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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Monday, February 5, 2018

Contrasting premieres at New Jersey Regionals: “The Outsider” and “American Hero” by Philip

As if we needed a reminder about the difference between governing and politicking, along comes “The Outsider,” running through February 18 at Paper Mill Playhouse. The wide chasm tha…

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Monday, January 22, 2018

Glorious still: “A Chorus Line” in Westchester by Philip

Here’s a list of those individuals who should see “A Chorus Line”: Anyone who has ever auditioned for a show or competed in any way for any job; anyone who has ever sung, danced and/or…

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Monday, January 15, 2018

“El Coquí Espectacular and the Bottle of Doom” at Two River Theater: Bueno, muy bueno by Philip

Write what you know, the saying goes. Playwright Matt Barbot and director José Zayas both credit their Hispanic heritage with having inspired their collaboration on “El Coquí Espectacula…

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Tuesday, January 9, 2018

New Jersey Repertory Company gets religion: “The Calling” world premiere by Philip

Selected by NJPAC’s Stage Exchange as one of 30 plays by New Jersey playwrights to be produced at in-state venues, Monmouth University adjunct professor of playwriting Joel Stone’s “Th…

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Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Together off-Broadway: Ballet, Bach and…Frankenstein? by Philip

It may be a tad unfair to begin a review of Ensemble for the Romantic Century’s serious play “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein” by recalling the most irreverent take ever on Mary’s crea…

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Monday, December 18, 2017

Something old, something…older: Once On This Island and Twelfth Night by Philip

Re-visit with me, if you will, some of the comments I made in reviews of “Once On This Island” in Ocean Grove in 2004 (“…undistinguished, although pleasant enough”) and at Paper Mi…

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Thursday, December 7, 2017

“The Parisian Woman” in D.C. (via B’way) and another tomorrow for “Annie” in NJ by Philip

I couldn’t find an English translation of Henry Becque’s 19th-Century farce La Parisienne, upon which Beau Willimon based “The Parisian Woman,” but it’s a safe assumption that the …

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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The importance of seeing “Earnest” at Two River Theater by Philip

In a modern play about Oscar Wilde, he says “I have spent my life holding language up to the light, making words shimmer.” (Wilde might well have said that.) Then his 1895 play “The Im…

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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Paging Dr. Seuss: Report to Red Bank for “Seussical” by Philip

An unscripted moment on opening night of Phoenix Productions’ “Seussical” revealed much about how the show was being received. Nearing the end, the Cat in the Hat addresses the audienc…

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Thursday, November 2, 2017

Tennis, anyone? “The Last Match” off-Broadway by Philip

There’s a mind game we used to play in college built around someone finishing the sentence “Life is like a ­___” with a concept (film noir, say) or item (a coke bottle is one I recall…

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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Careful what you wish for: “Mutual Philanthropy” at NJ Rep by Philip

We like to think we can size up strangers in a first meeting, but we really can’t. Everyone is guarded for a while, with deep feelings and values held in check, at least until the atmosphe…

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Monday, October 16, 2017

Improved with age: “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” by Philip

Two things to know about George Street Playhouse’s temporary home on the Cook College Campus of Rutgers University: One is that the venue is temporary only in the sense that GSP will be mo…

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Friday, September 29, 2017

A likeable “As You Like It” off-B’way and a tasty dinner theater in the suburbs by Philip

There must be as many ways of creating the Forest of Arden onstage as there are productions of “As You Like It.” In director John Doyle’s minimalist production of Shakespeare’s roman…

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Monday, September 18, 2017

A first-class revival of an American classic: “A Raisin in the Sun” at Two River Theater by Philip

There is little that I can add to the praise that has been heaped upon Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun,” virtually from the hour it opened on Broadway in 1959. Ms. Hansberry,…

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Friday, September 1, 2017

“Prince of Broadway” = Nostalgia on Broadway by Philip

“Prince of Broadway” has been variously compared to a highlight reel, a mix-tape and a best-of list. Simply stated, “Prince” is a compilation of musical numbers from sixteen of the t…

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Monday, August 21, 2017

“F Theory” in Long Branch NJ: an imperfect blendship by Philip

For starters, the F in “F Theory,” world-premiering at New Jersey Repertory Company, does not stand for what you are thinking. No; it represents friendship, in this case not even with be…

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Curvy Widow on 43rd Street and Songbook Summit on 59th by Philip

Pinpointing a target audience for some shows is easy. Ten-to-twelve-year-old girls whose parents took them to “Annie” were seen a decade or so later with one another at “Rent,” while…

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Sunday, August 6, 2017

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” come true in Central Park by Philip

Settings and casting variations on Shakespeare are virtually infinite. “Othello” in an Army barracks? “Shrew” on a Dude Ranch? A female Prospero or even Richard III? A campy “Peric…

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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Broadway door opens into “Marvin’s Room” by Philip

In life there are the care-givers, the care-receivers, and those who simply don’t care. All three are represented in Scott McPherson’s “Marvin’s Room,” finally debuting on Broadway…

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