Bruce 6

New York City | 65+ | Male
About:  I seek theater that makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up or makes me see something in a completely new way. I'll let you know when that happens.
Reviews (550)
86
During previews
Company (Broadway)
Midtown W
Fine revival of one of sondheim's most memorable musicals; however making male "bobby" into female "bobbie" & reversing gender of other roles adds little

See it if sophisticated view of ambivalence of marriage; amazingly witty lyrics/book; marvelous sets, scenes inventively restaged; 1st class cast

Don't see it if show about pain of not being married by 35 is somewhat dated; Katrina Lenk as Bobbie/lead, singing/acting struggles in role

Also "Bobby" or "Bobbie" is a tough role 2 play. Some have described it as ... Read more Read less

82
Coal Country
East Village
Through combo of actors acting out words of survivors & the music of steve earl, bears witness to the devastation of the 2010 west virginia upper big branch coal mine explosion

See it if punch to gut; captures ethos of mining community & sense of loss/anger after explosion; fine cast; Earl's folk tunes provide authenticity

Don't see it if never reaches potential as rallying cry vs corp greed; doesn't build 2 dramatic moments; music too unvaried 2 heighten emotional impact

72
The Headlands
Upper W Side
In noirish mystery, son tries to solve "cold case" involving murder of his father; raymond chandler has little to worry about

See it if interesting aesthetic as story channels pulpy detective novels & video screens evoke film noir; humor leavens; solid cast

Don't see it if takes implausible left turn at end; ultimately w/o crisp plotting or deep insights into behavior of son/family, lets you down

Also Let's play the "name game". The title "The HEADLANDS" refers to (1) th... Read more Read less

86
Amazing combo of ‘70s cambodian rock music & tale of murderous cambodian prison commandant

See it if acutely shows banality of evil in Khmer Rouge mass killings; fine actor-musicians; Cambodian rock/Dylan fill scenes w emotion

Don't see it if broad & jokey; contrived plot; still works as entertaining vehicle 2 bring alive chilling historical chpt

Also Imitation is highest form of flattery. This vehicle is redolent of a n... Read more Read less

80
17 Minutes
Midtown W
Aftermath of public school shooting massacre; tells story of sheriff's deputy guarding school who froze for 17 minutes; shows kids not the only victims of these mass shootings

See it if community ripped apart by violence; perceptive study of how deputy scapegoated for society's ills; script surprises/gripping final scene

Don't see it if hollow response of deputy w/o PTSD strains credulity; static staging; no payoff or catharsis, only numbness, by end

78
During previews
We're Gonna Die
Midtown W
Not a traditional theatrical experience but a moving, if too short, combo of stories + songs that show journey of narrator/lead singer to come to embrace life by accepting death

See it if joyously embraces carpe diem 2 deal w life's inevitable disappointments; Janelle McDermoth dynamic narrator/lead singer w virtuoso rock band

Don't see it if not fully realized musical; rapturous ending feels unearned as too-short vehicle @ 55 minutes skims surface of narrator's life

77
During previews
Breakout lead performance by beth malone as the ”unsinkable” one in entertaining but hokey musical

See it if Kathleen Marshall provides charming choreo; Malone acts/sings/dances up a storm; pro-immigration message gives middle finger 2 Donald T

Don't see it if cornball; not enough great tunes; tho revamped as feminist, Molly remains cartoon saint; missing sizzle & polish of Bdway production

Also This musical by Meredith Willson/Music Man draws inspiration from a co... Read more Read less

84
During previews
Dracula (CSC)
East Village
Kate hamill does it again! reimagines "dracula" as campy, feminist tale w women swashbuckling vampire hunters & men arrogant, sniveling fools

See it if a total hoot; clever send up & bracing feminist indictment of toxic masculinity; Matthew Amendt campy & terrifying as Dracula

Don't see it if hits u over head w feminist view; abrupt tonal shifts w combo serious-feminism/Darwinism/Dracula as quasi-religious "father" & camp

Also Matthew Amendt, playing Dracula, exemplifies difficulty in finding gro... Read more Read less

86
During previews
One of the most interesting & ultimately moving shows of the season involving three generations of women (grandmother, mother & child) for whom inexorable depression is a family trait

See it if brilliant theatrical form: concurrent stories of 3 gens of women on stage together allow u 2 see inter-gen patterns; sharp Mametian dialog

Don't see it if confusing interplay of sep scenes; characters speak on top of each other; few answers provided re hereditary nature of mental illness

Also I suggest that you try to view the play in the same way you experience... Read more Read less

70
During previews
The 1969 movie has become iconic in showing the sexual revolution as farce; this musical version 50 years later doesn’t measure up but it does have its charms

See it if clever pastiches of '60s music esp Bacharach; shows the problems with sex divorced from intimacy; hilarious abashed "orgy" scene

Don't see it if not fully realized musical/more a concept album; skims surface of '60s; unlike movie never get 2 know characters

Also This is what this show tries to add to the movie: By showing the chara... Read more Read less

61
During previews
Find out in this meh dramedy about indignities of working in small town superstore; better yet stream "superstore" tv series

See it if graphically shows how dehumanizing it is to work 4 min wage in big box store; actors work their a**es off 2 make funny

Don't see it if cartoonish & shallow; lethargic pace; characters 1-dimensional; pt-less mystery @ end

76
The Thin Place
Midtown W
It’s about communicating w the dead but that’s only a pretext to deal w some heavy epistemological issues; interesting philosophy, inconsistent theater

See it if rich in ambiguity; Lucas Hnath raises interesting ?s about what is real/what's not, how manipulation is key 2 effective communication

Don't see it if haphazard; story starts out strong portraying relationship between medium & subject, loses its way w irrelevant characters/plot

75
During previews
Grand Horizons
Midtown W
Fairly funny sitcom about ramifications of divorce threatened after 50 years of marriage; bares its teeth but never bites

See it if all hell breaks loose when wife expresses desire 2 divorce; Jane Alexander funny/moving as wife seeking to be noticed

Don't see it if tame "Neil Simon"-ish humor, never raises searching questions about marriage; children's reaction 2 divorce cartoonishly overwrought

Also One of the central comedic exchanges is between Jane Alexander and her... Read more Read less

78
During previews
Sing Street
East Village
Boy in 1980s in dublin starts a new wave band to liberate himself from his dire surroundings; you think at first this is going to be another "spring awakening," but that's not the way it works out

See it if thrilling propulsive performance of 80s rock n roll by skilled young musicians; hyperkinetic choreo; Brenock O'Connor's revelation in lead

Don't see it if disappointing 2nd Act; predictable cliched tale: teen rebellion thru rock n roll opposed by evil priest; needs work b4 opens in move 2 Bdway

78
During previews
Greater Clements
Upper W Side
Sam hunter explains alienation of rural population in 2017 by building a play around a dying idaho mining town whose residents are willing to blow up their own world

See it if graphic portrait of despair in failed mining town; mine's dominance brilliantly evoked; Edmund Donovan shatteringly portrays mental illness

Don't see it if tho Hunter's plays are usually terse & unshowy, this one is melodramatic & contrived

Also My guess is that Hunter wrote this play, set in a small fictional mini... Read more Read less

77
Can see why "fefu" is so highly acclaimed but rarely produced as it is a chilling feminist protest but not easy to digest

See it if shows women in 1935 terrified by men, w gun-toting Fefu @ center; scene of friend in bed voicing her paralyzing fears makes u shudder

Don't see it if u don't like strange plotless avant garde plays; some characters extraneous; rotating diff parts of audience 2 see diff scenes a distraction

87
Most stood to applaud the actors; i stood to applaud the brilliant set, lighting, sound & costume designers

See it if 2 c amazing staging; cinematic flow of scenes; set in future when Harry has son, resonant story of father/son conflict

Don't see it if need 2 know Harry P basics 2 appreciate this update; much of the plotting is illogical; by 2nd of 2 parts, the wow factor has disappeared

Also The staging gives u a sense u are in a mysterious world of wizardry in... Read more Read less

70
Should u see this early (reworked) play by the amazing tony kushner?; maybe but be forewarned this is no "angels in america," not even close

See it if thru plot centered on Berlin artists' ineffectual reaction 2 '30s rise of Hitler, raises deep ?s about artists' duty 2 deal w Trump

Don't see it if awkward/very meta; adding new scenes w/ a talky "Kushner" character 2 original drama turns this into meh drama w commentary bolted on

Also Here's what I think happened in the remounting of this play. After see... Read more Read less

77
During previews
Set in houston tx in 1950, shows tragedy of rich white couple unable to cope w new economic & social forces, particularly homosexuality of son; missing combo pain/humor in best horton foote productions

See it if strong Aidan Quinn/Kristine Nielsen as couple; shows devastating effect of loss of central thing in life: 4 Quinn his job, 4 Nielsen her son

Don't see it if not as moving as original; weaknesses in plotting exposed; few actors provide combo authenticity/gentle satire roles demand

Also This play is a tale of 2 cities: Houston & Atlanta, representing the o... Read more Read less

84
The Wrong Man
Midtown W
Sung-through musical about a man framed for murder that is largely a vehicle that displays the amazing acting and singing chops of joshua henry

See it if Henry is a marvel, utterly convincing as a man crushed by system, w a voice of great emotional range; fine dancers bring action alive

Don't see it if story w little nuance; much of the music sounds the same; lyrics simplistic/uninspired; still affecting b/c of Henry

Also The music and lyrics are by Ross Golan who writes contemporary hip hop... Read more Read less

64
Bella Bella
Midtown W
In 1-man show, fierstein channels spirit of bella abzug, but need more than caricature to bring her alive

See it if Fierstein, a force of nature like Bella, is a good person to play her; reminds us of how far women have come b/c of Bella

Don't see it if broad caricature of Bella telling a lot of lame Borscht Belt jokes; need dramatic situation or foil 4 Bella to galvanize the play

91
The Michaels
East Village
Be fly on the wall as family & friends get together 2 take stock of career of charismatic choreographer who's dying; pedestrian but profound

See it if poignant interaction of dying woman who will not go quietly/those honoring her; dance scenes brilliantly reveal inter-generational dynamics

Don't see it if 4 some Nelson’s approach/observing everyday scenes among family/friends is agonizingly slow; I find it revelatory here

Also It's important to note that the subject of the choreography of the dyi... Read more Read less

82
During previews
Beautiful rumination by will eno on the miracle of life told thru a series of different characters, male and female, young and old, who play "chris" moving from birth to death

See it if celebrates cycle of life, how day-to-day living is an evolutionary triumph, featuring lyrical script/fine ensemble/self-deprecating humor

Don't see it if no clear plot; some may c play w Chris played by 1 character after another as a gimmick, but works if u realize Chris is Every(wo)man

77
Scotland, PA
Midtown W
What happens when you combine musical comedy format w macbeth-like story, one of shakespeare's darkest? wholly succeeds in 1st act as send-up, much less successful in 2nd as tragedy unfolds

See it if witty 1st Act shows Macbeth character’s path to become the "Burger King;" clever songs; hilarious use of 3 witches as provocateurs

Don't see it if in 2nd Act becomes overwrought & didactic when has 2 deal w/ Mac/Lady Mac's guilt & self-destruction; Sweeney Todd it's not

73
Play w music: based on true story of trial & conviction of black muslim jazz musician, tells interesting story of brothers separated by politics, joined by music

See it if powerfully illustrates how US prison system mistreats Muslim w controversial political views; actors talented musicians

Don't see it if meandering; story arc predictable; music could be used more effectively/see below

Also Music is used as a central element of the story, serving as the backdr... Read more Read less

88
During previews
The Minutes
Midtown W
Farce involving small town city counsel morphs into surreal indictment of brutal behavior of those in power; political equivalent of letts' "august osage mountain"

See it if scenes re crimes of establishment will rip your head off; those underscoring fatuousness of polit deliberation hilarious; strong script/cast

Don't see it if members of City Council are cartoonishly hapless; needs stronger link between 1st half farce & 2nd half indictment

Also I think there's a link between 1st half farce & 2nd half jeremiad. Man... Read more Read less

76
The Hot Wing King
Midtown W
House full of unabashed gay black men intent on winning the memphis hot wing competition; tho entertaining, this doesn't push the envelope as katori hall usually does

See it if raucous sitcom, fine comedic ensemble; gourmet approach 2 wings; shows healthy community of gay men, 2 in loving relationship

Don't see it if unchallenging; never rises much above sitcom genre; conclusion: gay men are like the rest of us (but more fun) is not earth shattering

73
During previews
Endlings
East Village
Super meta play about dying breed of korean female deep sea divers; kor-am playwright shows how she tries to shed "whiteness" of creative antecedents & current gatekeepers for plays by going back 2 her ancestral roots

See it if shows how Kor-Am playwright tries 2 find her creative identity; result-story of feisty/hilarious Korean divers that teems w life & loss

Don't see it if awkward 3-part structure moving from realism to meta-ism to absurdism; absurdist satire of white stage managers is blatantly obvious

Also My partner pointed out an arresting central metaphor in the play: the ... Read more Read less

74
During previews
The Perplexed
Midtown W
Drawing room comedy shows how 2 warring jewish families whose kids are getting married reach rapprochement; if you’re a fan of richard greenberg’s hilariously cerebral one-liners, this is for you; otherwise it’s ... perplexing

See it if comedic whirl-a-gig; explores roots of political & artistic paralysis in Age of Trump; hilariously idiosyncratic characters esp Frank Wood

Don't see it if disjointed & rambling/too many irrelevant characters & subplots; ending that neatly wraps up things is unsatisfying

82
Mack & Mabel
Midtown W
First class production of engaging musical about comedy silent film-maker mack sennet & his heart-breaking relationship w movie star mabel normand; jerry herman (great composer, clever lyricist) rest in peace

See it if wonderful score by Herman; fine choreo & dancing; w performance as Mabel, Alexandra Socha emerges as one of NY’s leading musical stars

Don't see it if weak book/show fades as relationship between M&M fades; never brings 2 life Mack making comedies or Zeitgeist of silent film era

Also Herman's great triumphs w Hello Dolly, Mame, La Cage were w shows wher... Read more Read less

58
During previews
Natalie p should sue for non-support in this tedious vehicle

See it if best thing about this study in poor black family dysfunctionality is bold performance by Kara Young as teen resisting implosion of her world

Don't see it if overlong & exhausting, ills of poverty accumulate, but 2 what end?; use of NP come-to-life as inspiration 4 Kara is a gimmick w/o payoff

78
During previews
Dana H.
Gramercy
See it for deidre o’connell’s remarkable lip syncing/acting out tapes of lucas hnath’s mother relating her harrowing 5-month period w skinhead kidnapper; hnath’s intent is interesting but muddled

See it if for O’Connell’s matter of fact but chilling performance; fascinating combo horror story & confession

Don't see it if what is pt of play? unreliability of memory; how victims of violence blame themselves/identify w perpetrator; how religion distorts vision?

Also I note the similarity between this and the play by Hnath I'd seen earl... Read more Read less

64
During previews
Frankenstein (CSC)
East Village
Stripped down version of frankenstein tale w two actors reframes story to focus on the dr. and his creation, the creator/creation duality, but loses immense narrative power of original

See it if interesting use of accompanying music; choreographs how the newly-created creature discovers the world like a newborn baby

Don't see it if thin production misses Gothic horror & rejection of "monster" by the community which underlines reaction of convention to the OTHER

78
In one-person show, luminous laura linney (lll) masterful in bringing alive e. strout's novel about how a writer emerges from a stultifying childhood in rural illinois, but there are limits to how successful this type of vehicle can be

See it if to see LLL, at the height of her powers, playing both Lucy w her open-minded artistic imagination & her irascible closed-minded mother

Don't see it if Strout's incantatory, stream of consciousness, novel is not/probably can't be replicated on stage; still LLL is worth the ticket

82
Little shop is one of the better post ww ii musicals & this revival reminds us how good it is

See it if entertainingly absurdist tale of murderous plant; hear Menken's fine music, Ashman's witty lyrics; Chris Borle masterful in various roles

Don't see it if fatuous plot; 2 much Borsht Belt humor; uneasy marriage of silliness & darkness; some music dated; anti-racism message too obscure/see below

Also Little Shop may be viewed from a number of perspectives. On one level,... Read more Read less

79
During previews
Timon of Athens
Brooklyn
This is not in 1st or even 2nd rank of shakespeare's plays, but this is 1st rate production of timon's tale of corrosiveness of greed

See it if creative set/choreo/music; commanding Kathryn Hunter/Timon; resonant allusions 2 today's income inequality; Shake's incomparable writing

Don't see it if little depth or subtlety; after high-spirited farce turns into unconvincing tragedy; secondary characters don't register

Also Tho there is sometimes an issue in having women actors play male roles... Read more Read less

78
Mac Beth
Upper E Side
Macbeth w female h.s. students playing all roles shows connection between the play's fated blood-soaked violence & the violence unleashed in the student-actors

See it if intriguing mash up of "Lord of the Flies" & the Scottish play shows how violence once unleashed can consume everything; shattering ending

Don't see it if energetic not great version of play; transition from childhood games to murderous actions much too abrupt

77
During previews
Procedural about murder of black sergeant on louisiana army base in 1944 centered on race; competent but dated

See it if shows dehumanizing racism vs black WWII soldiers; thru their work songs/choreo links racism 2 slavery; strong cast individuates each soldier

Don't see it if stodgy compared 2 today's imaginative race-based plays; flow of scenes formulaic; stereotypes abound but see below

Also Many of the characters in the play are stereotypes including the racia... Read more Read less

81
Sure peter drinklage as cyrano can't sing, but he embodies him well in this charming musical version of this durable play

See it if creative staging; well-sung songs esp by J Jones/Roxanne; Drinklage's engaging; villain/De Guiche made 3 dimensional

Don't see it if songs pleasant not memorable, dumbed down 4 Drinklage who's not a singer; I've seen funnier versions; ending is maudlin/not moving

Also Spoiler/Not on the nose: In lieu of having Drinklage bear a big probos... Read more Read less

77
During previews
One in Two
Midtown W
This is a play w an arresting message: there is still an aids crisis for gay black men as "one in two" [title] will become hiv positive

See it if urgent cry for help; graphically shows misery under AIDs threat/homophobia but shot thru w humor; talented cast

Don't see it if play hits you over the head w message, employs perplexing absurdism where straight drama would be more effective

74
During previews
Combining alanis morissette tunes from "jagged little pill" album w story of family facing seemingly every problem under the sun is emo overload

See it if you love Morrissette's/M's super-emo songs sung affectingly; song "You Oughta Know" in 2nd act stops the show; @ times quite funny

Don't see it if u r not a fan of M's music/I'm not; lyrics unintelligible; scattershot "lifetime movie" plot; message-"nobody's perfect" is a big duh!

90
During previews
Stephen adly guirgis' opus about the plight of female denizens of a halfway house, tho overstuffed, is magnificent

See it if heartbreaking; richness of novel w multiple story lines showing residents' misery & moments of grace; includes scabrously hilarious putdowns

Don't see it if overlong, unfocused w far 2 many characters & plot lines; still this is breathtaking achievement making us c humanity of the marginalized

Also The production set in a halfway house/HH on the Upper West Side/UWS ha... Read more Read less

80
If u want "mcdonald's" of musicals, one that supersizes & amps up everything about "love," you've found your match

See it if full Broadway spectacle, big cast, set & costumes flood your senses; fun 1st act send-up of love songs; Karen Olivo outstanding lead

Don't see it if little nuance or wit; no original music/all juke box love tunes; 2nd act is cliche-ridden & melodramatic; the opposite of Sondheim

82
Gathering of 4 young conservative graduates of fundamentalist christian college in rural wyoming is occasion for fierce debate about fate of severely divided country post-trump

See it if shows religious conservatives as deep/thoughtful; clearly explains their anti-LGBT/abortion stance; key insight: sex looms behind doctrine

Don't see it if every character is hyperbolic particularly the Christian warrior/Ann Coulter stand-in & the confused wreck; lacks satiric edge

Also Periodically interrupting the voices of the 4 graduates is a deafening... Read more Read less

86
During previews
Michael b washington turns in astonishing performance portraying 26 people in 1 man show that tells us a lot about the intractable state of race relations

See it if uses material from extraord Anna D Smith interviews about Crown Heights race riots capturing radical diffs in black/Jewish perspectives

Don't see it if padded, do not need to hear from so many strident black/Jewish leaders saying the same thing; relentlessly serious, would benefit from humor

Also Before launching into an intensive examination of Crown Heights (CH), ... Read more Read less

76
Dynamic revival of legendary early feminist show about travails of black women/benefits of sisterhood; but shows its age

See it if sexy propulsive dancing by 7 sensational dancers; tells vivid individual stories of black women caged by patriarchal society

Don't see it if stories told via DENSE poetry; individual stories not well integrated; black feminism moved past this show’s focus on black male oppression

81
Power Strip
Upper W Side
So tense you can't breath, extraordinary portrayal of brutalized syrian female refugee in refugee camp; but some misses

See it if harrowing feminist tale; in set as stark as the moon, tells hellish tale of Syrian female refugee w/ dreams crushed by tribal purity rules

Don't see it if awkward flashbacks; inconsistent feminist pt of view: protagonist oscillates from compliant 2 outraged; SPOILER: violent end 2 abrupt

Also Multiple possible meanings for "power strip": (1) the electrical condu... Read more Read less

78
Musical based on tina fey's movie about those high school girls who lord it over us; send-up is reasonably well executed but by now "mean girls" trope is old hat

See it if shows what a jungle high school is; joyous dancing; creative sets; clever connect'n human/animals seeking dominance

Don't see it if none of songs, lyrics, performances are memorable; jokey, not hilarious; conclusion "don't be so mean" to each other is weak

80
During previews
Take a wild ride w sally's apostles; tries to capture the feminist zeitgeist on the eve of sally ride's historic trip as 1st u.s. woman in space; some brilliant other misses

See it if brilliantly shows how Sally becomes inspiration 4 two powerless women, inching towards a new understanding of their relationship

Don't see it if many dramaturgical problems including irrelevant characters & illogical plot lines blunt the play

Also Play set on roof of bldg in St. Louis centers on meeting of 2 long-tim... Read more Read less

78
During previews
You know what u get w a minimalist john doyle production: this stripped down version of one of will’s best tragedies distills plot, but loses some of the distinctiveness of macbeth

See it if truncated script/small cast/no frills set drives plot relentlessly forward; Corey Stoll strong as Mac descending into madness

Don't see it if should be other-worldly & macabre, but isn't; focused on Macbeth, Lady Mac, an operatic character, barely registers

Also What Doyle appears to be doing in this production is trying to turn Ma... Read more Read less