Oscar E Moore

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1984 – Back to the future

July 6th, 2017 by Oscar E Moore

When does two plus two not equal four?  When you are being subjected to torture till submission.  That is the horrific answer that George Orwell proposed with his ground breaking 1949 novel “1984” that has been given an extraordinary, frightening, theatrical and thought provoking production by the team of Robert Icke and Duncan MacMillan (adapters and directors) that runs through October 8 at the newly refurbished and reopened Hudson Theatre on West 44 Street.

The new seats may be more comfortable and supportive.  The ability to bring an entire bottle of wine to your seat is possible – for $48.00 (is this really a good idea?) The producers seem to have gone out of their way to make this production as palatable as possible.  But the words and actions speak volumes in this visionary work that seems to reflect where we are headed if not careful.  In fact, we may well be on our way without fully realizing it.

Big Brother is watching over the characters in “1984” – spying on them would be a better description.

Winston Smith (Tom Sturridge) writes in his secret diary in opposition to the in control regime.  He of a slight build and strong willed passion seeks to resist.  The party in power is taking away certain words, trying to obliterate the past, changing facts to suit their own needs and yet Winston resists.

He is confused.  But has a strength of purpose.  A quiet dignity.  Throughout.

Love is illegal and yet he has a secret affair with Julia (a calm and careful Olivia Wilde) who has slipped him a note stating that she loves him while seemingly ignoring him in front of others.  In a brilliant stroke the directors and adapters have their affair off stage but projected on an on stage screen.

O’Brien (Reed Birney) is head honcho for Big Brother.  Mr. Birney is cool, controlled and calculating.  Against all odds he comes off as a likable slimy villain.   He offers to help them.  If they are willing to give up most of what they believe in.  They only hesitate when “love” comes into question.  They will not give up their love for one another.

Real chocolate.  Real coffee are highly sought after commodities.  As is real truth.

Much has been made of the graphic torture of Winston in Room 101.  Yes it is truly horrific.  But we know this is not real on stage as opposed to the nightly newscasts from around the world.  But the torture looks real.  It could happen.  It has happened.  It is happening.  All too often.

“Pain compels truth.”  So if you experience a little discomfort watching this production perhaps that’s a good thing – the truth of what is happening around us might become clearer and we might feel more inclined to resist the rampant corruption and lies being spewed by our very own Big Brother.

The staging is magnificent.  The acting superb.  The Video Design (Tim Reid) a break-through in stage craft.  Sound (Tom Gibbons) Lighting (Natasha Chivers) Scenic & Costume Design (Chloe Lamford) are completely in sync with the overall vision of “1984.”  Highly recommended.  101 riveting minutes without intermission.  Through Oct 8th.

Photos:  Julieta Cervantes

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THE TRAVELING LADY – Horton Foote abridged?

June 24th, 2017 by Oscar E Moore


Condensing Horton Foote’s 1954 three act play (which starred Kim Stanley) into a one hour forty five minute intermission-less one act is akin to Cinderella’s step sisters trying to fit their feet into the infamous glass slipper.  It’s a tough go.

Some things just don’t make complete sense and there are some awkward transitions.  Director Austin Pendleton does his best to make amends by having many of the actors enter and exit via the center aisle of The Cherry Lane Theatre where THE TRAVELING LADY is spreading its homespun tale that takes place in the lovely garden of Clara Breedlove’s Texas home.  Set design by Harry Feiner.

Despite this Readers Digest version (upon investigation it appears that Mr. Foote along with Marion Castleberry revised the script before his death in a California production 2011)  the voice of Horton Foote rings true with his characters that appear to be real and believable as they gossip and go about their lives and wait to see the fate of Georgette Thomas (Jean Lichty – The Traveling Lady) who has arrived via bus with her seven year old daughter Margaret Rose (Korinne Tetlow) in tow to meet up with her estranged husband Henry (a charismatic PJ Sosko)  who is to be released from the State Penitentiary after his seven year stint for stabbing someone in a drunken frenzy.  Problem is Henry has been released earlier and is now working for Mrs. Tillman (Jill Tanner) whose aim in life is to rehabilitate lost souls.

It is the day of the funeral of the woman who raised Henry as the play begins.  An elderly Judge (George Morfogen) tries to make conversation with the elderly and feisty Mrs. Mavis (Lynn Cohen) who chomps on dates and makes wise cracks that add immensely to the humor of the piece.  Her spinster daughter (Karen Ziemba) is heard calling for her off stage – as she is wont to disappear at odd times.

Slim (Larry Bull) lives with his sister Clara Breedlove (Angelina Fiordellisi) and is hard at work on some sort of gizmo and has lost his wife under odd circumstances and is at once attracted to the new lady in town and her daughter.

Henry finally shows up and the couple are reunited.  He also sings with a guitar at the request of Mrs. Mavis…

So there is a lot going on in this small town that sometimes verges on being a small town Texas soap opera.  But Horton Foote always comes to the rescue with his quirky and fine-tuned dialogue that charms despite other factors that diminish the production somewhat.

Will Henry and Georgette make a go of it?  Will Henry overcome his alcoholism?  Will Slim have a happy ending?

You have until July 16th to find out.  Although you might already know the answers.

Perfect period costumes by Theresa Squire enhance THE TRAVELING LADY as well as the nice lighting effects by Harry Feiner – especially the fireflies at dusk.  At the Cherry Lane Theatre.


Photos:  Carol Rosegg

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THE GOVERNMENT INSPECTOR – Red Bull’s recipe for mayhem

June 3rd, 2017 by Oscar E Moore

A provincial Russian town.  1836.  Corruption is rampant.  Cover-ups follow.  Bribes disguised as loans (the new reimbursement program) flow freely.  From the Mayor to the Judge to the School Principal to the Hospital Director to the Doctor to the very fey and nosy Postmaster who opens and reads everyone’s mail and then distributes the information.

Everyone is rightfully worried as it has been leaked that an Inspector has arrived incognito to infiltrate and unearth the rampant corruption.

This new, unnecessarily long adaptation by Jeffrey Hatcher of Nikolai Gogol’s REVIZOR seems to have been penned with the Marx Brothers in mind.  Director Jesse Berger has picked up the reins and directs the fine cast of actors at a full gallop.

The basic plot is clever enough but Mr. Hatcher goes off on tangents that are extended and extreme and the actors follow suit by going overboard in their performances.  Characters become caricatures.  Especially Bobchinsky (Ryan Garbayo) and Dobchinsky (Ben Mehl) straight out of a Mel Brooks sketch.  The dialogue has plenty of bah-dah-boom! Borscht Circuit jokes that land like lead matzo balls.

The costumes by Tilly Grimes are splendid.  The double decker set by Alexis Distler is interesting until one notes that if sitting up front one will have a stiff neck watching most of the production that takes place on the upper level.

In the lower level environment we discover the almost destitute Ivan (Michael Urie) about to commit suicide with the help of his servant Osip (Arnie Burton – who doubles as the Postmaster).  And it is this Ivan who is mistaken for the incognito Inspector and taken under the wing of the Mayor (Michael McGrath) and his wife Anna (an amusing Mary Testa) and treated royally.

Anna aims to be alluring and fashionable in her lovely pink frocks.  She has an odd way with the French language.  And has one of the funniest lines in the show.  I kept thinking about the late Charles Ludlam founder of The Ridiculous Theatrical Company for obvious reasons.

Michael Urie could fool a cow.  He is charming and handsome and falls right into going along with the charade.  But he becomes tedious in the Act I finale of “toasting” and getting drunk by drinking glassfuls of wine and vodka.  I half expected him to break out and sing “Goodbye” Prince Cherney’s Farewell from “Little Me.”

In Act II he does croon a tune to the Mayor’s sexually repressed daughter (the lovely Talene Monahon) reminiscent of “Lydia the Tattooed Lady” – Groucho’s old standby.

It’s all a bit overboard.  They all try too hard.  Broad humor yes.  Doors slamming yes.  Mayhem abounds with fine performances all around especially that of Mary Lou Rosato.  But it is ultimately underwhelming and overstuffed.

Through June 24th at The Duke 229 West 42 Street.  Tickets 646 223 3018 x 8.  2 hours 1 intermission.

Photos:  Carol Rosegg

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WAR PAINT – Tennis anyone?

May 8th, 2017 by Oscar E Moore


I had a dream.  A wonderful dream…during the second act of the quite slow going WAR PAINT.  Christine Ebersole had morphed from Elizabeth Arden into Mame and Patti LuPone from Helena Rubinstein into Vera Charles and they were singing “Bosom Buddies” a real song and not some imitation sung exposition posing as such.

My dream quickly changed into a nightmare as WW II broke out and I was back to sloshing through the remainder of this ill-conceived tennis match starring two of the best leading ladies of the musical theater.

Traversing the decades from 1935 to 1964 book writer Doug Wright basically gives us the same information found in the Playbill.  The score (and I use the word loosely) by Scott Frankel (music) and Michael Korie (lyrics) is disappointing.  These two extraordinary stars deserve much better.  Can anyone remember “No Thank You”?

After a weak opening number “Best Face Forward” each star has a STAR entrance that is greeted with wild applause.  Expectation is high as we know that these two ladies can deliver the goods IF they are given some worthwhile goods to deliver.  Sadly that is not to be the case.

Arden and Rubinstein are already at the top of their game in the cosmetics business.  Each successful.  Each jealous of each other.  Appealing to women’s insecurities to amass fortunes for themselves.  Jewels for Rubinstein.  Horses for Arden.  Bitter rivals that avoided each other like the plague.

So it is hard to believe they would sit in adjoining booths at the St. Regis on a couple of occasions.  Drinking champagne, dining and eavesdropping…

Ms. Ebersole is the height of blue-blooded Upper East Side chicness.  La Diva LuPone unfortunately has decided to use a thick Polish accent making it impossible to decipher what Madame is saying or singing.  A word or two slips through as she faces forward to issue a lethal barb or two.

They both have a few tricks up their couture sleeves.  The spanning-the-decades costumes by Catherine Zuber are knock-outs.  As are the spectacular hats.   But when hats and haute-couture upstage the book and score you’re in trouble.

John Dossett is Tommy Lewis better known as Mr. Arden.  Douglas Sills is the right hand advertising executive of Rubinstein, Harry Fleming.  His predilection for young sailors eventually does him in with her despite his brilliant idea of making the same face cream do double duty.  By packaging and marketing them as one for day and one for night.  NO spoiler here – they both switch bosses.

Mr. Arden escapes to Rubinstein and Harry is hired by Arden.  And so the tennis match staging by Michael Greif goes on – stage right – stage left.  And then Arden did this.  And then Rubinstein did that.  And then Harry did this.  And Tommy did that.  And then Charles Revson swoops in upsetting the apple red lipstick cart when the two titans opt out of advertising on TV.  He does and the rest is history.

Eric Liberman as the opportunistic and crass Revson takes full advantage of this situation both as the character and performer.  His “Fire and Ice” is a highlight.  Can I hum it?  No.  Do I remember the gowns? Certainly.

WAR PAINT is a tedious singing documentary that does give each entrepreneur an 11 o’clock number “Pink” by Arden & “Forever Beautiful” by Rubinstein where they both make a valiant effort in rescuing the production.

They finally meet face to face, stooped, lonely and resigned but still beautifully feisty and decked out delivering the duet “Beauty in the World” but not before the intrusion of a young valley girl type that totally deflates the beauty of the moment.  Tennis anyone?

At the Nederlander Theatre.


Photos:  Joan Marcus

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OSLO REVISITED – bigger but not necessarily better

May 6th, 2017 by Oscar E Moore

OSLO an excellent production of an excellent play has moved upstairs from the smaller Mitzi E. Newhouse to the Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center – original cast intact.  Through June 18, 2017.

It has lost one intermission but has gained a bigger audience on a much larger acting space that gives the actors a mighty workout – moving around set pieces and dashing about the acting area at a frisky pace.  And shouting louder than ever.

Whatever happened to “speak softly but carry a big stick”?

Here is my original review 7/26/16.  I stand by it 100%.


Oslo – Political intrigue behind closed doors

Oscar E. Moore “from the rear mezzanine” for TalkEntertainment.com

You. Are. There. Oslo, Norway. April 1992 – September 1993. Behind closed doors. The characters are real. The situation fraught with intrigue and champagne and egos in this smart, theatrical, longish but never boorish lesson in history. Eavesdropping on the fragile, secret negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians hosted by the Norwegians.

Namely Terje Rod-Larsen (the excellent as usual Jefferson Mays) and his wife Mona Juul (an incredibly accomplished Jennifer Ehle) who is also the narrator. Together they have hatched a plot to bring the two opposing sides together in the hope that they can bring about a peace accord. He to fulfill his ego and she to hold everything together when all seems lost. To facilitate – not meddle.

Act I sets the stage and eventually brings the Israelis and the Palestinians to talk on either side of a table. One of the many pieces of furniture on casters enabling the director of this sometimes extremely amusing documentary-like theatrical excursion – Bartlett Sher – to have three hours whiz by.

It is a masterful accomplishment. As is the casting of this large ensemble. Each and every actor as near to perfection as is possible delivering the dialogue that is a barrage of verbal bullets that ricochet off the whiskey glasses and waffles as these uncomfortable diplomats attempt to loosen up and negotiate that seemingly elusive prize called “peace.”

Act II brings in the charismatic Uri Savir, (an outstanding Michael Aronov) Director-General of the Foreign Ministry of Israel who takes the words of playwright J.T. Rogers to new heights colliding head-on with Ahmed Qurie (Abu Ala) Finance Minister for the Palestine Liberation Organization – an equally impressive Anthony Azizi. And then we’re off!

Act III gets more complicated with details but is never unclear thanks to Mr. Sher and his expert actors culminating in the video projection in the White House Rose Garden on September 13, 1993 of the iconic image of President Bill Clinton presiding over a handshake between Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Chairman Yasser Arafat – signifying Peace!

Unfortunately, as it turns out, more of the same continues. On and on it goes. We can only hope for a better outcome one day. Call me a cockeyed optimist.

At the Mitzi E. Newhouse – Lincoln Center Theater.

Photos: T. Charles Erickson





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May 5th, 2017 by Oscar E Moore

“Who can take a sunrise, sprinkle it with dew – Cover it with choc’late and a miracle or two?”  Christian Borle as Willy Wonka can!  ‘Cause he mixes it with love and wacky humor with deft comic timing splashed with a dose of Groucho Marx and Mad Hatter in this uneven but purely entertaining production at the Lunt–Fontanne Theatre for the kids and for those of us who want to be kids again.

The above quoted lyric is from “The Candy Man” – written by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newly for the Warner Brothers movie upon which this musical is based from the novel by Roald Dahl.

It wisely opens the show directed with panache and slap-shtick by Jack O’Brien who also wisely includes the beautiful “Pure Imagination” in Act II.

The rest of the score is written by the dynamic duo of HAIRSPRAY – Marc Shaiman (Music and Lyrics) and Scott Wittman (Lyrics) with a book by David Greig that teeters towards the brink of ridiculousness that resolves with a lovely message – to create something out of nothing – to use your imagination and make something beautiful.

To be honest, to be content with whatever you have and yet never lose the ability to dream, to be able to use ones imagination and make life brighter, happier, zanier, funnier and just plain good.

With tons of kids excited and expectant in the audience.  The feeling is contagious.  How wonderful to be able to feel what a child feels and enjoy for the first time – seeing ideas come to life on stage.

Just imagine you are that kid again.  And enjoy the pleasures that are about to unfold in this adventure that Charlie Bucket (a terrific Jake Ryan Flynn who alternates with two other young boys) goes on in his quest to find one of the golden tickets to visit Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory where the totally wonderful and hysterical Oompa Loompa’s work.

A chorus of miniature puppet bodies with human actors heads created by Basil Twist (who definitely lives up to his name) that sing and tap dance to some zany choreography by Joshua Bergasse.

Imagine seeing some awful kids on stage getting their just desserts and I don’t mean chocolate.  The obese sausage boy, the vain ballerina, the obnoxious Queen of Pop, Mike TeaVee and their equally obnoxious parents who have found their “Golden Tickets” along with Charlie – an honest, earnest and totally endearing Jake Ryan Flynn who is accompanied by his delightful Grandpa Joe (played by understudy Paul Slade Smith filling in beautifully for John Rubenstein) while his mother (Emily Padgett) remains at home – cooking leftover cabbage and doing laundry to make ends meet.  Guess who comes out on top?

Imagine a Tonka Toy set with gaudy colored costumes (Mark Thompson).  Imagine witnessing wonderful special effects.  With the amazing Christian Borle leading the way down the rabbit hole, so to speak.  Cavorting and singing with strong vocals and settling down to deliver a heartfelt message for Charlie on how to get along in life.

Just seeing all those kids wide eyed and attentive eating up all the goodies on stage is worth the price of admission.  Intermission is like being in the middle of school recess.  And it’s all good.

It has to be believed to be seen!


Photos:  Joan Marcus

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HELLO DOLLY! – Starring the Divine Miss M

May 4th, 2017 by Oscar E Moore

And divine she is.  Bette Midler.  The voice is a bit rusty.  But she still retains the spunk that made her famous.  The comic timing.  The tilt of the head.  The wink to the audience.  The freedom to adlib and make this sterling production one not to be missed.  She shines like pure gold.  Enjoying every minute she is on stage.

Of course she has had a lot of help.  First and foremost Jerry Herman who wrote a blockbuster of a score (one hit after another) when songs were songs that could be remembered long after the performance ended.  I am surprised that the entire audience doesn’t join in singing the title song in this almost free for all production!  It has become such a popular classic!

Then Gower Champion who created Dolly’s original look (direction and choreography) that Warren Carlyle has caressed with loving care and added just a bit of balletic newness.

Jerry Zaks has taken over the direction and made this production a hilarious vaudevillian farce that makes us as pleased as punch.  One question:  In the jury scene how and why did Dolly get to chew on that turkey leg sitting at a table from the Harmonia Gardens Restaurant?  It is funny but makes no sense…

Her co-star David Hyde Pierce as Horace Vandergelder with a weird accent has been given another song to open Act II to pad his part.  The amusing “Penny in My Pocket” was cut from the original production.  He now comes from behind the show curtain to sing it and one might think he has come to announce that Dolly has taken ill and cannot continue.  Thankfully that is not the case as this production is 100% pure Bette.  Why couldn’t David Hyde Pierce be pure David Hyde Pierce?

The sets and costumes by Santo Loquasto are perfect period pieces that are eye popping visions of pastel rainbows on parade.

Gavin Creel is wonderful as Cornelius as is Taylor Trensch as his buddy Barnaby who work for Vandergelder and leave Yonkers for New York City seeking adventure and love.

Book writer Michael Stewart does wonders in adapting Thornton Wilder’s THE MATCHMAKER to fulfill their wants and needs as they each fall in love.  Cornelius to Irene Molloy (a ravishing Kate Baldwin) and Barnaby to Minnie Fay (a brand new comic face belonging to Beanie Feldstein).  Even Melanie Moore as the oft crying Ermengarde is not irritating as she follows her heart in capturing Ambrose Kemper (Will Burton) – bringing back fond memories of Tommy Tune.

Dolly has her eyes dead set on Vandergelder and his gelt and gets him to get her in the end ending with a beautiful finale that causes the audience to erupt once again in adulation for the Divine Miss M.

With a forty million dollar advance Bette Midler should be the reigning Queen of Broadway Musicals for quite a long time.  Even the television commercials are a class act.  This production is a very special event that should be seen.  You will never get such an opportunity again.  Relish it in all its finery.  Long live the Divine Miss M.  At the Shubert Theatre

Photos:  Julieta Cervantes

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A DOLL’S HOUSE Part 2 – Knock Knock Who’s There?

May 4th, 2017 by Oscar E Moore

There are usually two sides to every story.  In Lucas Hnath’s brittle and fascinating new play A DOLL’S HOUSE PART 2 based on what happened to Nora after she infamously left her husband and children in Ibsen’s A DOLL’S HOUSE when she walked out the infamous door there are four:  Nora’s (Laurie Metcalf) Anne Marie’s the housekeeper (Jayne Houdyshell) Torvald’s the husband (Chris Cooper) and last but not least her daughter Emmy (Condola Rashad).

Fifteen years have passed.  The infamous door is omnipresent on the stark and bare set (Miriam Buether).  Four chairs.  A plant.  A small table with a box of tissues.  The stage is thrust out at an odd angle reminiscent of a boxing ring.  Someone knocks at the infamous door.  Anne Marie answers and is stunned to discover that it is the infamous Nora.

She has returned.  As a wealthy and famous writer, using a pseudonym.  Writing feminist novels.  The first of which was based on her marriage in which she rails against the institution in a mighty monologue before seeking an ally to help her out of a predicament that she never quite expected.

Laurie Metcalf is magnificent.  Her arguments strong.  Jayne Houdyshell is deadpan funny.  Nora seeks her help.  Never mind the fact that Anne Marie took care of the kids and Torvald all these years.

He has not remarried.  He has a dog.  And he never went through with his divorce from Nora.  That is her reason for returning.  The Norwegian laws favor men.  And Nora is in jeopardy of losing all she has independently achieved if Torvald does not get a legal divorce.  Will he oblige her?  Or back Nora into the corner once again?

Sam Gold directs this sparring match to perfection.

With her reunited daughter Emmy she goes over her sometimes hilarious options.  Emmy you see wants what her mother didn’t.  To be happily married and cared for by someone which drives Nora to distraction.  Calm and collected as if she is on a witness stand she and Nora discuss/confront the past.

The actors are equal opponents.  Good arguments all around.  Nora and Torvald pace like caged animals ready to attack for the kill.  A defiant look.  A defiant silence.  They are sometimes stronger than the great dialogue by Mr. Hnath.

Who is the victor?  To find out you should immediately see one of the best plays of the season.  At the Golden Theatre.   A LIMITED ENGAGEMENT.  And quite cleverly Mr. Hnath leaves that infamous door open for a possible Part 3.  John Golden Theatre


Photos:  Brigitte Lacombe

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BANDSTAND – misses the beat

May 3rd, 2017 by Oscar E Moore

War is hell and so is trying to make it on Broadway with a new musical.  It’s not easy.  In this well-intentioned but predictable BANDSTAND that begins with the sound of bombs exploding, faster and faster (is this an omen?) and then being picked up by the swing rhythm of the 1940’s post war music we are thrust into dancing Vets returning home – the lucky ones – some with physical injuries; some with important mental and drinking problems “to forget” in the first of many montages staged in frantic symbolic odd body positions and shrugs tailored by Andy Blankenbuehler who also directed this uneven production.

We almost begin to expect to see Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland or at least one might hope to see them come to the rescue as Donny Novitski (Corey Cott of the hairy chest and the ultra – bright smile) returns home to Cleveland to pick up his career of pianist/singer in local clubs.  Not to be.  He’s been replaced by younger guys who didn’t serve.

He had promised his best buddy Michael nicknamed “Rubber” who wasn’t so lucky to seek out his widow Julia Trojan (that’s about the level of the non-too-frequent humor of the piece) to help comfort her.  Julia, a poet who sings in the Church choir is portrayed by the lovely Laura Osnes.  And so he does.

Recruiting her as lead singer of the 5 piece band of Vets (with him on piano/vocals) that he puts together to enter a national contest “to honor our boys in uniform” – the winning song will be featured along with the band in an MGM musical.  And so he sets one of her poems to music…  You do see where all this is going?

He changes his name to Donny Nova and wants her to change hers.  She doesn’t.  She wins.

Along the way we see in flashbacks soldiers at war on the all-purpose unit set (bar, band, open dance area) by David Korins with lots of red, white and blue overhead lighting equipment – lest we forget.

Julia’s mom who gets and delivers the only humor here with true style is played by Beth Leavel.  Especially the joke about “deviled eggs.”

The set changes in Act II when they finally get to New York for the final cut.  It wasn’t easy as they had no money and they did gigs here and there with Julia helping out when her job at the cosmetics counter allowed.  Now here’s the thing.  She is wearing diamond stud earrings.  If she had only sold them they could have paid for the trip.  Why is she wearing diamond stud earrings?

The songs are original.  Meaning they are newly written by Richard Oberacker (music/lyrics) and Rob Taylor (book/lyrics).  They aren’t very memorable.  Once in a while we hear a snippet of a 40’s standard and our ears perk up only to be once again disappointed.

The five guys in the band – all one dimensional characters – play their own instruments backed up by the guys in the pit.  They are terrific:  Alex Bender – (trumpet) Joe Carroll (drums) Brandon J. Ellis (bass) James Nathan Hopkins (sax) and Geoff Packard – (trombone).

Perhaps they should continue on with their band when they fulfill their duty and are honorably discharged from BANDSTAND.  Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre


Photos: Jeremy Daniel

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INDECENT – Lesbians in Love

May 3rd, 2017 by Oscar E Moore

This play is important.  This production is important.  It deserves to be seen.  It has to be seen.

With an ensemble of seven extraordinary actors who play multiple parts with the exception of the brilliant Richard Topol as the Stage Manager and three musicians who are woven into the fabric of the play deftly written by Paula Vogel and directed with great imagination and sensitivity by her collaborator on this project Rebecca Taichman we bear witness to “the true story of a little Jewish play” – GOD of VENGEANCE by Sholem Asch (1906) – a Yiddish melodrama.

Its conception, its production, its troubles as it traveled across the continent and ultimately its censorship as it reached Broadway in 1923 resulting in its actors being jailed for indecency.

All because of a kiss.  A kiss between two women.  In a spectacular rain scene.  The daughter of a Rabbi who lives above a brothel that he runs finds herself falling in love with one of the prostitutes.

Lemml, the stage manager believes in the play from the beginning even when its author doesn’t.  And it is his perseverance that we follow through several “blinks in time” a great theatrical device – one of many that director Rebecca Taichman has come up with to make this hour and forty five minute lesson in what happened then could happen now.

With supertitles both in English and Yiddish that help clarify time and place and what language is being spoken make everything crystal clear although English is spoken throughout.  A fine accomplishment on its own.

Everything works in this very special production.  There is heartache and humor.  Style and substance.  The music is especially wonderful by Matt Darriau, Lisa Gutkin and Aaron Halva.

The ensemble of actors are Richard Topol, Katrina Lenk, Mimi Lieber, Max Gordon Moore, Tom Nelis, Steven Rattazzi and Adina Verson.

Go and be tremendously moved.  Be entertained.  Laugh and cry.  And most importantly be reminded of the horrors of censorship and its repercussions.  At The Cort Theatre.


Photos:  Carol Rosegg

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