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Off Broadway

He Says: MCC’s The Wrong Man is on Fire Body and Soul

He Says: MCC’s The Wrong Man is on Fire Body and Soul

Come take my hand. With that invitation, MCC Theater‘s The Wrong Manmajestically ushers itself into the Robert W. Wilson Space ever so rightly and emotionally, bringing the darkly clad silhouettes into a spot-lit circle of complex innocence. Mystically placing themselves with smooth precision for the tragedy that will unfold before our disheartened eyes, the new musical pulses with dignity and passion, with a clear organic rhythm that will inhabit your soul and electrify your body.  With a strong book, music and lyrics, all credited to the wondrous BMI Pop Songwriter of the Year (2016), Ross Golan, a heartbreaking hit and run lives and breaths with a physicality that resonates with a kiss and a punch. It’s hard to sit still during the strongly formulated dissection of truth versus opinion, as the music pushes and pulls with power, courtesy of the strong music supervision, arrangements, and orchestrations by Alex Lacamoire (Broadway’s Dear Evan Hansen) and the clear focus of music director Taylor Peckham (Broadway’s Summer…). The pounding in my chest matched the music and the heat on stage, thanks to the sound design by Nevin Steinberg (Broadway’s The Cher Show), with devious delight, filling my veins with the fire of the wide eyed and doomed.

Ciara Renée and Joshua Henry in MCC Theater’s THE WRONG MAN (photo by Matthew Murphy)

Driven forward by jealousy and rage from another, a cursed man by the name of Duran, powerfully embodied by the explosive Joshua Henry (Broadway’s CarouselShuffle Along…), finds himself drawn in by a desperate passion for the steamy Mariana, intoxicatingly portrayed by Ciara Renée (Broadway’s Big Fish, Pippin). It’s darker and more needy than what love really is, but it forcibly screams out loud for all to hear. The desire is drunk and obsessive, even as Duran unknowingly speeds towards an unseen brick wall. With Henry driving the vehicle, it’s clear he’s most definitely the right man for The Wrong Manalongside Renée who layers just the right level of damage and sharp heat, smoothly drawing him in with every little move she makes. There is talk of taking it slow, but the sexual ballet of seduction and rage play out tightly, until the evil goes running, and in a (almost too) quick hard turn, they are thrown down into darkness by a series of hateful acts. Aimed with random precision by the Man in Black, dynamically played by the impressive Ryan Vasquez (Broadway’s HamiltonWaitress), The Wrong Man is trapped in a vice too tight to escape. Resistance is futile. 

Ryan Vasquez and Ciara Renée in MCC Theater’s THE WRONG MAN (photo by Matthew Murphy)

Gilman has been playing this same story, one that he wrote years back, in small private shows, with just him, a microphone, and a guitar. He has been captivating his fortunate audiences since the first song was written, with each additional song he has found his way expanding the story into something as heart wrenching as what is now presented before us, “just with more lights“. Determined and thoughtful, The Wrong Man, as directed with fierce focus and determination by Thomas Kail (Broadway’s Hamilton), revels and revolves on a bare set designed by Rachel Hauck (Broadway’s Hadestown). The show might be stronger if the milieux showed more variants and that aquarium for the drummer wasn’t so omnipresent center stage. The lighting by Betsy Adams (Signature’s Daphne’s Dive) could use more intimate focus rather than playing with the overwhelming colorful dotted lines and structure that often left singers just outside of their own light.

L-R Ryan Vasquez, Kyle Robinson, and Tilly Evans-Krueger in MCC Theater’s THE WRONG MAN (photo by Matthew Murphy)

The costumes by Jennifer Moeller (Public’s Tiny Beautiful Things) and Kristin Isola (Two River’s Theo) melt the players together into a formulation that felt perfect and united, helping give us the true secondary star of the show. Beyond the stellar performance of powerhouse Henry, the true heat lies within the driving choreography of the insightful Travis Wall (Off-Broadway’s Bare). Wall guides the ensemble, particularly Malik Kitchen, Kyle Robinson, and the incredible Tilly Evans-Krueger, alongside the talented Anook Desai, Libby Lloyd, and Debbie Christine Tjong, into the heart and soul of the piece, expanding and detailing the action and the meaning with grace, power, and pain. All I could do is put my hands up in surrender to the beauty and lines that were being formed by the artful collaboration between body and the beating of the heart. It will encapsulate your blood, and decimate your soul, so find your way to The Wrong Man, and grab hold, while you can.

Joshua Henry (C) and the cast of MCC Theater’s THE WRONG MAN (photo by Matthew Murphy)

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Off Broadway

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

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