Curse of Oedipus, The
Antaeus Theater

First produced at the Williamstown Theater Festival in a two-evening version entitled “The Legend of Oedipus” and then workshopped in an abbreviated version at the Getty Villa in L.A., The Curse of Oedipushas now been sculpted into a 2 1/2-hour-long performance piece by the Antaeus Company.

Willard Manus
Gimplecapped
Theater Asylum

One of the surprise hits of the 2014 Hollywood Fringe Festival, Gimplecapped showcases the work of an ensemble of handicapped actors who refuse to be defeated by their infirmities. Not only that, they’re not afraid to laugh at themselves in a series of scripted sketches (and songs) that brim over with cheeky, irreverent humor.

Willard Manus
Becoming Dr. Ruth
Florida Studio Theater - Keating Mainstage

Inviting us into the living room of the New York City apartment she’s vacating after her third husband’s death, Dr. Ruth Westheimer revels in the chance to tell her life story onstage. Only a few intermittent calls make her pause as she recalls her past, starting with losing her German family and home as the Kindertransport sends her to a hard childhood in a Swiss orphanage. Only at the end of her tale to date will a conclusion come to her sad wondering about those closest to her whom she left behind.

Marie J. Kilker
Much Ado About Nothing
Delacorte Theater

Before us we see a villa; the green doors, striped awning, and balcony set the scene in Italy, more specifically, Messina. Filling out the stage are a high wall, covered in ivy; an orange tree; a fountain; and a garden, in full flower. Two women enter, sit down, and begin to chat while the outdoor Delacorte audience mills about. Soon the stage is alive with other characters, all speaking Italian; music actually makes the wall move. By the costumes, we can guess that the time is the late 1800’s. The audience quiets, and another magical evening of Shakespeare in the Park begins.

Michall Jeffers
Price, The
Florida State University Center for the Performing Arts - Cook Theater

Early fall, 1968, an attic of a decaying NYC brownstone about to succumb to wrecking ball and loaded with dusty, once elegant furnishings, with its fourth wall removed, is the setting for a dramatic experience of classic modern realism.

Marie J. Kilker
Phantom of the Opera, The
Majestic Theater

On May 12, 2014, Norm Lewis made theater history by becoming became the first African-American performer to play the title role in The Phantom of the Operaon Broadway. Sierra Boggess returned to Christine, the role that has won her acclaim in the London and Broadway 25th Anniversaries.

Jeannie Lieberman
Women
Theater Asylum

Working from a smart, snappy script by Chiara Atik, a nine-person ensemble cast turns Womeninto a comic romp that is packing ‘em in at the 2014 Hollywood Fringe Festival.

Willard Manus
Shakespeare's Ten Epic Plays at a Breakneck Pace
Venice Theater's Pinkerton

What’s it like for one man to sub for a large troupe from Togo? When visa problems kept the Togo company away from the AACT World Fest 2014 in Florida, Tim Mooney stepped from an exhibit of his adaptations of Moliere and Shakespeare’s works and his other books onto Venice Theater’s second, intimate stage. With barely a bead of sweat, he works his way quickly and notably through the history of England’s kings from John to Henry VIII in actuality and via Shakespeare’s relevant plays.

Marie J. Kilker
Holler if Ya Hear Me
Palace Theater

The hip-hop show Holler if Ya Hear Me, book by Todd Kreidler, lyrics by Tupak Shakur, directed by Kenny Leon, choreographed by Wayne Cilento, is basically kvetching about the problems of being black and the desperation of being trapped in the conflicts of the neighborhood, all performed in rhymed slang verse. Saul Williams plays the ultimately self-destructive protagonist, and he is a vivid performer.

Richmond Shepard
Last Confession, The
Ahmanson Theater

Poirot to the rescue.

Well, not quite. This time around, David Suchet, now in the guise of an enlightened Vatican cardinal, tries but fails to solve the suspicious death of a newly elected pope, John Paul I (Richard O’Callaghan). In Roger Crane’s The Last Confession, Suchet plays a man of the cloth, Giovanni Benelli, who feels guilty for having failed to stand up for the liberal John Paul I when he was under attack by reactionaries in the Vatican.

Willard Manus
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

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