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The Wiz

by Ben Togut

A vibrant cast of characters infuse the Yellow Brick Road with renewed flair in The Wiz, now running at the Marquis Theater. With dynamic performances and an updated book by Amber Ruffin, The Wiz captures the humor and heart of the original musical while finding new resonance with modern audiences.

On stage, Melody A. Betts is a force to be reckoned with. She is equally captivating as Aunt Em and Evilene, stealing the show with her powerhouse vocals and larger-than-life presence. Nichelle Lewis brings an affecting pathos to the role of Dorothy. While her Dorothy is often timid, her rendition of “Home” is a marvel, her agile soprano soaring into space.

Another one of the show’s highlights is its choreography by JaQuel Knight. Knight’s versatility as a choreographer is on full display at the start of Act II  as the people of Oz dance together in a number featuring twerking, African dance, hip hop, and more. Complemented by emerald disco outfits by Sharen Davis, this number is a joy to watch, thoughtfully bridging the old with the new.

With compelling performances and a company that embodies the musical’s infectious spirit, The Wiz makes a triumphant return to Broadway.

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Capsule Reviews

An Enemy of the People

By Ben Togut

After a doctor makes a discovery that threatens the livelihood of his small town, all hell breaks loose in An Enemy of the People, now playing at Circle in the Square Theater. Returning to Broadway in a new adaptation from Amy Herzog and directed by Sam Gold, Ibsen’s drama shines as a result of its ensemble, who powerfully evoke a community struggling with a terrible truth.

Jeremy Strong delivers an impassioned performance as Thomas Stockmann, a doctor steadfast in his pursuit of justice. Strong brings such commitment and pathos to the role that audiences can’t help but root for Dr. Stockmann in his battle for the truth, even when his methods are suspect. Michael Imperioli is wonderfully despicable as Peter Stockmann, the town mayor who condemns his own brother for exposing a secret that might cause the town’s ruin. The complexity with which Imperioli navigates his character’s loyalties as both Dr. Stockmann’s sibling and the town’s mayor makes his performance a pleasure to watch.

Another strength of the production is its faithfulness to the setting of Ibsen’s drama. The lighting design by Isabella Byrd and production design by dots effortlessly transport audiences to 19th century Scandinavia through rustic, candle-lit chandeliers and the blue and white Norwegian patterning in Dr. Stockmann’s home. The Norwegian folk music sung throughout the production gives the play a homey authenticity that invites audiences into Ibsen’s world.

With performances that illuminate the complex social dynamics at the heart of Ibsen’s melodrama, An Enemy of the People is as provocative and timely as ever.

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Capsule Reviews

The Who’s Tommy

By Lulu Diamond

The 2024 revival of The Who’s Tommy, directed by Des McAnuff, is a triumphant return to the Broadway stage.

Pete Townshend’s multifaceted talent shines through with his stellar book, music, and lyrics still intact. David Korins’ set design creates a visually captivating world, complemented by Sarafina Bush’s imaginative costume design. Amanda Zieve’s lighting design electrifies the stage, while Gareth Owen’s sound design amplifies the iconic music of The Who throughout the booming Nederlander Theatre. Lorin Latarro’s fresh choreography adds a dynamic twist to this classic tale. 

Ali Louis Bourzgui’s Broadway debut as Tommy Walker is nothing short of sensational, marking him as a rising star in the theatrical world. 

This production delivers a thrilling experience, blending nostalgia with innovation, making it a must-see for both fans and newcomers alike.

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Capsule Reviews

Doubt

By Ben Togut

At a Bronx Catholic school, questions of moral authority loom large in Doubt, now playing at the Todd Haimes Theatre. Back on Broadway, the revival’s star-studded cast leans into the wit and melodrama at the heart of John Patrick Shanley’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 2004 play, and finds new points of resonance under the direction of Scott Ellis. 

Amy Ryan lends a steely conviction to the role of Sister Aloysius, taking over in short order for Tyne Daly, who was forced to withdraw from the production for medical reasons before the start of previews. Ryan embodies Doubt’s wry sense of humor as she drolly volleys with Zoe Kazan as Sister James, who serves as the perfect foil to Sister Aloysius’s cold as ice, no-nonsense persona. Throughout the play, whether she is chastising Sister James for being too innocent or taking Father Flynn, a stoic Liev Schrieber, to task for his perceived wrongdoings, Ryan is a joy to watch.

Though her time on stage is brief, Quincy Tyler Bernstine steals the show as Mrs. Muller, delivering a performance that is at once quiet and forceful. Bernstein expertly balances Mrs. Muller’s maternal tenderness with her indignance with Sister Aloysius’ actions, challenging the nun with a feistiness that makes her performance an undeniable highlight.

David Rockwell’s scenic design is another one of the show’s assets. While Doubt’s set design is minimal, its starkness complements the mood of the plot. As the set transforms from a church, to Sister Aloysius’ office, to a barren courtyard, audiences are firmly rooted in the play’s setting and somber atmosphere.

With nuanced performances that breathe new life into a modern classic, Doubt makes for a thought-provoking night at the theater. 

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Capsule Reviews

Appropriate

By Ben Togut

This Capsule Review was originally published on December 18, 2023, when Appropriate opened at the Hayes Theater.

On March 25, 2024, the production begins a return Broadway engagement at the Belasco Theatre through June 23, 2024. Ella Beatty replaces Elle Fanning in the role of River.

On the occasion of their father’s death, three siblings return to a dilapidated plantation home where they must battle with dysfunctional relationships and their own demons in Appropriate. Returning to the Broadway stage, Sarah Paulson takes no prisoners. As Toni, Paulson is unrelenting yet vulnerable, delivering a masterclass in emotional volatility, especially as tensions run high in the second act. 

You would be hard-pressed to find a weak link in the cast of Appropriate. Under the direction of Lila Neugebauer, the actors shine both individually and as a whole, tackling Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ tragicomic narrative of a dysfunctional family with both humor and heart. Michael Esper delivers an affecting performance as Franz, estranged and desperate to reconcile with his siblings over the harm he caused them in the past, while Elle Fanning is eccentric yet grounded as his younger girlfriend River.

Another highlight of Appropriate is its sound design by Bray Poor and Will Pickens. Throughout the show, an anxious chorus of cicadas pervades the theater, overwhelming audiences with the feeling that something terrible is about to happen. Just as impressive is scenic design by dots, especially in the play’s last five minutes, when rapid set changes take place as the plantation house falls into disarray and is overrun by vegetation. Together, these elements add to the play’s dramatic tension, creating an environment of dread that leaves audiences on the edge of their seats.

A riveting portrait of family dysfunction and prejudice, Appropriate is not to be missed.

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Capsule Reviews

Days of Wine and Roses

by Ben Togut

Caught in the grip of alcoholism, two lovers watch as their lives spiral out of control in Days of Wine and Roses, a new adaptation of the 1962 film, now playing at Studio 54. Two Broadway veterans at the top of their game, Kelli O’Hara and Brian d’Arcy James deliver nuanced and devastating performances as a husband and wife struggling to navigate the toll of addiction.

As Kirstie, O’Hara is truly a joy to watch. Commanding Adam Guettel’s haunting score, she has never sounded better, her rich soprano underscoring the emotional volatility of her performance. Guettel’s score provides O’Hara ample opportunity to showcase her versatility as both a vocalist and actor, as when she scats while her character drunkenly vacuums the apartment, a welcome moment of comedy in a musical with such bleak subject matter. 

D’Arcy James perfectly complements O’Hara, delivering an earnest and moving performance as Joe, a husband fighting to stay sober and keep his family afloat. The chemistry between the couple and the pathos of their performances is also a credit to director Michael Greif, whose direction establishes the emotional stakes of this classic story and breathes new life into its characters.

At once a love story and a harrowing portrait of addiction, Days of Wine and Roses is sure to resonate with audiences whether they are familiar with the original movie or not.

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Capsule Reviews

Prayer for the French Republic

By Ben Togut


The threat of antisemitic violence, both past and present, looms throughout Prayer for the French Republic by Joshua Harmon, now running at Manhattan Theatre Club’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre on Broadway. A portrait of a family in crisis, one of the three-act epic’s great strengths is its dynamic ensemble cast, who embody the humor and pathos at the heart of Harmon’s timely play. 


As Elodie, the eldest daughter of the Salomon-Benhamou family, Francis Benhamou is delightfully sardonic as she defends and rails against her family’s antics and staunchly held beliefs throughout the play. Anthony Edwards gives a commanding performance as Patrick Salomon, who recounts his family’s struggle with antisemitism yet struggles with the religiosity and growing anxieties of his sister’s family. 


The scenic design by Takeshi Kata is an undeniable highlight, working seamlessly with the play’s alternating timelines, as the Benhamous’ apartment transforms back and forth between Paris of the present day and the 1940s with ease. It elegantly complements David Cromer’s staging, which places the anxieties that the Salomon-Benhamou family confronts in the past and present in conversation with each other and highlights that the struggle against antisemitism is a constant one.


An urgent story of faith and family, Prayer for the French Republic is a thought-provoking and necessary production.

Running at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre through February 18, 2024. For more information and tickets, click here.

Categories
Capsule Reviews

Appropriate

By Ben Togut

On the occasion of their father’s death, three siblings return to a dilapidated plantation home where they must battle with dysfunctional relationships and their own demons in Appropriate, now playing at the Hayes Theater. Returning to the Broadway stage, Sarah Paulson takes no prisoners. As Toni, Paulson is unrelenting yet vulnerable, delivering a masterclass in emotional volatility, especially as tensions run high in the second act. 

You would be hard-pressed to find a weak link in the cast of Appropriate. Under the direction of Lila Neugebauer, the actors shine both individually and as a whole, tackling Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ tragicomic narrative of a dysfunctional family with both humor and heart. Michael Esper delivers an affecting performance as Franz, estranged and desperate to reconcile with his siblings over the harm he caused them in the past, while Elle Fanning is eccentric yet grounded as his younger girlfriend River.

Another highlight of Appropriate is its sound design by Bray Poor and Will Pickens. Throughout the show, an anxious chorus of cicadas pervades the theater, overwhelming audiences with the feeling that something terrible is about to happen. Just as impressive is scenic design by dots, especially in the play’s last five minutes, when rapid set changes take place as the plantation house falls into disarray and is overrun by vegetation. Together, these elements add to the play’s dramatic tension, creating an environment of dread that leaves audiences on the edge of their seats.

A riveting portrait of family dysfunction and prejudice, Appropriate is not to be missed.

Categories
Capsule Reviews

How to Dance in Ohio

by Ben Togut

A colorful cast of characters celebrates the struggles and triumphs of young adults on the autism spectrum in How to Dance in Ohio, which opened at the Belasco Theatre on December 10th. Based on the HBO documentary of the same name, the musical follows seven young people as they get ready for their spring formal, highlighting how living with autism complicates their yearning for community and human connection. 

One of the musical’s great joys is its ensemble cast. Through their heartfelt performances and onstage chemistry, the cast of How to Dance in Ohio acts as a tight-knit family with a genuine commitment to the musical’s emotional heft. Standout performances include Liam Pearce, who conveys Drew’s adolescent angst through his commanding stage presence and soaring vocals, and Amelia Fei, who comes alive onstage as Caroline, navigating the challenges of finding oneself and seeking connection with both exuberance and anxiety. 

A musical guaranteed to pull on your heartstrings, How to Dance in Ohio illustrates the power of community to help us overcome the challenges in our way, and to not only succeed but thrive.

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Capsule Reviews

Spamalot

by Maxwell Sterling

Following a triumphant stint at The Kennedy Center, the Broadway revival of Spamalot opened last night at the St. James Theatre with a stellar cast who is having so much fun, you can’t help but have a great time. Standout performances include Taran Killam, who masterfully tackles some of Monty Python’s most famous characters including the closeted Sir Lancelot, the French Taunter, and the Knight Who Says “Ni!”. Michael Urie does a phenomenal job as the not-so-brave Sir Robin. Leslie Kritzer, as the Lady of the Lake, steals the show with a powerhouse rendition of ‘Whatever Happened to My Part?’ Her commanding presence and vocal prowess bring the house down. Expertly directed and choreographed by Josh Rhodes, the over-the-top comedy makes this an unmissable spectacle of joy, absurdity, and charm.