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

"Despite a few long-winded monologues from the Bard, and female roles that are far from satisfying, this powerful staging, with a veteran company that’s not fooling around, is Shakespeare in the Park at its best. 'T&C' is rarely produced to begin with; a production this solid should not be missed. Director Daniel Sullivan is at the top of his game in creating a cohesive and entertaining night out of what is often referred to as one of Shakespeare’s 'problem plays.'" Full Review

Front Row Center

"In this mostly joyless production, Sara Fellini wears many hats. She is the playwright as well as the scar-faced yet comely title character...What she fails to do, however, is to create any likable character or find much purpose behind the on-stage homicidal tirades…The biggest sin is to let the first act drone on for a staggering hour and 45 minutes. Moving the break to the 75 minute mark would surely have resulted in a few more audience members hanging around for the final hanging." Full Review

Radiant Vermin
Midtown E
Front Row Center

"'Vermin' is a cheeky and sanitized allegory taking aim at young parents who will do anything in the name of their new baby…Verey and Johnson convey the tale directly to the audience with ample amounts of physical comedy and high-speed patter…More a storytelling machine than fleshed-out characters, Verey and Johnson run the risk of becoming unsympathetic, or worse, uninteresting. Fortunately, Ridley gives each role one dollop of depth, just enough to be likable." Full Review

Front Row Center

for a previous production "Gorey is exposed as a hoarder with seven cats and no libido....The playwright’s biggest gamble is that Gorey is portrayed by three different actors simultaneously...Visually, this trifecta is effective...Intellectually, there are some missed opportunities. With a setup that’s ideal for reflection, we get only a couple tastes of what clever turns there could have been...One man’s muddle is another man’s treasure, and so the evening is full of little gems to discover.” Full Review

Cagney
Midtown W
Front Row Center

"Director Bill Castellino keeps things flowing so quickly that it’s impossible not to get drawn into the fun...Creighton handles it all with aplomb. Looking, sounding and dancing the part without ever stepping into caricature, he’s a dynamo in a star-spangled vest...The 'USO Medley' is an Act II show stopper where the company gets to sing and dance up a storm." Full Review

Red Speedo
East Village
Front Row Center

"A sharp-edged production…Playwright Lucas Hnath and director Lileana Blain-Cruz have taken a decidedly Brechtian approach to the story...Hnath’s script is full of wonderful little plot twists, and keen observations. But the actors are intentionally stilted in their delivery, consciously pausing just a beat too long in picking up their cues...However, it provides the pleasantly unexpected result of making you replay each line in your head as they are fired off." Full Review

Women Without Men
Midtown W
Front Row Center

"Despite its declarative title, there is no feminist agenda on display in the Mint Theater’s charming but sharp-clawed production of ‘Women Without Men’…Veteran Off-Broadway director Jenn Thompson makes the most of her fine cast, fast script and intimate setting...The six scenes are expertly paced, whether it’s two characters in heated discussion, or eight in a battle royale. Despite the cattiness, the actors find a way to make their characters human, sometimes achingly so.” Full Review

Buried Child
Midtown W
Front Row Center

"The New Group does Shepard proud with this deep, dark revival, led by Ed Harris who turns in a masterful and rugged performance…The choice to use inexperienced actors here is a gamble that pays off, with their nervous, awkward energy creating just the right dramatic tension...Rhythm can be everything in a play that twists and warps as much as this one. Happily, director Scott Elliott not only nails the pacing, he flaunts it."” Full Review

Front Row Center

"It is a sober revival, unsentimental, yet headstrong and emotionally charged...The down side of staging a mostly serious 'Fiddler' is that the more broadly comic characters pay a price...Act One takes its sweet time in surrendering its pleasures...Act Two, on the other hand, feels in a hurry to get the audience out before the three hour mark...Hofesh Shechter’s sharp-edged choreography is thrilling." Full Review

Gluten!
Midtown E
Front Row Center

"It’s actually a mildly amusing dystopian comedy that, although uneven, displays just enough humanity to make it likable...The first half of the play runs the risk of becoming mere sketch comedy as the couple go about their '100% particle-free, 100% IKEA-free' existence...Kaliski’s script is a bit top heavy, with a lot of business early on, and not enough time given to the final scene." Full Review

Dames at Sea
Midtown W
Front Row Center

"Deconstruct a Busby Berkeley movie musical and you have the loose two hours of light-heartedness that is 'Dames at Sea.' In this spoof of old Broadway, a dedicated cast of six top notch hoofers fight the good fight; tapping, belting and mugging their way through a book that ranges from predictable to corny to borderline misogynistic. Tomatoes, here, are not the kind that grow on vines, but there’s a lot of squeezing going on nonetheless." Full Review

Fool For Love
Midtown W
New York Theatre Guide

"This postmodern absurdist period piece, impeccably staged by director Daniel Aukin, provides the kind of thrill you get from watching a well-executed building demolition. We see each explosive put into place, each timer set, so that when the inevitable implosion finally occurs, you marvel at the controlled devastation." Full Review

Wicked (NYC)
Midtown W
Front Row Center

for a previous production "There have been moments in the history of musical theater when, like a twister, the sheer talent and whirling spectacle of a production have flattened any negative criticism that stood to get in its way...The latest incarnation of this impeccably oiled entertainment machine finds a new gear courtesy of a British import." Full Review

Single Wide
Midtown W
Front Row Center

"Choreographer/Director Jeff Whiting brings some line dance inspired merriment to the proceedings. But writer Nelson’s book ultimately drags things down...If a trailer park is the ultimate metaphor for going nowhere fast, then 'Single Wide' arrives with an unbalanced load, and a sudden bump at the end." Full Review

Significant Other
Midtown W
Front Row Center

for a previous production "Harmon offers an offbeat balance of comedy and drama, of character and caricature, and director Trip Cullman deals with the material with equal strangeness, but not without effect. He injects an overload of physical comedy into the proceedings which sets the action spinning at a proper pace." Full Review

Nice Girl
West Village
Front Row Center

"The most shocking thing about the Labyrinth Theater’s latest offering is that this troupe, known for its intensity, would choose such a tame and familiar vehicle as Melissa Ross’ 'Nice Girl.' Not that there’s anything particularly wrong with that. This is a solid, sentimental and ultimately satisfying production; just not a terribly jarring or original one." Full Review

Airline Highway
Midtown W
Front Row Center

"Playwright Lisa D’Amour’s script is a slow road to nowhere...Veteran director Joe Mantello does his best to breathe life into the production, skillfully staging the actors across Pask’s fine multi-level set, and firing up a rousing party scene at the start of act two. But in a landscape made infamous by Tennessee Williams, this tale is oddly lacking in poetry.” Full Review

Da
Gramercy
Front Row Center

"Their failure to fully connect with the audience, in a play that asks us to care for two opposing protagonists, makes for a long and plodding night." Full Review

Front Row Center

for a previous production "You gotta have a gimmick, and if that gimmick involves loosening up a crowd with a few potent potables, then so be it. In Manhattan, three drinks for an $18 ticket is fair enough. But when they come served with four-part harmonies, the scientific exploration of distillation, and an homage to Gloria Gaynor, the resulting deal is one of the best bets for a fun and fact-filled outing at this year’s New York International Fringe Festival...The show itself is a warm, light and often charming conc... Full Review

Icon (NYMF)
Midtown W
Front Row Center

"This energetic company does its best to shake off that dust, though it is tricky material. The liveliest songs are in the wrong spots and the multiple plot lines pull focus from one another…Just as we are getting a grip on the romantic entanglements, it turns out that we should have been paying more attention to the socio-politics…Fans of Ms. McKechnie will surely be disappointed, for she danceth not a single step and singeth merely a forlorn 16 bars or so." Full Review

Front Row Center

“With no especially deep meaning to this work, to spell out the plot reversal that takes place is to leave little left to enjoy...Mr. Apps turns in a quietly powerful performance, transitioning Ellis from ominous loner to damaged soul, changing the nature of how we worry about him. Ms. Reis, too, finds warmth and sympathy in a role that starts off cold and silent. But Ms. Heyward fails to find any depth, or much-needed humor, in Monique, making her an irritant on stage.” Full Review

Ross & Rachel
Midtown E
Front Row Center

"Ross and Rachel, you see, are both portrayed by the same actor (Molly Vevers), and just where one spouse starts and another ends is at the center of this clever, if overly complex, hour...That one can imagine Ross in his hospital bed, or Rachel at her office, flirting with a co-worker, speaks to the strength of Ms. Vevers’ performance. Dressed simply in a white bathrobe, and with no set pieces other than a shallow, black, reflecting pool, she effectively transports us." Full Review

Echoes
Midtown E
Front Row Center

"It’s a captivating compare-and-contrast of religious fervor...The downside to this call-and-response approach, though, is that while we certainly feel the shock and awe of the girls’ suffering, we might have found even greater compassion if they had presented their tales one at a time...Both actors turn in strong performances...Co-directors Naylor and Buttler make sure that their actors are static only when the words call for it, generating a vibrant pas de deux." Full Review

Antlia Pneumatica
Midtown W
Front Row Center

"Director Ken Rus Schmoll’s staging is as static as it is pretentious…Ms. Washburn has taken a perfectly good idea for a play and loaded on so much artifice that it collapses under its own weight…The performances offer a glimmer of hope, but there will be no happy ending, just one final return of the poetry zombies, singing a dirge, turning at odd angles from each other for no apparent reason." Full Review

Eclipsed
Midtown W
Front Row Center

"To tell the horrific story of the Liberian Civil War is as surprising as it is brave. Backed by a dynamic ensemble cast, the production proves that when it comes to human suffering, science fiction has nothing over the realities of recent world history…Staging comic relief amid serial rape is no mean feat, but under Liesl Tommy’s careful and wise direction, humor plays out as a sign of hope that is as much a salve for the women as it is a breath of relief for the audience.” Full Review

Dot
Gramercy
New York Theatre Guide

"The many characters in 'Dot' seem like people [the playwright] might have known while growing up in West Philly, which is both good news and bad. It’s a colorful bunch to be sure, but the play wanders, and often resorts to sit-com level interactions to move itself along. Truth may be stranger than fiction, but it is rarely as well plotted." Full Review

Front Row Center

"He gives everything he has, despite a baritone that has seen better days and high notes that now come as whispers...The work is a strange brew...The thematic structure is loosey goosey...He often seems to draw a blank when delivering the short transitional pieces of dialogue between scenes. These moments are betrayed with such looks of panic that at one point I honestly thought I was about to witness a medical emergency." Full Review

Marjorie Prime
Midtown W
New York Theatre Guide

"This is a play of ideas and, as such, there is more discourse than there is dramatic action, and characterizations do not run especially deep...Time is intentionally fluid in this work but, under Anne Kauffman’s otherwise thoughtful direction, leaps of many years feel more disjointed than they should be." Full Review

King Charles III
Midtown W
New York Theatre Guide

"The production’s greatest strength is the impressive degree of commitment put forth by the cast...The audience, never for a moment, doubts the truth on stage. Whether or not you will enjoy this truth depends on how much you agree with the decisions, in terms of balance, made by playwright Mike Bartlett and director Rupert Goold and, of course, how much you care about British politics." Full Review

Front Row Center

"A winning staging can be a tall order, but director Moshe Yassur is up to the task. Even the production’s shortcomings seem to work in his favor. The action flows seamlessly and quickly from scene to scene, giving a kinetic energy to Willy’s inevitable collapse and making his many fugue-like flashbacks blur into and out of reality with a mesmerizing air of confusion." Full Review

Front Row Center

"This drawn out one-act starts off forced, then it puts on heels, tosses the plot aside, and becomes a lively musical, before finally turning a corner to become a surprisingly ambitious drama. Structurally, the show is a hot mess. But with several fine performances, some delicious musical lip syncing, and a poignant theme, it is a lovable mess as well." Full Review

Pondling
Midtown E
Front Row Center

"There is nothing subtle in this one-woman show, written and performed by Genevieve Hulme-Beaman. This, you see, is a monster story...Under the keen, brisk direction of Paul Meade, Hulme-Beaman brings a wonderfully eerie (and Éire) physicality to her role with an intense stare that could melt glass...As a playwright, Hulme-Beaman has a deft ear and is clearly in love with language and with the classics." Full Review

Spot On The Wall
Midtown W
Front Row Center

"The degree to which you will enjoy the solemn new musical, 'Spot on the Wall,' is equal to the amount of tolerance you have for a pair of museum statues that come to life and manifest as characters from Greek mythology. That is, when they are not busy transforming into a pair of contemporary lost lovers or engaging in multiple bouts of interpretive dance in the middle of otherwise traditionally staged musical numbers. If this set up sounds like a risky gambit, well, it is." Full Review

New York Theatre Guide

"It’s a One-Act of God to be precise, 90 minutes of presentational comedy that, if not quite divine, is at least good for a chuckle or two on our way to the ultimate curtain call...The writing begins to gel in the final half hour as a subtle seriousness sneaks in and mixes with a wry silliness. Amid the laughs, there are the moments of introspection and contemplation of religious self-worth that would have been welcomed from the start...Parsons’ quirky charm is generally enough to carry the d... Full Review

The Other Thing
Upper W Side
Front Row Center

There is more going on than what meets the eye in Emily Schwend’s sharp and twisted 'The Other Thing.' It’s a feminist revenge fantasy disguised as a traditional ghost story. It’s a nasty little parable about carrying the scars of your parents. And it’s a winking switcheroo where the men come in three different flavors, all of them too chatty for the dangerous woman in their lives who has had just about enough...Having seen the play in early preview, I hope that a few of the kinks have since ... Full Review

Airline Highway
Midtown W
New York Theatre Guide

"Lisa D'Amour's script is a slow road to nowhere...In a landscape made infamous by Tennessee Williams, this tale is oddly lacking in poetry. If the Hummingbird is symbolically a fragile nest filled with small lives, its creator left out the tension and passion that could have turned it into a "Motel Named Desire."" Full Review

Bayside! The Musical!
East Village
Front Row Center

"Their book is a hilarious panorama of raunch, homo-eroticism, dream sequences and modern satire, while their score pays tribute not only to 90’s power ballads, Meatloaf and the B52’s, but Alan Menken, Jule Styne and Stephen Sondheim as well." Full Review