Thursday, October 31, 2019

104 (2019-2020): Review: SEARED (seen October 30, 2019)

“In Search of the Wild Salmon”

The only thing searing about Seared, Theresa Rebeck’s edible but not always digestible new comedy, is a seared, wild salmon dish actually cooked on stage. Its preparation is in the hands of Harry (four-time Tony nominee Raul Esparza), a contrarian, anti-capitalist (until he’s not), self-absorbed, self-destructive chef working in a boutique, Park Slope restaurant. The play comes to New York after its premiere at the San Francisco Playhouse and an East Coast premiere at the Williamstown Theatre Festival.

Raul Esparza. All photos: Joan Marcus.
Harry and his three coworkers (a fourth, a dishwasher, never appears) keep the sauces simmering throughout the play’s two and a quarter hours (with one intermission). Most patrons will feel they’ve had a toothsome theatrical meal although, for all of its gourmet pretensions, Rebeck can’t avoid overcooking it.

The production’s use of real onstage cooking is its most novel contribution, although there have been earlier plays, even going back to the late 19th and early 20th-centuries, in which real food was prepared on stage.

[A digression: In Food and Theatre on the World Stage, Dorothy Chansky reminds us that in 1892, James Herne’s Shore Acres, set on a Maine farm, included “the preparation (on a wood stove) and consumption of a complete turkey dinner, with attention given to details right down to a discussion of various ways of making cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes. . . .” In 1912, director-playwright David Belasco presented The Governor’s Lady in which he replicated the interior of a Childs Restaurant in which real food was prepared and eaten. As the New York Times critic wrote, “one could almost scent the ‘browning of the wheat.’” More modern examples would include Arnold Wesker’s The Kitchen, which shows the daily routine in a large restaurant kitchen, where, in one account, “Two expert pastry chefs . . . roll out dough, prepare tarts, baste, and bake bread throughout the entire working day.”]

Seared, set in the restaurant’s small, perfectly naturalistic kitchen (designed by Tim Mackabee), begins as we watch a precisely choreographed sequence of Harry preparing a meal in time to a rhythmic jazz background (excellent sound design by Palmer Heffernan). An even more detailed meal--the seared, wild salmon--is crafted in act two. These are perfect displays of director Moritz von Stuelpnagel’s (Bernhardt/Hamlet) ability to create complex, dynamic activity within a confined, cluttered space, a talent he consistently deploys throughout.

Seared is about how Harry—typifying the obsessive artist who places his genius above commerce, disdaining filthy lucre if it threatens his creative vision—takes his culinary compulsions to such outrageous levels that they threaten to harm not only himself but those who depend on him. These are his partner, Mike (David Mason), the manager whose money built the business; Rodney (W. Tré Davis), the African-American waiter who idolizes the chef to the point of sharing his tips with him; and Emily (Krysta Rodriguez), the beautiful consultant Mike hires to improve the establishment’s business following its listing as a “Best Bet” by New York magazine.
Raul Esparza, W. Tré Davis, Krysta Rodriguez, David Mason. 
The central conflict derives from Harry’s disdainful attitude toward anything that might corrupt the purity of his cooking. When his scallops are publicly praised, for example, he refuses to make them anymore. “I’m not feeling the scallops,” he utters. Later, he devises a delicious wild salmon dish, refusing the practical substitution of the more readily available farmed salmon. With the business failing, Mike, desperate to turn things around, brings in the insistently upbeat Emily, who has her own agenda, to provide new ideas, but Harry nastily dismisses her.
Raul Esparza, Krysta Rodriguez.
The expected rom-com developments do, of course, arrive, but mainly for momentary spice. Ultimately, Harry’s reluctant willingness to change his OCD-like gastronomic routine meets its ultimate test when a major critic comes to review the restaurant and Harry, true to himself, pulls the ultimate hissy fit.
Raul Esparza, Krysta Rodriguez, David Mason.
Given that this is a 16-20-seat restaurant, the menu-less kind that uses a blackboard to note the day’s dishes, it’s hard to swallow the idea that—regardless of Harry’s talent—the place could survive with an uncompromising prima donna who resists doing his part when the place is on the brink of financial success. One also has to wonder how, even if Harry were amenable, the place could operate with a single person preparing the food, especially as he takes so much time to prepare each dish. Further, if this handsome, articulate, middle-aged chef is so gifted, why isn’t he higher up on the food chain by now?
W. Tré Davis. 
If you take these far-fetched premises on faith and don’t mind the triviality of the situations, you’ll enjoy the rat-a-tat-tat dialogue; the colorful, expertly played frustrations embedded in the ongoing arguments; the directorial orchestration of movement, music, and dramatic interplay; the strained but nonetheless touching resolution; and the well-honed performances.

Esparza masterfully navigates the difficulties of enacting minutely detailed kitchen business—including the use of a sharp slicing knife—while somehow managing to make the selfishly arrogant Harry not too annoyingly unlikable. Davis’s Mike bickers heatedly with Harry but never abandons a sense of love and respect for his infuriating partner. Rodriguez—looking awesome in trendy outfits designed by Tilly Grimes—diplomatically handles the chaos in which Emily finds herself with remarkable aplomb. And Davis, despite the implausibility of the transformation Rodney undergoes, is a charmingly pleasant presence.

Seared wasn’t always to my taste but, given what’s available in the barely appetizing marketplace of recently opened new plays, it just might be flavorsome enough to place on my “Best Bets” list, if I had one.

The Robert W. Wilson MCC Theater Space/Susan and Ronald Frankel Theater
511 W. 52nd St., NYC
Through December 15

Other Viewpoints:

103 (2019-2020): Review: FEAR (seen October 29, 2019)

"In Fear, the Pursuit of Truth Falls Short"

For my review of Fear please click on THE BROADWAY BLOG.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

102 (2019-2020): Review: BARS AND MEASURES (seen October 28, 2019)

“When Brothers Clash”

Idris Goodwin’s promising but only fitfully satisfying play, Bars and Measures, at Urban Stages, following a 2015 world premiere in Sacramento, is only the latest about a fractious yet loving fraternal relationship. And, boy, as the older brother in a similarly problematic situation, do I know something about those.

Abraham Makany, Shabazz Green, Roderick Lawrence. All photos: Russ Rowland.
Every time I see a play about such pairings (think Yen or True West, for example), it strikes home, even if, as with Goodwin’s Bars and Measures they don’t always quite ring true. Goodwin’s title can be understood on at least two levels, neither having to do with drinking establishments. One hints at musical preoccupations, as represented by African-American brothers Eric (Roderick Lawrence) and Bilal (Shabazz Green), both professional musicians. Bars can also represent the jail in which Bilal has been confined, while measures might refer to how the brothers navigate their individual lives and their personal and artistic relationship.

Abraham Makany, Shabazz Green, Roderick Lawrence.
The plot is loosely based on the true story of Tarik Shah, a Muslim musician and martial arts expert who, targeted in a sting operation, was arrested on terrorism charges by the FBI in 2001, claimed entrapment, was held for 31 months in solitary, and released after 13 years.
Abraham Makany, Shabazz Green, Roderick Lawrence.
Bilal (known as “the shah”) is a well-established jazz bassist and martial arts expert, who’s played with the top names in the field. Eric (inspired by Shah’s brother, Antoine Dowdell) is a Juilliard-trained, classical pianist who plays at parties and the like. He also becomes the accompanist to Sylvia (Salma Shaw), an opera singer, who sings (nicely) a bit of “Caro Mio Ben,” but who also expresses an interest in jazz, Eventually, Eric lands a job teaching music at an elite private school, although you have to wonder how someone who says things like “We ain’t talk about no bunch of other ideas” would land such a position.

Much of the action takes place in the visitor’s room at Bilal’s jail, where, as the brothers sit across from each other at a table under the dour eye of a guard named Wes (Abraham Makany), they bicker and bond. The bonding mainly happens as they practice scat-singing a jazz routine composed by Bilal. The bickering concerns Bilal (originally Darryl) having converted to Islam, and to their musical tastes. Bilal tries to win the mildly hesitant Eric over to jazz, even giving him exercises to help prepare him for an upcoming concert, where he’ll be raising money for Bilal’s defense.

And just what does he need a defense for? Since the playwright takes more than half his play to tell us why Bilal has been incarcerated, put in solitary, and treated harshly, let’s just say it has do with reasons reflective of those that led to Tarik Shah’s arrest and conviction. Had this been the focus of the Bars and Measures, without all the musical fiddle-faddle, it might have led to a more compelling work of drama.
Shabazz Green, Salma Shaw, Roderick Lawrence.
Among the outstanding moments is a courtroom scene involving the prosecutor (Makany) and the defense lawyer (Shaw) that crosscuts their dialog in an effectively contrapuntal way. The play also includes several well-done musical passages, including Lawrence demonstrating his piano skills and Shaw her vocal ones. A tentatively romantic scene plays out elegantly as Eric and Sylvia slow-dance to a recording of “Blue Gardenia.” But there’s also a superb, moody, background score, composed by Justin Ellington, one of New York’s finest composers of incidental theatre music.

Bars and Measures includes several interesting developments but it also has questionable contrivances (like Sylvia’s being a secular Muslim, or Bilal’s violence just before he goes to trial). Since all the scenes are in the same neutral, gray-walled space (designed by Frank Oliva and effectively lit by John Salutz), Goodwin’s dependence on expository flashbacks could be made clearer, perhaps via timeline projections. And having Eric suddenly break the fourth wall to speak in direct address should be rethought or introduced earlier to set up the convention as a framing device.
Shabazz Green, Roderick Lewis.
It also takes too long for Bilal’s crime to be explained, draining the play of suspense. When the crime becomes the central issue of the play’s latter third, within which Bilal gets to expound a litany of alleged anti-Muslim incidents, it creates a lopsided balance in the dramatic structure.
Roderick Lawrence, Shabazz Green. 
The direction is also problematic. Kristan Seemel gets acceptably believable performances from her first-rate cast (although the appealing Lawrence sometimes swallows words), but her pacing is sluggish and she fails to draw out the necessary degree of frustrated tension. Without it, the brothers’ simmering relationship (aside from a few minor flareups) never fully ignites the subtext’s simmering flames.

Seemel’s production elicits perhaps half of the emotion possible in this fraternal and political environment. I suspect that there’s a lot more passion in Bars and Measures than this too measured production is conveying.

Urban Stages
259 W. 30th St., NYC
Through November 10




Thursday, October 24, 2019

97 (2019-2020): Review: THE WRONG MAN (seen October 23, 2019)

"Folsom Prison Blues"

As The Wrong Man, a new musical at the Robert W. Wilson MCC Theater Space, got under way last night and the lead character, Duran, began singing, I suddenly had the feeling I was literally in the presence of the wrong man. I’d come with the expectation that Duran was being played by Joshua Henry, the powerful, African-American star who rocked the rafters as Billy Bigelow in the recent revival of Carousel. Ryan Vasquez, the actor playing Duran, however, is not black, and it wasn’t until the show was over that I realized what had happened. 
Ryan Vasquez, Ciara Renee. All photos: Matthew Murphy.
Somehow, I’d completely overlooked the news (buried under the program’s cast list and noted on small cards in a corner of the lobby) that Vasquez (Hamilton), who usually plays the Man in Black, was covering Duran at six performances (the next and last will be October 27), while Anoop Desai, normally in the ensemble, was taking over the Man in Black at those same shows. It took me a little while to swallow my disappointment, still not entirely dissipated, and give myself over to Vasquez’s fine (but not extraordinary) performance. Desai is excellent in the role Vasquez normally plays.
Joshua Henry and company. 
The Wrong Man is not a musicalization of the realistic, b/w, Alfred Hitchcock movie of 1956, based on a true story, starring Henry Fonda as a Queens, NY, man caught up in a Kafkaesque nightmare after being wrongly convicted of robbery. The show, by pop songwriter Ross Golan, and directed by Thomas Kail of Hamilton fame, is instead based on an animated film and, later, concept album, inspired by Illinois governor George Ryan’s 2004 moratorium on the death penalty.
Ryan Vasquez, Kyle Robinson, Tilly Evans-Krueger.
 Golan’s premise concerns a fictional murder for which a Reno, NV, man is wrongly accused. Avoiding a real event for a made-up, stereotypical one weakens the miscarriage of justice theme, which Hitchcock’s film addresses. Apart from their titles and mutual focus on someone arrested for a crime he didn’t commit, nothing else ties together these tales of wronged men. 
Ciara Renee, Joshua Henry.
Golan’s show, for which he wrote the music, lyrics, and book—even though 99% of the book is in the sung-through lyrics—is a minimalist exercise in theatrical style. It is, indeed, more style, than substance. The overly wide expanse of the Wilson stage (relative to its shallow auditorium) has been turned by designer Rachel Hauck into three walls lined with horizontal LED lighting strips, with bleacher seating at either side, helpfully narrowing the performing area between them.
Ryan Vasquez and company.
A glass-enclosed booth up center—suggestive of a recording studio—houses percussionist Jamie Eblen, with the other musicians (keyboard, two guitars, and bass) visible nearby. Chairs, stools, and a pair of wooden benches serve for all scenic uses, with barely any hand props brought into play. A hand, for example, serves as a knife or gun.   
Joshua Henry.
Jennifer Moeller and Kristin Isola have costumed everyone (mostly slacks and t-shirts) in shades of black and gray, requiring Betsy Small to introduce the necessary color in her creative, hyperactive, lighting design. 

Duran narrates his story in direct address, with songs written largely to an insistent, driving beat, combining jazz, pop rock, and hip-hop rhythms (think Hamilton). He either stands alone in a spotlight or engages with a dynamic ensemble of strikingly distinctive dancer-singers who undertake multiple parts. Their names are Tilly Evans-Krueger, Malik Kitchen, Libby Lloyd, Kyle Robinson, and Debbie Christine Tjong. Ciara Renée (Big Fish), who plays the murdered femme fatale, Mariana, joins the ensemble when not otherwise engaged, as does Desai, whose main job is as the villain.

This 90-minute piece recounts how the good-looking Duran, who works in “middle management” and whose private life is in a shambles, picks up (or vice-versa) the hot as a griddle but somehow troubled cocktail waitress, Mariana, at a bar, and has a steamy affair that leads to her getting pregnant. Her troubles hark back to her abusive husband, the Man in Black, of whom Duran had no knowledge. Marianna is stabbed to death, and the Man in Black contrives to frame Duran. Never before in trouble with the law, he’s arrested, tried, convicted, and sentenced to death in Folsom Prison.

Duran’s story is enacted in swiftly moving scenes, terrifically choreographed by Travis Wall (TV’s “So You Think You Can Dance”), combining jazz dance and ballet, and including numerous sequences when the ensemble, even when just standing or sitting, reacts with sharply rhythmic precision to the decisive percussive beats punctuating the score. The sizzling ensemble moves with sinuous sexuality, occasionally serving as movement doppelgangers for the singing characters, although even the actors playing the latter are trained dancers.  

The Wrong Man’s music, well-orchestrated by Alex Lacamoire, is engaging and infectiously rhythmic but also repetitious, with too many numbers having a similar, one-note (metaphorically) attack. Similarly, the lyrics, lacking much detail, not to mention humor, often keep repeating the same refrains. And, with the singing usually at ear-blasting decibel levels, the narrative specifics blur, weakening the dramatic impact of the exposition and reveling instead in the hero’s trauma.

We understand his emotional anxiety but fail to sympathize because of its lack of nuance.  Anyone recalling the legal details surrounding the case in Hitchcock’s The Wrong Man—regardless of it being a different story—will be disappointed at how simplistically Golan handles Duran’s judicial fate.

I sorely missed seeing Joshua Henry, whose performance others have praised to the heavens, especially given the racial significance his presence would have brought to this tale of wrongful incarceration. Vasquez was certainly satisfactory the night I saw him but the chances are he was the wrong man to save The Wrong Man from itself.

Robert W. Wilson MCC Theater Space/Newman Mills Theater
511 W. 52nd St., NYC
Through November 24


Wednesday, October 23, 2019

96 (2019-2020): Review: SCOTLAND, PA (seen October 18, 2019)

"Little Shop of Burgers"

For my review of Scotland, PA 
please click on THEATER LIFE.

95 (2019-2020): Review: THE ROSE TATTOO (seen October 22, 2019)

“That’s Amore?”

Serafina Delle Rose, the tempestuous Sicilian firestorm raging at the heart of Tennessee Williams’s The Rose Tattoo, has to be one of the theatre’s most challenging roles. Just watch the usually wonderful Marisa Tomei put up a losing struggle with her in the Roundabout revival of this 1951 play (originally seen at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in 2016), directed by Trip Cullman. Try as she might, Tomei is unable to capture the character’s comedy and pathos, or the frustrating conflict between the demands of her Dionysian sexuality and religious sanctity. 
From the beginning, the role was hard to cast. Williams, enamored of Italy (his lover, Frank Merlo, was of Sicilian heritage), had written a play set in a small, Gulf Coast town inhabited by Sicilian immigrants. He conceived Serafina for his friend, the earthy, larger-than-life, Italian movie star Anna Magnani (who was Roman, not Sicilian).

Magnani, however, was afraid to tackle a Broadway play in English—even with lots of Italian phrases sprinkled throughout—so the role went to Maureen Stapleton, a 25-year-old of Irish Catholic extraction from Troy, NY. To see why Williams wanted Magnani, take a gander at her on YouTube in the 1955 film version (costarring a miscast Burt Lancaster), even if you see only this trailer, in which she says not a word.

Stapleton was considered physically wrong for Serafina—“They even dirtied her face and found her some funny clothes,” wrote Williams’s brother, Dakin, and Shepard Mead in their biography)—a woman who takes pride in never having missed a night of sex with her late, banana-truck driver husband, racking up 4,380 times before he died in a crash. Nevertheless, she made the role her own, and became a star.

Eli Wallach played Alvaro Mangiacavallo (Mr. Eat-a-Horse), the randy banana-truck driver who becomes the new love in Serafina’s life after the death of her husband, Rosario, also a banana-truck driver.

In 1966, Stapleton played the role again, in a City Center revival. Curious as to what her iconic performance might have been like, I listened—script in hand—to the entire Caedmon recording of the production and was greatly disappointed to hear Stapleton give a largely one-note performance, with lots of raspy yelling, and very little human believability. She also avoided an Italian accent, despite Serafina, a dressmaker, being an immigrant of peasant stock.

In fact, the entire production (including a surprisingly colorless job by the young Christopher Walken as Jack Hunter, the sailor boyfriend of Serafina’s daughter, Rosa) sounds phony. Harry Guardino as Mangiacavallo, however, also accent-less, gives an otherwise naturalistic performance, in a New York, Italian-American way. Meanwhile, Dino Terranova, an Italian actor, has a perfect accent as the fiery Father de Leo, a role inexplicably cut from the present production, depriving the play of the argument regarding the Church’s stance against cremation. 

Father de Leo is not the only character removed. You'll also look in look in vain for the goat seen in previous New York stagings, as well as the dressmaker's dummies that form such an important part of the script's desired imagery.

The only other New York revival of The Rose Tattoo was at Broadway’s Circle in the Square in 1995, with Mercedes Ruehl as Serafina and Anthony LaPaglia as Alvaro. Her performance was warmly received, although she used an accent of which Ben Brantley wrote: “who cares if her accent is a tad too close to Gilda Radner's Roseanne Rosannadana to be entirely credible?”

Well, with regard to Marisa Tomei’s accent, I care, since (like that of her costar, Scottish actor Emun Elliott), it’s disturbingly artificial, especially when combined with every stereotypical Italian gesture and bodily inflection you can think of. Tomei, 54 and looking nearly as youthful as when she blew us away 27 years ago in My Cousin Vinny, may be of Italian descent but she’s simply miscast as the volcanic Serafina. Even with the assistance of Charlotte Fleck, one of our  foremost dialect coaches, not one actor sounds authentically Italian. Tomei introduces so many rolling r’s that there are none left for her colleagues to employ.

Physically, she’s petite and trim in a role whose lines suggest a bit more cheese on her pizza. In one notable scene, she prepares for a date with Alvaro by putting on a girdle (before trying, with farcical behavior, to get it off). Marisa Tomei needs a girdle the way Superman needs more muscles. As for her acting, forced to pound away at the character’s already near-operatic outbursts, she’s like a cat trying to play a lion.

The same is true of almost everything else in Cullman’s overwrought production, which is as ineffably uninvolving as what I felt when listening to the 1966 revival. Williams’s play, which won him his only Tony, is a Rabelaisian romantic comedy with what, in 1951, must have seemed daringly frank mentions of sexual activity, aphrodisiacs, virginity, breasts, condoms, and nudity, not to mention bits of childish, phallic business. Most of this now seems both puerile and sophomoric. Critic George Jean Nathan, in his review of the 1951 staging, put Williams in the company of the "genitalmen," as he called sex-obsessed playwrights.
On the other hand, The Rose Tattoo was once so controversial that religious officials in Ireland and Rhodesia shut the play down. It’s not enough for Cullman, however, that the play contains all this stuff. In several instances he gilds the lily by, for example, having Serafina underline her dialogue with lazzi reminiscent of too many Shakespearean directors who feel they must show us with gestures how dirty the lines are meant to be.

Here is Nathan’s succinct, literal summation of the plot, from his review of the original production:

Williams’ show . . . is about a Sicilian-American widow whose fond memory of her spouse gets such a severe jolt when she learns he cavorted with another woman that, though she had been spending the days since his death praying that both she and her young daughter would not fall under the concupiscent spell of wicked males, she forthwith picks up a truck-driver who looks like her late husband and, after a period of coy resistance, rapturously bestows her favors upon him. In the meantime, the daughter busies herself trying to persuade a young sailor to accept her favors in turn. The sailor, however, has promised his mother that he will abstain from any such thing, whereupon the truck-driver, who has different ideas, makes a bee-line for the girl, which so enrages the mother that she bids him begone forever and tells the daughter she is free to give herself to the sailor.

It’s true that Williams was after a bighearted mixture of comedy, drama, and Italian opera-like exaggeration, with infusions of his typical poetic lyricism. Still, making a theatrical smoothie from such ingredients is easier imagined than accomplished.
Designer Mark Wendland aims for the lyrical in his practically wall-less set, showing a few pieces of the interior of Serafina’s shabby home, combined with a sandy exterior, and a runway (like a kabuki hanamichi) extending from center to a passageway beneath a stage right balcony, thus forcing entering and exiting actors to bend low to avoid hitting their heads. The lack of walls, increasingly common in revivals of plays usually seen with more or less solid interiors, only serves to create confusion as to which room characters are in, or whether they're inside or outside.

At the rear of the set, over which looms a net of telephone pole wires, stand dozens of lawn-style, pink flamingoes, with a back wall on which Lucy McKinnon’s projections provide an endless loop of Gulf Coast waves crashing. The image is odd, since the waters on that part of the Gulf Coast are almost always wave-less. Ben Stanton’s lovely lighting captures the shifting moods appropriately, but the production itself is simply too broad and too comically overstated to match these subtleties.

A surprising amount of original, Italian-inflected music, composed by sound designer Fitz Patton, is sung by the black-garbed, local townswomen, serving as a sort of disapproving chorus to the more liberally dressed Serafina (costumes by Clint Ramos), who often wears little more than a slip. While it enhances the play’s stylistic ambitions, it’s not enough to cover its loose structure, awkward exposition, inflated dialogue, comic flatness, and unpersuasive performances.

Elliott’s Mangiacavallo (who pronounces Pass Christian—where I have family—correctly, unlike Guardino on the recording) is vibrantly present but pushes the comedy too hard. Tina Benko, always so reliable, overdoes the glamorous Estelle, Rosario’s lover. Greg Hildreth, though, does a good job in the small role of the nasty Salesman. None of the others in the large supporting cast is distinctive enough to warrant comment.

There’s also a bit of distracting, colorblind casting that makes no sense for a Gulf Coast community at the time this play is set. Among other things, having black floozies lording it over a white woman, and calling Italian Americans wops, may give some viewers an ironic, sociopolitical frisson, but it’s so anachronistic it takes us out of the play. (It’s interesting to note, in this context, that Cicely Tyson played Serafina in a 1979 revival at the Berkshire Theater Festival, which the critics panned, but without reference to her race.)

In their biography of Williams, Dakin Williams and Shepard Mead wrote:

The play is full of roses. Serafina’s husband was named Rosario, her daughter Rosa, and their last name was Della [sic] Rose. Her husband wore his tattoo of a rose on his chest and so . . . did Mangiacavallo. Rosario’s hair had always been perfumed with oil of roses, and so was Mangiacavallo’s. There is a rose on a fan, a rose-colored silk shirt and roses are growing by the house. It is a celebration of Tennessee’s almost mystic attraction to the rose image, growing partly from the women he loved most, Old Grand and his sister.

My plus-one for The Rose Tattoo was a friend called Rose, whose last name, believe it or not, also includes the syllable "rose." Although feeling much like me, she sat her ground for both acts of this two-and-a-half-hour production, unlike a bunch of people right in front of us who did not. Shakespeare may have said, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” but I suspect those early departures would not have agreed.

American Airlines Theatre
227 W. 42nd St., NYC
Through December 8