Oscar E Moore

From the rear mezzanine theatre, movies and moore

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THE PRESENT – Chekhov with a down under twist

January 13th, 2017 by Oscar E Moore

Some prefer their Chekhov straight up or neat as has been the traditional way of performing his classic tragi-comedies in the past.  Not so for Andrew Upton who has taken on Chekhov’s very early and lengthy draft of a play called Platonov – fiddling around with it, updating it to a post-perestroika Russia (mid 1990’s) and honing it down to a mere three hours.

Which brings us to THE PRESENT that is served on the rocks (anything but neat) starring his beautiful and extremely talented wife Cate Blanchett and Richard Roxburgh in the Sydney Theatre Company production now playing at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre through March 19th – although there is plenty of wine and vodka being imbibed on stage – most probably to help the ensemble of fine actors stagger through this overlong and confusing production.

There are two acts consisting of two scenes each.  It deteriorates progressively.  You may spend the first scene of Act I (the longest) trying to figure out who these characters are and what their relationships are to each other or as I noticed a few seats away someone just nodding back and nodding out until the loud music was blasted signaling the change of scene.  It’s quite baffling.

On the way home via subway a couple across from me were chatting about THE PRESENT going back and forth in their program to the faces and the characters they portrayed.  Yes, they were trying to figure it all out.  I asked them.

So I decided to do some research myself.  Time consuming and in reality it didn’t make much of a difference.  It’s not a very good play.  It rambles on and on.  Some characters are never explained – they just show up.  Others go missing.  And so our minds are trying to sort things out while we listen intently as to the plight of Anna Petrovna (just plain Anna in the Playbill – Cate) who is turning 40 and is hosting a birthday party for herself and the aforementioned confusing cast of characters.

Does anyone remember Helen Trent (radio soap opera) who had similar problems coping with turning 35!

Anna has two wealthy older suitors as the estate she is visiting and hosting said party has a cash flow problem.  She inherited it after the death of her husband 7 years ago.  Instead of a cherry orchard there is a weedy lake.  There are guns.  There are long boring speeches.  Anna is bored, preoccupied and anxious.  Who can blame her?

A spark of an old relationship is rekindled.  Mikhail (Mr. Roxburgh) a womanizer with a capital W – who is now married to a frumpy Sasha (Susan Prior with a newborn in the next room) but still pursuing Anna and Sophia (Jacqueline McKenzie) who is married to a meek Sergei (Chris Ryan – Anna’s stepson) and Maria (Anna Bamford) girl friend of Nikolai (Toby Schmitz) AND most probably the cook.

After the second scene of Act I which dissolves into a dance on top of the table, frenzied sexual explosion we have an intermission where some audience members leave never to return.  And so they miss the Act II scene in hell with Mr. Roxburgh meeting up with various characters surrounded by mist or fog or remnants of the fire where there is the worst fight scene I have ever witnessed on stage.  Or is it real?  Or is he having hallucinations?  Do we really care?  And then finally the last scene, staged as a farce.  There you have it.

If you absolutely need to see Cate Blanchett in the flesh be forewarned.  She is lovely but the play itself isn’t.

Mr. Roxburgh does have a charm about him.  But Mikhail is a braggart and a drunk.  And Mr. Roxburgh goes a bit overboard enacting such.  One wonders how Mikhail can get it up so often and for so many in his inebriated state.  The women all seem to fall under his spell or at the very least his body during this birthday bash.

Directed by John Crowley who does little to clarify or enlighten this lumbering production.  Scenic and costume design (Alice Babidge) are serviceable.


Photos:  Joan Marcus

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IN TRANSIT on Broadway – a cappella musicianship trumps all

December 15th, 2016 by Oscar E Moore

In October 2010 I reviewed “In Transit” off Broadway at 59 E 59.  It was intimate.  A cast of seven.  All superb singers whose “harmonies were closer than a jam packed subway car during rush hour.”  All sung a cappella – without the accompaniment of any musical instruments.  I really enjoyed it a lot.

It has now opened at Circle in the Square with a larger cast of eleven superb singers.  Their superb musicianship trumps all.  As the slight well-worn stereotypical characters and situations are there solely to showcase the songs and their delivery.

It’s bigger and flashier with stylized choreography by Kathleen Marshall who also directs in three quarter thrust with a conveyor belt, running the length of the stage that keeps the action chugging along at a fast clip.

There is Jane (Margot Seibert) an office temp yearning to star on Broadway.  Nate (James Snyder) who has lost his lucrative job and has to deal with an irate and bossy MTA worker with “ATTITUDE” Althea (Moya Angela) who also portrays the in denial BIG TEXAS MAMA of her in the closet son Trent (Justin Guarini) who has a new lover in this edition Steven (Telly Leung).

Ali (Erin Mackey) a marathon runner who has split with her boyfriend Dave (David Abeles) and rap narrator Boxman (Chesney Snow – from the original production) who holds it all together with his sound effects and rhythmic backup.  Gerianne Perez, Mariand Torres and Nicholas Ward.  At certain performances Steven “HeaveN” Cantor is Boxman.

The creators (book, music and lyrics) Kristen Anderson-Lopez, James-Allen Ford, Russ Kaplan & Sara Wordsworth with an assist by Gregory T. Christopher & Karla Lant.  All are responsible for the original concept.

And they have been adding and revising and updating and enlarging the production values that were just fine to begin with.  But this is Broadway.  And an audience needs to get a bigger bang for their bucks.

And so the videos, the larger 2 level almost sterile set (Donyale Werle) and flashing lights.

But it is the extraordinary arrangements by Deke Sharon and Music Supervision by Rick Hip-Flores that are the true stars of this production.  Along with each amazing singer.  You may not remember the songs but you will remember the sound.  So sit back and enjoy the ride.  90 minutes.  No intermission.


Photos:  Joan Marcus

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A BRONX TALE – mediocre crowd pleasing coming of age musical

December 11th, 2016 by Oscar E Moore

For anyone who hasn’t heard of WEST SIDE STORY with its Jets and Sharks rival New York gangs or the Damon Runyon characters in GUYS AND DOLLS or the near to closing JERSEY BOYS you now have an opportunity to witness a sort of hybrid of the above musicals at the Longacre Theatre where the recycled A BRONX TALE is entertaining audiences hungry for the sounds of the sixties, stoops, egg creams, baseball, doo-wop, slick hair, crap games, gangsters and guns.

I say recycled because originally this was a one man off-Broadway play (1989) – the autobiographical story of one Chazz Palminteri and his coming of age in the sixties.  Facing a fork in the road of Belmont Avenue life:  follow the sage advice of his bus driving dad Lorenzo or follow the not so sage advice of Sonny the local gangster – which became a film (1993) with Robert De Niro and Mr. Palminteri and again on Broadway as a solo play in 2007.  So there is a built in following.

It is now an entertaining, slick musical with a superficial book by Mr. Palminteri that is co-directed by Robert De Niro and Jerry Zaks in broad strokes.  The music is by Alan Menken.  The lyrics by Glenn Slater.  The score has its ups and downs bringing back Doo-Wop with a quartet of likable guys, a few lively numbers that open each act (“Belmont Avenue” – “Webster Avenue”), a couple of fun numbers (“Roll ‘Em” and “Nicky Machiavelli” – a Mack the Knife type spinoff and my all-time favorite “One of the Great Ones.”

But A BRONX TALE somehow comes up less than the sum of its professional parts.  The cast is excellent.  Nick Cordero starring – as he should be – as Sonny the head thug of Belmont Avenue takes a nine year old Calogero (a super talented Hudson Loverro) under his questionable wing advising him not to be like his dad Lorenzo (Richard H. Blake) a well-meaning and honest bus driver while grown up Calogero (Bobby Conte Thornton) narrates with a strange vacant almost hypnotic gaze which disconnects him from the very personal story.  He is good looking, the perfect type, sings well but doesn’t connect fully.

Unfortunately he does connect with Jane (a delightful Ariana Debose) falling for her hard.  Thing is, she is of the rival Webster Avenue and black.  So it’s the (and I quote) “the spooks vs the wops” in this forbidden 1968 love.  Will they wind up together?  Or will more shots ring out in the hood?

The overpowering set of movable tenement buildings with fire escapes – for what amounts to be an intimate story – by Beowulf Boritt – are great looking and create a great atmosphere.  Sergio Trujillo has choreographed the show – not too much dancing but if we include the movable buildings he has done another fine job here.  William Ivy Long does well with the period costumes.  Neither a feather nor a sequin appear.

Mr. Cordero made a name for himself portraying an unlikable thug to great effect in BULLETS OVER BROADWAY and now he is at it again in what might become known as Bullets Over the Bronx.  He has a way with these parts and we like him despite the distasteful character he portrays.

Direct from the Paper Mill Playhouse where it had its World Premiere February 2016.

Two hours with one intermission.


Photos: Joan Marcus

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SWEET CHARITY – Scaled down Off B’way revival starring Sutton Foster glistens

December 6th, 2016 by Oscar E Moore


I should start by advising you to hasten down to The Pershing Square Signature Center to see SWEET CHARITY running through January 8th 2017.   However I am a bit late.  It’s a very hard ticket to come by.  The space is indeed intimate.

However care has been given in the staging to make every seat have an equal opportunity view.  The production is sensational.

This Neil Simon, Cy Coleman, Dorothy Fields 1966 musical has been brilliantly scaled down and reexamined and reimagined by director Leigh Silverman to slip into the intimate three quarters round seating – adding a deeper dimension to Charily Hope Valentine’s search for the perfect man – without sacrificing the super entertainment factor and exciting score one iota.

A smaller cast.  Doubling and tripling in roles.  They are all wonderful.  Especially Joel Perez, Asmeret Ghebremichael and Emily Padgett.

 Spearheaded by the incomparable Sutton Foster.  May she never be out of the spotlight.   She has it all.  Her effortless dancing.  Her comic timing.  Her sandwich making.  Her mega-watt smile.  And a vulnerability that makes this Charity one whom you just want to hug and tell her it will all turn out OK.  Eventually.

When Charity shouts out “Somebody Loves Me!” it is not just a cue for a production number but a newly found realization that her life finally has some meaning.  And we want to celebrate along with her.

She’s been in denial for so long but still hopeful, wearing her heart on her sleeve as one man after another takes advantage of her and wearing her hurt in her heart.  Sutton Foster allows us to glimpse that hurt.

A sextet of women above the stage replaces a full orchestra.  And yet the now famous songs sound as fresh as ever.  The excellent choreography by Joshua Bergasse make memories of the Bob Fosse original fade into the wings of the past.

The bare bones set by Derek McLane seems perfectly seedy for the dance hall and other locations that have props whisk in and out speedily.  Lighting by Jeff Croiter helps tremendously to depict the Central Park Lake, the stuck Parachute Jump of Coney Island and claustrophobic elevator where Charity meets the man of her dreams Oscar – a bedraggled and shy nebbish of a guy – played honestly and surprisingly sympathetically by Shuler Hensley.

The idea to place the heartbreaking “Where Am I Going?” at the end of the show makes an emotionally valid and bittersweet finale to all that has occurred making Charity face the music, wondering what went wrong and what is going to happen next.  Will she ever learn?  We hope so – for without love life has no purpose.

A production of THE NEW GROUP.  www.thenewgroup.org

Photos:  Monique Carboni

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RIDE THE CYCLONE – Neither here nor there

December 1st, 2016 by Oscar E Moore

The big question is – who of the five dead teenage choir members plus one “Baby Jane” doll-like mysterious girl who lost her head in a tragic accident on the Cyclone roller coaster in a decrepit vintage Coney Island Carnival site, spearheaded by a robotic fortune teller will win enough votes tallied by said fortune teller “The Amazing Karnak” to be lucky enough after spilling out their guts in tuneful if not altogether memorable song after song to return to the living in this mixed bag vaudeville import from Canada which has just blown into the Lucille Lortel Theatre?

Attempting to take us to dizzying heights RIDE THE CYCLONE is a series of ups and downs without too many thrills and/or chills.  Life or rather death isn’t such a carnival for these unfortunate teens.  All but one rises to the occasion.

And one – Jane Doe (the mysterious beheaded doll-like charmer Emily Rohm) whose head sits in its rightful place allowing Ms. Rohm to majestically sing her aria while giving the flying magic carpet from ALADDIN a run for its money.  This extra special effect is truly spectacular.

If Brooke Maxwell and Jacob Richmond the creators of this uneven production intended for us to care for their characters – all victims of a tragic accident – they could have created real people and not stereotypical central casting types who one after another (check them off as they finish their songs) are showcased in some lovely musical production numbers.

There is the gay boy – Noel Gruber (Kholby Wardell channeling Michael Urie channeling Marlene Dietrich.  Jane Doe (Emily Rohm) who gets to keep her decapitated head firmly in place to entertain us while toting a decapitated doll.  A physically challenged Ricky Pots (an adorable Alex Wyse) who gets to rock his inner rock star with surprisingly strong vocals.  Mischa Bachinski a crotch grabbing (his own) Ukrainian rapper who bares his chiseled chest.  Constance Blackwood (Lillian Castillo) the shy, low self-esteemed best friend of the heroine of this opus Ocean O’Connell Rosenberg (a terribly annoying Tiffany Tatreau) a mix of Alice in Wonderland and Matilda – who originated this role in Chicago and took over for Taylor Louderman who unexpectedly left the show this week citing “artistic differences.”

Also the dry and acerbic Karl Hamilton as The Amazing Karnak who foretells his own demise by Virgil the giant rat who is chewing on his power cable.

The set by Scott Davis is fantastic.  Ditto for costumes (Theresa Ham) projections (Mike Tutaj) special effects and illusions by Michael Curry Designs & Hat Rabbit Studio, lighting design Greg Hofmann and choreography by Rachel Rockwell who also keeps the Cyclone moving along despite jumping the tracks every so often with her first rate cast of players.

“Well, I wasn’t bored.” a friend said after the 100 minutes in purgatory – without intermission.  But not being bored does not a great musical make.

A MCC THEATER production.   Through December 29th


Photos:  Joan Marcus

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THIS DAY FORWARD – saying “I do” and not meaning it

November 22nd, 2016 by Oscar E Moore

This new play by Nicky Silver could be subtitled REGRETS.  In the absurd first act we find Irene (Holley Fain) and newlywed husband Martin (Michael Crane) having a face off in a room at the St. Regis Hotel on their nuptial night circa 1958.  He is wealthy.  He is Jewish.  He is about to be very unhappy.  You might be too and have a strong desire to leave.

In the beautiful Allen Moyer designed room an extremely nervous Irene wearing her beautiful Kaye Voyce designed wedding gown has a confession to make to her brand new loving husband Martin who tries his best to get her beneath the sheets.  After all they have just said “I do” and should be celebrating happily.  But then there is out-of-the-blue “confession” from Irene.

What follows is vintage TV sitcom silly.  Third rate Neil Simon.

Emile (Joe Tippet) a handsome and virile gas station worker shows up.  The heavily accented and very amusing maid Melka (June Gable) shows up – bellhop son Donald (Andrew Burnap) in tow.  Mrs. Schmitt (Francesca Faridany) shows up briefly as Martin and Irene try to come to some agreement as we hear the back stories of those involved.

It’s all light and superficial.  Not plausible nor believable.  However the acting is convincing.  And then all of a sudden in Act II everything begins to make sense.  Sort of.

It is 46 years later.  On a brand new set – the high rise Manhattan apartment of Irene and Martin’s son Noah (Michael Crane) where he reluctantly awaits his mentally unravelling mother (June Gable) and his fed-up-with-taking-care-of-her sister Sheila (Francesca Faridany) along with his sexy actor boy-toy lover Leo (Andrew Burnap).

All of the actors convincingly convey their new found characters with warmth and honesty.  And humor.  Especially June Gable who gives a commanding performance.  The dialogue sounds different.  Real.  Mr. Silver has captured both periods exactly and has created a theatrical coup with his double part casting.

There are more back stories and arguments as we learn the heartache behind that initial “I do” between Irene and Martin.  It’s quite sad, believable and touching.   Each act nicely directed by Mark Brokaw with its own and quite unique tone.

Do the right thing for yourself when you find someone to share your life with.  It’s a major decision and you must do what feels right.  What is right and honest and not live a make-believe life full of regrets.

The older Irene gives out some sage advice that makes THIS DAY FORWARD worth a trip to the Vineyard Theatre.  She is not so mentally disabled.


Photos:  Carol Rosegg

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FALSETTOS – it only gets better with age: the show, our perception

November 7th, 2016 by Oscar E Moore

Against a backdrop of the skyline of Manhattan circa 1979 an enormous gray cube sits center stage ready to come apart and miraculously be put back together again – much like the extended family in chaos created by the brilliant William Finn (music, lyrics & book) and James Lapine (director/co-book) of FALSETTOS.

A coupling of two long ago off-Broadway musicals:  MARCH OF THE FALSETOS 1981 and FALSETTOLAND 1990 now FALSETTOS a Lincoln Center Theater production at the Walter Kerr Theatre.  Make sure to see it.

In this high energy, smart, tuneful, brutally honest, funny and touching production we meet Marvin (Christian Borle) a self-absorbed Jewish guy who wants it all, married to his frazzled but loving wife Trina (Stephanie J. Block) and wise beyond his years son Jason (Anthony Rosenthal)

Marvin meets the handsome hunk Whizzer (Andrew Rannells) leaves Trina who deals with this bump in the road of happily married life with Marvin’s shrink Mendel (Brandon Uranowitz – a real mensch) who falls for her in a big caring way.

This song cycle saga is happily sung through with wise and witty lyrics by the most accomplished ensemble cast on Broadway who also reconfigure the cubist set of building blocks throughout.  The songs just keeping rolling along.  Nonstop – delightfully and compassionately.

One highlight of those many highlights is Trina’s “I’m Breaking Down” which brings down the house.  Stephanie Block has never been better.

Neither has Christian Borle who has shown us many times over his genius for over the top comedy.  Here he gets to portray a man in turmoil.  Loving his wife and son and Whizzer and having to come to terms with himself and what is really most important to him.  And perhaps makes us feel and realize what is most important to us.

Especially in a more somber Act II where Whizzer is struck by a mysterious disease that is spreading among gay men – “Something Bad is Happening.”

It is here that we meet two new characters – the lesbian neighbors next door.  Dr. Charlotte (Tracie Thoms) and Cordelia the master kosher caterer (Betsy Wolfe) as Jason prepares for his Bar Mitzvah amidst the deterioration of Whizzer and the love that they all share with each other.

Any caregiver of a terminally ill person will wilt and perhaps shed a few tears, perhaps a few thousand tears at what transpires on stage with such an accomplished cast and story.  It’s not just a “gay” story.  It’s a human story told brilliantly, sung brilliantly with passion, humor and spirit.

Love, friendship, family, compassion are all rightfully above the title here.

Through January 8th.  Do yourself and someone you care for a favor and see this memorable production.


Photos:  Joan Marcus

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LES LIAISONS DANGERSNOOZ – Misguided revival with mismatched stars

November 5th, 2016 by Oscar E Moore

Oh those idle rich.  Oh how they are so easily bored.  Oh how they can just as easily bore us.  In this newest listless revival of Christopher Hampton’s infamous adaptation of Choderlos de Laclos’ 1782 scandalous novel of letters LES LIAISONS DANGEREUSES we have a misguided concept by director Josie Rourke (Artistic Director of the Donmar Warehouse, London) with mismatched ex-lovers (Janet McTeer and Liev Schreiber) blithely playing cat and mouse with muffled voices, playing cards, drinking wine and champagne and attempting to ruin the reputations of their victims with cruel intent.  To dominate.  To humiliate.

Are we at The Ghost of Versailles?   Or is it Don Giovanni?  The dream-like stage design by Tom Scutt with crumbling walls, florescent lights, over size paintings of floral bouquets, chaise- longues and candlelit chandeliers is used to represent “various salons and bedrooms in Paris and the countryside circa 1780.”  Only it doesn’t.  Clearly that is.  Various actors scurry around resetting the furniture while singing or vowel-ing some Baroque music that becomes just plain silly while it becomes increasingly unclear as to where we are and who is doing what to whom.

What is intended to be provocative soon becomes a snooze fest featuring decaying and decadent aristocratic morals.

Janet McTeer a regal, elegant and cold as ice La Marquise de Merteuil has been jilted by yet another young lover (Danceny – Raffi Barsoumian) who is to marry the much younger and just-out-of-the-convent Cecile (Elena Kampouris).

“No way!” says she to her ex-beau Le Vicomte de Valmont (an extremely uncomfortable Liev Schreiber) trying to coerce him into seducing Cecile ruining her for Danceny – promising to bed her ex once again if he is successful.

“No way!” says he – “Too easy,” having set his lecherous eyes and hands on the married and uptight Madame de Tourvel (Birgitte Hjort Sorensen).   And then what do you know? – he seduces both and falls in love with Madame de Tourvel ruining everything.

He pouts.  He drinks.  He’s playing at being a bad boy.  Languidly.  Hardly any fire here.  Especially with his ex-flame that fizzles before us.  Where are the sparks that once ignited between these two?  Where is the sly passion?

She poses.  She confides.  She manipulates.  She looks divine is her gowns by Tom Scutt as do all the women.  But pity Mr. Schreiber with his ill-fitting wig, white hose, period shoes and odd accent looking for the closet exit to escape a part that should be rakish, charming and confident.

You get my drift, I hope.

This most disappointing and unclear production is “Direct from London” from the Donmar Warehouse.  Please pack up the remaining set pieces and return to sender.  At the Booth Theatre through Jan 22nd.


Photo:  Johan Persson

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October 29th, 2016 by Oscar E Moore

Last time round, playwright Mike Bartlett skewered the Royal Family in King Charles III and now has tackled a royal-pain-in-the-ass-family in LOVE, LOVE, LOVE off-Broadway at the Laura Pels – a Roundabout Theatre presentation.

In three relatively short tongue-in-satirical-cheek “all you need is love” themed vignettes separated by two rather long scene changes (sets by Derek McLane) five excellent actors portraying one sympathetic/four loathsome characters spanning the years 1967 – 2010 challenge us to put up with some “me-first mentality.”

Vignette 1 – 1967 London.  A depressing apartment shared by two brothers – a brutish Henry (Alex Hurt in Dustin Hoffman mode) a serious minded bloke who has taken in his carefree, charming brother Kenneth (a rakish Richard Armitage) who cavorts around barefoot and bare-chested drinking and smoking and watching the telly.  Verbal ping pong ensues.  Dialogue is fast and sometimes furious.  And funny.

Both await the arrival of Sandra (Amy Ryan) a pitch perfect sexy free spirit.  Henry has invited her.  She is bringing dinner.  Kenneth has been ordered to stay in his room.  She arrives.  Dressed in a mod mini.  Costumes throughout by Susan Hilferty are spot on.  Kenneth lingers.  Sandra has forgotten the food is very thirsty and very stoned and immediately zeroes in on Kenneth relegating Henry to go fetch some fish and chips.  Poor Henry.

Next we are in an art filled lavish apartment of the 90’s somewhere in London.  A barefoot carefree spirit romps around lip syncing to a tape with a candlestick for a mic – the son of Kenneth and Sandra, Jamie (Ben Rosenfeld) looking and acting very much like his adorable dad.  They are to celebrate his sister Rose’s birthday – as a family.  Close knit?  Not exactly.  It’s a party you won’t soon forget.

Rose, a violin toting, distressed and whiny Zoe Kazan has obvious problems.  Her parents.  They still smoke and drink – a lot.  Well they all have problems.  No last name for this family appears I suppose to protect the guilty.  The parents discuss their affairs openly with the kids and the distinct scent of divorce is in the air.  Happy Birthday!

The final instalment of “movin’ on up” – is in a summer home where obviously a funeral has been attended as Kenneth holds an urn of ashes – lucky Henry.  Rose now 37 finally has it out with her parents.  A bare-chested and seemingly lost Jamie sunbathes outside.  Sandra, now on Facebook and loving it – drinks and smokes to excess.  As usual.

What happened to this family?  Was it genetic?  Was it the drugs?  Was it the booze?  Was it rebellion?  Was it love?  Or was it all a monumental mistake?  Selfishness.  Ego.  Not caring for anyone but themselves.  Perhaps, some folks should never have children if they are going to treat them in this manner.  The kids blame the parents.  The parents blame the kids.  Whose life is it anyway?

The Baby Boomer generation is laid bare in satirical splendor by Mr. Bartlett with laser like direction by Michael Myers.  LOVE, LOVE, LOVE is both entertaining and depressing.  The acting exceptional.  Proceed with caution.

Through Dec 18th.  2 hours 5 minutes with 2 ten minute intermissions.


Photos:  Joan Marcus

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THE FRONT PAGE – starring an ensemble of legendary comedic actors

October 26th, 2016 by Oscar E Moore

Frozen in time.  And that’s how Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur’s THE FRONT PAGE begins under the precise and rapid fire direction of Jack O’Brien who keeps this old war horse alive and kicking.  Each of the three acts begins and ends with a “tableau vivant” captured by a photographer’s startling flash.

And then all comes to life in the Press Room of the Criminal Courts Building, Chicago 1928 where a bunch of tabloid reporters on the police beat play poker, kibitz, smoke, eat and wait.  Wait, for their tickets to witness the hanging of condemned white anarchist Earl Williams (John Magaro) on the gallows next door for killing a black cop.

The many phones are kept busy with the reporters calling in their stories and trying not to trip over the cords while we meet a wild assortment of people that work there – or just happen to drop in.

On a smart, detailed set by Douglass W. Schmidt that includes a Chicago Cubs pennant and risqué girlie pictures plastered on the inside door of the bathroom we await the entrance of the real star of the show Nathan Lane.

We must be patient.  We have to get through lots of exposition and setting up of characters and jokes.  Set-ups that all beautifully pay off.

There is the human interest reporter Bensinger (Jefferson Mays) who is petrified of germs and might be mistaken by some as Nathan Lane as he makes his entrance.  Twice.  Garnering applause as the eager audience awaits Mr. Lane.  Not that Mr. Mays doesn’t deserve it as well.

We meet Hildy Johnson (a debonair and charismatic John Slattery) who is ready to quit, get away from his tyrannical boss Earl Williams (Nathan Lane) and marry his sweetheart and move to New York and enter the world of advertising.

There is the wonderfully dense cop with a strange accent Woodenshoes Eichhorn (Micah Stock). Mollie Malloy (Sherie Rene Scott) the gal of the alleged murderer who has one of the best exits ever witnessed.  Robert Morse as Mr. Pincus – a delayed and somewhat intoxicated messenger who can still steal a scene and Holland Taylor as the mother-in-law-to-be whose hat almost manages to upstage her.  A subdued John Goodman as a crooked Sheriff Hartman seems to be suffering from heartburn.

The list is endless of the legendary and up-and-coming masters of comedy in this incredible ensemble.

Finally towards the end of Act II Mr. Lane arrives like a tornado.  In a role that fits him like a glove.  A boxing glove.  And delivers the goods like a roaring inferno in Act III.  The authors Hecht and MacArthur knew how to plot and write great dialogue.  They start off slowly.  Letting us get accustomed to the newsroom and its inhabitants. Then add delicious bits here and there bringing it up to a simmer and then to an overflowing boiling point of great farce – trying to find and capture the escaped convict.

THE FRONT PAGE is an all-around historical and hysterical document of a bygone era that still resonates today and great for a good many laughs.  The ensemble is truly an ensemble and they are each and every one superb in their individual characterizations.  Go and enjoy.  At The Broadhurst Theatre through January 29th 2017.  2 hours 45 minutes 2 intermissions

Photos:  Julieta Cervantes

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