Category: Broadway reviews


Ghost The Musical: Five-Star Otherworldly Entertainment

May 6th, 2012 — 2:33pm

There are some nights that remind me how lucky I am to live in a vibrant, exciting city like New York. Friday was one of them.

It began with dinner at with my longtime galpal Sara and her friend Emily. A fixture for nearly 50 years, Victor’s serves up delicious Cuban fare complimented by swift, attentive service and live music. We shared Bartolito to start — sweet plantain filled with roast Berkshire pork, olives, and raisins over black bean sauce and goat cheese – and then all enjoyed ropa vieja. Yum.

Otherworldly Chemistry: Cassie Levy and Richard Fleeshman in GHOST The Musical (Photo: The Hartman Group, Joan Marcus)

After our delightful meal, we walked over to Times Square and the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre to see Ghost The Musical. The classic 1990 movie about a banker who’s killed but stays behind to take care of some unfinished business translates well to the stage, thanks to charismatic leads, beyond thrilling special effects and a book written by Bruce Joel Rubin, who won an Oscar for his original screenplay. Having seen the movie multiple times, it was great fun seeing classic scenes – including, yes, the pottery wheel moment — brought to life once again.

Richard Fleeshman (Sam) and Caissie Levy (Molly) bring their own distinctive charms to the roles so  famously inhabited on screen by Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore. Having originated the roles in London’s West End, they have a sweet, believable chemistry together and powerful, dazzling singing voices. Tony Award nominee Da’Vine Joy Randolph is a scream as Oda Mae Brown and Bryce Pinkham rounds out the ensemble well as duplicitous Carl.

Ghost’s score, written by The Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard, is pitch-perfect pop and I loved how the ubiquitous “Unchained Melody” is woven through the show. The special effects are amazing – huge digital projections capture everything from larger than life silhouettes of the cast to NYC subways and neighborhoods racing by, and bring an epic feel to the afterlife transitions that are so much a part of Ghost. One of my favorite musicals this year, for sure, and definitely worth seeing.

The show ended just in time for me to walk across to the Marriott Marquis, where a huge crowd had lined up to see Ricky Martin after performing in Evita. Within a few minutes of nabbing a spot, I caught a brief glimpse of Ricky, looking adorable in a black Members-only style jacket, sign a few autographs and wave before getting into his SUV.

Sigh. A truly perfect night in NYC!

| Broadway reviews, celeb sightings, Girls Night Out, Ricky Martin, Times Square

Venus In Fur: A Sexy & Smart Good Time

March 27th, 2012 — 2:31pm

I recently accepted a bloggers night invitation to check out the new Broadway play, Venus In Fur. Between flirty cast photos and all of the online buzz about it, I was curious to find out if the show is deserving of its rave reviews. In a word – absolutely.

Nina Arianda sizzles as Vonda in Venus In Fur

Venus In Fur is David Ives’ incisive, thought provoking exploration of sexual politics played out during an audition for the titular show within a show. As soon as Nina Arianda bursts onto the stage as Vonda — frazzled, late and fearful she’s missed her big chance – Venus In Fur grabs your attention.  Mark Alhadeff, understudy for Hugh Dancy, matches Arianda’s energetic presence with his portrayal of Thomas, the playwright who reluctantly agrees to run lines with Vonda after hours.

From the moment they start rehearsing together, it becomes clear something more than just a casting call is taking place.  Vonda questions Thomas’ subversive take on a centuries-old tale about a pair of lovers engaged in a complicated power struggle. The lines between fiction and reality are quickly blurred as they find themselves playing out that same storyline with each other.

For a two-person show with no intermission or set changes, Venus In Fur races by, moved swiftly along by the mounting sexual and psychological tension. Arianda and Alhadeff move seamlessly between the lines they’re rehearsing and articulating how their characters are responding to what’s on the page. Arianda inhabits Vonda with the ease you’d expect from having played her Off Broadway too.

Bottom line — Venus In Fur is a smart, funny and thoroughly entertaining night out. For more info and tickets, visit the show’s website.

| Broadway reviews

Girls Night Out & The Return of EVITA

March 15th, 2012 — 1:53pm

Monday, I enjoyed a supersized girls night out celebrating Ricky Martin’s return to Broadway in Evita.

Pre-show fun: Jenn and me at Havana Central

The fun began at Havana Central in Times Square, where I savored a delicious dinner (arroz con pollo, churros for dessert) with about 25 fellow Ricky fans. I caught up with old friends Jenn, Donna and Sheila – my traveling companions to Puerto Rico last year – and made a few new ones too. Having exchanged tweets for months, BrainyPintsizer and I enjoyed meeting for the first time and discovering we work within walking distance of each other. Two words: lunch date.

Speaking of dates, I filled Jenn in about my favorite Nominate A Date bachelor and his earlier text about me being in countdown mode for Evita. After a two year wait since the Broadway revival was first announced, we were all beyond excited it was finally here. And we weren’t the only ones – we caught a glimpse of Ricky’s adorable longtime boyfriend, Carlos Gonzalez in the audience.

Take A Bow: Ricky Martin & Elena Roger received a standing ovation for their amazing performances

Ricky and co. did not disappoint. As Director Michael Grandage promised during a Q&A last month, this version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s celebrated musical is infused with Latin flair. The orchestrations, choreography and sets – a number at a Buenos Aires bar took me right back to my experience of this magical city – feel as authentic as they are vibrant.

In his role as Che, Ricky proved why he’s such a dazzling entertainer, lighting up the stage with his energetic dancing and singing and swoon-inducing charisma. Argentina-born Elena Roger – who played Eva in the 2006 London revival – brings spunk and humanity to her portrayal of Argentina’s controversial first lady. She completely nails “Don’t Cry For Me” in the climactic balcony scene, rendered with the exquisite majesty and power associated with Evita’s most famous moment. Michael Cerveris (Peron) and the rest of the talented ensemble cast deliver knockout performances too.

Evita is a five-star production worthy of this show’s long and storied history. I can’t wait to see it again next month and, of course, enjoy another Ricky-themed girls night out!

| Broadway reviews, Girls Night Out, Ricky Martin, Times Square

That Championship Season: Starry But Uneven

March 24th, 2011 — 6:25am

Tuesday night, my friend Sara and I headed down to the Theater District to see That Championship Season.

The cast of That Championship Season (photo courtesy: Stage-rush.com)

The revival of Jason Miller’s Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning drama features a blockbuster cast — Brian Cox, Jim Gaffigan, Chris Noth (a.k.a Mr. Big), Jason Patric (son of playwright Miller) and Kiefer Sutherland.

Cox leads the ensemble as coach and host of an annual gathering celebrating the group’s high school football championship years ago. After a somewhat slow first act, the drama kicks into high gear as long-buried secrets and resentments are revealed. Patric shines as a drunk who doesn’t hold anything back and Noth fully inhabits the part of cocky womanizer, but venerable Cox is the show’s true star — especially during a lengthy monologue toward the end. Still, much of the 1972-born story feels dated, especially in the characters’ anti-Semitic, racist barbs.

After the show, I joined dozens of other theatergoers to catch a glimpse of the stars, most of whom were gracious about signing autographs and posing for pictures.

Jason Patric and me after the show

Noth, in keeping with what I’ve observed of him on many other occasions, said he had no time to pose and raced through the crowd like he wanted to be somewhere else.

Chris Noth couldn’t wait to wave goodbye

He’s as handsome as ever in person, but as far this fan is concerned, he could use a little more of his Sex And The City altar ego’s charm.

| Broadway reviews, Chris Noth, Sex and The City

Memphis: A Rockin’ Good Time

May 25th, 2010 — 12:49pm

Last week, Chris and I went to see “Memphis.” Nominated for eight Tony Awards, the smash hit musical delivers a rollicking good time from start to finish.

Love and Rock N Roll: Montego Glover (Felicia) and Chad Kimball (Huey) light up the stage in “Memphis”

An interracial love story set in the underground dance clubs of the 1950s, “Memphis” is about a white radio DJ and black singer poised for her big break. Chad Kimball effortlessly combines charisma and heartfelt emotion as DJ Huey Calhoun, while Montego Glover dazzles as his muse Felicia Farrell.

As conflicting ambitions and racial tensions conspire to drive Huey and Felicia apart, “Memphis” takes you into the heart of life in the 50’s — with electrifying music every step of the way. The score, written by Bon Jovi keyboard player David Bryan, is rock and roll at its best. “Memphis” is a destination you shouldn’t miss.

“Memphis” is playing at Broadway’s Shubert Theater. Click here for ticket info.

Coming up…a big girls night out for “Sex And The City 2” and a site that helps you look fabulous online.

| Broadway reviews, Memphis the musical, Tony nominees

God Of Carnage: Sinfully Entertaining

January 10th, 2010 — 9:17pm

Yesterday, I went to see “God of Carnage.” The play recently got a brand-new cast — all of whom shine in Yasmina Reza’s sharp Tony Award-winning tale.

Comedy of (Bad) Manners: From left, Jimmy Smits, Annie Potts, Christine Lahti and Ken Stott face off in “God of Carnage.” (photo courtesy: Sara Krulwich/The New York Times)

Two couples meet after the son of one duo (Jimmy Smits and Annie Potts) breaks the teeth of the son of another (Ken Stott and Christine Lahti). At first, the four engage in polite conversation. But, as the drinks begin to flow, diplomatic niceties give way to explosive tension — with hilarious results.

Potts is pitch perfect as the uptight wife who eventually lets it rip, while Smits exudes effortless charm as her amused, cell phone-obsessed husband. Lahti holds her own as a self-righteous do gooder, especially when she has it out on stage with Stott. Stott, who also appeared in the show’s London production, is absolutely brilliant as a self-made man who tries to be the voice of reason.

“God of Carnage” is 90 minutes of smart, funny entertainment. And now through February 28th, you can get discounted tickets at BroadwayOffers.com. Use code GCDM121.

| Annie Potts, Broadway reviews, Christine Lahti, God of Carnage, Jimmy Smits, Ken Stott, Tony Award winner

God Of Carnage: Sinfully Entertaining

January 10th, 2010 — 4:17pm

Yesterday, I went to see “God of Carnage.” The play recently got a brand-new cast — all of whom shine in Yasmina Reza’s sharp Tony Award-winning tale.

Comedy of (Bad) Manners: From left, Jimmy Smits, Annie Potts, Christine Lahti and Ken Stott face off in “God of Carnage.” (photo courtesy: Sara Krulwich/The New York Times)

Two couples meet after the son of one duo (Jimmy Smits and Annie Potts) breaks the teeth of the son of another (Ken Stott and Christine Lahti). At first, the four engage in polite conversation. But, as the drinks begin to flow, diplomatic niceties give way to explosive tension — with hilarious results.

Potts is pitch perfect as the uptight wife who eventually lets it rip, while Smits exudes effortless charm as her amused, cell phone-obsessed husband. Lahti holds her own as a self-righteous do gooder, especially when she has it out on stage with Stott. Stott, who also appeared in the show’s London production, is absolutely brilliant as a self-made man who tries to be the voice of reason.

“God of Carnage” is 90 minutes of smart, funny entertainment. And now through February 28th, you can get discounted tickets at BroadwayOffers.com. Use code GCDM121.

| Annie Potts, Broadway reviews, Christine Lahti, God of Carnage, Jimmy Smits, Ken Stott, Tony Award winner

Superior Donuts: A Sheer Delight

November 19th, 2009 — 6:28pm

Tuesday night, I went to see “Superior Donuts.” Written by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning playwright Tracy Letts, the show is a deliciously worthy follow up to his debut hit “August: Osage County.”

A Broadway Treat: Michael McKean (Arthur) and Jon Michael Hill (Franco) in “Superior Donuts”

The show starts off with a bang, after a break-in at the titular Chicago donut shop run by aging hippie Arthur Przybyszewski (Michael McKean). Divorced and alone, Arthur is resigned to maintaining his quiet existence at the family-run shop – until young dreamer Franco Wicks (Jon Michael Hill) shows up looking for a job and the opportunity to breathe new life into Superior Donuts. When an unexpected tragedy befalls Franco, Arthur is forced to decide whether he’s going to continue playing it safe.

As he did so effectively in “August…,” Letts tells a story that is equal parts poignant and funny, with crisp dialogue and believable, flawed characters. McKean is touching as hopeless Arthur P, but it is Hall who steals the show as smart, tough talking Franco. The supporting cast is equally superb, especially Yasen Peyankov (Max Tarasov) as a fiery Russian neighbor trying to make Arthur an offer he can’t refuse.

“Superior Donuts” is first-class entertainment, with a story that delivers big laughs and lump-in-your-throat emotion. Don’t miss it.

The show continues its run at Broadway’s Music Box Theater. For tickets, click here.

| August: Osage County, Broadway reviews, Jon Michael Hill, Michael McKean, Superior Donuts

Superior Donuts: A Sheer Delight

November 19th, 2009 — 1:28pm

Tuesday night, I went to see “Superior Donuts.” Written by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning playwright Tracy Letts, the show is a deliciously worthy follow up to his debut hit “August: Osage County.”

A Broadway Treat: Michael McKean (Arthur) and Jon Michael Hill (Franco) in “Superior Donuts”

The show starts off with a bang, after a break-in at the titular Chicago donut shop run by aging hippie Arthur Przybyszewski (Michael McKean). Divorced and alone, Arthur is resigned to maintaining his quiet existence at the family-run shop – until young dreamer Franco Wicks (Jon Michael Hill) shows up looking for a job and the opportunity to breathe new life into Superior Donuts. When an unexpected tragedy befalls Franco, Arthur is forced to decide whether he’s going to continue playing it safe.

As he did so effectively in “August…,” Letts tells a story that is equal parts poignant and funny, with crisp dialogue and believable, flawed characters. McKean is touching as hopeless Arthur P, but it is Hall who steals the show as smart, tough talking Franco. The supporting cast is equally superb, especially Yasen Peyankov (Max Tarasov) as a fiery Russian neighbor trying to make Arthur an offer he can’t refuse.

“Superior Donuts” is first-class entertainment, with a story that delivers big laughs and lump-in-your-throat emotion. Don’t miss it.

The show continues its run at Broadway’s Music Box Theater. For tickets, click here.

| August: Osage County, Broadway reviews, Jon Michael Hill, Michael McKean, Superior Donuts

At Last: Avenue Q

September 7th, 2009 — 11:14pm


Last weekend, I went to see Avenue Q. The hilarous Tony Award-winning musical was more than worth the long wait it took for me to see it.

Four years ago, a nasty bout of food poisoning — picked up at (no joke) a restaurant called Good Enough To Eat — forced me to miss out on the performance I had tickets for. I couldn’t help wondering, would Avenue Q live up to all the hype?

In a word, absolutely.

Inspired by the set and characters of Sesame Street, Avenue Q is a wickedly funny, raunchy tale about the colorful human and puppet residents of an NYC tenement. The show tackles — among other topics — sex, racism and homosexuality with wit and bracing honesty.

The show’s story centers around idealistic college grad Princeton (Robert McClure), his search for a job and a purpose, and his romance with Kate Monster (Anika Larsen). When things don’t go turn out as he plans, Princeton learns some hard lessons about life and love.

Avenue Q manages to strike the perfect balance between politically incorrect snark and sentimentality. The ensemble cast does a heroic job of breathing life into their puppet counterparts, leaving you laughing uproariously along the way.

Broadway will lose a major source of fun when Avenue Q goes dark for good this month. After more than 2,500 performances, the long-running show will wrap up its six-year run on September 13th.

| Anika Larsen, Avenue Q, Broadway reviews, Good Enough To Eat, Robert McClure, Sesame Street, Tony Award winner

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