Monday, May 16, 2016

The bright lights of Broadway as seen by a Cleveland reviewer

Several times a year I go to review what’s on stage on Broadway.  This spring, right at the time the Tony Award nominations were being announced, I had the chance to see some excellent offerings. 

Of course, seeing local talent on stages on the Big White Way adds to the excitement.   During the last season about twenty Baldwin Wallace University grads, which recently was named as the second best musical theatre program in the country, were appearing in the Big Apple.  The shows I saw included Anthony Sagarha in AMERICAN PSYCHO and Cassie Okenka in SCHOOL OF ROCK.  Not to be outdone, Kent State grad Alice Ripley was in AMERICAN PSYCHO.

Here are capsule judgments of four new shows.  To read the whole review of each, go to, scroll down to find the individual columns.

Where:  Winter Garden, 1634 Broadway
When:  Open run

Capsule judgment:  SCHOOL OF ROCK is a fun-filled show with a nice moral.  The music rocks.  The cast entertains.  It’s the kind of show that audiences love, will do well as it tours the country, and should have a long Broadway life!

What:  AMERICAN PSYCHO, the musical
Where:  Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, 236 West 45th Street
When:  Open run

Capsule judgment:  AMERICAN PSYCHO the musical, like the book and film, will incite waves of avid fans, as well as naysayers.  It’s going to get standing ovations and intermission walk-outs.  Whatever the attitude, it’s clear that Benjamin Walker’s portrayal of Bateman is top notch, the rocking score is enervating, and the multiple hard bodies on the stage are works of art in their own way. And, the question stands…is what goes on on the stage, fact or fiction, allegory or reality?  Is it a statement on America or just an excuse for gore and fun?

Where:  Manhattan Theatre Club, Samuel J. Friedman Theatre
    261 W. 47th Street
When:  Through June 11, 2016

Capsule judgment:  Florian Zeller’s THE FATHER is a compelling and heart-breaking script that exposes two sides of the mental aging and deterioration process.  The production is exceptionally well-conceived and performed.  In spite of humorous interludes, some may find the play almost too emotionally charged.  That being said, the production is a must see for anyone, as sooner or later they may well be the caretaker of an André, or an André, themselves.

What:  TUCK EVERLASTING, the musical
Where:  Broadhurst Theatre, 235 West 44th Street
When:  Open run

Capsule judgment:  TUCK EVERYLASTING is a fable of Americana that may be too gentle for New York critics and audiences, but should be a major hit with the family-oriented audiences that make up the Broadway series tours in the hinterlands.  This is a well-conceived production, with hummable folk music, and a charming tale.