Marilyn Lester

Marilyn Lester is a critic with Theater Pizzazz. 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 (42)
Christmas in Hell
Midtown E
Nitelife Exchange

"Cute as hell. The music is delightful and the cast a wonderful dispenser of screwball antics. For those looking for a good time, the show is a kind of dark Disney diversion delivering a fun bauble of seasonal entertainment...But while, on the surface, 'Christmas in Hell' is swell, it isn’t all it could be...The powerful themes and ideas are hobbled by a lack of focus, which prevent them from coming together in a rich, cohesive whole." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"O’Reilly has delivered a top-drawer production, coaxing the best out of a difficult play, with a roster of remarkable actors who have plunged into their roles head-on with fierce commitment and splendid, award-worthy performances across the board...Carr is, if nothing else, immensely literate and observant of the human condition. At the same time, much of the philosophizing is banal, only elevated to soaring heights by Carr’s skill as a playwright and wordsmith." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"Just about every aspect of the production hits a thrilling high note, from the magnificent ensemble acting to O'Reilly's terrifically smart directing to the overall staging. McPherson is well-served by a dream team whose combined talent and energy have made this one truly not to be missed...The weak link in the piece is Broderick, who’s miscast and is thus simply not up to the part. He lends star power to the work...but the role of Lockhart requires more than this." Full Review

Jimmy Titanic
Chelsea
Theater Pizzazz

"Hamell is a wonder to behold, moving energetically from one scene to the next in rapid-fire flashbacks, careening through time and place and running the gamut of emotion...McMullan, packs a great deal of substance into 75 minutes of play and he does it with a delicacy of storytelling that’s titanic in itself...O'Reilly kept the pace moving briskly and helped navigate the piece with a steady, sure hand." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

“Simply tries to do too much, and in its over-reach muddies the salient points...Would be better served with some judicious cutting and dramaturgy...Rangy and gives the appearance of being scattershot...The music is another element that could benefit from reworking or even elimination. The melodies are pleasant, but the lyrics are banal and don’t move the story forward...Lackluster direction also don’t help to elevate the work...By and large, the cast is to be commended.” Full Review

Cross That River
Midtown E
Nitelife Exchange

"Raises the bar for musical and theatrical works about the black experience in American life. It’s a vibrant, energetic, music-filled piece that stands on its own as exciting theatre–with the added bonus of being historically important...Each of the numbers in 'Cross That River' is distinctive and evocative of the old West, and each matches the action of the plot perfectly...A gentle but effective corrective. What’s more, its end game is healing." Full Review

Nitelife Exchange

“Kostek is delightful. She has a presence, knack for comedy and captivating charm on stage. You want terribly to like her and what she’s doing, but, alas, the misguided material doesn’t hang together...As well-intentioned as it may be, ‘Dietrich Rides Again' amounts to little more than flattery by imitation…In attempting to cover decades, getting to the essence of Dietrich is undercut. The result is a two-dimensional, almost cartoon version, providing little insight into her heart and soul." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"There’s a lot to take in on this ride, most of it thought-provoking and decidedly positive...It’s all done with a great deal of humor as well as personal stories that successfully soften and add relevance to the message...Moore has crafted a clever narrative with a certifiably impeccable dramatic arc...A variety pack of laughs, facts, ruminations, and exhortations, superbly directed by Michael Mayer." Full Review

Jerry's Girls
Midtown E
Nitelife Exchange

"Full of charm, melody, love, hope, wisdom and just the right amount of froth to make for a darn good, feel-good time...The trio works well together in this mufti format, where minimalism reigns...With song...as the focus of the show, Herman shines with a bright light...Hunt’s eye for movement is sharp and intelligent. She’s also a master at pacing...As an ensemble, Jerry’s girls displayed a consistent synergy...'Jerry’s Girls' is a genuine happy-making, delightful treat of a show." Full Review

Jubilee
East Village
Theater Pizzazz

“An absurdist play, a so-called black comedy, wryly witty and slyly droll…'Jubilee' is more often than not a pastiche...'Jubilee' is a complex work and often a talky one. It’s the kind of play that demands much from its ensemble of actors. While this cast attacked the piece with competence, the high-energy fierceness required to make ‘Jubilee’ truly effective was lacking. The shining light of the production is Green, whose Mitzi is played with nuance and poignancy." Full Review

Mein Kampf
East Village
Theater Pizzazz

“A timely piece for difficult times. It’s a successful production with genuinely amusing, and even funny, moments...For those interested in meaningful theater, this production is for you…‘Mein Kampf’ is both nonsensical and penetrating in its attempt to parse the horrible history of Hitler…Where the lengthy act one sometimes sagged under the weight of talkiness, the shorter act two moved quickly, taking a turn into absurdist horror." Full Review

Candide
Upper W Side
Theater Pizzazz

"This pepped-up production has much to recommend it as a serious comedic enterprise and a solid endgame of splendid entertainment…Prince’s instinct to have fun with it strikes gold; his bits of business, sight gags and cleverness play brilliantly from the libretto, aided by a talented cast of actors, singers and dancers…The remarkable cast is made up of opera singers who can seriously act, and Broadway actors who can seriously sing. As an aggregate, they glitter with gaiety and glee." Full Review

A Dog Story
Midtown W
Theater Pizzazz

"Utterly charming new musical...A pleaser from first bark to last. The show’s complement of four perfectly cast actors will not only convince you that the imaginary dog playing Cupid is worthy of your love, but will have you rolling over in laughter and delight...Weinberger’s book, even when it leans to triteness and cliché, overall makes for a good time...Somewhat obvious plotting does not matter one whit. 'A Dog Story' has a twist ending that rights any perceived flaws in the plot." Full Review

Duat
East Village
Theater Pizzazz

"Its high concept is American avant-garde art...The goal of these themes to connect, however, was a fail, resulting in the opposite: a play that couldn’t make up its mind about what it wanted to be, with no apparent arc, no journey, and nothing new to say...To his credit, the cast of talented performers gave Jones and director Will Davis, who helped develop the piece, 100 percent...'Duat' ends up feeling like a self-indulgent piece that needs to go back to the drawing board." Full Review

The Clearing
Midtown E
Theater Pizzazz

"Despite its thematic importance, 'The Clearing' is flawed. It imparts this chunk of horrible history with glancing blows, short-circuiting the power and gravitas of its awful and gut-wrenching circumstances...Unfortunately, Pamela Moller Kareman’s direction doesn’t successfully elevate Edmunson’s limited and scattershot script...Acting was uneven (as were the accents), and although the pace moves along, there are no relieving light moments–no letup in heaviness and angst." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

for a previous production "It doesn’t take long to figure out Felder is going to make this bio-play fun. His writing is smart, yes, but more, his delivery is animated, expressive, and perfectly nuanced. As he slips easily into and out of other characters it becomes apparent that a good deal of the enjoyment comes from Felder’s pitch-perfect timing. There are jokes and witticisms...Thank you, Irving Berlin, and thank you, Hershey Felder, for sharing him with us so caringly." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"To say that Duffin’s performance is a tour de force may not be doing the actress justice...Perfectly adapted for the stage by director Annie Ryan...While it’s true that 'Girl' may not be everyone’s cup of tea, the play’s importance can’t be underestimated–it has a lot to say and a lot that needs to be heard...Theater for those willing to be challenged. And then there’s Aofie Duffin, whose titanic talent and fiercely honest portrayal of the girl is nothing less than magnificent." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"Each play is a dark, absurdist black comedy voicing the motifs that thread through Williams’ body of work...Director Cosmin Chivu has the honor being the first to interpret 'Recluse' for the stage, and he’s cut to the heart of the fable, exposing themes of truth, conformity, hypocrisy and mortality with clarity...'Le Monde' is a brutal work that deals with sexually predatory women...Chivu directs with heightened action, highlighting the perverse burlesque, apocalyptic thrust of the play." Full Review

The Quare Land
Gramercy
Theater Pizzazz

"This uproarious two-hander is a clever satire addressing greed, the relationship of the Irish to the land, and the changed values of the 'new Ireland' in the 21st century...A knowledge of Irish ways may make 'The Quare Land' a fuller experience, but it’s by no means a requirement for understanding the universal truths that McManus touches on. It’s a hilarious ninety minutes with a great payoff – time well spent." Full Review

Devil And The Deep
Midtown W
Theater Pizzazz

"'Devil And The Deep' is least served by its director, Lisa Devine, whose choppy, hectic approach hinders the story from unfolding with flow and easy comprehension – especially as the text can use bridging and structural modifications...'Devil And The Deep,' has great potential, especially when it finds its 'sea legs' and a hook that will allow it to truly stand apart from its many, many predecessors. Meanwhile, audiences will still have fun and enjoy the show, especially with that great trea... Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"A gritty, grey area of brick wall and barbed wire, juxtaposed with a Rectory, embody the profane and the proper – the refuge of religion in contrast to the unrelentingly mundane...The play is tight, intelligently placing its core themes – aspects of love, disaffection, loneliness, bigotry – in the framework of a war zone, where all bets are off and death may be around the next corner." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

“’All Is Calm’ is the kind of work that makes you want to shout its greatness from the rooftops...It’s the studied minimalism of ‘All Is Calm’ that gives it its power, driving an emotional tempest that won’t soon be forgotten...As the story unfolds Rothstein reveals a work of visual poetry...The cast comprise a singular, well-oiled machine, their acting versatile and compelling. But it is their vocal prowess that’s electrifying. Every voice is a musical instrument.” Full Review

The Rainmaker
East Village
Theater Pizzazz

"It’s a production that will satisfy, and perhaps delight, those who appreciate classic American theater and those who want to experience the best of the Golden Age of Broadway...In this mounting, the production doesn’t so much play for levity as it does for the more serious side of the piece. In directing the competent cast with sobriety, Dobbins misaligns the balance needed for a successful end-game, thereby missing opportunities to elevate the overall tone of the text." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"The only thing 'small' about the stunning production is the intimate stage upon which these one-act gems are lovingly played...A trifecta of brilliance portraying a slice of Irish life gone by...Even without social or historical context, each stands on its own as a work of outstanding merit and just darn good entertainment...The entire ensemble cast delivered the goods throughout with superb acting...Well paced and the transitions between them seamless." Full Review

Nitelife Exchange

"Harris has singing and dancing chops galore...Harris plays Baker mostly with a breathless urgency and an underlay of naivete. The interpretation is a valid actor's choice, but a few more layers of depth would not go amiss...Her rendition of 'The Times They Are A-Changin'...was masterful and memorable...A worthy piece of theater. It's a solid, entertaining production. With a few refinements it could be considerably more than it is, and that would be très magnifique." Full Review

Disco Pigs
Chelsea
Theater Pizzazz

“A completely stunning piece of theater...Nonstop action, Lynch as Runt and Campbell as Pig deliver a symphonically kinetic, explosive performance guaranteed to stick to your ribs for a long time to come. Tour de force does not begin to cover their commitment to Enda Walsh’s piercing, neo-Joycean work...The dialogue is tough to understand...yet what the pair communicate in expression and action speaks volumes...Pitch perfect production.” Full Review

Jamaica
Harlem
Theater Pizzazz

“A colorful, exuberant revival...Grant saw the relevance of ‘Jamaica’ for today’s world and mounted an entertaining, meaningful production with a spirited, bright, and enthusiastic ensemble cast...'Jamaica' still has plenty to say and this smart HRT production communicates it with gusto...Choreography was entertaining, if not groundbreaking...Lighting and sound were both uneven and often distracting.” Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"Four short plays, each a miniature masterpiece of character, and each performed with insight by a skillful ensemble cast...Deevy’s dialog is taut and efficient, yet remains lyrical, covering the full emotional range of the human condition. Her plotting is often deceptively simple, but it’s Deevy’s insights into the Irish character that are the most telling...The ensemble cast of six actors earnestly cover the gamut, excelling in character differentiation, with mostly successful results." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"A uniformly superb cast of 12 actors handles the demands of language, song and acting with terrific energy – briskly paced and staged by director Bryna Wasserman...Ultimately full-bodied entertainment, with a wide spectrum of pathos, dramatic substance and comedy...What does the story of the Jews have to do with the rest of us? The answer is: everything. Sure, the revue is entertaining, but beyond that it speaks to the totality of the American experience." Full Review

Spoon River
Midtown W
Theater Pizzazz

"In this version of 'Spoon River Anthology,' those souls are brought back to life in a sizzling thrill ride that packs quite a punch...It’s a brilliant piece of theater–the kind you might one day look back on and remember as one of the best things you ever saw. Soulpepper’s production is the perfect storm of elements yielding a theatrical ne plus ultra...The cast is a wonderment. All (or nearly so) are multi-instrumentalists who sing well, move well, emote brilliantly and make astounding music." Full Review

Pacific Overtures
East Village
Cabaret Scenes

"A certified winner...Communicates the story of the Westernization of Japan with renewed power and significance...This 'Pacific Overtures' is a shining example of 'less is more.' One of the keys to the success of this production lies in its all-encompassing intimacy, both in feel and in the physical playing space...The ensemble cast are all strong performers who bring superb vocal and acting abilities to the production...Heartstrings will be pulled in a major way." Full Review

Daniel's Husband
Midtown W
Nitelife Exchange

for a previous production “A stunning play. This is a work that’s not only profoundly moving, but offers a wealth of insight into human nature…Brancato has worked brilliantly with the material and his actors, creating a beautifully paced piece of remarkable authenticity…This is a work that presents an all too rare opportunity to experience the creative brilliance of a playwright who not only has something to say, but whose insights into the human condition can be a powerful stimulant.” Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"An energetic, ingenious and gob-smacking evening of site-specific theater that won’t soon be forgotten...The cast are multi-instrumentalists who also sing, dance and act up a storm...Playwright Grieg has crafted a rather brilliant performance piece based on folklore and an abundance of cultural references...Director Wils Wilson has deftly woven this superb tapestry of movement, acting, and much more, with superb skill...Simply a darn good time." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"A delicious and delightful antidote to the harsh realities we’ve been suffering. And what better way to provide social commentary than in satire and glorious song...Director Moore has adapted the book, avoiding any datedness and updating the book to a more fable-like approach – without losing the bite. Moore also keeps the pace moving briskly, wisely utilizing every inch of the stage, giving the production a rewarding fulsomeness...The score is a pot of gold that needs no burying." Full Review

A Life
Midtown W
Theater Pizzazz

"'A Life,' so very aptly named, looks at the immense and complex as well as the small and banal. This life could be yours or mine – and it’s both exquisitely precious and cosmically inconsequential. Bock has constructed a miracle of a mirror that touches the everyman in all of us...Anne Kauffman’s direction is crisp and smart. Kauffman keeps the action moving at a pace that’s active without being frenetic." Full Review

The Birds
Midtown E
Theater Pizzazz

"In compressing the novelette into a three-character play...McPherson eliminates much of du Maurier’s deeper insights, failing to create a crescendo of horror and dread. This oversight yields 'The Birds' curiously bland...McPherson’s text may be problematic, but the choices made in this production of the play hinder rather than enhance. BirdLand Theater’s 'The Birds' isn’t exactly for the birds, but only narrowly skirts laying an egg." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"'The Marvelous Wonderettes' is, at its heart, a good-time jukebox musical...All four actresses playing the Wonderettes are powerhouse singers...These girls are all prime performers and they’re into the spirit of the piece with total commitment...As directors, the D’Angoras keep the action moving and the bits of business flowing, without allowing any of it to be a distraction." Full Review

Mabel Madness
Chelsea
Theater Pizzazz

"Tony Award-winner Trezana Beverley not only captures the essence of Mercer, but has written a narrative that gives breadth and depth to the life and legacy of this amazing singer's singer...As an actress, Beverley delivers a convincing and compelling performance as Mabel Mercer. But it is as a singer that she excels, exactly reproducing Mercer’s unique story-song style...Hats off to Beverley for bringing to life a cultural treasure and oft overlooked performer." Full Review

Plaid Tidings
Midtown E
Theater Pizzazz

"For anyone who likes to laugh – a lot – and who’s seeking a respite from the stresses and strains of the daily grind, 'Plaid Tidings' is for you...The show, two acts with intermission, probably would benefit from running straight through without interruption – the pace is fast and there’s a steady buildup to the payoff: a priceless homage to an era gone by." Full Review

The Weir
Gramercy
Theater Pizzazz

"A splendidly evocative telling of McPherson’s elegant meditation on human fragility, loneliness and the power of the past... Director Ciarán O’Reilly keeps the pace moving and the action compelling. The acting is universally on the money, although Quaid seems to have not found the center of her character yet...'The Weir' ends with humor, for it’s humor that’s the grace that keeps us going despite loss and what could have been." Full Review

A Queen For A Day
Midtown W
Theater Pizzazz

"It’s not enough to save the flawed writing...Author Michael Ricigliano has written a literate piece, but one that just doesn’t hold together. Director John Gould Rubin compensates by keeping the pace fast and the action sustained, moving his actors around the stage with a deft hand." Full Review

Rapunzarella White
West Village
Theater Pizzazz

"Running at a kid-friendly 60 minutes, there are levels of folkloric nonsense and bits that will appeal to all ages. Younger kids especially find the physical humor most appealing...The enthusiastic, energetic and committed cast relate sensitively to children in the audience, encouraging them to learn, laugh and be enchanted." Full Review