Theater

Feb. 1 Book Review: Presenting Shakespeare

Title cover for "Presenting Shakespeare," a book of poster art for the Bard's plays staged over the years

Presenting Shakespeare, preserved as poster art

But this handsome collection of 1,100 posters from The Bard’s plays is much more than a coffee table book

By Wayne Myers

Breast-like twin celestial orbs brazenly fill a dark forest night sky in Ryszard Kaja’s poster for Teatr Wielki w Poznaniu’s 2007 performance of Felix Mendelssohn’s incidental music to Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream…

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…

Aug. 2 NTLive: Everyman

NT Live’s ‘Everyman’ gives a 15th century morality play a 21st century facelift

Britain’s poet laureate turns one of the oldest English dramas into a timeless argument against materialism

By Barbara Haas

Rufus Norris began his reign as Artistic Director of London’s National Theatre with a brilliant updating of the medieval morality play, Everyman. If this is any indication of what lies ahead, we’re in for some great theater…

July 18 WTFestival: Off the Main Road

Left: Aaron Costa Ganis as Gino and Kyra Sedgwick as Faye Garrit in the Williamstown Festival Theatre production of William Inge's "Off the Main Road" (photo: Charles Erickson)

William Inge’s ‘Off the Main Road’ gets staged at last

But the ‘lost’ play, in its world premier performance at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, doesn’t measure up to the playwright’s best works

By Joseph Whelan

Six years ago some previously unproduced plays by William Inge were found in the library of a community college in Inge’s hometown of Independence, Kansas. Among the 25 or so works in various stages of development was the complete full-length play Off the Main Road, recently given its world premiere production at the Williamstown Theatre Festival with a stellar cast that includes Emmy Award-winner Kyra Sedgwick and Estelle Parsons, directed by Evan Cabnet…

July 16 NT Live: A View from the Bridge

NL Live broadcast of ‘A View From the Bridge’ a persuasive, character-driven drama

Belgian-Dutch director Ivo van Hove discards Arthur Miller’s Italian-American trimmings and focuses squarely on the characters

By Barbara Haas

This year is the centennial of Arthur Miller’s birth, and a stunning production by London’s The Young Vic of his 1955 drama, A View from the Bridge — broadcast to grateful theater-lovers in movie theaters world-wide by NT Live — proves this play to be timeless…

July 11 DruidShakespeare: The History Plays

Charlotte McCurry, Clare Barrett, Rory Nolan, and Aisling O'Sullivan in DruidShakespeare. Photo by Matthew Thompson

The Death of Kings: ‘DruidShakespeare’ at the Lincoln Center Festival

Ireland’s Druid Theatre Company returns to the Lincoln Center Festival with an ambitious adaption of the Bard’s history plays

By Joseph Whelan
Contributing writer

Some of the best theater I have seen in the past decade has come from Ireland’s Druid Theatre, the Galway-based company with the tiny home down a cobblestone alley and an outsized international reputation…

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…

April 18 CNY Playhouse: Glengarry Glen Ross

CNY Playhouse closes the deal in ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’

A fine ensemble of actors all but ooze oil in David Mamet’s look at the unctuous business of the hard sell

By Barbara Haas

The Central New York Playhouse isn’t afraid to tackle the important American plays. Last spring the company staged a fine Death of a Salesman, directed by Kasey Marie McHale. Now they’ve put on an equally creditable production of David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross, again under McHale’s direction…

April 10 Covey Theatre: God of Carnage

‘God of Carnage’ a play for those unafraid of Virginia Woolf

Souls bare and tempers flare in this engaging Covey Theatre Company production

By David Abrams

Serious question: Is God of Carnage a play or a reality show? It’s difficult to tell, since the abstract dialogue leaves few clues as to the substance of the human interactions among the play’s four characters. But whatever logic may lurk between the lines in her script, French playwright Yasmina Reza deserves credit for finding the key to drawing crowds in America: staging couples that trade invectives and rip each other apart in the presence of total strangers. Just ask Jerry Springer…

Apr. 10 Syracuse Stage: Other Desert Cities

Syracuse Stage’s ‘Other Desert Cities’ unfolds at a furious pace

Better not sneeze during this Timothy Bond production ― you may miss something important

By Barbara Haas

At last, a play about a family that is not dysfunctional. Syracuse Stage is closing its current season with a rarity among dramas: a play about family members who really do care about each another. Not that the five members of the Wyeth household in Jon Robin Baitz’s Other Desert Cities don’t have their differences. Truth is, they couldn’t be more unlike one another…

Mar. 28 SU Drama: Measure for Measure

By any yardstick, SU Drama’s ‘Measure for Measure’ stacks up well

Director Celia Madeoy takes the Bard’s 400-year-old play out of a purely academic context and makes it relevant

By Malkiel Choseed

It is almost considered a right of passage for drama students to stage a Shakespearian play. That they have chosen this particular play, Measure for Measure, to test and sharpen their skills brings about a whole other level of difficulty. The students and staff of SU Drama, however, have risen the to the challenge admirably, creating a visually stunning, fast paced and well-acted production…