HIS LATEST REVIEW

Photo: Manuel Harlan

BROADWAY REVIEW: TINA, The Tina Turner Musical

November 7, 2019: Tina Turner gets the bio-jukebox treatment, with all its lows (emaciated storytelling) and one of its peaks (a star-making performance from Adrienne Warren). It’s a good tale, in theory, cut to the pattern of classic drama. Two elemental forces — hurricane-voiced Anna Mae Bullock and typhoon-tempered Ike Turner — are pitted in a struggle that nearly destroys both. But while Ike, for his sins, winds up a pariah and eventually dies of an overdose, Anna, rechristened Tina by her Svengali-like husband, rises from the depths, to greater glory solo than she ever achieved under his boot. More important, as far as pure entertainment is concerned, this story comes with songs that can thrill an audience when rendered as Turner sang them; at this, the musical “Tina,” directed by Phyllida Lloyd, happily succeeds. In a performance that is part possession, part workout and part wig, Adrienne Warren rocks the rafters and dissolves your doubts about anyone daring to step into the diva’s high heels. But what I’ve just described is a rock concert — which is what “Tina” essentially turns into. It’s a blast if that’s what you came for. If you meant to see a true union of song and story, though, you won’t get it here.

READ THE REVIEWS BUY TICKETS GROUP TICKETS

MOST RECENT REVIEWS

BROADWAY REVIEW: American Utopia

October 20, 2019: Won’t you be his neighbor? David Byrne doesn’t actually make that request in “American Utopia,” his cloud-sweeping upper of a touring show, which opened on Broadway at the Hudson Theater on Sunday. Yet when the silvery, gray-suited pop star poses another musical question — “Will you breathe with me?” — you may find yourself thinking of the theme song of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” I’m not the first person to note similarities between Fred Rogers — the cardigan-wearing children’s television host (and the subject of a new Tom Hanks movie) — and Byrne, the New Wave musician who writhed into the spotlight performing “Psycho Killer” in the 1970s. But as I watched “American Utopia,” the comparison felt especially apt.

READ THE REVIEWS BUY TICKETS GROUP TICKETS

OFF-BROADWAY REVIEW: Little Shop of Horrors

October 17, 2019: A certain carnivorous plant has been repotted in Hell’s Kitchen, and I am delighted to report that it’s thriving there. This hot showbiz shrub of yesteryear, which goes by the name of Audrey II, has found a new dance partner, a performer who can coax the tendril-stretching star quality out of a freakish botanical specimen. That would be Jonathan Groff, who is generating major nerd charisma in Michael Mayer’s delicious revival of “Little Shop of Horrors,” which opened Thursday at the Westside Theater/Upstairs.

READ THE REVIEWS BUY TICKETS GROUP TICKETS

BROADWAY REVIEW: The Sound Inside

October 17, 2019: The urge to move small shows to Broadway should generally be resisted. Whether musicals or plays, most transfers from 199-seat houses feel dinky in palaces accommodating 900, and the frantic efforts made by creative teams to fill the void too often wind up highlighting it instead. There are, of course, exceptions, including “The Band’s Visit,” which won the Tony Award for best musical last year. That show’s director, David Cromer, a minimalist to begin with, didn’t inflate the material for Broadway; he battened it down, as if for a storm. Urging the audience to come closer instead of forcing the show to grow bigger, he made you enter its world through the smallest possible door. The surprise — and joy — is that the world can seem so vast when approached that way. Or at least it does in Cromer’s flawless production of “The Sound Inside,” a play by Adam Rapp that opened at Studio 54 on Thursday. When I saw its world premiere at the Williamstown Theater Festival in 2018, it was already a gripping small-scale mystery, and a spectacular showcase for its star, Mary-Louise Parker. Now, having been put through Cromer’s less-is-everything makeover, it’s even more resonant on Broadway: a tragedy about fiction, both the kind we read and the kind we live.

READ THE REVIEWS BUY TICKETS GROUP TICKETS

BROADWAY REVIEW: The Lightning Thief

October 16, 2019: Here’s an idea for a Broadway musical: An awkward boy with an absent father and an overwhelmed mother gets involved with friends in a dubious scheme that spins out of control and almost undoes him. Is it “Dear Evan Hansen”? If only. Alas, “The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical” is a pale patch on the earlier show and a failed attempt to board the teenage fantasy-angst train. (See also: “Be More Chill” and, more successfully, “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.”) Based on the popular 2005 novel by Rick Riordan, it is both overblown and underproduced, filled with sentiments it can’t support and effects it can’t pull off.

READ THE REVIEWS BUY TICKETS GROUP TICKETS

BROADWAY REVIEW: The Rose Tattoo

October 15, 2019: You thought tropical storms were disruptive? The Italian-Americans living along the Gulf Coast in the Roundabout Theater Company’s untethered revival of Tennessee Williams’s “The Rose Tattoo” are really up against the elements, and so are the actors playing them. But it’s nothing as palpable as a hurricane that keeps knocking them off balance and making them flail like sandpipers in a heavy wind. To understand what’s sweeping through this production, which opened at the American Airlines Theater on Tuesday with a cast led by a valiant Marisa Tomei, listen to the words of Assunta, a wise old Sicilian signora.

READ THE REVIEWS BUY TICKETS GROUP TICKETS

BROADWAY REVIEW: Linda Vista

October 10, 2019: The everyday poison known as toxic masculinity becomes dangerously easy to swallow in “Linda Vista,” Tracy Letts’s inspired, ruthless take on the classic midlife-crisis comedy. In the sunny opening scenes of this very funny, equally unsettling Steppenwolf Theater production — which opened on Thursday at the Hayes Theater — you’ll probably feel like cozying up to that sheepish, disheveled big guy who rules the stage with his outspoken wit. Played with immense, shaggy charm — and anger to match — by Ian Barford in a performance that reminds you of how brilliantly bruising Steppenwolf acting can be, this charismatic loser is named Wheeler. Actually, it’s Dick Wheeler, but he prefers to dispense with the first name, perhaps on the theory that it’s better not to provide too many clues to your essential nature.

READ THE REVIEWS BUY TICKETS GROUP TICKETS
SEE OTHER RECENTLY REVIEWED SHOWS

BEST REVIEWED SHOWS

    JerseyBoys    Phantom    Motown    Wicked
DOWNLOAD THE APP