Friday, December 13, 2013

Love, Linda: The Life of Mrs. Cole Porter @ York Theatre Company

Love, Linda: The Life of Mrs. Cole Porter is a one woman show that will have you leaving the theatre more thoughtful and educated about the relationship between one of Broadway’s greatest composer and the charming millionaire wife that helped create him. 

Stevie Holland who wrote the book with Gary William Friedman, also plays the esteemed Linda Porter with grace and poise, breathing life into this often looked over muse in history. While some of the acting would be better suited for a less intimate gathering, Stevie does a wonderful job. She is obviously very invested in this historical figure and her passion shows so much so that I found myself completely immersed. 

Lending a hand was the talented Musical Director, Christopher McGovern on the piano, featuring bassist Danny Weller, and drummer Alex Wyatt. Together, they created the perfect jazz trio. Mixed with Stevie’s throaty jazz vocals, they’re interpretation of Cole Porter’s works brought to mind the speakeasies and parties they were originally played at by the legend himself. 

The show features such classics as "In the Still of the Night," "Love For Sale," and "Miss Otis Regrets." 

Directed by Tony winner Richard Maltby, Jr., the production weaves itself through a narrative exploring the deep love felt between the couple as well as shedding some light on their more complicated relationship.

Love, Linda opened officially at the York Theatre Company on Dec. 12 and has a limited run through Jan. 5th. I suggest getting tickets as soon as possible!

*The York Theatre Company is under the leadership of producing artistic director James Morgan and executive director Andrew Levine. 

Photo provided by
Review By: Aziza Seven

Friday, November 22, 2013

A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder @ The Walter Kerr Theatre

In recent seasons, Broadway has seen a lot of musicals based on popular movies or revivals of classics, so when an unfamiliar story comes across, people are bound to take notice. Housed in the beautiful Walter Kerr Theatre, A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, a new musical based on Roy Horniman's 1907 novel, Israel Rank: the Autobiography of a Criminal has something for everyone: comedy, romance, and as the title suggests, homicide.

A Gentlman's Guide begins with an ensemble of mourners dressed in black warning us that "those with weak constitutions" were better off leaving. We then see an almost play-within-a-play; a smaller, vaudeville-esque stage with lush curtains is the main focus as protagonist Montague Navarro (Bryce Pinkham) narrates his tale. Monty finds out soon after his mother's death that he is actually a part of the prestigious D'Ysquith family, and is in fact ninth in line to be the Earl of Highhurst. In order to win the attention of the beautiful (yet snobbish) Sibella (Lisa O'Hare), Monty devises a scheme to “off” the remaining D'Ysquiths and claim the title of Earl, and even catches himself falling for the demure Phoebe D'Ysquith (Lauren Worsham). The action is shown in a series of vignettes , helping to create the play within a play motif.
Credited as "The D'Ysquith Family," Jefferson Mays makes an impressive performance as all eight victims. His distinctions between each character were so remarkable, it takes a few deaths to even realize they're all him. From the effervescently effeminate Henry D'Ysquith to the outrageous drag of Lady Hyacinth D'Ysquith, Mays' performance needs to be seen. The entire cast, ranging from seasoned veterans and those making Broadway debuts, make up an ensemble that is extremely strong despite its small size.  Alexander Dodge's artfully crafted set, along with Aaron Rhyne's striking projection design steal the show. And although at times Robert L Freedman and Steven Lutvak's score felt like it was somewhat repetitive, audiences walk away humming tunes like "Why Are All the D'Ysquiths Dying?" and "Better With a Man."

Entering the performance, based on advertising and even from the impression of the opening number, I was expecting a very dark, macabre musical. However despite the warning, those with "weak constitutions" needn't fear: think less Sweeney Todd and more Thoroughly Modern Millie with a taste for blood. A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder could be, dare I say, perfect for a night out with the family: appropriate enough for tween audiences with the right amount of adult themes. It is a delightfully bloody tale that should be taken notice of.

A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder opened on November 17 and currently plays at the Walter Kerr Theatre.  

Photos By: Joan Marcus
Review By: Kelcie Kosberg

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Small Engine Repair @ The Lucille Lortel Theatre

In Small Engine Repair, high school buddies Frank, Swaino and Packie —now past their prime—meet off-hours one night in Frank’s out-of-the-way repair shop under cloudy circumstances that only Frank seems to have a handle on. Enter Chad, a plugged-in preppy college jock, whose arrival ignites a long-simmering resentment that sets this taut, twisty, comic thriller on its breathless course.

John Pollono is not only the playwright but he is Frank, owner of Frank's Small Engine Repair, and the reason why these three friends come together. As a playwright, Pollono knocks it out of the park. Even though its packed full with f-bombs and other obscenities, those only enhance the true grittiness of the play. As Frank, he is emotionally engaging, thrilling, and a little frighting; he really brings to life his heart breaking story. James Badge Dale portrays Swaino, their horny argent friend. Dale steals the show with his repulsive, hilarious, and very committed performance. James Ransone is innocent, heart warming, and factious as their well equipped friend Packie. These three men worked so well together, it was believable that they could have actually been friends for years. Keegan Allen ("Pretty Little Liars") plays Chad, preppy college drug dealer. Although Allen is probably the reason for why people are coming to the show, he is certainly not the reason why people are leaving happy. Out of all four of the actors, Allen is unfortunately lackluster, giving a performance that lacks drive and intention.

Worth noting is the intricate set that served as the backdrop for the performance. Richard Hoover clearly outdid himself with this brilliantly constructed, chaotic shop, setting the audience in the garage as easily as if they were there to have their own car parts looked at.

 Small Engine Repairs officially opened at the Lucille Lortel Theatre on Wednesday November 20, 2013 and runs a limited engagement production through December 21, 2014.

Photos By: Joan Marcus
Review By: James Russo

Monday, November 18, 2013

Nothing to Hide @ The Pershing Square Signature Center/Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre

Two of the world’s most gifted sleight-of-hand artists, Derek DelGaudio (2011 & 2012 Close-up Magician of the Year) and Helder Guimarães (2011 & 2012 Parlor Magician of the Year) star in this uniquely unconventional magic show, directed by Emmy Award winner Neil Patrick Harris. Through a series of diverse and engaging vignettes, Nothing to Hide leads the audience on an amazing and memorable journey into a world of pure astonishment.

Helder Guimarães and Derek DelGaudio bring a truly incredible show to New York. With only 52 cards, they do things that seem impossible, but this magic duo asks the audience to keep an open mind and allow them to astound them. Their mind blowing magic mixed with Neil Patrick Harris’s wit and comedic timing, makes this one show that you don’t want to miss.

Nothing to Hide officially opened at the The Pershing Square Signature Center/Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre on Wednesday, November 6th and runs a limited engagement production through January 19th, 2014. This is the most you will ever be entertained with 52 cards!

Photo's By: Michael Lamont
Review By: James Russo

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Murder for Two @ New World Stages, Stage 5

        Why is it that every murder mystery is set in New England? Why does the detective himself always have his own dark secret? Why are there always questions but no answers?

            In the intimate space of New World Stages, musical mystery duet Murder For Two keeps us all guessing "whodunit" in a case of the murder of a scandalous novelist who has secrets on everyone in his normally sleepy small town. A simple set, with a bare back wall, two small doors, some "Clue"-esque murder weapons, and a Steinway center stage, becomes the surprise party that quickly develops into the scene of the crime.

            Jeff Blumenkrantz, equipped with not much more than a pair of glasses and a raised eyebrow, almost magically transforms into every guest of the party - the main suspects. From suppressed wife Mrs. Whitney, sultry ballerina Barette Lewis, and over achieving niece Steph, Blumenkratz makes each character so distinct that often you forget most of the time he's talking to himself. As officer (wannabe detective) Marcus, Brett Ryback embodies the spirit of the song-and-dance style of Old Broadway. Ryback gives us a leading man reminiscent of Seymour Krelborn; you want him to pull through because you feel kind of bad for him. Marcus shows off his knowledge in a song on the "Protocol" of being a detective while "accidentally" calling the chief.  "You've been listening this whole time?" he squeals. "How embarrassing!" Both actors remain onstage for the 90-minute length of the show, with so much energy they could give all those Newsies a run for their money.

            What's most impressive about Murder for Two is how well in-sync everyone is with every detail. Blumenkrantz and Ryback switch off playing piano so seamlessly, even performing an intricate duet with both their eyes shut. Jill BC DuBoff's sound design employs sound effects timed so well they feel natural. Jason Lyons' primarily green-and-purple lighting, changes so subtly creating a new scene immediately. The production is so well-rehearsed that it comes off spontaneous, and that's no easy feat, especially with how often the fourth wall is broken. The audience is addressed as "Lou," Marcus' partner. An unsuspecting patron is brought onstage to participate in a death scene. Even better, the actors were able to work through breaking character onstage (then again who wouldn't find the sultry ballerina playing the piano with her foot hilarious?).  It is very apparent this production has been a labor of love, based on how effortless is all comes off. It makes for a better experience as an audience member when it's clear how much those involved in the production are enjoying themselves.
            Murder for Two gets it right, because of how self-aware it is; we are allowed to indulge in just how ridiculous musical comedy can get through clever wordplay and snappy dialogue. Mainstream Broadway is satirized (a choir boy names examples of things he's seen worse than murder, stating "We saw a show called Mamma Mia!"). A dramatic scene ends with "Hatcha! Whoopee! Jazz!" a la Chicago. And in possibly the best anti-cell phone announcement, homage is paid to Patti Lupone's infamous show-stopping Gypsy meltdown.  At one point, a suspect notes that in addition to the murder, "We've already seen the slow, painful death of the American Theatre." On the contrary, Murder for Two is one of the most original pieces I've seen in quite some time, ironically, bringing life back into musical theatre. Many of us walked out of the theatre still laughing from a truly entertaining and memorable piece of work.
            Murder for Two began performances at New World Stages on November 6, and has extended its run from January 5 to March 16.
Photo's By: Joan Marcus
Review By: Kelcie Kosberg

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Becoming Dr. Ruth @ Westside Theatre, Upstairs

Directly following the world premiere at Barrington Stage Company and a sold out run at TheaterWorks, Hartford, Becoming Dr. Ruth gets its New York Premiere Off-Broadway at the Westside Theatre, starring the incredibly loveable Debra Jo Rupp (“That’s 70’s Show”).

The general public knows Dr. Ruth Westheimer from her career as a pioneering radio and television sex therapist. Few, however, know the incredible journey that preceded it. From fleeing the Nazis in the Kindertransport and joining the Haganah in Jerusalem as a scout and sniper, to her struggles to succeed as a single mother coming to America, Becoming Dr. Ruth is filled with the humor, honesty and life-affirming spirit of Karola Ruth Siegel, the girl who became “Dr. Ruth”, Americaʼs most famous sex therapist.

The show opens while Dr. Ruth is cleaning her apartment preparing to move out, and instantly breaks the fourth wall by recognizing that fact that two hundred people are sitting in front of her. From there, her story begins as she takes us on her emotional ride through the Holocaust straight to the hilarity of how she became a sex therapist. Debra Jo Rupp portrays the iconic woman and delivers a stunning performance with exemplary passion and honesty. Dr. Ruth would be so proud of the care that Rupp conveys her story. Despite Rupp’s incredible performance, the script drags and the mood lighting doesn't help the story line. Both of this setbacks are easily over looked due to Rupp’s talent.

Becoming Dr. Ruth officially opened at the upstairs theatre at Westside Theatre,on Tuesday, October 29th and runs a limited engagement through January 12th, 2014. Don’t not miss out on this amazing woman’s journey.

Photos by: Carol Rosegg
Review By: James Russo & Lisa Kosak

Friday, November 8, 2013

La Soriee @ The Union Square Theater

La Soirée is a raunchy, entertaining show full of eroticism and talent. Set up like a circus act, the audience sits around a circular red stage as the centerpiece. Vaudeville, burlesque, cabaret, and circus are performed for the amusement of the crowd, all executed perfectly.

After debuting in London in 2010, Manhattan is lucky to feature such a tongue-in-cheek show. Presented by Brett Haylock, Mark Rubinstein, and Mick Perrin it features a cast of approximately 25 artists all different and interesting in their own right, but when combined bring such a taste of the exotic and fun to the show. Acts vary from male pole dancers to contortionists, to comedy, and acrobatics. There was not a dull moment.

It has won several awards, including the London Cabaret Award for Best One-Off-Show and its previous show La Clique won an Olivier Award in 2008.

Now in previews at the Union City Theatre, the official opening is October 7, 2013 for a limited engagement. I strongly suggest seeing the show before it goes back to London. 

Photos by Seth Walters
Review By: Aziza Seven & James Russo

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A Midsummer Night's Dream @ The Polonsky Shakespeare Center @ The Theatre for New Audience

Julie Taymor makes her return to the New York stage since her family raved, critically acclaimed travesty Spider-Man Turn of the Dark, with the Theater for New Audiences production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream brilliantly conjoins four intertwined stories: the marriage of the Athenian Duke Theseus to the Amazon queen Hippolyta; the warring Oberon and Titania, king and queen of the fairies; the madcap follies of four lovers in a forest; and the comically earnest efforts of a group of working men to stage a love-play for the royal wedding. Lysander loves Hermia, whose father wants her to marry Demetrius. Helena loves Demetrius, who chases the eloping Lysander and Hermia into the woods, pursued by Helena. They are all fair game for mischievous Puck, Oberon’s servant, who scrambles their desires and Titania’s. As the working men press faithfully on with their rehearsals, the otherworldly night of confusion, passion and diligence proves oddly momentous, touching every life to the quick.

There is no doubt about the fact that Julie Taymor had a hand in this extravagant production - technically brilliant, iconic animal work, and stranger than you can believe. Taymor is the only person who can turn Shakespeare's most magical play into a haunted encounter that will inspire goosebumps. By using an ensemble of children for the spirits, fairies and the forest, she was able to create interactive staging, turning something usually farcical and bright to something dark and bone chilling. The special effect of modernizing and exaggerating the character's jobs by drawing parallels from the "then" age to the "this" age kept the humor flowing and a lightness to this otherwise dark adaptation of the Bard's play. Taymor has surely redeemed herself.

Olivier Award winning Kathryn Hunter leads the cast as Puck. Hunter is glorious, fun, and flexible in more ways than one. Dressed in vaudevillian garb, she delivers a performance that is hard to top. David Harewood and Tina Benko, provide a near perfect portrayal of Oberon and Titania. Max Casella is the clear stand out of the cast as he takes on the taxing transforming role of Bottom. Casella is alluring, hysterical and engaging.

A Midsummer Night's Dream officially opened at the Theater for New Audiences on November 2, 2013 and is running through January 12, 2014. Don't miss out on this beautifully haunting original interpretation.

Photos by: Josef Astor
Review by: James Russo

Monday, November 4, 2013

After Midnight @ The Brooks Atkinson Theatre

After MidnightEver wondered what it was like to sit in a club, listening to big band jazz and watching skit after skit of rising talent in the heart of New York City in the 1930’s? Well, now you have the chance. After Midnight conceived by Jack Viertel featuring American Idol winner, Fantasia and narrated by “Psych’s” Dulé Hill is a rousing good time created to invoke such a feeling.
The show incorporated so much of what made old Broadway shows spectacular before we had such technological advances that make Spiderman and Wicked spectacular. The music is the jazz collection of Ellington, Mills, Koehler, and Arlen and brings back to mind the time when, while the country was devastated by the Depression, there were still those daring to dream and compose and create.

Highlights of the show include French dancer, Karine Plantadit whose magnificence onstage is indescribable. She communicates perfectly her situation onstage; drawing the audience in to her heartbreak and joy effortlessly. Adriene Lenox delivers comedy with her solos that made my sides ache from laughing so hard. Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards, Phillip Attimore, and Daniel Watts bring the art of tap back on to Broadway in a glorious way. Their percussion is spot on and inspires. While I’m on the subject of tap, Jared Grimes wowed the audience with his tap number to Duke Ellington’s “Tap Mathematician.”
Another performance worth mentioning is the performance given by The Jazz at Lincoln Center All Stars! The orchestra was onstage the entire time and was having a good time which translated in their music. I am so pleased I was able to see such talent.

The only thing that didn’t heighten the show was the performance given by Fantastia. I had expected more from her, but I found her numbers to be rather boring compared to the rest of the show. And while this only an aesthetic critique, I feel it needs to be said, women did not have tattoos in the 1930s and I found hers to be incredibly distracting from the show whenever she was onstage.
After Midnight officially opened at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre on November 3, 2013 and is running through March with special guest star K.D. Lang performing from Feb. 11-Mar. 9 and Babyface and Toni Braxton performing Mar.18-30. Here is where you can find tickets: After Midnight on Broadway.

Photos by Matthew Murphy
Review by: Aziza Seven 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Big Fish @ The Neil Simon Theatre

Sometimes, life's stories can be more extraordinary than any fairytale. Big Fish gives account of the tall-taled days of Edward Bloom (Norbert Leo Butz), a man whose life seems to come out of a story book. Although Will's(Zachary Unger as the child, and Bobby Steggert as the adult) mother Sandra (Kate Baldwin) and wife Josephine (Krystal Joy Brown) indulge in the truth of Edward's fanciful tales, Will refuses to believe until he can uncover for himself what is real and what is fantasy. What results is the manifestation of all of Edward's best memories woven into present day to show us that in fact, "The ones who face their fears lead the most interesting lives."

                Butz is the true definition of a Leading Man. His presence is commanding, and with a velvety voice and ease in dance, you don't want to take your eyes off of him. Even more impressive was his ability to seamlessly transform his age from an elderly man, to a teenager, to an adult, and back again within a matter of moments; I'm not even sure how old Butz really is he transitioned so well. The same goes for Baldwin. We get to watch Sandra gracefully change from girl to woman, all while being lucky enough to hear her beautiful voice ring out. Bobby Steggert(Older Will) stands his ground with the heart wrenching performance of a son struggling to believe in the man he has looked up to his entire life.

            From the very moment the lights came up, the stage is flooded in rich beautiful color; Julian Crouch's scenic design transforms from a dark forest to a warm, modest household to bright USO show. William Ivey Long's costume designs could be considered their own characters with dresses becoming swaying trees and crackling campfires, men turning into giants, and women into mermaids.  From Ashton, Alabama to Central Park, to the Calloway Circus, each new world is more fantastic than the last. Use of projections made the impossible a reality, and technical aspects including a stage full of daffodils and dancing elephants made it a spectacular. Andrew Lippa's bright score and Susan Stroman' s exciting choreography are reminiscent of the classic Golden Age of Broadway with big production numbers ("Be the Hero") to tear-jerking ballads ("I Don't Need a Roof"). Together, everything blends to make a fresh, modern take on the classic Musical Theatre structure. 

            Many will notice that although the story is still from Daniel Wallace's novel, it is not the same as the Big Fish we know from Tim Burton's film. On screen, the life of Edward Bloom was much darker and oftentimes more like a fable, whereas onstage it's closer to a fairytale. In my opinion this was a smart move by John August, who penned both the screenplay and the musical's book. The bright version of Big Fish for stage is energetic and engaging, which is needed for a piece of musical theatre to be successful. Many shows that come to Broadway now are inspired by films, so oftentimes it can be difficult to stick out and be memorable. Where Big Fish gets it right is its ability to stand as its own piece of theatre, you don't need to be a fan of the movie to fall in love with the piece on stage.

Big Fish opened October 6 and is now playing at The Neil Simon Theatre. 

Review By: Kelcie Kosberg

The Snow Geese @ Samuel J. Friedman Theatre

The 1900s come alive in Snow Geese, the world premier drama by Sharr White directed by Daniel Sullivan and starring Emmy and Tony award winner Mary Louise Parker.

Recently widowed, Emily Gaesling(Mary Louise Parker), had decided to throw her annual hunting party to honor her eldest son, Duncan(Evan Jonigkeit), on his deployment overseas and her late husband’s memory, despite the fact that his spendthrift ways have left the family buried in debt. She is determined to believe that they are just as well off as they always were, refusing to listen to her younger, more level headed son, Arnold(Brian Cross).

Mary Louise Parker is no stranger to the theatre and has been seen in such shows as Proof, How I Learned to Drive, Angels in America, and of course her award winning television show “Weeds”. Usually dynamic and volatile onstage, I found her performance to be somewhat stilted due to the mannerisms she had adopted for the role. The effect made her less personable and relatable to the audience eliminating any sympathetic feelings for her character.
Brian Cross made his confident Broadway debut as the younger Gaesling brother. His chemistry with his older brother made them a strong familial duo with Evan Jonigkeit proving to be a great example of a leading actor of our generation.  While Cross’s love story with the maid, Victorya(Jessica Love) a Central European refugee from a once prominent family, created empathy.

Worth mentioning, is Victoria Clark’s performance as the discreetly intervening sister, Clarissa, and her immigrant husband Max(Danny Burnstein), who despite being an American citizen for thirty years has been ostracized due to growing German hostility stemmed from the war. Heartwarming, engaging, and truly stunning are just a few words that come to mind to describe Clark and Burnstrein. Their story is heartbreaking and poignant.

Jonigkeit’s exuberance over “fixing” the problems overseas are sharply contrasted with Cross’s accounts of the rising casualties and Victorya’s personal accounts of hardship bringing to mind the harsh realities of war. The audience can’t help but draw a parallel between World War I and the modern day conflicts in the Middle East creating a drama worth talking about long after the curtain goes down.

The set designed by Tony award winner John Lee Beatty, was simply stunning. The set would rotate to create different dimensions throughout the play. I felt completely immersed into their world.  Japhy Weideman, the lighting designer, made the set come alive and set the mood perfectly.

Snow Geese is playing at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre and is only running through December 15th, so get your tickets now. 

Photos by: Joan Marcus
Review By: James Russo & Sarah Brown

Monday, October 21, 2013

A Time to Kill @ The John Golden Theatre

When I walk out of a theatre, I enjoy listening to the conversations from the audience. A good play is one that inspires, evokes emotion, and compels - “A Time to Kill,” missed the mark.

             Written by Rupert Holmes and directed by Ethan McSweeney, the play is the stage adaptation of John Grisham’s famous courtroom drama, that takes place in a deep southern county in Mississippi during the early 1980’s.  Racing through rape, murder, the KKK’s destructive rituals, and courtroom politics, I was curiously disappointed by a lack of urgency in the play. McSweeney had all the resources to create a show that compelled and shocked an audience with the truth of the South’s no so distant history, and instead other than a persistent use of the “n” word, there was nothing provocative about the performance and nothing to show the audience that civil rights had been “granted” just ten years before and some areas were still chafing from the fact that they could no longer legally treat other humans as inferior.

            Truthful performances given by Sebastian Arcelus(Jake Brigance), Tom Skerritt(Lucien Wilbanks), and Patrick Page(Rufus Buckley) make it worth seeing. Disappointed that John Douglas Thompson(Carl Lee Hailey) only seemed to have two volumes and no chemistry with onstage wife, Tonya Pinkins(Gwen Hailey), while supposedly, peppy, whip-smart, Bostonian law student, Ashley Williams(Ellen Roark) had no Boston accent, and seemingly only one stage cue – to half-heartedly seduce Jake Brigance.

            The three women lacked any of the Southern traditional female qualities that help create empathy, while the women who were instrumental in Grisham’s novel, Jake’s wife and daughter, and Carl Lee’s daughter, were demoted to a telephone call and projection. A mistake, as they would have brought depth to their male counterparts. How could an audience react to seeing a broken, ten year old girl onstage? I can guarantee it would bring the urgency that was lacking but essential to creating empathy for Carl Lee.

            A revolving stage and gorgeous projections make scene changes pass smoothly, while also giving background to the area, the plot, and the dramatic moments. For such a horrible, awful subject, there were no tears and far too much laughter from the audience provided by unnecessary one liners in the script. To me, that defeats the purpose of performing a culturally traumatic drama such as this. A Time to Kill fell short. 

A Time To Kill opened October 20th , 2013 at Broadway's Golden Theatre.

Review By: Aziza Seven

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A Night with Janis Joplin @ The Lyceum Theatre

A Night with Janis Joplin is a musical journey celebrating one of the most influential female rock in roll artists of all time – Janis Joplin. Her biggest musical influences – trailblazers Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Odetta, Nina Simone and Bessie Smith, make guest appearances to further explore what it means to be a female icon in a then male dominated world.

Like a comet that burns far too brightly to last, Janis Joplin (Mary Bridget Davies) exploded onto the music scene in 1967 and, almost overnight, became the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll. The unmistakable voice filled with raw emotion and tinged with Southern Comfort made her a must-see headliner from Monterey to Woodstock. It would take a woman filled with the same gumption to pull off such a performance and while Mary Bridget Davies can sing and act like Janis, her stage presence was lacking.
Mary Bridget Davies is reprising her role as Janis Joplin on Broadway, having previously taken the country by storm with her critically acclaimed performance.

It seems a shame that a woman with a voice like Mary’s, was what looked like banned to the corner of the stage to tell her story.  Out of all the hits, I found the song selection disappointing. Redeemable moments were Mary’s performance “Another Little Piece of My Heart,” and her duet with Aretha Franklin that closed Act I. Despite the promising cast and Mary’s voice, this stage adaptation doesn’t compare to a concert given by the Queen herself, but it’s a close second!
The choreography done by Patricia Wilcox(Motown) lacks the creative flare that it could have been, but the set and lighting design done by Justin Townsend (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson) more than makes up for it. Townsend's designs put the audience in a glorified warehouse while the lighting sets the mood for a rock concert worth attending.

A Night with Janis Joplin opened October 10, 2013 at Broadway's Lyceum Theatre.

If you are a true Janis Joplin fan, then this show is definitely worth seeing.

Review By: James Russo