on: Wednesday, October 22, 2014 @ 12:19 AM Posted by: Michael Dale


Occupying Broadway

 

Zuccotti Park has gone back to being a rather nondescript patch of public space in Manhattan's Financial District, but the spirit of Occupy Wall Street lives on in the Broadway production of Cinderella, which is looking perfectly splendid over a year and a half after opening.

 

Click here for my full review of Cinderella.

 

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Posted on: Wednesday, October 22, 2014 @ 12:19 AM Posted by: Michael Dale


A Master Class

 

Nathan Lane holds the dubious distinction of being one of Broadway's biggest stars while also being one of the stage's most underappreciated actors. Though four Tony Award nominations and two wins is rather nice, it's astonishing to think that someone so highly regarded as one of the few remaining stage stars nationally known primarily for acting in the theatre has gone sixteen times without a nomination.

 

 

Whether or not number nineteen garners him the honor remains to be seen, but in the first ten minutes or so of Terrance McNally's wickedly funny offstage farce, It's Only a Play, Lane demonstrates why he is undoubtedly one of the greatest stage actors of his generation.

 

Click here for my full review of It's Only a Play.

 

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Posted on: Wednesday, October 22, 2014 @ 12:19 AM Posted by: Michael Dale


Blending Romance, Sensuality, Politics and Culture

 

It took nearly twenty years for New York to get its first look at Tom Stoppard's clever and intellectually romantic Indian Ink, but director Carey Perloff's exquisite production is certainly worth the wait.

 

Click here for my full review of Indian Ink.

 

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Posted on: Wednesday, October 22, 2014 @ 12:19 AM Posted by: Michael Dale


Visually Extraordinary, Emotionally Lacking

 

The first time British director Marianne Elliott was represented on Broadway, the play she co-directed, based on Michael Morpurgo's novel, War Horse, stirred up some controversy with its Tony Award win as the best of the season. While few would argue with the Best Director prize awarded to Elliott and her colleague, Tom Morris, giving the honor of Best Play to Nick Stafford, credited in the program as the adapter of Morpurgo's book and not as a playwright, raised eyebrows among those who thought his text was merely a serviceable vehicle for the production's main attraction, the impressive and imaginative staging.

 

 

Should Elliott's return to Broadway, as sole director of The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time, be similarly honored, it may raise the same issue.

 

Click here for my full review of The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time.

 

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Posted on: Wednesday, October 22, 2014 @ 12:19 AM Posted by: Michael Dale


Chekhov Goes All WTF

 

Manhattan Theatre Club's latest addition to the genre of contemporary plays modeled after Chekhov (Drowning Crow,The Snow Geese) is by far the company's best. You don't have to be familiar with The Seagull and Uncle Vanya to enjoy Donald Margulies' pungent wit-fest, The Country Housebut it adds a little extra the evening to count the hat-tips to the Russian dramatist.

 

Click here for my full review of The Country House.

 

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Posted on: Wednesday, October 22, 2014 @ 12:18 AM Posted by: Michael Dale


Divorced From Emotions

 

Like much of the work of Belgian director Ivo van Hove that crashes onto these shores, Scenes From a Marriage is more about flashy theatrics than feeling any kind of emotion for the characters on stage.

 

Click here for my full review of Scenes From a Marriage.

 

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Posted on: Wednesday, October 22, 2014 @ 12:18 AM Posted by: Michael Dale


Slowing Down The Arms Race

 

The Soviet Union only had a few years left in it when Lee Blessing's Pulitzer-finalist A Walk In The Woods hit Broadway in 1988. The two-hander featured Robert Prosky as a comically jovial Russian negotiator and Sam Waterston as his more reserved, less experienced American counterpart.

 

Click here for my full review of A Walk In The Woods.

 

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Posted on: Wednesday, October 22, 2014 @ 12:18 AM Posted by: Michael Dale


A Classic Comedy Given a Classic Production

 

Kaufman and Hart may not have invented the comic chestnut of a meetup between an eccentric family and a more conservative one when young lovers nervously announce their intentions, but they sure perfected it with their 1937 Pulitzer-winner, You Can't Take It With You.

 

Click here for my full review of You Can't Take It With You.

 

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Posted on: Wednesday, October 22, 2014 @ 12:18 AM Posted by: Michael Dale


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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.

 
   
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