Noises Off
Contemporary Theater of Dallas

Noises Off,now playing at Contemporary Theater of Dallas, is British playwright Michael Frayn's funniest play. Originally produced in England in 1982, it is a play-within-a-play that involves a second-rate theatrical troupe producing the play, “Nothing On.”

Rita Faye Smith
Clown Bar
The Box

Clown Bar, a production of the Pipeline Theater Company at The Box on Chrystie Street, is a kind of vaudeville show/Halloween party by Adam Szymkowicz, with music and additional lyrics by Adam Overlett. Directed by Andrew Neisler, the show creates a kind of Clown Mystique which, real or imaginary, is quite entertaining. The cast is red-nosed, white-faced and loud, and they give you a red nose to wear as you enter.

Richmond Shepard
Dixie Swim Club, The
The Players - Mainstage

“The faster we swim, the sooner we win” proclaim former collegiate women’s swimming champs. They’re still in a close social swim with each other, meeting every few decades from 1980 to the present in a rented beach house. But each has a distinctly different personality and leads a different life.

Marie J. Kilker
Country House, The
Geffen Playhouse

The skillful and successful playwright Donald Margulies returns to the Geffen Playhouse for the sixth time with his latest work, The Country House. Commissioned by Manhattan Theater Club, which will mount the play on Broadway this fall, The Country House is a bittersweet take on a theatrical family headed by Anna Patterson (Blythe Danner), a once-famous stage actress whose career was impacted by the sudden death of her 41-year old daughter, Kathy. Grief-stricken, Anna was unable to work for a year.

Willard Manus
Pump Boys and Dinettes
Florida Studio Theater - Gompertz

As originally conceived, Pump Boys and Dinettes is a satirical mini-musical with a semblance of a plot. In its latest Florida Studio Theater production, though, it pretty much emulates the cabaret revues for which FST has become famous. And audiences eat it up as with the pie and coffee served at intermission.

Marie J. Kilker
Cripple of Inishmaan, The
Cort Theater

Daniel Radcliffe will always be young Harry Potter to millions of fans. But I am here to report that the little boy has grown up, both as a man and as an actor. Now starring in his third Broadway show (following Equus and How to Succeed...), Radcliffe portrays Billy, the title character of Martin McDonagh's wonderful play, The Cripple of Inishmaan. The role is arduous, mentally as well as physically. Unlike, say, in The Elephant Man, the main character really appears to be crippled.

Elyse Trevers
After Midnight
Brooks Atkinson Theater

To celebrate jazz great Duke Ellington and his orchestra, as well as the 1923-heyday of the Cotton Club, Wynton Marsalis has handpicked a 17-piece big band and 25 performers to recreate the era in After Midnightat the Brooks Atkinson Theater.

TV’s Dule Hill (“Psych,” “The West Wing”) serves as emcee and quotes poetry from Langston Hughes. Sometimes he is the transition from one act into the next with his pleasant manner, smiling face and tap dancing.

Elyse Trevers
Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, A
Walter Kerr Theater

It's hard enough playing one role in a play, but this season Jefferson Mays is entertaining audiences by portraying an entire family. And he does it with resounding success.

Elyse Trevers
Aladdin
New Amsterdam Theater

It seems like almost everything Disney touches on Broadway turns to gold when they successfully translate animated movies into lavish family-friendly stage shows. The most recent, Aladdin,based on the extremely successful 1992 movie, is no exception.

Elyse Trevers
Shakespeare in Hollywood
Irving Theater - Mainstage

Irving Community Theater (aka Mainstage Irving) mounted a frenetic production of Shakespeare in Hollywood, but with a Ken Ludwig (Lend Me a Tenor, Moon Over Buffalo, Crazy For You)play, what other kind of production could there be? The farce, commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company, had its world premiere in 2003 at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. and won the Helen Hayes Award as Best New Play of the Year.

Rita Faye Smith
Baritones Unbound
Florida State University Center for the Performing Arts - Mertz Theater

If you go thinking Baritones Unbound will imitate a famous tenors trio in a different key, are you in for a surprise! When Mark Delavan, highest toned of them, promises you “Some Enchanted Evening,” it means magic is ahead. With lowest-down baritone Jeff Mattsey, as well as Marc Kudisch, who musically gives a new meaning to sliding, the three produce a classy lead-up to ever-popular music in their classically American register. When it’s followed by a plea not just for revival but rescue, you’ll want to bind yourself to their cause.

Marie J. Kilker
Death of the Author
Geffen Playhouse

You wouldn’t think a play about such arcane subjects as plagiarism and postmodern literature would be of much interest to non-academics, but Steven Drukman’s Death of the Authorproves that theory wrong Although the play does get bogged down at times in a repetitive argument about the worth of certain contemporary literary disciplines, there is enough satire and humanity in it to satisfy a general audience. Also, a first-rate cast led by Orson Bean as a Falstaffian professor keeps breathing warm life into what could have been a long, chilly evening.

Willard Manus
BenDeLaCreme
Laurie Beechman Theater

The wonderfully intimate, 80-seat, Laurie Beecham Theater, situated across from Theater Row and a few blocks west of Broadway is one of my favorite theatrical venues. It’s located on the lower level at the West Bank Café, itself one of my favorite Pre and Post-theater drink-and-dinner haunts (their drinks are divine, and the menu’s addictive black linguini with shrimp, tomato, and sweet garlic, served at the both restaurant and theater, is to die for).

Edward Rubin
Beautiful
Stephen Sondheim Theater

The near-jubilation emanating from the Stephen Sondheim Theater as its doors open to let the revelers out is the response to the new season’s Beautiful - The Carole King Musical,a spirited jukebox production which offers a feel-good evening of special delight to her fans and all those who just want a slick, nostalgic, music-packed evening of familiar upbeat music unhindered by the hubris of deep insights or messages delivered. And there’s nothing wrong with that!

Jeannie Lieberman
Aladdin
New Amsterdam Theater

Disney Does It Again! Delivers the requisite feel-good family show utilizing all the resources at hand.

Jeannie Lieberman
The Bridges of Madison County
Gerald Schoenfeld Theater

If you loved Robert James Waller’s 1992 book and got teary through the Meryl Streep/Clint Eastwood 1995 movie of “The Bridges of Madison County,” nothing brings a story home as watching it live onstage. This version is utterly and unabashedly romantic. Especially when bathed in Jason Robert Brown’s lush score and sensitively directed by Bartlett Sher.

Jeannie Lieberman
After Midnight
Brooks Atkinson Theater

In a season rife with the cerebral pleasures of Shakespeare, Pinter and Beckett, its time to get visceral. As Dulé Hill advises, drawing on Langston Hughes for narrative touches throughout: after midnight in Harlem your heartbeat is a drum beat. And indeed, the first drumbeat laid out by the 16 musicians hand-picked by artistic director Wynton Marsalis, called The Jazz at Lincoln Center All-Stars, launches you on a magical musical carpet ride that will eventually carry you on out to the street.

Jeannie Lieberman
Gruesome Playground Injuries
Theatre/Theater

Rogue Machine kicks off its seventh season with a superb production of Rajiv (Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo) Joseph’s Gruesome Playground Injuries.This two-hander, beautifully acted by Brad Fleischer and Jules Willcox, tells the story of Doug and Kayleen, self-professed “retardos” who first connect when they are eight and stay connected until they are thirty-eight, sometimes physically, always psychically.

Willard Manus
I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti
Florida State University Center for the Performing Arts - Cook Theater

Plot? See title: I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti. Vivacious Antoinette LaVecchia finds Giulia Melucci’s recollections of the men she loved and lost (probably for the better) present no barrier to trying again. Still, just as she embarked in the past on romances with four different guys, she’s equating making food with dishing out love.

Marie J. Kilker
I Hear America Singing
Broadway Theater Center - Studio Theater

Writing an opera is hard work. Writing a musical is also hard work. When you try to combine the two, it can result in something beautiful or become a train wreck. Unfortunately, the latter is mainly the case in the world premiere of Daron Hagen’s I Hear America Singing,at Milwaukee’s Skylight Music Theater.

Anne Siegel
Equally Divided
Bath House Cultural Center

Equally Dividedby Ronald Harwood, presented by One Thirty productions, is one of the funniest and most well-done productions on a Dallas stage this season. Set in the British coastal town of Bournemouth in the antique-filled living room of Edith Taylor (Gene Raye Price) and her late mother, the play relates a story of classic sibling rivalry.

Rita Faye Smith
Hair
Broadway Theater Center - Cabot Theater

Almost 50 years ago, Hair rocked the country with its brazen (and, as some would say at the time, un-American) view of war, drugs, sex and the U.S. government. It wasn’t the first rock musical, but it’s the one that has stayed with us over time. Even those who never bought a ticket to Hairprobably can recall lyrics from some of its songs: “Aquarius,” “Easy to Be Hard,” “Let the Sun Shine In,” and, of course, the title song.

Anne Siegel
Act One
Vivian Beaumont Theater

Act One, the 1959 jam-packed memoir of Moss Hart, is the bible of many theater lovers. A beloved book, however, does not necessarily translate into riveting theater. Through his passion for the stage, Hart moves from his impoverished Bronx childhood up to playwright heaven with hits on Broadway like The Man Who Came to Dinner,co-written with George S. Kaufman. A stage-struck kid of any age can relate to this rags-to-riches tale.

Elizabeth Ahlfors
Mary Poppins
Westchester Broadway Theater

The Westchester Broadway Theater is the longest running, year-round Equity theater in the history of New York State. On July 9, 2014, the theater will celebrate its 40th anniversary. The very first musical was Kiss Me Kate;183 main-stage productions followed. The theater has become a cultural mainstay of Westchester County.

Michall Jeffers
City of Conversation, The
Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater

In its debut at Lincoln Center Theater, Anthony Giardina's The City of Conversation proves that harrowing and funny tete-a-tetes make for powerful political drama. The center of this compelling play is not the politician himself but his magnetic mistress, Hester Ferris, a sharp, liberal Washington DC hostess played by Jan Maxwell (Follies),who knows all the movers and shakers in the Nation's Capital.

Elizabeth Ahlfors
different words for the same thing
Kirk Douglas Theater

A kind of 21st-century Our Town, Kimber Lee’s different words for the same thing[sic] looks at a cross-section of the town of Nampa, Idaho, where green Jello is considered a specialty dessert and the First Church of Nazarene rules the roost.

Willard Manus
Hero
Florida State University Center for the Performing Arts - Mertz Theater

Hero Batowski has to succeed as a unique comic artist by drawing his own experiences in his own style rather than imitating others’ superhero creations. He also needs to get over paralyzing feelings over the death of his mom, loss of his high-school girl,and supplying help he thinks his father needs to sustain his comics store. In Hero: The Musical, the titular character faces his problems accompanied by best pal Kirk and to a nice pop-rock score.

Marie J. Kilker
Irma La Douce
City Center

Quel dommage! Even with John Lee Beatty's decorative French bar set and catchy tunes by Marguerite Monnot, this revival of Irma La Doucenever revives. Encores!' final production of the season fails to deliver the excitement of the original Broadway production in 1960 that ran more than 500 performances. (While there was also a film version starring Shirley MacLaine, all the music was cut, so enough about that.)

Elizabeth Ahlfors
Nicholas Nickleby
Theater for the New City

Promises are nothing new in the world of writers ranging from Charles Dickens to Robert Frost – whether they are Frost’s “promises to keep” or Dickens’ promises characters make (and often break) to each other. Promises are also a beautiful way we create bonds to each other and a way the living remain indebted to those who have passed away.

Claude Solnik
Delicate Balance, A
Odyssey Theater

This revival of Albee’s 1966 Pulitzer-Prize-winning play, A Delicate Balance, is noteworthy for many reasons, beginning with its superb cast, who handle the playwright’s tart, literary dialogue with seemingly effortless ease and skill. They also deliver performances that breathe vigorous life into characters that border on caricature.

Willard Manus
City of Conversation, The
Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater

The title city is Washington, D.C., where schmoozing, not action, is often the order of the day. In this case, more specifically, it’s Georgetown, where the Capitol Hill elite chitchat over drinks, and where outsiders aren’t welcome. Hester Ferris (Jan Maxell) has a favorite story, which she’s happy to repeat at the drop of a hat. One evening, she was at an intimate dinner with, among others, Jack Kennedy. He seemed out of sorts and sought expert advice from another guest on how to deal with the Soviets. And that is how he came to solve the Cuban Missile Crisis. Ah, the good old days.

Michall Jeffers
Unorganized Crime
Elephant Theater

The subtitle of Unorganized Crime could almost be: There will be Italian Blood. The new drama by Kenny D’Aquila about a Mafia family in Dearborn, Michigan, is shot through with violence: three murders in 75 minutes. At the same time, the play is wildly funny in a profane, outrageous way. The resulting mixture is a cross between Grand Guignol and cable-tv sitcom.

Willard Manus
Forbidden Broadway
Davenport Theater

It’s considered an honor for a show or performer to be skewered by Forbidden Broadway, which has been relished by the theater in crowd for the past 30 years. Who else but someone in the know would get the joke, “I live here with my two children and Sutton Foster’s brother” from The Bridges Of Madison County?Each edition features new material about current productions, and a few old favorites as well. The writing, by founder and director Gerard Alessandrini (with additional dialogue by co-director Phillip George) is wry, pointed, and sometimes silly.

Michall Jeffers
Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, A
Walter Kerr Theater

The time is ripe for a good laugh, either for the first time, or for a revisit. A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murderis arguably the best musical of the season, and very possibly the best play, period.

Michall Jeffers
Satchmo at the Waldorf
Westside Theater

John Douglas Thompson gives a very strong, quite convincing performance playing two dynamic characters in Satchmo at the Waldorf by Terry Teachout. Thompson plays trumpet player/singer Louis Armstrong, about to perform his last gig at age seventy, and his manager, Joe Glaser, deftly switching voice, physicality and tone from distinct character to distinct character as Armstrong’s life and career are revealed, from poor New Orleans boy to major star to his conflict with Glaser.

Richmond Shepard
Realistic Joneses, The
Lyceum Theater

Will Eno’s The Realistic Joneses, directed by Sam Gold, struck me as the lowest level of sophomoric sitcom aimed at an I.Q. of about 60, who might, out of laugh-track habit, laugh when the actors hit a punch line – or don’t.

Richmond Shepard
Act One
Vivian Beaumont Theater

Moss Hart’s autobiographical “Act One” is one of the best books ever written on the intricacies of putting a play together and taking it to Broadway. The play of the same name, written and directed by James Lapine, gives us, in act one, an overblown expansion of the background leading up to the collaboration between Hart and the well-known writer George S. Kaufman. Act two gives us the meat of the book: the process of creating, of taking a show on out-of-town tryouts, the frustrations, steps up the ladder, and the payoff.

Richmond Shepard
Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, A
Walter Kerr Theater

Like a delicious old movie on a rainy afternoon, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder is a clever and hilarious murder mystery, except that we know who-done-it, and the mystery is how he'll do the next one. It's a page-turner, but on stage and with songs.

Elizabeth Ahlfors
Satchmo at the Waldorf
Westside Theater

There is the smiling Louis Armstrong of popular legend, trumpet in hand, ubiquitous hanky, singing "Hello, Dolly!" in his iconic gravelly voice. There is also jazz giant Louis Armstrong, “a walking Smithsonian Institution of jazz.” Both are Louis Armstrong, an open, gregarious man who accepted the role of singer and entertainer and was proud of his jazz chops. He was a man who made compromises in life, an entertainer beloved by the people until the end, but hurt and angered by criticism and disrespect, especially from those of his own race.

Elizabeth Ahlfors
Sea Marks
Irish Repertory Theater

From the very first line of Sea Marks, we understand that Colm (Patrick Fitzgerald) is a man of the sea. He and his Irish neighbors live on the island of Cliffhorn Heads, at the very edge of the water; they fish to earn a living and for the food that they eat; and no matter where they may go, or what they may do, the salt water in their veins will always call them home.

Michall Jeffers

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