Christopher Kelly

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Reviews (112)
Macbeth (Broadway)
Midtown W

"Craig identifies a core of thuggery in Macbeth — he’s a lunkish, perhaps even dimwitted soldier of fortune who quickly gets drunk on ambition and power, until he’s literally an axe-wielding maniac. Associations with a certain Russian despot, especially in Craig’s steely, blue-eyed stare and ramrod posture, seem very much intentional." Full Review

Midtown W

“Exuberant and entertaining...’Ink’ is overlong and occasionally baggy, and its ultimate unwillingness to take a moral stand on its characters’ actions feels like a cop out. Directed by Goold, it’s tricked out with gimmickry that distracts more than it enhances...That ‘Ink’ keeps and at times rivets our attention is because it turns the details of the business world into the stuff of rip-roaring melodrama." Full Review

“If the show as a whole let me a little cold, it is probably a matter of elevated expectations...The dark story and bluesy orchestrations can’t really support the various dance sequences...And one major casting change from the original feels misjudged...Still, if this is your first visit to ‘Hadestown’, it’s likely to be a satisfying one...While the story sometimes drags, Mitchell’s magnificent music holds us rapt.” Full Review

"A brainy consideration of whether the United States Constitution ultimately does more harm than good for women, people of color and other underrepresented people...This formally complicated show (mostly a monologue, sometimes a play, occasionally improvised) is now a beautifully-oiled machine...It demands that we reconsider everything we thought we knew from the perspective of one woman’s very specific, but powerfully universal, life experience." Full Review

"The curiously underpowered revival of 'Kiss Me, Kate' never gets out of first gear. Directed by Scott Ellis, this is a handsomely crafted, ambitiously cast, top-shelf production — it feels like it should work. It doesn’t. It’s a farce without spark or any real point of view...Without much in the way of energy or chemistry between them, the seams of this show’s occasionally slipshod construction are more apparent than usual." Full Review

“Hawke gives a stage performance that’s every bit as astonishing...You can’t take your eyes off him...But this ‘True West’, unevenly directed by Macdonald...look antiquated and minor...Macdonald never really makes clear why we should care about the bruised egos and petty obsessions of these characters. The final stretch of the show seems particularly bungled...The lead actors nonetheless keep you watching. Dano starts off too timidly, but grows into the role." Full Review

"Silly and slight, but also heartfelt and sweet...The songs feel like genuine expressions of the characters' dilemmas and frustrations...Yet MVP credit here goes to Nicholaw, who not only moves the show along at an exuberant clip and keeps the tone balanced between sincerity and self-referentiality, but also serves up some of the mostly deceptively sophisticated, purely entertaining choreography of any recent Broadway musical." Full Review

“There's much to admire about ‘The Waverly Gallery’...May's portrayal of Gladys is persuasive and moving...But at times, it's a struggle to hear her; other times, her grasp of this complicated character feels uncertain. This may very well be the point...but still the performance comes off as not entirely controlled...This nearly plotless drama probably had more of an impact two decades ago...The actors are endearing and intermittently affecting, but never quite click as an ensemble.” Full Review

“Possessed of a moonbeam smile and a powerhouse voice, Barks -- in an altogether ravishing Broadway debut -- manages the same magic trick that Roberts pulled off...'Pretty Woman' -- with its naive-bordering-on-deranged portrait of sex workers, and its deeply mixed messages about capitalist excess -- might seem like a minefield in our more socially progressive times...But if you can get past the ick factor...this musical delivers considerably.” Full Review

"Peerlessly directed by Joe Mantello, this revival reaffirms the social significance of an admittedly dated work and makes the case that Crowley's dark vision of semi-closeted, self-loathing gay men still resonates in the age of marriage equality. That's no mean feat...A collection of performances that are all too human and vulnerable -- these are real people, trying to push beyond the boundaries imposed by a society that insists on seeing them as something lesser." Full Review

"So where did this handsome, but fundamentally inert production go wrong? One way is that, instead of approaching the story of Julie Jordan and her doomed romance with Billy Bigelow with a fresh, contemporary point-of-view, O'Brien has doubled down on the nostalgia factor...What's most frustrating about this 'Carousel' are the performers, who seem to have been chosen more for their powerful voices than for any ability to persuasively interact and/or generate chemistry." Full Review

"One of the countless wonders of this instant-classic production is the way it energizes, instead of enervates, as it goes along, expanding in scale and scope, spinning out one surprise after another...As directed beautifully by Marianne Elliot, 'Angels in America' is also a rip-roaring, vastly entertaining melodrama...If there's any complaint here, it's that a few of the actors don't entirely sound American. The performances are all so committed and deeply felt that any initial reservations ... Full Review

“An unfortunate mishmash of Buffett staples…To be fair, the first act of ‘Escape to Margaritaville’ flirts with being ecstatically terrible -- a garishly-colored explosion of randomness and kitsch that you (almost) start to root for. Alas, the second act is merely terrible, as the gears of the inane plot start to grind, and the creators throw anything at the wall to see what sticks. For what it's worth, the main actors are all game and do their best to put over the sitcomish story.” Full Review

"This is a modest, feel-good story, with a handful of marvelous songs and a breakout performance by Katrina Lenk. But if you've paid attention to the rapturous advance hype, you may emerge scratching your head and asking: 'Is that all there is?'...You may find this one's vision of humanity a tad reductive and cloying...The show is so low-key, so determinedly un-flashy that it occasionally seems in danger of sliding right off the stage." Full Review

Upper W Side

"Smashingly entertaining...This big, brash melodrama is spiked like holiday party punch with acid humor, and it's propelled by barely contained outrage...Bracingly and briskly directed by Doug Hughes...That Akhtar manages to make all of this financial wrangling both lucid and exciting is impressive. That he finds so much contemporary resonance in the material is downright thrilling...Arguably the year's best, most provocative new play." Full Review

"This is a work that feels uniquely of its bygone moment, yet still manages to speak -- urgently, poignantly, often hilariously -- to concerns and anxieties of today. That's one definition of a classic...Kaufman makes the individual sections flow smoothly into a cohesive whole...Urie tackles a role singularly identified with Fierstein and beautifully makes it his own...The entire supporting cast is excellent...Unlikely we'll see a more vibrant or revelatory revival this year." Full Review

"A nearly two-hour monologue...with frequent, quintessentially Moore-ian lapses into self-aggrandizement and self-congratulation...The point of such a show—an overlong sermon to an already converted choir—remains a mystery...Mostly talk, much of it predictable and eventually repetitive...Moore's topic is too broad and vague and his prescriptive is too obvious...The nuance-free, one-note 'The Terms of My Surrender' drifts dangerously close to self-parody." Full Review

"A ravishingly beautiful, joyously performed take on Shakespeare's fairy-dusted tale of crisscrossed lovers. Directed by Lear deBessonet, this is a very traditional and straightforward 'Midsummer' with lovely modern touches...The clarity of the performances and direction mean that this would also be a terrific introduction to Shakespeare for younger viewers...This production is two-and-three-quarter hours of dreamy bliss." Full Review

Upper W Side

"A bit of a muddle...The play has smart things to say about what it might mean to be a young black man in a largely white environment. If only 'Pipeline' didn't also feel so preachy and predetermined -- like a play written to make a point rather than tell a story. Morisseau remains a writer to watch, especially for the deft way she engages in a cultural dialogue within her plays. Yet it seems unlikely that 'Pipeline' will be remembered as among her best work." Full Review

1984 (Broadway)
Midtown W

"Winston too often comes off as a clueless twerp. Sturridge generates little chemistry opposite Wilde, making it impossible for us to invest in the love story...The result is that significant stretches of this ‘1984’ are plainly boring...Still, the show is something to see, if only to witness the assault-your-senses final section...The novel is a squirm-inducing horror story, and even if this production operates in fits and starts, it understands that horror and finally does it justice." Full Review

"A hot mess of a Broadway musical: loud, crass, and deeply confused about the point of its source material...When you compound Dahl's cynicism with garden variety vulgarity, the result is toxic...Borle plays Wonka with a kind of passive-aggressive detachment that is both off-putting and dull...Yet as much as this show veers all over the place, and as chintzy as Mark Thompson's sets sometimes appear, 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' features its share arresting weirdness and wonder." Full Review

“'Hello, Dolly!' is so surpassingly beautiful, propelled by such glorious razzle-dazzle, and crafted with such joy and intelligence that it deserves to be studied, emulated and above all celebrated…This is what Broadway is all about...A complete, resplendent show, not just the flimsy framework for a star turn…If Midler can't always keep pace with the rest of the performers, and if her voice these days sounds a little too rough and raspy, we're too swept up in the proceedings to care.” Full Review

"That the musical held together—at least enough to make me eager to see it again once its lead actor is fully back to form—is a testament to Karl's star presence and to the enduring strength of the source material...Minchin's music is another matter, often feeling pasted into the proceedings as opposed to growing organically out of the moment...It's a sweet, charming and engaging show. Here's hoping it hangs around long enough to realize its full potential." Full Review

War Paint
Midtown W

"Earnest and relatively subdued, less scratch-your-eyes-out catfight than uplifting feminist celebration. Whether this works for you or not is likely a matter of expectations... As might be expected, LuPone gives the funnier, flashier performance. Ebersole grounds the show with her tenderness and quiet dignity...The music is always listenable, if not quite as often memorable...One of the best looking shows of the year. On that latter score, at least, Rubenstein and Arden could only be proud." Full Review

Midtown W

"In trying to translate to the stage the visual language of the film, the creators end up tripping over themselves and losing sight of the story...Instead of focusing on the emotional core of the material, director Pam MacKinnon serves up a steady supply of gimmicks...Soo's voice remains legitimately enchanting...But she generates zero chemistry opposite her love interest...The music by Daniel Messe is mostly of the bland show tune variety." Full Review

“Exceedingly odd, only intermittently engaging play...The actors, perhaps sensing that the only way to make this hodgepodge cohere is to go for the guffaws, pitch their performances so loudly that they seem to be playing to the mezzanine of a theater five blocks away. The director, George C. Wolfe, telegraphs the slapstick gags from just as far out, so that all of the surprise and much of the potential comedy is lost. The result is a 95-minute show that feels twice as long.” Full Review

Tootsie (NYC)
Midtown W

“This is how to adapt a movie to the stage and give it entirely new life...The creators of this ‘Tootsie’ have put forth a show that humbles and critiques its main character far more than it celebrates him...All of this is directed with great spirit and charm by Ellis, and it’s held together by the extraordinary Fontana...If there’s a problem with “Tootsie” it’s that the score by David Yazbek sticks to a familiar musical comedy playbook, bright and bouncy but not especially memorable." Full Review

"A 'King Lear' that wholly captures the complexities and contradictions of its title character, a still-roaring lion who refuses to accept that winter has dawned. Gold’s production is at once a clever reflection of a culturally diverse modern world and a renunciation of the way ossified power structures are sustained...Never before has Gold’s vision of Shakespeare seemed as coherent or as inventive...A production that feels timeless in its sweep, yet right of this moment." Full Review

"I would have happily watched it for three-and-a-half hours more...This epic saga is performed by just three actors...The men alternately narrate the story and play the dozens of characters who populate it. You’ll have a fun time trying to decide which of the three is your favorite...The play itself is audacious and moving, daring to use of the story of the Lehmans as a microcosm for the entire history of the United States...It’s a masterpiece." Full Review

“Here’s an early contender for the most exhilarating production of the year...What is presented here is free of clutter and fuss — whatever surgical work Fiasco has done on the show, there are no visible scars — and Sondheim’s achingly gorgeous score is given vibrant life...The three excellent leads...are perfectly believable...Brody wisely trusts the core of the material...The result is humane, affecting and completely realized.” Full Review

Network (NYC)
Midtown W

"Inventive and often enthralling...Van Hove serves up one knockout visual flourish after another...van Hove and Hall haven’t updated or reimagined the material in any significant way...Yet even if this 'Network' doesn’t entirely hang together, it’s still a fabulous piece of entertainment, directed and performed with verve and showmanship. Just about every directorial choice here manages to be audacious without feeling show-offy." Full Review

King Kong (NYC)
Midtown W

"If you’re going to make a Broadway spectacle of 'King Kong,' you better have an impressive monkey -- and on that count, the new 'King Kong' musical delivers, at least somewhat...As to whether we ever forget that we’re watching an enormous manmade contraption — or whether we ever feel fully transported to his lair on the mysterious Skull Island — that’s another matter...Every time the characters start singing and dancing, it just seems discordant and pell-mell." Full Review

“What's most impressive about this stage version is that it transforms something potentially insider-ish and wonky into a surprisingly funny and urgent drama. Radcliffe and Cannavale are perfectly cast..If the mostly entertaining ‘The Lifespan of a Fact’ eventually runs out of steam, it has less to do with the cast or...direction than one's sinking feeling that the stakes here aren't very high...This is a modest show that finally feels more suited to an intimate off-Broadway space." Full Review

"The show talks itself in (mostly tedious) circles, around questions of identity, maleness, societal expectations, and so forth -- eventually coming to feel more like a graduate school seminar than a plausible drama...The actors are enjoyable...Yet the central rather thin, and most of what comes out of these characters' mouths sounds unconvincing -- these aren't people so much as talking points. To be fair, Lee raises a few provocative questions." Full Review

for a previous production "It feels like a Potter novel, with its elaborate plot fueled by magical misdoing, and its mixture of silly humor and surprising pathos. The creative team has done an extraordinary job making room on stage for any number of plot devices...One of the most visually majestic, consistently surprising Broadway productions ever mounted...Tiffany and his company never once let the trickery overwhelm the feeling...Far and away the best thing we’ve seen on Broadway this season." Full Review

"Perfectly harmless, wholly unnecessary...the very definition of disposable entertainment....Blown up to Broadway scale, none of this really works...The musical numbers don't grow organically out of the story or characters, so much as feel padded on...An already thin, lighthearted story seem painfully threadbare, and to drown out the story's central message about the importance of female unity...Which isn't necessarily to say that 'Mean Girls' is a chore to sit through." Full Review

"Olaf lends a jolt of whimsy and weirdness to a show that, until then, just lumbers along hitting the familiar beats of the movie...A play-it-by-the-book rendering of the story that, in refusing to take any real risks, ends up undermining the story's core message...Not without its pleasures...Mostly, though, this 'Frozen' inspires the sort of mild boredom that comes after, say, having watched the same animated movie approximately 150 times with your child." Full Review

Midtown W

"Chlumsky is one of the best reasons to see 'Cardinal', Greg Pierce's likable if uneven new comedy-drama...Pierce never quite gets a handle on the show's tone, which veers uneasily from broad satire to pathos to melodrama...Still, I appreciated this show's ambitious, restless energy...Pally doesn't entirely make sense of the somewhat confusing Jeff character...but the supporting cast is solid...Chlumsky anchors the show with a performance that is wily, funny and fast." Full Review

“‘People, Places & Things’ employs all sorts of clever visual tricks to disorient the viewer...Macmillan follows a fairly rote arc, of breakdown, recovery, relapse, and tentative recovery; you've seen countless variations on this story before…Gough is indeed extraordinary...But you also never quite escape the feeling that she and the show's creators are working overtime to mask the banality at the play's core." Full Review

East Village

"Transfixing and rhapsodic; a lovely portrait of a group of young artists struggling to find their place in the world...Nelson (who also directed) and his cast display a note-perfect grasp of these characters, their individual rhythms and their group dynamics -- the audience truly comes to feel like flies on the wall...A striking vision emerges, one that understands the impossibly difficult, brick-by-brick, minute-by-minute process of creating any work of art." Full Review

Prince of Broadway
Midtown W

"Shiny, handsomely packaged, and containing all of your favorites...Nine tremendously gifted Broadway veterans guide us through the highlights of the career of Prince...Whether this fully hangs together as a Broadway show is another—and highly debatable—matter...Still, there are so many moments to relish here...Each performer gets his or her chance to shine. But the star of 'Prince of Broadway' proves to be Tony Yazbeck...A mostly smooth and seamless trip down memory lane. " Full Review

A Parallelogram
Midtown W

"The first half is clever and funny, with Norris making deft use of a sort of metaphysical remote control...As the story unfolds, though, a certain cynicism takes over...This playwright never seems quite so satisfied as when he's pitilessly anatomizing his characters' worst impulses and flaws. This approach can be entertaining, and certainly 'A Parallelogram' has its moments. But Norris fails to say anything here about fate, destiny and free will that hasn't been said countless times before." Full Review

"A stripped-down, ultra-modern take...Whether this sort of thing is your thing depends, ultimately, on your taste for willful eccentricity and 'edginess.' Personally I found considerable aspects of it arresting, especially Isaac's jittery, live-wire take on the title role...On the other hand, at nearly four hours -- and with so little variation in the visual design -- this 'Hamlet' eventually turns tiresome. Too many of Gold's directorial flourishes feel like shtick." Full Review

Marvin's Room
Midtown W

"'Marvin's Room' is a terrific piece of writing—smart, funny, and offering little in the way of easy uplift...The new Broadway revival, superbly directed by Anne Kauffman, does 'Marvin's Room' extraordinary justice—it makes the case that a mostly forgotten play might just be a modern classic...Kauffman handles the broader aspects of the play with a gentle and warm touch. The characters in this show aren't defined by their quirks and eccentricities. They are deepened and humanized by them." Full Review

The Antipodes
Midtown W

"Alternately brilliant and boring; quietly touching and madly self-indulgent...For awhile, 'The Antipodes,' unfolds as a sharp, if obvious satire of corporate culture...But as the drama unfolds...the play becomes a cryptic meditation on—well, therein lies the problem...Make no mistake, there are moments of startling beauty here...But what of it? When a work is this deliberately vague and open-ended—when it can mean anything—it eventually comes to feel like a whole lot of nothing." Full Review

“Overplays the comedy and obscures the tragedy of this ingenious, complex and haunting play…Cullman turns up the dial on the farcical aspects of Guare's rapid-fire script, sending the story and the characters spilling into cartoonishness. By the second half, when 'Six Degrees' shifts into much darker terrain, this production has lost its footing…The lead actors all seem off, lacking in substance (Hickey), or mystery (Hawkins), or, in Janney's case, unwilling to plumb the depths of anguish." Full Review

"While I can report that Linney makes for a splendidly seething Regina, and Nixon is especially strong as the defeated but still desperately hopeful Birdie, I should also add that nothing about this effective, but straight-over-the-plate production compelled me to want to return...Hellman's proto-feminist observations about how power structures imprison even the most strong-willed of women are compelling, if facile...This 'Little Foxes'...never quite gets the pulse racing." Full Review

Midtown W

"A fast-moving yet lucid drama whose short scenes convey a tremendous amount of information and a surprising amount of feeling. The creators use a full array of theatrical lend a sense of poetry, spectacle and scale to what might otherwise have been a too-modest tale. If 'Indecent' doesn't land as forceful a dramatic punch as it might have, that's probably because we never fully invest in any of the characters...Then again, that may be Vogel's point." Full Review

Gently Down the Stream
East Village

"An imperfect, but very moving new work...Some of the storytelling here is clunky, and Fierstein seems to have been cast more for his connection to gay history than his ability to master a New Orleans accent. But Sherman is wrestling with complicated ideas, about the struggles of a generation of gay men to make sense of their lives, especially as social attitudes have changed radically in recent decades. The show moves from hope to heartbreak, and it ends poised on a pinpoint between the two." Full Review

"Never much rises above the level of hummable schmaltz. Yet if 'Miss Saigon' hasn't necessarily refined with age, this is nonetheless a handsome, accomplished production—an artful application of lipstick on a pot-bellied pig. The director, Laurence Connor, does an exceptional job moving the more than three-dozen actors across a busy, sometimes cluttered set, and he keeps a firm grip on the potentially confusing story line...You could do a lot worse for a night out." Full Review