News & Reviews from New York

October 28th, 2005

I spent an enjoyable evening at The Encore on West 47th St. listening to the clear, open, melodic voice of singer LINDA KOSUT. It's musical, it's lyrical, with a natural vibrato, and on her ballads I wanted to dance a slow dance with a lithe and beautiful woman.
She is a charming, relaxed, comfortable performer, on key vocally and emotionally. The ballads work, the jazz works, and so do the side trips into country and comedic. Her band, led by Max Perkoff, is a perfectly-timed ensemble that gently lifts each song. The show is entertaining from start to finish I had a great time and look forward to her return to our town.

Richmond Shepard-- Performing Arts INSIDER, and


October 24th, 2005

Let's hear it for Tourettet's Syndrome and for sweet sentimentality. Joe Brooks' new musical IN MY LIFE (he wrote the book, the music, the lyrics and directed it) is about a guitarist/singer with the syndrome and his romance. It's like a circus of non sequiturs, but with a cast of marvelous singers, it's very entertaining nonsense. Lovely song after lovely song, mostly ballads, loosely almost held together by an almost plot. Some of it takes place on Earth, some in Heaven, and there's a fey and fetching MC (David Turner), a kid who is a phenom (Chiara Navarra-what a voice and presence!), the two very charming leads (Jessica Boevers and Christopher J. Hanke) and the most fun skeleton on Broadway. Allen Moyer's imaginative very active set is enhanced by Wendall K. Harrington's projections, costumes by Catherine Zuber are bright and original, and Christopher Akerlind's lighting is just right. Some critics weren't kind to IN MY LIFE, but this is no "Bombay Dreams," which was so bad it was kind of fun. This is a mish-mash with an almost opera mixed in-- a mixture of soap and fun fol-de-rol with some of the best voices in town. All Joe needs is a collaborating book writer to give it more coherence, and a director who can say "No" to him. As it is, it's engaging (including its obscure moments) from start to finish.

Richmond Shepard-- Performing Arts INSIDER, and


October 21st, 2005

The best play reading troupe in America, ACTORS COMPANY THEATRE (TACT), has done it again in their marvelous reading of Lillian Hellman's powerful play from 1942 WATCH ON THE RHINE. With a top-notch professional cast, and brilliant direction and timing by Scott Alan Evans, the reading kept me on the edge
of my seat-moreso than many of the fully-realized plays that I attend here in New York. It's a treat to be present at any of their readings. Upcoming plays to be read are: HE AND SHE by Rachel Crothers November 19-21, BOTH YOUR HOUSES by Maxwell Anderson March 11-13 2006, and THE HOT L BALTIMORE by Lanford Wilson May 6-8 2006. 212/645-8228,

Richmond Shepard-- Performing Arts INSIDER, and


October 19th, 2005

"Full puppet nudity" flashes on the marquee at the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas. The 2004 Tony-winning Avenue Q has arrived. What a show! People have said it's Sesame Street for grown-ups. I'd have to agree. There's a reason they don't want kids under 12 in
attendance. Led by the incredibly talented Jonathan Root (Princeton, Rod), Brynn O'Mally (Kate Monster) and Rick Lyon (of Sesame Street fame), the cast is superb. Cole Porter plays comedian Brian, Natalie Gray is delightful as his therapist fiancée, Christmas Eve. There are times you forget that there are actors
attached to those puppets. You'll laugh, you'll cry and you'll tell all of your friends. It's a show worth seeing. Numbers like "It Sucks to be Me" and "Purpose" with brown box puppets as back ground singers keep you completely entranced by the story.

Writer Jeff Whitty and songwriters Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx have a terrific script and the sets are colorful. There is even a marvelous bubble and fog effect reminiscent of a fantasy movie. Go! You'll have fun. It's one of the most enjoyable shows in the

Avenue Q plays Tuesday through Saturday at 630 & 10pm at the new 1,200 seat Broadway Theatre at the Wynn.

Armina Shepard Hansen --


October 16th, 2005

Eric Rockwell and Joanne Bogart who wrote and perform in THE MUSICAL OF MUSICALS are gifted, witty satirists. The music by Rockwell captures and mocks the essences of Rodgers & Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim, Jerry Herman, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Kander & Ebb beautifully, and it's a delight to savor his variations on derived themes. Same with Bogart's lyrics, and their jointly contrived book is an ear-tickler for anyone, but especially for those in the audience familiar with the shows. Craig Fols and Lovette George complete the cast, and she is the
strongest performer in the group in terms of voice, physical comedy and timing. Directed and choreographed by Pamela Hunt, nicely, economically designed by James Morgan, this is a fun show for those who like musicals, and that's most of us.

Richmond Shepard-- Performing Arts INSIDER, and


October 13th, 2005

A NAKED GIRL ON THE APPIAN WAY, Richard Greenberg's play about a middle-aged couple's interaction with their three grown adopted children is a low-level sitcom that tries hard to be funny, but spends a long time bogged down in banal drivel. There are a few good jokes, but there are few ideas, little action, and mostly reminiscing for the first forty-five minutes. Richard Thomas is very busy acting, and the charming, talented Jill Clayburgh, who is capable of real humor and real drama, does her misdirected (by
Doug Hughes) best to give some reality to her character. Since the director chose to play it sit-com rather than real, it gets more idiotic as it goes on. Serious issues such as a brother and sister
who are not DNA related falling in love, are diminished by attempts at humor. It all comes out as a bit boring. Ann Guilbert, as a feisty old neighbor, steals the show with her crisp one liners, especially the crass and bitchy ones. If there is a message in
the play, it is that everybody in the world is bisexual. I, myself, prefer elm trees. But I wouldn't put that on the stage. The open set by John Lee Beatty is absolutely gorgeous, Catherine Zuber's
costumes and Peter Kaczorowski's lighting are just fine. Yes, I walked out whistling the set. It's a pleasure to see Clayburgh on the stage-- I hope she comes again in a better vehicle.

Richmond Shepard-- Performing Arts INSIDER, and

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