Theater Review

Naked Ambitions

Revealed Burlesque
UNDER St. Marks, NYC
Alan Watts, British expat writer about Zen, complained about women who said they did not want to be known for their bodies, but rather their minds (even though said "minds" were filled with petty, trivial notions and unexamined streaming and steaming prattle). Revealed Burlesque gives us the female body shorn of any such cerebral distraction. Each of the six strippers was an authentically class act, bearing scant resemblance to the floozy co-workers of Barbara Stanwyck in William Wellman's Lady of Burlesque. Nowadays, with female nudity ubiquitous, these beautifully bodied ladies resurrect a seductive naughtiness that is fresh and -- even yes -- exhilarating to behold.The evening is hosted by Bastard Keith, a young comic/actor/singer/writer, who is charmingly and disarmingly amusing. His contagious bombastic self-delight is evident as he introduces each stripper and keeps the evening moving swiftly.

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History Relieves Itself


Colin Quinn: Long Story Short
Helen Hayes Theatre, NYC
Through February 5, 2011

It's not terribly original nor is it incredibly insightful but Colin Quinn: Long Story Short offers a fair amount of humorous moments with a relaxed delivery and distinctly American approach. Scratching at history's surface, actor/comedian Colin Quinn works to combine comedy with historical commentary and is halfway successful. It feels like an American version of Eddie Izzard's Dress to Kill, simplified for an audience not as savvy in historical trivia and more inclined to respond to images on an over-sized screen than profundity. Instead of witty allusions to semi-obscure figures and occurrences, Quinn sticks to the basics with a lot of accents and character voices thrown in for good measure. Read more »

Death: The Revival



Play Dead
The Players Theatre, NYC

The two word review: Fuck yeah! The longer review is that Play Dead, currently enjoying an open-ended run at The Players Theatre on McDougal Street, is a bloody joyride of an evening, calling forth the dead from the afterlife while drawing screams and dark laughter from its audiences.

The show cleverly begins with one freakish, yet real, act and then proceeds with a series of ghoulish illusions which, as our host aptly points out, audience members are more likely to believe to be real. Read more »

Jersey Girls

Bikinis-musicalThe Bikinis
The Queens Theater in the Park
Flushing Meadow Corona Park, NY
Through December 12, 2010

Yes, Manhattanites, there is a shiny, new and lovely 450 seat theater in Queens Park, housed in architect Philip Johnson's 1964 World’s Fair New York State Pavilion, where The Bikinis, a new musical beach party is taking the stage with a relentlessly power-packed show of girl songs (and boy’s as well) from the early sixties and beyond. Read more »

Yep… that's Pee-Wee

pee-wee-herman-showThe Pee Wee Herman Show
Stephen Sondheim Theatre, NYC
Through January 2, 2011

Try to imagine what it would be like if Pee-Wee Herman's Playhouse were converted into a stage production for Broadway and you’d probably come up with something very similar to The Pee-Wee Herman Show, currently playing at the newly re-named Stephen Sondheim Theater. It's not as dirty as the original versions of Pee-Wee that debuted in various Los Angeles venues, and not as clean as the children's television show it later became, but rather somewhere in between, but all Pee-Wee whatever way you look at it. Read more »

A Good Play Closes Early as Mediocrity Keeps Running

Barrymore Theatre, NYC

If George and Lennie from Of Mice and Men had meet in an insane asylum and formed a relationship of more neurotic complexities with a less tragic ending, then the end result might resemble the latest, original play to close prematurely at the Barrymore Theatre, Elling. In what has been a largely dismal season for the Broadway stage, this quirky comedy proved to be a refreshing break from the boring, unfortunately if you haven't already seen it then you missed out. Read more »

Elf Offers Holiday Cheer

Hirschfeld Theatre, NYC
Through January 2, 2011

I never saw the hit movie Elf starring Will Ferrell. When a musical version was announced for Broadway this holiday season, it did not pique my interest. But when my cousin from Cleveland and her husband planned a trip to New York with their four grandchildren, aged seven to eleven, that included tickets to Elf, I decided to join them. Lo and behold, I found Elf to be funny and totally charming, with just the right amount of sentiment and warmth. It has a big heart along with plenty of holiday spirit and cheer. Read more »

Yawning at Uhry

driving-miss-daisyDriving Miss Daisy
Golden Theatre, NYC
Through January 29, 2011

When a play starring Vanessa Redgrave, James Earl Jones, and Boyd Gaines somehow still manages to be boring, then it seems fairly clear that the actors are not to blame; such is case with this current revival of Driving Miss Daisy.

James Earl Jones gives a vibrant performance, portraying a man with an unflaggingly positive nature and an outward joy that masks the many less-happy conflicts that must be stirring beneath the surface. Read more »

Midday Ticks

noon-divide-playNoon Divide (Partage de Midi) by Paul Claudel
Storm Theater and Blackfriars Repertory Theatre

Noon Divide, an intense morality/passion play by French poet, dramatist, and diplomat Paul Claudel (1868-1955), is excellent serious theater. Like ancient Greek drama, it deals with what makes people tick, what drives them on, and what propels them to undo themselves. And also, like Greek drama, a great deal of the action that motivates the characters is offstage, and the audience observes how they live with (and adapt to) the actions that occur prior to the play’s start and between the acts. Read more »

Mysterious Flowers

venus-flytrap-playVenus Flytrap: a Femme Noir Mystery
Written by Anthony Dodge
Directed by Marcia Milgrom Dodge
The Active Theater, NYC
Through November 14, 2010

It is New York in 1943. Most men are in uniform and women are doing many a "man's job." Thus we find "Butch" Diamond (Xanthe Elbrick), called upon to be a private dick for the deviate underclass. This is the world of Venus Flytrap. What ensues is a prime example of hilarious and inventive burlesque, parody, satire, and farce (admixed with a healthy helping of absurdism). At the same time, the play honors the noir idiom, giving the show levels of richness beyond its comedic antics.

This send-up of noir goes where no man has gone before. Butch, as she calls herself, an avowed lesbian who is not really all that butch, draws her clients from the flotsam and jetsam of Manhattan. Her primary client of the evening is Tom Blackmer (Jose Luaces), a dramatically effeminate young man who shows up in uniform shortly after he is dishonorably discharged from the Marines. Read more »

An Evening of Liquored-Up Monologues


Boo(zy): An Evening of Spirits and Storytelling
Bohemian Archaeology Productions, NYC

The art of the live storytelling monologue -- comic, dramatic, or otherwise -- has a long and mostly forgotten tradition: one of Ruth Draper, Anna Russell, Robert Benchley, and long before in Vaudeville. It survives in various permutations of contemporary stand-up. The basic and unembellished version recently received a lively resuscitation with Boo(zy) at the DR2 Theater in two pre-Halloween (the "boo" of the title) performances (October 29 and 30). Read more »

Don't Bogart That Number

refer-madness-playReefer Madness, the Musical
Music by Dan Studney, Lyrics by Kevin Murphy
Book by Kevin Murphy & Dan Studney
At the Gallery Players, NYC
Through November 14, 2010

On October 7, 2001, Reefer Madness, the Musical opened its original short three-week New York run at the Variety Arts Theater. Given the date, so soon after 9/11, New York might not have been ready for "fun" theater as fires continued burning downtown. Ben Brantley in The New York Times wrote that "at least one extreme form of the ironic arts -- its flashiest and silliest incarnation, known as camp -- is ready for its last rites." Read more »

Green Bay on Broadway

Circle in the Square Theatre, NYC

Anyone who remembers high school cliques will undoubtedly agree that football and theater are not a natural match. Lombardi, a play about Green Bay's legendary savior Vincent Lombardi, does nothing to reconcile these differences of taste. If you are a football fan, particularly one who roots for the Packers, then this play may reach you; if you’re not, then it probably won't.

There is no natural law forbidding a play about a famous football coach from being theatrical, but this one is so devoid of dramatic tension and conflict that for there to be any drama to partake in, it requires an audience independently invested in the outcome of games to provide their own stakes. Read more »

Silly, Silly American History

bloody-jacksonBloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson
Bernard Jacobs Theatre, NYC

A biography of President Andrew Jackson set to Emo music and converted into a Broadway musical may sound like a random joke one might hear on Family Guy, but Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson makes it a reality to be reckoned with. Fresh from its Off-Broadway run at The Public, this new musical offers audiences something original through its bizarre blend of subject, genre and style. Read more »


critical-mass-playCritical Mass
The Lion Theater at Theater Row, NYC
Through November 7, 2010

Imagine this: You arrive at the Lion Theater for a performance of Critical Mass, just as intermission is ending. Frustrated and annoyed with yourself for being late, you seat yourself as the second act commences. For the most part, you truly enjoy it -- and so you mentally kick yourself for missing the first act. The reality: If you had been on time, you may have experienced a frustration and annoyance equaling or surpassing that of having been late. Read more »

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