Steve's Quickie Theatre Reviews
The Last 5 Years at Speakeasy
(2004-02-21) Gorgeous music by Jason Robert Brown, but the Merrily-esque dual timelines means that the two characters have a hard time making a real connection onstage. Becca Ayers is really good as Catherine.
Boy From Oz on Broadway
(2003-11-08) A real star tour by Hugh Jackman, who is stunning as he owns the stage for nearly the entire length of the production. Catch this soon -- there's not enough here for the show to last after Hugh leaves.
Little Shop of Horrors revival on Broadway
(2003-11-08) A good revival of a favorite, with a fantastic orchestra. Needs some polish to work a bit better, but the plant is a gorgeous piece of work by the Jim Henson studios.
Wicked on Broadway
(2003-11-07) A delight, based on the book by Gregory Maguire. Kristin Chenoweth shines as Glinda the Good Witch, but Idina Menzel's Wicked Witch is thrilling. Can't wait for the cast album.
Porgy and Bess, Boston
(2003-11-01) Interesting to see this classic after years of hearing the tunes. Also strange, in this era of highly polished touring productions, to see a production where technical flaws (bad lighting, weird set design choices, and why do we have supertitles for an American musical?) are this distracting.
Hairspray, Boston tour
(2003-10-26) An incredibly fun show. Bruce Vilanch is a lot of fun in the same part that Harvey Fierstein made huge on Broadway, but the star is the music; Marc Shaiman and Scott Whitman have done a marvelous job invoking the sounds of 1960s rock, rhythm and blues.
Man of No Importance at the BCA
(2003-10-24) Some nice music by Ahrens and Flaherty, but the characters don't really excite in this musical remake of an Albert Finney movie about a Dublin bus conductor who loves Oscar Wilde and amateur theatre.
Jesus Christ Superstar, Boston tour
(2003-04-19) Strong voices from the principals, but production design is essentially a series of cool images with no connecting theme. End of this tour that's been on for three years (seems like thirty...)
The Play What I Wrote on Broadway
(2003-03-23) A new import of a hit British comedy, which naturally will be totally unknown to anyone in the states. Sean Foley and Hamish McCall are hilarious as they try to bring their double act to Broadway, aided by a "mystery guest star" who changes from night to night (Nathan Lane for our matinee). Great if you enjoy British puns and slapstick. Directed by Kenneth Branagh, who managed to refrain from asking me for an autograph, despite sitting only three seats away.
A Little Night Music, New York City Opera
(2003-03-22) Jeremy Irons stars in this revival of one of Sondheim's most lyrical pieces. Mark Kudisch, on leave from Millie, is marvelous as Carl-Magnus, and Michelle Pawk delicious as his wife Charlotte. All in all, a very well done piece.
Millie on Broadway
(2003-03-22) As good as it was the first time (see June 8th). The only change in cast is Christopher Seiber as Trevor Grayden, who is absolutely hilarious. Sutton Foster should be with the show through the fall, so see her while you still can.
Nine on Broadway
(2003-03-21) Antonio Banderas is a Latin entertainer who spends more time chasing women than honing his craft. Plus, he stars in this revival, although he's overshadowed by the excellent work by Mary Stuart Masterson, Jane Krakowski, and the always marvelous Chita Rivera. The show itself is fairly nondescript, but the actresses are clearly the real attraction here.
A Class Act in Boston
(2003-03-15) A quiet little show about the lyricist behind Chorus Line. SpeakEasy does their usual good job, but the show lacks passion.
Flower Drum Song on Broadway
(2002-12-14) A surprising delight. David Henry Hwang has totally rewritten the book, using Rodgers and Hammerstein's music in different ways, to create a tale about immigrants struggling with the dichotomy between American ways and Chinese traditions. Lea Salonga is wonderful (and clearly having a ball) as the 18-year-old orphan "fresh off the boat", and Jose LLana impressively good as the Americanized boy she falls in love with.
Dance of the Vampires on Broadway
(2002-12-14) Elaborate sets, powerful orchestrations, and Michael Crawford as a shadowy figure casting a hypnotic power over a young maiden. Sound familiar? This show desperately tries to succeed as camp during the first act, but falls flat after intermission. Michael Gallo's sets are impressive, and Jim Steinman's music often amusing as he borrows themes from his earlier work. Plot is wafer-thin, acting is weak, and Crawford is still basically playing the same character he became famous for 25 years ago.
La Boheme on Broadway
(2002-12-13) If you didn't already know that the same person created both Moulin Rouge and this show, one look makes it clear. Baz Lurhman has assembled three casts of top-notch newcomers (Alfred Boe and Wei Huang in this one) to present Puccini's 1896 opera and update it to the 1957 Paris jazz scene. Great voices, gorgeous set pieces; all-in-all a marvelous work.
Medea in Boston
(2002-10-26) Do you suppose you're supposed to identify with the mad woman who kills her children? A really intriguing show, by a fabulous Irish production company. Fiona Shaw is riveting as the title character, and the take on the show is well-executed.
Bat Boy at the BCA
(2002-10-19) A very fun show, with the usual great production values from the SpeakEasy. The cast is small but lively, and having a blast. The show itself is quirky but fun, and extremely enjoyable. Catch it during January 2003 if you get a chance.
The Full Monty tour in Boston
(2002-06-15) Christian Anderson is a bit weak as Jerry, but the rest of the cast makes up for it with infectious enthusiasm. Very nice work by Carol Woods as Jeannette. And yes, that is Cleavant Derricks ("Sliders") and Robert Westenberg (Into the Woods).
Urinetown on Broadway
(2002-06-09) Still a favorite; a great musical for people who love musicals. Jeff McCarthy was not understudied this time; he's just a delight.
Thoroughly Modern Millie on Broadway
(2002-06-08) An impressive show, with very nice gorgeous and colorful sets, lights, and costumes. Sutton Foster is simply stunning as Millie. The book and score are at times lackluster, but the cast is having such fun that it's just a delight. Sometimes the whole is greater than the sum of its parts...
Into the Woods on Broadway
(2002-06-08) A very good reworking of a classic Sondheim. Some minor reworking of the book and songs results in a slightly stronger piece. Fantastic work on projection effects, and you have to love the cow.
Sweet Smell of Success on Broadway
(2002-06-07) ...and sometimes the parts don't add up to a whole. Interesting storyline, orchestrations that do a great job of showing the 1940s nightclub scene, and a strong performance by Brian d'Arcy James (and John Lithgow's understudy). But overall, the show lacks life. A disappointing outcome.
Copenhagen tour in Boston
(2002-05-18) A marvelous play, especially for engineering nerds. The tour cast brings out the emotions of the piece slightly better than the Broadway cast did.
Best Little Whorehouse in Texas tour in Boston
(2002-04-27) A disappointingly lifeless offering of what should be a bold, energetic show, presented with an intimate feel that is incongruous with the 1700-seat Colonial. As a dramatic actress, Ann-Margaret makes a mediocre nightclub singer.
Aida tour in Boston
(2002-04-06) As in NYC, an interesting book with enjoyable music, occasionally marred by over-blown production values.
The new Graduate in Boston
(2002-03-02) Nice set, Kathleen Turner is very good, and Jason Biggs surprising. Alicia Silverstone does passably with a marginal character.
Crucible in NYC
(2002-02-23) Liam Neeson is marvelous, and the set is an absolutely gorgeous design. Very powerful production.
Urinetown in NYC
(2002-02-23) Simply hilarious spoof of the entire musical genre, with a marvelous cast. Must-see show; quickly becoming a favorite.
Noises Off in NYC
(2002-02-22) I know this show too well; I tend to judge it on a line-by-line basis. Both LuPone and Gallagher were out, but the rest of the cast is very good, especially Katie Finneran and T.R. Knight as Brooke and Tim, respectively.
Proof tour in Boston
(2002-02-09) Very similar to the Broadway version. A strong piece which shows off the real strengths of this play.
Contact tour in Boston
(2002-01-12) Even on tour, a spectacular dance show.
Mamma Mia! in Boston pre-Broadway
(2001-08-18) No plot, no characters to speak of. But everyone's having lots of fun, so it mostly works. Paper-thin plotting cannot sustain a long sequence of ballads in Act II. Keep an eye out for the flipper dance in Act I.
Thoroughly Modern Millie in La Jolla (pre-Broadway)
(2000-11-07) Sutton Foster does well as the title character, though still nervous due to 42nd Street-style rise from understudy. Ingenious choreography, interesting design, and general sense of fun sustained despite occasionally clunky musical numbers. Clearly bound for Broadway -- hope they find a better second act on the way. Guest review by Mary Linton Peters