Putting the Pageant Cart Before the Plague

[Full article published in TDF Stages, February 23, 2018.] Tony-winning designer David Zinn creates a playful medieval world for The Amateurs David Zinn created an underwater extravaganza by designing the sets and costumes for the splashy Broadway musical SpongeBob SquarePants. But for his latest assignment, Jordan Harrison’s The Amateurs at Off-Broadway’s Vineyard Theatre, he’s working on a decidedly smaller, but

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“Kings” Passes Bechdel Test, Drowns in Design

[article as originally published in The Clyde Fitch Report, February 20, 2018.] In the new play by Sarah Burgess, hyper-aggro sound design nearly ruins the storytelling. Playwright Sarah Burgess plums politics for her newest play Kings at the Public Theater. The production of this timely story of Washington, DC lobbyists and the politicians they serve just barely survives an overwhelming design —

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Adrienne Kennedy’s New Play of Love, Race and Puppets

[article as originally published in The Clyde Fitch Report, January 30, 2018.] Memories of her white grandfather animate the 86-year-old legend’s first play in a decade. Details of her own rich biography are fodder for Adrienne Kennedy’s new, poetic theatrical work, He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box, running at Theatre for a New Audience. Kennedy’s birth

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How a Tennis Match Changed the Conversation

[Full article published in TDF Stages, January 25, 2018.] Balls uses a legendary game to examine gender inequality It’s fitting that a coed creative team decided to theatricalize the 1973 “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match between 29-year-old women’s champion Billie Jean King and misogynistic 55-year-old huckster Bobby Riggs. Cowritten and codirected by two male-female pairings, Balls

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Orlandersmith Finds Documentary Theater in Ferguson, MO

[article as originally published in The Clyde Fitch Report, January 19, 2018.] A quiet contemplation of America’s newly energized racist past In her resonant work Forever, first staged at Center Theatre Group in 2014 and then New York Theatre Workshop in spring 2015, playwright and performer Dael Orlandersmith includes herself as a character and observer in scenes that

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When John Lithgow Called, He Said Yes

[Full article published in TDF Stages, January 11, 2018.] How director Daniel Sullivan is helping the actor honor his father Tony-winning director Daniel Sullivan is known for helming complex, multicharacter plays on Broadway, from sumptuous period pieces like last season’s revival of The Little Foxes, to new works by the likes of David Auburn, Donald Margulies, and

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2017: excavation review themes

Simplifying, complicating, simplifying again. This has been a year of expanding and paring involvement on professional boards and projects, resuming old roles and assuming new ones. I continue into 2018 on the boards or executive committee of the American Theatre Critics Association and the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas, and in a new

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2017: excavation review

Public performances in calendar year 2017, live or filmed, were many and thrilling, with new talents and old familiars, in large venues and intimate spaces. By my rough count, during 2017 I saw 290 theatrical productions (including a few staged readings) and 24 cabaret performances (basically a singer and musicians in a club setting, singing

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Ebersole and Stritch Sing of Snow and Memories at Birdland

[article as originally published in Theater Pizzazz, December 27, 2017.] Musicians who have played together for years reunite for two Birdland performances this December. Winter tunes, holiday tunes, tunes of remembrance and family and loss. Billy Stritch at the piano with a few choice and delicious vocals is both support and full-fledged stage partner to Christine

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Nuclear Disaster: Cleaning Up the Mess Three Boomers Leave Behind

[article as originally published in The Clyde Fitch Report, December 13, 2017.] Big themes and human-scale stories twine with elegance, humor and some horror in Lucy Kirkwood’s play The Children, now running on Broadway in a Manhattan Theatre Club production. It’s the first NYC staging of a play seen most recently at London’s Royal Court Theatre; infidelity, guilt and

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