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Off Broadway

Everything’s Fine (or is it?), Off-Broadway.



Have you ever been sitting and watching a show or a play and everyone else in the audience is laughing and having a great time? And you’re sitting there wondering what gives? If there is a chance that you are all not experiencing the same show? Cause you’re not laughing. Nor are you finding it funny, like everyone else. It’s a perplexing space to find yourself in, and yet, that’s exactly where I found myself the other night when I went to see Everything’s Fine, a one-man show, written and performed by Academy Award-nominated writer, actor, and director Douglas McGrath (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical) at the DR2 Theatre in Union Square.

Directed with a simple tenacity by John Lithgow (RT’s John Lithgow – Stories by Heart), the storytelling is clear and straightforward, with McGrath sharing memories of his life as a 14-year-old growing up in Midland, “Deep in the heart of Texas.” It starts out sweet and engaging, with the performer standing upright, front and center, telling tales of his youth, like the time he was almost outrun by a tumbleweed as he raced home from school on his bike with the wind at his back. He smiles and connects as he rattles off this and other tales, unassumingly, launching into a number of stories that revolve around his father, his mother, his family, and his grade school buddies.

Out of thin air, he drops well-known celebrity names casually, like Harper’s Bazaar’s Diana Vreeland (who his mother worked for) and Andy Warhol (who was a ‘pal’ of his mother during that same time), in a manner that is a bit too insider-like for my taste. The asides don’t actually connect, as it feels outside of the Texan box, and a bit pretentious for no apparent reason other than its notoriety. And even though they don’t add to the framework, the stories are basically charming, especially because he does deliver them with an engaging air. He graces us with his yarn, in the same manner, as a host, standing at the head of a well-laid dinner table, possibly in the Hamptons, sharing a number of well-constructed and rehearsed antidotes to amuse and entertain his well-heeled and privileged guests. And they do, while also, uncomfortably and overtly, feeling like a not-so-subtle attempt to make himself sound very worldly, cultured, and maybe even a bit more fascinating than this needs to be.

When more earthbound, he talks lovingly about his parents from the vantage point of his youth, both at the beginning and end of this 90-minute one-act monologue, in a (somewhat overly) sentimental and touchingly kind way. We smile, and sometimes laugh (or chuckle might be a better word) at his tender characterizations of his parents and sister during their dinner dynamics. He presents them all with an enthusiastic, wide-eyed glee, regaling us with their quaint simplicity while painting a picture that feels ever so sunny, even as he describes the harsh sandy wind. It’s all quite quaint, but we are waiting for the main course to be served, and when he finally does get around to the heart of the matter, we actively hope that this cute set-up is worthy of what is, and will be, bookended by the framing of his adoring parents and family.

Douglas McGrath in Everything’s Fine. Directed by John Lithgow. Photographed by Jeremy Daniel.

Played out amongst a jumbled grade school collection of desks and chairs, designed by John Lee Beatty (Broadway’s Sweat), with costuming by Linda Cho (Broadway’s POTUS), lighting by Caitlin Smith Rapoport (Ars Nova’s A Sign of the Times), and sound design by Emma Wilk (New World Stages’ A Clockwork Orange), Everything’s Fine finally starts to bite into the juicy meat of this story’s red apple. The school desks and chairs start to make sense as the meat of that apple is dutifully exposed, intriguingly at first, well deserving of the gasp that it elicits from a few of the audience members. He slowly lets the story sneak out, teasing us while keeping us fully engaged and curious, myself included. McGrath is most definitely a charming storyteller as he lures us in, expanding on the complicated and shocking interactions he experienced with his eighth-grade teacher, and it’s clear from the get-go that this is no straightforward teacher/student relationship. It is difficult and uncomfortable, especially for a child so young. We feel the conflict take over the space a bit more each time a blue enveloped note is read out for us all to take in and digest, and we sit nervously waiting to hear how it plays out.

The teacher, a late forty-year-old woman, new to the school and the area, starts off well, floating in and painting the walls of her classroom in vibrant colors. The energy and eccentricity cause all kinds of excitement in the eyes of the students, especially inside McGrath’s young and innocent 14-year-old boy. She enlivens the school and the young McGrath, especially when she informs him that he is her favored one and asks him to stay after class to talk, chat, one on one, about life and other such things. The idea causes ripples of distrust and discomfort in the audience, as we know immediately that this isn’t something sweet or innocent, even if the child at the heart of the matter revels in the validation of the teacher.

In a snap, he tells us, this uncertain and unnatural alignment expands, changing everything suddenly and inexcusably in the most unexpected way. A shift is occurring, and the idyllic life of this 14-year-old boy has now been altered forever. Trust and safety have collapsed, and the unruly and inappropriate blue-noted attachment to the young boy is set in historic stone; a stunning admission and a wildly tense complication. Yet, and here’s where I was set off on my own from the rest of the crowd, the story is told by McGrath in an off-handed kid-like manner, as if the weight of these interactions really didn’t really affect him all that much. His manner says, ‘I’m good’ even though he knows she was wrong (and troubled). It was ‘just a thing that happened back then, and although uncomfortable, it wasn’t life-altering’. And he still seems to hold that tight. The story is told well. And clearly. But without the seriousness of the situation in his core, that is, beyond giving the adult McGrath a very unique tantalizing story to tell to his friends over dinner and/or cocktails in a ‘gosh wasn’t she bat-shit crazy’ kind of way.

Douglas McGrath in Everything’s Fine. Directed by John Lithgow. Photographed by Jeremy Daniel.

This is where I and the majority of the audience veer solidly away from one another. And I will admit, most honestly, that I am in the minority in this matter (or so it seems). To me, this is no slight story, and even though it steers clear of sexual trauma and manipulation, it definitely is something of importance, not one that is presented casually as amusing or funny, as McGrath appears to do in his attempt to deliver it. He states at one point that as a 14-year-old, alongside his sarcastically mature best buddy, all they could do with this complicated adult pressure for attachment was to laugh at it hysterically, as the premise was just too much for any kid to take in and deal with. That I can understand, and the best buddy’s quick humorous jabs do register. Yet adult McGrath still seems stuck in that same place, asking us to laugh alongside him and his eighth-grade buddy, as he unpacks this complex and traumatic dilemma with us without ever really letting us in to the vulnerability and trauma it left imprinted.

Now, I feel I must add that I am a psychotherapist in my day job, and one who deals a lot with childhood trauma. Hearing what was put upon this young boy by this adult woman, it certainly triggered those red flags the come within my professional heart and soul. I couldn’t just chuckle along, nor get past what was done to this boy emotionally. Also, it was very clear that something terrible must have been playing out in the mind of this middle-aged woman to allow her to engage with a 14-year-old in this wildly inappropriate and damaging manner. This wasn’t, at least to me, a casually entertaining story to be told with a few jokes laid on, much like that 14-year-old boy needed to do to try to maneuver around this aggressive behavior. Something much deeper was needed to make this story rise up to the occasion.

And then the story was played out. Somewhat simply and casually. And we returned to the familial. The bookend that hopefully would tie it all together. But unfortunately, the twist tie is too weak and simplistic to leave us feeling securely framed. The idea and logic are a stretch and not convincing enough to leave it all with comfort and meaning in our hearts. This wasn’t simply about loneliness, even though it might have played some part in the uncomfortable action. The chairs have been lined up neatly in the back to give the illusion that order has been restored, but I wasn’t buying it in the same way others were. Maybe this is a professional problem, and not a theatrical one, as others seem to walk out feeling held, but I was left carrying that uncomfortable feeling long after the show ended. In Everything’s Fine, McGrath is a fabulously engaging storyteller, but everything wasn’t fine inside me as I left wondering when this internalized trauma will be unpacked and worked through, not simply tossed aside, like an empty blue envelope.

Douglas McGrath in Everything’s Fine. Directed by John Lithgow. At the DR2 Theatre. Photographed by Jeremy Daniel. For tickets and information, click here.


My love for theater started when I first got involved in high school plays and children's theatre in London, Ontario, which led me—much to my mother’s chagrin—to study set design, directing, and arts administration at York University in Toronto. But rather than pursuing theater as a career (I did produce and design a wee bit), I became a self-proclaimed theater junkie and life-long supporter. I am not a writer by trade, but I hope to share my views and feelings about this amazing experience we are so lucky to be able to see here in NYC, and in my many trips to London, Enlgand, Chicago, Toronto, Washington, and beyond. Living in London, England from 1985 to 1986, NYC since 1994, and on my numerous theatrical obsessive trips to England, I've seen as much theater as I can possibly afford. I love seeing plays. I love seeing musicals. If I had to choose between a song or a dance, I'd always pick the song. Dance—especially ballet—is pretty and all, but it doesn’t excite me as, say, Sondheim lyrics. But that being said, the dancing in West Side Story is incredible! As it seems you all love a good list, here's two. FAVORITE MUSICALS (in no particular order): Sweeney Todd with Patti Lupone and Michael Cerveris in 2005. By far, my most favorite theatrical experience to date. Sunday in the Park with George with Jenna Russell (who made me sob hysterically each and every one of the three times I saw that production in England and here in NYC) in 2008 Spring Awakening with Jonathan Groff and Lea Michele in 2007 Hedwig and the Angry Inch (both off-Boadway in 1998 and on Broadway in 2014, with Neal Patrick Harris, but also with Michael C. Hall and John Cameron Mitchell, my first Hedwig and my far), Next To Normal with Alice Ripley (who I wish I had seen in Side Show) in 2009 FAVORITE PLAYS (that’s more difficult—there have been so many and they are all so different): Angels in American, both on Broadway and off Lettice and Lovage with Dame Maggie Smith and Margaret Tyzack in 1987 Who's Afraid of Virginai Woolf with Tracy Letts and Amy Morton in 2012 Almost everything by Alan Ayckbourn, but especially Woman in Mind with Julia McKenzie in 1986 And to round out the five, maybe Proof with Mary Louise Parker in 2000. But ask me on a different day, and I might give you a different list. These are only ten theatre moments that I will remember for years to come, until I don’t have a memory anymore. There are many more that I didn't or couldn't remember, and I hope a tremendous number more to come. Thanks for reading. And remember: read, like, share, retweet, enjoy. For more go to

Off Broadway

Golden Rainbow…indeed! 




By Jacqueline Parker 

Nature’s reward for enduring a spate of rain and gloomy weather is a rainbow. The York has delivered just that in their latest production in their Mufti series, Golden Rainbow. This musical from the late 60s is always mentioned among aficionados of this art form with wistful smiles and fond remembrances. The York has brought it back to life in a version that features some new lyrics by original composer/lyricist Walter Marks that carry the storyline into this century.   

Robert Cuccioli , Max Von Essen
Photo Credit: Rider R. Foster

From the opening notes of the Jule Styne-esque overture to the rousing finale, the audience was toe-and-finger tapping along to the sounds so evocative of the time when most of us were very young. The story itself is touching—a single father of a boy on the brink of teenhood must wrestle with the choice of saving his livelihood or letting his son move to the other side of the country with his aunt. The connection between father and son is made clear through several songs delivered touchingly by dad Max Von Essen and son Benjamin Pajak. 

Mari Davis Photo Credit: Rider R. Foster

The arrival under a false pretense of Mara Davi as Aunt Judy sets the plot spinning and allows Robert Cuccioli as mobster Carmine Malatesta and Danielle Lee Greaves as Jill to play their part in the resolution with songs hilarious and touching.   

Max Von Essen and Mara Davis Photo Credit: Rider R. Foster

If the story seems familiar it’s because it is taken from the film “A Hole in the Head,” based on the same source material, that starred Frank Sinatra and Eddie Hodges singing the Oscar-winning song High Hopes. Golden Rainbow opened in 1968 starring Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme in the leads. They were household names at the time, based on their talent and popularity from television appearances and cabaret performances.   

Max Von Essen and Benjamin Pajak
Photo Credit: Rider R. Foster

Perhaps most impressive in this production was Von Essen’s version of the hit song “I Gotta Be Me.” It was haunting as it built in intensity and left the audience almost breathless at the end of Act 1. 

Benjamin Pajak
Photo Credit: Rider R. Foster

Pajak, familiar to all from his recent appearances in Oliver! and The Music Man was astounding in his ability to project the at times heartbreaking and lovingly joyous emotions of his character.

Mari Davis Photo Credit: Rider R. Foster

Mara Davi’s character has her own roller coaster ride of emotions, which she transmits with style and conviction.

Robert Cuccioli Photo Credit: Rider R. Foster

Robert Cuccioli was hilarious as a mobster singing Taste,

Danielle Lee Greaves Photo Credit: Rider R. Foster

and Danielle Lee Greaves delivered two of the new songs, making me hope for a new recording of this terrific show soon.   

Max Von Essen and Benjamin Pajak
Photo Credit: Rider R. Foster

The clock is ticking on this gem of a show – it closes Sunday, October 1st.  Get your tickets at and find your own pot of gold at the end of this rainbow. 

Max Von Essen and Mara Davis Photo Credit: Rider R. Foster


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Theatre News: Here We Are, Some Like It Hot, A Beautiful Noise, All The Devils Are Here: How Shakespeare Invented The Villain and The Laramie Project



The curtain rose last tonight on the first performance of the final Stephen Sondheim musical. Here We Are, the new musical from David Ives and Sondheim, is on stage at The Shed’s Griffin Theater (545 W. 30th Street), with an Opening Night on Sunday, October 22, for 15 weeks only.

Directed by two-time Tony Award winner Joe Mantello, the cast of Here We Are will feature Francois Battiste, Tracie Bennett, Bobby Cannavale, Micaela Diamond, Amber Gray, Jin Ha, Rachel Bay Jones, Denis O’Hare, Steven Pasquale, David Hyde Pierce, and Jeremy Shamos. The understudies for Here We Are are Adante Carter, Lindsay Nicole Chambers, Bradley Dean, Mehry Eslaminia, Adam Harrington, and Bligh Voth.

Here We Are is inspired by two films, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie and The Exterminating Angel, by Luis Buñuel.

Here We Are will include choreography by Sam Pinkleton, set design and costume design by David Zinn, lighting design by Natasha Katz, sound design by Tom Gibbons, orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick, musical supervision and additional arrangements by Alexander Gemignani, hair & make-up design by Wigmaker Associates, and casting by The Telsey Office.

Tickets are on sale on

For each performance, a limited number of $25 tickets will be available via a weekly lottery, which will open for entries on the TodayTix app each Sunday at 12:01 AM for the coming week’s performances and will close at 12:00 PM on the day before each performance. Winners will be notified by push notification and email between 1 – 4 PM on the day before their selected show, and will have 30 minutes to claim their tickets in the app. Entrants may request 1 or 2 tickets, and entry is free and open to all.

Via TodayTix’s mobile rush program, a limited number of $40 same-day rush tickets will be available for that day’s performance of Here We Are at 9:00 AM each day on a first-come, first-served basis. Users can download the app and “unlock” rush tickets by sharing the program on social media ahead of their desired performance day.  

The most award-winning musical of the 2022-2023 season, Some Like It Hot, will play for 13 more weeks through Saturday, December 30, 2023, at Broadway’s Shubert Theatre (225 West 44th Street) before launching a national tour and West End production.

Awarded Best Musical by The Drama League, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle, Some Like It Hot received over 20+ major awards throughout the 2022-2023 season, including four Tony Awards for Best Lead Actor in a Musical (J. Harrison Ghee), Best Choreography (Casey Nicholaw), Best Orchestrations (Charlie Rosen & Bryan Carter) and Best Costumes in a Musical (Gregg Barnes). J. Harrison Ghee made history as the first non-binary performer to take home the Tony Award in their category.

A national tour will launch in September 2024 and a West End production will follow in 2025, produced by The Shubert Organization and Neil Meron in partnership with Ambassador Theatre Group.

At the time of the final performance, the production will have played the Shubert Theatre for over a year, for a total of 483 performances.

Will Swenson and the cast. Photo by Julieta Cervantes.

Will Swenson, who is electrifying audiences with his star turn in A Beautiful Noise, The Neil Diamond Musical, will play his final performance as ‘Neil Diamond – Then’ at the Broadhurst Theatre (235 West 44th Street) on Sunday, October 29. Casting for the role of ‘Neil Diamond – Then’ will be announced at a future date.

The unofficial commencement of “spooky season” takes place this Friday, September 29, when Tony Award® Nominee and Grammy Award® Winner Patrick Page returns to the New York stage in All The Devils Are Here: How Shakespeare Invented The Villain, a new work created and performed by Mr. Page, based on the villains of William Shakespeare. Directed by Simon Godwin, the solo show will play the DR2 Theatre (103 E 15th Street) beginning Friday, September 29, with an Opening Night set for Monday, October 16, for 14 weeks only.

Tickets are now available at, Telecharge  or by visiting the DR2 Theatre box office (103 E 15th Street).

Julie White

Julie White and Brandon Uranowitz will join Ato Blankson-Wood in a staged benefit reading of The Laramie Project. Moises Kaufman and the Members of Tectonic Theatre Project’s The Laramie Projectwill bedirected by Dustin Wills (Wolf Play, Wet Brain). The event, which will raise funds to support the work of The Trevor Project, will take place on Monday, October 16th at 7:00 PM at Peter Norton Symphony Space, and is being produced by District Productions. Additional casting is soon to be announced. For tickets and more information, visit

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Off Broadway

Meet Michel Wallerstein and Spencer Aste of Chasing Happy



Pulse Theatre will be presenting Chasing Happy a new comedy by Michel Wallerstein (Flight, Five Women Waiting, Off Hand). Directed by Pulse Theatre co-Founder Alexa Kelly (Strings Attached).

Video by Magda Katz

The company of Chasing Happy features Spencer Aste (Wake Up, Axis Theatre), Jenny Bennett (City of Ladies, Pulse Theatre), Schyler Conaway in his Off-Broadway debut, Christopher James Murray (The Falling Season, Theatre Row), and Elizabeth Shepherd (Relatively Speaking and Conduct Unbecoming on Broadway; War and Peace and Inherit the Wind in London’s West End).

T2C talked to Michel Wallerstein and Spencer Aste to learn more.

Chasing Happy is a modern comedy about personal identity, love, acceptance …and the elusive pursuit of happiness. Nick is in love with another man’s boyfriend. (Oops.) Nick’s mother says George Clooney wants to date her (Really?). Nick’s ex-wife says she has to have surgery.( Now?) …It’s a laugh a minute on an unexpected merry-go-round when you’re chasing happy.

The limited engagement will play a five-week limited engagement, October 11 through November 11, at Theatre Row (410 West 42nd Street, NYC). Opening night is Thursday, October 19 at 7PM. Tickets are now on sale at or by calling the box office, 212-714-2442 ext. 45.

For more information visit

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Off Broadway

Primary Stages’ “DIG” Does Exactly That Into What’s Underground




By Dennis White

The theater is filled with eerie almost tribal music with birds chirping as the audience finds their seats for Primary Stages’ production of DIG at 59E59 Theaters. It’s a new play written by Theresa Rebeck (Bernhardt/Hamlet) who also directs and as the name implies, DIG is not going to let us just see what’s on the surface. This story wants us to DIG to find out what we don’t see going on underground. The play’s setting is a garden shop that we’re told is failing but is filled with what looks like thriving plants.

David Mason in Primary Stages’ DIG at 59E59 Theaters. Photo by James Leynse.

Roger, the owner, played with elegant restraint by Jeffery Bean (Broadway’s Amadeus, Bells Are Ringing) seems content with keeping his shop even though developers are buying up the neighborhood. But Roger is unaware of how his complacent life is going to change thanks to his longtime friend Lou played by Triney Sandoval (Broadway’s Bernhardt/Hamlet), a man who reluctantly has his tormented daughter Megan come live with him. Megan deftly played by Andrea Syglowski (Broadway’s Pass Over) is a woman lost but even though it seems futile, she has not given up – completely. Entering the shop Megan takes a seat in the corner facing the wall attempting to camouflage herself in greenery covering her face with a hoodie.

Greg Keller, Jeffrey Bean, and Andrea Syglowski in Primary Stages’ DIG, photo by Justin Swader.

She has committed an unforgivable act that has made national headlines. After a failed suicide her father agrees to supervise his daughter’s release even though he cannot forgive her. Megan reaches through her pain and within minutes she offers to repot a plant hoping to convince Roger he needs her help and she’ll work for free. You can feel how Syglowski’s Megan feels caught like the plant’s bound roots pushing against the sides of the pot, trapped and in pain. But she sees hope in the garden shop and Roger. The relationship between Roger and Megan is tenuous at first but the actors reel in the audience. The garden shop is coming alive as a place where they can both grow but it’s not as easy as they find out.

The rest of the cast is vital as they build the grotesque puzzle pieces of Megan’s horrifying past with pros like Mary Bacon (Public’s Coal Country) as Molly. Bacon does a good job as the judgmental nosy customer who turns into a helping hand. Stoner Everett aptly played in what can be described as a life lived in a pot cloud haze by Greg Keller (Playwrights Horizons’ The Thanksgiving Play) seems like a comical diversion but there’s a darker side coming. A surprising element is the appearance of Adam, Megan’s ex-husband, played with the intensity of a caged animal by David Mason (Broadway’s Pictures from Home) who makes the most of this small part. You can feel the audience cringing through the entire scene as writer/ director Theresa Rebeck finally gets her chance to see her play fully realized as she saw it in her mind, line by line.

Jeffrey Bean and Mary Bacon in Primary Stages’ DIG, photo by James Leynse.

DIG takes us to places we could not imagine when we first meet the characters. She builds relationships, tears them down, and then gives them some hope by the end. The play’s surprising revelation leaves the audience stunned, gasping at the turn of events and the secrets revealed. Rebeck’s direction seems effortless, moving her actors in the garden shop through this story of realization, forgiveness, and redemption. The scenic design by Christopher and Justin Swader (Off-Broadway’s The Boy Who Danced On Air) fill the garden shop with life, growing and changing reflecting the events of the play. Lighting by Mary Ellen Stebbins (MCC’s Space Dogs) helps set the mood with deep shadows and the original music and sound design by Fitz Patton (Broadway’s Choir Boy) give us an ominous melody to add to the tension, giving DIG a chance to get a lot of it right. The cast led by Syglowski and Bean hit all the right notes as they travel through tormented waters, some raging, while others swirl below the surface. Rebeck’s play with its unexpected twists and turns wrenches our guts and we follow gladly to the end.

Jeffrey Bean and Greg Keller in Primary Stages’ DIG, photo by James Leynse.
For more information and tickets, visit

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Ken Fallin's Broadway

Ken Fallin’s Broadway: Dracula: A Comedy Of Terrors



Dracula: A Comedy of Terrors, is now playing at New World Stage, 340 West 50th Street, until January 7, 2024 or beyond.

In this caricature you will find James Daly’s Dracula and clockwise: Andrew Keenan-Bolger, Arnie Burton, Ellen Harvey and Jordan Boatman who make up this amazingly talented cast.

You can read T2C’s mouth watering review here.

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