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New York City - Theatre


Patricia Randell and Charlotte Booker in Deathbed
Photo Credit: Aaron Epstein

Mark Schultz’s
Deathbed
Tuesdays @ 7PM
Wednesday - Saturday @ 8PM
Saturday @ 4PM
Sunday @ 7PM
Through March 1st
McGinn/Cazale Theater

Reviewed by Marguerite Daniels

Read Marguerite Daniels' Iterview With Mark Shultz

Death is a pesky inevitability of life, and it is our response to it which is the subject of Mark Schultz’s Deathbed. Or lack of response, rather, for this isn’t your average cancer/death play. Schultz has crafted a cast of characters who don’t wail, lament, and gnash their teeth when death looms, instead they nonchalantly shrug their shoulders and utter a collective, “Hmm.” Here the living just can’t seem to muster enough energy, caring, and empathy to sympathize with the dying, and the dying appear more interested in obsessing over their impending doom than actually grieving it. If you like a good cry with a cancer diagnosis, then this isn’t your cup of tea. But it’s still very, very witty.

The play opens when Jane (Charlotte Booker) approaches Betty (Patricia Randell) in a waiting room while she is reading a book. Jane, a gregarious busy-body, exclaims the book to be a sad book. A really, really sad book, and they continue to read the book together shadowed down stage right, as the action of the book is dramatized. Just as the audience readies itself for a long-winded journey-to-death play, we are thrust into a vigorous, quick mad dash of a play that lasts a mere fifty minutes.

We meet Martha (Christa Scott-Reed), who dramatically exclaims that she has cancer, and is repeatedly met with a blatant (and very amusing) lack of sympathy by every character she encounters including her husband Danny (Jonathon Walker) and her friend Susan (Emily Donahoe). There is Thomas (Ross Bickell), an elderly man who calmly decides to commit suicide, and the paper boy (Clifton Guterman) who asks if he can witness the death. Then there is arguably the most sympathetic character in the play Steven (Brandon Miller), a gay man who desperately seeks love and physical affection from every character (male or female) he encounters. Throughout the play there are missed connections, and the audience is left feeling more concerned for each character’s isolation and emotional turmoil than sadness for any of the impending deaths.

There are a few technical snafus in Deathbed. The scene changes are abrupt and since the play is very short, set transitions prove a bit jarring. Also, the language of the play lacks a bit of the mastery seen in Schultz’s earlier works, such as Everything Will be Different, which won the 2005 Oppenheimer Award and the 2006 Kesselring Prize, but this is a deliberate exercise on the part of the playwright. In keeping the language spare and concise (pronouns are the first casualties in the play), Schultz is asking the audience to focus on the here, on the now. Or perhaps on a greater life philosophy, there is no point in only mourning death, when in truth we all suffer while we are alive.

Tickets $45 212-352-3101or purchase online at TheaterMania.com

McGinn/Cazale Theater |2162 Broadway
New York, NY 10024


 

 


Photo Credit Fuerzabruta Press

Fuerzabruta
Tuesday - Thursday @ 8PM
Friday 8PM & 10:30PM
Saturday 7PM & 10PM
Sunday 7PM
Closes February 17, 2008

Reviewed by Mindy Hyman

The Brute Force

Fuerzabruta is a fantastical, delectable dream transformed into performance art. It is the type of show that stays in your mind's eye for years to come. Fuerzabruta is an experience; it makes you feel as if you are a mermaid, a bird and an athlete all in one. This show will leave you feeling high on life and ready to fly.

The show starts off with a man running on a large moving treadmill to
portray the fast pace of urban life. He is constantly confronted with obstacles such as people and objects in his way, intense weather conditions and brick walls. He is determined to keep moving- a notion that hits close to home for many New Yorkers. The audience participates in the show by being directed to move by the stage hands in order to allow for the art to take place. Movement of the onlooker
becomes a beautiful metaphor in that we must be open to making space
for new happenings and new ways of viewing art.

The show uses light, color, fabric and other materials to create a sense of in-your-face explosions of interactive art. Harnesses are worn by the performers to create the action of flight. The actors do indeed fly throughout the show and communicate with each other in a non-language that instills a sense of playfulness and ease. Eye candy includes gorgeous women chasing each other and swimming at the audience through a suspended pool playground and a DJ up on a platform creates a set that you can't help but dance to.

Fuerzabruta will take you on such a beautiful fairytale journey that you will be surprised to find yourself in boring old Union Square once again. It is truly a show not to be missed.

Fuerzabruta was created by the same people who created De La Guardia. For more information about Fuerzabruta, log onto: http://www.fuerzabruta.eu/en/

Tickets: $70.00; $35.00 previews; $25.00 rush. 212-239-6200 or 800-432-7250


Daryl Roth Theatre | 20 Union Square East
New York, NY 10003


 

 



Legally Blonde - The Musical
Wednesday 2:00pm & 8:00pm
Thursday 8:00PM
Friday 8:00PM
Saturday 2:00PM & 8:00PM
Sunday 2:00PM, 7:00PM & 8:00PM
The Palace Theatre


Reviewed by Katharine Heller
katharineheller.com


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.

Based on 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 and gets
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.

The stage 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.

The fresh 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 played
by the singly named human, Orfeh.)

The amusing 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.

Tickets $40.00-$110.00 212-307-4747 www.ticketmaster.com

Palace Theatre | 1554 Broadway




Marisa Tomei and Brian Hutchinson in Oh, the Humanity

Will Eno's
Oh, The Humanity and other exclamations
Tuesday - Sunday at 7PM
Saturday Matinees at 3PM
November 3 - February 2, 2008
The Flea Theater


The Humanity in Oh, The Humanity

Reviewed by William S. Gooch

In Oh, The Humanity, playwright Will Eno attempts in five short plays to illuminate the longings of the human heart. Currently playing at the Flea Theatre, Eno is successful most of time in creating intimate insights into human frustrations and our ability to cope with tragedy.

In “Behold the Coach, in a Blazer, Uninsured,” a sports coach (Brian Hutchinson) reflects on a losing season. Told in the format of a press conference, Hutchinson, in a droll, detached manner, compares his team’s losing season to the losing seasons in everyone’s life. Starring blank-eyed at the audience, he asks, “Did anyone have a winning season?”

Trying to find something good about a futile year, Hutchinson blandly replies, “We sold a few hot dogs.” Hutchinson is superb in his interpretation of a man who must find something good about an otherwise fruitless endeavor.

Academy Award-winning actress Marisa Tomei is especially effective as a fish-out-of-water spokeswoman for an airline plane crash in “ Enter the Spokeswoman, Gently.” Totally unprepared for the interchange with family members of the victims, she attempts to inject a little humor by saying, “We hope they enjoyed the inflight movie.” Apologizing for her lack of empathy and decorum, she says, “My degree was in hospitality management, I fell into this field.”

Tomei successfully establishes this character by exposing the character’s discomfort and vulnerabilities. Employing guffaws and awkward body language, Tomei brings to light what it feels like to be out of your element.

“The Bully Composition” is perhaps Eno’s most challenging piece. Tomei and Hutchison have the task of creating characters that transport audiences from a historical event into real time. As two photographers who took pictures of American soldiers during the Spanish-American War, they comment on how photographs, if closely perused, can speak to the emotions people were feeling at the time the photograph was taken. “[Photos] show up the national dilemma in your face. The anxiety is so beautiful.”

Inviting the audience into this photographic world of war and suffering is a sobering request, but Tomei and Hutchinson are adept at manifesting imagery and motivation that makes the request palatable. “ War is not hell, it is not organized enough to be so,” says Hutchison. The stage effect of fog also gives the audience the feeling of looking through a glass darkly, peering between the world of what was and our current world of war and sacrifice.

Eno’s dialogue, though cumbersome and amorphous at times, does give actors the range of situation and character that thespians find so lacking in other arenas. He speaks to that secret place where we all live, where it is okay to be vulnerable, fallible, and oh so human.




Naomi Emmerson in Piaf: Love Conquers All

Roger Peace's
Piaf: Love Conquers All
Saturdays and Sundays 2pm and 8pm
December 8th - Feb 10, 2008
The SoHo Playhouse

Reviewed by Bryan Close


Edith Piaf is a great character. The celebrated French chanteuse was an iconic talent with a larger-than-life personality and a compelling biography – complete with a rags-to-riches prologue, infamous love affairs, tragic losses, heroic involvement in the French Resistance, and debilitating drug addiction. In theatrical terms, this is great stuff. It is easy to see why an enterprising performer such as Naomi Emmerson would be drawn to the role.

Emmerson is currently starring – and singing up a storm – in the one-woman show Piaf: Love Conquers All (at The Soho Playhouse through Jan 20). She is also the show’s producer, director and designer. That’s a pretty impressive bag of chores, and if it seems at times that Emmerson is wearing a hat or two too many, well, so was Piaf, right? Sometimes a little hubris is a good thing. After all, the show comes with the stamps of approval of awards in both Toronto and New York’s fringe festivals.

Sometimes, however, a little healthy hubris combined with too much praise can be dangerous. While Piaf’s high points are high indeed, its low points would be a lot less low if they were less invested in competing with the high points. In other words, this show would benefit from some tough love, including judicious cutting of the script. More of that anon. Meanwhile, there’s a lot here to love.

One might assume that the greatest difficulty in making theater out of Piaf’s life would be finding an actress with the pipes and the verve to do justice to those gloriously bittersweet songs. Good news on this score – Emmerson can sing. More importantly, she can sing like Edith Piaf, which is high praise indeed. Here she fills thirteen of Piaf’s best-known songs (in French) with bountiful, beautiful life. She is very funny singing the saucy “Milord” as a pert fourteen-year-old (never mind the anachronism – “Milord” was actually recorded in 1959, just four years before Piaf’s death – it works). And the amount of feeling and tragic grace she wrings from “Mon Dieu,” sung towards the close of the evening as Piaf is breaking down under the weight of morphine and disease, is amazing to behold. She follows this directly with “Non, Je ne Regrette Rien,” sung in such a pure, straightforward way that is both moving and life-affirming.

The simple, abstract set also strikes a perfect note – black and white with touches of red (a scarf, an umbrella, roses). The furniture is all skewed pen and ink drawings come to life at odd angles – Eloise meets Dr. Caligari – suggesting both whimsy and madness. Accompaniment is skillfully provided by Carmela Sinco, half-hidden upstage behind a draped scrim.

Unfortunately, however, this Vie is not all Rose. Roger Peace’s script never rises above the level of dreary and-then-this-happened narration. Also unfortunate is that the ferocious energy that so beautifully animates Emmerson’s singing (and the lovely choreography that goes with it), often leads her acting astray. There is far too much talking in the show to far too little purpose, and Emmerson the director has not done Emmerson the performer any favors by allowing her to over-emote so consistently and egregiously. The production so misunderstands its own strengths and weaknesses that at one point Emmerson-as-Piaf says, “But it is not my songs you want to hear about,” before launching into another over-long story, all-too-similar to the last over-long story.

She is wrong, of course. The songs are why we’re there. And they are beautiful.

Tickets: Regular $45, Seniors $35, Student $25.00 212-691-1555
For more information or advance purchasesohoplayhouse.com & lvrproductions.com.

The SoHo Playhouse | 15 Vandam St. NY NY 10013
(between 6th and Varick)
(C/E line to Spring Station-“1” to Houston)
212-691-1555




Shel Silverstein's
Shel's Shorts
Schedule Varies
Through Feb 23, 2008
78th Street Theater La


Reviewed by Allison Ford

Most children’s first experience with poetry begins with the works of Shel Silverstein. His books “The Giving Tree” (1964), “Where the Sidewalk Ends,” 1974) and “A Light in the Attic” (1981) are the funny, touching, and even sometimes dark and subversive products of a singularly creative mind.

Silverstein’s legacy will undoubtedly be tied to his children’s’ books and poetry, although Silverstein never intended to be a children’s writer. The majority of his works are adult-oriented, with the requisite lewd humor, scatological references, and macabre themes. He is the writer of such songs as “A Boy Named Sue,” “Cover of the Rolling Stone,” and even a cautionary song about venereal disease, “Don’t Give a Dose to the One You Love Most.” His literary style, which is evident even in the works primarily read by children, is gleefully cockeyed and unique.

Along with his books, songs, and music, Silverstein also wrote many short plays, ruminating on themes absurd, tender, and outrageous. Shel’s Shorts, currently running at the 78th Street Theater Lab, is a production of fourteen of his short works that is at the same time arrestingly funny, sweetly neurotic, and subversively dark. The plots of these shorts are varied, and rooted in the sometimes wacky realities of everyday life…two plumbers analyze their dreams…a woman ruminates on the inconvenience of her hangnails...a man perilously misinterprets a warning sign…a woman adds an element of surprise to her husband’s favorite game.

The production has a whimsical, handmade feel, which is a perfect accompaniment to Silverstein’s poetic approach and illustrative style. Anything too slick or over-produced would do disservice to the stories, which strive to be accessible and everyday. The talented cast delivers meditations on the peculiarities of life situations, mundane and far-fetched, and the great pleasure is watching the arc and the development of each individual storyline. The pitfall of most short plays and one-acts is that too often, the audience never has the chance to see a whole story unfold, or to see characters develop. It is a credit to both Silverstein and the cast of Shel’s Shorts that in this production, the characters are all dynamic and real. In most short-form theater, the audience never really has the opportunity to develop an attachment to the characters, but in this show, I was often sad when a scene ended, knowing that a particularly likeable character wouldn’t be back. The scenes, despite their brevity, are whole and complete stories, some with dramatic arcs more developed than full-length plays.

There isn’t a single scene that falls flat, or stays static. The actors are uniformly excellent, portraying an array of characters with their own little quirks and peccadilloes. Every character develops and changes, and many scenes progress in ways that are very different then the audience first assumes. Amanda Byron is a standout in “No Dogs Allowed,” as a woman vacationing with her, ahem, ‘husband.’ She is also excellent alongside Michael Baker in “Gone to Take A…,” wherein a male employee makes a serious error in judgment. Amy Hattemer is a comedic gem in “All Cotton,” as a complaining customer who is not what she seems to be.

The shorts, in some way or another, all explore the theme of rule-breaking. Should we blindly follow the rules as posted, or explore paths unknown? In some characters this manifests as merely neurosis, while other characters examine their fears outright, but the characters reflect that every person has the choice to either obey the rules or subvert the status quo, and each short scene has a different, slightly skewed version of this reality.

Shel’s Shorts is not for children. This is definitely adult content, with profanity, bawdy humor, implied bestiality, and references to ‘skronking,’ (whatever that might be). These should not be considered caveats for the faint of heart, though. The humor is ripe, modern, witty, and wild, and many times I laughed until I cried.

The best part of Shel’s Shorts is that it reminds the audience about an almost-forgotten childhood favorite, and encourages them to re-examine Shel Silverstein’s ribald works as adults. Project: Theater, the producing organization of the show, dedicates themselves to engaging new or forgotten works, with an emphasis on the dialogue between artist and audience, along with affordability and accessibility. Shel’s Shorts is a perfect choice to represent their message, as these short slices of life are as human, touching, and sometimes ridiculous as real life. It’s a great evening of comedy, and a perfect way for the audience to rediscover the talented Shel Silverstein that they never knew existed.

Shel’s Shorts is playing at the 78th Street Theater Lab (236 W. 78th St.) through February 23rd.

Tickets are $18.00 and can be ordered by phone at 800-838-3006 or by logging onto http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/25957

78th Street Theater Lab |236 West 78th Street
New York, NY 10024




Steve Sater & Duncan Sheik’s
Spring Awakening
Monday 8:00pm
Wednesday 8:00pm
Thursday 8:00pm
Friday 8:00pm
Saturday 2:00pm & 8:00pm
Sunday 2:00pm & 7:00pm
Eugene O'Neill Theatre

Reviewed by Frank J. Avella

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, hormonally-bonkers characters.

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 the rafters!

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”).

Michele’s Wendla 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 well.

Beyond the masterful score, near-perfect performances and deft direction, I had
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 their fates.

Spring Awakening is a triumph that should be seen by anyone who cares about the future of musical theatre.

Tickets $66.25-$111.25 at www.telecharge.com

Eugene O'Neill Theatre | 230 West 49th Street | New York, NY 10036




Xanadu
Tuesday @ 8PM
Wednesday @ 2PM & 8PM
Thursday @ 8PM
Friday @ 8PM
Saturday @ 2PM & 8PM
Sunday @ 3PM
Opened July 10, 2007
Helen Hayes Theater


Reviewed by Frank J. Avella

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 a sign?

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 ask?

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. Yikes!

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 theatre moment.

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...

Xanadu Tickets $51.25-$111.25 Buy tickets online www.telecharge.com - Phone 212-239-6200 & 800-432-7250


Helen Hayes |240 W. 44th Street


 

 


 

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