Monday, November 24, 2008 at midnight (Broadway Time)

A Bewitching Switch: Understudy Matthew Risch Is New Pal Joey, Opening Is Now Dec. 18

As in showbiz fables of yore, a newcomer is taking over a Broadway lead after a star's injury. Understudy Matthew Risch, according to the actor's spokesperson and the producer, will permanently step into the title role of Pal Joey, replacing Tony Award winner Christian Hoff.

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Seriously Clever

Good Lord! I've asked reader a ton of questions over the years, but I've never received as many answers as I did when I asked for The Most Clever Broadway Musical Moments.

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After a New York Run, an Unusual Next Step, by Peter Marks

Do-over! The producers, composers and actors of Next to Normal are shouting it, in the cause of this musical tale of a suburban mom's total mental collapse. And if they do manage to find success in the unorthodox effort to give it a Washington retooling—after it was already unveiled and reviewed in New York—then an intriguing new model might be in the offing for how an American musical becomes its finished self.

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On the Record, by Steven Suskin

Cook's Rainbow, Chaffin's Wind Blows South, Plus Carols for a Cure

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Today In Theatre History

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Just Like the Ones You Used to Know: Song, Dance and Fluffy White Endings, by Charles Isherwood

You'd have to be in a desperately, even pathologically nostalgic mood to derive much joy from the stage retread of White Christmas.

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Oh, It's All White, by Frank Scheck

Let it be noted for the record that I'm a sucker for Christmas. The ending of Miracle on 34th Street still makes me tear up, and don't even get me started on Judy Garland singing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." So it's more than a little disappointing that the Broadway production of Irving Berlin's White Christmas is so lacking in genuine Yuletide spirit.

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Irving Berlin's White Christmas shows there's no business like snow business, by Joe Dziemianowicz

After playing in other U.S. cities for the past four years, Irving Berlin's White Christmas has finally made its way to New York. As Broadway musicals go, it's a little creaky. But as a holiday entertainment, it's light and bright and boasts some great production numbers.

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Reviewed by David Rooney

There hasn't been this much tap-dancing on a Broadway stage since 42nd Street. Yet despite its relentless effervescence, Irving Berlin's White Christmas is most alive in its gentler, more melancholy moments—few as there are. Arriving in New York after multiple regional stops in the past four seasons, and aiming to establish itself as an annual holiday engagement, this somewhat mechanical show feels like a road production staffed with mostly second-tier talent. More seasonal confection than full-bodied musical theater, it coasts along on the strength of its melodious numbers and sparkling visuals, which should suffice to keep the tourist trade happy.

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Straightforward and old-fashioned, without any added tinsel, by Linda Winer

White Christmas is a reasonable facsimile of what it's meant to be—a manipulation of the sentimental holiday marketplace that does not disturb the seasonal equilibrium with a bubble of original thought.

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Berlin's White Christmas Sings, Snows on Broadway, by John Simon

Folks nostalgic for old-time movie musicals may want to see Irving Berlin's White Christmas at the Marquis Theatre in Times Square.

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'Tis a White Christmas confection on Broadway, by Elysa Gardner

Irving Berlin's White Christmas is as conscientiously G-rated a musical as you'll find on Broadway. Still, it ought to have an audience advisory—for diabetics.

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Bland White Christmas dilutes its holiday cheer, by Michael Kuchwara

The festivities are muted and mild in Irving Berlin's White Christmas, a lavish, yet surprisingly bland stage adaptation of the popular 1954 movie.

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White Christmas? Humbug, by Jacques Le Sourd

Look, I don't want to be a Grinch. How mean-spirited would I have to be to pan Irving Berlin's White Christmas, for goodness' sake, a seasonal entertainment with an Irving Berlin score that opened last night at the Marquis Theatre? Let's just say that this live show is based on one of the best Christmas movies ever made - the 1954 "White Christmas" that starred Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye and Rosemary Clooney. So, by all means, buy the movie for your collection. Or rent it. See it at 9 p.m. Saturday on Lifetime. Do not spend hundreds of dollars seeing this cheap and cheesy "live" version of the movie!

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Reviewed by Matt Windman

While "White Christmas" is not the most artistically ambitious show on Broadway this year, it feels absolutely lovely to allow its old-fashioned entertainment and generous spirit wash all ov…

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Reviewed by David Finkle

While no weatherman can truly promise a white Christmas, this show does deliver its promise of a merry and bright one to audiences.

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Reviewed by David Sheward

After several regional productions, this lighter-than-tinsel ornament has floated onto Broadway, and it's as insubstantial as the sudsy snowflakes that fall on the audience during the grand …

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Charm That's a Little Chilly, by Andy Propst

Clearly, the process of bringing a musical version of a popular movie has changed—no longer is the imprimatur of a show having debuted on Broadway necessary, it's all about brand recognition. Unfortunately, the brand that's found in White Christmas doesn't feel all that "merry and bright." In fact, despite Berlin's always glorious songs, some first-rate orchestrations from Larry Blank and beyond terrific dance arrangements from Bruce Pomahac, and several incredibly appealing performances, White Christmas has the decided feel of a snowfall that's been on the ground for a day or two.

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Endangered Species in Gentrifying Brooklyn, by Ben Brantley

Danny Hoch's Taking Over is a fiery polemical portrait gallery of a play.

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Review by Sam Thielman

Danny Hoch brings to the Public Theater a message that usually arrives wrapped around a brick: "Go back where you came from." In Taking Over, the godfather of hip-hop theater addresses his considerable theatrical gifts to the problem of gentrification, which the fourth-generation New Yorker takes very personally. Hoch's solo show is deliberately, unapologetically unfair and has already earned him plenty of criticism (at one point the performer reads his hate mail aloud). But there's no way Taking Over could spark so much outrage if it weren't both engaging and at least partially accurate.

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Reviewed by Dan Bacalzo

In what is perhaps his angriest solo show to date, Danny Hoch launches a pointed critique of the gentrification of his Williamsburg, Brooklyn neighborhood.

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Reviewed by Andy Propst

Danny Hoch's solo show may predate the economic downturn plaguing the city, but that doesn't mean this provocative play exploring the gentrification of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is out of date.

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Yossarian the Bombardier: Call Him Crazy...Please, by Wilborn Hampton

Peter Meineck's staging of Joseph Heller's novel ultimately proves an uneven effort.

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Reviewed by David Finkle

The title of Joseph Heller's 1961 novel Catch-22 instantly became part of the language—and remains so almost half a century later. However, Peter Meineck's stage adaptation, now being presented by the Aquila Theatre Company at the Lucille Lortel Theatre, suggests there's a Catch-23. While the work, also directed by the author, is intermittently effective in its depiction of the deficient logic prevailing at an American Air Force unit deployed on and over Italian soil, it's too often an unsatisfactory reduction of the print incarnation.

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Reviewed by Andy Propst

Adapter-director Peter Meineck's reductive and overly broad stage version of Catch-22 never succeeds in navigating the fine duality of Heller's original or certain satires that have followed.

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