Rhythm almost gets you in On Your Feet

Sep 13

Rhythm almost gets you in <i>On Your Feet</i>

On Your Feet! The Emilio & Gloria Estefan Broadway Musical is exactly what you think it's going to be, and that's not a bad thing. Nor is it a great thing, but this amiable show lands squarely in the middle lane of enjoyable live musical entertainment. Is it a musical? Well, it's a jukebox musical, meaning it mixes pop songs into a narrative, and some of it lands very well and some of it not so much.

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Kids rock in Lloyd Webber’s middling School

Jun 28

Kids rock in Lloyd Webber’s middling <i>School</i>

p>What's the primary reason to see Andrew Lloyd Webber's School of Rock? It's elementary: the kids.

This grand-scale musical adaptation of the 2003 movie hit (screenplay by Mike White, direction by Richard Linklater) makes a lot of sense as far as movie-to-musical projects go because music – and a lot of it – is built right into the story of a baby-man who fakes being a substitute teacher at a private school and turns around the lives of his students by helping them form a rock band.

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Funny and chilling, it’s Humans’ nature

Jun 07

Funny and chilling, it’s <i>Humans’</i> nature

There's something so comforting and so terrifying about family. That dichotomy is captured perfectly in Stephen Karam's The Humans, the Tony Award-winning drama that is now touring the country. The superb production is at the Orpheum Theatre as part of the SHN season.

It's a rare enough occurrence these days for a play to go on tour, but to have one this entertaining and unsettling is even more reason for celebration (side note: there are almost four times as many producers listed as actors). Karam's play does something extraordinary by trying to be ultra-ordinary.

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Purple reigns at SHN’s Orpheum

May 03

<i>Purple</i> reigns at SHN’s Orpheum

When I originally reviewed the musical version of The Color Purple based on Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel and the Steven Spielberg's 1985 movie version, I felt the production was too Broadway slick and the score was too bland. The only thing that worked – and indeed the thing that saved that October 2007 touring production – was Walker's story and her powerful characters. (Read the review here.)

That was only 11 years ago, but The Color Purple is back.

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2017 theater in review: Reflections on a powerful year

Dec 28

2017 theater in review: Reflections on a powerful year

If you're a theater fan, 2017 was a very good year. If you're an American, depending on your point of view, 2017 was a terrifying year. Quite often, it seemed, the theatrical stage and the national stage were in direct conversation.

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Disney’s Aladdin flies high at the Orpheum

Nov 06

Disney’s <i>Aladdin</i> flies high at the Orpheum

There is no question in my mind, that of all Disney's animated film to Broadway adaptations, Aladdin is the most thoroughly successful. For The Lion King stage adaptation, Julie Taymor offered eye-popping spectacle and stagecraft in service to a flimsy story and even flimsier characters. Beauty and the Beast, Disney’s first Broadway venture, was fun and dazzling but only a ride vehicle away from being a theme park attraction. The less said about the misguided Tarzan and missed opportunities of The Little Mermaid the better.

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