Robert Russo

Robert Russo is a critic with Stage Left. 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 (177)
A Strange Loop
Midtown W
Stage Left

"As Usher struggles to find his voice and his musical’s form over the ensuing 100 minutes, so, too, does 'A Strange Loop,' morphing and growing as it slyly slides through genres and tropes...Compelling and special, articulating ideas with a specificity that gives non-queer, non-black audiences a window into queer black life...It is also just really funny and enjoyable, as the best musical comedies are...Amid a complex musical about self-reference and discovery, Usher asks his audience to care." Full Review

Galas
Greenwich V
Stage Left

"Ludlam’s medium was comedy; his métier, camp—low budget, queer pop-culture parody as social commentary, employing delicious plays on gender and cross-dressing...Beyond the charming and off-beat humor of the play, and the chance to see Mr. Quinton in action, the greatest treat of 'Galas' is coming in contact with a taste of a New York theatre scene gone by...A play that reminds you of the joy of play itself and the magic of creation." Full Review

Ink
Midtown W
Stage Left

"Rhythmic, kinetic, and enthralling, 'Ink' beats out like a procedural thriller...While predictable and not terribly informative, the play investigates the seeds of our modern media environment—with an electrifying finesse and stagecraft that left me spinning...The play is honest and humanizing...Cinematic and absorbing, 'Ink' is easily one of the most stellar plays of the season...A must-see for any news junkie, historian, or citizen trying to better understand our world. " Full Review

Dying City
Midtown W
Stage Left

“Shinn constructs a compelling drama with a course of unfolding mysteries and memories that nonetheless is as predictable as it is uncomfortable...That said, Woodell and Winstead deliver powerful performances of measured and precise physicality...Shinn’s characters are complex, as are their circumstances, and while the plot may underwhelm and plod, they remain three-dimensional, messy, mysterious, and fascinating—their lives and trauma worthy of more exploration on stage.” Full Review

Nomad Motel
Chelsea
Stage Left

“'Nomad Motel’ is a draft of what might become a good play...The production is a mess of ideas in search of a gripping story and legible direction...Despite compassionate bursts of character development inspiring great pathos for our forlorn protagonists, ‘Nomad Motel’ employs a mélange of half-baked or else far too obvious metaphors, and several bouts of artificial and flowery speeches...A production that never establishes a consistent atmosphere or tone.” Full Review

Stage Left

“A new, immersive Off-Off-Broadway production of 'A Streetcar Named Desire' makes history as the first to feature a genderqueer actor as Blanche DuBois, but that’s only one reason to see this uncensored and visceral take on an American classic, performed mere feet from the audience and loaded with complex and raw performances. A must-see." Full Review

God Shows Up
Midtown W
Stage Left

“This almost skit-like play earns only modest laughter because the territory of religious hypocrisy is so exhaustingly well-worn in popular culture...Filichia is preaching to the choir. That said, all three actors give fine performances...This comedy doesn’t tread any new ground or offer any new insights, and is unlikely to change any minds but for those already converted it does offer a charming retread of an age-old phenomenon.” Full Review

All My Sons
Midtown W
Stage Left

"A searing meditation on war, morality, capitalism, and the clash of generations...Under the brilliant hand of director Jack O’Brien, the gripping and pitch-perfect production...is a highlight of the spring season...While the assembled ensemble is excellent all-around, the trio of Ms. Bening, Mr. Letts, and Mr. Walker combine to give the superior level of performance...Emerging from the theatre, shook by the mastery at hand, it is hard to imagine a better production of a better play." Full Review

High Button Shoes
Midtown W
Stage Left

"While Mr. Urie is a fine actor and a consummate clown, he is unable to provide the anchor that this show needs for success...The score—Styne’s first for the stage—sounds lovely in the hands of the 27 piece Encores! orchestra...but the skill of Cahn’s clever and humorous lyrics far exceed the achievement of Styne’s music, which is largely as unremarkable as the story...The highlight of the entire evening, and the reason for catching this production, is the stunning act two opener." Full Review

Tootsie (NYC)
Midtown W
Stage Left

"I admit there is much to like about this well-constructed and cheerful musical comedy, from the sitcom-tautness of its jokes to the abundant talent of the cast...But there’s also plenty about this show that irks: a confused tone, an uninspired design, and an overriding sense of performative, self-flagellating apology that permeates the enterprise as the creative team winks then shrugs...'Tootsie' is safe, albeit enjoyable, and quietly apologetic for existing." Full Review

Stage Left

"Seamless, slick, and exuberantly entertaining, 'Ain’t Too Proud' is easily one of the best catalogue musicals ever to grace The Great White Way...The beat never stops, and the songs are thankfully plotted diegetically, rather than being awkwardly interpolated into serving a literal purpose beyond the reality of their performance...At its most fundamental level, this show looks good, sounds good, and feels good. It’s one of the greats." Full Review

Stage Left

"The play flies by in no small part due to this suite of masterful performances under the precise direction of Sam Mendes...In the final analysis, I was impressed by the scale and ambition of this work, but dispirited and flabbergasted by its tone-deaf politics. The legacy of Lehman Brothers ought to be told with the proper context, otherwise the lessons of the Lehman brothers can’t be properly learned." Full Review

Stage Left

"Plays the story straight with a modern feel, but without an allegory. The result is both deeply engaging and flat-out thrilling...By bringing the sheer physicality of battle and crowd scenes out of the wings and centerstage, the intensity of the political drama is elevated and sustained to powerful effect...Well-acted and thrillingly staged, this 'Caesar' is unclouded by tricks and focused on the story—well worth a visit for any theatregoer looking to brush up on their Shakespeare." Full Review

Stage Left

"A razor-sharp, whip-smart satire of contemporary workplace culture...The blissful antithesis of complacent theatre-making in which you never quite know what is going to happen next. Equal parts hilarious and horrifying, Ms. Nelson-Greenberg, director Margot Bordelon, and their cast serve up a highly digestible, surrealist critique of mores around empathy consciousness, sexual harassment, hyper-masculinity, and female agency...This play could not be more timely." Full Review

Stage Left

"Easily the most important play on Broadway this season, or in any season...Schreck’s performance is a brave and magnificent public act of personal storytelling that is so artfully crafted and masterfully delivered that it feels wholly extemporaneous, as if each performance were summoned from whole cloth. That’s a testament to her incisive writing and virtuosic acting, and director Oliver Butler’s razor-sharp guidance...A must-see." Full Review

Nantucket Sleigh Ride
Upper W Side
Stage Left

“Lincoln Center Theater presents a strange, funny, and somewhat confounding new comedy by esteemed playwright John Guare that is a bizarre romp through the recesses of memory and the meaning of story. Tautly told and energetically performed, the play remains entertaining, though incomplete—a great whale that Mr. Guare has harpooned for audiences to follow in our own ‘Nantucket Sleigh Ride’.” Full Review

I Married an Angel
Midtown W
Stage Left

"A feather-light postcard from a precious era of musical theatre evolution—thin on story, generous with dance, and trying, as it were, to push the form just a bit further...It is a treat to hear Richard Rodgers’ tuneful score lushly performed by the 30 piece Encores! orchestra using the original orchestrations...Mr. Bergasse does a fine job with a book newly edited of its more obvious misogyny by playwrights Sarah Saltzberg and Sandy Rustin." Full Review

The Mother
Chelsea
Stage Left

"Director Trip Cullman delivers some of his finest work to date, creating an unsettling and totally enveloping mise-en-scène while eliciting a captivating quartet of performances. It takes a couple minutes to adjust to Ms. Huppert’s thick French accent and the peculiar logic of the play, but once things click, she is simply ravishing and impossible not to watch...'The Mother' is hardly an uplifting play, but rarely is its theme seen in such focused, high relief on stage." Full Review

Stage Left

"The cast is terrific, and director Kamilah Forbes effortlessly shifts the action between disparate tones and styles. While act two does drag, Ms. Nottage writing is incisive and engaging...A smart satire that takes a piercing look at the damage done by early Hollywood representations of people of color, and the legacy that echoes forth today. With a terrific cast and Lynn Nottage’s is incisive and engaging writing, this play is an easy critic’s pick." Full Review

Alice By Heart
Midtown W
Stage Left

"It’s an incoherent jumble that is gorgeously sung and energetically performed (impressive choreography by Rick and Jeff Kuperman), but otherwise incomprehensible. Lyrics are not poetry, and when they are, audience comprehension can too easily get left out of the equation..Despite many fine performances—and highly imaginative and evocative sets (Edward Pierce), costumes (Paloma Young), and lighting (Bradley King)—there is not much of a legible show to hold on to here. " Full Review

Mies Julie
East Village
Stage Left

“Farber, a celebrated South African playwright and director, translocates the play from 19th century Sweden to South Africa in 2012...This new setting inserts a jolting socio-political milieu into a familiar story, upping the stakes for a modern audience while maintaining the naturalistic edge that makes ‘Miss Julie’ a classic...Ali shapes a highly legible and truthful production with stunning performances...This one is worth seeing.” Full Review

The Light
Midtown W
Stage Left

“’The Light’ is an urgent and painful story of revelation, redress, and hopeful reconciliation cued at the intersection of #MeToo and Black Lives Matter. Tautly and evocatively sketched by playwright Loy A. Webb, this exquisite two-hander starts like a rom-com before embarking on tragic territory, forcing the audience to reckon with its own baked-in biases and assumptions based on race and gender, and to do and be better.” Full Review

Call Me Madam
Midtown W
Stage Left

"Ms. Cusack is glamorous and goofy, channeling the musical comedy stylings of Donna Murphy, and has never sounded better in song after song...The supporting cast of principals is strong, too, most notably Mr. Gotay and Ms. Worsham...'Call Me Madam,' given a simple but well-performed production under the direction of Casey Hushion, is Encores! at its truest: a concert revival of a classic musical that would not otherwise be seen on stage again." Full Review

Carmelina
Midtown E
Stage Left

"40 years later, this pared down production makes a strong argument for revisiting the show. Despite their common roots, 'Carmelina' is tighter than 'Mamma Mia!,' boasting higher stakes and a more focused character plot. The secret weapon is Joseph Stein’s charming book, revised by Barry Harman and director Michael Leeds. A master at painting compelling portraits of ethnic small town life, the happiest surprise of 'Carmelina' is the comedy." Full Review

Skin
Midtown W
Stage Left

"Making mime cool again...Bringing its imaginative form of silent storytelling to new audiences by both embracing modern sentiment in substance and form, and honoring tradition...'Skin' is imbued with wit and pathos, inviting the audience to imagine alongside the performers, and telling stories both sweet and sad—choreographed and performed with an exuberant energy and a big heart...The joyful spirit of this company is irresistible." Full Review

Octet
Midtown W
Stage Left

"The result is a disarming, intimate, and sonically absorbing exploration of Internet addiction, human connection, and nihilism in the year 2019...It is all easy to follow, and swallow—especially since the challenges the characters face are so bitingly familiar to anyone who participates in the digital age...Malloy’s text is too rich to fully appreciate upon first encounter...The music is mesmerizing and, in performance, particularly dazzling for the fact that there is no conductor." Full Review

Stage Left

"A play that is likely to leave you squirming in your seat due to the icky substance of that romance...Both actors are brilliant, and give gorgeously rich performances. That’s why it’s all the more confounding that they never convincingly emit sparks of romance...While enjoyable—despite the squirms—this serviceable revival by director Arin Arbus never quite justifies its existence." Full Review

Stage Left

for a previous production “’Beetlejuice’ is a ghoulishly good time that pays loving homage to the mythology of the movie while fundamentally reorienting the story and lending it an unexpected punch of pathos amid its crass and crude mania. Gorgeously designed with a Tim Burton aesthetic, and featuring a relentless series of bawdy jokes and entertaining songs, this hyperactive musical comedy might not meet the elevated aesthetic standards of some, but I had a blast.” Full Review

Continuity
Midtown W
Stage Left

“Chavkin illuminates the wit of Wohl’s text, leading this superb cast of actors to deliver a suite of impressive performances in the intimacy of a black box space with immersive sound design...The layers of meaning juxtaposing the foreground action and its background significance are intelligently expressed without blunt preening or too much opacity. At once thought-provoking and hilarious, ‘Continuity’ is everything a ‘political’ play should be.” Full Review

Stage Left

“The York Theatre Company presents a top-notch revival of ‘Enter Laughing: The Musical’ that is easily among the best musicals to have played New York all year. A tuneful 1930s period piece about a girl-crazy boy from the Bronx taking his first, comically misadventurous steps into the world of theatre, this once-forgotten gem is sure to have you exit laughing, and remembering why you love musicals.” Full Review

BLKS
Midtown W
Stage Left

“This play lands like the extended pilot episode of TV’s newest hit sitcom...The queer black millennial patois of the central three characters is both refreshing to hear and side-splittingly funny...While exceptionally staged and performed, the play nevertheless hews toward the schematic and ultimately makes a more compelling case for its adaptation on the small screen. That critique can only exist because the characters are so compelling and lovable.” Full Review

Burn This
Midtown W
Stage Left

"Lanford Wilson’s 1988 headscratcher of a play, has seemingly no reason to exist other than to give Adam Driver, its marquee star, an opportunity to flash his considerable talent on a Broadway stage. Unfortunately, nearly every note of this dated, slow burn rings false...Whatever appeal this play must have once had has long since extinguished, no doubt existing only in flickers of nostalgia. Skip this one." Full Review

Stage Left

"The plot of this almost entirely sung-through musical is fairly simple, but the themes explored—in typical Kushner fashion—are endlessly grand...Bondarin does a fine job staging this intimate piece...Burns sings the vocally challenging score with great aplomb, boasting both the confidence and the technical skill needed to anchor the show...While the trimmings are simple and the vocal performances vary in quality, the strength of the story still radiates." Full Review

Stage Left

“’Hillary and Clinton’ is a depressing form of inept and backhanded fan fiction, the very existence of which is irredeemably sexist. Putting the marriage and choices of one of the most accomplished and celebrated women in American history on stage for yet more public scrutiny is an indignity no male politician would ever face. Great performances aside, this inaccurate and intrusive play’s existence on Broadway feels irresponsible as a matter of civic integrity.” Full Review

Stage Left

"'Hadestown' is easily the most tautly constructed and beautifully realized musical on this side of 'Hamilton' —a riveting, heart-wrenching, and sumptuous folk opera that vibrantly renders some of mankind’s oldest and most enduring myths as an epic and compelling piece of modern musical theatre...'Hadestown' is a triumph of craft and imagination, boldly poetic, rousingly political, and vividly beautiful. If I could live in the magic and the majesty of this musical, I would." Full Review

The Cradle Will Rock
East Village
Stage Left

"Yazbek is a standout, as always, but this production ends up being too minimalist for its maximalist ideas, and too one-note in delivery. The result is highly legible but lacks in heart and gut. Then again, 'The Cradle Will Rock' is a difficult piece to love for it shines an uncompromising light on the darker truths of the American experience and is the product of an uncompromising artist." Full Review

Stage Left

"Glenda Jackson is ravishing in an otherwise incohesive and uneven 'King Lear' by auteur Sam Gold. Ms. Jackson’s captivating storm of a performance, an original score by Philip Glass, and arresting visual and aural moments are highlights. The balance of the cast is uneven, and the play itself rendered as emotionally clinical." Full Review

Stage Left

"A revival as bold, fresh, and revelatory as any I’ve ever been privileged to see...The key revelation of this production is not just its deft deconstruction of a canonical and totemic masterpiece of American musical theatre, but its adroit unearthing of the subtext that has always lurked beneath the surface of Hammerstein II’s brilliant book...Fish dares to interrogate deeper than perhaps any director before him...Fish could not have assembled a finer ensemble with which to reinterpret." Full Review

Sincerely, Oscar
Midtown W
Stage Left

"An ill-conceived, self-indulgent, cringe-inducing, glorified cabaret act that is easily one of the worst productions I have seen on a New York stage in recent memory." Full Review

Stage Left

“The Roundabout Theatre Company’s new Broadway revival of ‘Kiss Me, Kate’ is occasionally too darn hot, but mostly just too darn meh. Some key casting mistakes keep this well-appointed production from soaring where it should, but the choreography is a knockout and the musical itself so structurally sound and well-written that it cannot fail to entertain—uneven as it is, but still satisfying.” Full Review

Stage Left

“National Yiddish Theatre Folksbeine’s glorious production of ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ in Yiddish breathes fresh life into a treasured property from the golden age of musical comedy, forcing audiences to interact anew with what is now one of the most well-known and performed musicals of all time, and providing, in return, a host of vital performances and resonant insights. It is, in short, a revelation. See it, or regret it.” Full Review

Stage Left

"In sum, the narrative is clearer and the manic and zany camp tone tighter and more even, thanks no doubt to the benefit of additional time and skillful revision by director Stephen Brackett...While Mr. Iconis’ lyrics can be cloyingly cute, baldly expositive, and often predictable, the music in this musical quite literally justifies its existence, and there’s a lot of interesting texture and instrumentation in Charlie Rosen’s smart orchestrations." Full Review

The Cake
Midtown W
Stage Left

"A first class production directed with great wit and humanity...Rupp gives a fantastic, full dimensional performance...The frustrating problem with 'The Cake,' though, is that Della doesn’t change much at all, or at least not nearly enough...As a gay audience member, I felt oddly othered by this play—a comedy—which, I suppose, isn’t aimed at me...Brunstetter’s flat and argumentative writing of these lesbians, though no doubt well-intentioned, is unconvincing and inauthentic." Full Review

Superhero
Midtown W
Stage Left

"An unfortunately underdeveloped story that is occasionally charming but suffers in an inert production that is confused in tone...So much about 'Superhero' is undercooked...A boy with a superhero obsession mourning his father and building a future with his mother is a lovely idea for a musical; this one is just too cluttered and ill-focused on paper and on stage. Director Jason Moore is unable to wrangle a single style from several competing factions." Full Review

The Dance of Death
East Village
Stage Left

“While today’s audiences know Albee’s George and Martha, Strindberg gave us Edgar and Alice in 1900—another unhappily married couple who engage in a dangerous round of party games with an unwitting guest. McPherson keeps the play as a period piece in turn of the century Sweden, but brushes up the language. Under director Victoria Clark, the performances are unsatisfying and overly colorful, undermining the more serious portrait of a marriage that is at work underneath." Full Review

Sea Wall/A Life
East Village
Stage Left

“A unique offering....While beautiful and raw, neither is particularly remarkable on its own, but together they form a unified if redundant evening about facing grief and encountering personal tragedy...Both actors excel, though Gyllenhaal clearly has the better piece...Two well-written and performed pieces of storytelling, even if a less charitable view might see it as nothing more than a marquee cash cow more deserving of an intimate space.” Full Review

Stage Left

“Lerner and Loewe’s poetically-titled ‘The Day Before Spring’ is lovingly restored...Acito adapts the musical into a one act...and make it as appropriate and digestible for the present as is likely possible...The melodic score and witty book are welcomed surprises, as is the alchemy of Acito, which makes theatrical gold from briefly rehearsed, low-budget ‘Mufti’ trappings, cleverly utilizing the space, crafting a singular tone, and eliciting comedic and heartfelt performances from the cast.” Full Review

Stage Left

"The play is meant to be a deconstruction of the construct of identity...That’s all there in the text, but is lost in this colorful, cinematic, and slow-paced production under the helm of British director James Macdonald. The largest problem is the mismatch casting of Mr. Hawke and Mr. Dano, who never convincingly read as brothers with a shared past or shared DNA...Beyond this casting folly, the play itself chafes with the mores of 2019." Full Review

Joan
Soho/Tribeca
Stage Left

"A kaleidoscopic look at its fictional, titular character through a lens of sweeping longitude that slowly creates an absorbing and dramatically effective portrait, at once banal and spellbinding...It is easy to imagine how in lesser hands this structure might come across as facile and disjointed, but Day is a treasure of the stage...The portrait of humanity painted by Belber’s play—especially given Day’s exquisite performance—is moving precisely because of its simplicity and ordinariness." Full Review

The Convent
Midtown W
Stage Left

"Whole sequences are clearly written to be funny but, as performed under the direction of Daniel Talbott, are painfully not. Other portions of the play involve moments of magic and serious drama that is unearned. The tone remains unclear throughout...The central problem, though, is that nearly every character remains a mystery to the audience...A promising and intriguing setup that is, unfortunately, bungled in execution." Full Review