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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?

Mothers and Sons

by John Platt
Joan Marcus

Father’s Day is coming up, but I‘ve seen a couple of plays about mothers and sons recently.  One of them was City of Conversation at the Mitzi Newhouse Theatre at Lincoln Center. Jan Maxwell stars as Hester Ferris, a Washington, DC power hostess who’s upset by the decline in civility and the dinner party as a place to bridge political differences.

Lady Day and Satchmo

by John Platt
T. Charles Erickson

A pair of jazz icons are being portrayed in one-actor plays based on true events near the ends of their lives - Billie Holiday in Lady at Emerson's Bar and Grill  at Circle in the Square and Louis Armstrong in Satchmo at the Waldorf at the Westside Theatre. The difference is that Billie is playing for seven customers at a dive in South Philadelphia, just months before her death at 44, while Louis is performing for an appreciative audience at the Waldorf-Astoria and even staying at the hotel.

Bullets Over Broadway: On Target?

by John Platt
Paul Kolnick

Some critics, like Ben Brantley of the Times, have taken pot shots at the new musical version of Bullets Over Broadway, because it doesn’t seem very Woody Allen-like; it’s too loud and tries too hard to please. Well, I can tell you that it’s certainly not subtle, but it is spirited, and a fair amount of fun.

Bridges of Madison County

by John Platt
Joan Marcus

If you know me, you know I’ve got a crush on Kelli O’Hara. She’s charmed me in Light in the Piazza, South Pacific, and Nice Work If You Can Get It, and she does it again in The Bridges of Madison County, which just opened at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre.

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.