Monday, November 26, 2018

November 25, 2018 Radio Show

There are two ways to listen to my weekly radio program:
Click & Listen - You can click here to listen to this week's episode.  There are also hundreds of past episodes available on my website.

Podcasting - Each week a new program will be available by podcasting. If you have iTunes you can subscribe to the weekly "On Broadway" podcast or download it.

The podcast address is:
http://www.broadwayradioprograms.com/podcasts/Broadway.xml

TONIGHT'S THEME - New Music
Selections from new works including cast recordings from "Head Over Heels," "The Prom," and "King Kong."

Name of Song
Name of Show

Margo Seibert
77th Street
It Might as Well be Spring
State Fair
Something's Coming
West Side Story
Full Moon Lullaby
King Kong
We Got the Beat
Head Over Heels
Beautiful
Head Over Heels
Get Up and Go
Head Over Heels
Our Lips are Sealed
Head Over Heels
Head Over Heels
Head Over Heels
Dance with You
The Prom
You Happened
The Prom
The Lady is Improving
The Prom
Barry is Going to the Prom
The Prom
Philip Chaffin
Will he like me?
An Ocassional Man
The Girl Rush
A Tender Spot
What Makes Sammy Run?
I Got Lost in His Arms
Annie Get Your Gun
Don't Ever Leave Me
Sweet Adeline

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Review of "The Prom"


The Prom is a frothy, silly, tuneful musical comedy with an overt message of tolerance and understanding.

The plot revolves around two long-time Broadway actors – Barry Glickman (Brooks Ashmanskas) and Dee Dee Allen (Beth Leavel) – who have just opened and closed in the same night of a musical on the life of Eleanor Roosevelt.  A stinging review from The New York Times, read aloud to a skimpily attended cast party, skewers the show and specifically points out the shortcomings of the two performers ending by criticizing their narcissistic disposition.  Aghast at the way they are so negatively perceived they, along with two other frustrated actors – Trent Oliver (Christopher Sieber) and Angie (Angie Schworer) - devise a plan to get back in the good graces of the critics and theater-going public by taking up a cause celeb.  Surfing online they find the plight of an Indiana gay teenager, Emma (Caitlin Kinnunen), whose prom has been cancelled so she won’t be able to attend with her same-sex date.  Off they whisk to the Midwest where their New York City theatrical sensibilities clash mightily with the locals causing, at first, more harm than good.  But, as the visitors become more attuned to their surroundings and with the help of Emma and the broad-minded school principal, a new and enlightened day takes hold in the small Indiana town.

The book by Bob Martin, who won a Tony Award for writing The Drowsy Chaperone, is both amusing and poignant.  His thespian characters are loud, glitzy and can be over-the-top.  The humor generated from their shenanigans might not be every theater-goers cup of tea, but the storyline is altogether inoffensive and full of joy.  Well, maybe residents of Indiana might slightly disagree.   The musical is not just for laughs as Martin has fashioned a story whose message of acceptance and cooperation will resonate with today’s audiences.

The score by Chad Beguelin and Matthew Sklar (Tony nominees for their work on Elf and The Wedding Singer) is comical, campy, and always lively.  While the tone is mostly upbeat the composers have also crafted a number of tender, soul-searching songs, which add sensitivity and a finely-threaded emotional core to the production.

The cast is superb, led by the four want-to-be-loved actors and Caitlin Kinnunen’s portrayal of Emma.  Brooks Ashmanskas as the flamboyant showman Barry Glickman revels in his gayness as he sets his sights on saving Emma.  He exults in his flashiness and outrageous histrionics.  Glickman lets it all hang out in a performance that, while showy, also incorporates a degree of introspection and moments of parking his over-sized self-importance aside.  Beth Leavel is a consummate professional.  Her Dee Dee Allen basks in a practiced haughtiness and an experienced sophistication.  She effortlessly extracts laughs and even a degree of empathy with her performance.   Christopher Sieber brings a likeability and touch of daftness to Trent Oliver.   Angie Schworer’s Angie is the relative quiet member of the Broadway foursome, but she comes into her own in the Act II, Bob Fosse inspired opener “Zazz.”  Caitlin Kinnunen’s Emma is appealing and sympathetic and probably the best part of the show.  Her nuanced, down-to-earth character is poised and resolute as she seeks equity, openness, and understanding. 

Director/Choreographer Casey Nicholaw, who now adds a fourth show currently playing on Broadway, brings a razzle dazzle showmanship to the production.  He assuredly guides the cast through their sprightly and schmaltzy moments as well as the tender and contemplative portions of the show.  His choreography adds exuberance and athleticism to the dance routines.

The Prom, good-natured merriment that entertains while spotlighting issues of tolerance and acceptance.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Review of "The Lifespan of a Fact"


The essential question in the play, The Lifespan of a Fact, is what defines a fact, in this case, within a non-fiction magazine article?   Is it necessary for a fact(s) to be thoroughly vetted before publication?  Or should the author of a piece have some leeway with the veracity of the facts to allow for editorially flexibility? 

Playwrights Jeremy Kareken, David Murrell, and Gordon Farrell have taken the book by John D’Agata and Jim Fingal and fashioned an intriguing, rooted in truth, story.  Emily (Cherry Jones), the editor of a high-powered magazine, recruits a young, eager staff member, Jim (Daniel Radcliffe), to fact check a prize-winning article by star journalist John (Bobby Cannavale).  Taking his assignment to heart, Jim, who comes across as somewhat OCD, begins to scrutinize the writer with what seems like, at first, minutiae, but eventually encompasses more.  This leads to discussions on what exactly is a fact within the context of a truth-based article (or essay, as John states).  Should a writer be handcuffed to the facts or, if the essence of the story is correct, some latitude should be allowed?  There are numerous outbursts, justifications, and pleadings by all parties.  Even the editor Emily becomes involved in the fray, but are her motives simply journalistic ethics or are there other reasons clouding her judgement? In the end, who decides?

The premise of The Lifespan of a Fact has taken on more urgency in today’s world of “fake news” and sometimes low editorial standards.  What adds weight to the play is the nature of the unnamed publication in question.  This is a very reputable magazine and not some fly-by-night news periodical.  What does it say about standards and the public’s quest for truth if the material in this type of journal is disputable?

The performances and substance of the show can be riveting, thought-provoking, and entertaining.  However, this 85 minute, intermission-less production can also become tedious and prosaic as Jim continues to hound John about the facts.  There is just so much restating of this important, but basic question that can be staged.

As the show progresses, you begin to take sides.  Whose argument and rationalization is more meaningful and defensible?  As someone who came of age during Watergate, where reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein famously would not print an accusation or revelation unless there were two corroborating pieces of evidence, my allegiances lean towards accuracy.  I found John’s explanation more self-serving.

The three-person cast is first-rate.  Daniel Radcliffe, who has become a sure-footed and adroit performer, is superb as the eager, passionate, youthful employee.  He brings an intensity, but also innocence to his character, which at times can border on being a bit too over-the-top in his pursuit of the truth.  Bobby Cannavale, projects honesty and zeal.  He provides an air of detachment to the hubbub swirling around him.  But beyond his outwardly cantankerous nature, there is a principled professional fervent about his methods.   Cherry Jones has a commanding presence in a role where she is more referee between the other two characters.  Her forcefulness, though, keeps the play on track to its surprising, but satisfying ending.

Director Leigh Silverman has the good fortune working with seasoned actors in what is, primarily, a two-person debate.  She smartly builds the dramatic arc slowly, layering in more information and inquiries as the play moves forward.   She skillfully meshes the comedic side of the work with the serious and contemplative aspects of the production.  Her most pivotal choice is the use of silence at the conclusion of the show, which speaks volumes of what has just occurred before us.

The Lifespan of a Fact, a provocative production that is sure to provoke debates and discussions.

Review of "King Kong"


There are three questions people have asked me about the new Broadway musical, King Kong:

1.    Is Kong the 8th Wonder of the World?
2.    Is the musical good theater?
3.    Is the show worth seeing?

Answer #1 – The 20-foot puppet and animatronic marvel is spectacular.  The producers of the show, Global Creatures, are behind the impressive arena extravaganzas Walking with Dinosaurs so their knowledge and expertise in crafting larger than life beasts is striking.  King Kong does not disappoint.  It’s muscled bulk, massive dimensions, unlikely agility, and animatronic facial features are a sight to behold.  His reactions and the range of emotions are uncanny.

Answer #2 – As theater, King Kong is unexceptional.  There is a lot of razzle dazzle and very thrilling effects, most notably in the projections and sound, lighting and scenic designs.  But unless the simian star is onstage, the show drags, the choreography baffles and the score is inconsequential.

Answer #3 – While on Skull Island the movie producer Carl Denham realizes audiences will pay big bucks to see Kong in captivity.  Is art reflecting reality here?  As I’ve stated, as a work of musical theater King Kong is undistinguished.  However, unless the producers figure out a way to tour the show, audiences will never experience the amazing magnitude and astounding wizardry of such a creation without seeing the Broadway production.  For that reason alone, the musical is worth the money.

The stage production closely follows the plot of the iconic movie with the destitute actress Ann Darrow being discovered by Carl Denham in a two-bit New York City diner and then whisked off to the mysterious Skull Island aboard a chartered freighter. There, while filming a jungle-themed movie the awe-inspiring ape appears, grabs the unsuspecting heroine, and disappears into the wild.  A rescue ensues, Kong is subdued, brought back to NYC, and just before he is put on display at a theater-near-you, breaks free.  He ravages the city, retakes Ann Darrow, climbs the Empire State Building and, well, you know the rest.

As a musical, King Kong struggles.  Certain elements of the production work but, overall, it is disappointing.  The show would have been much more successful as a straight play with symphonic accompaniment to ratchet up the suspense and emotion of the work.

The book by Jack Thorne, who won the Tony Award last year for writing Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, is matter-of-fact.  It focuses on the rapport of the Ann Darrow character with Kong as well as her relationship with Carl Denham.  The story is streamlined.  Ms. Darrow’s movie love interest – Jack Driscoll – has been excised as have the island natives.  Thorne has also reimagined Ms. Darrow as an independent, feisty survivor that is more than capable of taking care of herself.  The playwright has also made sure to keep in the notable scenes from the film, including Kong and the heroine atop Skull mountain and the Empire State Building.

The score by Marius de Vries is noteworthy only because of how unremarkable the songs are.  They help with exposition and teasing out Ann Darrow’s feelings and sentiments towards Kong, but convey little else.

The King Kong crafted for the musical is breathtaking.  Audiences will be astonished by the creature towering over them.  There are ten stage hands, clad in black hoodies, that maneuver and manipulate Kong.  Noticeable at first, very quickly they blend into the background and, eventually, become hardly noticeable.  They are augmented by three staff in a booth that control Kong’s animatronics and provide his magnificent roars.

The human cast is pleasing, but only Christiani Pitts as Ann Darrow shows any depth to their role.  She demonstrates self-reliance and a spirited persona that adds a spark to the production.  Eric William Morris’ Carl Denham explodes with exuberance and hucksterism, which belies a calculating and contemptible manner.  Erik Lochtefeld’s Lumpy, an invented character for the musical serves, somewhat, as the moral compass for the showman.  Appearing intermittently, his fatigued, world-weary character provides sage and fatherly advice.

The real stars of the musical are the creative crew that have dreamed up and put on stage other-worldly and captivating effects.  A standing ovation for Sonny Tilders for designing Kong, truly a remarkable feat.  Kudos to Peter England for the stunning scenic and projection designs, Peter Mumford (lighting), and Peter Hylenski (sound).  Their dazzling artistry simulates movement of the beast and produces visual trickery that enthralls and bedazzles including a rocky sea voyage and a hightail charge through the jungle.

Director/Choreographer Drew McOnie is at his best when blending the action sequences and projections.  He handles the more intimate scenes between the ape and Ms. Darrow with coolness and aplomb.  It is a very busy stage, populated by a large cast consisting, primarily, of ensemble members.  Sometimes it seems it is a challenge to keep them all occupied.  His choreography is at times puzzling and more distracts than adds to the production.

King Kong, a colossal and imposing presence at the Broadway Theatre.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

November 18, 2018 Radio Show

There are two ways to listen to my weekly radio program:
Click & Listen - You can click here to listen to this week's episode.  There are also hundreds of past episodes available on my website.

Podcasting - Each week a new program will be available by podcasting. If you have iTunes you can subscribe to the weekly "On Broadway" podcast or download it.

The podcast address is:
http://www.broadwayradioprograms.com/podcasts/Broadway.xml

TONIGHT'S THEME - New Music
Selections from new works including solo CDs from Melissa Errico and Rene Fleming and the cast recording of "Summer" and "Jesus Christ Superstar Live."

Name of Song
Name of Show

Melissa Errico
Sondheim Sublime
No More
Into the Woods
Send in the Clowns
A Little Night Music
Children Will Listen
Into the Woods
Isn't He Something
Bounce
Rene Fleming
Broadway
Til There Was You
The Music Man
August Winds
The Last Ship
Something Wonderful
The King and I
Wonderful Guy
South Pacific
What's the Buzz
Jesus Christ Superstar Live
Everything's Alright
Jesus Christ Superstar Live
King Herod's Song
Jesus Christ Superstar Live
She Works Hard for the Money
Summer
Hot Stuff
Summer
Last Dance
Summer

Monday, November 12, 2018

Christmas Theatrical Productions in CT


The festive season is just about upon us and many Connecticut theaters are readying their seasonal offerings.  I count 14 holiday productions for all ages.  Below is a list of what is in store for area audiences.

The Christmas Elf 2
Downtown Cabaret – Bridgeport, CT
November 10 – December 29

It’s that time of year again for Santa to call on everyone’s favorite elves and their toy friends to bring holiday joy to boys and girls all over the world, but this Christmas is about more than presents and carols. With new adventures and new challenges, our hero must enlist all the help he can get to save Christmas for everyone.
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Elf
Curtain Call (Kweskin Theatre) - Stamford, CT
November 16 - December 15

AND

Landmark Community Theatre (Thomaston Opera House) – Thomaston, CT
December 1 - December 16
Buddy believes he is an elf. When he discovers that he is actually a human being who accidentally crawled into Santa's bag of gifts many years ago, he sets out on a quest to discover who he really is. But to Buddy's dismay, his father is on the naughty list and his brother doesn't even believe in Santa. A hilarious comedy based on the multi-million dollar film of the same name. Buddy's positivity and uncanny ability to inspire the Christmas spirit in even the naughtiest of people, is sure to make everyone embrace their inner elf. 
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A Christmas Carol
Hartford Stage – Hartford, CT
https://www.hartfordstage.org/christmas-carol
November 23 – December 29

The magic of Charles Dickens’ heart-warming classic returns for its 21st season. Come see Connecticut’s favorite family holiday tradition and spend some time with Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim, Ebenezer Scrooge, Jacob Marley and the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future as they bring A Christmas Carol to life on stage.
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Christmas on the Rocks
Theaterworks – Hartford, CT
November 27 – December 23

It’s Christmas Eve in a rundown local bar. Expecting a silent night, the bartender finds himself mixing drinks for a parade of surprising guests – children from your favorite Christmas specials and movies – now all grown up. Join them as they pour out their Christmas woes in this delightful parody.
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A Merry Mulberry Street Musical
Curtain Call (The Dressing Room Theatre) - Stamford, CT
November 29 - December 16

For more than 75 years, audiences have laughed along with Stamford’s most-produced romantic comedy, Mulberry Street. Join the Morello and Baccolini families during the 1944 holiday season and watch what happens while the boys are overseas and an outcast sister-in-law comes back into their lives! 

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Glitz: The Little Miss Christmas Pageant Musical
Pantochino Productions - West Haven, CT
November 30 - December 22

Everything’s coming up tinsel, toddlers and tiaras in this ridiculously funny holiday musical where ten girls (with big hair), and their outlandish mothers (with big mouths) vie for the title and crown. But its the Christmas spirit that is the true winner in this heartwarming holiday classic. 

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A Christmas Story
Sherman Players - Sherman, CT
November 30 - December 22

AND

Theatre of Northeastern Connecticut (Bradley Playhouse) - Putnam, CT  
November 30 - December 16

Humorist Jean Shepherd's memoir of growing up in the Midwest of the 1940s follows 9-year-old Ralphie Parker in his quest to get a genuine Red Ryder BB gun under the tree for Christmas.

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A Christmas Carol (The Musical)
Center Stage - Shelton, CT
November 30 - December 16

This Dickens classic has become a Center Stage tradition. With soaring music by Disney musical genius, composer Alan Menken, A Christmas Carol infuses the holiday blockbuster with music that will touch you, inspire you, and fill you with the spirit of Christmas!

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A Connecticut Christmas Carol
Goodspeed’s Norma Terris Theater – Chester, CT
November 30 – December 30

Some of the most beloved storytellers in Connecticut history come alive for a yuletide gathering you won’t forget. Famed actor and local legend William Gillette leaves his castle on the Connecticut River to adapt Dickens’ holiday classic. Local heroes Mark Twain, P.T. Barnum and more make spirited appearances opposite Gillette’s Scrooge in a highly theatrical twist on a family favorite.
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A Civil War Christmas
Connecticut Repertory Theatre – Storrs, CT
November 29 – December 9

Christmas, 1864. With the nation at war, it is not a silent night. All is not peaceful or bright. On one side of the Potomac, an escaped slave hurries her daughter toward the capital and freedom. On the other side, a young Confederate runs away from home with hopes of joining the fight. In the capital, Mrs. Lincoln is in desperate need of the perfect gift for her husband Abe. Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel creates a historical and musical masterpiece in “A Civil War Christmas,” one that is uniquely American. In the shadow of our own partisan divide, can the nation put aside its differences and share in the hope and generosity the Christmas season has to offer, and the promise of Christmas future?
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A Charlie Brown Christmas
Wilton Playshop - Wilton, CT
December 7 - 9 

AND

A Charlie Brown Christmas
Warner Theatre – Torrington, CT
December 8 – 16
When Charlie Brown complains about the overwhelming materialism he sees during the Christmas season, Lucy suggests that he become director of the school Christmas pageant. Charlie Brown accepts, but this proves to be a frustrating endeavor. When his attempt to restore the proper holiday spirit with a forlorn little Christmas tree fails, Linus helps him learn the true meaning of Christmas.
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Christmas Eve At Earlene’s Diner
Seven Angels Theatre – Waterbury, CT
December 7 -19
What’s new at The Diner this Christmas?
Does anyone eat the fruitcake? Does the Crispy Biscuit put The Diner out of business?
Who’s really in Earlene’s family tree? Come and find out!
Music, humor and fun weave throughout this Holiday tale for the entire family. Michelle Gotay returns as her delightful character Earlene Babcock along with a fantastic local cast. Plenty of Christmas spirit and many of your favorite holiday songs will fill your hearts with cheer.
Be on the look out for Santa in our the lobby after the show for holiday photos!
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Coney Island Christmas
Ivoryton Playhouse – Ivoryton, CT
December 13 – 29

CONEY ISLAND CHRISTMAS introduces us to Shirley Abramowitz, a young Jewish girl who (much to her immigrant parents’ exasperation) is cast as Jesus in the school’s Christmas pageant. As Shirley, now much older, recounts the memorable story to her great-granddaughter, the play captures a timeless and universal tale of what it means to be an American during the holidays.

Review of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"


The Playhouse on Park production of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest appears rather tame. Even though the action takes place in a state mental institution the atmosphere is one of rollicking exuberance Instead of a more somber and grim environ.  The overall playfulness and light-heartedness of the patients belies the serious underpinnings of the subject matter.


L - R, Wayne Willinger as McMurphy, Harrison Greene as Martini, Rick Malone as Cheswick, Santos as Chief Bromden, John Ramaine as Scanlon, Adam Kee as Harding, Kataya Collazo as Nurse Flynn, Patricia Randell as Nurse Ratched.  Photo by Curt Henderson.

The dramatic arc revolves around the most recent admittee, Randle McMurphy, a boisterous, good time fellow who likes to follow his own rules.  Very soon he butts heads with head Nurse Ratched, a by-the-book, authoritarian staff member who feels empowered by her command over the patients.  She sees the new man more as a threat than someone needing psychiatric attention.

From the very beginning, McMurphy takes over the ward as the alpha male.  He cajoles, bosses, and takes charge of the other patients, an assortment of troubled individuals.  They appear at times both comfortable in their antiseptic environment and despising their setting.  His free-wheeling attitude and actions, however, run diametrically opposed to the prescribed system, which leads to his ultimate downfall.

A show centering on mental health is very timely as programs to address the crisis in the United States are woefully underfunded with both in-patient and out-patient treatment facilities lacking in resources and staffing.  But, while the clashes and conflicts of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest occur in a sanatorium, the focus is on the locking of horns between the two main protagonists.  For the most part, the mental health problems of the patients, which are brought out in the Ken Kesey novel and is the source material for Dale Wasserman’s adaptation, serve as window dressing.
 
L - R, Adam Kee as Harding, Wayne Willinger as McMurphy, Ben McLaughlin as Ruckley, Patricia Randell as Nurse Ratched.  Photo by Curt Henderson.
The acting troupe is a mixed bag of supporting players that fill out the cast and central figures within the production.  Wayne Willinger’s McMurphy has the requisite devil-may-care, flippant attitude, but his character is lacking the necessary, sustained undercurrent of menace and vulnerability.  Patricia Randell’s Nurse Ratched portrayal is more in line with an old-time librarian scolding her charges rather than a calculating woman with an Icy, imposing demeanor.  Alex Rafala, who plays Billy Bibbitt, the emotional scarred momma’s boy, gives the best performance of the show.  He convincingly portrays a troubled youth who at times is obedient, a risk-taker, and a person in crisis. The actor Santos, who plays Chief Bromden, is a bit too catatonic in the role as opposed to someone radiating an inner strength.  His internal soliloquies also lack an emotional depth.

Director Ezra Barnes successfully conveys the boredom and mind-numbing repetition of the patient’s lives.  Working with Scenic Designer David Lewis and Lighting Designer Aaron Hochheiser, he achieves the ambiance of a sterile, institutional setting with mismatched, metallic furniture and glaring fluorescent lighting.  The thrust of the production, thought, feels more like an episode from the playbook of Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters which can, at times, distract from the central thrust of the production.  The match of iron wills between McMurphy and Nurse Ratchet comes across as tepid.  The final scenes concerning Billy and McMurphy lack a dramatic edge.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, an admirable, but flawed production, playing at Playhouse on Park through November 18th.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Review of "Thousand Pines"


The focus of the world premiere of Thousand Pines, playing at the Westport Country Playhouse through November 17th, is a shooting at a Junior High School.  This powerful and, at times, emotionally gripping production will resonate deeply with all audience members, and especially Connecticut residents who remember the carnage at Sandy Hook.
 
  1. L-R:  William Ragsdale, Katie Ailion, Joby Earle, Andrew Veenstra, Kelly McAndrew, and Anne Bates in “Thousand Pines,” written by Matthew Greene, directed by Austin Pendleton, at Westport Country Playhouse, now playing through November 17.  Photo by Carol Rosegg
Playwright Matthew Greene has crafted three vignettes that center on the life-changing episode.  Each scene takes place in the suburban neighborhood surrounding the school during Thanksgiving and approaches the consequences from a different angle.  The setting, a dining area outside the kitchen, is the same for each portion of the show.  Five of the six performers change roles during the trio of scenarios.

The first account revolves around a mother as she and other family members help her prepare for the holiday meal.  We quickly learn that her dispassionate, false fa├žade is a coping mechanism as she cannot face up to the magnitude of the tragic event.  Her son, tormented by an unknown guilt clashes with his mother as the surreal nature of the aftermath becomes too much for him to take.
 
  1. L-R: Joby Earle, Andrew Veenstra, and Kelly McAndrew in “Thousand Pines,” written by Matthew Greene, directed by Austin Pendleton, at Westport Country Playhouse, now playing through November 17.   Photo by Carol Rosegg
In the next story, litigation is the primary element as a lawyer and his ex-wife seek to coax a plaintiff-friendly deposition from a witness to the shooting.  As the details begin to unfold a shocking aspect of the event is revealed.

The final glimpse into a grieving household, once again, has a mother center stage.  As neighbors try to cheer her up and redirect her attention more information behind the shooting is disclosed.  Then, in a blink of an eye, the three seemingly unconnected vignettes coalesce into a more coherent, yet stunning, whole.

Greene has written a compelling and haunting work that does not produce any easy answers.   He presents information, sometimes delivered in a stark and detached manner, that offers insights, but nothing definitive is resolved.  Questions of blame and correct protocols are left for audience member to decide.  He rightfully focuses attention on how individuals react differently and are impacted by such an event.  The results can be devastatingly raw and absolutely heartbreaking.  Some of the characters are not fully realized or deeply drawn, which is usually an issue for such short shows.  The intermission-less production runs only 79 minutes.
 
  1. L-R: Andrew Veenstra, Kelly McAndrew and Katie Ailion  in “Thousand Pines,” written by Matthew Greene, directed by Austin Pendleton, at Westport Country Playhouse, now playing through November 17.   Photo by Carol Rosegg
The six person actors – Katie Ailion, Anne Bates, Joby Earle, Kelly McAndrew, William Ragsdale, and Andrew Veenstra – play multiple roles within the three presentation and three of them standout.  Their characters are more fully developed, which allows for more nuance and shading in their portrayals.  Kelly McAndrew has the most difficult job as she embodies three different matriarchs, all at different points of the grieving process.  Anne Bates is a supporting player in two of the three scenes.  In the middle piece, however, she delivers a chilling monologue that is agonizing in its moral implications.  Andrew Veenstra, the only actor who plays the same character throughout the production, is a shattered mess as he tries to comprehend the horrific event that took place months earlier.

Director Austin Pendleton skillfully resets each tableau with precision and care.  He perceptually incorporates a good deal of quietude and reflection among the shattered family members.  Pendleton also brings a natural, sometimes infuriating, flow to the show.  Infuriating because of the wild mood swings rendered by the characters, but natural because of the honest and genuine feelings they display on stage.

Thousand Pines, a gripping and sometimes difficult piece of theater that, nonetheless, demands to be seen.

Monday, November 5, 2018

October 28, 2018 Radio Show

There are two ways to listen to my weekly radio program:
Click & Listen - You can click here to listen to this week's episode.  There are also hundreds of past episodes available on my website.

Podcasting - Each week a new program will be available by podcasting. If you have iTunes you can subscribe to the weekly "On Broadway" podcast or download it.

The podcast address is:
http://www.broadwayradioprograms.com/podcasts/Broadway.xml

TONIGHT'S THEME - Halloween, Part 2
We continue to celebrate Halloween with songs from the Off-Broadway and Broadway stage.

Name of Song
Name of Show

The Brain From Planet X
The Brain From Planet X
Bit Part Demon
Evil Dead - the Musical
A Night We'll Never Forget
Carrie
I Gotta Be Your Man
Faust
Halloween
Rent
Damn It, Janet
The Rocky Horror Picture Show
I Love a Little Town
The Witches of Eastwick
Defying Gravity
Wicked
Deep in the Darkest Night
Dracula
I Believe My Heart
The Woman in White
Skid Row (Downtown)
Little Shop of Horrors
The Hands of Time
Frankenstein
Reefer Madness
Reefer Madness
Where is the World
Phantom

October 21, 2018 Radio Show

There are two ways to listen to my weekly radio program:
Click & Listen - You can click here to listen to this week's episode.  There are also hundreds of past episodes available on my website.

Podcasting - Each week a new program will be available by podcasting. If you have iTunes you can subscribe to the weekly "On Broadway" podcast or download it.

The podcast address is:
http://www.broadwayradioprograms.com/podcasts/Broadway.xml

TONIGHT'S THEME - Halloween, Part 1
We celebrate Halloween with songs from the Off-Broadway and Broadway stage.

Name of Song
Name of Show

Home Sweet Heaven
High Spirits
Who's Got the Pain
Damn Yankees
Not a Common Man
American Psycho
Show You a Thing or Two
Bat Boy
Dangerous Game
Jekyll and Hyde
Come Look at the Freaks
Side Show
Puttin' on the Ritz
Young Frankenstein
I Want the Good Times Back
The Little Mermaid
Big Green Freak
The Toxic Avenger
I Think I Got You Beat
Shrek
Don't Nobody Bring Me No Bad News
The Wiz
Here Right Now
Ghost
Serious Business
Imperfect Chemistry
When You're an Addams
The Addams Family