Matthew Wexler

About:  Matthew Wexler is a critic with The Broadway Blog, the theater entertainment portal for Passport Magazine. www.thebroadwayblog.com
Reviews (137)
Bundle of Sticks
Midtown W
Broadway Blog

"Raw and with moments of imagination, 'Bundle of Sticks' could afford to stylistically dive deeper into its author's wild imagination. For now, there are sparks but little fire." Full Review

Dana H.
Gramercy
Broadway Blog

"Deirdre O'Connell, who has been with the production through its Los Angeles and Chicago productions, is nothing short of mesmerizing." Full Review

Broadway Blog

"A stellar revival helmed by director Kenny Leon, 'A Soldier's Play' reminds audiences of the insidious power of racism and its ability to permeate communities from within." Full Review

Broadway Blog

"Are you a David Byrne fan? It doesn't matter. The iconic singer-songwriter's new Broadway show gives new meaning to 'Fifty Shades of Grey' with a nod toward cautionary optimism." Full Review

The Rose Tattoo
Midtown W
Broadway Blog

"Marisa Tomei triumphs as the central character of Serafina in Williams' play about rebounding from grief and rediscovering love." Full Review

Linda Vista
Midtown W
Broadway Blog

"Playwright Tracy Letts asks Broadway audiences to consider the reawakening of men of a certain age, at a certain time, who recognize their multi-generational entitlement is not without perils." Full Review

Broadway Blog

"Whisking us away with charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent (thank you, RuPaul, but no drag here), Brown’s captivating act is, while not wholly original, wildly entertaining." Full Review

Make Believe
Midtown W
Broadway Blog

"In Bess Wohl's play 'Make Believe,' surviving childhood is relative. Recovery can take a lifetime." Full Review

The Rolling Stone
Upper W Side
Broadway Blog

"A stellar acting ensemble brings Chris Urch's play to life, begging us to question why we continue to hate when it's so much easier to love." Full Review

A Strange Loop
Midtown W
Broadway Blog

“Punctuated with riffs on homophobia, AIDS, and racial disparity, the loop extends far beyond the stage...’A Strange Loop’ tackles many of the insecurities that we’ve all faced...This doesn’t diminish its specificity of the black queer experience. Instead, it reinforces the idea that individuality and commonality aren’t mutually exclusive...’A Strange Loop’ is a rare commodity. One can’t walk away from Jackson’s fearless work without one’s own loop spiraling in a new direction." Full Review

Broadway Blog

"This garishly pandering endeavor to the afterlife...The loose plot, executed with varying degrees of humor ranging from laugh-out-loud to offensive, keeps things moving at a pace befitting a Universal Studios theme park show. Unfortunately, the $21 million spectacle suffers an artistic heart attack from over-exertion...Besides its film fans, it’s unclear for whom 'Beetlejuice' is intended...More disconcerting is its dated and offensive stereotyping of same-sex attraction." Full Review

Broadway Blog

“The nipped and tucked ‘Oklahoma!’ reboot deserves a page among The Best Plastic (Theater) Surgeons in America...Kluger, through new orchestrations and arrangements, has unearthed psychologically complex relationships among this band of settlers...Fish’s adaptation is jarringly atmospheric...’Oklahoma!’ still delivers plenty of humor thanks to a secondary storyline featuring Ado Annie...If there’s one misstep in this ‘Oklahoma!’ for a new generation, it is the dream ballet.” Full Review

Broadway Blog

"Morisseau sticks close to the source, and as the action propels forward, one can understand Williams’ decades-long struggle to keep five big personalities in the spotlight...Deftly navigates between the personal and the public under McAnuff’s swift guidance...'Ain’t Too Proud' spoonfeeds its soul food, and audiences will eat it up...For those who can snag a ticket to 'Ain’t Too Proud' while its original Broadway company remains intact, you’re in for something wholly spectacular." Full Review

Broadway Blog

"Iconis and Joe Tracz deftly package these themes in a palatable oeuvre of musical theater, but director Stephen Brackett and choreographer Chase Brock’s hit-or-miss staging still can’t seem to find its groove...Roland and Salazar have found deeper roots since last summer’s Off-Broadway production...The chameleon-like ensemble keeps the action moving at a brisk pace...I’d say 'Be More Chill,' in spite of its directorial inconsistencies, is a pill worth swallowing." Full Review

The Cake
Midtown W
Broadway Blog

"Too sweet for my palate in spite of its efforts to get to the underbelly of newsworthy headlines...Brunstetter is adept at punchy one-liners, but her deeper dive into the characters’ struggles with religion, race, and sexual orientation often feel overwrought rather than extensions of their life experiences. Even so, Rupp finds the humor and humility in the baker with existential questions about her faith...Given this choice between a squall or a sweet, I’d head into the superstorm." Full Review

Broadway Blog

"All of the time Cher spends talking to herself might be better utilized in deepening the relationships with those who impacted her life...'The Cher Show' rarely takes itself too seriously, but when it does, the musical offers a captivating glance into Cher’s evolution from shy outsider to multi-faceted star...Director Jason Moore keeps things moving swiftly amid thesuggestive scenic design, which offers cinematic appeal and stadium-like theatrics for some of the flashier production numbers." Full Review

King Kong (NYC)
Midtown W
Broadway Blog

“’King Kong’s’ greatest accomplishment is in its most intimate moments when we can revel in the animatronic wonder of Kong’s facial expressions. Those larger-than-life sad eyes will melt your heart, a reminder of what King Kong has long represented...racism and oppression. But when Kong has to run...no amount of technology or actors can...make it believable. Instead, he lumbers along, as if he’s stumbled out of Rudy’s dive bar...after one too many...wishing, like us, that this was all a dream.” Full Review

Torch Song (NYC)
Midtown W
Broadway Blog

"Urie presents a nearly impossible task in the opening monologue...How can the rest of the play be as brilliantly honest, vulnerable, funny and poignant than those first few moments with Arnold Beckoff? Urie is equal parts flair, flamboyant, and fractured...The characters unleash years of pent-up resentment...The night I was in attendance, gasps and tears reverberated through the audience, such was the impact of this verbal fisticuffs." Full Review

Ordinary Days
Midtown W
Broadway Blog

“Delivered through an 18-part song cycle...Gwon’s work forgoes book scenes and, instead, connects the dots through sung narrative...As the title suggests, there is nothing extraordinary about each character’s journey, and Gwon achieves varying degrees of success in turning the mundane into the magical...The production isn’t helped by Kemp’s budget-friendly set...The visual impact and Bhatia’s shadow-heavy lighting distracted from Gwon’s otherwise naturalistic sensibility.” Full Review

Kink Haus
East Village
Broadway Blog

“A quickly paced romp through queer culture and identity...A culmination of what audiences have come to love in LGBTQ-affirming theater...Montana’s take is more downtown in its vibe but just as accessible...Perhaps ‘Kink Haus’ needs to road trip to Bushwick to tether itself to an audience willing to unravel. I’m sure this isn’t the last we’ll hear of Gunmar Montana. I’m fascinated to see what kind of haüs he builds next.” Full Review

Heartbreak House
Midtown W
Broadway Blog

“I have fortunately never been sequestered to a bomb shelter or basement in times of war. But if I were, I might consider braving the consequences rather than enduring Shaw’s rambling family/socio-political comedy...This isn’t to say this production is without merit, thanks, in large part, to several stand-out performers that nimbly navigate the text...Shaw was onto something, perhaps too many things — its message further convoluted by a setting that diffuses the work rather than igniting it.” Full Review

Broadway Blog

“Lee, the first Asian-American playwright to have her work produced on Broadway, doesn’t go for the jugular in her explorations of gender and racial disparity. Rather, it’s a calculated portrait...’Straight White Men’ is not a violent play, though there’s plenty of cliché roughhousing among the three adult brothers...None of us are immune to the family dynamics that Lee unpacks. In an increasingly vitriol-fueled culture, we all might benefit from a good dose of empathy." Full Review

Log Cabin
Midtown W
Broadway Blog

"Harrison attempts to tackle sweeping themes both intimate and societal with varying degrees of success. Talented cast...Oddly stagnant pace under the direction of Pam MacKinnon, which forces moments of gravitas. Still, Harrison is able to dig his heels into a how a community defined by its ability to rise up and fight nevertheless manages to compartmentalize itself in a way that heeds progress. The heels are dug so deep, though, that 'Log Cabin' feels stuck in the mire of its own making." Full Review

Broadway Blog

"Flat production...Not to say that The Public should necessarily catapult the 15th-century work into modern times, but I do believe as a theater of the people and for the people, it’s an opportunity to explore the play’s themes of racial tension, political deceit, and female suppression...Hudson’s direction gives freedom to the acting company’s interpretation of the text, failing to reel them into a cohesive ensemble embodying the same world of the play." Full Review

Broadway Blog

"While the core talent of director/choreographer Susan Stroman, along with music by John Kander and book by David Thompson is evident, this particular venture lacks cohesion that can’t be tamed...Stroman doesn’t necessarily break new ground in terms of the art form but certainly showcases her performers’ exceptional abilities. Yazbeck shows glimmers of Gene Kelly through his muscular, athletic movement, but the venue feels too small for him at times." Full Review

The Perplexed
Midtown W
Broadway Blog

"The one thing that playwright Richard Greenberg nailed in his new play, 'The Perplexed,' is the title. The rest is up for debate." Full Review

West Side Story
Midtown W
Broadway Blog

"Director Ivo van Hove's revival strips much of its original creators' DNA with the force of a New York City street-sweeping truck. West Side Story's timeless themes emerge, sometimes in synch with van Hove's vision and, at others, despite it." Full Review

Broadway Blog

"Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui's fearless, untethered movement and choreography along with new orchestrations by Tom Kitt catapult Alanis Morissette's hit album into a Broadway-worthy musical." Full Review

Seared
Midtown W
Broadway Blog

"The restaurant industry's underbelly gets exposed in 'Seared,' and though its ingredients are occasionally out of proportion, it's a theatrical dish worth savoring." Full Review

Is This A Room
Gramercy
Broadway Blog

for a previous production "Lifted from an FBI transcript, this Off-Broadway exercise doesn't elevate to play status but certainly provokes thoughts about the treacherous acts aimed at undermining our democracy and those who sacrifice their lives in response." Full Review

Broadway Blog

for a previous production "No longer are the names above the title a primary source of inspiration for 'Forbidden Broadway,' but rather the titles themselves and how they resonate with today's audiences." Full Review

Betrayal
Midtown W
Broadway Blog

"Director Jamie Lloyd's stunning Broadway revival of Harold Pinter's 1978 infidelity play moves like lava, captivating and consuming its audience with blistering sexual tension." Full Review

Broadway Bounty Hunter
West Village
Broadway Blog

“Annie Golden's vocal prowess is reason alone to see ‘Broadway Bounty Hunter.’ The high-decibel style (inspired by Blaxploitation and Chopsocky films) ebbs and flows, but the 50-year theater veteran slays.” Full Review

Broadway Blog

"A stage that pools with water and floor traps bursting into flames can't fix an artistically disparate 'Dragon Spring Phoenix Rise' at The Shed. The venue is still in its infancy, like a baby screaming to be fed. But with any new parent, what goes in the bottle is up for debate." Full Review

Tootsie (NYC)
Midtown W
Broadway Blog

“’Tootsie’ — for the most part — strikes a delicate balance of pushing the envelope and political correctness. This is high comedy at its best...But the great irony in this funniest-musical-of-the-season-that-should-have-been-a-play is Yazbek’s forgettable score...Hale’s orchestrations and Chase’s dance arrangements don’t do Yazbeck any favors...Jones’ choreography has nowhere to go...Horn’s book is the real gem...transforming ‘Tootsie’ from middling to marvelously funny.” Full Review

Broadway Blog

"There’s so much baggage that you can’t help feel weighted down by reality versus the alternative universe Hnath's created...Mantello keeps the action moving at a brisk pace, but the real the winner here is Metcalf, who deftly navigates Broadway Hillary with precise timing, judicious physicality, intellectual prowess, and feeling. Had the real-life candidate been able to concoct such a magic recipe, this play would have never been written.” Full Review

Broadway Blog

“Shakespeare’s patriarchal power play gets a Broadway reboot, thanks to Jackson’s star turn in the title role. But if you’re expecting a literal gender-bending commentary...Gold’s slick and somewhat stoic production might leave you with more questions than answers...A first-rate and culturally diverse ensemble, but the mash-up of styles require a suspension of disbelief...This ‘King Lear’ is a polished crown that could use a few more thorns.” Full Review

Broadway Blog

"In Scott Ellis’s anemically directed production, neither has the staying power or depth to celebrate (or reimagine) the 1949 Tony Award-winning hit...O’Hara is the only one who earns the sentiment. So dynamic is her performance, which soars in operatic glory...Choreographer Carlyle injects passion into Ellis’s otherwise mostly nondescript staging...Fleeting moments aren’t enough to compensate for the mostly lifeless faces of the ensemble while their bodies are wholly expressive." Full Review

Daddy
Midtown W
Broadway Blog

"Harris's complex, genre-pushing exploration of sexuality, power, social identity, and familial relationships is a voice that absolutely needs to be heard...The fascinating complexities in Harris’s play come from the sexually and intimately charged relationship between the two men...Harris offers strokes of absurdism that, at least for this reviewer, result in a tempering of emotional connectivity. Harris’s play feels more like Jackson Pollock: abstract, messy, yet utterly captivating." Full Review

Hurricane Diane
East Village
Broadway Blog

"George’s accessible script packs plenty of punch lines as the four women convene in the kitchen to kvetch...Framed by Diane’s direct exchange with the audience, the message is clear: we’re in deep shit and most people could care less...Skraastad and Wetherhead, too, have their shining moments, particularly the latter...Director Leigh Silverman, who is steadily emerging as one of today’s most thoughtful stage directors, once again provides a platform for her actors to soar." Full Review

Broadway Blog

"Much of 'The Prom’s' giddy success comes from its razor-sharp writing team...'The Prom' teaches lessons of tolerance and acceptance through laughter, and the troupe’s narcissism eventually gives way to empathy with the help of the story’s unassuming heroine. Ms. Kinnunen is refreshingly honest, carrying herself with heartfelt Gen Z awkwardness while also possessing Broadway vocal chops that will have audiences on their feet." Full Review

Broadway Blog

“’The Thanksgiving Play’ moves at a brisk, dynamic pace, though its forced slapstick conclusion feels hollow after 90 minutes with the mostly surface-level characters. Its repetition echoes of bougie over-compensation and the ‘Waiting for Guffman-esque’ amateur actor antics eventually become tiresome...Of the four, Ms. Seibert fares best at carving out an authentic performance...She embraces Alicia’s actorly narcissism but digs under the surface, delivering simple but profound nuggets.” Full Review

Renascence
Lower E Side
Broadway Blog

"The new musical with a lush score...But much like Ms. Millay’s poetry, the payoff has to be earned...Dean’s score features sweeping melodic passages, further strengthened by Michael Starobin’s rich orchestrations...For the most part, though, the company’s over-earnestness feels unnecessarily wrought. Ms. Millay’s work as reimagined by Ms. Dean stands on its own merit and a sense of simplicity might further serve the piece." Full Review

The Nap (Broadway)
Midtown W
Broadway Blog

“Mildly entertaining...Plenty of oddball characters and plot twists...but the payoff isn’t nearly as substantial...A lot of effort has been made to energize the snooker championship climax, but...the table action lacks high stakes and momentum...Bean flip-flops between naturalism and farce resulting in stylistic inconsistencies...Still, Sullivan manages to polish it all into a well-positioned cue ball...Quirky performances and laugh-out-loud one-liners." Full Review

The True
Midtown W
Broadway Blog

"Mr. White’s bristling play 'The True,' directed with razor-sharp precision by Scott Elliott and featuring knockout performances, delivers a firmly grounded sense of place and time and simultaneously illuminates broader themes of intimacy and power...'The True' also offers an unspoken commentary on the era’s socio-economic and feminist blueprint." Full Review

Broadway Blog

"Most notable is Mr. Roland who jumped from a supporting role in the original Broadway company of 'Dear Evan Hansen' to take on 'Be More Chill’s' central character. He anchors the 10-member ensemble with a humorous, emotionally charged performance, and while his vocal delivery hits decibel-shattering levels thanks to Ryan Rumery’s sound design, it lacks the color and nuance of some of his co-stars." Full Review

Broadway Blog

"Subtle it is not. Entertaining? If a jukebox musical crammed into the construct of an epic 16th-century work of prose is your jam, sure...Choreographer Spencer Liff has plenty of ammunition thanks to Tom Kitt’s super-charged orchestrations and arrangements...This rainbow-proud revelry doesn’t take itself too seriously, but the message is clear: We’re here. We’re queer. And we know how to have a good time. 'Head Over Heel’s' greatest stride, though, is the casting of Ms. Milligan." Full Review

Broadway Blog

"Beckman’s goofy, self-proclaimed Seinfeld-like charm quickly wins over the audience with a range of tricks that he mostly pulls off without a hitch...'Vitaly’s' most magical moments involve Beckman’s love of art, in which he draws figures on a sketchpad. Before our eyes, the thick, black lines move into something entirely new, and with a slow wave of his hand over the image, they transform into color, then three-dimensional, and eventually fly off the page." Full Review

Broadway Blog

"Without the political constraints of the last 50 years, Crowley's script emits a sense of structural freedom, whereby these men struggle, swoosh, snap, and sneer their way through an evening of self-discovery that transcends its timestamp. In spite of the streamers and balloons, 'The Boys in the Band' is far more than a theatrical gay party favor." Full Review

Broadway Blog

"The play’s more significant driving force is its array of colorful Harlem inhabitants. Rashad has assembled an exceptional cast to tackle Guirgis’s visceral dialogue that riffs and improvises like a great jazz set...'Our Lady' transcends time and place by exploring themes that continue to resonate: our obligation to family, self-worth, how we love, unresolved anger, regret. The heightened language...offers an emotional playground for the cast, but it also settles into reflective sincerity." Full Review