Oscar E Moore

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SHUFFLE ALONG – or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed – Tappin’ their troubles away

May 13th, 2016 by Oscar E Moore

The “buzz” (social media) way back when in the 20’s was that composer Eubie Blake (Brandon Victor Dixon) and lyricist Noble Sissle (Joshua Henry) would not be remembered.  They were black.  And to be dismissed.  To be forgotten.

Director George C. Wolfe has attempted to put that “buzz” to rest with his hybrid production of SHUFFLE ALONG – or the making of the musical sensation of 1921 and all that followed – a show that runs much longer than its title.

It’s a case of trying to tell too much in one fell swoop.  Part documentary and part pure and exciting entertainment.  Choreographer Savion Glover is its savior.  With his exceptional tap routines with an ensemble of exceptional dancers.

One production number quickly following another thankfully giving you little time to consider the story line about the attempt to raise enough money, rehearse and tour a show called SHUFFLE ALONG – with all its trials and tribulations along its bumpy road until it reaches the 63rd Street Music Hall in Manhattan and opens to glorious reviews for its original jazz and syncopated score.  That is only Act I.

There is an insert to the regular program.  A program with vintage photos.  It is a time capsule of the show and its creators and stars.  SHUFFLE ALONG was a “political” musical/revue about a mayoral race.  We see very little of it here.  Except for the terrific first act finale – “I’m Just Wild About Harry” and an almost forgettable ballad “Love Will Find a Way.”

This SHUFFLE ALONG depicts how it almost didn’t get produced.  It is not a replica of the original production.  An almost entirely new show per se using the entertaining songs of Sissle and Blake.  Mostly performed by the team of F.E. Miller (Brian Stokes Mitchell) and Aubrey Lyles (Billy Porter).  Two excellent performers.

Then there is Audra McDonald as Lottie Gee.  The dragon lady diva with a powerful and majestic voice and an enormous smile who falls in love with Eubie despite his being married – hoping that love will find a way as she taps her troubles away.

You must be quick to catch her however as she is pregnant and will leave the show – temporarily – July 24 through the fall of 2016.   Rhiannon Giddens making her Broadway debut will be her temporary replacement.  Savion Glover is also being added to the cast – somewhere, somehow.

The dourer by the hour Act II relates what happened to one and all after the show became a hit.  It’s an up and downward spiral ending with a list of obits.

In a series of comic relief roles is the incomparable Brooks Ashmanskas - he of the mobile face and expert double take and perfect comic timing.

The costumes by Ann Roth are elaborate and colorful and there are tons of them.  One wonders how the original production with its enormous cast could afford such finery with ticket ranging from .50 to 2.50 – somehow they did with enough profits to by furs and watches and cars.

If it’s spectacular dancing that you crave that sparkles along with the smiles and the costumes SHUFFLE ALONG is the show for you.  At The Music Box Theatre.


Photos:  Julieta Cervantes

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AMERICAN PSYCHO – The Best of Everything

May 8th, 2016 by Oscar E Moore

There is no escaping Donald Trump.  He is everywhere.  Including being referenced many times over in the mesmerizing psychological bloody musical adaptation of the 1991 novel by Bret Easton Ellis AMERICAN PSYCHO that was made into a film noir in 2000 and hit the London stage in 2013.  It is now ensconced at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre and I strongly advise you to see it.  It is a fantastic production.

It is not about Donald Trump but an indictment of the times in which men like him became synonymous with the type of confident, money loving, extravagant, pampered and charming guy that might be hiding a knife in his designer suit pocket while giving you a killer smile in a fashionable downtown club.  The women were no better.

It is 1989.  Reagan is President.  Wall Street is booming.  Some people are homeless.  Some people are dying to get into the best restaurants.

Having the best bodies.  The best designer outfits.  The best apartment.  The best water.  A home in the Hamptons.  Wanting and getting and exhibiting the best of everything.

Conspicuous consumption is what life is all about for these shallow folk.  Until someone named Patrick Bateman a sensational Benjamin Walker - takes it all away with that killer smile of his and a gleeful, satisfied twinkle in his eye.

If you have to be seduced and slashed by someone it might as well be Patrick Bateman who is wealthy and charming with a body to die for.  Arriving stage center in his tight jockey shorts looking like an Adonis he embodies what that culture was all about – what that culture still worships.  The surface look.  Trying to hide the emptiness of their lives.

This production of AMERICAN PSYCHO has the best of everything.  The cast is chock full of beautiful people oozing talent.  The direction by Rupert Goold is extraordinarily precise and exciting.  The book by Roberto Aguirre-Sacassa skewers these people with just the right amount of biting satire.  The songs by Duncan Sheik throb and pulsate with an underlying spookiness.  His lyrics are crisp, concise and cynical.  Costumes by Katrina Lindsay - perfect.  Ditto for the scenic design by Es Devlin, Sound Design by Dan Moses Schreier and Video Design by Finn Ross and most importantly the incredible Lighting Design by Justin Townsend.   All capture the horrible essence and extravagance of the period.

The choreography by Lynne Page is simply sensational in its depiction of the club scenes and the disintegration of the psyche of Patrick Bateman – a man who has everything - a man who relaxes by renting horror videos, is engaged but fools around, is stalked by a closet homosexual friend and has an adoring secretary - a man who wants it all and gets it.  And then some.  He begins to kill.  One after another.  Or does he?   Funny how the mind works.


Photos:  Jeremy Daniel

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TUCK EVERLASTING – Happiness is not a thing called living forever

May 4th, 2016 by Oscar E Moore

Meet the Tucks.  A family that once drank water from a secret stream in Treegap, New Hampshire circa 1800 that made them immortal.  To sip or not to sip?

That is the question facing a bored and precocious eleven year old Winnie Foster (Sarah Charles Lewis – making an impressive Broadway debut) as this most imaginative and magical new musical TUCK EVERLASTING unfolds at the Broadhurst Theatre on a beautiful set designed by Walt Spangler.

It’s a bit FINDING NEVERLAND, a bit THE SECRET GARDEN and a bit PIPPIN.  With a lot of charm and unexpected humor supplied by book writers Claudia Shear & Tim Federle (Better Nate than Ever – read this one!  It is hysterical) and Celtic inspired tunes by Chris Miller and lyrics by Nathan Tysen.  Their “Story of the Tucks” is the best song of a rather unexceptional score.

Having just lost her dad Winnie is lonely and seeks adventure.  Her only friend is a frisky frog.  Winnie is smart and sassy and prone to asking lots of questions.  So she runs off into the woods owned by her family where she meets Jesse Tuck (a delightful Andrew Keenan-Bolger) – the lonely seventeen year old son of Mae (Carolee Carmello) and Angus (Michael Park).  Actually he is 102.

They become friends and the adventure of a lifetime for Winnie begins when she is kidnapped by the Tucks and brought home as they try to figure out what to do with her as she now knows about the magical water and its power.   Jesse wants her to wait until she is seventeen to take a “sip of forever” so that they can grow ageless together.

The Tucks are having a family reunion of sorts having not been together for ten years.  Older brother Miles (Robert Lenzi) wants them to remain as inconspicuous as possible as they never age and people do gossip.

Enter the villain.  Man in the Yellow Suit (a suitable Terrance Mann) who seeks to find Winnie, and the secret stream so that he can sell the water before Constable Joe (Fred Applegate) and his sidekick detective Hugo (an excellent Michael Wartella) solve their first missing person case.

But not before a visit to the Fair.  Giving director/choreographer Casey Nicholaw ample opportunity to spread his wings.

Mr. Nicholaw now has four shows on Broadway.  That says a lot right there.  But he keeps the best for last in his “Circle of Life” inspired folk ballet that ends this fine production that might confuse the younger members of the audience but is nonetheless the cherry on top.

Kudos to Brian Ronan – sound designer.  Thank you for making it possible to understand everything spoken and sung.

Based on the classic 1975 novel by Natalie Babbitt that I look forward to reading.

Life is an adventure - enjoy it with each and every wart along the way.


Photos:  Joan Marcus

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WAITRESS – powered by women and sugar

April 30th, 2016 by Oscar E Moore

Starring Jessie Mueller whose talents far exceed the predictable material by Jessie Nelson whose book cannot decide if it is an old fashioned musical comedy or a serious discourse dealing with an abused woman in an ugly marriage looking for an out and an equally confusing score by Sara Bareilles (a female friend calls it “women in pain” music) and directed by Diane Paulus whose imaginative magic touch has been strangely muted WAITRESS could be subtitled PIE-O-MANIA.

Recently opened at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre this production is frankly extremely disappointing.  Most glaringly it is the sound design by Jonathan Deans that threatens to ruin what good there is in the production.  Even the usually sublime Ms. Mueller comes across as garbled.  Many of the lyrics are impossible to hear.  There is a tinny sound throughout.

The Tony’s no longer award “Sound Design” which is one of the most important factors in the enjoyment of a production.  Hearing it!  Are these designers retaliating by deliberately sabotaging their own productions?  Doesn’t the director and/or the producers fix these problems before the show opens?  I am at a loss in trying to figure this out.  There have been many instances this season of this rampant and growing problem.

The stock character cast however is excellent and they all get their moment to shine.  Reminiscent of TV’s ALICE starring Linda Lavin, WAITRESS takes place in a small-town homey diner – run by Cal (Eric Anderson) and owned by Joe (Dakin Matthews) where Jenna (Jessie Mueller) thinks up and bakes up pies with most original names (The Pursuit of Happiness Pie, White Knuckle Pie etc.)  Her two waitress friends – tart tongued Becky (Keala Settle) and mousey Dawn (Kimiko Glenn) are eking out a living in typical sit-com fashion and looking for mates.  Although Becky already has one.

Jenna’s arrogant and abusive hubby Earl (Nick Cordero) takes all of her tips and treats her roughly and badly.

She discovers she is pregnant.  And meets Doctor Pomatter (an excellent Drew Gehling looking and acting and sounding very much like Ben Aaron).  The doctor is married but that doesn’t stop him from starting an affair with Jenna who is desperately seeking affection.  It gets a bit distasteful.

Nurse Norma (Charity Angel Dawson) provides some laughs.  As do the pies.

A pie baking contest offering a 20,000 dollar prize to the winner makes Jenna hopeful that this is how she will rid herself of mean-spirited Earl.

Meanwhile Dawn meets Ogie (Christopher Fitzgerald) late in Act I and the show finally sparks to life.

What will happen?  Will Jenna win the contest?  Will Jenna get to enter the contest?  Will the doctor and Jenna live happily ever after or have recurring bouts of heartburn from ingesting all those pies?  Will Jenna dump Earl?  Will the set pieces never stop rolling around the stage?  Will we ever understand what they are singing?  Will the onstage band stop popping up willy-nilly?   And all those pies.  I think I’ll skip dessert.  I’ve lost my appetite.


Photos:  Joan Marcus

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THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL – an ill-mannered comedy of errors

April 25th, 2016 by Oscar E Moore

There’s no stopping people’s wagging, malicious, slanderous tongues.  People love to gossip.  To tear down the reputation of their friends.  To exaggerate.  Isn’t it fun?  In the case of the Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s 18th century revival of “The School for Scandal” now at the Lucille Lortel Theatre through May 8th the answer is a resounding yes.

We have to thank the Red Bull Theater and director Marc Vietor for breathing fresh and inventive life into this old relic that is still quite contemporary in what it has to say about the human or rather inhuman race – our dealings with one another.  Slander et al.

“Gossip Guy” Perez Hilton would fit in nicely and snugly with Lady Sneerwell (a husky voiced viperous Frances Barber) and her intimate group of harpies – headed by the slithery Mr. Snake (an outrageous lime green bewigged Jacob Dresch giving a nod of reverence to Charles Ludlam and Perez Hilton) – Mrs. Candour (a delicious Dana Ivey) – Sir Benjamin Backbite (Ryan Garbayo) a society poet (ahem!) and Mr. Crabtree his uncle (Derek Smith) – all of whom try to outdo one another in spreading the latest dirt.

Particularly that which has to do with Sir Peter Teazle (a stellar Mark Linn-Baker – master of the “aside”) a wealthy old bachelor who has just married the rather young Lady Teazle (a not so innocent Helen Cespedes.)  She may be from the country but she has a knack for shopping and spending her new husband’s money.  And arguing.  And becoming involved with the Surface brothers:  Joseph the elder (Christian Conn) and Charles the libertine (Christian Demarais) both excellent!  Charles has his eyes set on Maria (Nadine Malouf) the serious ward of Sir Peter.  And so the plot thickens…

Meanwhile Sir Peter’s best friend Sir Oliver Surface (Henry Stram) “lately returned from the Near East” does some identity hiding to determine which of his nephews should inherit – discovering what might be called some surprising traits.

There is also Master Ranji (Ramsey Faragallah) from the Punjab to add some mystique and a trio of servants adding some humor playfully performed by Ben Mehl.

The unit set, sliding screens and folding doors is an extra added attraction by Anna Louizos with first rate costumes by Andrea Lauer and Lighting by Russell H. Champa.  Extra care has been taken in the wig department (Charles G. Lapointe).  The best is that you can hear each and every actor!  No mean feat these days.

Music starts things off splendidly with Mr. Snake writing a nasty letter off to the tune of “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter” setting the tone immediately.  Other perky music (Greg Pliska) helps with the fluid scene changes calling to mind “The Pink Panther.”

All in all they are having a grand time in 18th century London and we are seeing ourselves reflected in 21st century Manhattan warts and all.  What goes around comes around.  Have fun!


Photos:  Carol Rosegg

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THE FATHER – Frank Langella in the throes of dementia

April 19th, 2016 by Oscar E Moore

THE FATHER by French playwright Florian Zeller (translated by Christopher Hampton) is a well thought out, clever and heart wrenching examination of what it is to go through the process of trying to understand what is going on in the mind of a person attempting to continue living a life that is slowly being stripped away from them from that dreaded disease dementia.

It is eye opening.   And sometimes confusing.  THE FATHER is written as seen through the mind of Andre – a gentleman living alone in a well-appointed Parisian flat (or is it his daughter’s flat that he shares with her and her husband?) who has the onset of the disease - believing that he can take care of himself while forgetting where he has put his watch and alienating three in a row hired nurses to tend to his needs.

The amazing Frank Langella is Andre.  Living and breathing every moment of Andre’s slowing increasing tortured life.  Looking fit and spry.  Being charming and inquisitive.  And amusing.  But he can be volatile and nasty and confused and obsessive and frustrated and angry from moment to moment.  It is a bravura performance that should not be missed.

It’s complicated.  Playwright Zeller presents the situation in a series of short vignettes.  At the blackout of each scene the proscenium flashes lights that increase in intensity throughout – indicating the short circuitry of Andre’s mind – his inability to think clearly.  It might be annoying to some.  Just think what Andre is going through.

In addition pieces of furniture from the elegant set by Scott Pask are removed from each new scene.  Stripped from Andre’s memory.

There are no answers supplied.  How can there be answers when there aren’t any to be had?  We just see the unavoidable downward spiral of a once brilliant man.

His frustrated daughter Anne (Kathryn Erbe – who might learn more about projecting her voice from Mr. Langella) is thinking to put him in a nursing home as she is moving to London with her husband Pierre (Brian Avers) or are they?

Andre resists and accepts another nurse Laura (Hannah Cabell) whom he charms even performing a tap dance for her (he was a dancer or was he an engineer?)  As Andre’s mind slips deeper into obscurity we are even more confused as Man (Charles Borland) and Woman (Kathleen McNenny) arrive as other characters that are essentially props used by the playwright to emphasize Andre’s sad predicament – illustrating his growing confusion.  It will lead you to tears.

It’s a living nightmare.  Losing your mind.  Your identity.  Your belongings.  Your life.  Slowly.  Unknowingly.  Be grateful that it isn’t you and be patient with those afflicted.

A remarkable Mr. Langella, in full control of his faculties, is giving Andre the respect that he deserves.  His performance leaves the other actors in its wake.  Excellently directed by Doug Hughes.  Highly recommended.  At the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre – Manhattan Theatre Club.  90 minutes - no intermission. Through June 12, 2016


Photos:  Joan Marcus

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BRIGHT STAR – The legend of Alice Murphy

April 10th, 2016 by Oscar E Moore

Carmen Cusack is Broadway’s newest bright new star after being cast as Alice Murphy after submitting an audition tape via video to the team behind BRIGHT STAR – an original and tuneful bluegrass country styled musical inspired by a true event by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell that is beautifully and imaginatively directed by Walter Bobbie.

Carmen Cusack is a wonder.  Beautiful voice.  Great actress.  Getting to play the young “black sheep” and “lost lamb” albeit smart and strong Alice of the Murphy clan in North Carolina circa 1923 and her older self-contained self, working as an editor in a publishing house circa 1945.

These two plot lines run parallel – 1945-46 and 22 years earlier.  Not 1923-24 but 22 years earlier.  A very important number that connects the two time periods and gives us a clue early on where this romantic and tragic love story is headed.

There is another new star on the rise.  A. J. Shively.  He is wonderful as 22 year old Billy Cane arriving fresh from WW II back home only to discover that his mom has passed.   His love is writing.  Margot (a delightful Hannah Elless) works at the local library.  Her love is Billy.  Only she never quite gets to let him in on it.

Seamlessly going back and forth between the past and the present the sometimes hokey (but lovable) story has yet another star turn by actor Paul Alexander Nolan as Jimmy Ray Dobbs whom Alice sets her eyes and heart on.  His wealthy dad (Stephen Lee Anderson) does what “A Man’s Gotta Do” and attempts to split them up until Mother Nature intervenes and Alice’s story takes a tragic twist.

BRIGHT STAR is about love and hope.  For always being optimistic and for following your dreams no matter what.  The score is sprightly and melodic and performed with great gusto by the onstage band housed within a shell of a gazebo that rotates and slides around on the stage to keep the momentum from never slowing down.

The skeleton-like set by Eugene Lee looks as if a tornado has set in – with props and set pieces in plain sight – like an open book – just like Alice Murphy’s life as told to us by the sensational Carmen Cusack.  Happiness, turmoil and tragedy told in a refreshing way.  We never doubt the outcome and when it comes we are all rewarded.

There is nothing wrong with romanticism or sentimentality.  It’s what makes us human.  Perhaps we have become too cynical to accept a simple old fashioned love story told through lovely songs sung with a twang.  Banjos included.  With a side of laughs.

Lighting design by Japhy Weideman helps immensely.  Every word is heard (thank you Nevin Steinberg.)  Stylish period costumes by Jane Greenwood make us long for the days when women looked like women and were sexy in a more simple way.

Choreography by Josh Rhodes makes you want to join in and enjoy life as those on stage are experiencing and enjoying their lives.

Each song tells its own story and propels the plot forward.  And some are standouts.  BRIGHT STAR excels in proving that what is old is new again and that contrary to Thomas Wolfe that you can go home again.  Highly recommended.  At the CORT THEATRE.


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Photos: Joan Marcus

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Arthur Miller’s THE CRUCIBLE – It takes a village

April 6th, 2016 by Oscar E Moore

Powerful and moving.  Frightening.  Riveting.  A new timely vision for the 1953 classic Arthur Miller play THE CRUCIBLE as seen through the eyes of director Ivo Van Hove – himself a visionary as exemplified by his exciting and out of the box staging of A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE and LAZARUS – all this season.

It’s an amazing output by an amazing man.  But it takes a village to bring all this together.  And Mr. Van Hove is helped by a slew of seasoned producers, an outstanding creative team and the casting of first rate actors who bring to vivid life the scariest of times.  Both the Salem witch trials and the McCarthy hearings.  The fear of communism in the 50’s and the fear of witches in 1692.  A witch hunt and witchcraft intermingled.

Stalking.  Rumors.  Accusations.  Lies.  The power of suggestion.  Torture.  Sex.  Naming names.  Religion.  Who is evil and who is good?  All in a village where whispers and innuendos can escalate to ruin the lives of innocent people – in the blink of an eye.  Mass hysteria runs rampant.

The curtain rises on a unit set by Jan Versweyveld depicting an eerie classroom with a large blackboard with some trees and instructions for children to follow scrawled upon it.  Young girls with their backs to the audience are seated at desks.  Ominous music underscored by Philip Glass.  The curtain falls.  Girls singing a school anthem – or a hymn.  Once again the curtain rises.  A tableau of a man holding what appears to be a dead student.   Reverend Parris (Jason Butler Harner) holding his daughter Betty (Elizabeth Teeter.)  Our attention is immediate.  And for the next three hours we cannot look away.  We dare not look away.  We are totally involved in this insanity.

John Proctor (a fantastic and fierce Ben Whishaw) a farmer with three children with a penchant for missing mass has had a brief affair with the young Abigail Williams (a vengeful and spiteful Saoirse Ronan) who no longer works for him and his wife Elizabeth (a gut wrenching Sophie Okonedo) – for obvious reasons.  She is set on revenge.  He is eventually accused of witchcraft and dealing with the devil and arrested and tortured – all in the name of the Lord – by Deputy Governor Danforth (a slithery Ciaran Hinds).

Abigail and her gang of schoolgirls had been seen cavorting in the forest seemingly dealing in witchcraft.  It is only Mary Warren (a frightened and possessed Tavi Gevinson) who wavers and is the only girl whose testimony can save Elizabeth and John Proctor.  Will she?

It is evil incarnate at work here.  The final scene between the Proctors is magnificently moving. Their love for one another and their faith in doing what is right for them incredibly touching and leaves us shocked into silence.  Until the curtain call.

Jim Norton excels as fellow farmer Giles Cory fearing for his third wife who has been arrested for reading books.  One by one others are arrested for no better reasons than being thought of as conspiring with the devil.

A girl levitates.  The blackboard comes to life.  A dog/wolf wanders the stage and looks directly out at us.  The young girls go into a manic trance.  Actions and motivations are questioned.  Lives are destroyed.  Is it witchcraft or mass hysteria?

This production will be embedded in your mind forever.  Mr. Van Hove doesn’t want us to forget – ever.  Neither does Arthur Miller.

At the Walter Kerr Theatre.  Brilliant and theatrical.  Highly recommended.


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Photos:  Jan Versweyveld

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SHE LOVES ME – the best of all possible musicals revived at Studio 54

March 26th, 2016 by Oscar E Moore

A luscious, lavish and romantic revival of SHE LOVES ME has recently set hearts atwitter at STUDIO 54 where Scott Ellis’ production is running through July 10th.  The Roundabout Theatre Company has done a more than admiral job in remounting this best of all possible musicals first seen at the smaller Eugene O’Neill Theatre in 1963 – starring Barbara Cook, Barbara Baxley, Daniel Massey, Jack Cassidy and Ludwig Donath under the direction of Harold Prince with sets designed by William and Jean Eckart.  Therein lies the rub.

It’s not my fault that I saw the original.  Loved the original.  Have had it ingrained in my psyche ever since.  It was perfection.  However this revival has done its best to live up to my very high expectations bringing a new and younger audience to appreciate all its loveliness.

Based on the 1937 play “Parfumerie” by Miklos Laszlo the score by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick is tuneful, intelligent, funny, character driven and romantic.  It can’t be beat.  The concise book by Joe Masteroff doesn’t have an extraneous word.  All the characters are well defined and have their individual songs in the spotlight.

It is a delight to look at.  With applause invoking swirling sets by David Rockwell and period costumes by Jeff Mahshie.

Scott Ellis has made SHE LOVES ME a bit brassier, a bit bigger adding some additional choreography by Warren Carlyle in a musical that doesn’t call for much dancing at all.  There is also the over use of props during some numbers that distract from the words.  The beautiful lyrics of Sheldon Harnick should stand alone.  Trust the work.  Gimmicks are uncalled for.

Luckily the sound design by Jon Weston allows every wondrous word to be heard in this tale of romantic love.

Amalia Balash (a lovely Laura Benanti) has been writing lonely heart letters to “Dear Friend” and is smitten.  Georg Nowack (a terrific Zachary Levi in Jimmy Stewart mode) - Assistant Manager of Maraczek’s Parfumerie in Budapest 1934 has been busy writing back.  Despite never meeting they seem to be made for each other until she comes a calling for a job and they instantly are at odds with one another.

After seeing Barbara Cook in the original it’s hard to erase that perfect memory.  Miss Benanti’s voice is different of course and she does a fine job even though she might have been having some problems with a noticeable glass of water nearby.  She is a bit too headstrong and could be a bit more vulnerable but I will give her the benefit of my doubts.  She and Mr. Levi work well together.

The excellent Byron Jennings is an elegant Mr. Maraczek.  His employee – cad and womanizer - Steven Kodaly (Gavin Creel in John Barrymore mode) has been having an affair with the flirtatious Ilona Ritter (a fabulous Jane Krakowki) and someone else as a side dish.  Michael McGrath (Ladislav Sipos) a fellow worker is very amusing as usual but hardly Hungarian.  Peter Bartlett who only has to appear on stage to evoke laughter is the Headwaiter of Café Imperiale where Amalia is set to have a rendezvous with her “Dear Friend.”  And then there is Arpad.

Arpad Laszlo (Nicholas Barasch) the ultra-charming, hard-working and ambitious delivery boy just about steals the show with his plea for a job as a clerk “Try Me” in Act II.  The still in high school Mr. Barasch is destined for a wonderful career.  He matches his professionalism with these already established stars and then some.  Red hair.  Attractive and super talented.

When did I fall in love?  Truly?  In 1963.  But this satisfying and entertaining production has rekindled my infatuation with SHE LOVES ME.  Recommended for all lonely hearts.


Photos:  Joan Marcus/Walter McBride (Arpad)

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March 23rd, 2016 by Oscar E Moore

Let’s put on a show!  In a barn!  In Mississippi!  With a bluegrass band on stage.  Intermingle all of them Hew Haw banjos and fiddles with an odd assortment of characters with an off- kilter sense of humor and call it THE ROBBER BRIDEGROOM.

The Roundabout Theatre Company has done just that.  At the Off-Broadway Laura Pels.  Through May 29th.

First seen unsuccessfully on Broadway in 1975 this musical written by Alfred Uhry (book & lyrics) and Robert Waldman (music) just keeps pluggin’ along.

Based on a 1942 novella by Eudora Welty based on a Brothers Grimm fairy tale it is now directed by Alex Timbers – a man with a distinct and immediately recognizable style.  What was originally funny and imaginative in “Peter and The Starcatcher” and “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” is still funny and imaginative if somewhat frayed around the edges.

In this festive “fairy tale” done with great hootenanny élan the company enters from the rear of the theatre and proceeds at break neck speed to tell the tale of Jamie Lockhart/the bandit of the woods (Steven Pasquale) who “steals with style” - wears a non-too-successful disguise of a couple of berry stains on his cheek which only leads to more confusion in the convoluted plot which doesn’t really matter once you get to stopping your feet along with the infectious tunes and just go along for the ride.

The great news is that Leslie Kritzer as Salome – the stepmother of Rosamund (Ahna O’Reilly - who falls for the Bandit and is wooed by Jamie) – absconds with the show.  Steals it right from under its star Mr. Pasquale who despite his powerhouse vocals doesn’t have enough bravado/brio to fully deliver the goods.  A bit too serious.  When all others around him are in overdrive he appears to be in second gear.  Perhaps resting on his previous laurels…

But the other off-the-wall characters make up for it.  Including a talking head (Big Harp - Evan Harrington) whom Little Harp (Andrew Durand) totes around in a trunk.  And Goat – the village dimwit (Greg Hildreth) – make for merry mayhem.

Down home choreography by Connor Gallagher and a chock-full-of stuff unit set by Donyale Werle are eye catching.

THE ROBBER BRIDEGROOM is fast.  It’s fun.  It has Leslie Kritzer literally glowing on stage with her bling and diamond studded tooth.  Or is it gold?  No matter - it adds just the right touch to her fabulously comic stand-out sensational performance.

If you are in need of a hootenanny Hee Haw fix – this productions will do nicely.  Ninety minutes.  No intermission.

NOTE:  Why is there no song list in the program?


Photos:  Joan Marcus

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