SarahJ

Manhattan | 25-34 | Female
About:  I'm a full-time high school English teacher and sometime actor with a degree in educational theater and a passion for Shakespeare and Shaw. I'm a sucker for a good story and sharp dialogue and a devotee of musical theater, both old and new. I try to see as many shows as my busy schedule and limited ... Read more Read less
Reviews (93)
78
During previews
Cliched, Rollicking, Energetic

See it if you like old-fashioned musicals updated with modern messaging. Could be renamed "The Irrepressible Beth Malone;" her energy carries the show

Don't see it if you're looking for something fresh and original. The music is largely forgettable and the messages a bit too pat.

Also I never saw the original version, but the unmistakably modern social c... Read more Read less

69
During previews
West Side Story
Midtown W
Disappointing, Ambitious, Edgy

See it if you feel the need to see this season's cutting-edge revival to be in the know.

Don't see it if you're looking for an adaptation that clicks. The pieces don't fit together here; the music feels out of place with the show's aesthetic.

Also As others have noted, the overuse of onstage cameras to film and proje... Read more Read less

81
Entertaining, Great music, Enjoyable

See it if you're a Fiddler fan who's been hoping for a new twist on an old favorite. Or you've never seen Fiddler before. It's a classic for a reason!

Don't see it if you're hoping that the Yiddish iteration will feel significantly different than the original.

Also Fiddler is a show I know fairly well and like, but it's not my favorit... Read more Read less

92
Clever, Relevant, Refreshing, Absorbing

See it if you're ready for a totally fresh take on the classic show. Ingenious and original staging and performances.

Don't see it if you want to keep on the rose-colored glasses and the toe-tappin' happy ending that doesn't acknowledge the show's inherent darkness.

Also Without changing a word of the book or lyrics, Daniel Fish has managed... Read more Read less

79
The Great Society
Upper W Side
Well-written, Historical, Dry

See it if you're interested in learning more about LBJ and the historical events of 1964-65. The play is informative and the staging effective.

Don't see it if you're not interested in history; you're looking for traditional plot/drama. The material is a bit dry.

Also I'm in my 30s, and I found it worthwhile to learn more about an era I ... Read more Read less

78
During previews
Longer than necessary, Ambitious, Relevant

See it if you're interested in an in-depth exploration of a black actor's feelings about Othello and being a black Shakespearean actor in America.

Don't see it if you've seen a lot of plays about race recently. While Cobb's perspective is insightful, the show itself could be trimmed/edited.

Also Though Cobb cannot speak for every black actor, I have no doubt that h... Read more Read less

90
Enchanting, Clever, Poignant

See it if you have the chance. It's well-executed and all the pieces click. Emotional, funny, great staging, effective music, terrific ensemble.

Don't see it if you want to see a show with elaborate production values. Sets and costumes are relatively spare for a Broadway show, but all done well.

Also This show lives up to the hype. It's a tight piece: all the actors and... Read more Read less

82
Loud, Entertaining, Fun, Energetic

See it if you're a teenager or enjoy musicals about teens. You like upbeat, rocking scores. You enjoy the quirky and original.

Don't see it if you're looking for real substance. You're sensitive to loud music.

Also I recently saw The Prom, and this one was much better. I'm surprised h... Read more Read less

80
Joyful, Uneven, Entertaining

See it if you've never seen Much Ado before or can't get enough of it. This adaptation is fun and original in a lot of ways. B&B are great to watch.

Don't see it if you'll be bothered by a production that doesn't succeed in every sense. Some characters/scenes are stronger than others.

Also The frame for this production generally works. The all-black cast and ... Read more Read less

80
Absorbing, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if you're a fan of A Doll's House Part 2 (also written by Hnath); you want to see great actors doing their thing; you aren't sick of Clintons

Don't see it if you don't want to see a talky play where not much happens; you're hoping for something that will change your mind or heart.

Also I loved A Doll's House Part 2, so I was excited to see Lucas Hnath's n... Read more Read less

85
During previews
Little Women
West Village
Engaging, Touching, Contemporary

See it if you love the messiness of family life. You want to see a well-staged drama. *I was unable to attend, so this review was provided by a friend

Don't see it if you're expecting a direct imitation of the original, or if you don't have the patience for a long show (2.5 hrs).

75
Entertaining, Serviceable, Fun

See it if you just can't get enough of this play or have never had the opportunity to see it before. There's nothing particularly new about this one.

Don't see it if you're looking for a production that provides a fresh new take or impresses with its acting. This production is just totally fine.

Also The last Mobile Unit show I saw (Twelfth Night) really fit its niche -... Read more Read less

90
Life Sucks.
Midtown W
Relatable, Well-directed, Funny, Original

See it if you want to see a fresh, funny adaptation of a classic play, which grapples with life's complexities but remains inventive and engaging.

Don't see it if you don't have patience for a talky play. This could have been maybe 15 minutes shorter.

Also Better than Posner's Seagull adaptation, Stupid F***ing Bird, which I ... Read more Read less

82
Great songs, Poignant, Entertaining

See it if you appreciate Sondheim's genius and enjoy unconventional staging. If you've never seen this show before, it's worth seeing.

Don't see it if you're interested in seeing only the most robust version of a show.

Also I previously saw MWRA when Encores did it in 2012 (with Lin Manuel Mir... Read more Read less

85
Great acting, Absorbing

See it if whether you're a die-hard fan of TKAM or haven't read it since middle school. This is a successful and well-executed adaptation.

Don't see it if any changes to the original text will make you clutch your pearls. It doesn't take undue liberties, but Sorkin definitely gave it a polish.

Also For the first half hour or so, I was skeptical. It took some time to p... Read more Read less

93
The Ferryman (NYC)
Midtown W
Absorbing, Profound, Great acting

See it if you want to see the next big hit. This play is gripping, entertaining, and thought provoking.

Don't see it if you can't sit still for over three hours. It's a long play, though it doesn't feel like it.

Also Jez Butterworth's new drama is adeptly directed by Sam Mendes and hits... Read more Read less

65
shadowplay
Soho/Tribeca
Underwhelming, Ambitious, Banal

See it if you're easily impressed by anything unconventional and not hoping for a "Sleep No More" type of immersive experience.

Don't see it if you're looking for the next big immersive hit. This isn't it.

Also This little show tries hard, but ultimately amounts to not-much. An im... Read more Read less

80
Great choreography, Great singing, Dated

See it if you can focus on the impressive choreography and singing and ignore a dated plot and lyrics.

Don't see it if you want to be drawn into a story with relatable characters. This show has not been updated, and much of it feels uncomfortable today.

Also It's surprising to me that they chose to revive this musical in the #M... Read more Read less

82
Absorbing, Good music, Poignant, Slight

See it if you're open to a simple story, a brief glimpse into a time and place, resonant with universal human emotions.

Don't see it if you want something splashy or terrifically exciting. This show is well done but low-key.

Also My expectations may have been too high because of how this show swept ... Read more Read less

90
Absorbing, Great acting, Emotional

See it if you want to see incredibly talented actors in an emotional and affecting tour de force.

Don't see it if you don't like belting or the song styles of Pasek and Paul. You don't want to see a show that deals with mental health challenges.

Also I won a lottery ticket to a Wednesday matinee. Front row, side, for $4... Read more Read less

80
Ambitious, Relevant

See it if you've never been to a CTH summer show. You'll wonder why you didn't know that such high-quality theater was happening for free in Harlem.

Don't see it if you don't have patience for a show that is overtly connected to modern political issues. Also, Antigone's performance is a bit one-note.

Also This was my second CTH show, after Three Musketeers last year. This pl... Read more Read less

86
During previews
Conflict
Midtown W
Clever, Well-acted

See it if you like old-fashioned, wordy British plays with politics and romance. This one is charming.

Don't see it if you want something modern or action-packed.

Also If you like Shaw, you'll probably like this play. As in much of Shaw, ... Read more Read less

84
During previews
Strong acting, Intense

See it if you're looking for a traditional staging of Othello with strong performances.

Don't see it if Shakespearean language confuses you; you want bells and whistles.

Also Though I've seen dozens of Shakespeare plays performed, this was my fi... Read more Read less

85
The Metromaniacs
Midtown W
Clever, Enchanting, Frothy

See it if you enjoy farce and clever wordplay with a madcap plot.

Don't see it if you're looking for something truly substantive.

Also Metromaniacs was an enjoyable treat, light and frothy from beginning t... Read more Read less

82
Entertaining, Madcap, Clever, Silly

See it if you're a fan of the bard's plays and also enjoy puns and silly humor. Knowing Shakespeare well helps; there was lots to pick up on.

Don't see it if you know little about Shakespeare and have no interest in a play that takes nothing seriously.

Also This was fun. The three actors are versatile and have a seemingly inex... Read more Read less

80
Mack & Mabel
Midtown W
Uneven, Great dancing, Good music

See it if for the music and dancing. If you don't mind a show with some uneven stitching.

Don't see it if plot and narrative construction are your most important factors.

Also Though the show's framing device (Mack looking back on his life) is so... Read more Read less

68
Silly, Disappointing

See it if you know the genre being parodied (early 20th century melodrama) and enjoy camp even when it's cliched.

Don't see it if you're hoping for excellent performances and great comedic timing. I was not impressed by Busch's acting or Andress's direction.

Also Having gotten a sense of what the show was like, and having had (more ... Read more Read less

79
Energetic, Great dancing, Fun

See it if you're a fan of classic Motown hits and great dancing. You don't mind a jukebox musical that is exactly what it says on the box.

Don't see it if you're looking for a show with a well-developed plot and narrative arc.

Also From the opening number, the show's energy is contagious. The audience... Read more Read less

85
Great acting, Dizzying, Ambitious, Absorbing

See it if you're interested in a political play that throws you into the deep end. You're ready to hear another (deeply scary) point of view.

Don't see it if you've had it with politics and just want entertainment. This play is incredibly compelling but not fun. You're sensitive to loud noises.

Also The world of this play is dark -- both literally and figuratively. It ... Read more Read less

90
Delightful, Funny, Ambitious, Absorbing

See it if you still have the capacity for wonder buried somewhere inside you, even if you think you can't be impressed by a mentalist act.

Don't see it if you hate the very idea of a magic/mentalism show on Broadway and abhor anything with audience participation. But you still might like this.

Also I didn't have tremendously high expectations, as I fell in the eye-rol... Read more Read less

80
Quirky, Clever, Ambitious

See it if you enjoy erudite stand-up comedy, parodies, and freestyle rap. Turner is talented, charismatic, and self-aware.

Don't see it if you don't have patience for stand-up that is funnier in some moments than others. Freestyle raps & patter are stronger than the songs/poems.

Also Turner seemed to be having fun up there, and the audience also had a g... Read more Read less

76
Drunk Shakespeare
Midtown W
High energy, Silly, Lowbrow

See it if you've pregamed. If you're in the mood for a silly show that's not above lowest common denominator humor. Fun energy.

Don't see it if you don't like profanity or lots of sex jokes.

Also One of the show's tag lines is "We're a drinking club with a Shakespea... Read more Read less

80
Working: A Musical
Midtown W
Vignettes, Great singing, Sentimental

See it if you want to see great performers, including some famous names, doing brief monologues and singing songs in various styles. Poignant moments.

Don't see it if you're looking for a show with a plot. You're averse to sentimentality. You feel no connection to NY City Center as an institution.

Also The cast of this show was stellar, each performer a standout. I was pa... Read more Read less

75
Charming, Cliched, Cheesy

See it if you want to see a modern-day Hairspray-style musical with no surprises. Some charming moments.

Don't see it if you're hoping for feel-good Broadway that totally clicks. Cheesy wins out over charming in this one.

Also With bright colors, upbeat musical numbers, and an inevitable happy en... Read more Read less

85
Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde
Soho/Tribeca
Entertaining, Fast-paced, Inventive

See it if you're up for a Jekyll & Hyde that's fun, lowbrow, low-tech, creative, diverges wildly from the original, and yet is somehow still poignant.

Don't see it if you're a purist about the novella and would want the show to retain the text's original tone and pacing.

Also As an English teacher who teaches the Stevenson novella, I was delight... Read more Read less

70
For a previous production
Mac Beth
Upper E Side
Ambitious, Disappointing, Confused

See it if you want to see seven young women with a decent command of the Shakespearean language perform Macbeth.

Don't see it if you're hoping for a cohesive production that offers fresh insight. There are 2 separate things going on here that never quite come together.

Also The promotional materials promise a production brimming with relevance... Read more Read less

79
Intense, Great acting, Long

See it if Glenda Jackson's impressive performance, solid acting overall, and some interesting staging and directorial choices. Lots to think about.

Don't see it if you don't have the patience to focus on Shakespearean language for 3+ hours. This one's not for the faint of heart.

83
During previews
Fun, Great singing, Entertaining

See it if you like great music, spectacular dance numbers, stellar performances, and a feel-good ending.

Don't see it if you'd be bothered by a show that's a bit light on character development and doesn't care too much about realism.

Also Roundabout has effectively adapted this show for a modern audience. Th... Read more Read less

74
During previews
Overacted, Farcical, Nice sets

See it if you want to be well-informed about the works of influential modern playwrights. You appreciate broad humor and caricature.

Don't see it if you're expecting something deep or masterful. This piece feels slight, and is almost universally overacted.

Also This was my first Lynn Nottage play, and while she's celebrated for he... Read more Read less

71
During previews
Disappointing, Overrated

See it if you're a die-hard Ethan Hawke fan. His performance was solid.

Don't see it if you have a different Broadway choice or you're a Paul Dano fan.

Also I've never seen True West before, so it's hard to know how much to bla... Read more Read less

78
Cute, Cliched, Entertaining

See it if you're looking for a fun, inexpensive show to see with kids that adults can also enjoy.

Don't see it if you don't have a high tolerance for cheesiness.

Also This is a show that, luckily, doesn't take itself too seriously. Every... Read more Read less

69
Cliched, Amateurish, Ambitious

See it if you want to learn more about Bette Davis's life and don't mind a show that feels like it's trying a bit too hard.

Don't see it if you want to see something polished and professional.

Also There were entertaining moments in this show, but on the whole, it fel... Read more Read less

66
During previews
Heartbreak House
Midtown W
Poor directing, Disappointing

See it if I wouldn't recommend it. The actors tried hard but couldn't compensate for poor directing. This production does not do Shaw justice.

Don't see it if you don't have patience for some amateurish choices. Full disclosure: I was there for the second performance. And I left at intermission.

Also I love Shaw, and have seen some wonderful productions of his work. Thi... Read more Read less

81
Teenage Dick
East Village
Clever, Edgy

See it if you want to see a darker "10 Things I Hate About You."

Don't see it if you're hoping for realism or Shakespeare.

Also This play did some interesting things. The dialogue was often clever a... Read more Read less

84
During previews
Joyful, Entertaining

See it if you want an evening of fun, accessible, musical "Shakespeare" that's easy enough for anyone to enjoy.

Don't see it if you're a Shakespeare purist. High art this is not.

Also What a fun show! This production retains the spirit of the Public Work... Read more Read less

92
Enchanting, Delightful, Exquisite

See it if you can be charmed by a musical. This one has gorgeous music, clever lyrics, sumptuous costumes and sets, and superb acting.

Don't see it if you're one of those people who just never liked this show because Henry Higgins is an arrogant jackass.

Also I adore the movie and couldn't wait to see the show live for the first... Read more Read less

81
Slow, Thought-provoking

See it if you're interested in history and have patience for a show that can be slow at points. Or you're a Shaw junkie (like me).

Don't see it if you're looking for something that's riveting from beginning to end.

Also I got rush tickets to the last performance, because (despite the tepid... Read more Read less

88
Me and My Girl
Midtown W
Delightful, Funny, Great singing, Great staging

See it if you want a toe-tapping, knee-slapping rollicking good time!

Don't see it if nothing can charm you. You don't like catchy Broadway tunes stuck in your head. Or you hate puns.

Also This was an utterly delightful Encores production. The revamped book b... Read more Read less

84
Great dancing, Dramatic, Entertaining

See it if you enjoy shows that are bittersweet, dramatic, and at times over the top, with impressive singing and dancing.

Don't see it if you're not interested in a show that takes itself pretty seriously.

Also Set in Weimar Berlin, I found the tone of this show in some ways simil... Read more Read less

65
For a previous production
Cliched, Insipid, Overrated

See it if you find slapstick to be hilarious and don't care much about plausibility.

Don't see it if you're expecting Noises Off.

Also I saw this show from the back of the balcony. Surrounded by people lau... Read more Read less