Showtime!

Showtime! features reviews, commentary and assorted theatrical musings from Michael Dale, BroadwayWorld.com's Chief Theatre Critic. To submit amusing backstage banter, absurd audience observations or noteworthy links to Showtime!, click here. Anonymity's guaranteed. My not taking credit for your clever remark isn't. Subscribe to RSS Feed



Sorry, I Thought You Were Whoozis

 

It just isn't a Broadway Flea Market until someone mistakes me for Peter Filichia and then gives me that blank stare when I say who I really am.

 

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Posted on: Monday, September 22, 2014 @ 12:20 AM Posted by: Michael Dale


Bringing Snail Mail Back

 

In this age of emails, texting and social media updates, the premise of A.R. Gurney charming Love Letters, may seem quaint, or perhaps a little far-fetched, to younger playgoers. But when the play premiered in 1988 it wasn't so unbelievable that the story of a lifelong relationship between two people - from grade school to old age - could be told rather completely through the handwritten correspondence sent between them throughout the decades.

 

Click here for my full review of Love Letters.

 

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Posted on: Sunday, September 21, 2014 @ 08:50 PM Posted by: Michael Dale


Raunch Without Wit

 

"Do you like raunchy?" the waitress at Joe's Pub asked when my guest and I told her neither of us had seen Bridgett Everett before.

 

"I like anything that's good," was my reply.

 

 

Well, from the moment she entered the house draped in a getup that barely covered her breasts and got right down to the business of flashing what was underneath to the patrons seated up front, Bridgett Everett certainly filled Rock Bottom, commissioned by Joe's Pub with NEA grant money, with sufficient raunchiness. The cheering, squealing fans who packed the venue no doubt ranked her efforts as at least a few notches above good.

 

Click here for my full review of Rock Bottom.

 

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Posted on: Sunday, September 21, 2014 @ 08:50 PM Posted by: Michael Dale


Kelly's Swan Song

 

Taking in a performance of George Kelly's new comedy was a frequent occurrence for theatregoers during the 1920s and 30s, but his 10 Broadway plays (including the Pulitzer-winner, Craig's Wife) and one musical revue have pretty much faded from the modern repertory.

 

Last year the Mint Theater Company, specialists in revisiting the works of once-popular playwrights, mounted his delightful 1931 excursion into bohemian Greenwich Village, Philip Goes Forth They follow up now with Kelly's swan song, his 1946 drawing room comedy/drama of infidelity, The Fatal Weakness.

 

Click here for my full review of The Fatal Weakness.

 

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Posted on: Sunday, September 21, 2014 @ 08:49 PM Posted by: Michael Dale


Entitled Slacker Nostalgia

 

Slackers were all the rage when Kenneth Lonergan's This Is Our Youth premiered Off-Broadway in 1996. Corporate outsourcing and the longevity of Baby Boomer careers had convinced overeducated and underemployed Gen-Xers they had little chance of achieving more than their parents, and many identified with the aimless youths of movies like Clerks and Reality Bites and accepted the animated stars of Beavis and Butthead as role models.

 

 

Into this Clintonian age was thrown a modest comedy/drama that looked back at slackers of the early Reagan years; kids from well-to-do families with no need to grow up as long as mom and dad's checks clear.

 

Click here for my full review of This Is Our Youth.

 

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Posted on: Sunday, September 21, 2014 @ 08:49 PM Posted by: Michael Dale


Subversively Funny

 

At first glimpse, playwright/director Robert O'Hara's subversively funny and dramatically intriguing new play, Bootycandy, seems like it's going to be a night of sketch comedy; pretty uproarious sketch comedy at that.

 

The opening scene, styled in 1980s urban sitcom manner, has grown up Phillip James Brannon playing an adolescent who's crazy about Michael Jackson and confused about sex. His abrasive, tough-loving mom (Jessica Frances Dukes) isn't very helpful in answering his questions about body parts and sex acts but the scene does explain the meaning of the play's title.

 

Click here for my full review of Bootycandy.

 

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Posted on: Sunday, September 21, 2014 @ 08:49 PM Posted by: Michael Dale


Redefining Community Theatre

 

The phrase "community theatre" rarely inspires such vibrant dramatics and joyful pageantry as when the Public Theater's Public Works program takes the Delacorte stage.

 

Its recently completed second annual production, a three-night run of a colorful and festive adaptation of Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale, spectacularly fulfilled the noble mission of last year's premiere effort, The Tempest; to present free Shakespeare productions where the diverse population of New York City could see a company of actors that looked like the diverse population of New York City.

 

Click here for my full review of The Winter's Tale.

 

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Posted on: Sunday, September 21, 2014 @ 08:49 PM Posted by: Michael Dale


Absurdist Satire Meets Musical Comedy

 

In another theatrical era, a pair of crackerjack musical comedy clowns like Alli Mauzey and Josh Grisetti would be introducing inspired novelty songs by the likes of Porter and Berlin on numerous Broadway opening nights. In this era, their charismatic talents are currently on display in a more modest Off-Broadway venue.

 

Click here for my full review of Red Eye Of Love.

 

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Posted on: Sunday, September 21, 2014 @ 08:49 PM Posted by: Michael Dale


A Satisfying Stay

 

The difference between innovative and gimmicky can probably be found somewhere in the thirty-seven years since A.R. Gurney's The Wayside Motor Inn premiered. Audience members are more likely to leave the Signature Theatre Company's lovely new mounting remembering the play's non-traditional structure more than any particular plot point but the combination of fine writing, filled with genuine humor and touching pathos, and a strong ensemble of performances guided by Lila Neugebauer's fluid direction make for a satisfying stay.

 

Click here for my full review of The Wayside Motor Inn.

 

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Posted on: Sunday, September 21, 2014 @ 08:48 PM Posted by: Michael Dale


Try To Remember... The New Ending!

 

No spoilers here, but after 54 years Tom Jones has changed the final spoken line of The Fantasticks.

 

It's not unusual for the musical's bookwriter/lyricist to do some occasional tinkering to his script.  Most famously, the lyric to "It Depends On What You Pay" was revised to remove the numerous repeatings of the word "rape."  Jones had meant the word to refer to a literary abduction, as in The Rape of The Sabine Women, but as contemporary audiences grew less comfortable with the word, he felt a change was necessary to make his intention clear.

 

Visitors to the current mounting at the Jerry Orbach Theatre have certainly noticed a few new gags inserted and some bits of dialogue that make the characters' motivations more clear, but this latest change is a big one.  The previous final line was one that plainly stated the theme of the muisical.  The new one completely dismisses that original theme.

 

In any case, The Fantasticks is in absolutely splendid shape.  If you haven't treated yourself to this intimate treasure lately it's by all means worth a visit.

 

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Posted on: Saturday, September 06, 2014 @ 01:11 PM Posted by: Michael Dale


The Prison Life of Free Women

 

Naomi Wallace's intimate drama, And I And Silence, has one of those titles that sends a theatre critic attempting some pre-performance preparation scurrying through the Internet to see if it might be some kind of literary reference.

 

 

Impressively, a Google search results in page upon page of articles about Wallace's play, which was commissioned by a London theatre company to tour prisons, before you get to a couple of links that show the phrase is lifted from Emily Dickenson's poem, "I Felt a Funeral, In My Brain."

 

I'll leave it you, dear readers, to interpret any further connections.

 

Click here for my full review of And I And Silence.

 

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Posted on: Monday, September 01, 2014 @ 01:08 AM Posted by: Michael Dale


Poor Behavior, Bland Playwrighting

 

Theresa Rebeck's latest good-looking bad boy that women find irresistible is a smug, condescending pseudo-intellectual with a sexy Irish accent who thinks Americans are stupid and aggressively insists that the word "good" has no meaning.

 

Click here for my full review of Poor Behavior.

 

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Posted on: Tuesday, August 19, 2014 @ 01:28 AM Posted by: Michael Dale


Start The Revolution Without Me

When an attempt at musical theatre is as inept and lacking in basic craft as Ivar Pall Jonsson's pitiful stab at allegorical whimsy, Revolution in the Elbow of Ragnar Agnarsson Furniture Painter, there's really no sense in expending much energy to crank out a full description of the tedious display.
 
Click here for my full review of Revolution in the Elbow of Ragnar Agnarsson Furniture Painter.
 
 

 

Posted on: Tuesday, August 19, 2014 @ 01:28 AM Posted by: Michael Dale


Going For Jocular Over Jugular

 

Two years ago, in the last major production of Jean Genet's The Maids to hit Manhattan, director Jesse Berger played up the voyeuristic aspect of the erotically intimate piece by having the audience view the play by peeping into a lady's boudoir through cut-out holes from all sides of a four-walled set.

 

 

Director Benedict Andrews' new production, a Sydney Theatre Company import taking temporary residence at City Center as part of the Lincoln Center Festival, utilizes a more exhibitionist angle.

 

Click here for my full review of The Maids.

 

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Posted on: Tuesday, August 19, 2014 @ 01:27 AM Posted by: Michael Dale


Serpent's Tooth Sharpness

 

A priest performs a ritual with holy water before Shakespeare's text takes over in director Daniel Sullivan's Delacorte production of King Lear, and indeed the ensuing three hours convey the feeling of witnessing a ritual rather than being moved by a great human tragedy.

 

Click here for my full review of King Lear.

 

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Posted on: Saturday, August 09, 2014 @ 12:41 PM Posted by: Michael Dale


Waxing Athletically of Icarus

 

Something rare and wonderful happens during the second half of Cirque du Soleil's Varekai, a touring production now making a stop at the Barclays Center. One of the clown routines turns out to actually be funny.

 

If that remark seems unnecessarily sarcastic, please keep in mind that, with all due respect to the undoubtedly talented artists I've witnessed performing clown routines through my years of reviewing their shows, the troupe has never exactly come close to Emmett Kelly territory.

 

Click here for my full review of Varekai.

 

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Posted on: Saturday, August 09, 2014 @ 12:41 PM Posted by: Michael Dale


Pathos and Power

 

Playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis' knack for crackling, streetwise dialogue and tension-packed drama that glides seamlessly from gripping conflict to realistic hilarity is in fierce evidence in the Atlantic Theatre Company's premiere production of Between Riverside and Crazy.

 

Veteran character man Stephen McKinley Henderson, primarily known to New York audiences for his memorable supporting turns, takes on the central role in director Austin Pendleton's deeply engaging production and delivers a powerful, pathos-filled portrayal of a noble but flawed man who may have taken his fight for justice too far.

 

Click here for my full review of Between Riverside and Crazy.

 

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Posted on: Saturday, August 09, 2014 @ 12:41 PM Posted by: Michael Dale


Showcasing a Legend

 

Like the difference between East Coast Hip Hop and West Coast Hip Hop - which I couldn't explain even if you threatened me with bottom shelf gin - you might say New York theatre drag can be divided between the disciples of Charles Busch's Theatre-in-Limbo and Charles Ludlam's Ridiculous Theatrical Company.

 

In contrast to the elegance and RKO Hollywood inspired sophistication of Busch's high drag, the Ludlam school camps in earthier gothic tones that relish what some may deem as grotesque. Since the master of the ridiculous passed on in 1987, his esteemed artistic partner Everett Quinton, the long-time second banana of the duo, has been stepping into the spotlight on occasion, demonstrating his beloved expertise in a theatrical form that desperately needs preservation.

 

Click here for my full review of Drop Dead Perfect.

 

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Posted on: Saturday, August 09, 2014 @ 12:40 PM Posted by: Michael Dale


Let The Jukebox Do The Talking

 

Not since a helpful character named Rhonda suddenly popped up in the Beach Boys jukebox musical Good Vibrations has there been such a groan-worthy song cue as the one in Piece of My Heart, where a conveniently named temptress name Candace becomes the target of affection for the guy who wrote "I Want Candy."

 

Click here for my full review of Piece of My Heart.

 

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Posted on: Saturday, August 09, 2014 @ 12:40 PM Posted by: Michael Dale


Never Say No?

 

So apparently there was front row breast feeding at tonight's performance of The Fantasticks.

 

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Posted on: Sunday, July 20, 2014 @ 11:34 PM 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.