S

Samuel L. Leiter

About:  Samuel L. Leiter is a critic who writes his own blog, Theatre's Leiter Side, and also contributes to Theater Pizzazz! and The Broadway Blog.
307
reviews
45
followers
0
following
Reviews (307)
Preview kid victory key 800x1200
65
Theatre's Leiter Side

"The work of 89-year-old John Kander...and Greg Pierce....dives into the dark waters of a teenager's sexual enslavement; the results, though, may not be as deep as the subject warrants...Despite its imaginative staging...the piece never fully coheres. It veers from being predominantly musical, with the dialogue in recitative mode, to long passages, especially one toward the end, without any music at all." Full Review

Preview img 0144
50
Theatre's Leiter Side

"This promising material is presented over a way-too-long two hours and 20 minutes in 15 dawdling scenes that shift back and forth between apartments, cafés, and restaurants. The play—perhaps because of its origins as a novel—is structurally flabby, spreading its multiple foci and many secrets too thin, creating only the most tenuous tension or suspense. Potentially thrilling emotional moments are buried under the expository lethargy, distancing us from the characters' dilemmas." Full Review

Preview rtm citycenter 220x330
45
Broadway Blog

"Alan Hruska's labored, dystopian 'tragicomedy'...has the musty air of one of those European, allegorical, politically tinged, absurdist satires of the 1950s and 1960s-think Ionesco, Sartre, Dürrenmatt, Arrabal, or Frisch-but without their wit, cogency, depth, or flair...Apart from scattered moments, there's precious little to keep you invested for nearly two hours." Full Review

Preview mother invention
55
Theatre's Leiter Side

"Dottie may be suffering from severe memory issues...but she seems perfectly at ease chatting about her condition and her children's dilemma. The device is cute for a while but...her being here in spirit, so to speak, quickly becomes a matter of diminishing returns...Well-cast, nicely acted, efficiently designed...and smoothly directed by Tony Speciale. But, given its lack of originality and too frequent triteness, what it lacks most clearly is the magic of invention." Full Review

Preview unfaithfully cropped
60
Broadway Blog

"It examines with intelligence and sensitivity, but few emotional fireworks, the ramifications of the once scandalous idea of open marriage...The script's appealing promise dissipates into talky artificiality, largely, I believe, because of its otherwise capable actors being out of their depth; instead of true Malleson we get faux-Coward. Malleson's play should only receive another staging if it can find a cast...that can carry off its English savoir-faire and, most particularly, its accents." Full Review

Preview georgie
85
Theatre's Leiter Side

"Dixon regales us with stories of Rose's personal oddities and theatrical performances, frequently lapsing into impressions of the actor...There's plenty to enjoy in 'Georgie' even if you don't know who Rose was. The real beneficiaries...will be older Broadway theatregoers to whom Rose's artistry brought joy and laughter from the '60s through the '80s. This Rose by another name may not smell as sweet as the original but for most audiences it should certainly smell sweet enough. Full Review

Preview the liar white
85
Broadway Blog

"The chief enjoyment lies in Ives' notable deftness at writing entertainingly clever rhymes, often with corny groaners accompanied by a self-deprecating tone showing just how much he's aware of his own outrageousness...Kahn's sprightly troupers...race along with energy and flair, getting the fun from every pun, and making the two hours pass agreeably...For all the skill and effort expended, 'The Liar' remains on the pleasantly amusing side of the comedy scale, rarely tipping toward hilarity." Full Review

Preview rsz 1rsz orange julius face
60
Theatre's Leiter Side

"Earnest, well-meaning, and politically correct but none of these ingredients is sufficient—at least in Dustin Wills's decently acted and well-staged but often lethargic, hour-and-a-half production...—to strongly recommend it...The play's loose, sometimes dreamlike structure only serves to intensify its dramatic monotony. There are numerous incidents but...there's little enough tension or conflict to hold one's attention or to make one wonder about what's coming next." Full Review

Preview dorkknight abingdon
85
Theatre's Leiter Side

“O'Connell...brings his endearing personality, abundantly versatile voice, and emotional depth to this autobiographical account of the role Batman-especially the movies-played in his life...Smartly staged by Tony Speciale in the three-quarters round..., exceptionally well lit by Zach Blane, and supplemented by (uncredited) sound effects, 'The Dork Knight' is a perfect vehicle for the personable O'Connell to demonstrate his considerable range as both a comic and serious actor.” Full Review

Preview albatross white
85
Theatre's Leiter Side

“Spengler and Evett created an intense one-man play around Coleridge's poem, famous for its place in the early history of Romanticism. Evett himself performs the title figure in a tour-de-force of acting chops and physical stamina...The 85-minute play, perhaps 15 minutes longer than it has to be, makes demands that test his endurance and, when the rains begin pouring down on him late in the play, you're happier for the actor than the character that he's finally got water, water, everywhere.” Full Review

Preview made in china white
85
Theater Pizzazz

“'Made in China' is a farcical, musical, phantasmagorical odyssey that, while hitting various political marks, remains engaging throughout its hour and 20 minutes...'Made in China' sometimes allows its preoccupation with puppet artistry, special effects, video projections, and the like to muffle its satirical objectives. That, however, is a small price to pay for a work of such creative imagination and performative skill. Best of all, of course, 'Made in China' was made in the U.S.A.” Full Review

Preview his royal hipness white
60
Theatre's Leiter Side

“I went to 'His Royal Hipness' hoping to get hip to his groove, but the show didn't give me the solid I was hoping for. His material, at least as contemporized by Broder, is leaden, and the hipster lingo of half a century ago, with which the show's obsessed, seems as dated as stereos and old LP comedy records...Throughout the show, the most obvious target is...the president-elect...Buckley may be hip but he's not Bill Maher, Stephen Colbert, Samantha Bee, Jon Stewart, or Seth Meyers.” Full Review

Preview rsz the babylon line
55
Broadway Blog

“'The Babylon Line,' while highly listenable, never finds the right balance between its contrived storyline, self-conscious dialogue, and colorful but artificial characters. In other words, while superficially charming it lacks sustained credibility and structural stability….Director Terry Kinney hypes up the energy, creating a mostly comedic atmosphere, but the humor is spotty, and the darker scenes are hard to reconcile with some of the broad accents and eccentric behavior.” Full Review

Preview alligator white
50
Theatre's Leiter Side

“Themes of friendship, love, and trust are on the playwright's mind…, but they're as muddled as the characters, none of whom is credible. Nor is there much believability in Elena Araoz's staging, which is limited by a...cast unable to break through their roles' conventionality...For all the physical action, the work is more static than dynamic, and finding anyone to care for...is as difficult as sitting through this overlong...side trip into the fetid Florida swamps.” Full Review

Preview the portal white
40
Theatre's Leiter Side

“'The Portal' is what one might have expected to encounter on the West Coast during the height of the post-hippie/New Age movement of the late '60s/early '70s. It's burdened...with a drearily portentous, allegoric narrative presented via a silent film that makes sense only if you've read (and remembered) its plot outline...'The Portal's' message is all well and good,...but the show's buried in such a mountain of self-conscious pretension that it may exceed a NY audience's climbing skills.” Full Review

Preview notes from the field white
85
Theatre's Leiter Side

“Unlike 'Fires in the Mirror' and 'Twilight,' each of which focused on reactions to a very specific event, 'Notes from the Field,' as its title suggests, is more wide-ranging; while it makes many important points about a poor educational system leading to incarceration, its broader focus tends to weaken the overall impact...Because of the filtering process of Smith's chameleonic artistry, it clarifies the racial issues roiling our nation more potently even than seeing her characters in person.” Full Review

Preview taste mc 11 1 orig
80
Theatre's Leiter Side

“These nostalgic reminders of the days some deluded people think was when America was ‘greater’ than now are embedded in fast-paced, quip-packed dialogue and high-fructose pastiche songs written in various pop genres of the 50s...There's really nothing here we haven't seen before...The inventively bouncy and comic staging and choreography of Lorin Latarro takes familiar material and makes it enjoyably fresh, the way a good cook does in creating a flavorsome new recipe.” Full Review

Preview sweet.charity.cropped
75
Theatre's Leiter Side

“Although Charity perpetually struggles to find a man to love and marry...the audience has no trouble falling for Foster, even in a production that has a few problems...Foster receives capable support from Asmeret Ghebremichael and Emily Padgett as Nickie and Helene. Joel Perez does very nicely in four distinct roles, and Shuler Hensley squeezes the square Oscar for every laugh he's worth...But the minute she walks on the stage you can tell that she's a real big talent, a gal of distinction.” Full Review

Preview adogstory
60
Broadway Blog

"It's a friendly, if innocuous, 90-minute, four-character tail-wagger offering a Purina blend of romance with canine schmaltz...The most original thing in 'A Dog Story' is the replacement of an actual animal by using pantomime to display its presence...Most of the rest, while clichéd, contrived, and stereotypical, is sufficiently good-natured and appealing to keep you from going off in search of the nearest fireplug." Full Review

Preview terms of endearment white
40
Theatre's Leiter Side

“The question arises regarding the idea of turning a terrific movie into a claustrophobic stage play on a cramped stage: as they say, if it ain't broke don't fix it...Without the illuminating performances of MacLaine et al., the story seems unexceptional, even dull, with its tragic twist more manipulative than ever...A pallor of superficiality pervades Michael Parva's heavy-handed production...Ringwald, who can be a delightful stage presence...is simply out of her element here.” Full Review

Preview finian s rainbow white
95
Broadway Blog

“This 1947 hit is guilty of occasional silliness and simplistic racial politics (once considered radically progressive). Nonetheless, it never stops pleasing as a tuneful, socially conscious, romantic fantasy laced with moonbeams, a leprechaun, rainbows, and a crock of gold...the cast consistently delivers with affecting conviction and charm, led by the marvelous Melissa Errico, bringing beauty, assurance, happiness, and a gorgeous voice to her every moment.” Full Review

Preview master harold white 2
90
Broadway Blog

“It remains a thrilling play, even 34 years after its premiere in 1982...Fugard’s piercing, semiautobiographical evocation of the psychological pressures created by living in a racist society is remarkably affecting. We watch three people who love each other struggling to maintain their equanimity in a society where racial hatred infects everything it touches...Fugard’s perfectly calibrated direction inspires excellent performances all around.” Full Review

Preview the collector 2
40
Theatre's Leiter Side

"In Lisa Milinazzo’s tediously paced, surprisingly unengaging staging of Healy’s play...Frederick is made as plain as possible, with de Rogatis wearing grungy clothing, wire-rimmed glasses, and a scruffy beard...When the first act ended, my companion asked if it was okay to leave...He had my approval, of course, while I, like Miranda, was doomed to remain, pinned to my seat like those butterflies on the walls, loved but unloving in return." Full Review

Preview coriolanus
75
Broadway Blog

“‘Coriolanus’ strikes brilliant sparks of contemporaneity in its depiction of an unpleasant, egotistical, angry, and prideful leader, incapable of self-understanding, and consumed by a drive for power and revenge...Michael Sexton’s direction manages the difficult feat of presenting what seems a full-text version with only a dozen actors...Dion Johnstone cuts a commandingly convincing figure as the brawny, rage-filled soldier who is nonetheless submissive to his domineering mother.” Full Review

Preview inner voices 2016
85
Theatre's Leiter Side

“Of the three programs I’ve seen over the years, this was the best...The performance by Nancy Anderson in the middle piece, ‘The Pen,’ is an absolute must-see for every musical theatre aficionado...The convincing intensity of her acting is greatly heightened by the perfection of her soprano, demonstrating how powerful the elements of music and acting can be when perfectly balanced with one another. This is exceptional work, deserving of a wider audience.” Full Review

Preview sunsetboulevard 2
70
Broadway Blog

"Price's staging, in a fatal mistake, fails to capture the darkness, being surprisingly upbeat, and with only scattered moments of the needed gothic anxiety demanded by the story...Close's...pitchy singing voice is not Broadway's best, but her acting is strong enough, even within the deliberately broad, almost grotesque, theatricality she adopts to jerk tears when she launches into 'With One Look.' But the emphasis on her exaggerations takes the show too far from its deeper implications." Full Review

Preview life according to saki
65
Theatre's Leiter Side

"It's the show's overall inventiveness rather than its contents that make a visit most worth one's while...'Life According to Saki,' which runs only little more than an hour, is best appreciated as a brief introduction to Saki's writings. Still, the stories seem now only of passing interest, they're far from hilarious, and they possess little dramatic weight; in short, there simply isn't enough here worthy of rediscovery." Full Review

Preview 299518
60
Theatre's Leiter Side

"'Fade’s' treatment of identity, sexual, and office politics, as well as class warfare, is the mildly spicy flavoring of a play that actually could be about people of any ethnicity...Stuffed with one-liners (including two limp ones alluding to Trump) that too infrequently raise chuckles (or require you know Spanish to comprehend), the highly episodic ‘Fade’ shifts back and forth from fast-paced comedy to serious dilemmas, stumbling now and then to maintain consistent believability." Full Review

Preview jonah and otto
60
Theater Pizzazz

"Over the course of 90 minutes, Otto and Jonah engage in thinly plotted talk, sometimes colorfully realistic and even vulgar, sometimes tediously elliptical and metaphorical...Both Gormley and Simonian give reasonably believable performances but Hughes’ direction is dully mundane. Holman appears to be casting an allegorical cloak over his everyday characters, whose interactions, for all their ordinariness, often have about them a mystical, unrealistic hue that is absent here." Full Review

Preview img 0010
80
Yen
Theater Pizzazz

"Enhanced by the emotionally riveting work of Smith and his three fellow actors, this production of 'Yen,' despite the play's flaws, is one of the most gripping of the Off-Broadway season...Jordan's drama ekes out its themes in bits and pieces, focusing on mood, atmosphere, and character, so that when something traumatic happens it stands out that much more sharply. The events in Act Two, though, dramatic as they may be, take the play in a slightly different, more plot-oriented direction." Full Review

Preview hiddentemple1
40
Broadway Blog

"Chua...focuses only intermittently on the complex military-historical issues...Instead, he diffuses his treatment by introducing various melodramatic mysteries...An air of superficiality hovers not only over the writing but over the entire, stilted production...Director Kaipo Schwab's pacing for the two-hour play is uneven and his staging awkward, beginning with the thoroughly unconvincing stabbing that begins the play...As for the acting, let's just say better luck next time." Full Review

Preview great american dream white 2
40
Theatre's Leiter Side

"Each of the performers is friendly, approachable, and personable. They may even have acting chops that would prove satisfactory in a more conventional theatrical framework. But they're not especially strong as improvisers or satirists, nor, as an extensive solo called 'Soulbird'...demonstrates, would you ever see them on 'The Voice.' Nothing here comes close to the kind of wit and panache we associate with even the weakest routines on 'SNL' and other comedy showcases." Full Review

Preview beautyqueen2
80
Theatre's Leiter Side

"The wonderfully written and performed letter monologue is a highlight, but the contents make instantly clear where the plot will be going. Still, even more egregious tests of credibility and dramaturgic validity lie ahead, especially in the closing minutes and their foreshadowed violence. Nonetheless, McDonagh's ripe, broguish language, his feisty characterizations, and the richly voiced, emotionally honest, and comically vibrant acting, keep you constantly engrossed." Full Review

Preview 800x1200 jitney
85
Theatre's Leiter Side

“The plotline has the familiar scent of socially oriented melodrama: the city plans to board up the place and build something else, thus depriving the struggling drivers of their livelihoods. The righteous boss, Becker (John Douglas Thompson), has a plan to fight back, thus giving the play a structural framework, but the real interest is in the intensely vivid characters, their electric, richly accented language, replete with aria-like speeches, and their emotionally fraught relationships.” Full Review

Preview consider the lilies white
35
Broadway Blog

“If ever a play needed sharp direction this is it; instead, the play's structural weakness is exaggerated by Fail's egregiously sloppy staging on a bland, shabby-looking set of beige apartment walls, amateurishly designed and even more amateurishly lit by S. Watson...Fail's pacing is ragged, his actors seem to be blocking themselves on the fly, most scenes lack dynamic tension, there's a laughably phony beating, and, sadly, much of the acting is inadequate.” Full Review

Preview life is for living white
70
Theater Pizzazz

“It would be so much better if the skimpy narrative were to consistently connect the dots, succinctly indicate just what that conversation is, and how these particular selections contribute to it. Instead, the linkages jump from subject to subject and the transitions often seem arbitrary...Audiences should be prepared simply to appreciate the pieces...Green radiates casual British charisma, sophistication, wry humor, melancholy, and occasional archness.” Full Review

Preview 8131c66a4609bda5bc44d3146e84e715
65
Theatre's Leiter Side

“Much of it is raucously enjoyable—it received a sincere standing ovation—and the heart of Palminteri's original remains intact, but its soul seems compromised by the window dressing of a big-budget production...Performed with pumped-up gusto for a fast-moving two hours, only occasionally stopping to catch its breath, the show, with its saucy profanity and comical sexual allusions...isn't for audiences seeking Disney-type entertainment.” Full Review

Preview rancho viejo white
50
Theatre's Leiter Side

“A needlessly long play...with two intermissions that give playgoers ample opportunity to leave...'Rancho Viejo' occasionally attempts to introduce meaningful discourse into its dialogue, including references to the effect of art on people's lives, and there are scattered bits of amusing banality that highlight LeFranc's take on the emptiness of his characters' existence. These, though, mostly amount to window dressing on a play that takes a long time to say a lot about very little.” Full Review

Preview rsz ride the cyclone
70
Theatre's Leiter Side

“When the show is singing and dancing, and being creatively theatrical (including a revolving stage), it sparkles...It's the book passages, though, especially those that go on too long, that hold the show down. The music, while always enjoyable, is generic but several numbers are nonetheless showstoppers, particularly the surrealistic one performed by Jane, when she flies out over the audience and even does a pinwheel in midair. 'Ride the Cyclone' didn't exactly spin my wheels.” Full Review

Preview ntj  copy
85
Theatre's Leiter Side

“Through it all, she finds the laughter beneath life's ups and downs. Many of the jokes are Jewish-inflected and familiar to anyone who's seen, let's say, Jackie Mason's routines. Every now and then, a word floats by to spur the next sequence in the show. Despite its theme, the play is for everyone who has a Jewish heart, much as those old Levy's Jewish rye bread ads used to imply; still, folks who laugh at Yiddishisms will soak up just a bit more of its ethnic gravy than everyone else.” Full Review

Preview the city that cried wolf white
60
Theatre's Leiter Side

“For a time, Reeves does a good job of keeping this comic ball inflated, coming up with a substantial number of zingers...Too many of the jokes barely raise a smile, though, much less a laugh...'The City That Cried Wolf' is the kind of thing...that you might see produced by talented theatre students as an end of the school year production, or even as an extended SNL sketch. But, for all its clever wordplay, it's still a spoof of an over-spoofed genre.” Full Review

Preview fwd key 800x1200
50
Broadway Blog

“The play (Act One, at any rate) reads funnier than it plays under Mark Brokaw's direction, which inspires only scattered and mild laughter. There is, though, a memorable moment of physical humor when the angry Martin leaps off the bed to be stopped in midair by Donald's outstretched hand. The best thing in the show, in fact, are its visuals, particularly Allen Moyer's substantial sets, carefully lit by David Lander. But in this case, the scenery doesn't equal substance.” Full Review

Preview serv showscore
70
Theatre's Leiter Side

“A beautifully performed, cleverly staged, attractively designed but somewhat hollow rendition...Bayes's approach is to return 'The Servant' to its improvisatory roots and to recapture the wild zaniness and madcap, anything-goes excitement of commedia...But everything here is so carefully calibrated that there seems little room for real improvisation...When it ends, after two and a half hours, you may feel, with me, that it's overstayed its welcome by an hour.” Full Review

Preview poison white
55
Theatre's Leiter Side

“A sparingly-produced, Beckettian two-hander, performed at a funereal pace, with much of its dialogue spoken at just above whisper level, creating less tension than watching grass grow...Both Laurence and Huppuch are respected actors but their muted performances, flecked with innumerable Pinter-like pauses, kept me at arm's length...Vekemans's play has received much acclaim elsewhere, thus making it another example of the adage that one man's meat is another man's poison.” Full Review

Preview party23
80
Theatre's Leiter Side

"It's preaching to the choir, of course, and knows full well what buttons to press-like a crack at Donald Trump's expense-to get the responses it seeks, but for all its freeform dramaturgy, stereotypical characters, and simplified conflicts, it has an infectious nonstop energy and point of view that you enjoy for its performative values while also discovering that it might influence your behavior, even if you're not a Marxist-Maoist ideologue." Full Review

Preview don t you say white
55
Theatre's Leiter Side

“'Don't You Fxxking Say a Word' adds another to the growing list of play titles potentially unprintable in family newspapers; that, I'm afraid, is about the most controversial thing about it. It's dressed up with some structurally clever tinsel, gets a briskly inventive staging from Lee Sunday Evans, and enjoys the presence of four expert actors, but what should be over in forty-five minutes takes about twice that long to bring the curtain down.” Full Review

Preview homos1
85
Theatre's Leiter Side

“‘Homos, Or Everyone in America’ is, for the most part, funny, touching, thoughtful, and pertinent...Helping greatly to make the essentially familiar situations theatrically viable is Seavey’s distinctive gift for capturing the natural flow of conversation (much of it comically profane), with unfinished sentences broken into brief phrases that leave thoughts incompletely expressed, or that weave in and out in fragmented shards with the similarly splintered sentences of someone else.” Full Review

Preview life white
65
Broadway Blog

"Anne Kauffman’s staging of Adam Bock’s ‘A Life’ is far more elaborate than one might expect for such an otherwise slight play...The ‘life’ of the title belongs to Nate Martin, a 54-year-old proofreader—gay, lonely, and depressed—played with naturalistic honesty by the always engaging, perfectly cast David Hyde Pierce...Nate experiences a totally unexpected game-changer I can’t reveal...From this point on, ‘A Life,’ for all its satirical and emotional highlights, is anticlimactic." Full Review

Preview two class acts white
60
Theatre's Leiter Side

“I recommend these plays more because they’re your last chance to see a Flea offering at this 20-year-old venue (in a 99-year-old building) than for either's intrinsic quality...While each is entertaining, neither is up to the standards of Gurney’s best work...All the creative contributions help bolster the plays, but Gurney's’ characters and situations, for all their potential, are too artificial to generate belief.” Full Review

Preview duat 1
55
Theatre's Leiter Side

"Attractively designed by Arnulfo Maldonado (sets), Oana Botez (costumes), and lights (Solomon Weisbard), and uniformly well performed, ‘Duat’ is the kind of thing Soho Rep has been doing for years. Aficionados of this strain of downtown theatre may flock to it, but, while appreciating bits and pieces, and even laughing now and then, this viewer often longed for a Rosetta Stone to decipher that Jones boy's artistic hieroglyphics." Full Review