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Elyse Sommer

Elyse Sommer is a critic with CurtainUp. This account has been auto-generated, and does not indicate that this person is an active member of Show-Score.com. That said, if you "follow" this member, you will automatically be updated whenever s/he writes a new review.

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Reviews (172)
Preview if i forget key art   show score
80
CurtainUp

"The play is rather too filled-to-the-brim with provocative ideas, some of which are hard to believe. But these credibility stretches aren't sufficient to spoil the many a pluses on offer. Setting the heartbeat that brings everything to rich theatrical life is Levenson's dialogue...Much credit for keeping us engaged belongs to the actors...Under the direction of Daniel Sullivan the scenes and conversations flow smoothly into each other. All that talk is never allowed to get too talky." Full Review

Preview sunsetboulevard 2
80
CurtainUp

“Glenn Close is better than ever…This revival may be more Encores style concert than the ornately staged original, but it's big in all the right ways…This is Andrew Lloyd Webber's best and richest score. Instead of one much reprised ear-clinger, he's written several show-stoppers…All this is not to say that Close's Norma, though touchingly vulnerable and doesn't make for a story that's overly melodramatic, incredible and old-fashioned." Full Review

Preview manfromnebraska
85
CurtainUp

"A beautifully staged and acted production...Birney dazzles as he takes us through Ken's journey from spiritual breakdown to an uncertain new life...Though this is Birney's show, the entire cast is top-notch. O'Toole is particularly moving as the wife who'd prefer the status quo...Cromer very effectively has the many scenes play out as filmic close-ups. The stagecraft overall is outstanding." Full Review

Preview ada
75
CurtainUp

"'After Dark:' While at first this seems to be pretty much Colin's show, Jessie turns out to be more than just a sounding board for a tour-de-force monologue...'Summit:' Despite LaBute's pacey direction and the author's smart dialogue, the play's super timeliness exacerbates that it comes off as somewhat contrived...'I don't know:' Kind gives his usual standout performance...Covatin is a star in the making...These intriguingly connected plays are well worth a trip to La MaMa." Full Review

Preview unfaithfully cropped
80
CurtainUp

"Though open marriage continues to have its yea and naysayers, it's all a tad passé given the many current departures from traditional man-woman monogamous relationships. Nevertheless it does all add up to an engaging two hours thanks to the often witty dialogue and the generally fine performances Mr. Bank has elicited from the actors...By introducing us to Miles Malleson with this never produced play, Jonathan Bank proves the validity of that old saw 'better late than never.'" Full Review

Preview 800x1200 jitney
90
CurtainUp

"'Jitney' may lack the more fully developed structural sophistication of later plays...Fortunately, director Ruben Santiago-Hudson and his A+ ensemble have found a way to make us see past the flaws that tend to creep into even a master craftsman's early works...Thanks to Mr. Santiago-Hudson's well-paced, sensitive direction and the top to bottom excellence of this ensemble, 'Jitney' works as a moving and entertaining collage." Full Review

Preview in transit
40
CurtainUp

"The novelty of vocally supplied accompaniment to the songs comes with its own shortcomings. And it's saddled with a book stuffed with well-worn vignettes about characters too familiar to be interesting or moving...Even the talented, multi-Tony Award winning director-choreographer Kathleen Marshall can't save these talented young performers from having to play characters that the show's writers have failed to improve on." Full Review

Preview rsz the babylon line
70
CurtainUp

"It's all overambitious and too diffuse. Yet, Greenberg is still very much at the top of his game as a gifted wordsmith, which means bursts of lyricism as well as characterizing conversations filled with hilarious and stinging comments...The concluding update of how everyone fared over the years feels tacked on...But with Greenberg doing the neatening up, you can't help being glad that you took that train ride to suburbia with him." Full Review

Preview thebandsvisit
90
CurtainUp

"A both funny and poignant charmer. It's that rare screen-to-stage adaptation that has remained true to the plot and tone of its source but is nevertheless totally fresh and different...As directed by David Cromer, the movie's small and delicate feel has survived...Yazbek's marvelously moody score perfectly fits book writer Itamar Moses's version of the film script...The score may lack addictive sing-in-the-shower hits but it offers a different and very impressive kind of ear candy." Full Review

Preview rsz dear evan hansen
85
CurtainUp

"With its original team back for the move, it's settled very nicely into the Music Box. The staging has been expanded to fit the larger stage and theater, happily without succumbing to the over amplification, an all-too-common feature of big Broadway musicals. Ben Platt, who was such a terrific Evan last spring, is even better...The rest of the cast is again excellent...Given all of the above, everything I said when I reviewed the show last May still holds." Full Review

Preview pigeon in the taj mahal white
80
CurtainUp

"'The Pigeon in the Taj Mahal' is true to form with its cast. What's unexpected is that director Cox has mounted this play with drop-dead production values...'Taj Mahal' will be enjoyed by anyone who appreciates something wild and wooly...Cox has elicited powerful performances from his actors...There are times when the activities in 'Taj Mahal' are excessively over the top. You may also miss bits of the fast-paced authentically Irish dialogue. But most of the 90 minutes fly by." Full Review

Preview fwd key 800x1200
65
CurtainUp

"Clearly 'This Day Forward' is not a sequel, but neither is it really new in terms of the issues raised...Though it does have enough assets to make it reasonably entertaining, it's not prime Silver...With Mark Brokaw again at the helm, the shift from 1958 to 2004 and from character to character is balanced and smooth, as are the interactions between the characters. Under his guidance, the actors, all but two of whom are here double cast, give first-rate performances." Full Review

Preview download
85
CurtainUp

"Malloy's sung-through lyrics are clear as any play dialogue and propel the narrative most effectively. And Chavkin has guided the performers to make their situations and feelings easily comprehensible...Electro-pop-influenced and sung-through like an opera, but it also, and beautifully, blends in Russian folk and classical music...They've managed to give audiences a view of Tolstoy's rather overwrought romantic subplot through a contemporary and often humorous and unique lens." Full Review

Preview women of a certain age white
80
CurtainUp

"This final play continues to be timely. The situation now is a reflection of middle-class Americans caught up in events that made this election so contentious and its aftermath so problematic...Nelson is a very good writer and 'Women of A Certain Age' has tapped into his gift for finely observed and developed characters. He's also that rare playwright who is a good director who knows how to move his actors around naturally and gracefully." Full Review

Preview falsettos temp 285x375.jpeg  284x50000 q85 subsampling 2
95
CurtainUp

"Finn's sung-through score is lyrical and sophisticated, full of intricate multiple harmonies. The lyrics are an organic blend of heart-tugging emotion and sophistication, and thanks to the small cast and orchestra achieve the clarity of conversations...This beautifully staged and performed revival is one of the most moving, eye and ear pleasing old-new musicals currently on Broadway. James Lapine once again directs gracefully so that 'Falsettos' feels fresh as ever." Full Review

Preview finian s rainbow white
90
CurtainUp

"It's a revival that's handsomely spruced up and well appointed with talent to fit their smartly renovated twenty-second street theater...Still an intimate production but with richer staging and some fine tuning...The golden-voiced, very pretty Melissa Errico is not too old to play the romantic lead, and her voice is as golden as ever...The ensemble features some terrific belters...My wish for all of you reading this is that you'll find time to see this grand old musical fairy tale." Full Review

Preview keyart 01
85
CurtainUp

"The foppish Valmont isn't a natural fit for Schreiber. Yet, he displays deft comic timing to bring out the eye-winking humor in Hampton's text...There's no question that Ms. Rourke has given the nasty pair's story a striking and symbolically rich production...Janet McTeer is superb...I have nothing but praise for the stylish staging of this much-told tale of sexual intrigue. And the current presidential campaign underscores the evolving timeliness of Hampton's text more than ever." Full Review

Preview frontpage
70
CurtainUp

"Mr. O'Brien gives everyone a chance to have a standout moment or so. However, it's not until Nathan Lane's Editor Burns finally plants himself center stage that this production bursts into full-blown laugh-aloud mode...The enjoyable presentation and excellent performances notwithstanding, once you get over admiring the set and the costumes and listen to some of the insults and phone calls flying around the room, the rest of the first act and part of the second are a too dragged out setup." Full Review

Preview cherry orchard
55
CurtainUp

"While Karam and Godwin have mistepped in ratcheting up the timely connection between the entitled and resistant to change landowners of Chekhov's and America's world, the performances include individual standouts and some that capture the the play's most poignant Chekhovian moments...There are good performances from most of the cast, but intermittently so...Like everything about this production there's a 'yes-but' even for the praiseworthy ideas." Full Review

Preview sellbuydate
75
CurtainUp

"Jones is a remarkable performer and sharp observer. And she's come up with an amusing futuristic spin on the sex industry's growth and reach into themes of gender dynamics, personal identity and feminism. That said, her characters do slip into stereotypical territory, and the piece, even at just 85 minutes, feels overly long...My quibbles notwithstanding, director Carolyn Cantor has staged this multi-voiced monologue fluidly." Full Review

Preview public enemy white
70
CurtainUp

"'Public Enemy' is certainly super timely...Harrower did more than wrestle the five-act play down to a 90-minute single act...He altered Ibsen's text so that Stockmann's targets go beyond the town's politicians to include the whole consumer society and our apathetic selves. Harrower's head-to-toe, slimmed-down text sticks to the essential story...The problem here is that the performances all around are more okay than outstanding." Full Review

Preview 82854 2
60
CurtainUp

"Whether you'll love 'The Encounter' depends on how much you value a show's vive la difference factor...The unique storytelling approach's grip on my senses wasn't quite firm enough to hold me for almost 2 hours. During the last twenty minutes or so, I caught myself sneaking glances at my watch...Even if it weren't about 20 minutes too long, you might find all those voices and philosophical observations about time, life and, death as often distancing as fully engaging." Full Review

Preview screenhunter 1794 aug. 05 20.08
30
CurtainUp

"Despite all its good intentions, it's not a very good play...Carlin does his best to make us buy into the Bush persona. Unfortunately his best isn't convincing enough to buy into the conceit of the set-up...'The Trial of an American President' warrants a flunking grade...Unless the Bush and Cheney families decide to attend a performance, it's a pretty sure bet that Bush's fate will be the same for most of the play's run...Enlisting the audience to serve as jurors is ineffective and gimmicky." Full Review

Preview 83381 3
70
CurtainUp

"While the focus remains on the personal, world events and the tempestuous current election campaign are very much reflected in the Gabriels' lives...As this surreal and seemingly endless campaign has reached a point where it's hard to stay fully engaged, the same is true for this middle play which was 'frozen' before the upcoming debates and could benefit from a little less talk." Full Review

Preview maestro white
75
CurtainUp

"An enjoyable narrative with some wonderful music...Felder's not looking or sounding like Bernstein doesn't really matter since he frequently segues into other key figures...He handles the singing and stage presence required to do so competently...Whatever the shortcomings of the script and Felder being a truly compelling Lenny, he deserves credit for giving equal time to the compositions that Bernstein was so eager to have appreciated as much as his more popular theater scores." Full Review

Preview screenhunter 2587 jan. 09 20.02
65
CurtainUp

"With the help of Director Lila Neugebauer and eight versatile actors, 'Everybody' manages to be a very much 'now' production...There's no denying that this is all very clever and audience involving...It should be said, however, that this whimsical sort of satire isn't everyone's coup-de-comic-riff. For this viewer the humor ran thin early on, picked up with Burke's arrival, but ultimately left me less satisfied with 'Everybody' than the author's previous plays." Full Review

Preview rsz 1rsz evening at the talkhouse
40
CurtainUp

"Mr. Elliott and the entire cast do their utmost to bring out both the humor and horror of Shawn's serio-comedy. But the sly finger pointing at a narrow group within a bigger, ever scarier world doesn't mesh as smoothly and clearly as it should...Interesting as some of the ideas that come to light are, the gradual shift in tone is rather confusing. Except for Shawn and Broderick, none of the characters assigned to these well-credentialed actors are especially interesting." Full Review

Preview 299518
70
CurtainUp

"Despite punchy dialogue that effectively lands its laugh lines, there's no avoiding the predictability...Under Joel Ruiz's taut direction, and with a strong assist from his design team, the many short scenes have enough physical and visual energy to save 'Fade' from being too talky and static...Familiar as this narrative is, it's refreshing to have it play out for characters from a demographic usually seen in more stereotypical roles on stage and screen." Full Review

Preview the liar white
85
CurtainUp

"Words win the day whenever Mr. Ives takes on a centuries-old classic. Even liars are fun and funny when 'translaptated' by him...It helps that Michael Kahn, who directed this production's premiere in DC, is on board to ensure that prevaricating Dorante's misguided courtship of a Parisian beauty erupts into deliriously entertaining mayhem to extend the humor of the word play with typical comic ingredients...Ives' verbal wizardry makes the entire play feel as if just written." Full Review

Preview rsz the tempest
90
CurtainUp

"It has some terrific coup de theatres that are bound to tickle your fancy...Walter, doubling as Prospero and the inmate Hanna, is superb...One of the marks of a great production is that it makes you see a familiar text in a fresh light. Lloyd's gender-blind 'Tempest' set in a prison does that and more. It invites you to watch women step into traditionally male roles with no apologies. What's more, it forces you to witness up-close how our justice system works—and how harsh it can be." Full Review

Preview 82707 9
85
CurtainUp

"What we have is a big star vehicle which happens to be made more starry courtesy of a stellar ensemble. Blanchett and Roxburgh are electrifying...To add to the pleasures of 'The Present,' Upton and Director Crowley have brought out Chekhov's intention to have his plays viewed as farces by playing up the humorous aspects of these characters' behavior...A well-paced three hours to be savored for the fine performances and interesting hints of themes to come." Full Review

Preview nytw othelloshowpage 4641x2616 1280x721  1
90
CurtainUp

"Though Craig's Iago may have a slight edge in the first half, Oyelowo impressively captures the mix of brave warrior and innocent naive when it comes to his love life. By the time his General falls prey to the suspicions planted by his duplicitous second banana, this is definitely a two-star triumph...Under Gold's direction, the rest of the ensemble lends strong support...Whatever I found less than ideal before intermission turned completely compelling during the the play's big finale." Full Review

Preview tbt white
75
CurtainUp

"These three actors are so good they bring these epistolary exchanges closer to creating the real human connection for which the internet will never be a substitute. Vardalos not only steps into Ms. Strayed's shoes with grace and feeling but has done a good job of trimming, adding and reorganizing some of the material. The book's most heart-wrenching segment rounds out the piece with a get-out-your-handkerchief moment...Handsomely staged and warmly performed." Full Review

Preview rancho viejo white
45
CurtainUp

"I found much in the play challenged my expectations of an engrossing, funny evening. Sure, Aukin and his crafts team nicely captured LeFranc's realistic surface as well as the surrealism underneath. And Blum and Winningham are terrific...But ‘Rancho Viejo's’ slow-building combination of super realism and its more absurdist underpinnings don't merge smoothly or all that meaningfully…The first two acts leave us with as many unsatisfactorily addressed questions as the last." Full Review

Preview 8131c66a4609bda5bc44d3146e84e715
70
CurtainUp

"Cordero's sinister yet charismatic gangster-in-chief contributes mightily toward making this singing and dancing 'A Bronx Tale' an enjoyable musical entertainment...While the show has been given a sugary Disney gloss, the score is easy on the ears and the lyrics advance the story and include showstoppers...Slick, colorful and tuneful as it is, the overall feel and those echoes of 'West Side Story' do place this into pleasing but standard Broadway musical territory." Full Review

Preview othello remix white
85
CurtainUp

"The Q Brothers have effectively and entertainingly transposed 'Othello's' story into modern rhyme…They've remained true to the narrative even though it all plays out in a fast-paced 80 minutes…The remix also means that plenty of comedy has been mixed into the storytelling...Gets most of its laughs from the split-second timing with which the cast switches roles...The title role is portrayed with verve and genuine emotional depth by Postell Pringle." Full Review

Preview sweet.charity.cropped
80
CurtainUp

"Even the invaluable New Group's smartly streamlined new production must contend with Neil Simon's fragile (and nowadays dated) book. Fortunately, there's nothing flimsy about the jazzy score and tremendously witty lyrics...This is very much an intimate ensemble show that's mounted in a modest-size theater. That means it doesn't lend itself to a lot of jaw-dropping theatrical pyrotechnics but relies on A+ work the whole cast. And A+ work is exactly what's on offer." Full Review

Preview dps white
40
CurtainUp

"Unfortunately, my hopes that Doyle could bring his flair for fresh new takes to familiar theater pieces didn't materialize in this instance; Neither did my wish that in adapting his film script for the stage, that Schulman would have found a way to tone down the from the get-go predictability and perhaps ratchet up the role of the teacher...If only the poetry didn't come off here, as it did in the movie, well chosen but a well-intentioned but contrived device." Full Review

Preview last black man white
60
CurtainUp

"I'm a Parks fan...But this very colorful new-old play is not going anywhere near the top of my list of favorite Parks works...Lileana Blain-Cruz's handsome, music-infused production isn't enough to offset the inaccessibility of the experience...The entire ensemble is excellent, and all have standout moments...The vivacious performances and staging keep the audience engaged—even when more than a little confused." Full Review

Preview notes from the field white
80
CurtainUp

"The people whose cadences and exact words Smith captures with remarkably emotional nuance and authenticity during the course of two hours, intensify the magnitude of the school-to-prison-pipeline situation...But meeting these people as so masterfully embodied by Ms. Smith will hardly send us out the door especially hopeful...She's a true blue visionary and her commitment to this school-to-prison pipeline project is not limited to this potently entertaining play." Full Review

Preview sweat white
85
CurtainUp

for a previous production "'Sweat' sees Lynn Nottage at a pinnacle in her career...Though I found the play's structure and conflicts too schematic and familiar to really tap into my deepest emotions until late in the second act, I don't think it will—or should—fade away along with the candidates defeated on this year's Election Day...Kate Whoriskey achieves a fine balance between the familial closeness and the simmering undercurrents of potential strains in the friendships and racial harmony." Full Review

Preview life white
65
CurtainUp

"Mr. Hyde Pierce's Nate is such a vivid and well defined character and the two scenes we see him in are such an entertaining mix of Seinfeldian self-absorption and poignancy, that it's hard to sustain interest once he's no longer actively involved...While I'm not a great fan of actors coming on stage and making us their confidantes, Hyde Pierce uses his solo stint effectively and vividly...'A Life' somehow left me just a bit too let down and unsatisfied." Full Review

Preview rsz plenty
80
CurtainUp

"The current stylishly staged and splendidly performed revival is still a gripping example of Mr. Hare's skillful blend of personal and historical theater...Weisz is not as deeply nuanced in every aspect of Susan's story as one might hope for. She does ruthless, self-absorption and righteousness very well indeed, but her mental fragility tilts too much towards complete craziness...The rest of the large cast adds immeasurably to 'Plenty's' retaining its dramatic force." Full Review

Preview final
90
CurtainUp

"Naturally, even a work from as assured and original a playwright as Mr. Bartlett calls for top-notch performances to bring out the humor and nuances of his script...With Michael Mayer directing a well-chosen cast there's nothing to worry about in the acting department. Nor will American audiences have a problem relating to these characters...It all adds up to a well-paced production of a beautifully crafted, funny and poignant new play." Full Review

Preview heisenberg
85
CurtainUp

"With a set consisting of just a couple of tables and chairs the only glitter in 'Heisenberg' comes from the acting and that's certainly in good hands here. The part of Georgie seems written to order for Mary-Louise Parker's singular affinity for somewhat lost, almost child-like characters. Denis Arndt's Alex at first seems mostly a sounding board for Parker's Georgie...But though Parker has the showier role, Arndt quickly becomes a much more significant and endearing presence." Full Review

Preview oh hello
65
CurtainUp

"For Kroll and Mulaney's many fans, 'Oh, Hello' is a winner...If the jokes overshadow the plot, that will suit them just fine...Anyone who, like me, comes to the Lyceum as Kroll-Mulaney virgins, will have a harder time getting into their brand of wacky, often in-your-face humor. Still, the very genuine chemistry between these guys does give a dash of charm to their shticky trajectory...I can't say that 'Oh, Hello' ever quite escaped its improv-sketch comedy roots for me." Full Review

Preview rtc holidayinn cast
80
CurtainUp

"Though Greenberg and Hodges' still rely on a feather-weight plot and feel-good nostalgia, it doesn't really matter. You see, the really new thing about their production is how smoothly they've mixed songs from the Irving Berlin canon in with those from the original movie...The production numbers showcase Aleji Vietti's snazzy costumes as well as Mr. Jones's choreography. Jones does particularly notable work with the first act's jump rope routines in 'Shakin'The Blues Away." Full Review

Preview alltheways
80
CurtainUp

"Despite the darkness of LaBute's meditations on love, they tend to also have funny moments. Indeed, 'All the Ways to Say I Love You' again delivers funny as well as teary moments...Its twist on top of twist ending can be more readily predicted. Though the prose is still sharp, the big trick here is Light's performance: Watching her shift moods...appearing open and ordinary yet clearly complex enough to mix personal neediness with crafty manipulation." Full Review

Preview a taste of honey slide 02  copy
75
CurtainUp

"Even a director as capable and well versed in every theatrical style as Mr. Pendleton can't make this 57-year-old play send even a ripple of shock waves through contemporary audiences who've had plenty of exposure to working-class settings, about interracial romances, single mothers and gay men. But don't write this revival off as dated just yet...Under Pendleton's direction the actors have for the most part brought Delaney's characters to refreshingly authentic life." Full Review

Preview mar show page artwork v4
80
CurtainUp

"Brant's story is essentially a framing device for a terrific, concert—a concert vibrant enough to make even non-gospel fans tap their feet and applaud after each number. The music may even make you forgive the playwright's contrived trick ending...Lewis and Jones make this two-hander soar dramatically as well as musically. Both are fine actors and have big belting vocals...By the time the two women actually sing and play together the show really rocks." Full Review