BROADWAY REVIEWS

BROADWAY REVIEW: Sea Wall / A Life

August 8, 2019: If it wasn’t the absolute worst time someone’s electronic device could have gone off during “Sea Wall,” Simon Stephens’s exquisite one-act monologue that’s part of a Broadway double bill, it still might well have sabotaged the show. The British actor Tom Sturridge had held us entranced all the way to the pin-drop quiet of the play’s delicate final seconds when a robotic voice intruded from the orchestra of the Hudson Theater to deliver — what was it, an Amber Alert? A less masterful performer, or one of stormier temperament, might have let the audience’s reflexive anger overwhelm the moment. Without breaking character, Mr. Sturridge chose a smarter, more graceful course. “It’s O.K.,” he said gently, definitely to us but maybe also partly to himself, and the words were a balm: soothing the room and restoring the spell he’d cast, almost as soon as it had been shattered. He paused a long while, then resumed the play’s last little wordless bit, a coda now. Witnessing such a coup of craft and professionalism is part of the reason we go to live theater, where the best actors are sharply attuned to whatever is happening in the room. And that’s very much the case with “Sea Wall/A Life,” the program of twinned monologues that opened on Thursday night. Its second half, Nick Payne’s “A Life,” is performed by Jake Gyllenhaal.

READ THE REVIEWS BUY TICKETS GROUP TICKETS

BROADWAY REVIEW: Moulin Rouge! The Musical

July 25, 2019: This one’s for the hedonists. All you party people should know that the Al Hirschfeld Theater has been refurbished as an opulent pleasure palace, wherein decadence comes without hangovers. That’s where the euphoric “Moulin Rouge! The Musical” opened on Thursday night in a shower of fireworks, confetti and glittering fragments of what feels like every pop hit ever written. Inspired by the 2001 Baz Luhrmann film and directed with wicked savvy by Alex Timbers, this “Moulin Rouge” is a cloud-surfing, natural high of a production. It has side effects, for sure, including the vertigo that comes from having your remembrance of songs past tickled silly and the temporary blockage of any allergies to jukebox musicals. But for its plump, sleek two-and-a-half hours of stage time, “Moulin Rouge” — which stars a knockout Karen Olivo, with Aaron Tveit and Danny Burstein doing their best Broadway work to date — has the febrile energy you may associate with the wilder parties of your youth, when gaudy nights seemed to stretch into infinity.

READ THE REVIEWS BUY TICKETS GROUP TICKETS

BROADWAY REVIEW: Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune

May 30, 2019: Everyone wants to hear Audra McDonald sing. So it’s a clever touch that Arin Arbus’s production of “Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune” — which despite the Debussy in its title is not a musical — gives Ms. McDonald a huge aria right off the bat. More of a duet, really, though her co-star, Michael Shannon, isn’t so much singing as grunting. That’s because “Frankie and Johnny,” which opened on Thursday at the Broadhurst Theater, begins with the sounds of Frankie (Ms. McDonald) and Johnny (Mr. Shannon) making love: “noisy, ecstatic and familiar,” as the script, by Terrence McNally, puts it. Familiar, that is, if you’re used to Puccini orgasms. It could have been a stumbling block for this touching revival of the 1987 play that Ms. McDonald (a six-time Tony Award winner) and Mr. Shannon (twice nominated for an Oscar) are hardly the dowdy, downtrodden types Mr. McNally calls for. Unlike Kathy Bates and F. Murray Abraham, who starred in the first production (Kenneth Welsh soon took over as Johnny), they arrive onstage with fabulous, shiny auras.

READ THE REVIEWS BUY TICKETS GROUP TICKETS

BROADWAY REVIEW: Beetlejuice

April 25, 2019: The dead lead lives of noisy desperation in “Beetlejuice,” the absolutely exhausting new musical that opened on Thursday at the Winter Garden Theater. This frantic adaptation of Tim Burton’s much-loved 1988 film is sure to dishearten those who like to think of the afterlife as one unending, undisturbed sleep. Because as directed by a feverishly inventive Alex Timbers, and starring Alex Brightman as the manic ghoul of the title, this production proposes that not being alive just means that you have to try harder — a whole lot harder — than you ever did before. Otherwise, you’ll wind up invisible, with nary a soul to acknowledge your starry self. And in today’s world of chronic self-advertising, this may be the true fate worse than death.

READ THE REVIEWS BUY TICKETS GROUP TICKETS

BROADWAY REVIEW: Tootsie

April 23, 2019: Comedy rarely flows as smoothly as it does here. The secret is more than the book; it’s the songs. Mr. Yazbek is one of the few composer-lyricists working today who can set jokes to music and make them pay. The most obvious instance in “Tootsie” is “What’s Gonna Happen,” a showstopping patter number for Michael’s ex-girlfriend, the neurotic Sandy (Sarah Stiles). In a tumble of words reminiscent of “Model Behavior” from Mr. Yazbek’s underrated score for “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown,” she goes well past that verge.

READ THE REVIEWS BUY TICKETS GROUP TICKETS

BROADWAY REVIEW: Hadestown

April 17, 2019: All your favorite Greeks are heading somewhere in “Hadestown,” the sumptuous, hypnotic and somewhat hyperactive musical that opened on Wednesday night after its own twisty 13-year road to Broadway. Eurydice descends to the underworld; Orpheus follows to retrieve her. Persephone spends six months aboveground living the good life of summer and song before returning for six months below with Hades. (He’s her husband.) Hermes, of course, has wings on his feet. And the Fates (at least in this version) are always darting about, minding everyone’s business. But watching “Hadestown” unfold so gorgeously at the Walter Kerr Theater, I found myself thinking of other Greek characters: those lucky few saved from heartbreak by radical metamorphoses.

READ THE REVIEWS BUY TICKETS GROUP TICKETS

BROADWAY REVIEW: Oklahoma!

April 7, 2019: How is it that the coolest new show on Broadway in 2019 is a 1943 musical usually regarded as a very square slice of American pie? The answer arrives before the first song is over in Daniel Fish’s wide-awake, jolting and altogether wonderful production of “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!,” which opened on Sunday night at the Circle in the Square Theater. “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’” is the title and the opening line of this familiar number, a paean to a land of promisingly blue skies and open spaces. But Curly, the cowboy who sings it, isn’t cushioned by the expected lush orchestrations. Nor is the actor playing him your usual solid slab of beefcake with a strapping tenor. As embodied by the excellent Damon Daunno, this lad of the prairies is wiry and wired, so full of unchanneled sexual energy you expect him to implode. There’s the hint of a wobble in his cocky strut and voice.

READ THE REVIEWS BUY TICKETS GROUP TICKETS

BROADWAY REVIEW: Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of The Temptations

March 21, 2019: While honoring all the expected biomusical clichés, which include rolling out its subjects’ greatest hits in brisk and sometimes too fragmented succession, this production refreshingly emphasizes the improbable triumph of rough, combustible parts assembled into glistening smoothness.

READ THE REVIEWS BUY TICKETS GROUP TICKETS

BROADWAY REVIEW: Kiss Me, Kate

March 14, 2019: I raise all this marital prehistory not to excuse the elements of the original “Kiss Me, Kate” that rankle our sensibilities today — its gender stereotypes and wife-slapping argument for womanly submission — but to suggest how the latest Broadway revival, which opened on Thursday in a production starring the sublime Kelli O’Hara, could be so enjoyable anyway.

READ THE REVIEWS BUY TICKETS GROUP TICKETS

BROADWAY REVIEW: Be More Chill

March 10, 2019: Adapted by Joe Iconis (songs) and Joe Tracz (book) from Ned Vizzini’s appealing young adult novel, “Be More Chill” has already broken the Lyceum house record for a single week of ticket sales. If it sustains that momentum, it will be partly because this latest entry in the puberty musical sweepstakes has traits that undeniably set it apart from its competition. For one thing, it is — by cold critical standards — the worst of the lot, with a repetitive score, painfully forced rhymes, cartoonish acting and a general approach that mistakes decibel level (literally and metaphorically) for emotional intensity. But this ostensible amateurishness may be exactly what sells “Be More Chill” to its young target audience. Alone among Broadway musicals, “Be More Chill” feels as if it could have been created by the teenagers it portrays, or perhaps by even younger people imagining what high school will be like. Though its production values have been souped up since I saw it in August, the show’s current incarnation — which features the same cast and is again directed by Stephen Brackett — remains a festival of klutziness that you could imagine being put together in the bedrooms and basements of young YouTubers.

READ THE REVIEWS BUY TICKETS GROUP TICKETS
DOWNLOAD THE APP