The Wrong Page

I would pay anything to see on stage, together, Nathan Lane, John Slattery, John Goodman, Jefferson Mays, Holland Taylor, Robert Morse, Dann Florek and a gaggle of other fine actors. So I was happy to pay “normal” price for two, tenth-row, center orchestra seats for The Front Page, where all these talents are gathered in a limited run. The Ben Hecht/Charles MacArthur contribution to America’s play Hall of Fame was first written and performed in 1928, and it’s still set …


Arcadia

The GAMM theater in Pawtucket, a jewel of a regional acting group, tries and usually succeeds at daring productions. The theater’s size (perhaps 150 seats) creates an intimacy. Our front row-center subscription often creates the illusion that we’re in the play. My son is an equity actor who now heads an acting school in LA, his wife is an actor, and I’ve served in the past on two theater boards (including GAMM). My wife and I are regulars on Broadway …


Trinity Slays Beowulf

Take a cauldron, add in Cabaret, Rent, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Hair, then blow it up, and you’ll find yourself immersed in Trinity Rep’s brilliant Beowulf, now being performed through October 9 in Providence. You don’t walk away from this performance humming any tunes, but then again, I didn’t from In the Heights or Hamilton, either, and they’re merely two of the finest musicals of the past decade. To quote the immortal Seinfeldia lore: This show is Broadway-worthy. …


Four Movies

I recently traveled about 40,000 air miles, to Sydney and back and then to Rome and back. So I watched four movies of fairly recent vintage. My reactions: Hail Caesar: This was the best of the four, a funny satire of old Hollywood and Communist idealists, with Josh Brolin superb as a studio enforcer and coverup guy. George Clooney was wasted in the lead—anyone could have played it—but the spoof of the Communist writers, usually such subjects of empathy (see Trumbo, below), was …


Hamilton: A Review

Well, I’ve joined a throng of people who were visibly self-satisfied at scoring tickets to Hamilton, bragging about their ability to pay and their perseverance. When the crowd enters the theater and sees the “official” pricing on the wall (the most expensive, “premium” tickets are $450) everyone openly scoffs, since many are paying a large multiple of that amount, and happy to do so.   How popular is Hamilton? They have to split the ticket-holders’ line into two, and it …


Alan Cumming at the Café Carlyle

The Café Carlyle is one of the last intimate showrooms in New York, holding about a hundred patrons in close proximity to great talent. Bobby Short was its resident genius before his death, and we’ve seen incredible talent usually from a few feet away over the past 40 years or so. (One night a week, Woody Allen plays clarinet with a jazz band, and it’s sold out months ahead.) Last evening we sat a yard away from Alan Cumming, whom …


Theater Review: The Rant

Rhode Island is blessed with outstanding regional theater. One of them GAMM, is now home to The Rant, a gripping play by Andrew Case. Case has a fascinating background, having spent ten years investigating police misconduct for New York City. His play begins with an anguished monologue by an African-American woman whose son has been killed on her porch, supposedly by a white police sergeant. I say “supposedly” because in this Rashomon-like, multi-narrative, everyone lies: the mother, the civilian investigator …


Movie Reviews from The Critic-in-Chief

My completely biased and accurate reviews of recent major films: • 12 Years A Slave: Predictable (I kept thinking “Roots” of 30 years ago) and often implausible with a magnificent performance by Chiwetel Ejiofor but a hugely overrated performance by Lupita Nyong’o, who did not merit the Academy Award. I think this is a film people feel guilty about not liking. • Gravity: Almost laughably ridiculous (e.g., Sandra Bullock using a fire extinguisher to maneuver in space), with George Clooney …


The Critic

We had some pretty bad weather in Florida (though far better than the Northeast) so we caught up on some movies. Herein are my reviews so that you can enjoy, yet not waste time. Enough Said: A tour de force with Julia Louis Dreyfus and James Gandolfini (his final film), underscoring the agony of adult dating and the wonder of finding someone who is a soulmate. Extraordinary. All Is Lost: Robert Redford might have three lines in the entire film, …


The Critic: Downton Abbey, Gravity, Chris Christie

Downton Abbey is one of the finest period dramas around, but this year’s new season began with a thud. There is the terminally boring Lady Mary, who quite clearly is going to finally snap around—on the advice of a chauffeur now a family member—to confront her fussbudget father about running the wasteful estate. The good Lord’s wife is constantly trying to bring him back to earth with soft mutterings, (as opposed to decent lines and acting) and there seem to …