August Broadway Reviews with Pat Collins
Last month the cast of the whodunnit comedy Shear Madness packed their blow dryers and moved from New World Stages to a new location - The Davenport Theater on West 45th street. Tony winner Cady Huffman and fellow cast members, playing stylists at a West side unisex hair salon, interact with audience members who are asked to solve the murder mystery unfolding on stage. The result is a different show every night. Playwright Paul Portner has bragging rights to one of the longest running non musicals. Shear Madness offers an ideal opportunity to show off your Jessica Fletcher Hercole Poirot or Miss Marple like detective skills. The show runs two hours.
MOTOWN THE MUSICAL
The popular baby boomer juke box musical returns to Broadway with a cast of 33 singing the iconic hits that made Motown both a hugely successful record label and the catalyst for racially integrating American popular music. The plot revolves around Motown creator Berry Gordy and his often contentious relationships with his super star artists including The Supremes, Gladys Knight and The Pips, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson and The Jackson Five to name a few.
Most audience members are eager to not only revisit Motown’s past but also to relive their teen years as well. Who can forget hearing “I Heard It Through The Grapevine “, “My Guy” or “Dancing In The Streets” for the first time. Please resist the urge to sing along during the show. Chester Gregory, who plays Mr. Gordy, leads a cast of 33 at the Nederlander Theater.
TONY WINNER MOVES TO BIGGER HOUSE
The cast of “The Humans” recently vacated the intimate Helen Hayes Theater and took up residence in the significantly larger Gerard Schoenfeld Theater a few feet away. Playwright Steven Karam’s dramedy deservedly won the 2016 Tony award for best new play and two of its extraordinary stars, Jayne Houdyshell and Reed Birney, were respectively named best featured actress and best featured actor in a play. Under Joe Mantello’s direction, The Humans is both poignant and laugh out loud funny as it explores the fear and anxiety of middle class Americans facing an uncertain economic future. The Helen Hayes Theater will undergo a long overdue renovation.
CLOSES AUGUST 21
Finding Neverland’s prolific producer Harvey Weinstein cannot be accused of losing faith in his musical but despite his legendary promotional skills the musical, based on the 2004 Johnny Depp movie, will vanish the end of the month. Matthew Morrison of “Glee” fame originated the role of Peter Pan creator J.M Barrie and Frasier star Kelsey Grammar played dual roles as Captain Hook and barrier’s American producer Charles Frohman. Tony Yazbeck is the current and last Barrie .Paul Slade Smith masters the quick wardrobe changes from Hook to Frohman. The Broadway show remains faithful to the film’s plot which centered on Barrie’s platonic relationship with Sylvia Davies, a London widow whose 4 young sons inspired Barrie to create the boy who vowed to never grow up.
THE PARTY’S OVER
Off Broadway’s long running spectacular ends its nine year run Aug 28 but before then guests are encouraged to frolic in the club’s splash zone every Sunday night at 7 pm. Remember to bring a change of clothes which can be left at the coat check. The show, which was imported from Buenos Aires, combines acrobatics, live throbbing music and a wet and wild finale. Fuerza Bruta is not for those who suffer from claustrophobia or are unable to stand for an hour and 50 minutes. Seats are in short supply at the Daryl Roth Theater, Admission prices range from $ 39 to $125 VIP tickets. The perks include a personal bartender. Location is the 101 East 15th Street. At Union Square and 15th Street.
FULL PUPPET NUDITY OFF BROADWAY
The unusual musical comedy with puppets and R rated dialogue continues to entertain grown-ups at New World Stages on West 50th street, The show which features Trekkie Monster, the Bad Idea Bears and other naughty characters won the Tony Award 13 years ago, scoring an upset victory over the witches of “Wicked’. The production has no connection to Sesame Street or the Jim Henson Company although two of Avenue Q’s puppets could be described as Bert and Ernie’s badly behaved cousins. With song titles like “Lucy The Slut “ and “The Internet Is For Porn” need I remind parents that this is decidedly NOT a family show.
CLOSING THE DOORS AT CIRCLE IN THE SQUARE
The last performance of the highly acclaimed 2015 Tony Award winner is September 10. The brilliant tragicomedy is based on cartoonist Alison Bechdel’s 2006 graphic memoir about her closeted gay father and her coming out in college. The title refers to the family run funeral home where she and her sisters were raised under unusual circumstances. Original cast members including Tony winner Michael Cerveris, Judy Kuhn Beth Malone and Emily Skeggs will remain with the show until that last curtain call. Fun Home runs a riveting one hour and 45 minutes with no intermission. Fun Home’s national tour launches in October - first stop Cleveland. Then onto LA, Chicago, Las Vegas and San Francisco.
THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME
September 4 is the last date to see the 2015 Tony Award winner. A high functioning teenage boy with Asberger’s Syndrome leaves his home in the London suburbs to find the killer of a neighbor’s dog. Tyler Leah excels in the demanding role of the young protagonist in an extraordinary play. Check out the merchandise counter in the theater lobby. My favorite item is a T shirt with the following words on the front - “I Find People Confusing”.