Theater Review

Low-Cal Desert Bliss

Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
The Palace Theatre, NYC

The concept of a jukebox musical, featuring, among other things, disco songs from the '70s and '80s, and telling the story of three drag queens traveling across the Australian desert in a bus may not instantly excite you. That is the idea behind Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, the new Broadway musical, based on the 1994 cult film of the same name.  Don't let any preconceived reservations stop you from giving this musical a chance -- it is a thoroughly enjoyable, generously entertaining show that looks like a real crowd pleaser.

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.

History Relieves Itself

colin-quinn-play

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.

Death: The Revival

 

play-dead

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.

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.

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.

A Good Play Closes Early as Mediocrity Keeps Running

elling-playElling 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.

Elf Offers Holiday Cheer

elf-musicalElf 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.

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.

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.