Jonathan Mandell

About Jonathan Mandell

Jonathan Mandell is a third-generation New York City journalist and a digital native, who has written about the theater for a range of publications, including Playbill, American Theatre Magazine, the New York Times, Newsday, Backstage, NPR.com and CNN.com. He holds a BA from Yale and an MA from Columbia University, and has taught at the Columbia School of Journalism and New York University. He blogs at http://www.NewYorkTheater.me and Tweets as @NewYorkTheater.

Made in China Review: bawdy, political puppet musical comedy

Wakka Wakka, the theater company behind Made in China, says the show is “inspired by true events.” I suspect the true part doesn’t include Mary and her neighbor getting sucked down her toilet and winding up in the People’s Republic of China, where a dragon eats them.

Review: Cate Blanchett takes first Broadway bow in The Present

About halfway through The Present, an adaptation of Chekhov’s first play, Cate Blanchett, as a Russian general’s widow celebrating her 40th birthday, shoots off a shotgun, dances atop a table, and pours vodka on her head. It is an attention-grabbing moment in Blanchett’s Broadway debut performance – and one of the show’s few unmitigated pleasures.

Review: A dazzling Confucius makes its American debut

The strength of Confucius, a 90-minute dance piece featuring 60 performers from the China National Opera and Dance Drama Theater, is not found in its efforts to present Confucian philosophy and biography, nor even Chinese history and culture, none of which are especially illuminating. The show’s strength lies in its visual splendor and gymnastic choreography.

Most memorable moments on New York stages in 2016

Among the worthwhile moments I saw on stage in 2016, a surprising number became more memorable because of off-stage events. It’s impossible now to remember the Radio City Rockettes performing to Singin In The Rain (in the video below), without thinking of Debbie Reynolds, who became a star at age 19 because of the movie […]

Natasha, Pierre … leads top 10 favorite 2016 shows from Broadway, Off-Broadway and NY Fringe

My list of ten favorite shows on New York stages in 2016 reflect two unmistakable trends – the use of the stage to present important current issues facing the country, and shows that innovate in artistic form. If these seem like very different trends, an argument can be made that they are both in reaction […]

Othello Review with David Oyelowo and Daniel Craig

While the Othello at the New York Theatre Workshop can be uncomfortable and even annoying, it is impossible for me to dismiss Sam Gold’s often startlingly effective production, even when David Oyelowo and Daniel Craig’s ultimately thrilling performances are initially in danger of being upstaged by the lighting and the seats.

In Transit Review: Broadway’s First All-Voice Orchestra

In Transit is the first a cappella musical on Broadway, and the rich harmonies and rhythmic beatboxing of a cappella evangelist Deke Sharon’s arrangements reveal the human voice as the most flexible of musical instruments.  Unfortunately, the freshness of the voice-only orchestra doesn’t completely compensate for the flat familiarity of much else in the musical.

Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway (review)

Dear Evan Hansen has changed now that it’s on Broadway, in ways that make it an even more affecting musical. Ben Platt’s performance, impressive from the get-go, is even better. But what’s changed the most is the world outside the theater, turning the story of a lie that gets out of hand into something more […]

Sweet Charity Review: Sutton Foster in Escapist Revival

Leigh Silverman, director of the 50th anniversary Off-Broadway revival of Sweet Charity starring Sutton Foster, recently spoke about art being “a tool for education, revolution, and resistance.” But it’s also, she said, great for escape: “People staggered into Sweet Charity desperate for community..and to be lifted away from this reality” the weekend after the election. […]

Natasha, Pierre and The Great Comet of 1812 review: Broadway welcomes Josh Groban and immersive theater

An opera with an unwieldy title based on Tolstoy’s War and Peace seemed an unlikely crowd-pleaser, but I was thrilled when I saw it Off-Broadway, first at Ars Nova in 2012, and again in a circus tent in 2013. When they announced a Broadway run, however, I wondered how they could possibly pull it off.

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