Let's Talk Off Broadway

Yvonne Korshak reviews Off-Broadway, Broadway, Film and Art

Category: Broadway Theater (Page 2 of 3)

2011-2012 Patrick Lee Theater Bloggers Awards — Independent Theater Bloggers Association

The Independent Theater Bloggers Association (the “ITBA”) is proud to announce the 2012 recipients of the Fourth Annual Patrick Lee Theater Blogger Awards, (the “the Patricks”).   Patrick Lee was one of the ITBA's founding members. Patrick, who passed away suddenly in June 2010, was an erudite, passionate, and tireless advocate for theater in all its forms. Patrick was also the ITBA's first awards director, and was a regular contributor to Theatermania and TDF Stages.

 The 2011-2012 Patrick Lee Theater Blogger Award Winners:


"Peter and the Starcatcher"

CITATIONS FOR EXCELLENCE BY INDIVIDUAL PERFORMERS (Across Off-Broadway, Off-Off Broadway, and Broadway

Nina Arianda in "Venus in Fur"

Christian Borle in "Peter and the Starcatcher"

Philip Boynkin in "The Gershwins' Porgy & Bess"

Danny Burstein in "Follies"

James Corden in "One Man Two Guvnors"

Santino Fontana in "Sons of a Prophet"

Judy Kaye in "Nice Work If You Can Get It"

Judith Light in "Other Desert Cities"

Jan Maxwell in "Follies"

Lindsay Mendez in "Godspell"

Terri White in "Follies"




"Peter and the Starcatcher"




"Death of a Salesman"


"Sons of the Prophet"


"Samuel & Alasdair: A Personal History of the Robot War" at The New Ohio Theatre


"She Kills Monsters" at the Flea Theatre


"The Tenant" by Woodshed Collective


The Flea Theatre

OUTSTANDING SOLO SHOW/PERFORMANCES (Across Broadway, Off- Broadway and Off-Off Broadway

Hugh Jackman, "Back on Broadway"

Denis O'Hare, "An Iliad," New YorkTheatre Workshop

Zoe Caldwell, "Elective Affinities," Soho Rep

Juan Francisco Villa,  "Empanada for a Dream," presented by Ballybeg at Barrow Group 

Stephen Spinella, "An Illiad," New York Theatre Workshop

Daniel Kitson, "It's Always Right Now Until It's Later"

Lorinda Lositza,  "Triumphant Baby"


"Now. Here. This."


The ITBA, is comprised of bloggers who regularly see live performances in all forms in New York City and beyond.   Members are in New York, Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis, and London.  For further information and a list of our members, see our website at www.theaterbloggers.com.  If you are interested in learning more about the ITBA, email info@theaterbloggers.com.  To invite the members of the ITBA to your show or event, please send an email to  invite@theaterbloggers.com


Don’t Dress For Dinner by Marc Camoletti, adapted by Robin Hawdon, with Ben Daniels, Dam James, Patricia Kalember and Jennifer Tilly, directed by John Tillinger

Don’t Dress for Dinner  – and don’t see this show either.  I went because I read somewhere it was really funny.   It is, for about ten minutes.

But the rest is an uninspired cliche – though well performed in madcap farce style – a play about a weekend somewhere outside of Paris where the English husband thinking his English wife will be elsewhere invites his French mistress (though Jennifer Tilly makes no attempt to seem French in the role) and hires a French cook for a really sweet time but things get complicated when a family friend the wife is having an affair with shows up and the wife decides to stick around so everyone has to pretend that the cook is really the family friend's girlfriend – or his niece, depending who's being lied to – and that the mistress is the cook who doesn’t know how to cook and yellow gooky food ends up all over the lap of the family friend so then …  oh well, you get the idea. 

It’s all thoroughly predictable including the fact that who ends up with who is a mere matter of who's available – in a word it’s crude.

The funny part?  Early on, in Act I, when the mistaken identities first get going, the plain-girl cook, wittily played by Spender Hayden, enthusiastically takes on the part of an ultra-sophisticated high class French woman who tosses down her drinks and dances the tango with gusto.   And for a brief while, Jennifer Tilly is amusing as the mistress thrust into role of the cook who doesn’t know her baked alaska from her quiche – basically she plays herself and that’s kind of fun.

There’s a bit of the women taking off their tops almost in sight of the audience, and Tilly eventually emerges in a soft porn corset and garter belt outfit which she makes the most of — she really is an uninhibited performer!  And I did enjoy her throaty, little girl voice. 

But you can be sure this sitcom a) goes on too long and b) ends — no surprise here — with a routine "whoever's left over" partnering up for sex that leaves a bad taste that all but wipes away the interlude of good fun in Act I. 

 Don’t bother.

Don't Dress For Dinner , produced by Roundabout Theatre Company, plays at the American Airlines Theatre on West 42nd Street in Manhattan.  For information and tickets, click on live link of title. 


Yvonne Korshak

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End of the Rainbow by Peter Quilter, with Tracie Bennet, Michael Cumpsty, Tom Pelphrey, Jay Russell, directed by Terry Johnson

End of the Rainbow tells the story of the last weeks of Judy Garland’s Life.  Addicted to drugs and alcohol, and debt ridden, she’s spiraling downward – but her personality, on and off-stage, is as charismatic as ever.  In London for a concert series, she’s staying in a lavish suite in a high end hotel (great set) with two men in tow: the young lover, Mickey, she's taken on as her manager because he's good looking – not the best reason to hire a business manager — and who's in it for what he can get out the fading star, and Anthony, her long-time piano accompanist, who's gay, loyal, and truly loves her. 

Judy uses her star-power charm and desperate excess in dizzying rotation to get whatever she wants.  When the hotel manager demands payment, she stands on the window sill threatening to jump, confident that, she tells Mickey and Anthony, the hotel won’t want Dorothy splattered all over their pavement.  And they don’t.   But mostly what she wants is booze and pills, which she sneaks or wheedles from the two men who are trying to keep her sober enough to make her performances.  

Judy’s performance are fully staged with Anthony at the piano and a full on-stage backup band.  Tracie Bennet, as Judy, belts out the great songs associated with Garland.  Sometimes being juiced intensifies Judy’s performance.  At other times it’s a hazard – she forgets her lines, forgets which song she’s singing – yet, she can get away with it.  Her audience, broad but with a strong gay component, forgives her, loves her for her forceful delivery of the songs, loves her for her goofs, just loves her. 

Anyhow, if she isn’t high, she won’t go on.   Realizing this, Mickey changes tactics:  he feeds her habits, revealing he’s only in it for himself (Judy tried to think otherwise but we've known he’s a sleaze bag all along).   Anthony offers to take her away from all this to a quiet protected life but she turns him down.  And, we learn, that not much after this Judy dies from an overdose, said to be accidental but suicide’s been in the air from that first foray on the window sill.     

The situation is a framework for Judy to sing some wonderful songs of the 50’s and ‘60’s associated with her, including of course “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”.  The play is just a vehicle:  in that, it's like cabaret but while Bennet is an excellent vocal stylist in a torch singer’s mode – not quite Garland’s — it’s not a voice you'd go to cabaret to hear.  She’s fun to watch, and costumes are gorgeous and her way of moving within them exciting, but hard as she works, she doesn’t have an irresistible voice:  Judy Garland did.   

It’s as an actress, though, that Bennet is superb, petite, and with a dancer’s flexibility and stamina, and gives a fine portrait of an alcoholic, drug ridden, physically jerky, desperate and proud star.  But the play is all on the surface, making no attempt to give insight into the source of Judy’s personal anguish¸ and the repetitive plot is mainly a lot of her going for the bottle, or the pills, and reeling around with their effect.  The suspense is mainly about will she or won’t she be able to get through her radio interview?  Her performances?  

As Anthony, the brilliant actor Michael Cumpsty comes across well with a Scottish accent and tender caring for Judy.  Handsome Tom Pelphrey's wooden performance as the stud, Mickey, indicates that the casting director's reasons for hiring him were as thin as Judy's.  

I didn’t see Judy Garland come to life in End of the Rainbow, nor hear her voice nor her style.  The show’s gotten some “rave” reviews and – full disclosure — the audience all around me seemed to love it, and gave Traci Bennet a standing ovation.  But I found, in spite of Miss Bennet’s fine performance, the play was so thin, and the great songs and Garland delivery so attenuated, End of the Rainbow was disapointing. 

End of the Rainbow plays at the beautiful Belasco Theatre in Manhattan's mid-town, just east of Broadway.  For information and tickets, click on live link of title. 

Yvonne Korshak

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War Horse | Adapted by Nick Stafford in Association with Handspring Puppet Company, Vivian Beaumont Theater | Lincoln Center

Based on Michael Morpurge’s Novel,  from the National Theatre of Great Britain

Seeing War Horse in its current production is a powerful experience — the kind one has to be glad one had and feel concerned for everyone who hasn’t had the chance.   “You must see it” I have said in the three days since I did, to all my friends.  

It’s well known that it’s a story about a boy and a horse and that the horses in the play are represented by wonderful puppets — “puppets” sounds small — think horse size.

Without seeing it, what’s harder to know are the elements of sight and sound that convey the passage of time, travel across the earth, and what it looks like and feels like to be everywhere from the English countryside to trench warfare and bombardments in France during World War I, and how these affect the humans and horses we come to love —  especially the horses.  All told, War Horse, as my friend puts it directly, is one of the great anti-war masterpieces.  Some have found the story sentimental:  but a great anti-war masterpiece isn’t sentimental.

Billy Narracott, son of an English farm family, raises from a colt the horse he’s named Joey until, at the start of World War I, the horse is sequestered by the cavalry.  Broken-hearted at the loss, and fearful for Joey’s safety, Billy runs away to become a soldier so he can search for Joey across the wartime landscape of France.   We follow Billy’s  and Joey’s independent experiences with the brutal war — Billy never wavering in his determination to save Joey, and Joey’s minute-by-minute will to survive. 

Billy carries in his pocket a sketch of Joey — torn from a friend’s drawing pad — the way Billy’s army buddies carry photos of their girlfriends.  Against the dark backdrop of the play is a long, narrow “window,” the torn and ragged edged sketch paper magnified — and through this window we see the realities of place, time, and action that surround Billy, and Joey, and every other creature, sometimes as filmed bombardments, sometimes as charcoal sketches of  French rooftops.  The torn papers, small and large, express torn-up lives, as well as the fragmented view of war any one individual has.   War itself becomes a character in War Horse.

Frantic from the violence and din, Joey attempts to jump a barbed-wire barrier, but the coiled wire traps his legs like the tentacles of an octopus.  While the opposing sides, English and Germans, each debate among themselves in their separate trenches how to get hold of the horse without being killed by the other side, Joey fights the wire, becoming more and more entrapped, brought to a tangled standstill, exhausted, head bowed, on a raised platform that is ground level, the men being below in trenches. 

Elevated, isolated, in a glaring spotlight, Joey recalls — he sums up — all martyrs, including Christ on the Cross, the barbed wire Joey’s crown of thorns, an association heightened by the crown of roses a little French girl had worn in one bright moment shortly before.  The human actors represent individual lives:  Joey universalizes experience.

Born of a draft horse and a “hunter” — a thoroughbred — Joey combines the capacity for hard, repetitive work and the spirit of daring and outstanding achievement.   Billy raised Joey as a hunter but — because of a bad bet made by his father — was forced to teach him to pull the plough.  How this figures in Joey’s story once he’s gone to war is a breath-taking turn of the plot (so good its makes you say inside, “Thank you, Author!”) — and it’s also part of Joey’s transformation into a universal symbol.  Joey survives:  Topthorn, a pure thoroughbred — and so less universal — doesn’t.

Joey, Topthorn and the other horses that seem so real are not “realistic” in the purely visual sense:  we see through their cage-like structures and moving joints while visible humans on-stage adjust their limbs and bring their backs to quiver as they snort over the oats, or carry a cavalryman.  But the designers have so understood the fundamental truths of horses that they are as much characters — or more so — than the human actors.  

It’s not possible to separate the impact of the play from this particular production but so what if you’re deciding whether to see this War Horse, that we’re privileged to have at the moment in NYC. 

War Horse plays at the Vivian Beaumont Theater in NYC’s Lincoln Center through January 6, 2013.  For more information about the play, its history, and the astoundingly talented team that created the production, and for tickets, click on live link of title. 

Yvonne Korshak

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Who’s going to Broadway shows? Broadway Audience Demographic Study — thanks to Ken Davenport

Ken Davenport, producer of Broadway and off-Broadway shows, posted on his blog,  http://www.TheProducersPerspective.com , a summary of the Annual Broadway League's report about the demographics of the Broadway Audience 2010-2011.  Thank you, Ken.  Here it is:

The demographics of the Broadway Audience 2010-11

Executive Summary:

  •  In the 2010-2011 season, approximately 62% of all Broadway tickets were purchased by tourists.
  • 65% of the the audiences were female.
  • The average age of the Broadway theatergoer was 44 years.
  • 83% of all tickets were purchased by Caucasian theatergoers.
  • Broadway theatergoers were also quite affluent compared to the general United States population, reporting an average annual household income of $244,100.
  • Broadway theatergoers were a very well-educated group.  Of theatergoers over 25 years old, 78% had complete college and 39% had earned a graduate degree.
  • The average Broadway theatergoer reported attending 5 shows in the previous 12 months.  The group of devoted fans who attended 15 or more performances comprised only 6% of the audience but accounted for 33% of all tickets (4.1 mission admissions).
  • Playgoers tended to be more frequent theatergoers than musical attendees.  The typical straight play attendee saw eight shows in the past year; the musical attendee, five.
  • The use of the Internet to purchase tickets has been steadily increasing.  In this season, 44% of respondents said they bought their tickets online.
  • 35% of respondents reported having purchased their tickets more than one month prior to the show.
  • The most popular sources for theatre information were Broadway.com, The New York Times and word-of-mouth.
  • Word-of-mouth was by far the most influential factor in show selection.
  • In general, advertisements were not reported to have been influential in making the purchasing decision.
  • 74% of the Broadway audience said that some kind of incentive (discounts, freebies, add-ons) would encourage them to attend shows more often.

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2010 – 2011 Patrick Lee Theater Blogger Awards — Independent Theater Bloggers Association

The Independent Theater Bloggers Association (the “ITBA”) is proud to announce the 2011 recipients of the Third Annual Patrick Lee Theater Blogger Awards.   Patrick Lee was one of the ITBA's founding members. Patrick passed away suddenly last June, and was an erudite, passionate, and tireless advocate for theater in all its forms. Patrick was also the ITBA's first awards director, and was a regular contributor to Theatermania and TDF Stages.

The 2010-2011 Patrick Lee Theater Blogger Award Winners:
Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
Anything Goes
The Normal Heart
The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity
The Kid
Angels in America, Part 1: Millennium Approaches
Michael Shannon, Mistakes Were Made
Feeder: A Love Story
The Caucasian Chalk Circle
Belarus Free Theater's Discover Love
Black Watch
Sleep No More
The Scottsboro Boys
Nina Arianda, Born Yesterday
Laura Benanti, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
Reed Birney, A Small Fire
Christian Borle, Peter and the Starcatcher
Norbert Leo Butz, Catch Me If You Can
Bobby Cannavale, The Motherfucker with the Hat
Colman Domingo, The Scottsboro Boys
Sutton Foster, Anything Goes
Josh Gad, The Book of Mormon
Hamish Linklater, School for Lies
Joe Mantello, The Normal Heart
Arian Moayed, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo
Lily Rabe, The Merchant of Venice
Mark Rylance, Jerusalem
Michael Shannon, Mistakes Were Made
Benjamin Walker, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
La Mama
The list of the 2011 recipients of The Patrick is read by Susan Blackwell, Heidi Blickenstaff, Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell, the cast and creators of the acclaimed [title of show] and who are currently collaborating on Now. Here. This.", a Developmental Lab Production at the Vineyard Theatre: http://www.vineyardtheatre.org/show-now-here-this.html.   A video of their reading is on Youtube at  http://youtu.be/-aC4viVcP2Y  which was filmed by ITBA member Jesse North
The ITBA, is comprised of bloggers who regularly see live performances in all its forms in New York City and beyond.   Members are in New York, Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis, and London.  For further information and a list of our members, our website is www.theaterbloggers.com.  If you are interested in learning more about the ITBA, email info@theaterbloggers.com.  To invite the members of the ITBA to your show or event, please send an email to  invite@theaterbloggers.com.



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Born Yesterday by Garson Kanin, starring Jim Belushi, Nina Arianda and Robert Sean Leonard, directed by Doug Hughes

Born Yesterday by all accounts was a wonderful play when it opened on Broadway in 1946, it's been a wonderful movie (a couple of times) and it's a wonderful play today.  It's a love triangle with a "message."

Harry Brock (Jim Belushi), a rich, junk yard owner hoodlum who's made a pile during World War II, comes to Washington D.C. to stop Congress from passing laws regulating businesses — especially his.  Thinking his "dumb blond" show girl mistress, Billie Dawn (Nina Arianda) needs some polish to fit in with the fancy Washingtonians he meets — like the corrupt Senator he's paying off to further his cause — he hires Paul Verrall (Robert Sean Leonard), a writer for The New Republic, to give her some education.  Soon Billie's books abound in Brock's opulent two-story hotel suite – and what a set, with its lavish, winding staircase!  

Billie takes to reading voraciously — looking up the hard words in a heavy dictionary — and her learning gives her new awareness of Brock's dishonest shenanigans and brutality, while she and Paul fall in love.  Billie and Paul's plot involving Paul's position as a journalist to "tell all" foils Brock's corrupt plan:  together they beat the big money and save the democratic process!

This is a beautifully written, hilarious and perfectly acted play.  Arianda and Belushi are masters of comic timing and bounce off one another's lines in a way one feels one could watch forever.  Belushi has great appeal as the crude, cigar smoking, rags to riches gangster tycoon who's sure money can buy anything.  This play isn't only about what Billie learns:  Brock learns, too — that he's wrong about that.  Though types, none of these characters is a caricature.  Belushi in moments of anger and regal command lets out all the emotional stops but he manages to convey not only Brock's toughness and brutality but a softer, even tender inner level — kept well hidden!  That's quite a trick.

Nina Arianda, who just a year ago attracted attention in her first off-Broadway play, David Ives' Venus in Fur, hits the level of real star power in Born Yesterday.  Part of the humor, and a touching aspect of her character as Billie, is that, tall and long legged, she struts around the stage in sexy black lace lingerie that's incidental to her though not to others, whether she's struggling to understand a book or beating Brock at gin rummy.  And that silent gin rummy game between Billie and Brock — it's all in the action — is truly one of the great classic scenes in theater and is itself a reason to see this play, especially as these two do it.

Among the smaller parts, I was particularly enchanted by Patricia Hodges playing the corrupt Senator's wife, clinging to her upper class decorum while watching her husband paid off by the arrogant Brock.

The issues are timely.  Billie and Paul win out over Brock, and they aren't the only winners:  so are the American people, as the play takes pains to make clear.  As Brock's in-house lawyer Ed Devery (Frank Wood) tells him, not all Senators are for sale.  Education — Billie — and the free press — Paul — are bulwarks against special interests:  together they produce a win for democracy.  One leaves Born Yesterday moved, smiling, and inspired by belief in education, the free press, and democracy.  

Born Yesterday  plays at the Cort Theatre on NYC's West Broadway.  For further information and tickets, click on live link. 

Yvonne Korshak

p.s. Watched movie of Born Yesterday, Billie Holliday and Billie, Broderick Crawford as Brock and William Holden as Paul — the play is better than the movie!  

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Independent Theater Bloggers Association | 2nd Annual Awards


A View From The Bridge

American Idiot

La Cage Aux Folles

Circle Mirror Transformation


The Glass Menagerie


A Boy And His Soul

Circle Mirror Transformation

Nina Arianda, Venus In Fur
Kate Baldwin, Finian’s Rainbow
Desiree Burch, The Soup Show
Rebecca Comtois, Viral Viola
Davis, Fences
Jon Michael Hill, Superior Donuts
Douglas Hodge, La Cage Aux Folles
Sarah Lemp, The Pied Pipers of the Lower East Side & Happy In The Poorhouse
Laura Linney, Time Stands Still
Jan Maxwell, The Royal Family & Lend Me A Tenor
Bobby Steggert, Ragtime & Yank!
Amy Lynn Stewart, Viral

Review | The Habit of Art by Alan Bennett | Directed by Nicholas Hytner | Starring Richard Griffiths and Elex Jennings | Simulcast of the play presented by the National Theatre, London

I saw The Habit of Art “live” in a cinema well outside London, as did thousands across North America, though not on Broadway, under the new NTLive initiative, using high-definition satellite relay. This is a new technological compromise between live theatre and cinema (long-focus lenses and ingeniously unobtrusive camera technique ensure a better view than from the stalls). It’s worth a debate in its own right (does one clap and laugh aloud ?) However, the play’s the thing.

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Review | RED by John Logan, with Alfred Molina and Eddie Redmayne | Directed by Michael Grandage

… the red and the black …

RED is an intimate play about a profound painter in whose soul a Manichaean battle between life and death is played out on his canvases by a struggle between red and black.  The subject is the painter Mark Rothko and the playwright focuses on a key period in his life, when he’s designing a complete, coordinated group of large paintings for the expensive, high-rollers’ Four Seasons Restaurant, under construction in NYC.  On the one hand, he’s glad to be making the big bucks and creating his first total environment.  On the other, he’s uneasy that his work, quasi religious and inspiring of meditation, as he sees it, is headed for a restaurant filled with earthbound, self-interested, fashionable people.  Hardly the right atmosphere.

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