Michael O’Connor

Oct. 23 Syracuse Stage: The Underpants

From left: Mark David Watson, Daniel Passer, Michael Brian Dunn and Marianna McClellan in the Syracuse Stage producrtion of Steve Martin's "The Underpants" (photo: Michael Davis)

Syracuse Stage pulls off Steve Martin’s ‘Underpants’

The comedian’s rapid-fire witticisms leave the audience little time to breathe before the next joke

By Michael O’Connor

The word “underpants” may suggest many things. It can be the boring utilitarian item that one wears every day, the washing of which is a pedestrian part of every relationship (so much so that hanging stockings and panties in the bathroom following laundering is often used in film and TV as a code for the loss of romance that comes with familiarity)…

Sep. 11 CNY Playhouse: 9 to 5 The Musical

Doralee (Korrie Taylor, left) and Violet (Shannon Tompkins, right) enlist the help of a junior accountant (Mike King) to check the company books in the CNY Playhouse production of "9 to 5 The Musical" (photo: Amelia Beamish)

CNY Playhouse’s ‘9 to 5 The Musical’ offers ribald humor with plenty of laughs

But Patricia Resnick’s book is too weak to make credible the oppressed office workers’ character transformations

By Michael O’Connor

The Central New York Playhouse production of “9 to 5 The Musical,” Dolly Parton’s reworking of the 1980 hit film by the same name, provides laugh-out-loud comic moments. What’s lacking is a believable story arc that allows the audience to buy in to the radical transformation the characters undergo…

April 25 SU Drama: Avenue Q

Beyond the sleaze there’s lots to please in SU Drama’s ‘Avenue Q’

Let’s just say these puppets have been around the block a few times…

By Michael O’Connor

The greatest enjoyment from watching Avenue Q comes from its manner of presentation. Many of the characters in the show are puppets that look as if they walked off the set of Sesame Street. Yet while there’s a certain sophomoric joy in watching these puppets discuss adult subject matters like sexuality, pornography, and drunkenness…

Feb. 21 SU Drama: Lips Together, Teeth Apart

SU Drama’s ‘Lips Together, Teeth Apart’ struggles to transcend the aging AIDS crisis

Bereft of strong character interaction, this student production has difficulty making the political climate of the ’80s and ’90s seem relevant today

By Michael O’Connor

Lips Together, Teeth Apart, which takes place at the height of the AIDS crisis, follows a pair of siblings (Sam and Chloe) and their respective spouses (Sally and John) as they spend a weekend together at a beach house Sally has recently inherited from her deceased brother, David…

Dec. 5 Syracuse Stage: Hairspray

‘Hairspray’ paints a smile across the face that holds

There’s ‘real good’ singing and dancing in this ‘feel good’ co-production by Syracuse Stage and SU Drama

By Michael O’Connor

Love wins out against all odds in the Syracuse Stage-SU Drama co-production of the charming holiday spectacle, Hairspray — the delightful musical that tackles issues of race relations, class discrepancy and body image without becoming overbearing…

Nov. 15 SU Drama: Stepping Out

SU Drama’s ‘Stepping Out’ is in-step with dance, out-of-step with drama

Blame Richard Harris, whose humorous play about amateur tap dancers suffers from a script with two left feet

By Michael O’Connor

There’s no shortage of spectacle in Stepping Out, Richard Harris’s 1984 comedy about amateur dancers looking to overcome their inhibitions by learning to tap dance at a shabby church hall in North London…

Oct. 11 SU Drama: Parade

SU Drama’s ‘Parade’ pleases the ear, challenges the mind

The Tony Award-winning Broadway musical about intolerance and bigotry in the old South raises issues America has not fully addressed

By Michael O’Connor

Like many Americans, I grew up reading and learning about America’s civil rights movements. Victims of racially motivated violence in this country are burned into my memory — names such as Emmett Till, James Byrd Jr., Mary Turner, Vincent Chin, and Leo Frank.

These names remain symbols of America’s difficulty in coming to grips with its past and present…

Feb. 27 Syracuse Stage: Chinglish

‘Chinglish’ parlays cultural misunderstandings into a hilarious theatrical experience

But David Henry Hwang’s cross-cultural comedy, smartly set in this Syracuse Stage production, could have been so much more…

By Michael O’Connor

The difficulty in crafting translations extends far beyond merely substituting a word from one language with a corresponding word from another…

Feb. 21 SU Drama: Speed the Plow

SU Drama’s ‘Speed the Plow’ takes the audience on a rollicking ride through frenetically paced dialogue

Despite some unevenness, SU Drama’s mounting of David Mamet’s satire of Hollywood comes off as timely and relevant as its 1988 debut

By Michael O’Connor

On the surface, Speed the Plow appears to explore the incompatibility of art and commerce. But much like the façade of naiveté…