Photo Credit - Carol
Monday - Friday @ 8:00PM
Saturday 2:00PM & 8:00PM
Sunday 3:00PM & 7:00PM
New World Stages
by Frank J. Avella
slightly-subversive, silly-at-times, too-often-safe…yet
damned entertaining, Altar Boyz
has been running to packed houses for
over a year and it's pretty obvious why.
It's the type of show that makes you instantly
want to revisit it, with new friends,
so you can gage their reaction AND so
you can have some mindless fun all over
is not groundbreaking or daring and it
doesn't pretend to be. You can enjoy yourself
whether you're a practicing Catholic or
an atheist. But along the merriment way
there are a few important messages that
seep through about acceptance, tolerance
and not selling out to the “evils”
of the world and remaining true to yourself.
and five cute boys who sing their pants
off (okay, not literally…this is
NOT Naked Altar Boyz Singing..hmmm…maybe
it should be-perhaps in the Amsterdam
is flimsy: Matthew, Mark, Luke, Juan and
Abraham (yes, Abraham!) are on a "Raise
the Praise Tour" and their goal is
to save every soul in the audience. That's
pretty much it.
itself isn't the most memorable. Except
for the exciting opening “We Are
the Altar Boyz” and the moving finale,
“I Believe”, most of the songs
are generic pop. It's the way the boyz
perform them that make it a joy to experience.
gleefully ironic, “I'm a Catholic,”
sung to gay perfection by newcomer Zach
Hanna, to the stamina-challenging “Body,
Mind & Soul” which Ryan Duncan
sings the crap out of, the boyz prove
their stage prowess over and over.
Jason Celaya holds the show together and
is the key standout performance. With
more energy and sly sex appeal than all
the Boy Bands, Celaya sends sparks whenever
he's onstage (and that's the entire show,
kick-ass entertainment, seek worship with
the inspirational and cute-as-the-devil
Book by Kevin Del Aguila; Music and Lyrics
by Gary Adler & Michael Patrick Walker;
Conceived by Marc Kessler & Ken Davenport;
Choreographed by Christopher Gattelli;
Directed by Stafford Arima. Starring:
Jason Celaya (Matthew); Zach Hanna (Mark);
Andrew C. Call (Luke); Ryan Duncan (Juan);
and Dennis Moench (Abraham).
$25.00-$75.00 at www.telecharge.com
and 212-239-6200 or 800-432-7250
West 50th Street
Christopher John Campion's
Escape From Bellevue
Wednesday–Saturday @ 8PM
The Village Theatre
by Sharyn Jackson
perhaps no better symbol of New York's
ability to wreak havoc on the mind than
the psychiatric institution of Bellevue
Hospital. Chris Campion, front man of
the indie rock band Knockout Drops, had
three stints in the infamous ward between
1983 and 2000. A rocker who partook in
all the peripheral indulgences associated
with that lifestyle, Campion now chronicles
his encounters with poverty, addiction
and suicidal depression in Escape
From Bellevue. He offers an "anthem
to unhinged misfits everywhere" of
vibrantly acted monologues and catchy
tunes at The Village Theatre, in the very
neighborhood where he repeatedly self-destructed
hilarious circular tale could only have
taken place in New York. He vividly brings
the artist's Greenwich Village of yore
to life, and his descriptions of Bellevue's
atmosphere and fellow patients both tickle
and provide the perfect amount of noir—"Bellevue
was a never-ending Fellini movie."
expectedly, involves Campion's escape
during his second committment, the first
escape from Bellevue since 1963. As he
runs from the hospital into the taxi-traffic-filled
streets, he and the Knockout Drops exalt
city life with the perfect high-energy
soundtrack. Campion takes it one step
further, tying in the 2003 blackout, and
his sobriety, in a post-9/11 New York.
It's a different city—a different
Bleecker Street, even—than it was
when Campion first encountered his demons.
Campion is back where he started, but
this time, with the ammunition of hope
and a fine storytelling and musical sensibility,
he's a New York survivor.
and performed by Christopher John Campion
with live music by Knockout Drops. Directed
by Alex Timbers.
$30 advance / $35 door for Wednesday &
Thursday @ 8 PM; and $35 advance / $40
door for Friday & Saturday @ 8 PM.
at www.ticketmaster.com and 212-307-7171.
For more information: www.knockoutdrops.com.
Village Theatre | 158 Bleecker St
- The Musical
2:00pm & 8:00pm
Saturday 2:00PM & 8:00PM
Sunday 2:00PM, 7:00PM & 8:00PM
The Palace Theatre
by Katharine Heller
To compare Legally Blonde the Musical
to great theater would be like putting
a Twinkie up against the Miso Black Cod
at Nobu. But goddamn it, sometimes, nothing
beats a good Twinkie.
the box office hit of the same title,
Legally Blonde rarely strays
from the original script. For the five
of you who are not familiar with the premise
of the story, I'll sum it up. Beautiful
Delta Nu sorority sister Elle Woods is
crushed when her beau Warner dumps her
before leaving for Harvard Law. Elle applies
accepted to Harvard (even though I would
assume the application deadline had passed-
I never quite got that part, although
the rest of the story is perfectly plausible)
in hopes to win back her man. Long story
short she realizes she doesn't need Warner,
makes some new friends and solves a murder
case in court along the way.
translation is exactly what you would
expect, complete with spunky dance numbers,
an energetic young cast and tunes so catchy
I might consider quarantine for a good
few hours after the show. I still cannot
get the opening number, aptly called "Omigod,
You Guys!" out of my head. No, seriously,
it's pretty frustrating.
faced and immensely talented Laura Bell
Bundy as Elle carries the show with grace
and confidence. Right behind her are Richard
H. Blake as the arrogantly hilarious Warner
and Christian Borle as her sweet love
interest, Emmett. The obvious cast standouts
however are Chico as her faithful Chihuahua,
Bruiser, and Chloe the Bulldog as Rufus.
(Rufus is the dog of Elle's friend Paulette
by the singly named human, Orfeh.)
book, written by Heather Hach with music
and lyrics by Laurence O'Keefe and Nell
Benjamin, includes other engaging numbers
such as the infamous, "Bend and Snap!"
and "Gay or European". With
crisp direction and choreography by Jerry
Mitchell, this family friendly show is
a lot of fun. Just make sure those you
see it with have a sweet tooth.
$40.00-$110.00 212-307-4747 www.ticketmaster.com
Remaining Show: Monday, August 20th
The New School of Drama Theatre
2007 International Fringe Festival
Reviewed by Alison Ford
“fish out of water” scenario
is one of the great foundations of comedy.
In its many permutations and variations,
it can be either wildly successful (Beverly
Hills Cop), or uncomfortably unfunny
(Deuce Bigalow). On the spectrum
of “fish out of water” comedies,
The Program, currently running
at the NY Fringe Festival, is a Deuce
The basic idea isn’t too bad –
What might happen if a mafia family from
Brooklyn was forced to enter witness protection
and blend into small-town America? You
might think that hilarity would ensue,
but you would be wrong. With the popularity
of both The Sopranos and
Desperate Housewives, the worlds
of both kingpins and PTA moms are current,
fresh, and relevant right now. Unfortunately,
playwright Michele Aldin has ignored the
wealth of comic possibility inherent to
what she claims is the plot, and instead
has chosen to fill 90 minutes with strange,
irrelevant psychobabble and so many other
random themes that it’s easy to
forget what you thought the play was supposed
to be about in the first place.
At various times, the play seems to be
about teen angst, mother abandonment,
family relationships, child development,
child abuse, and codependence. Fish-out-of-water
stories are necessarily situational. Adding
strange expressionist elements, a character
that serves as a quasi-Greek chorus, and
excessive breaking of the fourth wall
doesn’t make things funnier. They
make them complicated, and unnecessary
complication is the enemy of humor. The
humor is supposed to come from the juxtaposition
of the character’s nature and the
character’s new surroundings. Fat-guy-woos-hot-chick.
Comedy is not supposed to come from throwing
around terms like “minimal integration,”
“familial patternmaker,” or
other Piaget-esque psycho-terminology,
and let me assure you – it doesn’t.
Is this a play about the Witness Protection
Program, a seminar on child development,
or a Scientology induction? There are
too many meaningless words in the dialogue
– and not enough drama to make us
care about listening to any of them. Despite
all of the talking that happens, the characters
never communicate any sort of truth or
Although it was the playwright’s
choice to fill the play with meaningless
words and phrases, rather than jokes or
real dialogue, the acting feels like something
straight out of a drama-club production.
The play is presented by The New School,
and this play does not live up to its
usual quality. The direction is questionable
at best, and the actors don’t seem
to help to bring the production values
up at all. Accents fade in and out, lines
are mumbled and garbled, and the performances
are just screechy and strident enough
to be profoundly irritating. Most of the
performers seem to subscribe to the method
of acting where skill is equal to volume.
The most disappointing aspect of The
Program was that the ostensible premise,
which actually had some comic potential,
was thrown aside in the name of making
some kind of harebrained statement about…something.
The resulting mishmash is not only non-sensical,
it’s also supremely unfunny. In
being confronted with so many strange
ideas and half-baked themes, it’s
impossible to care about any of them.
Tickets $15 - WWW.FRINGENYC.ORG
or call: 212-279-4488
The New School
of Drama Theatre|
151 Bank Street |Third
Located b/t West & Washington Streets)
Subways: A,C,E to 14th Street L to 14th
July 18-29, 2007
by Allison Ford
Having the good guy turn out to be the
bad guy is just about the oldest trick
in the book. It is well-tread ground,
and movies, books, and plays have all
used it, with varying degrees of success.
The key to making this device work is
keeping the audience in the dark as long
as possible, because the satisfaction
is found in the big reveal. Wendy MacLeod's
Sin, playing at the Abingdon
Theater, succeeds in all the small details,
but the crucial mistake of revealing how
it ends before the play's even started.
The protagonist of the play is Avery Bly,
a soon-to-be divorced traffic reporter
who looks down at the world (physically
and metaphorically) from her helicopter.
Set in San Francisco in 1989, just before
the big earthquake, the various people
in her life all represent one of the seven
deadly sins. She passes judgment on them
all, from her slothful soon-to-be-ex-husband
to her gluttonous roommate. She never
realizes her own sin of pride, until an
act of God brings her "down from
the heights" once and for all.
The seven deadly sins provide a wealth
of possibility for any playwright, and
Wendy MacLeod (writer of The House
of Yes) is a highly capable writer.
What's most interesting about Sin
is that it deals with a very gray area.
The seven deadly sins are a distinctly
Catholic idea, and, accordingly, the play
addresses distinctly Catholic conundrums.
Even though Avery is moralistic and looks
down on others for indulging in various
sins, that doesn't make her a good person.
That makes her prideful, which is another
grave sin. So what's a well-meaning person
to do? MacLeod never preaches about moral
relativism; the message of the play is
more subtle. She encourages us to accept
imperfections both in others, and in ourselves.
The characters of the play, which include
a greedy date, an envious co-worker, and
a wrathful boss, mostly appear in short
scenes, alone with Avery, and she is forced
to make decisions of morality and ethics
at every turn. The dialogue in the scenes
is snappy, brisk, and insightful. The
actors in this production are all capable,
and I found myself wishing there were
more time for character development. As
it is currently written, they appear on
stage for a scene or so, impart some truth,
and then exit.
As Avery, actress Megan Hill displays
an interesting sense of conflict. Although
she does not display much outward emotion,
often it is obvious that much is going
on beneath the surface. She seems to represent
a conscientious objector to the excess
that was the 80's, and her disappointment
and frustration with the other characters
moral shortcomings is evident in every
scene. Although she believes herself to
be taking the moral high ground, she also
never insinuates that she herself is perfect.
Although the characters are sharp and
real, and the dialogue is well-written,
the play feels ultimately unfulfilling,
because we've always know what's coming.
The metaphor of the judgmental traffic
reporter feels heavy-handed and clumsy,
and it seems that the supporting characters,
however cleverly they might converse,
represent tired 80's archetypes. Sin
is billed as a "modern morality
play," and it is successful at forcing
the audience to confront the more unpleasant
parts of their personalities. However,
the play fails to generate any sort of
dramatic tension. The program practically
reads: "High-and-mighty girl thumbs
her nose at the rest of the world, until
she discovers that she's not so much better
than them after all." Ultimately,
it doesn't matter that the acting is great,
or that the dialogue is clever and bitingly
funny. Despite the fact that the characters
and the setting are new, the story is
one we've heard a thousand times before.
And we know how it ends.
Sater & Duncan Sheik’s
Saturday 2:00pm & 8:00pm
Sunday 2:00pm & 7:00pm
Eugene O'Neill Theatre
Reviewed by Frank J.
When I first heard that
Spring Awakening was moving to
Broadway, I was a bit concerned. Would such
an intimate show lose all potency and urgency
in a big Broadway house?
Well the answer, thank
the theatre gods, is a resounding no!
I am elated to report
that this exciting, enthralling and oddly-enchanting
production thrives at the Eugene O’Neill
Theatre. And it’s improved greatly
from the version I saw this past summer.
It’s still audacious
and ambitious but it now has a wonderful
sense of humor as well. The original production
took itself a wee too seriously. But the
gifted director Michael Mayer has found
the perfect blend of comedy and pathos here.
And it doesn’t hurt to have the extraordinary
Christine Estabrook on board.
Based on Frank Wedekind’s
highly controversial 1891 play The Awakening
of Spring (not produced until 1906),
and adapted by Steven Sater (book &
lyrics) and rock star Duncan Sheik (music),
the ‘play with songs’ (quoted
by Sheik) focuses on adolescent schoolboys
and girls at the age of sexual and spiritual
awakening. The central figures being the
good looking, wave-making Melchior (Jonathan
Groff), his sweet, naive girlfriend Wendla
(Lea Michele) and his troubled, oddball
friend Moritz (John Gallagher, Jr.) as well
as a slew of other angst-ridden, sexually-stirred,
Spring Awakening is
mesmerizing to the eye--and ears. It’s
a deliberately hard-edged visual and aural
cacophony of the evils of repression--religious
and societal (usually one begets the other).
The richly-rewarding anachronistic
nature of the work adds to its originality
and freshness. Although the piece is set
at the turn of the last century, the actors
whip out mikes and perform raw, intensely-modern
rock songs. The device achieves a Brechtian
break in the ‘period’ action.
It’s as if the audience has warp-sped
a century to a modern day rock concert.
But the songs are the inner monologues and
emotional mind states of Everykid. And that
is why it works so well.
Sheik’s music is
extraordinary, whether it be a heart-wrenching
ballad (”The Song of Purple Summer”)
or an angry rant (the fantastically fun
“Totally Fucked”) and are matched
by Sater’s intelligent lyrics and
by the extraordinary ensemble’s vitality
and conviction in song as well as performance.
These guys were great last summer. They’re
even better and seem more assured now.
“The Bitch of Living”,
in particular, raises the levels through
Melchior is that perfect
blend of youth: a walking sack of sexual
energy mixed with smarts and savvy and Jonathan
Groff brilliantly brings him to life...and
to despair as is necessary. Groff has a
command now that is dazzling to behold.
Moritz is a tad more difficult
since, as written he goes from frustration
and confusion to doom very quickly, yet
Gallagher, Jr. transcends the trappings
and let’s us inside the loopy/scared
mind of this tragic hero (especially in
Act Two’s Don’t Do Sadness”).
still feels too tentative as Wendla but
she conveys naiveté much better and
has an amazing voice. Lauren Pritchard’s
Ilse still brims with sex appeal and evoked
the perfect combo of tumult and rebellion.
And king of smarm and charm, Jonathan B.
Wright nails his role down perfectly as
the gay survivor about to feast on his prey.
His self-pleasure moment is a riotous combo
of delight and embarrassment. Special mention
to Gideon Glick as the adorable Ernst.
Newly added cast members
Stephen Spinella, and especially, Christine
Estabrook give the show a great lift as
Beyond the masterful score,
near-perfect performances and deft direction,
a problem last time with feeling emotionally
caught up in the lives of the characters.
This, too, has changed. I DID feel passionately
drawn into their worlds and I did care about
is a triumph that should be seen by anyone
who cares about the future of musical theatre.
Theatre | 230 West 49th Street | New York,
Aug 2, 3 & 4 @ 8PM
The Blackbird Studios
347 West 36th Street 13th Floor
August 5th @ 7PM
The WorkShop Theatre
312 West 36th Street 4th Floor
Reviewed by Frank J. Avella
Twist, a musical
based on Oliver Twist with a tantalizing
twist all it’s own, is a surprisingly
delicious blend of the camptastic and the
Quite faithful to the
Dickens classic, the ‘twist’
in this Twist is defined in a lyric
from the title song: “the characters
here, all end up queer.” Well, perhaps
not all of them, but certainly the more
Oh so many stage, film
and television incarnations of Oliver
Twist have popped up over the years.
Most notably, the brilliant 1948 David Lean
film, the beloved Lionel Bart musical from
the 60’s and, more recently, Roman
Polanski’s movie version starring
Ben Kingsley as Fagin as well as a gay hustler
film incarnation with Nick Stahl as Dodger.
Gila Sand has ambitiously
directed and written the book, lyrics and
even some of the music to this latest stage
adaptation (along with composer Paul Leschen
and Garrit Guadan). The result is a charming,
entertaining if sometimes off-balance work.
But the good far outweighs the missteps.
At this point I’d
like to note that I attended the very first
preview of Twist which is being presented
by the Midtown International Theatre Festival,
so rickety stage transitions and a particularly
messy climactic tragedy must be forgiven
and given up to the preview gods.
Most everyone knows the
story, but, In this particular Twist,
Oliver is quite the sexual being (he kinkily
enjoys being whipped). As he journeys from
orphanage hell to the dastardly and dangerous
streets of London, he finds himself in dominatrix
Fagin’s house of pickpockets and prostitutes.
Here he falls for a hot and flirty Artful
Dodger, who happens to be Fagin’s
playtoy. He also meets another misfit, the
rich and loopy Lady Downlow:
Lady Downlow: I don’t
like boys that way.
Twist: (excitedly) Do you like girls, then?
Lady Downlow: No. I like shoes.
Although it is set in
the late 1800’s, this Twist feels
mightily contemporary as it tells a bleak
and powerful tale of man’s inhumanity
to man (or to boy, as is the case here)
as well as the triumph of good over evil
(or camp, in this case)!
There has never been an
Oliver Twist quite like this one
and Reymundo Santiago gives him a deeply-sensual,
boyishly-quirky, madly-sexual quality. He
is a boy searching for love and acceptance
and Santiago captures that longing beautifully.
And his singing is quite lovely as well--especially
in the poignant “Bound and Tied.”
Santiago is mesmerizing to watch and has
great comic flair to boot (pun intended!).
Travis Morin is a crafty
and convincing Artful Dodger. His seduction
song, “Sucker,” is one of the
show’s highlights. Morin manages to
redefine Dodger and he completely suckers
us (pun intended again) into believing him.
As villain Bill Sykes,
Jason Griffith is allowed to shine in the
final moments of the work. It’s a
shame his character is relegated to menacing,
(and sexy) window dressing prior to his
inevitable scene of violence since more
of this Sykes would have been a treat. His
mistreated gal, Nancy, is played by the
enchanting Shoshanna Richman. She is also
far too fleetingly featured in this production.
Amanda Sasser is quite
funny as Lady Downlow and ‘Bolero
de la Talones’, her number with Oliver,
is another highlight.
The entire featured ensemble
rocks with scene stealer Martin Gould Cummings
blazing through each of his roles with infectious
Fagin is a wonderful yet
problematic concoction. Definitely an audience-pleaser
part, Garrit Guadan is quite splendid but
his Fagin feels too much a hybrid. At times
I felt he was channeling Charles Busch,
Frank-N-Furter, Miss Coco and Marcia Cross
to name a few!
And, ultimately, I felt
this Fagin was not evil enough. The flamboyant
drag part seemed to overwhelm the evil and
greedy manipulator he should be. I never
truly felt Oliver was in that much danger,
except that he might get a stiletto kick
to his butt--and he’d probably enjoy
it! Fagin’s two star songs don’t
help, since both are silly, showy bits as
opposed to real character development numbers.
A creepier tranny would have been more effective.
The rockish pop score
(nominated for a 2007 Drama Desk Award)
is quite impressive and truly takes off
in the final act with the terrific “Slip
Away” and the haunting “Night
is Quick.” Both these numbers gave
the final dramatic ‘twist’ in
Twist a true power and intensity.
It made me wish the earlier portion of the
score was a bit less campy and, instead,
as penetrating and potent as these two songs.
I think with some more
book and score work and a few tweaks here
and there, this Twist could be
ready for an lengthy off-Broadway run very
TWIST IN CONCERT The
347 West 36th Street
Aug 2, 3 & 4 @ 8PM
TWIST, FINAL NIGHT OF
MITF SHOW: The WorkShop Theatre
312 West 36th Street 4th Floor
August 5th @ 7PM
Tuesday @ 8PM
Wednesday @ 2PM & 8PM
Thursday @ 8PM
Friday @ 8PM
Saturday @ 2PM & 8PM
Sunday @ 3PM
Opened July 10, 2007
Helen Hayes Theater
Reviewed by Frank
Okay, how bloody tiresome
has it become for the Broadway theatregoer
to have to withstand yet another screen-to-stage
translation? In recent years, we’ve
had to suffer through the abysmally bad
(Saturday Night Fever, Footloose)
and the not-so-bad-but-why-the-frig-bother
(The Wedding Singer, Legally
Blonde). And then there’s Disney,
in the ‘ you own the world so just
stop it already’ category. All this
appropriation has shown a complete lack
of originality and proven producers have
no faith in the audience.
Of course, no one has
tackled the bad Hollywood movie musical
adaptation yet. Then again, exactly how
many bad Hollywood movie musicals can actually
boast having a terrific score? Not that
many. Certainly very few in the last thirty
years. Actually one. A notorious debacle
from 1980 known as Xanadu.
Now, I have to admit to
having my own personal love/hate relationship
with the screen mess known as Xanadu.
Every time I watch it (and yes, I have watched
it many times) I keep waiting for it to
be different. I keep wanting the performances
to improve and I keep praying someone will
come along and actually DIRECT and CHOREOGRAPH
those great songs (written by Jeff Lynne
and John Farrar) in some way that isn’t
catastrophically impossible to watch. Alas,
I am always disappointed.
Yet I keep revisiting
Xanadu. Why? I have never quite
figured it out. It isn’t even a very
campy film--the kind that’s so bad
it’s good. But it does feature Olivia
Newton-John and Gene Kelly...and a tiny
spark of a good idea...and have I mentioned
the fantastic score?
When I read about plans
to bring it to Broadway, I thought: “well,
it couldn’t possibly be as bad as
the film.” Then I read that Douglas
Carter Beane, thanks to the dogged persistence
of producer Robert Ahrens, had been cajoled
into writing the book. At that point, I
knew it would have some merit. And I knew
that if anyone could tap into the reason
why so many folks are Xanadu-obsessed,
it was Beane. After all he was responsible
for the brilliantly biting and insightful
play, The Little Dog Laughed, the
funniest work to hit Broadway in the last
few years. (and of course it closed prematurely!)
My hopes were high.
Then casting problems
followed as well as the leading male (James
Carpinello, the only good thing in Saturday
Night Fever) being injured while skating
and having to be replaced. Was all this
I am elated to report
that--Spring Awakening notwithstanding--Xanadu
is the best musical currently running on
Broadway! Actually, it’s the smartest
and most entertaining musical to open in
quite a long time!
How could this be, you
It’s fairly simple.
Assemble the best creative team possible.
Cast actors who are working at the top of
their game. Shake. Stir. Shimmy. Skate!
Part of the heavenly ‘magic’
on display at the Helen Hayes Theatre has
everything to do with a keen awareness of
the tongue-in-cheeky satire at play. But
no one ever condescends to the audience.
Quite the contrary, they invite the audience
in on all the jokes (and they are legion).
Beane has written an intelligent,
witty and clever script and manages to work
several miracles in the process. Firsty,
he remains faithful to the original film
while drastically improving the story, making
spendid script alterations and adding much-needed
character dimensions. He creates a believable,
old-fashioned love story where the audience
roots for Kira and Sonny--even though she’s
a Greek daughter-of-Zeus pretending to be
an Australian and he’s a mere mortal
AND struggling artist.
Beane also does justice
to each and every one of his cast of characters,
so rare in a musical, especially one that
clocks in at ninety minutes! Finally, he
has penned a ton of ovation-inspiring one-liners
that will have you howling with laughter.
The tremendously talented
director, Christopher Ashley (along with
choreographer Dan Knechtges), ingeniously
finds enormously entertaining ways to stage
those wonderful ditties mentioned earlier
(so poorly rendered onscreen). From the
delightful opening number, “I’m
Alive” to the sensational title tune
at the end, Xanadu explodes with
an exuberant and euphoric energy and life,
most musicals would kill for.
A new Broadway star is
born in Kerry Butler. She is absolutely
remarkable as Kira/Clio. Having seen her
shine in Hairspray, Little Shop of Horrors
and the devilishly delightful Bat Boy,
I was still wholly unprepared for her performance
here. She has perfect comic-timing and displays
so much verve and charisma, you will truly
have a tough time taking your eyes off of
her. She also happens to be quite stunning.
Her Kira is a rich parody of Newton-John
infused with some daffy Nicole Kidman, yet
she creates a loveable, complicated and
quite memorable character that is ultimately
her own. She also happens to have a powerhouse
voice and is particularly divine singing
“Magic” and “Suspended
in Time.” Butler fascinates right
up until the curtain call.
When you are able to look
away from Butler, Cheyenne Jackson (All
Shook Up) provides delicious eye-candy,
but so much more than that. From his very
first bit of dialogue, he seduces the audience
and endears himself as a loveable lump of
a hunk, wide-eyed and earnest. It’s
a fabulous performance, filled with comedic
gem moments. Jackson is also an excellent
songman, tearing the roof off with the showstopping
“Don’t Walk Away.” And,
boy, does he look good in those denim shorts.
Tearing through the production
like two hungry tigresses are stage vets
Mary Testa (as Melpomene, muse of Tragedy)
and Jackie Hoffman (as Calliope, muse of
Epics). These two scenery-chewing vamps
have a bloody blast with their parts. The
duo’s rendition of “Evil Woman”
is rousing and ‘nasty’, in the
best sense of that word. Testa’s turn
is particularly Tony-courting.
The rest of the ensemble
seem to be having the time of their lives
as well with Curtis Holbrook providing a
killer tap dance during “Whenever
You’re Away from Me”. Veteran
stage actor, Tony Roberts has his own fun
in the Gene Kelly role and really impresses
as Zeus. One of the oh-so-may highlights
involves both the song “Have You Never
Been Mellow” and the Harryhausen film
Clash of the Titans. I can’t
say more, lest I spoil a classic musical
So, what is it that Beane
and the Xanadu team are able to do what
the original filmmakers couldn’t?
Because...they have found the magic in Xanadu
as well as the irony and the joy. They tell
a simple love story in a complex and interesting
way. They comment on art and the creative
gifts that are given to us. And they show
us a damn good time while doing it. What
more could we ask for? Okay, maybe just
ninety minutes more, because once you see
this show, you will want to see it again...
Tickets $51.25-$111.25 Buy tickets
- Phone 212-239-6200 & 800-432-7250
Helen Hayes |240
W. 44th Street