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Over this past weekend, I felt somewhat hit over the head with the squabbles that are most likely taking place across this country within our organizations and politics inside and out.  It is clear that there is a lot going wrong within our systems, all we have to do is look towards Washington D.C. to see dysfunction and self-interest on full display.  So much so that even the people we feel aligned with can cause eruptions of discourse within our shared beliefs. For example, when I hear fellow Democrats do their version of ‘monday quarterbacking’ saying ridiculous things about how it was Hillary’s responses and therefore her ‘fault’ that caused her to ‘lose’ the campaign against the #OrangeMonster, I get so freaked out.  Such a simple thing to say, lay blame, feigning superiority, and walking away with a shrug. That’s far too simple of an argument as if they knew something about an election that no one can still to this day fully figure out. It’s very likely that thousands of scholarly articles will forever attempt to understand the complicated explanation that played a role, from Russian influence, collusion, gerrymandering, and full-out blind hatred, racism, white supremacy, xenophobia, homophobia, and so many others, that this list could be endless.
KINGSWritten by Sarah Burgess Directed by Thomas Kail Featuring Aya Cash, Eisa Davis, Zach Grenier, and Gillian Jacobs
The Public Theater’s Kings. Gillian Jacobs, Aya Cash, Zach Grenier. Photo by Joan Marcus.
Much of that feeling is on display within Sarah Burgess’s Kings, The Public Theater‘s new play from the stellar playwright who brought us the much stronger and more intellectually dense Dry Powder last season. This current offering of this ‘in the know‘ play revolves around the game of money in politics; the sort of cash that lobbyists use as bait for politicians to get behind or go against legislation that would affect their clientele. And if worded correctly to the press and public in sound bites, would appear to align with the politician’s platform, while inconspicuously helping their reelection coffers grow. In Dry Powder, Burgess dug her way into the large and complex world of private equity, and the morality, or lack there of, that is bought and sold.
KINGSWritten by Sarah Burgess Directed by Thomas Kail Featuring Aya Cash, Eisa Davis, Zach Grenier, and Gillian Jacobs
The Public Theater’s Kings. Gillian Jacobs, Eisa Davis. Photo by Joan Marcus.
Much of the same type of questioning lies at the heart of Kings, when a morally solid new member of Congress arrives in Washington, fresh and ready to do battle. She tries valiantly to not bend to the lure of campaign donations, and stand up for sensible and logical thinking based on her strong belief core.  She states, most confidently that she will accept their donations to her reelection campaign but will not be told how to vote or think about any legislation set before her. This is the defiant stance of Representative Sydney Millsap, played with a distinct and smart confidence in self by Eisa Davis (Public’s Julius Caesar) said with a wicked grin and a purposeful smile. She’s a gold-star widow, quickly elected into office in a special election, and “the first woman and the first person of color ever to represent your district”, as she is told numerous times. She sees no other option but to brave the swamp and do combat with these aggressive lobbyists and her fellow pushy politicians in appropriate sterile lounges that look like they belong in an airport (a dull and static scenic design by Anna Louizos, smart costumes by Paul Tazewell, simplistic lighting by Jason Lyones). She states that she will always attempt to serve her constituents to the best of her whip-smart ability. She’s by far the best thing and the most likable character in this wordy jargon-filled exploration of a system that is rigged against someone like her. We feel the need to get behind her and support her, although we also don’t see how this can turn out well in the end.  The cards are too stacked against her from decades of this kind of action. To have her win, would feel like Kings is just another feel-good outlandish fairy tale, but to have her lose, would also be a too depressing and simplistic tale about what happens to high ideals and morality when money is involved with politics. It feels like a no-win for anyone involved, because that last option is one that I don’t thing I need to hear at this point in our collective history, and the first wouldn’t feel honest.
KINGSWritten by Sarah Burgess Directed by Thomas Kail Featuring Aya Cash, Eisa Davis, Zach Grenier, and Gillian Jacobs
The Public Theater’s Kings. Aya Cash, Gillian Jacobs. Photo by Joan Marcus.
Directed with a lazy eye for movement and advancement by Thomas Kail (Hamilton, Tiny Beautiful Things), Kings doesn’t seem to offer up anything that we don’t sort of know already; that the collusion that we also need to worry about is happening every evening between elected officials and lobbyists, all over small appetizers of smoked salmon (“stop trying to make that a catch phrase“, says Regina, “fetch” is not going to happen – oh wait, wrong Mean Girlit was lobbyist Kate).  Kate, played with a smart dead pan approach by Gillian Jacobs (Pubic’s The Little Flower of East Orange, “Love“) and her fellow lobbyist, Lauren, played with a shiny coat of false smiles by a solid and impenetrable Aya Cash (PH’s The Light Years) know how this is played and do it well.  They can also see from their first encounter with Millsap at a Vail fundraising weekend that she has no idea “how any of this works” and seemingly has no interest in learning to play this wicked little game.  Kate, I guess, is the one we are meant to put our hopes on, as we watch her move hesitantly toward helping the rebellious congresswoman, but the conversations that happen between these two over margaritas at Chili’s (I’d explain why, but it feels too insignificant to bother with) feels as inconsequential as the whole exercise.  She never really jumps forward enough to feel like anything is at risk.
KINGSWritten by Sarah Burgess Directed by Thomas Kail Featuring Aya Cash, Eisa Davis, Zach Grenier, and Gillian Jacobs
The Public Theater’s Kings. Aya Cash, Zach Grenier. Photo by Joan Marcus.
Add in the most disturbingly realistic good guy/bad guy, Sen. John McDowell, played with a firecracker solidness by Zach Grenier (ATC’s Describe the Night), and what we get to watch is all that is wrong in American politics, but very little to hold our hopes up for. The high-minded new congresswoman may get a lot of social media attention for her high minded vote on a specific special interest tax loophole (one of the more interesting pieces of information delivered in this story) but the backlash that we all know will come from those negatively impacted donator, including that good ol’ boy Senator, her own political party, and those financial investors that populated her other better play, is not surprising. The ending of Kings fizzles out as quickly as the moralistic center, leaving us disheartened and hopeless that this sharp little game will never change. It’s check mate for Kings.
RelevanceLucille Lortel Theatre By JC Lee Directed By Lisel Tommy Set Design by Clint Ramos Costume Design by Jacob A. Climer Lighting Design by Jiyoun Chang Sound Design by Broken Chord Projection Design by Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew Prop Master Joshua Yo
MCC Theater’s Relevance. Molly Camp, Jayne Houdyshell, Pascale Armand. Photo by Joan Marcus.
MCC‘s Relevance, on the other hand, is more of a draw. Playwright JC Lee (LCT’s Luce) has a lot of specifics to say, especially the matters up for discussion at the fictional American Conference for Letters and Culture, where many have gathered to debate, deliver speeches, and bestow awards and grants on two scholars. One is Theresa, the honoree of the Lifetime Achievement Award, played by the formidable Jayne Houdyshell (A Doll’s House, Part 2, The Humans) rising majestically for the part.  Dr. Theresa Hanneck is a well renown and respected writer, academic, and intellectual leader within the liberal movement of feminism and the “people who have been historically left out of the conversation.” Strong minded and well spoken, Theresa has gotten very comfortable being the star attraction at such think tank gatherings, but when a young new writer and scholar by the name of Msemaji Ukeweli, played impressively by Pascale Armand (Broadway’s Eclipsed) finds a way past Theresa’s onslaught of words and ideas and grabs a little bit of the spotlight herself, feathers and egos are ruffled beyond repair.
RelevanceLucille Lortel Theatre By JC Lee Directed By Lisel Tommy Set Design by Clint Ramos Costume Design by Jacob A. Climer Lighting Design by Jiyoun Chang Sound Design by Broken Chord Projection Design by Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew Prop Master Joshua Yo
MCC Theater’s Relevance. Pascale Armand. Photo by Joan Marcus.
This solid beginning by Lee is very comical and strongly staged and worded in one of the best and most electrifying moments in Relevance. That fight that erupts on stage in front of a wide streaming audience and the host, Dr. Kelly Taylor, the oddly cast Molly Camp (Broadway’s The Heiress), who is obviously out of league, is thrilling and uncomfortable for all.  Taylor is desperate to hold this conference and that interview together, yet we can’t help but sit up tall with tense excitement, ready and willing to watch the old school and the new guard clash in a barrage of words and ideas starting a full on war within their shared movement right before our very eyes. It’s an exhilarating theatrical moment, one to cherish for its high minded ideas and construct.
RelevanceLucille Lortel Theatre By JC Lee Directed By Lisel Tommy Set Design by Clint Ramos Costume Design by Jacob A. Climer Lighting Design by Jiyoun Chang Sound Design by Broken Chord Projection Design by Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew Prop Master Joshua Yo
MCC Theater’s Relevance. Richard Masur, Jayne Houdyshell. Photo by Joan Marcus.
Back in Theresa’s hotel room, designed with a shiny cold veneer by Clint Ramos (Once on This Island), with lighting by Jiyoun Chang (NYTW’s Sojourners and Her Portmanteau) and costumes by Jacob A. Climer (VT’s Kid Victory), a more intimate and personal insight is given into the working mind of this intelligent and opinionated woman as she unloads her confrontational and self-delusional demeanor onto her agent and former lover, David, played by the warm and man-bun sporting Richard Masur (Broadway’s The Lucky Guy).  Theresa is not going to let this much younger version of her progressive and aggressive past self, who claims and uses a contrived past filled with privation and abuse, to hijack the conference away from her, even if it means inflicting some wounds upon herself and her position. To do so, she must utilize some weapons that sink way down below the high bar most scholarly events profess, latching her dignity to a low brow media outlet that sits uncomfortably under our collective skin (impressive projection design by Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew).
RelevanceLucille Lortel Theatre By JC Lee Directed By Lisel Tommy Set Design by Clint Ramos Costume Design by Jacob A. Climer Lighting Design by Jiyoun Chang Sound Design by Broken Chord Projection Design by Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew Prop Master Joshua Yo
MCC Theater’s Relevance. Jayne Houdyshell, Molly Camp. Photo by Joan Marcus.
Director Liesl Tommy (Broadway/Public’s Eclipsed) keeps the energy of the impending war of words and ideas, ratcheting up moment to moment, almost with too much speed and urgency causing this group of pros to stumble over their own lines at certain high stress points, struggling to keep themselves on track. The result, even with the flubs, is impressive, and keeps us leaning in trying to keep track of the slew of ideas being tossed our way. These concepts, revolving around ideas of inclusion, social media’s importance, and the relevance of keeping our past heroes perched up high on their pedestals, a status that we ourselves created, is astonishing at first, but as the play gallops into battle, Lee’s words begin to lose their persuasive exactness, failing in the end to become something of value in the overall discussion that it starts.
RelevanceLucille Lortel Theatre By JC Lee Directed By Lisel Tommy Set Design by Clint Ramos Costume Design by Jacob A. Climer Lighting Design by Jiyoun Chang Sound Design by Broken Chord Projection Design by Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew Prop Master Joshua Yo
MCC Theater’s Relevance. Jayne Houdyshell, Pascale Armand. Photo by Joan Marcus.
The similarities in the take home ideals set forth in both MCC’s Relevance and the Public’s Kings leave us overwhelmed and uncooked all at the same time. Challenging ideas of old school tactics and ways of getting things done with the new order of thinking and positioning is a compelling and very relevant discussion to be having as we do battle within our own similarly minded groups and organizations. We wonder how best to deal with the situation we find ourselves, and although the moralistic center is not placed in the same exact orbit, the ideas are both somewhere floating near by each other. These two playwrights are tackling big high-minded ideas and problems that exist in our world, but both lack a solid enough structure and framework to bring a great deal of value into the conversation. The answers maybe impossible to find within a 90 or 100 minute play, the new theatrical model of story telling, and even when Ibsen attempted to create discourse around the discomfort created when the new guard attempts to push out the old, with his much longer and similarly themed The Master Builder, the solutions are never all that clear.  Both plays need some refinement to elicit a more exacting conceptual conversation that will enlighten and expand the dialogue.  As they both stand, the depressing reality of both make me sad for our world and the pathway forward.
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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

*Mark Returns To The Magis Theatre Company



Magis Theatre Company will present a revival of their critically acclaimed production of *mark, a solo performance of the Gospel of Mark. Originally produced at La MaMa ETC and directed by Luann Purcell Jennings in 2014, it features original music composed by internationally acclaimed, award-winning composer Elizabeth Swados. Actor George Drance will again perform the role of the storyteller. *mark will be performed at Theatre 315 located at  315 W. 47th St. New York, NY. The show dates are as follows: Wednesdays, April 12 and 19 at 7PM; Thursdays, April 6, 13 and 20 at 7pm; Friday April 7, 14 and 21 at 8PM; Saturday April 8, 15 and 22 at 2PM. Tickets are available at Eventbrite: The production is directed by Jackie Lucid.

The Gospel of Mark, the oldest of the four gospels, had an early tradition of being performed aloud from start to finish. It was finally written down during Nero’s brutal persecution of the followers of “the Way.” Recited in its entirety to give courage to this community of quiet rebels, their radical compassion put them in danger because their inclusivity threatened the Empire’s status quo. Today it is rare for an audience to hear this gospel performed in its totality, or to experience it with the immediacy of that dangerous period of oppression. In his contemporary solo performance, Drance, reclaims the urgency of the words as when they were first spoken.  He examines the message of commitment and love through the eyes of a street artist, using drawings to illustrate and illuminate the text.

Magis Theatre Company, founded in 2003, is an ensemble of actors and teaching artists who came together out of desire: desire to teach, desire to train, and desire to act. The company has produced a variety of actor driven, physically based theatre productions that explore the human condition. Recent productions include: Thornton Wilder’s The Alcestiad performed at FDR Four Freedoms Park; Calderon’s Two Dreams, presenting both the 1636 comedia and the 1677 auto sacramental of Life is a Dream;  Leslie Lewis’ Miracle in Rwanda, testifying to the transformative power of prayer and forgiveness. Their adaptation of  C.S. Lewis’s fantastical spiritual tale The Great Divorce was hailed by the New York Times as “thought provoking… long on theatrical skill and remarkably short on preachiness.”

Actor George Drance, Artist-in-residence at Fordham University, has performed and directed in over twenty countries on five continents. He has served as artistic director of Theatre YETU in Kenya and artistic associate for Teatro la Fragua in Honduras. Drance has been a guest artist and lecturer at Columbia University, Cornell University, Marquette University, Marymount Manhattan College, Hebrew Union College, and Boston College. In March, Drance, who is Ukrainian, will appear at LA Mama in Radio 477!, a new show created by Yara Arts Group and Ukrainian artists about the city of Kharkiv, its jazz history, and how it stood up to Putin today. With texts and lyrics by award-winning Ukrainian poet Serhiy Zhadan, music by Anthony Coleman, it is directed by Virlana Tkacz.

Perhaps best known for her Broadway and international smash hit Runaways, the late Elizabeth Swados (1951-2016) composed, wrote and directed issue-oriented theatre for over 30 years. Some of her works include the Obie Award winning Trilogy at La Mama, and Alice at the Palace with Meryl Streep at the New York Shakespeare Festival. Her awards include: Five Tony® nominations, three Obie® Awards, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Ford Grant, the Helen Hayes Award, a Lila Acheson Wallace Grant, PEN, and others.

Visit the Magis Theatre Company online at:

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Broadway’s A Doll’s House Meticulously Stunning Revival Soars Like a Birdie Above That Clumsy Cat on a Hot Tin Roof




For a revival to find its footing, it has to have a point of view or a sense of purpose far beyond an actor’s desire to perform a part, whether it suits them or not. It needs to radiate an idea that will make us want to sit up and pay attention. To feel its need to exist. And on one particular day in March, I was blessed with the opportunity to see not just one grande revival, but two. One was a detailed pulled-apart revolutionary revival of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House that astounded. The other, unfortunately, was a clumsy revival of Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof that fell lazily from that high-wired peak – not for a lack of trying, but from a formulation that never found its purpose.

Jessica Chastain in A Doll’s House. Courtesy of A Doll’s House.

But over at Broadway’s Hudson Theatre, a reformulation chirps most wisely and wonderfully, bringing depth and focus to a classic Henrik Ibsen (Hedda Gabler) play that I didn’t realize was in such need of an adaptation. With no extravagance at its core, Amy Herzog (Mary Jane) dynamically takes the detailed structure and beautifully adapted it with due purpose. It hypnotizes, dragging in a number of light wooden chairs, Scandinavian in style, I believe, onto the stage, one by one, by their black-clad counterparts in a determined effort to unpack what will unfold. There is no artifice to hide behind in this rendering, as designed most impeccably by scenic and co-costume designer Soutra Gilmour (NT’s My Brilliant Friend; Broadway’s & Juliet) and co-costume designer Enver Chakartash (Broadway’s Is This A Room), only A Doll’s House’s celebrated star, Jessica Chastain (Broadway’s The Heiress; “The Eyes of Tammy Faye“) rotating the expanse of the bare stage before the others join her slowly and deliberately. She sits, arms crossed, staring, daring us to look away, while knowing full well we won’t. Or can’t. And without a word, it feels like she has us exactly where she wants us. Needs us to be. And all that transpires before the play even begins.

They sit on that bare and stark stage, waiting, in a way, to be played with, like dolls patiently wanting some children to come and give them a voice through their imagination. As Nora, Chastain delivers forward a performance that is unparalleled. To witness what transpires across her face during the course of this extra fine adaptation is to engage in a dance so delicately embroidered that we can’t help but be moved and transported. She barely moves from her chair, as others, like the equally wonderful Arian Moayed (Broadway’s The Humans) as Torvald, are rotated in to sit beside her, conversing and delivering magnified lines, thanks to the brilliant work of sound designers Ben & Max Ringham (West End’s Prima Facie), that dig deep into the underbelly of the complicated interactions. This pair of actors find a pathway through the darkness, never letting us come to any conclusions until they are ready to unleash a moment that will leave you breathless. This is particularly true for Moayed’s Torvald, who seems decent enough at the beginning, but once the shift occurs, when the beautiful thing doesn’t happen as it should, his unveiling is as gut-wrenching to us as it is to Nora. Even though we knew it was coming long before the play even began to spin forward.

Arian Moayed, Jesmille Darbouze, Okieriete Onaodowan, Tasha Lawrence, Jessica Chastain, and Michael Patrick Thornton in A Doll’s House. Courtesy of A Doll’s House.

The art of the unfolding is steeped within the whole, refocused inside the brilliant shading, shadowing, and starkness of the cast. As Krogstad, the powerful Okieriete Onaodowan (Broadway’s Hamilton), alongside the deliciously tight Jesmille Darbouze (Broadway’s Kiss Me, Kate) as Kristine, find an engagement that sits perfectly in the structuring. They push the reforming to the edge, approaching and receding away from Chastain’s brilliant centering helping move the piece towards the required conclusion.

The same can be said of the wonderful Tasha Lawrence (LCT’s Pipeline) as Anne-Marie, and the exquisitely emotional turning of Michael Patrick Thornton (Broadway’s Macbeth) as Dr. Rank. Thornton, in particular, finds a telling and emotional space to connect, unearthing an engagement that breaks the circle apart, leaving Chastain’s Nora and all of us observers shattered and broken in its black X’d finality.

As directed with the same magnificently detailed energy and flat-walled framework as the previously seen Betrayal on Broadway and the West End, Jamie Lloyd gives us A Doll’s House that will never be forgotten. The focus is so deliberate, and the formulations are just so strong, pushed forward in black and white by the exacting lighting design of Jon Clark (West End/Broadway’s The Lehman Trilogy). Forced while remaining ever so intimate, the cascading of the statement delivered registers in a precise way, more exacting than I ever remembered, and I’ve seen numerous renditions of this epic play. And even though, from what I hear, many on the left couldn’t see the epic exit of Nora, a moment that typically registers throughout theatre history, the symbol of a woman, steadfast and true, leaving the safe and simple artifice of A Doll’s House for engagement in the hard cruel reality of the world outside is as clear as can be. The delicacies of this birdie trapped inside a cage, poisoned with lies and excuses, and beautifully brought forth by Chastain, registers the reasonings for this revival to exist. It has found a new and deliberate place to sing, and for that, I am truly grateful.

Arian Moayed and Jessica Chastain in A Doll’s House. Courtesy of A Doll’s House
Matt de Rogatis in Ruth Stage’s CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF. Photo by Max Bieber.

I wish I could say the same about Ruth Stage‘s modern take on the Tennessee Williams (A Streetcar Named Desire) classic, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, currently being re-delivered at the Theatre at St. Clements. As directed by Joe Rosario (Hemingway and Me; Ruth Stages’ The Exhibition), the play doesn’t find its rationale for existing in the modern day beyond the simplistic sexualization of its boxing-ring corners. Matt de Rogatis (Austin Pendleton’s Wars of the Roses) as the tense athletic Brick stays broken and damaged in his corner, riding out the moment, waiting for the click, while in the other corner is the tense Maggie, played without hesitation by Courtney Henggeler (Netflix’s “Cobra Kai“) poised and ready for the bell to ring.

The battle is only heightened by the presence of two other fighters in the opposing corners, Big Daddy, played with determination by Frederick Weller (Broadway’s To Kill a Mockingbird) in the third, and Big Mama, played with a strong intent by Alison Fraser (Gingold Theatrical’s Heartbreak House), in the fourth. And watching and cheering for their own personal perspective wins are the obnoxious Mae, typically portrayed by Christine Copley (although I believe I saw an understudy), the weasely Gooper, played by Adam Dodway (Theatre Row’s Small Craft Warnings), Rev. Tooker portrayed by Milton Elliott (Ruth Stage’s Hamlet), and Doc Baugh, typically played by Jim Kempner (“The Girlfriend Experience“) (although, once again, I believe I saw an understudy).

Frederick Weller and Alison Fraser in Ruth Stage’s CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF. Photo by Max Bieber.

Generally, this is a battle that rages deceptively strong and subtle for the length of the play, swimming cruelly in the hazy heat of its Southern charm. But somewhere in this modernization, the reasonings never get fully realized, leaving the cast to wander in their stereotypical delivery without a sharp focal point in the horizon to zero in on. Hidden behind the bar and the drink, de Rogatis finds a Brick to be engaged with. He’s definitely handsome and desirable, especially in the eyes of the far-too-straightforward Henggeler’s Maggie the Cat, and his occupation of drinking rings more true than most. I’m not sure if the modernization has been created to fit his chest-baring delivery of a broken Brick, but I will say that his artful approach to the part is one of the stronger components of this otherwise clunky reimagining.

Given so much to unpack, Henggeler runs a little too fast and furious, not weaving a pause into her thoughts and actions. It’s all forward flowing, ignoring the laws of silence and deliberation. Big Mama and Big Daddy, ignoring the fact that they don’t seem to fit in with their surroundings or the set-up, find their way into the same cage as the two central figure fighters, giving us something else to contemplate in their constructs, beyond their tight fitting jeans and dress. There’s not much of a father/son connection, nor does their familial energy register, even as it moves and twitches within the pauses well. The details of attachment are lost, as they talk around things, with everyone else playing at high volume, courtesy of a sound design by Tomás Correa (Hudson Street’s Adam & Eve), delivering the Southern drawl with the intensity of an SNL skit. That’s a problem to the whole and one that doesn’t work for this rendering.

Courtney Henggeler in Ruth Stage’s CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF. Photo by Max Bieber.

Most of the cast is all hock and no spit, moving around the room with a strange case of physicalized mendacity while never really finding a reason for their existence. The artifice gets in the way of the movement, especially in Matthew Imhoff’s (off-Broadway’s soot and spit) busy and overly clumsy set, with some distracting fading in and out by lighting designer Christian Specht’s (SSTI’s Cabaret). The storm approaching is as false as the formula and the reasoning for this retelling. It showcases some basically good actors embracing the chance to play iconic Big roles that I’m sure they have always wanted to dig their Southern-accented chomps into, possibly because one or two of them might never otherwise get the chance as they don’t exactly fit the literal sashaying of the “fat old” bodies out and around the staging of this play. The idea breeds curiosity, but one that doesn’t save this Cat on a Hot Tin Roof from falling quick and hard from its perch, I’m sad to say. While the birdie in A Doll’s House flies strong out into the cool Broadway air, with solid reasoning on its stark wings, reminding us all what makes for a worthy reimagining of a classic.

Frederick Weller in Ruth Stage’s CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF. Photo by Max Bieber.
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Theatre News: Smash, I Need That, Good Night, Oscar, Funny Girl, This Beautiful Lady and In The Trenches: A Parenting Musical



The NBC television series Smash is coming to Broadway for the 2024-2025 season. Robert Greenblatt, Neil Meron and Steven Spielberg will produce. The musical will feature a book co-written by three-time Tony Award nominee Rick Elice and Tony winner Bob Martin. Tony and Grammy winners Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (Some Like It Hot). The team earned three Emmy nominations for their songs from the “Smash” series will pen the score, which will feature numbers from the TV show.

Five-time Tony winner Susan Stroman (New York, New York) will direct and Tony nominee and Emmy Award winner Joshua Bergasse will choreograph.

The series was created by Theresa Rebeck and Spielberg, launch the series. Spielberg is also one of the co-producers of Good Night, Oscar, which begins performances at the Belasco Theatre on April 7.

Official dates, theater, creative team and casting for the “Smash” stage musical will be announced at a later date.

Speaking of the Pulitzer Prize finalist playwright Theresa Rebeck, Danny DeVito and Lucy DeVito are set to star in her new play I Need That at the Roundabout. The new comedy will be directed by Tony nominee Moritz von Stuelpnagel which will open at the American Airlines Theatre in October. The cast will also include Ray Anthony Thomas. … Also newly announced for Roundabout’s new Broadway season is a spring 2024 revival of Samm-Art Williams’ 1980 Tony-nominated play “Home.” Tony winner Kenny Leon will direct

Speaking of Good Night, Oscar, Doug Wright’s play was named finalist for 2023 new play award by The American Theatre Critics Association. The other six finalists for the 2023 Harold and Mimi Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award include: Born With Teeth by Liz Duffy Adams, the ripple, the wave that carried me home by Christina Anderson, Sally & Tom by Suzan-Lori Parks, Spay by Madison Fiedler and
Swing State by Rebecca Gilman.

Paolo Montalban and Anne L. Nathan are joining Lea Michele in  Funny Girl as Florenz Ziegfield and Mrs. Strakosh. Montalban and Nathan will replace original cast members Peter Francis James and Toni DiBuono, who take their final bows on March 26th.

Elizabeth Swados’ This Beautiful Lady will play at La MaMa this May. Previews will begin May 5 for the Off-Broadway run ahead of the May 8 press opening, with performances set through May 28 in the Ellen Stewart Theatre.

In The Trenches: A Parenting Musical, with book, music, and lyrics by Graham & Kristina Fuller, will receive industry readings on Friday, March 24th at 11am & 3pm at Ripley Grier Studios. The readings will be directed by Jen Wineman (Dog Man: The Musical) and will feature music direction by Rebekah Bruce (Mean Girls) and arrangements by Dan Graeber, Graham & Kristina Fuller.

The cast of In The Trenches features Amanda Jane Cooper (Wicked), Jelani Remy (The Lion King, Ain’t Too Proud), Christine Dwyer (Wicked), Caesar Samayoa (Come From Away), Max Crumm (Grease, Disaster!), and Vidushi Goyal.Join two bleary-eyed young parents as they trudge through the trenches and discover their new post-baby identities. In an evening of new-parent greatest hits, a foul-mouthed toddler zeroes in on “the most dangerous thing in the room”, tap dancing towards bleach, knives, and tide pods; a chronically-overlooked younger sibling sings the “second child blues”; a mom trio celebrates yoga pants in an R&B love song to the “official mom uniform”; dad discovers he’s not the “ice-cream and movie-night cool parent” but rather the “do your homework real parent” amid a kiddo sugar-crash; and mom retrieves a sticky, hair-covered pacifier from the floor of a LaGuardia bathroom while her baby screams bloody murder and her flight boards without her. 

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