Richard Seff

About:  Richard Seff is a critic with DC Metro Theater Arts.
Reviews (128)
Tootsie (NYC)
Midtown W
On and Off Broadway

"Horn and Yazbek have wisely re-invented the identical story, creating twists and turns at all the key moments in the plot...Director Scott Ellis has cast the show impeccably and moved it along smoothly...Everything is performed beautifully by a very gifted and attractive cast, and the icing on the cake is leading player Santino Fontana...There are a number of minor disappointments along the way. David Yazbek’s score is far more successful on the lyrical side." Full Review

On and Off Broadway

“Fish and his cast have supplied...a contemporaneously valid set of characters, which is remarkable, because he hasn’t changed a note of Rodgers’ beautiful score, nor has he changed any of Hammerstein’s poetically loving, wise and witty lyrics. What he’s done is order new orchestrations and arrangements...The first act is a joy from start to finish...The second act, opens with a bizarre solo dance...I found it unclear, astringent, and musically atonal...The rest of the second act played well.” Full Review

On and Off Broadway

"The three principals (Jessie Austrian, Ben Steinfeld and Manu Narayan) play Mary, Frank, and Charles (the three old friends) brilliantly. As a group they work as one...You’ll be humming their tunes for days, and the words remind us that lyrics in a musical play are supposed to tell us something about the character who is singing them...If a commercial run can’t be arranged, I can only hope this production is recorded for the archives." Full Review

On and Off Broadway

“Hawke is powerful as Lee, the angry older brother. And Dano matches that power artfully as he scales the heights and plays the range from docility to savage aggression. The forces are joined, and what we get is thunder and lightning. The end is stunning...There were alternative possible endings, but I bought the one Shepard and MacDonald delivered...This is a major play from a gifted writer, and I’ll wager this is the best production it’s ever had." Full Review

The Hello Girls
Midtown E
On and Off Broadway

"Ten talented actor-singer-musicians are filling the jam packed tiny stage...For Peter Mills’ lyrics are fresh and serve the story well, married to his music that is appealing and often more than that. As co-bookwriters he and Ms. Reichel have managed for the most part to deliver a very complicated story...There isn’t a weak link in the ten who fill the many roles...While the First Act is an unalloyed gem, in the shorter Act II there is a tendency to contrive situations that don’t always ... Full Review

Torch Song (NYC)
Midtown W
On and Off Broadway

“Urie is lighting up the stage with his virtuoso performance...It’s a towering performance that is so filled with surprises...Beautifully directed...and powerfully acted by a cast that offers the sort of support that supplies theatrical fireworks...Fierstein’s ‘Torch Song’ is an early work that showed great promise and has now become a promise gloriously fulfilled. In this production Urie and Ruehl memorably personify its two central characters.” Full Review

Apologia
Midtown W
On and Off Broadway

"In Kristin, Stockard Channing has found a role in which she can fascinate us with the complexities in the character who is the center of the play...Gripping and seasoned with surprise. There is some awkward exposition; and some of 'Apologia’'s conflicts involve incidents that should have been dealt with long before this cathartic celebration; but nevertheless we are intrigued...A powerful play, one in which ugly truths are confronted, and consequences are paid." Full Review

Heartbreak House
Midtown W
On and Off Broadway

"The actors in this current production are absolutely top notch with Karen Ziemba the most surprising to me because I’d never seen her except in musicals...She is matched in intelligence and scope by Alison Fraser...Not a lot happens; but there’s a lot to be learned; and all that information is spooned out with the help of the surprising, informative, and entertaining words supplied by then young Master Bernard Shaw." Full Review

Days to Come
Midtown W
On and Off Broadway

“This is not a revival—it’s an exhumation. It wasn’t merely asleep waiting for an awakening kiss. It was dead and not rescuable...A game cast do what they can to breathe life into these characters who represent viewpoints rather than insights or feelings...But even a game cast cannot engage us successfully enough. And much as we respect the Mint...I think this one will be of interest only to those who were curious to see what a fine writer does when she is off the mark.” Full Review

Carmen Jones
East Village
On and Off Broadway

"It was such a joy to be reunited with Oscar Hammerstein II’s adaptation of Bizet’s opera...The most thrilling musical treat of the season so far...Doyle has once again cut to the essentials eliminating much of the size and splash of the huge original. With the use of only ten gifted triple-threat actors, a simple and suggestive set, and some colorful costuming, he’s delivered a glorious 'new' musical." Full Review

Dan Cody's Yacht
Midtown W
On and Off Broadway

"Doug Hughes has cast it impeccably, staged it fluidly with help from John Lee Beatty’s rapidly turning sets, and guided his ensemble so that all of the play’s points are clearly focused...It’s to the playwright’s credit that he manages to interest us in these two characters and their children and friends even though he has placed them in a situation that some might say is contrived...Here is a writer who can entertain us even as he forces us to pay attention." Full Review

Me and My Girl
Midtown W
On and Off Broadway

"What a perfect property this is to have been unearthed by the resourceful folks running Encores!...We were able to put Presidents and Prime Ministers and half the world’s leaders out to pasture for a few hours while we remembered there is joy in the world as well...It has been such a pleasure to watch Mr. Borle grow into a major star step by step, show by show...They and their considerable company of gifted artists sent us out into the rain without a care in the world." Full Review

On and Off Broadway

"The story is complicated and not always easy to follow. Lee’s book is an adaptation of her screenplay, but somehow when humans act it for us we have more difficulty relating to its characters...The musical material offered them is serviceable but not particularly distinctive. The tunes and the lyrics don’t offer more depth or soul or wisdom than the characters in the script...Grandage and Ashford as director and choreographer have similar problems — dance numbers don’t further the plot." Full Review

On and Off Broadway

"A joyous romp of no particular distinction...This place in paradise doesn’t allow even a volcanic explosion to interfere with the fun. Jimmy Buffett’s words and music clearly delight his vast array of fans. I, who honestly had never been much exposed to his material, found it amiable, accessible, and as nourishing as an ice cream soda; which is fine. But, except for the title song, memory of it does not linger long." Full Review

Three Wise Guys
Midtown W
On and Off Broadway

"A new comedy that has captured the warmth and loopy humor so prevalent in the source material...A company of 7 veteran actors performs with a perfected rhythm and a consistent accent to the breezy dialogue...It’s an ensemble cast that plays together like a well rehearsed orchestra, with each actor delivering clever dialogue that tells the complicated story of three hapless gents...A play that’s highly original...A delightful and refreshing divertissement." Full Review

DC Metro Theater Arts

“Visually the production could not be more exemplary...The staging is vivid and inventive...It’s not for those looking for more conventional structure or more contemporary problems...But for those who enjoy boarding a flying carpet to take them to a time and place with which we may have little connection, other than fellow human beings seeking a peaceful passage through the one lifetime they have at their disposal, I’m certain they will be happy to sign on for the ride.” Full Review

Meteor Shower
Midtown W
DC Metro Theater Arts

“A charming example of the eighty-minute soufflés now offered up as ‘full length plays’...Martin’s method is to avoid any semblance of the linear in structuring his play, and there are breaks in the timeline which expose various ways in which some key scenes are played out...I enjoyed much of ‘Meteor’; but it’s a clever trifle and easily dismissible...A shrunken version of ‘Virginia Woolf’...More an extended sketch than a full-length play...I’d call ‘Meteor Shower’ an appealing almost.” Full Review

DC Metro Theater Arts

"Language is limited to broken English but book writer Itamar Moses has worked miracles to find tenderness, wit, and wisdom even with his limited tools...A new work; original, inventive, emotionally sound, and simply but effectively written and staged. It offers hope to our troubled world. It’s small, without grandeur...A nourishing evening which combines mirth, melody, and even substance, a welcome collaboration that continues to feed the current season on Broadway." Full Review

DC Metro Theater Arts

"An interesting revival...Taichman has jumped in with both feet to give us a vigorous interpretation. The opening act is played with almost too much vigor and relish...Physically, this production is beautifully realized by Patel, Young, and Akerlind who have conjured the sets, costumes, and lighting that evoke another time and place...It is certainly the sort of piece that is in line with the mission of the Roundabout, 'to bring 'hidden' classics such as these back to Broadway stages." Full Review

Mary Jane
East Village
DC Metro Theater Arts

"Told with infinite grace and attention to detail. Kauffman has skillfully maneuvered four actresses who play eight characters in support of Coon...Coon avoids all semblance of cliché in playing the stoic Mary Jane...'Mary Jane' offers us more of an education on the intricacies and pain this mother must suffer than it does a story of suspense or one with surprise twists and turns...But the writing is so on target, the performances are so truthful, I found myself absorbed most of the way." Full Review

If Only
West Village
DC Metro Theater Arts

"There is no plot here...All that this conversation piece achieves for its two characters is a look at what might have been had they lived in a different time...Gilbert’s performance, honest and direct as it is, is so much a miniature that at times I felt I was intruding on a private conversation...The staging by McElroen of this plot-shy play does not help to enliven the writing...Well-intentioned, but for me, an embryonic idea that never quite developed into a healthily developed play." Full Review

DC Metro Theater Arts

"A splendidly opulent production, and the Central Park background on a summer’s eve is a very real contributor to the pleasures of the evening...A large cast which includes a half dozen Broadway favorites is having a grand time cavorting across its vast stage...Ashford brings her own very special charms to the role of Helena...Danny Burstein is on target as Bottom the Weaver...With everyone having such a fine summer evening out, who could resist that?" Full Review

1984 (Broadway)
Midtown W
DC Metro Theater Arts

"One of the most fascinating items on the Broadway scene...It stands as a powerful and frighteningly relevant, if somewhat fantastical, take on our world...O’Brien, Julia, and Winston could not be in better hands. Reed Birney, Olivia Wilde, and Tom Sturridge play the three central roles impeccably...A multi-cultural epic that uses all its elements to great effect. This piece is hardly 'entertainment,' but it is engrossing, exciting, and interesting at all times. It is pure theatre all the way." Full Review

Napoli, Brooklyn
Midtown W
DC Metro Theater Arts

"Under Gordon Edelstein’s controlled direction, the many scenes have a cumulative effect so that by the final curtain, we feel part of this family...This all could have played out as a colorful soap opera were it not for the very detailed work of Meghan Kennedy...Her talent for characterization is evident throughout, and if there is any lack in this warm family comedy, it is in its lack of structure...It is, in total, a praiseworthy paean to the feminist movement." Full Review

Cost of Living
Midtown W
DC Metro Theater Arts

"A play only in the sense that it uses actors to act out a 90-minute study of two cases, played side by side on a revolving stage...The four actors under Jo Bonney’s detailed direction are superb...I found myself missing more of a story line in the writing of the play: but the originality of its subject, the accuracy of the dialog, and the excellence of the performances, all contributed to a well-spent evening at the theatre." Full Review

Burn This
Midtown W
On and Off Broadway

“Russell, Uranowitz, and Furr are resourceful actors who bring dimension...and we find ourselves...interested in following these three whose problems we hope to find resolved...Pale is a large character, and Wilson has written him brilliantly. He is aided by actor Driver...The conclusion is somewhat abrupt...What matter is the chemistry between Anna and Pale is hot; and though I’d feel that heat uncomfortably if I stayed too close to it, I had a fine time watching it build and grow.” Full Review

On and Off Broadway

"In the opening moments, she intrigues us because what she tells us is unvarnished, self-effacing yet unapologetic...There is rage in the 90 minutes that it takes her to spill everything before us; but there is also humor, compassion, and self-examination driven by a ferocious need to understand and to heal...I won’t spoil the ending of this beautiful piece of stagecraft, but I urge you to see it, and to let it wash over you to see if you are as moved as I was." Full Review

On and Off Broadway

"The cast is absolutely perfect meshing beautifully under the tight direction of Ciaran O’Reilly...Some unexpected twists and turns in the plot race around the tense forty-five minutes it takes to reach a conclusion. It leaves no doubt that Sean O’Casey had found his voice with this play and that the Irish Rep Company has generously brought it to our attention once again...Thought provoking and somewhat disturbing—in other words, good theatre well done." Full Review

On and Off Broadway

"There is much to marvel at on the stage of the Neil Simon Theatre...Block has the largest job which she fills magnificently, even nailing the distinctive rhythms and timbre of Cher’s speech...A musical variety show that might make a top TV Special...It’s fun to watch but there is nothing distinctive about it except the size and pizzazz of the production numbers. Lifetime fans of Cher will certainly enjoy roaming through the lady’s past with her." Full Review

King Kong (NYC)
Midtown W
On and Off Broadway

“The musical is lavishly produced...The first musical number...is vigorous—brilliantly executed by an excellent company—and exciting to watch even though it has little to do with the ‘30s, NY, or the plot...The visual elements and the remarkable puppetry that went into creating King Kong himself are what make this clunky musical at least interesting. It isn’t memorable, but it goes down easily...Don’t bring small kiddies though – the King’s roar is terrifying." Full Review

Days of Rage
Midtown W
On and Off Broadway

“It begins with an explosion of angry rock music that lets us know the play is not misnamed...Five mismatched characters, each arriving at their current states of conviction from different backgrounds, are the ingredients that furnish playwright Levenson’s play with the engine that keeps it moving at top speed through a totally absorbing ninety minutes...Levenson’s words capture the period in which his story unfolds...’Days of Rage’ now joins a robust list of excellent plays.” Full Review

On and Off Broadway

"Rebeck’s play is truly a fictional documentary, at least in its long first act, for its story does not advance much until the second act begins...There is much in this first act to delight us...In the second act...there is much conflict; and the sparks do fly...Rebeck has proved to be prolific, and continues to write plays of substance; sometimes provocative, always entertaining. Here she is writing about sacrifice to achieve change, and the courage to fight tradition." Full Review

On and Off Broadway

"This musical faithfully follows the plot line of that film, but its ample score does nothing to bring new insights or bright ideas with its music or lyrics...Ms. Barks has finally landed a role and a venue that will establish her as a major contender for future leading roles...Two attractive and talented stars and a first rate supporting cast telling a familiar story that is now attached to an uninteresting score may be enough for you." Full Review

On and Off Broadway

"Lee, the playwright, is a woman; and this play reveals her uncanny awareness of the ways in which men think and behave...The cast is impeccable playing four beautifully written men who are what used to be the mainstream of American life...More than just a complaint, I still ask why Shapiro or Lee felt a Rock’n Roll blast and a wild silver show curtain were needed to set the play up. But it does scream out at us: 'This is not a revival! This is today’s world!'" Full Review

Conflict
Midtown W
On and Off Broadway

"A beautifully crafted and totally absorbing play...The play reminds us of a better time for creative writing in theater when craft, structure, wit, and wisdom were all part of the recipe for a nourishing three act play that happily took its time unraveling a plot that gave life to a fully rounded set of characters while supplying material for half a dozen actors to run with. The small Mint has managed to corral seven of the best of these players, and all of them deliver crackling good perfor... Full Review

On and Off Broadway

"These artists’ dramatization and staging are so inventive and courageous that a truly new work has evolved–one that is haunting and moving...Ms. Stroman has cast six gifted dancers and one exquisite prima ballerina–and she can act...This creative team is melded into one seamless whole, and the complex task of making the material work...It is special; and for those of you who like some meat on the bones of your musicals, there is much to munch on in this one." Full Review

On and Off Broadway

"Mantello shows himself as a visionary who knows how to deliver a fully integrated production that leaves us stunned, truly moved, and forced to understand and consider even the highly neurotic characters he seems to totally understand...Perfectly marvelous play...Glenda Jackson is giving the performance of her life in a play that is worthy of her, with very strong support from her co-stars." Full Review

Admissions
Upper W Side
On and Off Broadway

"Harmon's new play, 'Admissions,' confirms that he’s a writer to be reckoned with—Engaging and provocative theater that reflects the issues of the day...As the play unfolds, powerful forces, each superbly dramatized and acted, crash and collide...Though the play ends quietly and indecisively, it provokes and forces us to go on thinking about it long after we’ve left the theater...Hecht rises from excellent character actress in this to the ranks of radiant star." Full Review

Later Life
Midtown W
On and Off Broadway

"Gurney deals beautifully with the ache and the sadness of a life not lived...Gurney supplies his resourceful players with material that is textured; and what emerges are the revelations that help to define Ruth and Austin so that the play ends just where it should...A fine play, a small gem that serves to remind us that A.R.Gurney will be remembered as long as there’s an audience for good theater." Full Review

Hindle Wakes
Midtown W
DC Metro Theater Arts

"What's remarkable about the production is its relevance...We have a play with the robust humor that is always bubbling below the surface...It avoids sentimentality and it doesn't romanticize, but it offers insight into what causes prejudice and small-mindedness. It also shows how self-confidence and determination can free almost anyone from the confines of parental boundaries...The cast is superbly gifted...The smooth ensemble playing is perfection." Full Review

The Parisian Woman
Midtown W
DC Metro Theater Arts

“McKinnon has staged the play with fluidity, and Thurman in particular moves about the beautiful space with command and great grace. She belongs in this elegant environment...Willimon has turned to his earlier version of the play and moved it up to Trump time by inserting a quote from our president’s tweets. They get the laughs, but they seem out of place...The lighthearted banter that serves the first half of this play is darkened somewhat as the gears of the plot kick in.” Full Review

Harry Clarke
West Village
DC Metro Theater Arts

for a previous production "Crudup soon has us forgetting this is a one-man play...The tale he tells is full of surprises, details, suspense; and there was total absorption...His is a tour-de-force performance, and it deserved the ovation that greeted him on his bows...This is exactly the sort of work that theaters like the Vineyard are mandated to offer, and they justify their leadership in this small group of explorers who sometimes come up with gold. This is one of those times." Full Review

The Home Place
Chelsea
DC Metro Theater Arts

"Moore, the Irish Rep’s Artistic Director, has longed for the right moment to bring this final work of Friel’s to New York. She’s directed it herself in a manner that would have pleased him...The play is literate, and offers many choice confrontations which give opportunity to actors of quality to engage themselves and us...Charlotte Moore has assembled a first-rate ensemble to breathe life into this glimpse of a divisive time in Ireland’s history. Sadly, it seems scarily relevant.” Full Review

Desperate Measures
Midtown W
DC Metro Theater Arts

for a previous production "A rollicking good time for those who enjoy shows that haven’t much on their minds other than to tickle your ribs and serve comfort food to your ears. For the music by Friedman, with a book and lyrics by Kellogg, is spirited, and sprinkled with wit...The songs come fast and loose, so many of them that they tend to blend into one...A cast of six experienced comic actors each has a chance to land with a piece of special material...A friendly smile-maker of a musical." Full Review

DC Metro Theater Arts

"It feels like a first work, a crude attempt by a promising playwright to 'write what you know'...The problem is, as Ruhl writes them, the siblings have no particular distinction...The play is all small talk–expository and personal–not only about them, but other relatives as well...The five siblings and their Dad are well played by a lively cast led by the appealing Kathleen Chalfant, who always lights up a stage." Full Review

Prince of Broadway
Midtown W
DC Metro Theater Arts

“Vastly entertaining…Prince’s company of nine is asked to play everything from star to ensemble member in this two-act selection of samples from musicals we’ve known and loved. Because they are so smashingly staged and performed here, they come off as well for those who’ve never seen any of the original productions, as they do for veterans...I urge you to see this beautiful, bountiful tribute to him.” Full Review

Curvy Widow
Midtown W
DC Metro Theater Arts

“Goldman has wisely put her play in the resourceful hands of director Peter Flynn, who extracts from it all the humor, some of it bringing belly laughs. He also manages to keep the non-linear story afloat by inventive staging…Opel’s voice is firm and appealing...The musical material by Drew Brody is serviceable, with dexterity particularly in many of his lyrics. Marcos Santana has choreographed these eighteen numbers nimbly...I would have liked to know more about Bobby Goldman.” Full Review

Marvin's Room
Midtown W
DC Metro Theater Arts

"McPherson’s captured them in all their tawdriness and their shining humanity...They are so specifically drawn, they become universal...Kauffman has staged it smoothly, and the eight actors are each stunningly on target. For some reason I can’t fathom, this very intimate glimpse at the interactions of eight very human beings is being played in the much-too-large American Airlines Theatre and, as a result, much of its impact is diminished...A rewarding place to be this summer." Full Review

DC Metro Theater Arts

"A blunt and vital revival that clearly speaks to our own times...These fine actors are capable of rendering the text clearly in American accents, and they’ve been directed to perform truthfully in a contemporary manner...I think some of the topical references were unsubtle; I think I’d have preferred to let the play speak for itself in terms of its relevance to the Trump Administration. But it’s the sort of experiment for which The Public is famous." Full Review

DC Metro Theater Arts

"Hatcher’s adaptation is fluid and well plotted, but only now and then hits the mark when aiming at genuine wit...Now and then a zinger will fly, and when it does, the audience is there for him. The evening works because it is being played by three of the best comic actors we have. Urie has found a role which allows his major gift for comedy to flourish...It is the incredible comic ability of the three male principals and most of the ensemble that lifts it into a show that is well worth seeing." Full Review