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Jessica Luck, Zainab Jah, Ann Harada, Lisa Lampanelli_Photo Carol Rosegg Stuffed

I’ve said it before, but it bears repetition: Comedy is the most democratic form of entertainment. If they laugh, it’s funny. If they don’t, it isn’t. Are there mitigating circumstances of demographic and type of performance? Sure. But for now let’s hew to a general-audience New York City “sophisticate” median, which is this: the laughs are steady and consistent throughout.

Not so much at the TACT revival of Oliver Goldsmith’s popular 1773 comedy of manners, She Stoops to Conquer on Theatre Row. Due to the crunch of openings, I had to get to it late in its run, which is ended this past weekend, but it didn’t bear much examination. Directed by Scott Alan Evans, it featured a company of agreeable actors, most of whom exhibited a sense of humor, none of whom evidenced the deadly “tin ear,” but none of whom, alas, seem naturally funny. It was all a bit like a decent-enough college thesis production.

Comedienne Lisa Lampanelli’s Stuffed, heading toward the last roundup of an extended engagement at the Women’s Project Theatre isn’t so much a play as a mildly obscenity-laced Shavian dialectic—by which I mean in the tradition, not in the linguistic style—about four female friends, their relationship to food and consequently to their bodies as well. It says something to the lack of actual story or dramatic tension that the piece, set in a living room, is only tangentially about their relationships to each other. Because she is a stand-up comedy specialist, Ms. Lampanelli, who also appears in the play (along with Ann Harada, Zalnab Jah and Jessica Luck) certainly delivers the cadences of comedy and has surrounded herself with supporting players who can likewise both deliver and, in the set-up sense, “feed”—but the playing style, under Jackson Gay’s direction, never lets you forget you’re watching an artificial, rehearsed construct; and without question, its target audience (who offer up most of the laughs) is indeed women. While there’s no man-basing involved (it’s a good-hearted evening) men may nonetheless feel they’ve wandered into an exclusive club where there’s a difference between getting the jokes and being in on them. Not, as the saying goes, that there’s anything wrong with that, but I also think it’s telling that Ms. Lampanelli’s (seemingly?) impromptu curtain speech, delivered standup style, which stays more-or-less “on message,” is lots funnier than the play itself.

 Oh Hello on Broadway

Oh, Hello on Broadway Photo Credit Luke Fontana

For me personally, Oh, Hello on Broadway wore out its welcome well before it was over, but that’s basically because I was done with the premise—two culturally very hip younger funnymen in codger drag (Nick Kroll and John Mulaney) playing two B-list showbiz senior citizens who only think they’re culturally hip—went a long way, rambling, as it did, through various bits made to cohere as an evening via a very loose structure. But Kroll & Mulaney have a pop culture cachet at the moment, and they do come by their laughs honestly in that they’re adept comic practitioners. It’s far less parochial comedy than Stuffed, though I guess one might convincingly argue that in its weird way, it’s the guy-stuffed aesthetic opposite, and if you’re into the team, you may not feel the 90 minute length as I did. Direction which stays admirably out of the way is by Alex Timbers.

The Front Page

John Slattery, Nathan Lane

All of which builds up to the current revival of Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur’s classic newspaper comedy (with occasional elements of farce), The Front Page. It is directed by Jack O’Brien, the production captures 1928 playing style—or in any event, presents the illusion of same—flawlessly, the perfect invisible ringmaster of a large cast and controlled-frantic staging around a large press room set, every now and again pausing for a flashbulb frieze flourish. This is comedy of a very high octane, wherein absolute masters of the funny are supported by experts at feeding them setups, with a smattering of folks who go brilliantly back and forth between the two tasks. Exemplifying total mastery—of course—is Nathan Lane as opportunistic editor Walter Burns. And if John Slattery is a little too old for can’t block-the-news-nose Hildy Johnson and only a very good rather than spectacular actor, that’s okay; he has exactly as much of everything he needs to deliver in style as he sets up the game in Act One and becomes a perfect foil for Mr. Lane in the remaining two. Caveats? One. An artifact of the time in which the play was written is a far-too-long expositional set up, not easily cut down. You have to wade through that. Oh, but the reward for the effort is simply spectacular.

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David Spencer is an award-winning composer-lyricist, lyricist-librettist, author and musical theatre teacher. He has written music and lyrics for the Richard Rodgers Development Award-winning musical The Fabulist, which also contributed to his winning a Kleban lyrics award and several Gilman & Gonzalez-Falla Theatre Foundation grants. He is also lyricist-librettist for two musicals with composer Alan Menken: Weird Romance (WPA 1992, York 2004) and The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, which had its sold out, extended world premiere in Montreal in Summer 2015; cast album release soon. He made his professional debut in 1984 with the English Adaptation of La Bohéme at the Public Theatre; and he has since written music and lyrics for Theatreworks/USA’s all-new, award-winning Young Audience versions of The Phantom of the Opera (1996) and Les Misérables (1999) (book and direction for both by Rob Barron). Currently he is writing book, music and lyrics for a musical based on the iconic Russian novel The Golden Calf. Spencer’s published books are the Alien Nation novel Passing Fancy (Pocket, 1994), The Musical Theatre Writer’s Survival Guide (Heinemann, 2005, a regularly reprinted industry standard) and the script of Weird Romance (Samuel French, 1993). He is on faculty and teaches at the BMI-Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop and has taught at HB Studio, the Workshop Studio Theater and Goldsmith’s College in London. His primary professional affiliations are BMI, The Dramatists Guild and The International Association of Media Tie-in Writers.


Head To The The Algonquin Hotel For Some Holiday Cheer



As we head into the holiday season, The Algonquin Hotel’s December event lineup is open to both hotel guests and New York City locals. The hotel will spread holiday cheer with a variety of festive performances, cocktails, and experiences including:

  • Cocoa and Carols Happy Hour: Daily, 5-8PM, Every evening this December, all are invited to enjoy Specialty Cocoa while Christmas carols chime at the Blue Bar. Drinks will include Mexican Hot Chocolate spiked with mezcal
  • KT Sullivan Cabaret:  December 5th, 12th and 19th, Sullivan will perform her iconic Christmas Cabaret. As noted by The New York Times, Sullivan is a thrilling Off-Broadway performer with over eight published albums
  • Rocco Dellaneve’s Rat Pack Christmas: December 7th, 14th and 21st, Rocco Dellaneve will perform iconic songs from the Rat Pack Christmas album with special inclusions of Santa with Sinatra, Rocco of the Snow, Rudolph and the Rat pack
  • The Serafina’s and Broadway Vocalists: December 8th, 15th and 22nd, enjoy the high kicking – precision line dancing Christmas tradition around The Algonquin tree. The Serafina’s will be available for pictures and autographs from 6pm to 7pm, followed by special Broadway vocalists

A portion of proceeds from all events will be donated to Toys for Tots.

Beyond the December events, The Algonquin Hotel is located in a prime position nestled in the heart of Times Square and Fifth Avenue, making it the perfect launchpad for a New York City holiday experience. The hotel is a historical jewel that emphasizes the importance of making unique, storied experiences. Since its opening in 1902, The Algonquin Hotel is famous for its timeless style and desire to honor the literary and cultural elite. The distinguished Round Table Restaurant and Blue Bar offer tasteful dining inclusions and curated cocktails that are sure to excite everyone.

Photo credit: The Algonquin Hotel, Autograph Collection


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Book Reviews

Countdown to Christmas: For The Dancer and Theatre Lover Chita Rivera



2o days to go! Every year people panic to find the perfect gift. We at T2C have been collecting idea’s all year long to bring you the perfect gift guide at all price levels. When you’re at the end of your rope trying to find the perfect Christmas present this year, come to this guide for some great suggestions.

Chita & Patrick Pacheco at Drama Book Shop event May 15, 2023 Photo by Merle Frimark

There are a lot of books out there this year but we highly recommend Chita: A Memoir , the critically-acclaimed book is written by the legendary Broadway icon Chita Rivera with arts journalist Patrick Pacheco. Chita takes fans behind-the-scenes of all her shows and cabaret acts, she shares candid stories of her many colleagues, friends, and lovers. She speaks with empathy and hindsight of her deep associations with complicated geniuses like Fosse and Robbins, as well as with the mega-talent Liza Minnelli, with whom she co-starred in The Rink. She openly discusses her affair with Sammy Davis, Jr. as well as her marriage to Tony Mordente and her subsequent off-the-radar relationships. Chita revisits the terrible car accident that threatened to end her career as a dancer forever. Center stage to Chita’s story are John Kander and Fred Ebb, the songwriters and dear friends indelibly tied to her career through some of her most enduring work: Chicago, The Rink, Kiss of the Spider Woman, and The Visit.

Chita’s love of performing began as a child in Washington, D.C., when her mother enrolled her in a local ballet school to channel her boundless energy. Still a teenager, she moved to New York to attend the School of American Ballet after an audition for George Balanchine himself and winning a scholarship. But Broadway beckoned, and by twenty she was appearing in the choruses of Golden Age shows like Guys and Dolls and Can-Can. In the latter, she received special encouragement from its star Gwen Verdon, forging a personal and professional friendship that would help shape her career. The groundbreaking West Side Story brought her into the orbit of Leonard Bernstein, Jerome Robbins, Arthur Laurents, Hal Prince, and Stephen Sondheim.  After Bye Bye Birdie further burnished her rising star, she reunited with Verdon and her then-husband Bob Fosse to work on the film version of Sweet Charity and the celebrated original Broadway production of Chicago.

Chita: A Memoir was published in English and Spanish and the English audio version of the Memoir was recorded by Chita.  A Spanish audio version is also available. 

“Chita Rivera blazed a trail where none existed so the rest of us could see a path forward. She has been part of some of the greatest musicals in the history of the form, from Anita in the trailblazing West Side Story through Claire Zachanassian in the underrated masterpiece The Visit, over 60 years later. She is a Puerto Rican Broadway icon and the original ‘triple threat.’ We’re so lucky to be alive in the same timeline as Chita Rivera.” — Lin-Manuel Miranda.

“A frank and fascinating memoir from one of the truly great artists of the American Theater. Lots of stories … Lots of insight … and quite a few caustic statements from Chita’s alter ego, Dolores. An illuminating history and a guaranteed pleasure!” John Kander

Broadway legend and national treasure Chita Rivera, multi-Tony Award winner, Kennedy Center honoree, and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom – has taken no prisoners on stage or screen for seven decades. From her trailblazing performance as the original Anita in West Side Story—for which she tapped her own Puerto Rican roots—to her haunting 2015 star turn in The Visit. Chita has proven to be much more than just a captivating dancer, singer, and actress beloved by audiences and casts alike. In her equally captivating and one-of-a-kind memoir, Written with Patrick Pacheco, the woman born Dolores Conchita Figueroa del Rivero shares an incomparable life, both on stage and behind the curtain.

By the way this Memoir has won a Gold Medal for “Best Autobiography – English” at the 2023 International Latino Book Awards.

Click here to buy your copy.

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Ken Fallin’s Broadway: Spamalot



Here is the amazing cast of Spamalot. Christopher Fitzgerald as Patsy, James Monroe Iglehart as King Arthur, Leslie Rodriguez Kritzer as The Lady of the Lake, Ethan Slater as The Historian/Prince Herbert, Jimmy Smagula as Sir Bedevere, Michael Urie as Sir Robin, Nik Walker as Sir Galahad andTaran Killam as Lancelot.

I was so inspired I drew the whole cast.

To read T2C’s review click here.

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Ahead of the Broadway Opening of Lempicka The Longacre Theatre Is Showcasing Art Work By Tamara de Lempicka



The Longacre Theatre (220 W 48th St.), soon-to-be home of the sweeping new musical, Lempicka, is showcasing a curated selection of renowned artist Tamara de Lempicka’s most famous works. Eschewing traditional theatrical front-of-house advertising, the Longacre’s façade now boasts prints, creating a museum-quality exhibition right in the heart of Times Square. The musical opens on Broadway on April 14, 2024 at the same venue.

The Longacre’s outdoor exhibition includes works of Self Portrait (Tamara in a Green Bugatti) (1929), Young Girl in Green (1927), Nu Adossé I (1925), The Red Tunic (1927), The Blue Scarf (1930), The Green Turban (1930), Portrait of Marjorie Ferry (1932), Portrait of Ira P. (1930), Portrait of Romana de la Salle (1928), and Adam and Eve (1932).

Starring Eden Espinosa and directed by Tony Award winner Rachel Chavkin, Lempicka features book, lyrics, and original concept by Carson Kreitzer, book and music by Matt Gould, and choreography by Raja Feather Kelly.

Spanning decades of political and personal turmoil and told through a thrilling, pop-infused score, Lempicka boldly explores the contradictions of a world in crisis, a woman ahead of her era, and an artist whose time has finally come.

Young Girl in Green painted by Tamara de Lempicka (1927). Oil on plywood.