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OTHER REVIEW: Moulin Rouge!

August 6, 2018: BOSTON — The jukebox has exploded. Its pieces zoom through the air like candy-colored shrapnel, whizzing by before the memory can tag them and making the blandly familiar sound enticingly exotic. I’m talking about the recycled pop hits, mostly of a romantic stripe, that make up the seemingly infinite song list of “Moulin Rouge! The Musical,” at the Emerson Colonial Theater here. By the end of this smart, shameless and extravagantly entertaining production, adapted from Baz Luhrmann’s 2001 movie, you’ll think you’ve heard fragments of every Top 40 song of lust and longing that has been whispered, screamed or crooned into your ear during the past several decades. You may even believe that once upon a time you loved them all. Part of the genius of Mr. Luhrmann’s original version — which starred Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor as doomed lovers in a Bohemian, fin-de-siècle Paris — was that it put mainstream, latter-day radio songs into the context of a verismo costume opera like “La Traviata.” Not for nothing was Elton’s John’s “Your Song” the ballad most memorably shared by the film’s leading lovers.

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BROADWAY REVIEW: Head Over Heels

July 26, 2018: You would think that a sexually polymorphous musical that combines a Renaissance pastoral romance with the songs of the 1980s California rock group the Go-Go’s would at the very least be a hoot, a show that could get sloppy drunk on its own outrageousness. Yet “Head Over Heels,” which opened on Thursday night at the Hudson Theater, feels as timid and awkward as the new kid on the first day of school. Make that the new kid who longs to run with the wild crowd but can’t quite commit to being as bad as coolness demands. Directed by Michael Mayer, who has been more than competent at the helm of Broadway rock musicals like “American Idiot” and “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” “Head Over Heels” lacks the courage of its contradictions. It mutters deferentially when what you want is a rebel yell.

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BROADWAY REVIEW: Straight White Men (2018)

July 23, 2018: You’ll have plenty to talk about after seeing “Straight White Men,” the smart and thorny Broadway anomaly that opened at the Helen Hayes Theater on Monday. But don’t plan on talking much beforehand. That’s because the preshow music is deliberately deafening. In the script, the playwright Young Jean Lee specifies “loud hip-hop with sexually explicit lyrics by female rappers.” Worth noting is the slight change from the play’s debut at the Public Theater in 2014, when the lyrics she specified were all that plus “nasty.” Nastiness of any sort is not part of this Broadway outing, a Second Stage production directed by Anna D. Shapiro. The confrontational tone of the opening, as of the rest of the play, has been softened significantly. As soon as the lights dim, two charming “persons in charge” — Kate Bornstein, a gender theorist who defines herself as nonbinary, and Ty Defoe, a two-spirit member of the Oneida and Ojibwe nations — take the stage to apologize for any discomfort the music might have caused.

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BROADWAY REVIEW: The Boys in the Band (2018)

May 31, 2018:

Holy social anthropology! What is this strange and barbaric tribal ceremony that our unsuspecting traveler has stumbled upon? Men are actually dancing with — gasp — other men, in a wrist-flicking, hip-wriggling, keister-twitching chorus line.

Perhaps they’re enacting some unspeakable mating ritual, the kind an adventurous American couple of the mid-1960s might have seen (and recoiled from) while watching a lurid documentary like “Mondo Cane.” But this is definitely not the sort of activity Joe Average expects to encounter in the apartment of his best friend from college.

That, more or less, is the point of view of a lone, presumably heterosexual man when he arrives as an uninvited guest at the all-gay party of hedonism and hatred that is Mart Crowley’s epochal 1968 drama “The Boys in the Band,” which opened on Thursday night in a starry but disconnected revival at the Booth Theater. And theatergoers, too, may feel an awakening shock at this moment.

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OFF-BROADWAY REVIEW: Long Day’s Journey Into Night

May 13, 2018: And they’re off! It’s an exciting day in this sleepy Connecticut harbor town, folks, as the fighting Tyrones bolt from the starting line as if there were a pack of demons at their backs. That’s because there is a pack of demons at their backs. I did say their name is Tyrone, right? Which means the odds of this hard-working home team outstripping their nasty pursuers are, exactly, nil. That doesn’t keep the scrappy marathoners from acting as fast as they can.

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