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Theater Reviews

"The Last Ship" Sets Sail

by John Platt
Joan Marcus

The Last Ship, the Broadway musical that's been Sting's very personal labor of love, is now afloat at the Beil Simon Theatre - and very much worth boarding. Set in Wallsend, Sting's hometown in the North ofEngland, it's a feel-good underdog story in the Billy Elliott/Kinky Boots vein (a bunch of out-of-work shipbuilders undertake to build a ship on their own), with a love triangle subplot.

It's Only a Play, But It's Hilarious

by John Platt
Joan Marcus

As the curtain rises on It's Only a Play, it reveals the sumptuously-appointed bedroom of an Upper East Side townhouse. It's best to take in the beautiful set design, because the scenery is about to be chewed by an all-star cast in the new revival of Terence McNally's classic 1982 comedy, just opened at the Schoenfeld Theatre.

Curious Incident=Thrilling Theater

by John Platt
Joan Marcus

Mark Haddon's popular, award-winning novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, is an unlikely choice to adapt for the stage. It's written in the first-person voice of a 15-year-old boy with Asperger's syndrome. Somehow playwright Simon Stephens has created a script that's true to the book and the basis for one of the most original and imaginative productions I've ever seen, opening tonight at the Barrymore Theatre on Broadway.

A Piece of Bert Berns

by John Platt
Jenny Anderson

"Cry Baby," "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love," "Hang On Sloopy," "Here Comes the Night," "I Want Candy," "Piece of My Heart," "Tell Him," "Twist and Shout" - all big hits of the '60s, performed by artists as varied as Solomon Burke, The Exciters, Janis Joplin, and The Strangeloves. What do they have in common? They were all written or co-written by Bert Berns. Never heard of him?

Two Great American Songwriters

by John Platt
Joan Marcus

The last two Library of Congress Gershwin Prizes for Popular Song have gone to Burt Bacharach (with Hal David) and Carole King. Coincidentally, they are both being saluted - in very different ways - right now in musicals, one on Broadway, one off.

Sublime Sondheim

by John Platt
Joan Marcus

It’s the season of Marsalis this fall. Wynton handpicked the picked the Jazz at Lincoln Center All Stars who are the house band for the thrilling Broadway production After Midnight. And it’s always the season of Stephen Sondheim, so it was bit of genius to have Wynton and others do arrangements of Sondheim songs for A Bed and a Chair: A New York Love Affair, an Encores! special event co-presented by City Center and JALC, which, alas, only runs until Sunday night at City Center.

Catching Big Fish and Jazz After Midnight

by John Platt

It so happens that I’ve seen three of my favorite Broadway actors recently – Michael Cerveris in Fun Home, Danny Burstein in The Snow Goose, and now Norbert Leo Butz in Big Fish at the Neil Simon Theatre. Butz has made a specialty of playing con men in shows like Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Catch Me If You Can, so he’s perfect for the role of the irrepressible father who tells tale tales in Big Fish.

Theater Thoughts

by John Platt
Chad Batka

The fall theater season is in full swing, and I’ve been lucky enough to catch some recent openings. If you’re interested, here’s my take on three of them.

Justice Done to "The Winslow Boy"

by John Platt
Joan Marcus

My brief and undistinguished  stage career included a high school production of The Winslow Boy, Terence Rattigan’s 1946 play about Ronnie Winslow, a 14 year old boy expelled from a British naval academy for stealing a five shilling postal order and his family’s fight to prove his innocence. I played Ronnie’s ne’er do well older brother, Dickie. I remember I had to do the turkey trot while saying my lines (neither very well), and I had the classic exit line, “Oh, rot, father!”