BROADWAY REVIEWS

BROADWAY REVIEW: Farinelli and the King

December 17, 2017:

His Majesty is not himself today. His most unserene highness, the King of Spain, does not know who or what he is, except that he’s not where he belongs. Approach him with caution: He bites. And allow me, if you will, to advise you never to take your eyes off him.

Not that you’ll want to.

As was observed of another stark raving royal (named Hamlet), “Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.” This is especially true when a great one is portrayed by one of the greatest actors on the planet.

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BROADWAY REVIEW: Farinelli and the King

December 17, 2017:

His Majesty is not himself today. His most unserene highness, the King of Spain, does not know who or what he is, except that he’s not where he belongs. Approach him with caution: He bites. And allow me, if you will, to advise you never to take your eyes off him.

Not that you’ll want to.

As was observed of another stark raving royal (named Hamlet), “Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.” This is especially true when a great one is portrayed by one of the greatest actors on the planet.

Uncork the Champagne and unfurl the straitjacket. Mark Rylance is once again ruling audiences at the Belasco Theater, where the strangely enchanting “Farinelli and the King,” Claire van Kampen’s shimmering fairy tale for grown-ups, opened on Sunday night.

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BROADWAY REVIEW: The Children

December 12, 2017:

First the earthquake. Then the tsunami. Then the nuclear reactor shuts down when the tidal wave reaches its seaside dome. But not to worry. That’s why they have emergency generators.

In the basement.

Putting emergency generators where floodwaters can quickly render them useless sounds like a design mistake only a polemical (or satirical) playwright would invent. But part of the horror of “The Children,” which opened on Tuesday at the Samuel J. Friedman Theater, is that the author, Lucy Kirkwood, did not dream up that part of the plot. Pretty much the same chain of events caused the 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan.

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BROADWAY REVIEW: SpongeBob SquarePants

December 4, 2017:

For what it’s worth — and we’re talking millions of dollars here — you are never going to see as convincing an impersonation of a two-dimensional cartoon by a three-dimensional human as that provided by Ethan Slater at the Palace Theater. Mr. Slater plays the title role in “SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical,” the ginormous giggle of a show that opened on Monday night.

This may sound like dubious praise. But think about it. How many of those legions of figures who gambol through stage adaptations of animated movies — teapots, lions, fake Russian princesses, ad infinitum — seem to have been transliterated from the screen without any dilution of their inked-in essence?

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BROADWAY REVIEW: Once On This Island

December 3, 2017:

I wasn’t expecting the goat in diapers.

Nor did I arrive at Circle in the Square the other night anticipating the panorama of village folk barbecuing on the beach, fishing in the lagoon and going about their daily business in a joyful preshow panorama on the theater’s lozenge-shaped stage.

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BROADWAY REVIEW: The Parisian Woman

November 30, 2017: Difficult as it may be, let us put Uma Thurman aside for a moment, though she is obviously the main reason that “The Parisian Woman” opened on Thursday at the Hudson Theater on Broadway. Instead, let’s begin with Derek McLane’s sumptuous set: the sitting room of a Capitol Hill townhouse with a sofa as long as a limo and breathtakingly tasteful Air Force blue walls. It’s the kind of place you’d move into instantly, if you wanted to live in a play. But I’m afraid you’d get bored in this one.

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BROADWAY REVIEW: Latin History For Morons

November 15, 2017:

Like the best mimics, John Leguizamo administers large but precisely calibrated doses of exaggeration to make his impersonations pop. In “Latin History for Morons,” a panoptic survey of two millenniums of oppression in the Americas, he tosses off dozens of quick character sketches that feel exactly as true as they are likely inaccurate.

I rather doubt, for instance, that his prissy, nail-filing Moctezuma has any basis in fact. But who cares whether the Aztec emperor really lisped at Cortés, “You leave me no choice ’cause you’re so butch”? What matters is that the laughs are real, in this case suggesting familiarity with the accommodations that proud people make to an overwhelming force.

And so it is with almost every character brought to life in Mr. Leguizamo’s long and often hilarious parade of injustice, stretching from Peru under the Inca to Texas under Trump. At their best, his jokes get at something deep, whether he is serving up a Rat Pack Christopher Columbus, a French poodle de Tocqueville, a sassy, cross-dressing Cuban-American Civil War soldier or a deaf uncle with an idiosyncratic way of signing.

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BROADWAY REVIEW: M. Butterfly

October 26, 2017: Maybe they should call it “M. Moth.” Though it bent (and blew) the minds of rapt audiences with its elusive opalescence nearly three decades ago, David Henry Hwang’s “M. Butterfly” returns to Broadway on heavier, drabber wings. True, the revival that opened on Thursday night at the Cort Theater, directed by Julie Taymor, has basically the same anatomy as its predecessor.

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BROADWAY REVIEW: The Play That Goes Wrong

April 2, 2017: When your world — or, as it often seems these days, the world — is falling apart, there’s perverse comfort in watching things go smash in a safe, contained environment. (And no, the White House doesn’t qualify.) Such is the brutal allure of monster truck jams, videos of toddlers falling off trikes and steel-cage wrestling matches.

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BROADWAY REVIEW: Come From Away

March 12, 2017: Try, if you must, to resist the gale of good will that blows out of “Come From Away,” the big bearhug of a musical that opened on Sunday night at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theater. But even the most stalwart cynics may have trouble staying dry-eyed during this portrait of heroic hospitality under extraordinary pressure.

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