JAMES L 6154

Boston | 50-64 | Male
About:  I live on Cape Cod and come to NYC once a month. When I come, it's important to pick shows of all kinds. It's been fascinating recently to see off-Broadway out-do some of the "must-sees" of Broadway. So, I love shows from NY Theater Workshop to Encores! To Broadway, and beyond. There is so much tale... Read more Read less
Reviews (209)
68
Wives
Midtown W
Indulgent, Disappointing, Entertaining, Funny, Great acting

See it if You want broad comedy, female bonding, very good performances, and what felt like sketch comedy from Carol Burnett. Unevenly entertaining.

Don't see it if You want a tonal consistency. The final scene was so jarring from the rest. This isn’t wrong—I just hated it. There is comedy, drama...

70
Slow, Resonant, Intelligent, Entertaining, Absorbing

See it if You have a connection to St. Vincents, to the AIDS epidemic, like experimental theater, or want to see a show that reaches beyond boundaries

Don't see it if You want a tidy plot line, a neat ending, a linear story, or just don’t like the subject matter. There was a lot to like, but incoherent.

96
During previews
Masterful, Hilarious, Funny, Delightful, Entertaining

See it if You want to see the show in a new way. I loved that Tammy Blanchard didn’t mimic Ellen Greene, but sought to make Audrey her own. Wonderful.

Don't see it if You’re just looking for the show you’ve seen before. They make different choices, and it’s only in previews. There was HUGE audience love.

80
Entertaining, Disappointing, Great writing, Great singing, Ambitious

See it if You love Lynn Nottage, Duncan Sheik, the novel, or LaChanze. It’s an excellent production. Nottage’s book was spectacular, Sheik’s score ok.

Don't see it if You’re looking for the book and score to come together into something mesmerizing. Very watchable—my husband was crying at the end.

78
Dying City
Midtown W
Poor staging, Gimmicky, Intelligent, Great writing, Great acting

See it if You want an intelligently written show (a Pulitzer finalist). It’s well acted, and intriguing. Second Stage is always better than average.

Don't see it if There was about 1/2 the stage that wasn’t used except for a 10 second moment for the ending. Distracting. The scene changes were distracting

85
Resonant, Profound, Intelligent, Great writing, Great acting

See it if You like Lucas Hnath. He’s brilliant. Or, if you like the cast. You can’t take your eyes off of them. The show is not political—just true.

Don't see it if You don’t like politics—it’s a hot button topic these days, and people see what they want to see. I can’t think of another reason not to go.

Also This playwright is brilliant. We’ve been lucky enough to see all his w... Read more Read less

71
Disappointing, Intense, Intelligent, Entertaining, Great acting

See it if You love anyone involved. IMO, Ruth Wilson stoke the show. Glenda Jackson ACTED, and never let you forget it. The sisters were excellent.

Don't see it if You’re looking for a definitive Lear. This was definitely a piece where the parts were greater than the sum whole. Not bad, just not great.

Also I just read a review of potential Tony nominees, and they made a comme... Read more Read less

70
Insipid, Indulgent, Fluffy, Great singing, Disappointing

See it if You love great music, well done. You’ll want to sing, dance, and shout. Unfortunately it’s Broadway, and you shouldn’t/can’t do that.

Don't see it if You want a story, or more than just music. There’s not much going on besides that.

50
During previews
Quirky, Indulgent, Edgy, Disappointing, Ambitious

See it if You enjoy heavy themes of grief, loss, and despair, but don’t want to be weighted down by them. Even in its affecting moments, it was trite.

Don't see it if You want to be moved by theater. (Disclaimer—all those around us were shouting “Bravo” and giving a standing ovation. I just didn’t see that

Also I couldn’t help but compare this to Girls and Boys, with Carey Mulliga... Read more Read less

70
During previews
The Cradle Will Rock
East Village
Uneven, Dated, Disappointing, Great singing, Funny

See it if You love Tony Yazbeck (like I do). He’s a true ensemble player instead of taking a star turn. The show is laborious, dated, yet relevant.

Don't see it if You’re looking for evenness of tone. Some actors were serious, some were in a farce. CSC is never bad—this was just one of their weaker ones

70
The Cake
Midtown W
Fluffy, Relevant, Great acting, Disappointing, Funny

See it if You want to feel that you’re exploring edgy topics without really doing so. Very funny lead by Rupp, but ultimately doesn’t challenge much.

Don't see it if You have rigid beliefs. The topics are still there—religion, same-sex marriage, etc—just really as entertainment more than good theater.

94
The Light
Midtown W
Great writing, Great acting, Intimate, Ambitious, Absorbing

See it if You are okay with heavy themes—sexual assault, race, discrimination, bias—in a play that’s tone is not always consistent. Still amazing.

Don't see it if You can’t handle the above, or want a comedy. My only complaint was that the writing sometimes felt like exposition and less like dialog.

80
Network (NYC)
Midtown W
Edgy, Disappointing, Ambitious, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if You want to see The Howard Beale Show. This’s become increasingly about Bryan Cranston, who’s great, but bears little resemblance to Network

Don't see it if You want any resemblance to Network, or want to care about any of the other characters. This is a one man show, and you’re bored without him

Also I saw this in London, and they’ve amplified Bryan Cranston even more t... Read more Read less

95
Overly polished, Resonant, Great acting, Epic, Ambitious

See it if You’re a fan of the book, great drama, great theater, relevant topics that still resonate decades later, or fans of great acting. Superb.

Don't see it if You’re a fan of the book, or like your drama a little grittier and raw. This was excellent, but felt a little too “timely” and preachy.

Also This was a great show, and earned the ovations it received. I just hat... Read more Read less

70
Marys Seacole
Upper W Side
Relevant, Indulgent, Great acting, Confusing, Ambitious

See it if You like Quincy Tyler Bernstine. We were lucky enough to see her sub inn the Nether, and excel in Our Lady of 121st Street. She’s exquisite.

Don't see it if You want a straightforward story (nonlinear and confusing), an equally engaging cast, or a story that held your interest.

90
Superhero
Midtown W
Intelligent, Edgy, Great singing, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if You like family drama (think Next to Normal, Dear Evan Hansen), whimsy ( Fly by Night), and great singing and acting. It’s a fun, small show

Don't see it if You’re looking for the above. It’s a small show. It doesn’t pack the punch of Evan Hanson, or the pathos of Next to Normal.

Also The show was amazing, and the audience was engaged, and gave it a stan... Read more Read less

70
Great acting, Dated, Disappointing, Intense, Slow

See it if You’re a fan of Sam Shepard, Ethan Hawke, or Paul Dano. I’m finding, like with Fool For Love, that I’m not a fan. The acting is terrific.

Don't see it if You like even tone throughout (comedy or drama?), you like to walk out with all your questions answered so you can go to dinner...ambiguity.

Also I don’t think it’s a bad production. I’m just learning I’m not a Sam S... Read more Read less

70
During previews
Disappointing, Entertaining, Funny, Confusing, Disjointed

See it if You’ve never seen it, and have nothing to compare it to. This was more comedic (Fiasco), in a show that is not known for comedy. Strange.

Don't see it if You love the score, the show, or were lucky enough to see the touring Maria Friedman production that toured last year. An odd misfire.

Also Fiasco did a better job with Into The Woods a few years back, but that... Read more Read less

70
During previews
Boesman and Lena
Midtown W
Ambitious, Disappointing, Great acting, Overrated, Thought-provoking

See it if You care more about social issues than you do good theater. The themes are relevant, no less so today than when they were written. So-so.

Don't see it if You’re looking for entertainment. It’s a three hander, with very little going on. Don’t if you’re expecting action, staging or a production.

Also It’s hard to fault the Signature. The price is $35, and it gets people... Read more Read less

78
During previews
Clever, Ambitious, Uneven, Profound, Relevant

See it if You want a play dealing with race, ambition, dreams, disappointment, racism, history, and the entertainment industry in broad, uneven tones.

Don't see it if You don’t like farce, want evenness in tone and structure, don’t want heavy tones and themes, or want a ton of action. It’s a small play.

Also There’s a lot to like here. It depends on how forgiving you are. I lik... Read more Read less

92
Absorbing, Ambitious, Entertaining, Intelligent, Masterful

See it if You want a slice of life, of growing up, about race but not, about homosexuality but not, religion but not. This was so well written. Go!

Don't see it if You’re bothered by any of the above, don’t like unpleasant topics, think life is fair, want hero’s and villains—everyone had a story.

81
The Hard Problem
Upper W Side
Absorbing, Ambitious, Dizzying, Great acting, Great writing

See it if You want entertaining theater, that delves into extraordinary questions, while not forgetting to entertain. An ephemeral Adelaide Clemens.

Don't see it if You don’t want to be challenged, on questions of science and religion, nature vs nurture... Or, if you need a big show in a big theater.

100
During previews
The Jungle
Brooklyn
Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Great writing, Riveting

See it if You care about good theater, about human rights, want to see extraordinary acting, writing and staging, and want to be haunted. Stunning.

Don't see it if You don’t like politics in theater, want a feel good show, don’t want to question what you can do to change a life, or just want to laugh.

Also This is not a feel good show, though in a strange way it was. Don’t ta... Read more Read less

95
Clever, Delightful, Entertaining, Great singing, Great acting

See it if You want to have fun. Great from beginning to end. Must see if you like Cher. Great music, TOWERING performance from Stephanie J. Block.

Don't see it if You don’t like Cher, don’t like jukebox musicals, and that’s about it. It was funny, entertaining, had great performances, and was FUN.

Also This was all about Stephanie J. Block and Cher. Teal Wicks and Michael... Read more Read less

70
During previews
Cliched, Confusing, Dated, Disappointing, Entertaining

See it if It’s Clueless, which steals your heart. If you’re okay that it’s not Alicia Silverstone (and I’m not), and can see fun in a silly story.

Don't see it if You want the movie, don’t like the ‘90’s in general, think you’re seeing an original musical, or want more than a fun light comedy. It’s ok.

86
Make Believe
Midtown W
Resonant, Intelligent, Great staging, Entertaining, Absorbing

See it if You have no preconceived notions, like dysfunction, want to see how lives change after challenging events, and like deep drama. A surprise.

Don't see it if You don’t like child actors, don’t like family drama, need a very linear storyline, and need characters you like and want to root for.

50
During previews
Sunday
Chelsea
Slow, Insipid, Indulgent, Ambitious, Disappointing

See it if You care what people you don’t like have to say. The characters are (mostly) unlikable, so their bickering is, at best, annoying.

Don't see it if You think that group dances are appropriate and artistic segues between scenes. It’s not common, but this was a disappointing Atlantic show.

75
Forced, Indulgent, Funny, Entertaining, Clever

See it if You like comedy and farce, don’t hold a great love of Chekhov, and like to see things reinvented. The cast works hard, and entertains.

Don't see it if You’re not in the mood. It can feel forced, or hilarious, depending on your mood. You’re all in or done with the first scene. We loved it.

90
Ink
Midtown W
Profound, Great writing, Great acting, Entertaining, Ambitious

See it if You like great acting/writing/staging, with a fast-paced script. The action is funny, serious, and all the more relevant because it is true.

Don't see it if You don’t care about the news, Rupert Murdoch, or plots that can seem to veer in to farce. Otherwise, it’s brilliantly done, and impeccable

79
Burn This
Midtown W
No chemistry, Must see, Intelligent, Great acting, Great writing

See it if You want a well written show, well acted by all 4 leads, in a well done revival. There is no reason not to see this show. Very entertaining

Don't see it if You’re looking to feel/see the chemistry between Adam Driver and Keri Russell, that should drive the show. It’s sadly just not there.

88
Riveting, Refreshing, Exquisite, Great writing, Great singing

See it if You want something different. The leads are good (it’s Eva Noblezada!), but it’s about Patrick Page and Amber Gray, which is weird, but good

Don't see it if You need light comedy, don’t like mythology, need catchy pop tunes, or I JUST DON’T KNOW. The music, story, and staging are gorgeous.

Also We were lucky enough to have seen this at the NYTW, on a freaky night ... Read more Read less

60
Insipid, Quirky, Disappointing, Dated, Confusing

See it if You’re a big fan of Sophia Anne Caruso. She’s 17, was extraordinary in the Nether, Lazarus, Blackbird, and is the only worthwhile thing here

Don't see it if You liked the movie, are a fan of ALL the wasted talent here, or just want a fun night at the theater. It’s just not good.

92
All My Sons
Midtown W
Masterful, Great writing, Great acting, Exquisite, Absorbing

See it if You’re okay with the Arthur Miller meandering that gets you to the exquisite 3rd act. The cast is exceptional, especially the 3 leads.

Don't see it if You don’t like long shows, need comedy or lighter dramas, don’t like period pieces, or want a clear person or idea to root for.

96
White Noise
East Village
Disturbing, Great writing, Great acting, Exquisite, Ambitious

See it if You’re socially aware at all. It rocks your preconceived and safe notions, and walks you out the door shaken. I didn’t know how to feel.

Don't see it if You want a light show, have rigid belief systems, think social inequality has been fully examined, or want a light fun musical. Brilliant.

Also I haven’t walked out of a show feeling as shaken, or rattled, as I did... Read more Read less

71
The Mother
Chelsea
Overrated, Great acting, Disappointing, Ambitious, Absorbing

See it if You’re a fan of Isabelle Huppert. She’s a force of nature in the show, whether you like the show, her character, or the central premise.

Don't see it if You want a linear plot line. It dissolves, twists, repeats...you’re uncomfortable with the idea of incest, mental illness, or dementia.

73
After
Midtown E
Thought-provoking, Intelligent, Edgy, Disappointing, Ambitious

See it if You know nothing about it, like theater that can be uncomfortable, are not shy with dark topics, and do not require a lot of staging.

Don't see it if You know what it’s about. The playwright is best, like in Daniel’s Husband, at the big “moment”. I knew what to expect, so the impact failed

88
Daddy
Midtown W
Confusing, Great acting, Disturbing, Ambitious, Absorbing

See it if You want to walk out thinking you took acid, want to be very disturbed (in a good way), and not be entirely sure what you just saw. Great!

Don't see it if You don’t like gratuitous nudity, need a clear-cut story, are disturbed by family dramas, don’t like gay themes, or creep out easily.

Also I don’t really know how to describe what we just saw. Don’t read revie... Read more Read less

85
During previews
Ambitious, Funny, Great singing, Disappointing, Enchanting

See it if You love classic theater. I gave an 85 because up through “Too Darn Hot”, this was 100. After that, it fell apart. Kelli O’Hara is masterful

Don't see it if You want chemistry between the leads. Will Chase can be great, but he was wildly mismatched, and the chemistry just wasn’t there.

Also If you saw the Brian Stokes Mitchell/Marin Mazzie revival, this will b... Read more Read less

69
During previews
Nantucket Sleigh Ride
Upper W Side
Hilarious, Indulgent, Funny, Confusing, Ambitious

See it if You like a mixed bag. My tags were all over the place because so was the play. A great lead performance by John Larroquette, but uneven show

Don't see it if You need linear storytelling, don’t like farce, don’t like John Guare (though shows are all different), need something deeper and more dark.

70
Small, Refreshing, Fluffy, Funny, Entertaining

See it if You want to enjoy a show, don’t mind small casts playing multiple roles, like a lot of fun in your shows, and just want to be entertained.

Don't see it if You need a big show, don’t like broad humor with some “political incorrectness”, need a big story/ staging, or thought you on Broadway.

65
Alice By Heart
Midtown W
Silly, Great singing, Disappointing, Confusing, Ambitious

See it if You love Alice in Wonderland, love contemporary choreography inserted for no reason, and like talented singers/actors being wasted.

Don't see it if You’re looking for a coherent book, you loved Spring Awakening (weak echoes here), you don’t like mania (tender moments followed by farce).

Also I had high hopes for this, and was saddened by how unfocused it was. T... Read more Read less

92
Call Me Madam
Midtown W
Delightful, Entertaining, Exquisite, Great singing, Masterful

See it if You love Encores! and what they do—bringing older shows, dusting them off, making them fresh, and reminding when theater was entertainment.

Don't see it if You need the hot new show. This is old-fashioned, pure entertainment. Don’t go if you’re looking for big sets, contemporary themes or ideas.

Also Another example of what Encores! does best. If you’re a fan, don’t mis... Read more Read less

85
Nassim
Midtown W
Clever, Entertaining, Great writing, Profound, Resonant

See it if You want a simple story of unity, shared lives, simple theater, experimentation, and rigid staging. This is very dependent on the actor...

Don't see it if You don’t like the performer of the night—it’s one person reading a show with no preparation. We saw Tatiana Maslany, who was wholly engaged

Also This is a story, like Red Rabbit, White Rabbit before it, which succee... Read more Read less

90
During previews
Sea Wall/A Life
East Village
Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Masterful, Must see

See it if You like either actor, want a serious piece of theater, love extraordinary acting, enjoy profound topics about life, existence, and love.

Don't see it if You need staging, lots of action, don’t like monologues, want a comedy, don’t want to think about the show, or want to come out humming.

72
About Alice
Brooklyn
Entertaining, Disappointing, Indulgent, Relevant, Romantic

See it if You want to see a love story. This is a valentine from Calvin Trillin to his wife, and it is lovely. Valentines are not always good theater.

Don't see it if You’re expecting action, are distracted by showy set pieces (the costume changes become distracting), or want a clear narrative,.

72
Blue Ridge
Chelsea
Absorbing, Entertaining, Disappointing, Great acting, Indulgent

See it if You’re interested in life’s mistakes, atoning, repeating mistakes, great acting, cliched characters, and less than developed characters.

Don't see it if You want a fully fleshed out story or characters, want to remember what you laughed so much at (I couldn’t, but it was really funny), or...

77
Delightful, Entertaining, Funny, Cliched, Great singing

See it if You don’t mind that every character is a stereotype, or that some of the jokes are borderline offensive. It’s really funny, and entertaining

Don't see it if You don’t want to see Beath Leavel chew up the scenery. She does that, and loves every second of it, and so did we. The entire cast was good

Also It’s not the best show out there, but it’s not trying to be. It’s just... Read more Read less

78
During previews
Slave Play
East Village
Absorbing, Ambitious, Edgy, Intense, Riveting

See it if You want an intelligent play that tackles big issues—race, sexuality, sex, slavery, consent, and dominance/submission. It’s heady stuff.

Don't see it if You don’t like long shows without intermission, are uncomfortable with nudity, frank simulated sex, and racial overtones and discussions.

Also I really liked this show, but I can easily see it being an all-in or a... Read more Read less

80
Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Profound, Relevant

See it if You want a tour de force performance from Raul Esparza. He is riveting. The show is good, not great, but relevant to our times.

Don't see it if You don’t like politics, don’t like rhyming couplets, need a big show with big sets, or want light fluffy theater. It’s not a show for all.

75
During previews
Funny, Indulgent, Fluffy, Entertaining, Cliched

See it if You love Lynn Nottage (and who doesn’t?). You want to see a light play, and appreciate that this is fun, and not her best work. It’s okay.

Don't see it if You’re expecting Sweat, Ruined, or even Mlima’s Tale. This is the weakest by far, but somehow still enjoyable, if you’re looking for farce.