Sunday, January 14, 2018


Second Stage Theater
Tony Kiser Theater
January 13, 2018

Photos courtesy of Second Stage Theater
If you paint the town red, literally paint all the buildings in the town red, it will attract people and improve the economy for long-time residents.  This is the premise for Greg Pierce’s new play Cardinal, now playing at Second Stage Theater.  His characters are realistic and multi-layered.  The conflicts that arise are compelling and engaging.  Director Kate Whoriskey keeps the action moving, building the tension through to the very end.

Lydia Lensky (played by Anna Chlumsky) pitches a brilliant idea to Jeff Torm (played by Adam Pally), the Mayor of her hometown.  She proposes that by painting all the downtown buildings red, cardinal actually, their dying upstate New York factory town will become a destination stop.  It passes the city vote and gets the attention of a Chinese businessman who compromises the integrity of the plan.  Townspeople are quickly displaced, and Lydia’s intention becomes questionable.

The Cast of Cardinal
Photo courtesy of Second Stage Theater
Adam Pally is charming and likeable as the gullible, young mayor who suffers from depression and obsessive behavior.  Anna Chlumsky is a driving force as Lydia.  The relationship they create is complex, intriguing, and believable.  It propels the action of the play.  Becky Ann Baker and Alex Hurt play two long-time, mother/son residents of the town.  Their pacing and connectedness create the atmosphere of what life in this small town has been for generations.  Their fears and resistance to change are truthful and clearly understood.  Stephen Park and Eugene Young play the father/son business partners who cash in on the red city.  They play their scenes with just the right balance of humor and determination.

The Second Stage Theater’s production of Cardinal is running at the Tony Kiser Theater through February 25.  The play offers a unique glimpse at how consequences can get out to hand when making decision for the wrong reasons.  It makes a strong statement about how our deepest fear often manifests itself when we choose to run from it.

 Domenick Danza

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Meteor Shower

Meteor Shower
Booth Theatre
January 6, 2018

Photo courtesy of Meteor Shower
When I purchased my ticket for Meteor Shower at the TKTS booth in Times Square, I was told Amy Schumer was out that evening.  I grabbed the ticket and saw a great performance by Kate Reinders (understudy to both female roles in the play), who I happen to have seen in Something Rotten.  Steve Martin’s script is bold, funny, and thought-provoking.  Jerry Zaks’ direction is crisp and on target.  The set, by Beowolf Boritt, and lighting, by Natasha Katz, are mesmerizing.

Corky (played by Kate Reinders) and her husband, Norman (played by Jeremy Shamos), are having a glass or pre-wine while waiting for their new friends to arrive to see the forecasted meteor shower.  Pre-wine, according to Corky, is the glass of wine you have before company comes, which does not count.  When Gerald (played by Keegan-Michael Key) and Laura (played by Laura Benanti) arrive, the meteor shower in the sky is not the only fire that ignites.

Photo courtesy of Meteor Shower
The cast of four works exceptionally well as a tight ensemble.  The relationships and humor are highly dependent on their timing, and they deliver every moment with polish and ease.   Kate Reinders and Jeremy Shamos humorously portray a committed married couple who clearly went through counseling to strengthen their relationship.  Their bond is genuine.  Keegan-Michael Key is broad and over the top as Gerald, and Laura Benanti is beguiling and riveting as Laura.  Their energies merge and their chemistry is explosive.

Photo courtesy of Meteor Shower
Steve Martin successfully structures the play with scenes that revert in time.  The action backtracks, then runs forward parallel in time to the scene previously played.  Not only does this structure challenge you to think about what you are experiencing, it also creates levels of depth to the characters and situation.  Mr. Martin ties it together at the end to make a point that is potent, clear, and relevant.  The set-up is very much like Edward Albee’s Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf?, where two married couples tear one another apart over drinks.  The ending is not so devastating, yet it does pack a punch of hard edge reality… with a laugh.

Meteor Shower is playing at the Booth Theatre for a limited engagement.  You have until January 21.  Check it out.  

Domenick Danza

Monday, January 1, 2018

The Parisian Woman

The Parisian Woman
Hudson Theatre
December 30, 2017

Photo courtesy of The Parisian Woman
Uma Thurman makes an impressive Broadway debut in The Parisian Woman.  Her presence is strong and her intentions carry each scene she is in, which is every scene in the play.  Beau Willimon’s script is set in present day Washington DC, and packs a number of direct and potent punches at the Trump administration.

Chloe (played by Uma Thurman) is married to Tom (played by Josh Lucas), a highly successful tax attorney who is being considered for a judgeship.  They are very adept at the Washington political game and their marriage is an open relationship.  When Tom confesses to her his motivations and truthful understanding of the good he can do if he is appointed, she decides to use her influence to help him.

Uma Thurman & Marton Csokas
Photo courtesy of The ParisianWoman
The plot has a few twists and surprises, and Ms. Thurman pulls them off glibly.  She beautifully plays the surface charm her character needs in her surroundings, and her deeper moments of truth are clear and genuine.  Josh Lucas is charming as her husband Tom.  Together they are a driving force.  Blair Brown is potent and grounded as Jeanette.  Phillipa Soo is eager and idealistic as Rebecca.  Marton Csokas is passionate as Peter.  He and Ms. Thurman share a few fiery moments that heighten the action of the story.

The play is well directed by Pam MacKinnon.  The set, designed by Derek McLane, stylishly establishes the locations and keeps the action smoothly moving from scene to scene.  The Parisian Woman is playing at the Hudson Theatre through March. 

Domenick Danza