Categories
Capsule Reviews

The Notebook

by Noah Price (Chicago)

Based on the 1996 Nicholas Sparks novel and the 2004 Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling film, The Notebook may be one of the most surprisingly successful and genuinely touching musical adaptations in recent history. It tells the story of two lifelong lovers, Allie and Noah, from teenage meeting through the end of their lives, framed through the memories Older Noah must recount to Alzheimer’s patient Allie from the titular notebook. The musical not only elevates the source material, but stands on its own as a uniquely grounded and heartbreakingly beautiful piece of theatre. Ingrid Michaelson has made her debut into musical theatre scoring seamlessly, crafting a luscious, cohesive, soaring soundscape that takes us on the journey of these two lovers.
 

The stellar cast includes Jordan Tyson and John Cordoza (both wonderful new talents as younger Allie and Noah), Joy Woods and Ryan Vasquez (as middle Allie and Noah), and Tony Winner Maryann Plunkett and John Beasley (as older Allie and Noah). The marvelous effect of this structure being that the different aged counterparts can sing simultaneously in each other’s thoughts and memories, creating genuinely heartbreaking moments. Directed by Michael Grief and Schele Williams, The Notebook is ready to be a Broadway hit.

Categories
Capsule Reviews

Parade

by Sydney Smith

For many musical theater devotees, PARADE exists only in their minds, through the Original Broadway Cast recording.  Now, Leo Frank’s story takes center stage at this New York City Center  gala production led by Tony Award winner Ben Platt and Michaela Diamond.  Anchored by a sensational orchestra (led by the musical’s Tony Award winning composer, Jason Robert Brown), this production, rehearsed in just eight days, confirms stager Michael Arden’s rise as one of the most exciting new artists in the American musical theatre, a capstone for him after his imaginatively reinterpreted productions of “Once On This Island” and “Spring Awakening”.    An impressive ensemble of 30 actors  brings this powerful but sad story to vivid life….  In today’s times, with antisemitism on the rise, the story of a Jew wrongfully convicted in a post-Confederate South, holds an elevated sense of profoundness for the audience. This production of PARADE, which only runs thru the weekend, deserves to be seen.

Categories
Capsule Reviews

Topdog/Underdog

by Sydney Smith

Suzan-Lori Parks’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Topdog/Underdog, is receiving a first-rate, totally enthralling revival at the Golden Theatre on Broadway. Anchored by sensational performances from its two stars, Corey Hawkins and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, and directed by Kenny Leon, the play focuses on two brothers, aptly named Lincoln and Booth. Both are driven by their obsession with three-card monte and haunted by their past which inevitably forces them to come to grips with their history and their connective tissue. Watching Hawkins and Abdul-Mateen reflect on the hustle, exposing what it means to be family, makes for a truly riveting two handers. The surprise of the evening comes from Hawkins who graces the audience with his soul stirring vocals…leaving us wondering is a musical on his horizon? Once again Kenny Leon proves he is a master at honoring the writer’s words, trusting his actors to deliver them and providing his audiences with a winning evening at the theater. 

Categories
Capsule Reviews

1776


If you’re looking for a modern take on a classic, look no further than the American Airlines Theater. The 1969 Tony Award Winning Best Musical, 1776 is back on Broadway with a modern revival full of comedy and commentary. For the first time on Broadway, the cast of characters, founding fathers from the history books arguing for the fate of a nation, are portrayed by a diverse group of actors who all identify as female, transgender, and nonbinary. Crystal Lucas-Perry commands attention as the fiery John Adams, fighting on the side of independence from the tyrannical rule of Great Britain. Carolee Carmello brings a suave strength to the loyalist John Dickinson. Other stand outs include Elizabeth A. Davis as Thomas Jefferson and Sara Porkalob as Edward Rutledge, who’s haunting rendition of “Molasses to Rum” cuts deep. Directed by Jeffrey L. Page and Diane Paulus, this fresh Roundabout/A.R.T production allows us to reimagine the creation of our country through the lens of those excluded from the room without losing any of the patriotism from Sherman Edwards’ and Peter Stone’s original material.

1776 is now playing at the American Airlines Theatre

Categories
Capsule Reviews

COST OF LIVING

If you’re feeling the least bit down (or depressed), a play that could make you realize how fortunate you are opened at the Samuel J. Friedman on Broadway. It’s a play about loneliness and loss, relationships and hopefulness and it is a powerful and touching play.   The winner of a Pulitzer Prize four years ago for its gifted playwright Martyna Majok  it has been beautifully directed by Jo Bonney and the four actors that will imprint themselves on your memory are Greg Mozgala, Katy Sullivan, Kara Young and David Zayas. Young, who was Tony nominated last year for her work in “Clydes” is one of Broadway brightest new stars. A salute to Lynn Meadow who has been the Artistic Director of the Manhattan Theatre Club for 50 years and her colleague Executive Producer Barry Grove (48 years), both  who have contributed mightily to the American theatre.

Capsule Review By Aubrey Blaine

Cost of Living is now playing at MTC