BROADWAY REVIEWS

BROADWAY REVIEW: Wicked

October 31, 2003: SHE'S flying! She's actually flying!

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BROADWAY REVIEW: The Lion King

November 14, 1997:

Suddenly, you're 4 years old again, and you've been taken to the circus for the first time. You can only marvel at the exotic procession of animals before you: the giraffes and the elephants and the hippopotamuses and all those birds in balletic flight. Moreover, these are not the weary-looking beasts in plumes and spangles that usually plod their way through urban circuses but what might be described as their Platonic equivalents, creatures of air and light and even a touch of divinity. Where are you, really, anyway? The location is supposed to be a theater on 42d Street, a thoroughfare that has never been thought of as a gateway to Eden. Yet somehow you have fallen into what appears to be a primal paradise. And even the exquisitely restored New Amsterdam Theater, a former Ziegfeld palace, disappears before the spectacle within it.

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BROADWAY REVIEW: Chicago

November 15, 1996: WHO would have thought there could be such bliss in being played for a patsy?

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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: 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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