Stanford Friedman

About:  Stanford Friedman is a Drama Desk member and critic with "The Front Row Center," New York Theatre Guide and OffOffOnline.
Reviews (137)
Front Row Center

Score: 79% "An ebullient battle of the tenors thinly masquerading as a spoof of Shakespeare's renown star-crossed lovers." Full Review

MsTRIAL
Midtown W
Front Row Center

Score: 72% "What's surprising about 'MsTrial' is that it was written in 2002 and what is not surprising, unfortunately, is how familiar its circumstances seem. Lawyer-turned-actor Dep Kirkland wrote and stars in this production that measures the very sharp angles of a workplace triangle." Full Review

Front Row Center

89% "Just when you thought that the sanitary jukebox musical had supplanted the messy rock opera, along comes 'Bat Out of Hell' to set things right." Full Review

Nomad Motel
Chelsea
New York Theatre Guide

“Unfortunately, James and Fiona are on the outskirts of Carla Ching’s ‘Nomad Hotel...This work’s primary focus is on the very responsible offspring of these wild characters...Bonnie and Clyde they are not, yet Ching attempts to shape them into a pair of damaged heroes who find safety in each other’s arms...It seems that behind every door in this production, there is room for improvement.” Full Review

Front Row Center

"Across a quick 75 minutes, this performance piece proves to be not only sexually fluid, but also camp-tolerant and mortality-curious. Every family has its share of unusual relatives, but playwright Claire Kiechel struck gold with Swan, who is her great grand-uncle. Fortunately, she has no interest in creating a straightforward biography...Both actors amuse throughout with satirically flourished poetry and dance routines. And Johanson charms while showing off a fine singing voice." Full Review

Front Row Center

"The show draws its tepid lifeblood from a 1942 booklet that was distributed by the American War Office to GIs serving overseas...The mood is not so much World War II cabaret as it is Saturday night at the nursing home...With John Walton’s keep-em-moving direction and Mr. March’s clown foolery, all moments of subtlety are decidedly missing in action." Full Review

Off Off Online

"Absorbing new comedy from The Mad Ones that finds six parents, each with an instantly recognizable personality, playing off one another during a market-research session at a pace that can only be described as musical...Under the always clever direction of the ensemble’s longtime collaborator, Lila Neugebauer, there are no drastic actions or unforeseen twists." Full Review

After
Midtown E
Front Row Center

"A debate over high school bullying takes a brutal leap that not only wrecks the lives of all involved, but essentially damns the act of parenting all together...The strong ensemble cast especially dazzle in these last moments...Director Joe Brancato offers some dynamic staging, often keeping the actors far apart to emphasize not only their emotional isolation, but the impossible distance between these parents and their fawns." Full Review

Actually, We're F**ked
West Village
Off Off Online

"Williams’s television roots show up in the way that his characters so quickly absorb earth-shattering situations in order to speed the evening along. But the comedy is mostly missing. This is partly the fault of the playwright for creating unlikable millennials who are full of angst, and partly the fault of director John Pasquin and his cast, who refuse to unearth the absurdity that Williams has seeded throughout his intermissionless production." Full Review

Front Row Center

"If it is cliché to say that a show has non-stop laughs, then this show is cliché in the extreme. If it is pat to say that this play lives up to its title, rarely have a talented crew of actors and technicians so seamlessly joined forces to make a ridiculously wrong piece of theater feel so very right...Director Matt DiCarlo, either a genius or a fool, pulls it all together with the nerves of a demolition expert handling a bomb with a dozen different triggers." Full Review

Trick or Treat
Midtown E
Off Off Online

"Ghosts and demons are expected to rise up on Halloween, and the ones within the haunted house of Jack Neary’s twisted and brutal tragicomedy, 'Trick or Treat,' do not disappoint...Clapp’s powerhouse execution of a father with all the wrong dreams receives strong support from his co-stars...Director Carol Dunne brings a masterly pacing to the proceedings, pulling focus toward important clues while navigating the audience through a patchwork of lies." Full Review

Blue Ridge
Chelsea
Off Off Online

“A character-driven drama...Even if ‘Blue Ridge’ is lacking razor-sharp wit and stunning surprises...Rosebrock succeeds in creating six well-rounded characters with believable flaws and inescapable fates. There are few explosions to be found here, but the simmering tensions brought to bear by a strong ensemble of actors under the tight direction of Taibi Magar provide a satisfying status quo; they are a happy indication of the playwright’s continuing growth." Full Review

Front Row Center

“This brazen experiment in jukebox musicality renders unstable results, which is not necessarily a bad thing. The production radiates, providing thrills when you least expect it...But at the same time, the work suffers from some weak transitions, stilted dialog and a general crisis of identity...Thus, with a book that barely knows what it’s doing, balanced by a director, a costumer and a star who very much do, ‘The Cher Show’ is easily the most exciting new Broadway musical of the season.” Full Review

Front Row Center

“Cheery revival...The show not only explores the limits of otherness, it literally runs on it...The multi-talented supporting ensemble is led by the very funny Wetherhead...Portraying various mean girlfriends and kind hearted Jewish mothers. Louis Tucci, when not busy on bass guitar, is both Josh’s landlord and his father. Darnell, Elless, and Nestlerode all turn in fine performances in sporadic appearances." Full Review

Sesar
Midtown W
Front Row Center

"Taut and lively solo show...In this politically and autobiographically tinged tale of a boy and his father, Pabotoy, with a big assist from Shakespeare, explores what it means to be a friend, a Roman, a countryman, and an immigrant, invoking the past while finding a way to rise above it...Portraying both father and son, as well as a variety of characters, Pabotoy displays impressive linguistic and physical skills...A production full of lessons, both specific and universal." Full Review

Off Off Online

"The greatest strength of 'The Evolution of Mann' is the revolution of its women...Trimm convincingly gives each persona a look, life and sound of her own...Another much-missed presence is that of a choreographer. In lieu of dance steps, we are often served up exaggerated mannerisms and gesticulating arms. Missed chances abound including figuring out something clever to do with the 20-foot-long phone cord that Henry and Gwen have...attached to their wall-mounted landline." Full Review

Off Off Online

"Unleashes a Pandora’s box of theatrical devices, including symbolically named characters, direct audience interaction, screen projections, a live-streaming cellphone, and actors not only breaking the fourth wall but breaking character as well. Timpo molds it all into a bracing panorama of societal failures amid institutional racism. That is, until the final scene when, with the play’s momentum waning, she and Payne risk one last gambit that unfortunately swallows up all that came before it." Full Review

Front Row Center

"As it turns out, the show is a blast...The work is catnip for theater kids and a dynamic dose of escapism for their parents. The storyline delivers a message of self-esteem without being preachy, primarily by barely knowing what it is talking about, and doing so with extreme confidence...Though these kids are archetypes, they have surprising depth...In a production boasting many strengths, the greatest is Iconis’s music...The music grabs you and does not let you go." Full Review

Front Row Center

"An equal-opportunity play, in that there is not enough to it to satisfy anyone. It is also a missed opportunity play...The production, directed with an air of desperation by Shapiro, stumbles and stalls its way across 90 minutes of stilted dialogue...before soft-braking to its unsatisfying conclusion...Perhaps the risk of alienating the audience would have been worth it if what came next could effectively play off the discomfort. Instead, there is a downshift and we are handed the vanilla ta... Full Review

Teenage Dick
East Village
Front Row Center

“Lew’s tragi-comedy is far more ambitious than its punny title suggests, which is not to say that it doesn’t have its share of penis jokes...It is a tribute to Mozgala’s sympathetic performance and Lew’s ability to capture and reshape Shakespeare’s 'deformed, unfinish’d’ monarch that we are constantly back and forth over Dick’s morality...Devido is an ace with the wisecracks." Full Review

Front Row Center

"Rapid-fire 75 minute farce complete with sight gags, slamming doors, and slamming drinks. The more you know about the original, the more you’re likely to appreciate this effort. It's an odd homage, as well as a deep dive into gender studies...Proves overly complicated in its attempts to liberate its female protagonist amid a barrage of cultural and literary shout-outs...Still, director John Collins and scenic designer Louisa Thompson supply some visual yuks." Full Review

Maple and Vine
Soho/Tribeca
Front Row Center

“A sharp, 90-minute social satire desperate to reveal itself...This particular production is also about how we communicate and how we stay silent...ASL, captioning and voiced dialog are all integrated here, a welcoming scenario for deaf theater-goers and an eye-opening experience for hearing members of the audience...Film director Dameron has a field day exploring her options of communicating to the audience...Dameron’s cinematic eye also accounts for a strong opening moment.” Full Review

Front Row Center

"Blessed with a sprawling cast of stage veterans, director George C. Wolfe constructs fantastic tableaus...Blessed with a sprawling cast of stage veterans, director George C. Wolfe constructs fantastic tableaus...But in presenting an African-American Hickey, O’Neill’s commentary about race gets scrambled...It’s an awkward problem that casts a shadow of confusion over this otherwise self-assured production." Full Review

We Live by the Sea
Midtown E
Front Row Center

"A captivating examination of an autistic girl’s struggles...Oceans are notoriously vast, which is a good thing because the sea is called upon here to support enormous metaphorical weight...Still, we buy into the conceit, thanks to strong acting all around and the wonderfully immersive world built by director Alex Howarth and his creative team. Ms. Brain is nothing less than ferocious." Full Review

Dido of Idaho
Midtown W
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"As a playwright, Rosebrock brings an invigorating new voice to the stage...'Dido' careens from high-minded laughs to cutthroat rage to soft-edged dreamscape...The result is a crash course in self-respect and surviving betrayal, be it romantic, familial, or self-inflicted...Given a project full of risky physicality, twisty plot turns and obscure references, director Mikhaela Mahoney and her dynamic company provide a powerhouse interpretation of Rosebrock’s clever script." Full Review

Sing Street
East Village
Front Row Center

Score: 78%. "The tunes offer a mix of 1980's pop fun and big-hearted emotions, but in going from silver screen to live stage, this teen dramedy, as Duran Duran would say, has come undone." Full Review

Front Row Center

Score: 85% "As Shakespeare famously calculated, "One man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages." But now, Will Eno has gone and changed the math." Full Review

Dying City
Midtown W
New York Theatre Guide

“Though primarily laugh-free and contemporary, Shinn borrows a technique from Victorian drawing room comedies...Shinn does an admirable job of serving up his own words. But it is a loss not having another sensibility in the mix...Though Woodell does excellent...in handling the dual roles, individual actors handling the parts would have made for a more satisfying evening...Shinn’s gimmickry works against him in this staging.” Full Review

Happy Talk
Midtown W
Off Off Online

"It has been a decade since Sarandon has appeared on a New York stage, but she returns in fine form, negotiating a complex character who is as strong-willed as she is mentally unstable...Ireland is in full wound-up mode, which is fortunate, because she is required to do quite a bit of springing about...Under the always sure hand of director Elliott, she offsets Oreskes’s static presence with her frantic movements, complements Sarandon’s lost wanderings with determined strides." Full Review

Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde
Soho/Tribeca
Off Off Online

“A sincere, occasionally scary, and often jovial adaptation of the classic...The first half hour of the production is sometimes lumbering in its exposition, and Grinstead struggles to make the mild-mannered Jekyll interesting. But his Hyde is worth the wait...Stromberg makes an excellent foil. Each of her characters is defined by a quick prop or costume change...She is also in charge of most of the humor...Her direction is fast-paced and crystal clear.” Full Review

Sincerely, Oscar
Midtown W
Off Off Online

"Both are competent singers, but neither digs too deeply. Dressed in sterile, white attire and wearing distracting, large headset microphones, they imbue a robotic cheerfulness to their interpretations...Disappointingly, the holographic image and voice-overs are not even actually those of Hammerstein, but of actor Bob Meenan...As directed by McDonough, without aid of a choreographer, several of the stronger vocal moments are undercut by choices in movement." Full Review

Front Row Center

"If this show, told mostly in monologue, is an overt tutorial on one of America’s founding documents, it is equally a master class in contemporary feminism...Her writing is filled with smart, comic pivots and, as sharply directed by Oliver Butler, she underplays the cruel absurdity of old dudes in robes making decisions about her body to full, devastating effect." Full Review

A Jewish Joke
Midtown W
Off Off Online

"When it falters, does so because the script is, at times, contrived or repetitious. When it succeeds, it does so because Phil Johnson so fully inhabits his role that his character’s stressed-out persona transcends the page...Bernie frequently turns to the audience and tells one of the many off-color gags he has collected on index cards. Most are groaners and, whether meant to be awful or not, they do keep the audience from becoming too emotionally caught up in Bernie’s dilemma." Full Review

Front Row Center

“A sympathetic and reworked revival...The downside to beginning at the end is that it makes for a bummer of an evening. With all the leads unlikable from the start, it is an uphill battle for the ensemble to win the audience’s hearts and minds. And even though the final scenes are spirited and uplifting, they are also classically tragic since the trio’s fate has already been determined...The supporting cast has an easier time of it." Full Review

Eddie and Dave
Chelsea
Front Row Center

“Perhaps Staats is into minimalism. Maybe that is why only first names...are used in the title of this quasi bio satire..Maybe that is why we hear only brief riffs of their greatest hits...And maybe that is why the play’s 37 short scenes go fleeting by with so few laughs, so little gravitas and virtually no variance in tone...Under uninspired...direction...This would-be rock and roll bad boy of a show has nowhere to run.” Full Review

Front Row Center

"A layered and muscular one-act with music, drama, comedy and a loaded title...If one of the performed numbers, Boys to Men by New Edition, is a little too on the nose, nearly every other moment of this unique play, first staged off Broadway in 2013, buzzes with tension or glides into joy...Pope handles these transitions effortlessly, creating a vivid, capable and graceful character. His cast mates are equally skilled, and aided in no small amount by the clever direction of Trip Cullman." Full Review

Notes to Wherever
West Village
Front Row Center

“A melancholy meditation on loss...A loving and dignified homage to Frank’s late husband...Dignity, though, is not theatricality and Frank falls prey to her own prose...The largest problem is...hinted at in the title. By ‘notes’, Frank actually means sheaths...from which she reads nearly every word...Distancing us from her emotions...Markey stages the work with precision...One just wishes that she could have helped Frank build some tension...But instead, all is calm, all is quiet.” Full Review

Downstairs
West Village
Off Off Online

“Rebeck and her stellar cast keep us guessing through a tense, intermission-less hour and 45 minutes...Rebeck avoids melodrama and endows her work with patches of poetry...Campbell-Holt knows when to be subtle and when to be harsh, exploiting the seeds of doubt...Mr. Daly skillfully walks the line between victim and savior. Ms. Daly pulls off the admirable feat of bringing depth to a character who has been beaten numb. And Procaccino is bone-chilling.” Full Review

Lewiston/Clarkston
West Village
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"Hunter peppers these compelling plays with characters who are descendants of 19th-century explorers Lewis and Clark...Where ‘Lewiston’ is about finding home, ‘Clarkston’ is about fleeing it. Where ‘Lewiston’ slowly peels back layers of story to reveal harsh realities, ‘Clarkston’ tears open its wounds and lets them seep...McCallum and his production team keep things intimate, staging the plays for an audience of 51.” Full Review

Front Row Center

for a previous production “The fascinating new staging from The National Yiddish Theatre is a time-bending musical. Spoken and sung in Yiddish, this 'Fiddler'...feels like an ancient version newly unearthed...The language, stagecraft and Grey’s smooth direction all conspire to transform the work into a bible story...The changes Friedman fiddles with, to accommodate the musicality of Yiddish...are sometimes charming and at other times mind blowing." Full Review

Spin Off
Harlem
Off Off Online

“Canada pumps both a figurative and literal fog across the stage for the entire evening as the confused characters stumble toward enlightenment. Their occasional comic moments suggest that the play would have been more effective if it were half as philosophical and twice as satiric...Each protagonist can barely hold it together, making it difficult to feel a connection with any of them.” Full Review

Days to Come
Midtown W
Front Row Center

“In this earnest production, director Sullivan and his large cast breathe new life into a depression era tale of unrequited love amid theories of economics. Boasting top notch production values and veteran actors, it is highly watchable, if not highly relatable...Getting an 82-year-old play to resonate is a tough trick and, here, the melodramatic turns and existential crises of the night ultimately keep us at a distance.” Full Review

Off Off Online

"Uneven...‘The Plot’: Groome and Robinson are full of neurotic angst but offer no sense of family cohesion, and Rees has little idea of where to steer his actors on the nearly empty stage...’Ibis’: Cleverly constructed dialog that feels mathematical...Broad turns in a charismatic performance...'Sparring Partner': The chemistry between Jones and Christie is perfectly tempered and Kandel brings sharp focus to LaBute’s view of the stakes and mistakes of playing a game too long.” Full Review

Front Row Center

"The production proceeds at a pace that is one gear less than energetic, but which allows for full appreciation of the show’s eccentricities...Beyond the irrepressibly catchy title song, there are a handful of fun gems that only sometimes have anything to do with the plot, as well as a leaden love song or two that threaten to weigh down the action...Cudia’s straight-forward rendition of Edward is a snooze...Errico's Daisy is full of flighty charm and she finds the proper chemistry with Bogard... Full Review

Scissoring
Midtown W
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“Quintana’s thoughtful new one-act…The play’s title blatantly announces the production’s sexuality but more subtly hints at its psychology…A satisfying, if not especially fraught, 90 minutes…The stakes often feel low here because the playwright has provided safe fallback options for her women…In all, the production constitutes another fine outing by INTAR, which has been promoting Latino voices in the theater for more than half a century.” Full Review

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"Coolly cerebral and beautifully staged...Byrne enjoys switching lenses, going from macro topics to micro experiences and back again...In one of several magical flourishes, a potentially quotidien dinner scene is staged as if in fast-forward mode...The cast is a well-oiled machine...Jamie is more plot device than fully formed character, but Strafford-Baker is able to find the man’s charms. Taylor’s Ava is warm around the edges with a cool center." Full Review

The Gentleman Caller
West Village
Front Row Center

“Dawkins’s raucous comedy...Or, looked at another way...fact-based drama...This production tries to have it both ways and, for the most part, it succeeds...Villa sometimes looks and sounds like a young Orson Welles...Villa’s grandiosity is in keeping with the playwright’s larger than life reputation...Isaac has more room to mold the lesser known Inge and manages a fine balance between comic and suicidal desperation...Speciale knows how to build laughs while drawing out tension.” Full Review

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"Emanating just enough charm and good will to keep from crashing...Christianson’s script is campy, but not sufficiently outrageous; other-worldly, but not scary. And opportunities to freshen the writing to reflect current political and societal upheaval have gone untaken...Humor is dished out in three varieties of vanilla. There are double entendres that range from painfully obvious to successfully silly...It is hard to spoof a low-budget movie when you are a low-budget stage production." Full Review

Off Off Online

"Abstract and lumbering...With extensive doses of narration broken only by a few unexplainable affronts of noise and light, 'The Edge of Our Bodies' shares a border with the limits of our patience. Director Jacqueline Stone has gone out of her way to keep the audience at a distance...Molloy, in her Off-Broadway debut, believably portrays a teen, but saddled with a script full of tales, rather than dialogue, she cannot find enough variation to keep her character from falling flat." Full Review

Front Row Center

"Though Buffett has made a career out of embracing a take-it-easy lifestyle, his musical is nothing if not a lesson in the importance of possessing a strong work ethic...Scenes are arranged sloppily and outcomes are predictable from the get go...For those unfamiliar with the Buffet songbook, be prepared for lyrics that range from wise to the terribly rhymed. Ashley speeds things along to a rushed ending while Devine’s choreography is lively if not especially inspired." Full Review