Author: martha wade steketee

Ute Lemper: Brecht, Bukowski, and Broken Hearts

[article as originally published in Theater Pizzazz, January 14, 2017.] Ute Lemper was framed in her recent 54 Below engagement by comfort and edginess – black leather pants topped with a short sleeveless black sheath dress. These costuming contrasts were mirrored in the juxtaposition of her elegant physicality (dancing arms and calm composure) with the

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Can a Playwright Be a Critic? Eliza Bent Says Yes

[article as originally published in The Clyde Fitch Report, January 13, 2017.] [featured image caption: Eliza Bent in performance mode. Photo: Peter Bellamy.] It is fashionable to debate the importance of cultural criticism. The debate questions what criticism is, who is and is not a critic, challenges us to imagine what the audience for criticism should

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Marilyn Maye Always Something Big

[article as originally published in Theater Pizzazz, January 6, 2017.] January in Manhattan means Marilyn Maye has brought her post New Year “by request” performances to the cozy and classy Metropolitan Room. The concept is delightful: woven into familiar tunes her existing fans yearn to hear, patrons have the option of submitting a tune request

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Exeunt New York’s Most Memorable Shows of 2016

[I am one voice among many in this piece that asked NYC based Exeunt contributors to nominate one (or in some cases two) productions that haunted us, rather than our top 10 or 15 or more. Originally published by “Exeunt Staff” in Exeunt Magazine, December 31, 2016.] Rather than a Top 10 list, the critics

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2016: excavation review themes

  After six annual marathons captured in “what Martha has seen” lists of theater and film adventuring (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016), I’ve learned a few things. I’ve learned that sometimes theater gluttony can build personal knowledge but impede creative critical output. I’ve learned that it’s a great privilege to be among the frequent

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2016: excavation review

[featured image caption: Times Square. Screen capture from opening sequence of Babes on Broadway (1941).] Public performances in calendar year 2016, live or filmed, were many and thrilling. I viewed new talents and old familiars in large venues and intimate spaces. I wasn’t always thrilled with what I experienced, but I learned from each performance or

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Singing Sondheim (Unplugged) All Night

[Featured image caption: Phil Geoffrey Bond on stage, Sondheim on screen. Photo: Martha Wade Steketee.] [article as originally published in Theater Pizzazz, December 13, 2016.] The sixtieth edition of the Sondheim Unplugged concert series, that began its monthly adventures at the beloved Don’t Tell Mama venue on West 46th Street and is now ensconced at the

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Why Does a Play About the Internet Have a Realistic Set?

[article as originally published at TDF Stages, December 13, 2016.] The meaningful space of Tiny Beautiful Things. It might be about strangers communicating on the vast and anonymous internet, but Tiny Beautiful Things is a play of personal moments and intimate environs. Now playing at the Public in their Shiva Theater space, the show adapts

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After Orlando: International Rapid Response Theatre

[article as originally published in Exeunt Magazine, December 12, 2016.] [Featured image caption: After Orlando reading in St. Louis, Missouri November 14, 2016. “Dance On” by Ian Rowlands. Image by Joan Lipkin.] NoPassport Theatre Alliance and Missing Bolts Productions present their “theatre action” After Orlando as an outlet for rage and grief after the Pulse

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Ethan Lipton’s ‘The Outer Space’: Outer space, inner life

[article as originally published in Broad Street Review, December 10, 2016.] Its musical stylings draw from folk, jazz, and klezmer strains, with strong lyrics delivered in a mesmerizing deadpan by playwright and lead singer Ethan Lipton. While there’s not much action in Leigh Silverman’s staging – it’s a concert after all – these tunes are

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