Showtime! features reviews, commentary and assorted theatrical musings from Michael Dale,'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.

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Dim Sum Burlesque: She Enjoys Being A Girl

While it remains to be seen if future generations will regard New York's fringier art community's revitalization and reinvention of burlesque dancing as Gotham's most significant artistic movement during the first decade of the 21st Century, there's no doubt that the sleaze-less strip tease has become this era's answer to performance art and beat poetry readings.

For the unintroduced, this has little to do with the entertainment offered by a typical gentlemen's club. Think more along the lines of venues that resemble Off-Off Broadway spaces and modest cabaret rooms where creative lasses sporting playful monikers like Anita Cookie and Little Brooklyn entertain both men and women in a cheerfully noisy, upbeat atmosphere. And while I won't pretend that seeing an attractive woman shedding her coverage down to pasties and a g-string isn't part of the draw, the focus of the routines is more on coming up with interesting scenarios, amusing characters and even making political statements.

This week I caught the jubilant fun in the back room of Chow Bar, where, on a tiny makeshift stage crowned by a Chinese dragon head, Calamity Chang hosts Dim Sum Burlesque every Sunday night. Dressed in classic black lace with bright red fringe, Ms. Chang, as her name suggests, brings to mind a saloon dancer who might have migrated from Asia to the American west in the late 1800s. Her bawdy sense of humor is delivered with perky enthusiasm, whether she's teaching an audience volunteer the proper technique for twirling tassels ("The harder you bounce the more they swing."), inviting another customer to nibble on a fortune cookie lodged in her cleavage or just filling time between acts by asking everyone how many times a day they masturbate. But when performing traditional burlesque fan dances to vintage recordings of "Shanghai Lil" and "St. Louis Blues" (both sung in Japanese), Calamity Chang is all willowy elegance as she demurely smiles at her fans, teasing their eyes with brief glimpses of skin beneath feathery veils.

Guest performers vary from week to week, although the first dancer of the evening is traditionally a "sacrificial lamb"; one who has never performed in New York. The lamb of the week this time was "boy-lesque" artist, Stanqi Sex, who, to the music of AC/DC's "Hell's Bells," entered in a floor-length beige dress ordered on line from a polygamy compound in Texas. While the customers could appreciate how stripping down to his red briefs represented a personal liberation from his own overbearingly religious upbringing, their loudest appreciation was for the display of the young man's fine physique.

Liberation from cultural oppression was also the theme for Dame CuchiFrita, who humorously portrayed an opium addicted sex slave (smoking a veeeeeery long pipe), who learns to unbind her feet from their silk ties, gracefully celebrating her freedom while a fan allows her robes to billow in the breeze. Statuesque redhead Miss Ruby Valentine wowed the crowd with her 1950s style fetish act, cracking a whip while showing off her curvy figure in a black corset, high boots and stockings. Vocalist Broadway Brassy was just that, belting out red hot sass with "Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean" and rocking out (with guitarist Michael Webb) to "He's a Magic Man."

In between acts, the evening's "stage kitten," Miss Gemini Rose, helped gather clothing and set up for the next performer, looking very lovely in an outfit I'm sure Actors' Equity would find impractical for their stage managers.

Throughout the month of January, Dim Sum Burlesque is offering a tremendous bargain, waving the $10 cover charge for all performances and eliminating the $25 per person food/drink minimum. (Tips for the performers, not mandatory but certainly appreciated, are collected by passing a hat.) It's a great way to sample the glamour, the playful sexiness and the boisterous fun of burlesque.

Top photo of Calamity Chang by Michael Webb; Bottom photo of Broadway Brassy by Jenny Bai.

Follow Michael Dale on Twitter at michaeldale.

Posted on: Friday, January 22, 2010 @ 04:51 AM Posted by: Michael Dale

Broadway Grosses: Week Ending 1/17 & Theatre Quote of the Week

"Being boring is just the worst sin of all time."

-- Elaine Stritch


The grosses are out for the week ending 1/17/2010 and we've got them all right here in's grosses section.


Down for the week was: THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (-9.0%), MARY POPPINS (-8.8%), MAMMA MIA! (-5.9%), THE LION KING (-5.0%), WICKED (-3.9%), FELA! (-0.9%), BYE BYE BIRDIE (-0.8%), ROCK OF AGES (-0.7%), JERSEY BOYS (-0.5%),

Posted on: Tuesday, January 19, 2010 @ 06:34 PM Posted by: Michael Dale | Leave Feedback

Lear: Child's Play

To introduce a sharp change of style in the middle of Lear, playwright/director Young Jean Lee has an actor step out of character, turn to the audiences and, with a motion to the playing space, utter, "We enjoy watching horrible things. It gives us a feeling of immunity." Moments later, the fellow has made his way into the audience, asking, "Why are you here? Run away and do something better."

Sometimes a playwright just invites a reviewer to be snarky. But since this is my first experience seeing the work of this quick-rising downtowner, I'll just say Lear has not made me a fan.

Before the festivities begin, a voice advises us that we're about to see, "an inaccurate distortion of King Lear," and that, if we're unfamiliar with Shakespeare's text, we should take a look at the plot synopsis inserted into our programs. (I'll just assume that my dear readers are either familiar with the original or have access to Wikipedia.) We then get treated a lovely little dance by Regan (April Matthis), Goneril (Okwui Okpokwasili), Edgar (Paul Lazar) and Edmund (Pete Simpson) with David Evans Morris' eye-dazzling red and gold palace setting and Roxana Ramseur's elaborate costumes appropriately teetering the line between royal elegance and garish self-absorption. Excellent work on both their parts.

After a blackout the play proper begins with an intense Edmund taking what might be a full minute (forever in stage time) to spurt out his feelings about the atrocities they've committed on their fathers. But soon the others convince him there are more interesting topics to discuss. Like who's getting fat. Or who's looking unfeminine. Or what exactly Buddhism is all about.

Speaking with a wthened contemporary vocabulary, the foursome (plus Cordelia when she arrives) bicker, one-up each other and spend an interminable amount of time exposing themselves for the unfeeling hot messes we know they are. Though Goneril defends her good points ("I'm a lavish tipper.") and the sticky sweet Cordelia celebrates her own charms ("I would transform shit into sugar blossom.") Edmund is nevertheless convinced that "Everything sucks!"

Eventually Edgar decides he's a dolphin and starts talking in dolphin language.

(Yes, I know, if Richard Foreman had a character talking in dolphin I probably would have thought it jolly fun. Here it just seems tiresome.)

Then the "horrible things" moment arrives and the author seems to spend the rest of the piece trying to convince us that the preceding hodgepodge had something to say about appreciating your fathers while they're alive. First we witness a reenactment of the famous Sesame Street episode broadcast after the passing of Will Lee, the actor who played Mr. Hooper, where Big Bird learns about death and grieving. (Okay, not his father but certainly a father figure.) Following is a monologue about anticipating the death of an ailing dad, which might have been touching if the play had not worn out its welcome long ago.

Plays like Lear represent a type of theatre I usually try to be supportive of, suggesting my readers let minor flaws go by for the sake of an artist's adventurous spirit and effort to pull off something daring and original. But not this time. While I have no doubts about Ms. Lee's artistic sincerity, the eighty minute piece, though presented with professional flair, offers little more than what has become the conventions of unconventional theatre, lacking thematic foundation to the point where the evening appears more gimmicky than thoughtful.

As Tallulah once quipped, "There's less to this than meets the eye."

Follow Michael Dale on Twitter at michaeldale.

Posted on: Tuesday, January 19, 2010 @ 02:42 AM Posted by: Michael Dale | Leave Feedback

Sexual Healing: My Husband Makes Movies

The study of sexual dysfunction and its treatment through the use of sex surrogates is certainly fertile ground for interesting theatre, but in Sexual Healing, playwright/director Jonathan Leaf never gets a solid grasp on an effective way to tell his story.

Though fictional, the play is highly suggestive of the research and personal lives of Masters and Johnson. Desiree (Judith Hawking) narrates the tale of how in the 1950s she came to work for researcher Bill (Chuck Montgomery), a soft-spoken, fatherly type who likes to reassure nervous patients by telling them that he's a Republican, a churchgoer and a believer in the sanctity of marriage. While most of her workdays are filled with mundane office tasks, she is also responsible for filming hundreds of couples in thousands of movies documenting them having sex.

One couple, played by Peter O'Connor and Sarah Nina Hayon, is having trouble with the husband's recent inability to achieve and maintain an erection. Bill suggests they try fellatio and has a surrogate, a prostitute he's hired for such treatments (Sayra Player), privately demonstrate on the nervous fellow to see if he responds. Another patient (Hugh Sinclair) wishes to be cured of homosexuality. A busty and curvy surrogate (Ren Mathewson) is assigned to his case, so as not to suggest to him the figure of a young boy. She's asked to limit the amount of fellatio she gives him, in the belief that oral sex may remind him of his gay partners, and stick to vaginal. While the sex is kept offstage there is a bit of serious groping and some partial female nudity.

In between filing papers and giving pelvic exams, Desiree manages to fall in love with the married Bill as the play attempts to explore the cost of both their romantic relationship and their growing fame. But the text is merely a narrative, leaving the actors little work with. While the story is never dull, the play is rarely engaging as issues involving love, sex and marriage are brought up, but hardly delved into. The dialogue and acting of some scenes are so clichéd that they come off as the stereotype of bad porn and get some titters that undermine the playwright's effort to treat the subject seriously, leaving Sexual Healing not interesting enough for a drama, not funny enough for a comedy and not hot enough for a guilty pleasure.

Photo of Sayra Player, Peter O'Connor, Judith Hawking and Sarah Nina Hayon by Joshua Freiwald.

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Posted on: Sunday, January 17, 2010 @ 12:55 PM Posted by: Michael Dale | Leave Feedback

Chautauqua!: Teach Me Tonight

Ya gotta admire the tongue-in-cheek bravado of a seven member troupe that calls itself "The National Theater of the United States of America," especially when they come up with a fun, original idea for a show and execute it with an abundance of cleverness. And, despite a stumble here and there, that's pretty much how I'd describe the first three quarters or so of Chautauqua!, their Public Theater entry in this year's Under The Radar Festival. It's that pesky final quarter of the 75 minute piece that had me leaving the theatre with my enthusiasm deflated. But let's focus on the good stuff for now, shall we? There's a quite a bit of it.

Playwrights James Stanley and Normandy Raven Sherwood and director Yehuda Duneyas take their inspiration from the traveling educational entertainments that began in Chautauqua, New York and flourished throughout rural America during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Inquisitive audiences would gather under tents to enjoy lectures, dramatic reenactments and other informative and cultural presentations along with some song and dance, humor, magic, juggling and assorted whatnot added to the mix. In his passionately stilted introductory speech, Dr. Dick Pricey (Stanley) explains that the company's purpose is, "not so much to reenact or memorialize this historic movement as it is to reinvent it." So despite the period costumes (by Sherwood and Jesse Hawley) and the charmingly makeshift settings (credited to the company), Chautauqua! sets out to find a place for such diversion, "in an age that would seem to dictate against education as an enjoyable pastime and would prefer instead the thrills of fancy dancing, fisticuffs, ironic jokes and people strutting about in short pants swearing at each other."

In its finer moments, Chautauqua! admirably draws laughs from its subject without undercutting the creators' admiration for the movement. The fast talking Stanley's lecture on the history of the building we're sitting in and the land on which it is built is delivered with dry efficiency as the speaker plays straight for the comical payoffs from accompanying projected slides. A reenactment of the infamous Alexander Hamilton/Aaron Burr showdown is not only narrated with gusto by Ilan Bachrach but reveals some of the more fascinating details of the tradition of pistol dueling. (Did you know that most duels were intentionally fought with inaccurate guns in order to decrease the probability of someone getting killed? I didn't.) Ean Sheehy makes with the rock star magnetism with his lesson on the history of cartography but musical interludes by an ensemble known as The Drunkard's Wife anchor the production in old-fashioned Americana.

Each performance features a special guest speaker. The night I attended we were treated to author Zoe Rosenfeld's amusing talk on how famous writers and historical figures have described New York and its inhabitants. ("They talk very loud, very fast and all together." -- John Adams)

While a puppet theatre lesson on the relationship between man and animals lack the edge that makes the better segments work, the dimly lit monologue by a Civil War vet in a wheelchair is lifeless.

Loosely connecting the various acts are observations on the deterioration of art and entertainment's relationship with community in favor of generic commercialism. Perhaps the "special guest finale," a medley of songs from musicals that have either premiered at The Public or have been presented elsewhere by The New York Shakespeare Festival (A Chorus Line, Hair, The Pirates of Penzance, The Threepenny Opera among others), is meant to serve as an example. Created by John Carrafa, the far too long sequence features students from Pace University's BFA Musical Theater Program and NYU's CAP21 Conservatory who offer earnest youthful enthusiasm but whose unpolished skills as singers and performers make their purpose in the evening unclear. A dejected Stanley then mourns the loss of culture to common vulgarity, stripping fully naked in the process and explaining how even the title of Chautauqua! is a concession to commercialism.

If the point is to show how the 20th Century saw American popular entertainment go bland, there must be a more desirable way to get the point across rather than sharply changing the tone of what was up to then a very enjoyable piece. After wetting our appetites with a taste of the past, it seemed a bit cruel to bring us back to the present.

Photo of James Stanley by Justin Bernhaut.

Follow Michael Dale on Twitter at michaeldale.


Posted on: Friday, January 15, 2010 @ 11:16 AM Posted by: Michael Dale | Replies: 1 - Click Here

Broadway Grosses: Week Ending 1/10 & Theatre Quote of the Week

"Humor is reason gone mad."
-- Groucho Marx


The grosses are out for the week ending 1/10/2010 and we've got them all right here in's grosses section.


Down for the week was: MARY POPPINS (-25.3%), HAIR (-22.6%), MEMPHIS (-22.3%), CHICAGO (-21.5%), WEST SIDE STORY (-17.7%), SOUTH PACIFIC (-17.1%), THE 39 STEPS (-16.2%), RAGTIME (-13.5%), GOD OF CARNAGE (-13.0%), RACE (-12.6%), THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (-12.4%), MAMMA MIA! (-10.3%), A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE (-8.8%), BILLY ELLIOT: THE MUSICAL (-8.5%), FINIAN'S RAINBOW (-6.8%), IN THE HEIGHTS (-6.6%), ROCK OF AGES (-5.8%), PRESENT LAUGHTER (-4.9%), BYE BYE BIRDIE (-3.4%), THE LION KING (-1.8%), FELA! (-1.6%), A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC (-1.5%), JERSEY BOYS (-1.2%), BURN THE FLOOR (-0.7%),

Posted on: Monday, January 11, 2010 @ 03:24 PM Posted by: Michael Dale | Leave Feedback

Broadway Grosses: Week Ending 1/3 & Theatre Quote of the Week

"No man is worth letting one tear fall;
No man is worth all the Seconal."
-- Alan Jay Lerner, Dance a Little Closer

The grosses are out for the week ending 1/3/2010 and we've got them all right here in's grosses section.


Down for the week was: IN THE HEIGHTS (-4.8%), PRESENT LAUGHTER (-3.7%), MAMMA MIA! (-1.6%), BILLY ELLIOT: THE MUSICAL (-0.1%),

Posted on: Monday, January 04, 2010 @ 05:36 PM Posted by: Michael Dale | Leave Feedback

Bye Bye Altar Boyz & Evergreen

Sadly, but inevitably, the optimism brought on by the welcoming of a new year is usually accompanied by the disappointment that comes with the closing of theatre productions that just don't seem capable of making it through the traditional post-holiday slump. Aside from the expected finales of limited runs, Broadway says goodbye to Ragtime, Finian's Rainbow, Shrek, Superior Donuts and The 39 Steps this month. (Although no official announcement has been made yet, word is out that the latter may very well be following Avenue Q's lead and make the move to Off-Broadway.)

Several Off-Broadway productions also take their final bow in January, most significantly Altar Boyz, which takes its heavenly rest on the 10th. The first big hit to come out of the New York Musical Theatre Festival, the lightly satirical rock concert with a plot by bookwriter Kevin Del Aguila and composer/lyricists Gary Adler and Michael Patrick Walker has been the anchor production of New World Stages for nearly five years. Its popularity and close proximity to the Theatre District was undoubtedly a huge help in establishing the five-theatre Off-Broadway multiplex on 50th Street as a viable home for smaller commercial productions looking to draw in the Broadway crowd.

I got a chance to catch Altar Boyz one last time just before the holidays and am happy to say the 90-minute romp where sexy, but chaste, young Christian boy band hip-hoppers shake their hot cross buns in tight pants while preaching the dangers of loose morals is in excellent shape. Like their predecessors in the original Off-Broadway cast, director Stafford Arima's current crew, made up of Michael Kadin Craig, Lee Markham, Travis Nesbitt, Mauricio Perez and Ravi Roth, display amazing energy and exuberance in performing Christopher Gattelli's frenetically rapid-fired unison choreography and earnestly emote their devotion while singing the somewhat homoerotic, "(God Put The) Rhythm in Me," the catchy miracle song, "Christ, How'd ja Do That?" and the abstinence love theme, "Girl, You Make Me Wanna Wait."

Though many theatre fans will be making final visits to Ragtime and Finian's Rainbow in the two weeks ahead, Altar Boyz is also worth a fond farewell visit.


The adventurous Prospect Theatre Company has always got something intriguing to offer, especially when their wife and husband team of Producing Artistic Director Cara Reichel and Resident Artist Peter Mills have a new musical in store.

With her directing, him writing the score and the two of them teaming up for the book, Reichel and Mills have come up with literate, tuneful and wondrously diverse pieces such as the F. Scott Fitzgerald-inspired The Pursuit of Persephone, the rock concert Greek drama adaptation, The Rockae and the Depression-era hillbilly tinged Golden Boy
of the Blue Ridge

Their newest outing is a family musical, Evergreen, which just ended it's holiday run at The Marjorie S. Deane Little Theater. This ecology-minded charmer takes place some time in the future in a world that has turned to desert.  Young Maya (Anita Vasan) feels she's grown too old to keep believing her grandmother's (Francesca Choy-Kee) stories of seeing things like "trees" and "snow" in her youth, but, followed by her mischievous brother, Joshi (Whitney Kam Lee), she sets out on a journey to a place where they say evergreens still exist.

While adults played the main roles, an ensemble of children represented the elements of nature the pair encounter, with choreographer Dax Valdes, costume designer David Withrow and scenic designer Erica Beck Hemminger helping to transform the adorable chorus into a sand storm, a raging fire, treacherous waters and other obstacles.

Though the title suggests Christmastime, Evergreen's themes aren't limited by the season, so it would be nice to see this one return any time.

Follow Michael Dale on Twitter at michaeldale.

Posted on: Monday, January 04, 2010 @ 02:29 AM Posted by: Michael Dale | Leave Feedback

Broadway Grosses: Week Ending 12/27 & Theatre Quote of the Week

"The world is full of more interesting things than my voice."
-- Harvey Fierstein


The grosses are out for the week ending 12/27/2009 and we've got them all right here in's grosses section.

Up for the week was: THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (25.2%), WEST SIDE STORY (21.0%), MAMMA MIA! (20.2%), BURN THE FLOOR (20.0%), MARY POPPINS (17.1%), SOUTH PACIFIC (14.5%), IN THE HEIGHTS (14.1%), THE 39 STEPS (11.6%), CHICAGO (11.6%), NEXT TO NORMAL (9.3%), HAIR (9.0%), BYE BYE BIRDIE (8.3%), ROCK OF AGES (7.9%), MEMPHIS (7.5%), GOD OF CARNAGE (7.2%), FELA! (6.1%), BILLY ELLIOT: THE MUSICAL (5.4%), THE LION KING (3.9%), IN THE NEXT ROOM OR THE VIBRATOR PLAY (2.4%), WICKED (1.3%), SHREK THE MUSICAL (0.1%),

Down for the week was: RAGTIME (-12.5%), SUPERIOR DONUTS (-8.7%), RACE (-8.5%), FINIAN'S RAINBOW (-5.7%), WISHFUL DRINKING (-4.4%), IRVING BERLIN'S WHITE CHRISTMAS (-2.1%), A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC (-1.1%), JERSEY BOYS (-0.3%),

Posted on: Monday, December 28, 2009 @ 05:49 PM Posted by: Michael Dale | Leave Feedback

A Little Night Music: It Would Have Been Wonderful

After some of the disappointingly revised and questionably directed musical revivals to hit Gotham in recent seasons it's almost refreshing to say that a new mounting of a classic title, at the very least, didn't do irreparable damage to the brilliant original material. After enduring Trevor Nunn's intimate Oklahoma! and overblown My Fair Lady I naturally had some concerns entering the Walter Kerr for the transfer of his London Menier Chocolate Factory production of A Little Night Music. But by golly, the fellow didn't ruin it.

Oh sure, there are disagreeable elements; the thin orchestra, the uninspired set and costume designs and interpretations of some of the supporting roles, but overall the irresistible beauty of Stephen Sondheim's music matched with the superlative wit of both his lyrics and Hugh Wheeler's highly comedic book are, for the most part, decently served. It's not a glimmering revival of this great reworking of Ingmar Bergman's film Smiles of a Summer Night, but unlike some hideous recent Broadway revivals of other shows, there's no reason to discourage newcomers to the piece from indulging in the sterling musical theatre writing and composition on display.

The main contributor to the minuses is that this is a chamber production created for a 180-seat space that has been plopped into a Broadway theatre holding over five times that number without any evident attempt to expand the proceedings in order to fill out the new surroundings. No, bigger isn't necessarily better but the opulently splendid Kerr overwhelms David Farley's simple set (framed mirrored panels that adapt to different settings; trees added for act two) which, like his standard Edwardian costumes (black for act one, white for act two... why???), lacks the same style and elegance as provided by Sondheim and Wheeler. The visuals are simply too unremarkable for such a seductive musical. Likewise, the entrancing Jonathan Tunick orchestrations are dropped in favor of Jason Carr's arrangements for a less than adequate eight pieces.

Fortunately, actor Alexander Hanson accompanied the design elements in their trip across the Atlantic. He is just superb as turn of the 20th Century Swedish lawyer Fredrik Egerman, who starts pining for his former lover, actress Desiree Armfeldt , after eleven months of chaste marriage to his very young and very hesitant bride, Anne. Mature, elegant and self-effacingly humorous, Hanson delivers verbal comedy with ease and intelligence and sings with spontaneous-sounding phrasing. It's the kind of performance that grounds the evening into its proper tone and makes one anxious for his return whenever he's off stage.

Hanson's scenes with Catherine Zeta-Jones sear with chemistry, as her dryly feminine Desiree plays cat and mouse with her long-lost beau. She too, has a firm grasp of what makes her character funny but offers few hints of the emotions felt by a woman who spends her life on the road, separated from her daughter and whose old feelings are stirred up again while her current affair is with a married man. She sings and acts her second act solo, "Send in the Clowns," very nicely but the emotions of the song don't seem to come from anywhere we've seen from her performance.

The role of Desiree's mother, Madame Armfeldt, is a wonderful gift to older musical theatre actresses in want of another chance to dazzle and Angela Lansbury is just as luminous in the role as you might expect. As the wheelchair bound woman with an exotic past with rich and powerful men and a philosophically poetic view of the world, she mixes a youthful wonder with sage wisdom. Her singing of "Liaisons," a musical reminiscence of glamorous days past, leaves one hanging on every word and a scene where she recalls a man who might have been her grand romance is warm, tender and touching.

There are some talented people with fine singing voices in the supporting cast, but their performances, in varying degrees, appear misguided. The richly-voiced Aaron Lazar, with a menacingly dashing swagger, is a fine fit for Desiree's lover, Carl-Magnus, except that the humor of the role barely surfaces in his straightforward performance. Erin Davie, as his long-suffering wife, Charlotte, pummels her many sardonic observations when a much lighter touch is needed. Ramona Mallory's Anne, is also a bit overdone, defusing the believability of her marriage to Fredrik by playing her with the animation of a young adolescent instead of the graceful appeal of a blossoming woman. Hunter Ryan Herdlicka does well as Fredrik's brooding, sexually repressed son Henrik, though offers no more than the familiar suffering youth routine.

Leigh Ann Larkin seems to have been instructed to play Fredrik's lusty maid Petra quite a bit on the slutty side, best exemplified by the staging of her solo, "The Miller's Son," which starts looking more like "A Call From the Vatican" as she arches her back while aggressively mounting a bench. The actress dives in admirably but the interpretation just doesn't fit the material.

Several of Nunn's staging decisions baffle, such as a silly-looking moment where a dreaming Fredrik kisses the air, imagining Desiree by his side. Or in having the second act's formal dinner served with the company sitting on the ground for a picnic, undercutting the drama when misbehaving disrupts the expected etiquette of the occasion.

But still, there are no absurd revisions, no gross miscasting and no stifling concept to keep this from being an acceptable Broadway revival of A Little Night Music. Unfortunately, acceptable seems to be getting more and more acceptable with each new season.

Photos by Joan Marcus: Top: Angela Lansbury; Bottom: Alexander Hanson, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Aaron Lazar.

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Posted on: Monday, December 28, 2009 @ 03:04 AM Posted by: Michael Dale | Leave Feedback

Children Will Listen, B****

What a wimp that Amy Winehouse is. I'd like to see her try and pull this when Patti LuPone's on stage.

Posted on: Wednesday, December 23, 2009 @ 09:05 PM Posted by: Michael Dale | Leave Feedback

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'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.