Stirs, but Doesn't Shake

 

There are those who will tell you that Edward Albee's 1967 Pulitzer Prize for A Delicare Balance was an apology for his not receiving the 1963 award for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (The jury recommended his drama for the prize, but the board overruled and decided not to award a play that year.) Nevertheless, it's an intriguing bit of domestic psychological warfare.

 

Click here for my full review of A Delicate Balance.

 

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Posted on: Sunday, December 21, 2014 @ 03:04 PM Posted by: Michael Dale


Playing In Cut Time

 

It gets forgotten as time passes, but when Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II brought Oklahoma! and Carousel into the world, they were experimental musicals; highly popular Broadway entertainments that were crowning achievements of a decade-long movement towards integrating singing and dancing seamlessly into storytelling dramatics.

 

But it's their 3rd collaboration, 1947's Allegro, that still plays like an experiment today.

 

Click here for my full review of Allegro.

 

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Posted on: Sunday, December 21, 2014 @ 03:04 PM Posted by: Michael Dale


The Price of Being an Ally

 

There are several theater spaces at The Public, so if you're waiting in the lobby and you don't know the name of Younf Jean Lee's new play, you might find it an inappropriate exercise in privilege when the loudspeaker announces, "The Martinson is now open for seating for Straight White Men."

 

Or, if you're familiar with the playwright/director's tendencies, you might think it was planned all along.

 

Click here for my full review of Straight White Men.

 

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Posted on: Sunday, December 21, 2014 @ 03:04 PM Posted by: Michael Dale


New and Improved

Weeks after the original 1997 Broadway production of Side Show closed up shop after less than 100 performances, the show's marquee continued to grace the Richard RodgersTheatre and rumors spread that Henry Krieger (music) and Bill Russell's (book/lyrics) musical inspired by the lives and vaudeville careers of conjoined twins Daisy and Violet Hilton would return to Broadway. After all, it did receive a good deal of positive notices and word of mouth helped build a loyal fan base that packed the theatre and lustily cheered on its final performances.

 

Click here for my full review of Side Show.

 

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Posted on: Sunday, December 21, 2014 @ 03:03 PM Posted by: Michael Dale


Hyper-Charged

 

Even when it premiered in Manchester, England in 2009, all but one of the characters in Simon Stephens' hyper-charged drama, Punk Rock, had been born long after bands like The Sex Pistols and The Ramones burst onto the alternative scene.

 

The music they dance to between scenes in director Tripp Cullman's sizzling Off-Broadway production may have come out of their parents' collections, but the loud, aggressive rebellions of Big Black, Sonic Youth and Cows provide an excellent subtext soundtrack to their bottled up emotions anxious to explode.

 

Click here for my full review of Punk Rock.

 

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Posted on: Sunday, December 21, 2014 @ 01:21 PM Posted by: Michael Dale


Drowning in Ambiguity

 

Given that Hugh Jackman is one of those actors who can pretty much name whatever Broadway vehicle he desires and producers will quickly nab a theatre, confident of healthy profits, one would wonder what it was that attracted him to Jez Butterworth's lethargic little chamber drama, The River, aside from a 90-minute work day.

 

Click here for my full review of The River.

 

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Posted on: Thursday, December 11, 2014 @ 12:34 AM Posted by: Michael Dale


Faith and Absolution

 

Like the Bronx thoroughfare that inspires the play's title, the church basement soup kitchen where Heidi Schreck's touching new drama, Grand Concourse, is set is a place of convergence for a varied assortment of local denizens. And like that Bronx thoroughfare, smooth travels are rarely guaranteed.

 

Click here for my full review of Grand Concourse.

 

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Posted on: Thursday, December 11, 2014 @ 12:33 AM Posted by: Michael Dale


M*A*S*H Notes

 

It may be a little late in the game now, but the new(ish) Broadway production of A.R. Gurney's Pulitzer Prize finalist Love Letters might do well to offer subscription tickets so that audiences, particularly acting students and aspiring directors, might observe the interpretive differences when the cast changes every month.

 

Click here for my full review of Love Letters.

 

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Posted on: Thursday, December 11, 2014 @ 12:33 AM Posted by: Michael Dale


Unbelievable

 

Despite some interesting writing, excellent acting and a very fine production, David Auburn's two-person drama, Lost Lakejust ain't gonna work unless you can accept a pretty unbelievable premise.

 

Click here for my full review of Lost Lake.

 

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Posted on: Thursday, December 11, 2014 @ 12:33 AM Posted by: Michael Dale


Nixing Nostolgia

 

The original movie musicals of MGM's golden age have had a rough time of it when trying to transfer to the Broadway stage. Singin' In The Rain was rather famously an uninspired copy and paste job,Meet Me In St. Louis was overwhelmed by a massive and static production and Seven Brides For Seven Brothers was divorced from the Alvin Theatre in less than a week.

 

Click here for my full review of The Band Wagon.

 

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Posted on: Thursday, December 11, 2014 @ 12:32 AM Posted by: Michael Dale


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


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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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