Sandi Durell

About:  Sandi Durell is Publisher-Editor and Critic at TheaterPizzazz.com, a site that features over ten contributing writers in theater and cabaret. She has had a voice in these communities for over 25 years, is a voting member of the Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards, member of the American Theat... Read more Read less
Reviews (164)
Theater Pizzazz

"You can't deny the fabulous voices (Andrew Polec, Christina Bennington, Lena Hall, Bradley Dean) and wild creative projection choices but this musical is overwrought in decibel level...'Making Love Out of Nothing At All.'" Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"Halley Feiffer's fantastical fantasy and voyage into snarkyland, carried out with aplomb by director Trip Cullman of the master Chekhov's play 'Three Sisters' goes for the jugular of coarse language and debasement. Poor Chekhov!" Full Review

Two's a Crowd
Midtown E
Theater Pizzazz

"...charmer of a musical comedy, at 59e59 Theaters, where laughter is the name of the game, written by Ms. Rudner and hubby Martin Bergman who also directs....It's a wacky Wendy world and you will have some good fun in this humor-filled production." Full Review

Toni Stone
Midtown W
Theater Pizzazz

"The play unfolds in vignettes, the actors also taking on multi roles and personas from Toni’s childhood and past. They move as synchronized dancers as they make baseball plays in slow motion and expressive leaps under Tony nominee Camille A. Brown’s choreography...The result is a mesmerizing historical account of the great American pastime." Full Review

Burn This
Midtown W
Theater Pizzazz

“Written in the 80s, when the AIDS crisis was at its peak, playwright Wilson’s exploration into this genre surely had more impact when it opened on Broadway...Mayer skillfully and cleverly plays it all to the hilt allowing for the silliness of Larry’s character to bloom large against the combustible and eventual surprisingly tender side of Pale. There are many spellbinding moments and some lulls. But you will leave the Hudson Theatre emotionally drained after two and a half hours.” Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"Written by the terrific Dominique Morisseau who knows how to blend a story and a song...But it’s Trujillo whose vision brings it alive as the Temps turn, slide, move, and groove and snap their fingers in rhythmic perfection in a way that still resounds and gives pause to why The Temptations remain part of our musical soundtrack. It’s a hi-powered, dynamic and energetic cast that will make you love them while you, the audience, can’t help but mouth or sing the familiar tunes." Full Review

After
Midtown E
Theater Pizzazz

"A suspenseful journey directed with the utmost perceptive sensitivity...The scenes change as titles above the stage reflect the 'Before,' 'During,' and 'After' of this suspense driven psychological drama that asks and attempts to answer questions that plague our existence. Other than the fact that there can be some repetitious moments in this 85 minute, no intermission drama, I will leave this as a Spoiler Alert and add that the cast is uniformly wonderful and this is a play to be seen." Full Review

Daddy
Midtown W
Theater Pizzazz

"This provocative new playwright is boundless in his exploration – from race, religion, gender and the human condition, 'Daddy' follows the path adding a surrealistic approach that helps provide the needed comic relief in this very real and intimate setting in what Harris calls a melodrama...In the sensitive, skillful and loving hands of director Danya Taymor, the production and performances are impressively real and jolting much of the time." Full Review

Network (NYC)
Midtown W
Theater Pizzazz

"The cast is downright sensational!...Other than a script that might need some trimming to eliminate repetition on a theme, 'Network' will hold you in a vise of straight forward and blunt veracity, and a feeling of powerlessness...It’s always an enlightening time when something we’ve seen so many years ago on the big screen punches you square in the stomach as current, truthful and frightening." Full Review

King Kong (NYC)
Midtown W
Theater Pizzazz

"This is the underlying strength of the production: The extreme ability of the creator and well-trained handlers to actually elicit a sense of emotion through a puppet and with a message...Christiani Pitts is a highly energized spitfire with a soaring voice and the huge cast is remarkable...Maybe it’s just good to have an old iconic story unite with a more contemporary touch and as a reminder at a time when kindness, caring, and gentility should be at the forefront of everyone’s agenda." Full Review

Ordinary Days
Midtown W
Theater Pizzazz

“Gwon’s ‘Ordinary Days’ presents a mélange of mayhem, tears, truth and humor...Reminiscent of the boy meets girl, falls in love old tale but much more relatable in this 21st Century intelligent compelling musical...The story songs are filled with humor, passion, joy, hope, sadness and fury and readily understandable in this vignette styled production, smartly directed...The ensemble is outstanding, the message not new but a reminder and wake up call of what’s really important.” Full Review

Popcorn Falls
Midtown W
Theater Pizzazz

“This is one wacky, fun filled absurd adventurous two-hander...With the clever use of a chalkboard designating scene locations; a piece of this n’ that...we get to meet many of the zany residents of Popcorn Falls. On some levels think ‘Noises Off’...Wackadoodle script...This twosome are a perfect pair of well seasoned actors who transform and move at lightening speed, assuming characters with a wink, accent, walk or speech pattern...Delightful fun." Full Review

The True
Midtown W
Theater Pizzazz

"Once again, Edie Falco rules whether on stage, film or television as a force to be reckoned with. Even more challenging for an actor, since Polly Noonan is not fictional, Falco played her so vividly, it felt like she created her. Under Scott Ellis’ direction, this fine cast rises to the occasion. However, does Sharr White’s latest offering, which can be trying at times in its wordiness, offer any new insights or is it strictly meant to be a slice of time that reminds us that very little chan... Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

“Felder assumes the character of Berlin in this absorbing...musical one man show...Felder interpolates every nuance, and mannerism in song and style of the great Berlin, drawing his audience into the fold...Each hit song presented another opportunity for the brilliant Felder to sing, play and portray, relating more emotional storyline...A show for anyone who loves the Great American Songbook, cleverly and smartly constructed by the talented Felder." Full Review

Fern Hill
Midtown E
Theater Pizzazz

for a previous production "The Farmhouse – – a gathering womb where three couples congregate to celebrate their good friendships, warm feelings and special occasions in Michael Tucker’s new dramedy, 'Fern Hill,' debuting at New Jersey Repertory Theatre in Long Branch, N.J." Full Review

Dan Cody's Yacht
Midtown W
Theater Pizzazz

"Kevin’s desire is to maintain his neighborhood as the conversations border on cliché and had he not mentioned he was gay, there even seems to be an apparent romantic spark between himself and Cara that goes nowhere. It’s unclear why Cara would even be swayed by the know-it-all, offensive Kevin who has no subtlety nor tries to disguise his sense of entitlement. The performances, ably directed by Doug Hughes, are top level, but the entire situation seems unrealistic." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"Something so extraordinary that one is awe struck watching and listening to what is currently gracing the stage at the Vineyard Theatre...A stunning 1 hour, 45 minute entre into a world of psychic realization that probes the inner mind and soul...The exquisite dramatic portrayals tell the story in balletic movements, reaching into contemporary dance, with complete devotion to detail...I cannot give enough praise to this inspired piece of theater." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

“Written by Kraar, ‘Alternating Currents’ is rooted in community...researched...by creating theater for and about working people...The take away is both a positive and a negative...living in this utopian based grouping certainly creates a feeling of belonging, common goals and friendship. However, it has its inherent problems of divisiveness based on race and bias and the pressures of group expectations...The competent acting team furthers the contradictions raised in this environment.” Full Review

Zurich
East Village
Theater Pizzazz

"This current production is a brainteaser. In a series of scenes, many issues of human interaction are addressed albeit even those awkward and very private ones that we'd never hope anyone might be privy to watch...From the emergence of these scenes, spiffily directed by Adrienne Campbell-Holt, we peek into worlds of corruption, violence, frightening reality that touches all of our lives in a place that remains neutral. The writing is humor-laden." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"This Big Broadway Musical is missing the punch that many found delightful in the Disney movie...The constant light is the puppetry...brought to life by a delightful Hildreth as the snowman. The always remarkable Creighton is notable as the sinister character Weselton...Grandage has directed this play-it-safe production, keeping those magical gloves on but wows you with technology...Alas, 'Frozen' will leave you as the song in Act 2 - 'Colder by the Minute.'" Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"This many times hilarious comedy moves in many directions...This production, lovingly and comically directed by Scott Ellis, verges on the edge of sitcom quality, one-liners heavily relied upon and most times brilliantly executed by the older sibling orphans...There are surprises aplenty, albeit you have to allow for many unrealistic situations during the 90 minutes, but you’ll leave the theater feeling you’ve witnessed a really worthwhile production." Full Review

The Amateurs
Gramercy
Theater Pizzazz

"Playwright Jordan Harrison has quite an imagination in this quirky, humorous play with music...And we begin to wonder...so where is this all going?...Another commentary in creative guise. Can have you squirming in your seat but take it or leave it, you have to admire the delivery." Full Review

Meteor Shower
Midtown W
Theater Pizzazz

"A zany absurdist comedy that keeps repeating over and over again in varying scenarios that release the different personalities living beneath the surface...They are all over the edge in this madcap comedy to the nth degree, and it’s a little confusing until you get the pattern...It’s 80 spinning minutes of roller coaster, and you can’t help being taken with the twists and turns as new characterizations emerge from these four comedic pundits who meld so perfectly together in impeccable timing." Full Review

20th Century Blues
Midtown W
Theater Pizzazz

"The talk and banter doesn’t reveal anything new about women or aging but fortifies what’s been said on timeless occasions...However, there are abundant humorous lines to give it an easy conversational feeling and the audience some chuckles...There’s a lot of heart in Susan Miller’s writing, directed by Emily Mann, as the storyline picks up more emotion moving forward over the one hour, 40 minutes. But the theme is worn out and needs some new revelations." Full Review

The Mad Ones
Midtown E
Theater Pizzazz

"Directed by Stephen Brackett, if you’re of a certain age you’ll most likely relate to the woes of youth as presented here in 'The Mad Ones.' Kerrigan and Lowdermilk surely have a way with words and lyrics and there are some genuine laugh out loud moments...The downside: the show attempts too strenuously to get its points across but it doesn’t always work as words crisscross and lines become blurred." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

“A spectacle of glamour, glitz, lust, love and romance - the costumes, the sets and strong, stunningly talented cast (Danny Burstein, Karen Olivo, Aaron Tveit, Robyn Hurder) drive ‘Moulin Rouge!’ The 70 songs - or snippets of them - that make up the music can become weary but there's a a bit of nostalgia for everyone.” Full Review

Broadway Bounty Hunter
West Village
Theater Pizzazz

"Living breathing nonstop comic book action adventure smash hit with a real live bad to the bone legendary leading lady kickin' ass by the Joe Iconis hit factory." Full Review

I Spy a Spy
Midtown W
Theater Pizzazz

"Novelty 12 person cast of caricatures at Theatre at St. Clements includes Russians and spies, the American Dream, and commentaries on the political state of things with love stories too. Some slicing and dicing are in order but it's silly fun and you'll get some laughs and messages." Full Review

Happy Talk
Midtown W
Theater Pizzazz

"Sarandon takes on this juicy role giving it all the exquisite touches it deserves as does Ireland who both compete for the laughs. Sometimes the comedy lands as it should and other times it stings and gets in the way. But, alas, as good as the cast is, you leave feeling unfulfilled knowing that something is missing. Scott Elliott directs this uniformly well-chosen cast." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"The epitome of non-traditional reimagining of a grand old musical...It gets to the underlying heart of thinking, the meanings and changes that have taken hold in society...The production is sexy, raw, dark and bloody towards the end, and unmistakably highlights the tragedy of our times. Don’t expect sunny smiles or anything that resembles optimism...I applaud the creative, far reaching thinking but wish it was 1955 when the movie was released...and love was in the air." Full Review

Smart Blonde
Midtown E
Theater Pizzazz

“Although this production begins slow paced...it resolves into the backstory that is the heart and meat of ‘Smart Blonde’...In 90 minutes, we’re treated to a cast of multi-role performers...Throughout, we’re treated to songs that are interspersed at the right moments...You’ll be caught up in the engaging performances, beautifully directed by Peter Flynn, and the star quality of the well-chosen Andrea Burns as Judy Holliday.” Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

“Edgy, raucous, rockin’, can’t keep a good thing down musical...Fast moving, fast talking, with exceptional projection design...The out of the box costumes are a wild fantastical fantasia...With genius Brackett at the helm directing, the cast is kept on its toes and more so with Brock’s robotic, quick moving choreography...The comedy and fun fly brilliantly. This is a show that speaks directly to the young generation and makes parents happy that their kids now want to attend theater." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

“In this revival of McCraney’s spirited and heart warming drama you’ll many times feel you’ve been warmly wrapped in the arms of the spirituals sung in gorgeous harmonies...You’ll hear some glorious spirituals, peppered with many insightful performances, in this coming of age story directed by Cullman who keeps a sharp eye on the fun stuff, with...well thought out scenic and costume designs, lighting...and notably strong choreography.” Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"A very wacky-world. This zany, cleverly written musical addresses social issues with great emotional ups and downs while you laugh your socks off...Lessons are learned all around by everyone as thoughts, feelings and preconceived ideas about rules, right or wrong, religion and the Bible, begin to change...There’s terrific hi-energy ensemble dance in hot sequin sneakers...Definitely a fun night out at the theater going to a prom unlike one you’ve ever attended!" Full Review

Good Grief
Gramercy
Theater Pizzazz

“Sometimes, it’s difficult to know if scenes are flashbacks or unfulfilled wishes...Directed by Timpo, there seems to be more repetition than needed to get points across. The cast shines in its uniformly high level performance of Anyanwu’s play and, in particular, the playwright as Nkechi. But, I often wonder about the use of so much street language in these contemporary plays as it tends to denigrate rather than elevate and show a more respectful approach." Full Review

High Noon
West Village
Theater Pizzazz

“A far reaching adaptation of the very familiar 1952 western...Tension filled...the characters are dressed in black and dark grays immediately creating a sense of foreboding...and it can’t be good...The somber cast moves in tandem some of the time, as pocket watches open and close, as they stare in one direction; severe deadpan delivery provides the emotional buttress to a constant feeling of suspicion and waiting, waiting for something to happen.” Full Review

Wild Abandon
Chelsea
Theater Pizzazz

"Leenya, a consummate actress, was born with talent far beyond the usual, excelling at everything – singing, playing piano and morphing into string instruments – violin, guitar, bass – all of which she showcases in this 90 minute presentation...She frequently takes on the role of her mother switching gears instantaneously, a tribute to her dramatic skills, as her complicated life emerges producing a release for a better, closer understanding between mother and daughter." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"We find ourselves in anticipation throughout Act I waiting for something more that might be the reason why we want to sit through Act II. Sadly, we are disappointed in hoping that the conversations will actually be more meaningful...Director Anais Koivisto elicits some good performances but probably a dramaturg might be in order to consolidate a too-long production that doesn’t give enough of a payoff." Full Review

Days to Come
Midtown W
Theater Pizzazz

"The play is filled with social and political significance that might have had more impact and make more of a statement in the current climate. However, it spends too much time on the intricacies of the family and too little time on the plight of the working class...Sullivan does a brilliant job directing, but even he can’t undo the long-winded repetitive conversations, and many times slow moving rhetoric...of a very poorly written play with some good and not so good performances." Full Review

Less Than 50%
Midtown E
Theater Pizzazz

"Gianmarco says he’s a triple threat and, in this case, he does cover the gamut from comic to actor to storyteller, and is a good stand up comic...Yes, some silly, funny stuff going on that will get a response from the younger folks in the audience. Beyond that, this is a sad commentary on the frightened now generation, their lack of commitment to relationships and romantic involvement...Jen Wineman directs this rather confusing 90 minute commentary." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"All too funny, poignant, and earthy...Each of the characters are rich and ripe as they eagerly and easily throw themselves out into the unknown, unafraid and ready for battle, insults flying...This is wacky-ville like you’ve never seen it as director Phylicia Rashad takes the reins and willingly lets go allowing her cast to fly untethered...Be prepared for the unexpected and enjoy the ride! Guirgis is a genius when it comes to dark irreverent comedy." Full Review

Paradise Blue
Midtown W
Theater Pizzazz

"Morisseau has written finely layered themes of conflicts and personalities in 'Paradise Blue'....Watching Nicholson is akin to reminiscences of a young Denzel Washington filled with powerful, aching moments of pain. It’s Santiago-Hudson’s strong directorial hand that turns this cast into a well-oiled remarkable machine that creates its own buzz, resulting in real and truthful performances, aided by Ramos’ costumes and Rampton’s jaz-infused music.” Full Review

Transfers
West Village
Theater Pizzazz

"Thurber has written a very succinct play, filled with lots of humor-laden flowing dialogue that grabs your attention. And it is Gay's direction that makes these remarkable characters come to life. And they are first rate remarkable! But especially outstanding are Castano and Blankson-Wood who turn in solid, riveting and heart-rending performances." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"The humorous, mocking 'One Eyed Arab' – with two eyes, (a lively Graham Stevens) sets the opening time and place in mythical Persia, as the narrative smoothly shifts as explained in the program...There are shattering musical vibrations that literally shake the theater...The cast members are a talented bunch of triple threats speedily directed by Erin Ortman." Full Review

Three Wise Guys
Midtown W
Theater Pizzazz

"There are numerous comic portrayals and one liners that tickle the funny bone...Surprises all around, lots of wacky conversations as the characters keep popping in and out...And there’s an adorable bed scene – the least expected! It’s amazing how much can happen in one evening! It’s all tongue in cheek, and even mobsters have a heart, especially on Christmas Eve." Full Review

Good for Otto
Midtown W
Theater Pizzazz

"A prime example of the frustrations, complications and realities of dealing with mental illness. But find humor Rabe does with an all-star cast...The takeaway, it takes a lot to be brave, especially those under mental siege, to fight the battles, to seek wisdom, help and climb the ladder of survival." Full Review

Relevance
West Village
Theater Pizzazz

"Exciting and highly intense intellectual drama...JC Lee weaves an intricate web that proves to provoke and ponder the big questions raised in this revealing and mesmerizing play. Remarkable Director Liesl Tommy moves the four characters forward and keeps the audience riveted...I will note that there is a good deal of repetition that would seem to warrant cuts in the script." Full Review

Cross That River
Midtown E
Theater Pizzazz

"Resounding with spirit and vitality...This is an extraordinary journey for Allan Harris having presented this at NYMF back in 2009 and now, after many rewrites and a new cast, brings this story of guts and blood and a Black West to new heights with a mix of jazz, blues, country, and R & B tunes...From my perspective, it’s a story that needs telling and perhaps this concert will come to fruition in a fully staged production sooner than later." Full Review

Harry Clarke
West Village
Theater Pizzazz

for a previous production “Crudup can mug with the best of them in the different characters he assumes in this one-man show so cleverly written by Cale. It’s not the distinctive voicing of females or males, but the physical and emotional subtlety he swiftly assumes as he morphs into each...All unfolds through the vivid performance skills of an amazing Crudup relating this outrageous story that is both funny and sexually charged...This is a dazzling piece of writing directed by the exceptional hand of Silverman.” Full Review

Hot Mess
Midtown W
Theater Pizzazz

"If you’re a fan of comedy, especially blue, with romance thrown in for a theme, then you’ll have some good laughs...Molnar has most of the punch lines and is a standout in this three person show...Directed by Jonathan Silverstein the play runs at a fast pace." Full Review