Sunday, October 27, 2019


Classic Stage Company
October 26, 2019

Photo courtesy of Classic Stage Company
The Classic Stage Company has produced a heart-racing, one hour and forty-minute rendition of Shakespeare’s Macbeth.  Director John Doyle cuts right to the insatiable lust for power that drives the play, then overshadows it with the overwhelming sense of guilt that brings the downfall of the characters.  The cast of nine seamlessly move the action forward, skillfully portraying noble loyalty, voracious cunning, and vengeful retribution. 

Macbeth (played by Corey Stoll) is sought after by the three weird sisters (played by the ensemble) to predict his rise to power.  When his wife, Lady Macbeth (played by Nadia Bowers) hears the news, she devises a plan to hasten the events.  She manipulates her husband to kill King Duncan (played by Mary Beth Peil) to gain the throne.  He does the deed as planned and finds it only one of many slaughters to come.  He hires assassins to kill his friend Banquo (played by Erik Lochtefeld) in order to secure his position as king.  When the ghost of Banquo haunts him, Macbeth is propelled to visit the three weird sisters for an answer to its meaning.  Their revelations fuel Macbeth’s thirst for power and hide the clues to his imminent downfall.

Corey Stoll as Macbeth
Photo courtesy of Classic Stage Company
John Doyle’s choice to have the three weird sisters played by the ensemble is truly inspired.  The theater echoes with their unsettling verse and their evil is existent within every person on stage.  He ends the play with the same lines and formation as the opening, showing how this driving force of selfishness is ever present and seductive as events shift and move forward.

Corey Stoll portrays Macbeth as an honorable man, lured into making choices from which he cannot escape.  His character is changed after the murder of Duncan.  His physical and emotional transformation is clear and strong.  He spends the remainder of the play masking his emotional state as he continues to cause harm.  As he says to Lady Macbeth, “False face must hide what the false heart doth know.”  

Nadia Bowers as Lady Macbeth
Photo courtesy fo Classic Stage Company
Nadia Bowers is powerful as Lady Macbeth.  She conjures forces within herself to construct her plan and moves on it with unwavering determination.  Her mad scene is focused and unnerving.  Barzin Akhavan is strong as Macduff, and Raffi Barsoumian is passionate and innocent as Malcolm.  Mary Beth Peil is imposing as Duncan, and Erik Lochtefeld is loyal and gentle as Banquo. 

This production of Macbeth is boldly conceived and masterfully interpreted.  It is playing at Classic Stage Company through December 15.  If you are a Macbeth fan, as I am, you will truly enjoy it.

Domenick Danza

Monday, October 21, 2019

Slave Play

Slave Play
Golden Theatre
October 20, 2019

Photo courtesy of Slave Play
Jeremy O. Harris’ Slave Play makes clear and strong statements on race and identity.  It is a highly psychological look at the effect of trauma on inter-racial relationships, particularly from the point of view of the partner who identifies as black.  Director Robert O’Hara layers in humor to allow the audience to process the volume of information presented during the course of the action.  The cast of eight deliver high level performances, establishing genuine relationships as they reveal intimate inner-conflicts at an amazing pace.

Three couples are engaged in a week-long therapy retreat.  We enter the story on day three, as they are intensely invested in the fantasy portion of the process.  Kanesha (played by Joaquina Kalukango) portrays a house slave who is whipped and degraded by her overseer, Jim (played by Paul Alexander Nolan).  Alana (played by Annie McNamara) dominates her house servant, Philip (played by Sullivan Jones).  Gary (played by Ato Blankson-Wood) takes advantage of his indentured servant, Dustin (played by James Cusati-Moyer).  Their sexual fantasies take them all to the core issue they are struggling with in their relationships.  Some are able to come to acceptance of themselves and their partner.  Others need to dig deeper.

James Cusati-Moyer & Ato Blankson-Wood
Photo courtesy of Slave Play
Each actor develops their character with vigor and sensitivity that produces complex and truthful portrayals.  They lift Jeremy O. Harris’ writing off the page with raw honesty.  The play is packed with psychological theory and social data that is reflected in the relationships between the characters and the secrets they reveal. 

Slave Play is playing at the Golden Theatre.  It is multi-layered with profound insight that requires thoughtful discussion. 

Domenick Danza

Sunday, October 13, 2019

The Lightning Thief, The Percy Jackson Musical

The Lightning Thief
The Percy Jackson Musical
Longacre Theatre
October 12, 2019

Photo courtesy of The Lightning Thief,
The Percy Jackson Musical
The Lightning Thief, The Percy Jackson Musical hits Broadway like a lightning bolt.  Commissioned by Theatreworks USA in 2017, this show has gained quite a momentum.  The book by Joe Tracz is masterfully adapted from the young adult novel by Rick Riordan.  The music and lyrics by Rob Rokicki brilliantly builds the action and develops the relationships.  Choreography by Patrick McCollum is crisp and concise.  Director Stephen Brackett skillfully pulls all these high quality pieces together to create an engaging and entertaining production for all ages.

Percy Jackson (played by Chris McCarrell) is expelled from school for a mishap during a field trip.  When his mother (played by Jalynn Steele) finds out the reason, she decides it is time to tell him about his father, who he has never met.  After telling him of their chance meeting and the plans for him to go to camp, she is killed by a Minotaur.  Percy finds himself at the camp, protected by Grover (played by Jorrel Javier), a faun (a mythical half goat, half human creature) and Chiron (played by Ryan Knowles), a centaur (a mythical half horse, half human creature).  They tell him that he is a half-blood (half god, half human), as are all the inhabitants of the camp.  Percy does not know who his father is until Annabeth (played by Kristin Stokes), the daughter of Athena, uses him as bait to win a war game.  When he draws upon his undiscovered power over water to lead them to victory, they all realize his is the son of Poseidon.  This discovery makes him a suspect in stealing Zeus’ lightning bolt.  He, Grover, and Annabeth go on a quest to get it back and prove his innocence.

Kristin Stokes, Chris McCarrell, & Jorrel Javier
Photo courteys of The Lightning Thief,
The Percy Jackson Musical
There are only seven actors in the cast and most of them play more than one major role.  They all deliver phenomenal performances.  Chris McCarrell is magnetic as Percy.  Jorell Javier is energetic as Grover and outstanding as Mr. D.  Ryan Knowles shows his expansive vocal range, creating the roles of Chiron, Medusa, Hades, and Poseidon.  Kristin Stokes is strong as Annabeth.  She blows the roof off the theatre with her singing.

The Monotaur
Photo courtesy of The Lightning Thief, The Percy Jackson Musical
The Lightning Thief, The Percy Jackson Musical is playing at the Longacre Theatre through January 5.  It is refreshing to see a low budget Broadway production that captures the imagination.  It is good storytelling with excellent performances.  It is great family entertainment.  Go see it!

Domenick Danza

Sunday, October 6, 2019

The Sound Inside

The Sound Inside
Studio 54
October 5, 2019

Photo courtesy of The Sound Inside
Adam Rapp’s play, The Sound Inside, is mesmerizing.  It is an intimate story of connection and regeneration.  Mary-Louis Parker is riveting.  You hang on her every word.  She does not leave the stage for a full ninety minutes.  Director David Cromer finds moments of profound insight that pull you deeply into the soul of the main character.  Just when you think you’ve gone as far as humanly possible, Mr. Rapp takes you further through the despair and gives you a glimpse of hope for the future.

Bella (played by Mary-Louise Parker) is a creative writing professor at Yale University.  As she tells her story, she takes notes, writing the sentences that ring with poetic truth.  She tells of her mother’s painful death by a rare cancer that spreads through her stomach.  As she sat with her during her final days, her mother seemed to vanish before her eyes.  She then tells of her own recent diagnosis, not as severe as her mother’s, but no less fatal.  Before the reality of that news sinks in, she jumps back in her story to an unscheduled office visit by a student, a freshman, Christopher (played by Will Hochman).  He tells her how much he loves her class and that he is writing a novel.  Christopher is awkward and unconventional.  He returns the next day to tell her about his novel, again an unscheduled visit.  Their connection has a distance that cannot be crossed.  His third visit is appropriately on Bella’s calendar.  When an unexpected request is made, their fates become parallel, both tragic and optimistic.

Will Hochman & Mary-Louise Parker
OPhoto courtesy of The Sound Inside
This is a must-see play.  Adam Rapp’s writing is profound, prolific, and succinct.  The mood is haunting, mysterious, and at times wonderous.  Mary-Louis Parker and Will Hochman fill the expansive Studio 54 theatre with a resounding and quiet intimacy.  Their performances are honest, natural, and deeply moving. 

The Sound Inside is running through January 11.  Don’t miss this play!

Domenick Danza

Tuesday, October 1, 2019


Studio Theatre
Washington DC
September 29, 2019

Photo courtesy of Studio Theatrer
When John Patrick Shanley wrote Doubt, he was addressing what he felt was a situation bubbling up in America’s mindset.  The need to take a side without all the facts creates a sense of doubt.  His skillful writing for this timely play won him the Pulitzer Prize in 2005.  This underlying theme is more relevant today than when first presented, and the Studio Theatre production is giving audiences in Washington DC the opportunity to experience it with a new perspective.

Christian Conn & Sarah Marshall
Photo courtesy of Studio Theatre
It is 1964 in the Bronx, New York.  When the principal of St. Nicholas School, Sister Aloysius (played by Sarah Marshall), suspects Father Flynn (played by Christian Conn) of wrongdoing, she asks the novice, Sister James (played by Amelia Pedlow), to keep a sharp eye for anything out of the ordinary.  Sister James observes some peculiar behavior by one of the boys in her class, and reports back to Sister Aloysius.  She confronts Father Flynn directly, even though it is highly inappropriate.  Once the floodgates are open, there is no going back.

Sarah Marshall & Tiffany M. Thompson
Photo courtesy of Studio Theatre
Sarah Marshall is strong and rigid as Sister Aloysius.  The confrontation scenes between her and Christian Conn’s Father Flynn are fiery and full of conviction.  They are an even match, which is required in these two characters if this story is going have impact.  Amelia Pedlow portrays Sister James with the right balance of innocence and eagerness to please.  She finds herself caught in the middle of something she does not fully understand, and grows significantly from the experience.  Tiffany M. Thompson plays Mrs. Muller.  She and Sarah Marshall deliver excellent performances in the most striking scene in the play.    

Doubt has been extended at Studio Theatre in Washington DC through October 13.  This play is John Patrick Shanley at his best.
Domenick Danza