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Review Roundup: MCC's ALL THE NATALIE PORTMANS - What Did the Critics Think?

Review Roundup: MCC's ALL THE NATALIE PORTMANS - What Did the Critics Think?

All The Natalie Portmans officially opened at the Susan & Ronald Frankel Theater at The Robert W. Wilson MCC Theater Space on Monday, February 24th. Tickets are available at www.mcctheater.org.

The cast of All the Natalie Portmans features Joshua Boone (Network-Broadway), Montego Glover (Tony Award nominee, Drama Desk winner Memphis, Hamilton), Elise Kibler (Mies Julie, Indian Summer), Raphael Peacock (OJ/Othello), Renika Williams (The Climb), and Kara Young (Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven).

All The Natalie Portmans is a fantastical new coming of age comedy. Sixteen-year-old Keyonna and her older brother Samuel live on the brink of eviction while dreaming of a better tomorrow. Too smart, "too gay" and too lonely to fit in, Keyonna escapes into a world of rom coms, red carpets and all the iconic characters played by her muse, Natalie Portman. But when "all the Natalie Portmans" start talking back to her, Keyonna finally has to face her off-screen drama in this imaginative new play that reminds us to embrace life on the ground while still reaching for the stars.

Let's see what the critics are saying...


Tim Teeman, The Daily Beast: C.A. Johnson's play (which opens Monday night at MCC's lovely 52nd Street space, to March 29) is small in scale, with profound reverberations. Tense and witty, and mostly set in a small family apartment, it introduces us first to 16-year-old black teenager Keyonna (Kara Young) and her older brother Samuel (Joshua Boone). They are each other's best friends and best protectors. They have to be. Their mother, Ovetta (Montego Glover), is mostly absent and unreliable. Chantel (Renika Williams), Samuel's girlfriend, has her own secret.

Melissa Rose Bernardo, Time Out New York: One mystery remains at the end of the play. Why Natalie Portman? Sure, she makes a beautifully bonkers ballerina. (Never mind that BLACK SWAN was released in 2010 and this show is set in 2009.) Or perhaps it's the Star Wars legacy: As silver-screen role models go, you can't do much better than a badass queen turned senator. And All the Natalie Portmans is certainly a very catchy title. If only the play itself seemed more than a collection of Hollywood clippings.

Robert Hofler, The Wrap: Kate Whoriskey directs this talented cast, but hasn't found a way to incorporate the Portman fantasies into the narrative. It's theatrical and often funny whenever Kibler shows up in another iconic movie get-up (costumes by Jennifer Moeller), but after the initial surprise, Johnson's writing here isn't extravagant enough to make Keyonna's dreams come alive on stage. Natalie Portman, whatever her outfit, tends to distract from rather than enhance this broken kitchen-sink drama.

Elysa Gardner, New York Stage Review: Still, it's the vivacious Young-who shone as another precocious, underprivileged teen in last year's LAByrinth Theater Company/Atlantic Theater Company staging of Stephen Adly Guirgis's Halfway Bitches Go to Heaven-who gives this production of All the Natalie Portmans its yearning soul. Even when her Keyonna is sulking, or seems out of options, you never count her out. If Johnson's play is not a perfect showcase for the actress, or the playwright herself, it leaves little doubt of their potential.


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