BROADWAY REVIEWS

BROADWAY REVIEW: Jagged Little Pill

December 5, 2019: The great news for “Jagged Little Pill,” and for us, is that its creative team, led by the director Diane Paulus, did more than just fiddle with a show that, though blurry, was already entertaining. The overhauled version that opened on Thursday at the Broadhurst Theater is fully in focus: clear in its priorities, rich in character, sincere without syrup, rousing and real. It easily clears the low bar of jukebox success to stand alongside the dark original musicals that have been sustaining the best hopes of Broadway in recent years.

READ THE REVIEWS BUY TICKETS GROUP TICKETS

BROADWAY REVIEW: A Christmas Carol

November 20, 2019: Have any of the progressive presidential hopefuls still duking it out thought about working “A Christmas Carol” into their campaigns? If so, they would surely benefit from visiting the new, charmingly instructive adaptation of Charles Dickens’s evergreen of Yuletide redemption, which opened Wednesday at the Lyceum Theater. As reconceived by the playwright Jack Thorne and the director Matthew Warchus, this sprightly version of Dickens’s deathless portrait of a miser makes a pointed case for the personal benefits of redistributing wealth. God rest ye merry, fat cats: Shedding some of that cumbersome, excess cash is a surefire route to feeling good about yourself.

READ THE REVIEWS BUY TICKETS GROUP TICKETS

BROADWAY REVIEW: The Inheritance

November 17, 2019: Ambition and achievement are not entirely commensurate in “The Inheritance.” Its breadth doesn’t always translate into depth. As fine as the acting is throughout — and quietly brilliant when the extraordinary veteran Lois Smith takes the stage, toward the very end, as the show’s sole female character — none of the characters here have the textured completeness of those created by Forster and Kushner. Ultimately, the play twists itself into ungainly pretzels as it tries to join all the thematic dots on its immense canvas. Yet even by the end of the overwrought second half of “The Inheritance,” you’re likely to feel the abiding, welcome buzz of energy that comes from an unflagging will to question, to create, to contextualize, to — oh, why not? — only connect.

READ THE REVIEWS BUY TICKETS GROUP TICKETS

BROADWAY REVIEW: Slava’s Snowshow

November 14, 2019: The clown incursion began as a stealth operation, first with one and then another peering tentatively out at us from the wings. Intermission music was still playing, and the audience still milling, as the clowns assembled, until gradually a whole pack of them (a gaggle? a murder? a herd?) stood at the lip of the stage, gazing quizzically at us. They looked so shy, so endearingly perplexed in their green overcoats and silly moth-eaten caps, the long earflaps out at an angle, as if the air had lofted them mid-flight. Surely these are harmless creatures, no? Surely if one of the clowns in “Slava’s Snowshow” should appear silently at your side, wanting to climb into the crowd and surf the seat backs, the decent thing to do is offer a hand? That’s what I did, and others also did, and soon clowns were everywhere, agents of a joyous anarchy. In their innocence, the clowns were like small children, and we responded to them with fond indulgence. They clambered over the audience, they sprayed us with water — and we rooted for their triumph.

READ THE REVIEWS BUY TICKETS GROUP TICKETS

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

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

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: Slave Play

October 6, 2019: Though it’s mild, paradoxical and perhaps a bit prurient to say so, “Slave Play” is a happy surprise. It’s mild because Jeremy O. Harris’s play, which opened at the Golden Theater on Sunday, is one of the best and most provocative new works to show up on Broadway in years. It’s a paradox because what could be happy in a play about pain? A play so serious, so furious and so deeply engaged in the most intractable conflicts of American life that it became both a cause célèbre and a scandal before it opened?

READ THE REVIEWS BUY TICKETS GROUP TICKETS

BROADWAY REVIEW: Freestyle Love Supreme

October 2, 2019: And just as you were thinking that life has no rhyme nor reason these days, along comes “Freestyle Love Supreme” to pump you full of hope. This exultant master course in the fine art of hip-hop, which opened on Wednesday night at the Booth Theater, suggests that there’s no feeling, thought or experience so anxious or so random that it can’t be translated into infectious, neon-bright rhythms. Confusion, frustration, depression — such emotions are banished by the team assembled on the stage to find the great, sick beat in your past and present woes.

READ THE REVIEWS BUY TICKETS GROUP TICKETS
DOWNLOAD THE APP