Holler If Ya Hear Me

California Love on Broadway

In recent years, jukebox musicals have been some of Broadway’s most durable and successful productions. Mamma Mia! repurposed ABBA’s Swedish pop and Jersey Boys has been running for nine years on the strength of 60s rock ’n’ roll nostalgia. However, there hasn’t been a great hip hop musical yet—how could there be? With hip hop’s vulgarity and counter-cultural…

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Shakespeare in the Park

Everything You Need to Know About Shakespeare in the Park 2014

“Like one swallow,” wrote John Simon when reviewing the premiere of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, “one Shakespeare does not make a summer.”  Fortunately, for the first time since 2011, Shakespeare in the Park is eschewing musicals for two revivals from the Bard.  This year, they are presenting Much Ado About Nothing (June 3 – July 6) and King Lear (July 22 –…

The Killer

It’s Just Decor

Berenger (Michael Shannon), the everyman who stars in Eugène Ionesco’s later plays Rhinoceros, Exit the King, and A Stroll in the Air, made his first and perhaps most devastating appearance in The Killer, one of the purest expressions of the Theatre of the Absurd.  In the first act (during which the set is almost always bare, the white scratches on…

Dogg's Hamlet, Cahoot's Macbeth

Any Tom, Dick or Bertolt

Tom Stoppard’s Dogg’s Hamlet, Cahoot’s Macbeth skirts very close to the kind of acting exercise you might find practiced by an improv group: in the first half, which is largely in gibberish (which is subtitled in the script but untranslated here), a builder who speaks English arrives to construct a set for actors about to perform…

The Rivals

Brains Turned by Reading

Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s career falls right in-between Shakespeare’s and Oscar Wilde’s, so if you know Twelfth Night and The Importance of Being Earnest, you’ll already have a decent sense of The Rivals: Captain Jack Absolute (Cary Donaldson), the wealthy son of Sir Anthony Absolute (Dan Daily), has fallen in love with Lydia Languish (Jessica Love).  But Lydia, an…

Written on the Body

Thrown into Outer Darkness

Richard Dresser’s Below the Belt is set in an unnamed location and inside a factory that manufactures an unknown product; but unlike, say, the “little nameless object” assembled by the Newsome family in Henry James’ The Ambassadors, Mr. Dresser’s company has mostly insidious overtones.  Globalization and colonialism are in the air, even if they are never mentioned.  Perhaps the military-industrial complex…

An Octoroon

Artificial Joys or Sorrows

When James Baldwin published Giovanni’s Room in 1956, nobody knew what to make of it.  After his debut novel, Go Tell It on the Mountain, Baldwin was hailed as The Next Voice of Black America.  How to read, then, its follow up, which details the life of a gay, white expatriate living in Paris?  It wasn’t until…