New York | 2h 20m | Already closed

Airline Highway

From 45 critic and 32 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Entertaining, Slow, Ambitious, Disappointing

About the show

A rag-tag collection of strippers, hustlers and philosophers have come together to celebrate the iconic burlesque performer Miss Ruby. More…

In the parking lot of The Hummingbird, a once-glamorous motel on New Orleans’ infamous Airline Highway, a group of friends gather to celebrate the life of their substitute mother, Miss Ruby, who has requested a funeral before she dies. The party rages through the night as old friends resurface to pay their respects. A co-production between Manhattan Theatre Club and Steppenwolf Theatre Company.

USA Today

"In 'Airline Highway' the lyrical, funny, aching new play...all are drawn with both haunting specificity and an utter lack of sentimentality...You may not want to join this family, but you will love and honor its members." Full Review

New York Magazine / Vulture

"A beautiful and mesmerizing kaleidoscope of a play by Lisa D’Amour...In its loving attention to squalid detail, it does a novel’s worth of work." Full Review


"D'Amour's writing unsparingly, unabashedly gets at fundamental aspects of the human condition. There are patches of the drama that drag when everyone talks over one another. But this feels realistic and uncovers something about each character's desire to connect – however scarred they may be – over bonds they've formed and broken in the past...Director Joe Mantello creates a detailed world, with nuanced performances from an ensemble cast." Full Review

The New York Times

"A bright-blazing production...brims with humor and pungent life. It features a flawless cast...Ms. D’Amour’s play has a loose, baggy structure that sometimes works against it, but this aptly reflects the aimlessness of its characters, who live day to day and would rather not think about the unhappy past or the foggy future...the teeming energy that floods the stage helps roll past the more heavy-treading passages." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"D'Amour has done some good work since Chicago...'Airline Highway' does not go for the jugular nor rage with the anger that some in New Orleans legitimately feels very much like the work of a hometown writer, whose first impulse is affection and surely not cold-eyed analysis. This still is a play that breathes the New Orleans air and, to his credit, Mantello offers a sophisticated reading of those rhythms, jagged and unpredictable, somnolent and then crackling with energy." Full Review

As Her World Turns

"Bait Boy’s teenage stepdaughter represents us — the audience — as an outsider trying to understand this community, and her character feels forced. But I love the world of this show and I did not want to say goodbye to these people when the curtain went down. While the whole ensemble is impressive, Julie White and K. Todd Freeman deliver particularly standout performances." Full Review

DC Theatre Scene

"'Airline Highway' is above all a series of interrelated character portraits, although the playwright tries to put a thin narrative frame around those portraits...She writes about characters who others call losers – people who deserve to be represented on stage." Full Review

The Wrap

"For theatergoers who like big casts that are well directed in huge, rambling plays, a visit to see 'Airline Highway' is recommended...I’m a sucker for big casts, especially very talented ones, which 'Airline Highway' delivers under the expert direction of Joe Mantello...D’Amour should have let 'Airline Highway' ramble more and not tried to tie everything up." Full Review


"If you're familiar with the large ensemble plays of Lanford Wilson, you'll find comparisons to 'Airline Highway.' There are also echoes of Tennessee Williams. If 'Airline Highway' doesn't rise to the level of those lauded works, MTC is giving this play a splendid production...'Airline Highway' takes its place among a host of existential works. Extremely thoughtful and poetic, it provides perspective but little new insight on a world that one character describes as 'no B.S., no pretending, no... Full Review

Entertainment Weekly

"D’Amour’s writing can be incredibly on-the-nose. Her affection and lack of judgment for the seedy characters within is truly felt. Their aimlessness might translate literally to some audiences while the refreshing lack of melodrama might entice others...Director Joe Mantello has wisely retained most of his first-rate Steppenwolf cast. They make 'Airline Highway' more than worth a one-night stay." Full Review

AM New York

"'Airline Highway' presents a lively, detailed portrait of a lower class community in the South. But nice as it is to have a wide assortment of colorful characters, the focus too often drifts away from the central players of the plot. It ends with many of the conflicts unresolved." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"Its shifting the lens down the social and class scale results in a fascinating collage of personalities on the brink...D'Amour's writing otherwise strains against its own obviousness...Once you've heard a little, you'll want to learn more, but you won't get to know pretty much anyone sufficiently well enough." Full Review

Culture Sauce

"Her intriguing but diffuse new drama is more of a soft-focus snapshot of urban poverty than the powerhouse it could have been...there are just too many characters for a play that can already feel rather diffuse and unfocused." Full Review

Time Out New York

"Although the characters are familiar in many ways, director Joe Mantello and his accomplished cast breathe spirit into most of them, and the big, boozy party scene has jazzy vigor...'Airline Highway’s' multiple plot threads are pulled out (or forgotten) in a rushed, unsatisfying denouement that resorts to summarizing its message to the audience in the form of a (literal) high-school class presentation. Like the cinder-block–mounted car the play has color and beat-up charm, but doesn’t go any... Full Review


"We have been down such a road far too often before...D'Amour spells the whole thing out with a plea to 'embrace the incoherence of it all.' I wish I could." Full Review


"A loose-limbed character study by Lisa D’Amour...There aren’t any sort of tidy resolutions in 'Airline Highway,' and we never get the feeling these has-beens at the Humming Bird will pay Miss Ruby any due. They’re stuck, but at least they’re having a swell time." Full Review


"Like a lot of all-night parties, this one doesn’t stand up to the light. The scribe has installed a well-observed group of misfits and losers in the Hummingbird Motel, a haven for social outcasts. But aside from throwing her makeshift family that state-of-the-art shindig, she doesn’t give them much to do — or let them do anything for themselves...'Airline Highway' comes from a long tradition of waiting-room plays, which see a lot of misery but not much action." Full Review


"D’Amour, while clearly sympathetic to her characters, conjures a world too neatly balanced, too eccentric, too oddly wholesome. They’re types, not people. 'Airline Highway' never reaches the status of powerful Katrina post-mortem it seems to be striving for." Full Review

Front Row Center

"Playwright Lisa D’Amour’s script is a slow road to nowhere...Veteran director Joe Mantello does his best to breathe life into the production, skillfully staging the actors across Pask’s fine multi-level set, and firing up a rousing party scene at the start of act two. But in a landscape made infamous by Tennessee Williams, this tale is oddly lacking in poetry.” Full Review

New York Post

"Hungry for clichés? 'Airline Highway' is chock full of them...overstuffed and unfocused...The play doesn’t know what to do with itself...There’s one fabulous, unexpected scene at the end — Miss Ruby’s address to her troops. Gorgeously lit and hauntingly poetic, it makes you angry for the show’s missed opportunities." Full Review

The Wall Street Journal

"It’s a wholly derivative piece of work that has been knocked together from refurbished spare theatrical parts...For all its shameless familiarity, the first act of 'Airline Highway' is perfectly watchable, even entertaining...Not so the second act." Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"Despite being given a dynamic production with a highly capable cast, this rambling character-driven piece lacks drive and clarity of purpose. While it's a vividly populated canvas, the playwright doesn't do anything much of interest with it...Many in the audience will have lost patience long before then with this disappointing play." Full Review

New York Theatre Guide

"Lisa D'Amour's script is a slow road to nowhere...In a landscape made infamous by Tennessee Williams, this tale is oddly lacking in poetry. If the Hummingbird is symbolically a fragile nest filled with small lives, its creator left out the tension and passion that could have turned it into a "Motel Named Desire."" Full Review

The Huffington Post

"Every character is aggressively colorful in Lisa D'Amour's new comic drama Airline Highway. Set in New Orleans, it's like very bad Tennessee Williams, with each new person spouting cold truths, snappy rejoinders and hard-won pearls of wisdom until you long for someone to just show up and not have a backstory or some pain bursting to get out. No such luck." Full Review


for a previous production "A nearly unimprovable production...D’Amour’s deep and decidedly soulful work takes us convincingly into the world of strippers, hookers and party-animal bartenders in pursuit of the search for what Miss Ruby, their dying substitute mother, calls “ecstatic experience”...The play doesn’t sugarcoat human misery, although it is also filled with wit and humanity and plenty of energy stemming nonstop from an ensemble that doesn’t have a weak link...It’s a beautiful play." Full Review

Great acting, Resonant, Refreshing, Profound, Original

See it if You love fantastic of truly creative, dynamic, original new plays...also if you love New Orleans and its inimitable culture.

Don't see it if You have no interest in the subject matter or in New Orleans generally.

Entertaining, Delightful, Clever

See it if Loved it! Beautiful! Sad! Poignant

Don't see it if You don't like to show emotion

Original, Great acting, Entertaining, Clever, Absorbing

See it if you want a great story about New Orleans and crazy, under represented people

Don't see it if you don't like the south

Relevant, Intelligent, Great acting, Entertaining, Absorbing

See it if You like quirky character driven drama about folks that most folks don't even see.

Don't see it if You think you're better than the homeless guy on the corner.

Funny, Thought-provoking, Intense, Great singing, Entertaining

See it if You like real life settings.

Don't see it if If you are into flashy productions.

Original, Relevant, Great acting, Entertaining, Ambitious

See it if You like ambitious, large-cast plays by new playwrights that focus on a very specific American culture.

Don't see it if You aren't interested in weighty dramedies.

Great acting, Ambitious, Entertaining, Absorbing

See it if You want to get a peek into the characters lives and watch a play mainly focusing on a group of people.

Don't see it if You are looking for a strong plot, the play mainly focuses on the characters, which I personally enjoyed.

Ambitious, Uneven, Resonant, Indulgent, Great acting

See it if you enjoy character studies of large groups of people. We meet a colorful assortment of folks at this last-ditch no-tell motel.

Don't see it if closely examining multiple people at their rock bottoms is a bit too depressing for you.

Quirky, Great acting, Entertaining, Ambitious

See it if enjoy original play with a bizarre group of characters, down on their luck

Don't see it if you are looking for a cut and dry story or a light hearted comedy.

Original, Dizzying, Great staging, Delightful, Clever

See it if you love new story lines you love great acting open to forward thinking topics

Don't see it if you like musicals you are more conservative regarding values and language

Slow, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if you try to see all of Steppenwolf's shows, or are a fan of Julie White.

Don't see it if you're not in the mood for a slow, ponderous night in the theater.

Dizzying, Entertaining, Enchanting, Delightful, Clever

See it if You like underdogs, outcasts and dysfunctional families watch this

Don't see it if You don't like eccentric types or are looking for something with a cut & dry moral

Profound, Intense, Intelligent, Great acting, Edgy

See it if great characters with intertwining story lines

Don't see it if you are taking young kids. Definitely adult in nature

Thought-provoking, Great staging, Great acting, Entertaining, Quirky

See it if you enjoy watching a group of misfit characters relate with one another.

Don't see it if you don't like straight plays.

Raunchy, Quirky, Great acting, Ambitious, Clever

See it if you enjoy a story focused on a non-traditional community

Don't see it if you want a classic

Original, Confusing, Quirky, Entertaining

See it if you like non-traditional plays.

Don't see it if don't like to see the life of people on the fringes of society.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Intense, Thought-provoking

See it if you are looking for some edgy, interesting theater, with characters you love to hate until you learn to love them.

Don't see it if you are looking for light, or simply entertaining fare, or want to escape into a happy place.

Slow, Resonant, Great acting

See it if You want a show that's well acted, or you're curious about the rest of New Orleans that's not Bourbon Street.

Don't see it if you're looking for subtlety in the writing, it can be a bit heavyhanded,

Quirky, Slow, Edgy, Disappointing

See it if You like modern stories of outsiders banding together or you love Julie White.

Don't see it if You don't like character driven works. It didn't quite manage to grab me like I had hoped.

Overrated, Edgy, Steppenwolf co. shoulda stayed in chi-town?, Disappointing, Banal

See it if I saw this show from the Mezzanine which did not do the un-miked actors any favors. Lost about a quarter of the dialogue. Orchestra only??

Don't see it if Don't bother with this if U can't afford an orch seat or are hard-of-hearing (guess I'm getting older). Skip if White trash-style aint yours

Weak script (sad coming from steppenwolf), Slow, Ambitious, Cliched

See it if you want to see a rag tag group of addict/user transients turn into a family who make their home at a worn down, cheap motel

Don't see it if you want to see any kind of social reality with this uneven script; no character development; hints of underage sex with a minor

Cliched, Dizzying, Disappointing, Confusing

See it if You like plays about characters who live on the margin of society. Good insight but disjointed at times. Dark. Depressing

Don't see it if You are looking for an uplifting, positive story.

Stereotypical, Slow, Mediocre, Depressing

See it if you're fan of ensemble pieces and you like detailed large-scale sets.

Don't see it if you are looking for something with poignant substance.

Irrelevant, Dated, Ambitious, Boring

See it if you have an MTC subscription.

Don't see it if you prefer plots to soliloquies. Too ambitious.

Overrated, Quirky, Edgy, Disappointing, Broadway transfer from steppenwolf (chicago)

See it if I heard that Tony-winner Julie White was "starring" in AIRLINE HIGHWAY but her character was just a part of this oddball ensemble play. MEH

Don't see it if Skip this one if U don't care for shows about White trash and transvestite prostitutes that use a rundown hotel as a giant whorehouse. TRASH

Cast & Creatives

Cast and Creative Team members for this show have not yet been loaded into Show-Score. If you are affiliated with this show, and would like to accelerate the process, please contact us or read the Help.