BROADWAY REVIEWS

BROADWAY REVIEW: Anastasia

January 1, 1970: The amnesiac title character of “Anastasia,” who may or may not be the long-lost daughter of the last Russian czar, isn’t alone in suffering a serious identity crisis. The postcard-scenic show that bears her name, which opened on Monday night at the Broadhurst Theater, has its own troubling case of multiple personality disorder.

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BROADWAY REVIEW: The Band’s Visit

January 1, 1970: Breaking news for Broadway theatergoers, even — or perhaps especially — those who thought they were past the age of infatuation: It is time to fall in love again. One of the most ravishing musicals you will ever be seduced by opened on Thursday night at the Barrymore Theater. It is called “The Band’s Visit,” and its undeniable allure is not of the hard-charging, brightly blaring sort common to box-office extravaganzas.

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BROADWAY REVIEW: My Fair Lady

January 1, 1970: Poor Eliza. It’s not enough that her own father sells her for five pounds to the bully phonetician Henry Higgins. Or that Higgins strips her of her ragged clothes and Cockney accent so she can become a refined if useless lady. No, the former flower girl is also a failure of feminism, if recent criticism is to be believed. Don’t believe it. The plush and thrilling Lincoln Center Theater revival of Lerner and Loewe’s “My Fair Lady” that opened on Thursday at the Vivian Beaumont Theater reveals Eliza Doolittle as a hero instead of a puppet — and reveals the musical, despite its provenance and male authorship, as an ur-text of the #MeToo moment. Indeed, that moment has made “My Fair Lady,” which had its Broadway premiere in 1956, better than it ever was.

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BROADWAY REVIEW: Escape to Margaritaville

January 1, 1970:

If ever there were a time to be drunk in the theater, this is it.

And the good news is that “Escape to Margaritaville,” the Jimmy Buffett jukebox musical that opened on Thursday, makes getting sloshed on Broadway easier than ever. The lobby at the Marquis Theater has been kitted out as an island-style thatched-hut alcohol fueling station, complete with margaritas for $12 (on the rocks) or $16 (frozen), as well as bottle openers, koozies and other drink-oriented paraphernalia.

The bad news is that you still have to see the show.

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BROADWAY REVIEW: Frozen

January 1, 1970:

Forget girl power, sisterly love and the high-belt clarion call of “Let It Go.” Anxiety over the handling of a precious gift is the theme that comes through loudest in “Frozen,” the sometimes rousing, often dull, alternately dopey and anguished Disney musical that opened on Broadway on Thursday.

The precious gift is not, I hasten to add, the freeze-ray of Queen Elsa, which threatens her kingdom without any corresponding benefits. (Couldn’t they at least hook her up to a gelato machine?) Nor is it the warmheartedness of her sister, Anna, which puts her at constant risk of unelective cryogenesis.

No, the precious gift causing so much anxiety at the St. James Theater is the 2013 blockbuster film from which the stage musical has been adapted. After all, $1.3 billion in box office is a lot of ice.

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BROADWAY REVIEW: Mean Girls

January 1, 1970:

Let me say up front that if I were asked to choose among the healthy lineup of girl-power musicals now exercising their lungs on Broadway, you would have to count me on Team Regina. That’s a reference to the alpha leader of the nasty title characters of “Mean Girls,” the likable but seriously over-padded new show that opened at the August Wilson Theater on Sunday night.

I hasten to add that I am in no way endorsing the crushing elitist behavior of Regina George, a teen clique queen embodied here with red- (or rather pink-) hot coolness by Taylor Louderman. I was once a public high school student myself, and writhed painfully beneath the long, glossy talons of many a Regina.

But the jokes, poses and put-downs that Regina delivers and inspires in others in this musical, adapted from the 2004 film, are a lot more entertaining than the more earnestly aspirational doings of the heroines of “Frozen,” “Anastasia” and, their deathless sorority founder, “Wicked.”That’s because Regina and her frenemies converse in dialogue by the peerless comic writer Tina Fey.

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BROADWAY REVIEW: Carousel

January 1, 1970:

Blame it on God, or the fates, or — to use the metaphor of choice here — the stars.

But when Billy meets Julie in the heartfelt, half-terrific revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Carousel” which opened on Thursday night at the Imperial Theater, you can tell they’ve been felled by a force beyond their comprehension or control.

Look at the dazed, questioning expressions on the faces of Billy Bigelow (Joshua Henry), the restless carnival barker, and Julie Jordan (Jessie Mueller), the homebody mill worker, as they sing that greatest of all ballads of romantic ambivalence, “If I Loved You.” They’re scared, all right, him especially.

You sense that if they do get together — and though they’ve just met, it’s already a done deal — it’s going to end in tears, and they know it. But to borrow a lyric from a later song in this ravishingly scored musical from 1945, “What’s the use of wond’rin’?” Erotic attraction, as cruel as it is transporting, is not to be denied.

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