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Broadway Bound is more than Neil Simon's autobiographically inspired account of Eugene Jerome and his older brother Stanley's entry into show biz from pedestrian jobs and lower-middle-class home in Brighton Beach. It's Eugene's story of the final stages of an entire family breakup.
Contemporary American life -- heaven help us -- is reflected in Keith Reddin's quirky, funny yet sad, tale of a mixed-up family. Mother Val (Niki Hersh) appears to have Alzheimer's, believing one of her daughters, the feisty Maggie (Catherine Castellanos), is dead. Val is abetted in this belief by daughter Jackie (Rachel Klyce), a religious nut who passes out Watchtower pamphlets to hostile neighbors. Maggie drinks, and after attending an AA meeting, is befriended by an all-too-friendly lesbian (Susi Damilano). Jackie's ex husband Harold (Paul D'Addario), who is trying to get custody of
Nearly 20 years ago, Buried Child took America by storm. Playwright Sam ShepardÆs fresh voice was an energizing wake-up call for theater audiences. Buried Child is one of several plays Shepard wrote about the American family during this period. It is an allegorical play, full of raw energy, tension and surreal elements. Filled with contradictions, strange behaviors and a shocking secret, it entranced audiences and won the Pulitzer Prize. So how does it hold up?
I have to admit, the Sam Mendes/Rob Marshall revival of Cabaret is one of those shows I just wasn't on the same page as others about. When I first saw it (well after Natasha Richardson and Alan Cumming, both Tony winners, had left), I found it too cynical and more than a little smutty. The glorious music created by John Kander and Fred Ebb seemed like a backdrop to a lot of inventively conceived but ultimately trivial business, and Bob Fosse's extraordinary 1972 film seemed like the final word in terms of its potent statements about WWII Berlin.
Bye Bye Birdie never really grows old. There are always ardent fans, young of age, that idolize their favorite talent. The plot is simple. Rock idol Conrad Birdie is drafted into the Army. His PR flak/manager creates a media moment in Sweet Apple, Ohio. And, of course, we get love requited and unrequited, the balloon-sized ego of the idol, swoons by the thousands from adoring teens, preteens, and pre-preteens; and frustrated parents.
Bye Bye Birdie is Patio Playhouse's current fare, a production of their Youtheater under the direction of Chris Hall. Youtheater participants range from early grade school to 19 years old. The group is enthusiastic and includes some quite talented people in major roles.
[Reviewed at Kit Kat Klub space]
One of the great directorial achievements of recent times, Sam Mendes' complete reimagining of Kander & Ebb'sCabaret retains its awesome punch, even if individual performances prove less galvanizing than those of the original cast. As Sally, Molly Ringwald's a decent singer and stage presence, her surprising lack of sex appeal a fault until the final scenes, where, so shockingly wan and unsightly she almost looks disfigured, she becomes deeply touching.
What a disaster! A lot of talented people have gone astray in trying to give musical and dramatic structure to the story of Salvador "Capeman" Agron, a teenage murderer. The brainchild of celebrated pop songwriter Paul Simon, The Capeman is about the real life of a Puerto Rican gang member who, in 1959, at age 16, stabbed to death two white teenagers whom he mistook for rival gang members in a Hell's Kitchen playground.
Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, which explores family relationships, sexuality, and even life and death, is one of Tennessee Williams' best plays. Broadway now has, except for a few performances, an inept production of the play running. Poor Ashley Judd gives it her all but is basically betrayed by her director, Anthony Page, as she, in Act One, recites all her lines with verve and energy and no subtext. How could he allow that? Saying all the words is not enough on Broadway. Her performance passes boredom into pain -- she stirs no empathy and no passion; it's only noise.