Their Reviews

December 21, 2014

JUST IN

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“I don’t always agree with my fellow critics, but I still value what they have to say – it balances against my own views. …we’re the start of the critical conversation around the theatre, not the end.” Mark Shenton . The Stage (UK)

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101 DALMATIANS
Closes Jan 11
Website
The critics respond to 101 Dalmations
Kelly McCorkendale . DCTheatreScene      Cruella de-Vil, the purple-headed puppy eater who has delighted on screen for over 50 years, finally brings her mania to the stage.
Itai Yasur . BroadwayWorld    An ingenious production choice is that the dogs are presented as the most human-like, while the human characters in the show are ridiculous, oversized puppets.
Julia L. Exline . DCMetroTheaterArts        While this show was highly entertaining (the puppetry is a must-see), it could get a bit scary at times, and proved to be a bit more than some members of the young audience could handle.

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BAD JEWS
EXTENDED!
Closes Jan 4
Website
The critics respond to Bad Jews
Ryan Taylor . DCTheatreScene    the funniest American comedy of bad manners I’ve had the pleasure of falling in love with in a good few years.
Lisa Traiger . WashingtonJewishWeek    Harmon has mined some deeply provocative issues for a 21st-century audience of Jews who continue to wrestle with the legacy of 19th-century Diasporic tensions
Doug Rule . Metro Weekly    Irene Sofia Lucio as Daphna and Alex Mandell as Liam both turn in astonishing performances as the show’s two tentpole monsters
Gary Tischler . Georgetowner    The verbal combat they engage in is compelling: you can’t shut your ears, you can’t close your eyes and you can’t escape. So, you might as well stay and go into shock.
Alan Katz . BroadwayWorld  
the situation devolves into one of the most vitriolic confrontation I’ve ever seen between two characters onstage.
Andrew Lapin . City Paper 
   Harmon’s work, blunt and precise in equal measure, gleefully poses big and small questions about Jewish identity
Heather Hill . MDTheatreGuide    outrageously funny
Barbara Mackay . Theatermania      a scorching comedy
Peter Marks . Washington Post    brutal, hilarious, quicksilver play
John Stoltenberg . DCMetroTheaterArts    so over-the-top funny, so razor-sharp smart, and so plumb-the-depths profound that it left me gobsmacked in utter awe.

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BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
Closes Jan 11
Website
The critics respond to Beauty and the Beast
Alan Katz . DCTheatreScene     While some of the big arc storytelling has flaws, director/adaptor Ben Cunis, co-adaptor Peter Cunis, and choreographer Irina Tsikurishvili truly have the moment-to-moment storytelling nailed.
Chris Klimek . City Paper    fresh and frightening
Peter Marks . Washington Post   sultry choreography, expressionistic design elements and a score (by Clint Herring, Andrew Gerlicher and Konstantine Lortkipanidze) that’s less show-tuney than moody soundscape.
Heather Nadolny . BroadwayWorld    visually stunning
David Siegel . DCMetroTheaterArts    an earthy, musically rich, sophisticated retelling of the fairy tale
Susan Berlin . TalkinBroadway   a lush, almost feverish theatrical experience, impressive to see and satisfying (if at times a little slow) to watch.

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BLACK NATIVITY
Closes Jan 4
Website
The critics respond to Black Nativity
Jeff Walker . DCTheatreScene    Look no further than Black Nativity, now blazing the stage of the Anacostia Playhouse with light, love, hope and more joy to the world than any Scrooge could withstand.
Ramona Harper . DCMetroTheaterArts   a jubilant holiday classic and unforgettable theatrical experience.
Beatrice McClearn . MDTheatreGuide       the group work beautifully together in their rhyme and rhythm as they told the story of the birth of Jesus.

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A BROADWAY CHRISTMAS CAROL
Closes Dec 28
Website
The critics respond to A Broadway Christmas Carol
Brian Bochicchio . MDTheatreGuide    Yes, its back, this nutty seasonal chestnut–slightly revamped, and like a fruitcake, it shows up this time of year and balances out all the other Christmas festivities.
Ellen Burns . BroadwayWorld    Combine Broadway melodies with literature’s most famous miser, and instead of “Bah humbug,” you might be saying “Encore!.”
Julia L. Exline . DCMetroTheaterArts     silly, riotous show

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A CHRISTMAS CAROL (Chesapeake Shakespeare)
Closes Dec 23
Website
The critics respond to A Christmas Carol
Brett Abelman . DCTheatreScene   a rich, buoyant setting, ideal for introducing young ones to the tale or giving old ones a fresh glimpse at the serious social and personal lessons underlying it
Charles Shubow . BroadwayWorld  a holiday celebration for the entire family, one that we hope will be treasured for years to come.
Lynne Menefee . MDTheatreGuide   a clever, local twist to Charles Dickens’ classic Christmas tale of redemption and generosity.
Henry Cyr . DCMetroTheaterArts    a delightful evening

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A CHRISTMAS CAROL: A GHOST STORY OF CHRISTMAS (Olney)
Closes Dec 28
Website
The critics respond to A Christmas Carol
Letricia Loftin . DCMetroTheaterArts    heartwarming, and joyful
Steve Charing . MDTheatreGuide   captivating…theatre at its best

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DEATHTRAP
Closes Jan 11
Website
The critics respond to Deathtrap
Jayne Blanchard . DCTheatreScene    a jolly bit of skullduggery that puts the ho-ho-ho in homicide.
April Forrer . MDTheatreGuide   so many twists and turns it is sure to make anyone dizzy.
Cybele Pomeroy . BroadwayWorld   Dialogue is clever, delivery snappy, but the resident company cast is experienced enough to pause for laughter
Danielle Angeline . DCMetroTheaterArts   Every scene is filled with an element of surprise worth gasping over.
Amanda Gunther . TheatreBloom  Deceptively delicious in all of its guises, this chilling thriller is riddled with comic outbursts

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DISNEY’S THE LITTLE MERMAID
EXTENDED! Closes Jan 11
Website
The critics respond to Disney’s The Little Mermaid
Jennifer Clements . DCTheatreScene  will make you want to trade your feet for flippers in Olney’s world under the sea.
Charles Shubow . BroadwayWorld    gorgeous and entertaining
Amanda Gunther . TheatreBloom    Glitter and gorgeous go hand in hand under the sea and up on land
Susan Berlin . TalkinBroadway    sumptuous staging and sure-handed direction
Nelson Pressley . Washington Post
    a solid bet for the family audiences that Olney is targeting with the holiday slot
Mark Beachy . MDTheatreGuide    Stealing Ariel’s voice, as well as stealing the show, is none other than Donna Migliaccio as Ursula, the Sea Witch.
Gina Jun . DCMetroTheaterArts    a stellar cast, magical new staging, dynamic choreography combined with a universally-appealing story line

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FAMOUS PUPPET DEATH SCENES
Closes Jan 4
Website
The critics respond to Famous Puppet Death Scenes
Jennifer Clements . DCTheatreScene   it just might be the most unique show in town.
Chris Klimek . City Paper  it’s too wickedly gratifying to miss.
Peter Marks . Washington Post  the Old Trouts are better at coming up with scenarios than knowing where to take them
Roger Catlin . MDTheatreGuide   teens hip to the sardonic wallop of Monty Python will appreciate where it’s all coming from and will, like the adults, “care as much as possible.”
David Siegel . DCMetroTheaterArts  For me the evening was inspired and transgressive, concluding with two final skits of such poignancy, I thought I was truly in a house of worship

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FIDDLER ON THE ROOF
EXTENDED! Closes Jan 11
Website
The critics respond to Fiddler on the Roof
Alan Katz . DCTheatreScene    a fantastic revival
Lisa Traiger . WashingtonJewishWeek    Casting, though, seems to be one of this production’s biggest letdowns. Tevye is, of course, the glue that holds any Fiddler production together. The choice of the small, slight and milquetoast actor Jonathan Hadary is certainly against type.
Doug Rule . Metro Weekly    Arena Stage’s new 50th anniversary production … is an out-and-out revelation
Chris Klimek . City Paper    it’s tough to imagine the Fiddler fan who could be disappointed in this rich and reverent presentation.
Charles Shubow . BroadwayWorld    a wonderful production.
Susan Berlin . TalkinBroadway    does not reach the peaks of some of Arena’s earlier musicals
Gary Tischler . Georgetowner   One thing was very different—the theater-in-the-round setting of the Fichandler space, which gave an added naturalness and intimacy to the proceedings.
Keith Loria . Theatermania    Hadary is a delight as the quick-witted Tevye. On one hand, he is funny without being over the top; on the other hand, he commands attention with his singing, despite not being the most solid voice;
Nelson Pressley . Washington Post    [Hadary is] the genial, breakable heart of a production that does justice to one of the gold-standard American musicals.
Leslie Milk . Washingtonian    [Hadary]  lacks the dramatic heft to embody Tevye. The character demands a larger stage presence, a booming voice, a gallon-jugful of audacity. Hadary’s milkman is fat-free.
David Siegel . DCMetroTheaterArts    a musical theater audience pleaser.

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FIVE GUYS NAMED MOE
Closes Dec 28
Website
The critics respond to Five Guys Named Moe
Jeff Walker . DCTheatreScene      still musical heaven
Susan Berlin . TalkinBroadway        Director Robert O’Hara, better known for his authorship and direction of incendiary new plays that focus on issues of ethnic and gender identity, demonstrates that he can get the joint jumping with a cast of stars and a lot of style.
Nelson Pressley . Washington Post    The songs never fully set the stage ablaze, and the lightly comical evening sails by in less than two hours
Itai Yasur . BroadwayWorld    O’Hara’s skillfully lighthearted take had the audience gasping, laughing, singing along, and even dancing on stage in the hectic act one finale
Winnefred Ann Frolik . WomanAroundTown   a surefire crowd pleaser.
Roger Catlin . MDTheatreGuide    instead of any New Jack Swing, or percussive snap of the 80s, Darryl G. Ivey’s musical direction doesn’t alter the songs all that much
Ramona Harper . DCMetroTheaterArts    Robert O’ Hara  pumps a new beat into yesteryear grooves in a hand-clapping, foot stomping, conga line dancing, “jumpin’ jive” musical fantasy come-true.
Amanda Gunther . TheatreBloom   Truly the talk of rhythm town, Kevin McAllister as Nomax is the show’s shining light.

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THE GIFT OF NOTHING
Closes Dec 28
Website
The critics respond to The Gift of Nothing
Brett Abelman . DCTheatreScene    a great gift for the parent looking to give their child a fresh alternative to the old chestnuts – or electronic screens – this season.
William O’Sullivan . Washingtonian    Nickolas Vaughan shines as the impulsive feline Mooch, his black-clad body slinky, agile, and unguardedly goofy
Benjamin Tomchik . BroadwayWorld    Polished, well-acted, filled with catchy music and containing important life lessons
Gina Jun . DCMetroTheaterArts        a fanciful, family-friendly musical

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MADELINE’S CHRISTMAS
Closes Dec 28
Website
The critics respond to Madeline’s Christmas
Kelly McCorkendale . DCTheatreScene   with its dash of magic and splash of charm, is a wonderfully warm holiday show.
Jesse Mitchell . MDTheatreGuide   a light-hearted, family friendly Christmas adventure certain to delight the kids
Diane Jackson Schnoor . DCMetroTheaterArts    like a whimsical page out of a Bemelmans illustration

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THE NUTCRACKER
Closes Dec 28
Website
The critics respond to The Nutcracker
Alan Katz . DCTheatreScene    a show that’s entertaining, moving, and literally fantastic throughout.
Doug Rule . MetroWeekly    Erin Weaver all but steals the show
Susan Berlin . TalkinBroadway   a major disappointment.
Nelson Pressley . Washington Post     It’s an in-between “Nutcracker”: between kiddie and adult, between slapstick ­musical and grim drama, never entirely finding its tone.
Roger Catlin . MDTheatreGuide    The problem with starting an ostensibly family holiday play with a crushing death is that it’s tough to recover from and the more wacky things get on stage the odder everything becomes.
Heather Nadolny . BroadwayWorld    It balances out grief with guffaws, and works on heartstring-tugging themes that anyone can relate to as they go through the holidays remembering lost loved ones.

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ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS
Closes Dec 28
Website
The critics respond to One Man, Two Guvnors
Tim Treanor . DCTheatreScene    Doug Wilder has never been wilder. He shows a genius for the form; he makes Francis’ eyes glitter with inspiration even as he utters the stupidest, most addled thoughts
Elliot Lanes . MDTheatreGuide  
  You need a powerhouse performer to play [Francis] and Doug Wilder definitely is that. His physical timing is just splendid.
David Siegel . Connection  free-wheeling; at times a wildly funny quick step comedy. It works hard and successfully to treat the audience as unindicted co-conspirators in on the bedlam.
Celia Wren . Washington Post
    sometimes funny but generally dawdling and muddy production
Keith Tittermary . BroadwayWorld    a combination of farce, improv, and music hall, is the complete evening that will make you roll in the aisles with laughter.
Yvonne French . DCMetroTheaterArts    you’ll have a blast as Wilder draws you and your fellow audience members into the show as co-conspirators to his deception, which transforms him, and somehow, us too!

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A REVOLUTIONARY CHRISTMAS
Closes Dec 28
Website
Critics respond to A Revolutionary Christmas
Jeff Walker . DCTheatreScene   not a lot happens in this play. They talk; they do chores. And it’s Christmas Eve.
Amanda Gunther . TheatreBloom     a perfect and refreshing alternative to the well-recognized classics
Johnna Leary . DCMetroTheaterArts   a very inspired and refreshing story for the fast-paced, hectic holiday season.

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THE TEMPEST
EXTENDED! Closes Jan 18
Website
Critics respond to The Tempest
Gary Tischler . Georgetowner   This “Tempest” is a potent brew that is both hypnotic and fragile. You feel sometimes, against all rational will, that if you turned around or closed your eyes for a few seconds, that the world created on stage could all disappear in a flash
Andrew Lapin . City Paper   The magisterial imagery includes a stage-filling puppet show, a feast that drops from the ceiling and continues through the floor, and a frightening voice-distorted Ariel in black robes suspended in midair.
Andrew White . BroadwayWorld   The Tempest, in other words, is The Merchant of Venice of our time; appallingly inappropriate in its attitudes, we are still striving for a way to stage it without inflaming further the passions that erupt daily around us.

Barbara Trainin Blank . MDTheatreGuide   not as much excitement was generated as might have expected.
Peter Marks . Washington Post  
a highly enjoyable rendering of Shakespeare’s late romance
Sophia Howes . DCMetroTheaterArts    Shakespeare at its very best with extraordinary acting, overwhelming spectacle, and deep insight into human nature.

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TERMINUS
Closes Jan 4
Website
Selected critics respond to Terminus
Ryan Taylor . DCTheatreScene  Over the course of the show I proceeded from amused to shocked to annoyed to eventually just deadened and sad.
Celia Wren . Washington Post  darkly mystical urban tale contains hurtling chase scenes — one involving cops and a criminal, and one a set of fate-enforcing angels.
John Stoltenberg . MagicTime  for lovers of deliciously well-wrought language, Terminus is like a trip to the ear candy shop.
Keith Tittermary . BroadwayWorld  a wonderful, if not frightening, story of finality. O’Rowe weaves this tale like a modern day Beckett and writes in a rhytmic pattern that feels free form
Robert Michael Oliver . DCMetroTheaterArts  three characters standing in their respective spotlights and speaking their monologues of narrative poetry like rushing river rapids: their eyes full of pain as a betrayal is recounted, their cheeks full of glee as a life goal is realized.
Elizabeth Bruce . MDTheatreGuide  O’Rowe ratchets up the RPMs of storytelling to heart-stopping speed.

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TINY TIM’S CHRISTMAS CAROL
Closes Jan 1
Website
The critics respond to Tiny Tim’s Christmas Carol
Debbbie Jackson . DCTheatreScene    With an imposing presence that can bah-humbug with the best of them, Feininger is also amazingly spry,
Amanda Gunther . TheatreBloom    Wonderful and engaging for the whole family,
Jennifer Perry . BroadwayWorld    a pure delight – and not just for kids.
Elliot Lanes . MDTheatreGuide    Conrad Feiniger’s Scrooge is just terrific
Julia L. Exline . DCMetroTheaterArts    sheds a surprising new light on a story we all thought we knew.

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A VERY POINTLESS HOLIDAY SPECTACULAR
Closes Jan 3
Website
The critics respond to A Very Pointless Holiday Spectacular
Debbie Jackson . DCTheatreScene   There’s something about raunchy elves and an over the top Mrs. Claus as a potty-mouthed, grind-worthy, well-endowed and knows how to flaunt it M.C. that tickles even if the actual jokes aren’t that funny.
Kevin Smith . MDTheatreGuide At times, the production abruptly switches modes, and becomes something closer to a late night talk show, with Mrs. C sitting and cracking jokes with a trio of eccentric puppets.
Celia Wren . Washington Post    the actors appear to be enjoying themselves hugely, as is the case throughout this production. After all, theater is sometimes ambitious and memorable, but sometimes it’s just for fun.
Madison Kaigh . BroadwayWorld   a fresh, fun choice for grown-up entertainment this holiday season. Just make sure not to sit in the Department of Finance.
Robert Michael Oliver . DCMetroTheaterArts    this show is outrageously pointless, but don’t worry it’s not pointless to the point of meaning something.

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