All stories by Philip on BroadwayStars

Monday, November 12, 2018

“Annie” gets a makeover (with Andrea McArdle aboard) by Philip

With a few minor (and one not-so-minor) modifications, producers Andrew De Prisco and Jess Levy and director/choreographer Al Blackstone have given “Annie” a fresh appearance without sac…

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Tuesday, November 6, 2018

A solo show evokes Lenny Bruce: Comedian…and so much more by Philip

You are unlikely to ever see the theatrical title “I’m Not a Comedian…I’m Richard Pryor.” Or George Carlin. Or Chris Rock. Or Sarah Silverman. But appending the name Lenny Bruce is…

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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Elaine May astonishes in “The Waverly Gallery” by Philip

It is generally true that the decline into dementia is a gradual process. From early symptoms – forgetting names or dates or where one left the keys – to a failure to connect with the re…

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Monday, October 22, 2018

Unresolved Mother-Son Issues: “Apologia” off-Broadway by Philip

Line readings are a generally under-valued (and under-credited) facet of the actor’s craft. As many times as you see “Hamlet,” for example, is how many different readings of the “To …

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Friday, October 5, 2018

Bernhardt/Hamlet/McTeer by Philip

In 2017, Elizabeth Marvel appeared as Marc Antony in the Free Shakespeare in Central Park “Julius Caesar.” In 2018 women are playing Caesar as well as Antony and Cassius at the Stratford…

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Wednesday, September 26, 2018

“Phantom” in Westchester (not that one, the other one) by Philip

While some introductory background is a de facto requirement in a review of the “Phantom” musical that does not append “of the Opera” to its title, be advised upfront that the produc…

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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

A Two River Theater premiere: “Pamela’s First Musical” by Philip

With eight musicians and a cast of fifteen, “Pamela’s First Musical” is the most elaborate musical produced by Two River Theater Company over its illustrious twenty-five years. The Ste…

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Friday, September 14, 2018

A playwright and play to reckon with: “Agnes” off-Broadway by Philip

“I don’t think I know the difference between sexual harassment and flirting” might not seem like a ground-breaking admission, but as spoken by Charlie in Catya McMullen’s outstanding…

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Thursday, August 30, 2018

“Gettin’ the Band Back Together” makes noise on Broadway by Philip

Near the end of “Getting’ the Band Back Together” the (fictional) mayor of (real) Sayreville, New Jersey asks “Who would have thought at the beginning that the Battle of the Bands wo…

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Wednesday, August 22, 2018

“Blithe Spirit” at Shakespeare of NJ will lift yours… by Philip

Considering the running time of some I’ve seen, The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s “Blithe Spirit” comes in at a relatively compact two and three-quarters hours, including inter…

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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Stellar Cast in World Premiere of “Fern Hill” at NJ Rep by Philip

The six actors appearing at New Jersey Repertory Company in Long Branch have amassed thirty-five Broadway credits among them, with six Tony Award nominations (and a win) to boot. Lured to th…

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Monday, August 6, 2018

Shaking up Shakespeare in Central Park – and Shaw in Ontario wine country by Philip

There is so much about the The Public Works Shakespeare in the Park’s musical adaptation of “Twelfth Night” to praise, it’s hard to know where to begin. Kwame Kwei-Armah and Shaina T…

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Sunday, July 29, 2018

High body-count in “Titus Andronicus” at Shakespeare of New Jersey by Philip

More people are killed in Shakespeare’s “Titus Andronicus” than in his Scottish play and Danish plays combined. “Titus” also preceded “Sweeney Todd” in the bad-guy-pie departme…

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Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Oldies but goodies: “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever” at Irish Rep and “Anything Goes” in Westchester by Philip

The phrase ‘less is more’ is never more apt than when applied to Irish Repertory Theatre’s musical productions. Artistic director Charlotte Moore’s thirty-year old company, devoted t…

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Friday, July 6, 2018

The Stratford Festival: Shakespeare and More by Philip

Theater-goers who venture to Stratford, Ontario for the Shakespeare might want to check out the “supporting” plays and musicals as well. While both “The Tempest” and “The Comedy of…

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Sunday, June 24, 2018

“Half Time” hip-hop at Paper Mill Playhouse: Never Fresher by Philip

You’ll know how “Half Time” ends about five minutes in. So what; getting there is the fun part. And “Half Time” is fun. Its premise is simple enough (even to a fault, but anyway): …

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Monday, June 18, 2018

A Grand Ol’ (Checkhovian) Opry in New Jersey: “Songbird” by Philip

Country music has never appealed to me. I might leave it on a rental car pre-set, but would never seek it out. If, however, it was all as flavorful as Lauren Pritchard’s music and lyrics f…

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Monday, June 11, 2018

Welcome Aboard “A View from the Bridge” in Brooklyn Harbor by Philip

Playwright Arthur Miller maintained a lasting interest in his own plays, frequently popping in to productions unannounced. (I once spotted him at a performance of “Death of a Salesman” i…

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Monday, June 4, 2018

Theatrical Alchemy: A Henry James Novella into an Off-Broadway Dance Play by Philip

Henry James’s 1903 novella “The Beast in the Jungle” is a melancholy treatise on unrealized romance and thwarted passion that unfolds in James’s characteristically elaborate prose. T…

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Monday, May 21, 2018

Moliere’s Comic Romp (with an edge): “Tartuffe” at Shakespeare of NJ by Philip

Last weekend I saw a play about a man who lies about pretty much everything. Despite claiming to be a stand-up guy – ardently religious even – he’d con you out of your socks given half…

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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Variety on Canadian Festival stages: a Preview by Philip

[This article was written for Digital First Media’s Michigan newspapers, where it ran on Sunday May 13, with reviews to follow during the summer.] Ontario’s Stratford and Shaw Festiv…

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Monday, May 7, 2018

Tennessee Williams’ “Summer and Smoke” revived off-Broadway by Philip

Tennessee Williams’ women tend not to fare very well. Blanche Dubois is led away by kind strangers, and Amanda and Laura Wingate are stuck with each other after being twice abandoned. “S…

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Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Five Irish sisters and a Chinese family on New Jersey stages by Philip

Playwright Bran Friel has been called “the Irish Chekhov.” (Friel died in 2015 at 86.)  Like the plays of that century-earlier Russian author, Friel’s are character-driven rather than…

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

NJ Community group has a successful go at “Much Ado About Nothing” by Philip

When I commented to Holmdel Theatre Company’s  “Much Ado About Nothing” producer that I did not recognize any cast names (except hers) from prior community productions, she explained …

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Thursday, April 12, 2018

Don’t get shut out at the gate: put your money on “The Sting” by Philip

What do you look for in a musical? Songs and singers that make you glad you have ears? Multi-style choreography and dancers adept at every one of them? How ‘bout a plot that freezes your a…

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Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Some other Damon Runyon guys and dolls in “Three Wise Guys” by Philip

I am sitting in Jersey Mike’s eating a mini number seven sub when I hear that Stephanie “Stormy” Clifford is suing Donald “Grab ‘Em” Trump. That sentence is in the present tense,…

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Monday, March 26, 2018

Escape to – or from – Margaritaville: It’s a tossup by Philip

In order to enjoy a jukebox musical, it helps to be a fan of the songbook going in, but that’s no guarantee.  ABBA-adoring fans kept “Mamma Mia” running for years on its easily replic…

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Monday, March 19, 2018

Group Therapy off-Broadway: “Good for Otto” by Philip

Another fourth wall bites the dust in The New Group’s production of “Good for Otto,” at the Pershing Square Signature Center. David Rabe’s play, which premiered in 2015 at Chicago’…

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Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Two plays, two women, one each. “In the Body of the World” and “Wild Horses” by Philip

It takes more than memorization to put across a solo play (although that element should not be minimized). Those sometimes deceptively crowded affairs require the establishing of unique pers…

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Monday, February 26, 2018

A Thornton Wilder adaptation at Two River Theater is a bridge too far by Philip

A Pulitzer Prize-winning piece by Thornton Wilder opens with no curtain, no scenery. Presently an actor enters and addresses the audience. He names the play and who wrote it. He sets the loc…

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Thursday, February 22, 2018

A night at “Jerry Springer – The Opera” (Not for the faint of heart) by Philip

My exposure to the Jerry Springer Show has been limited to an occasional YouTube clip, but I’ve seen enough to know that the following topics are representative: “My mom used to be my da…

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