Show and Tell Hawai'i

Broadway addendum: here are four more show reviews...

June 26th, 2016

What follows are mini-reviews of four other Broadway shows I saw earlier this month —an addendum to the full story appearing in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Today section on June 26.

Reasons for closings vary; some shows are on limited run, particularly when
“name” actors are in the cast; others shutter because of shrinking ticket sales that threaten profit levels; still others simply decide to shut down after an extended run to kick off a national tour.



>> “The King and I,” Vivian Beaumont Theatre, Lincoln Center; 150 W. 65th St.;

Daniel Dae Kim and Marin Mazzie as the King of Siam and the Brit school teacher Anna brought their own aura and chemistry to this impeccable Bartlett Sher-directed Rodgers & Hammerstein evergreen. Kim was perfection and a suitable match for Mazzie, and their swirling waltz was a crowd-pleaser. As the King, Kim had a memorable line, “One day I wish to build a fence around Siam; next day, I think maybe let the rest of the world in,” greeted by chuckles because of the prevailing political climate. Hawaii’s Ruthie Ann Miles as Lady Thiang, the head wife, served wonderfully and regally for the full run of the show. The rich R&H score, and overtures, are classic.

(Closed June 26 after 538 performances and four 2015 Tony Awards; the plug was pulled to focus on a national tour beginning Nov. 16 2016).



“American Psycho — The Musical,” Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre; 236 W. 45th St.

If only “American Psycho”could have run longer; its body-beautiful star Benjamin Walker, portraying Patrick Bateman the serial killer from the Bret Easton Ellis novel, is more mannequin than leading man. Nonetheless, Walker was spot-on made for this imperfect glimpse — MTV video style, of the 1980s — of a shallow but fascinating antihero with bloodshed in his daily routine.

Directed by Rupert Goold, and featuring thumping, pumping electro-pop songs by Duncan Shiek, the musical had an edginess set against a cold monochromatic set and lit with stark brightness and blackouts and even a Plexiglas front shield that keeps fake blood within the stage instead of splattering into the house.

Bateman was an obsessed Wall Streeter with the six-pack, chic designer clothes and pristine office peopled with competitive on-the-rise phonies trying to out-do each other. Amusing, too, that nearly everyone walks like runway models fresh from the spa. Obviously, with “Hamilton” nabbing most of the box office ka-chings, “Psycho” couldn’t compete. Clever gimmick: Faux $100 bills are shot into the audience, a stage prop that doubles as a take-home souvenir.

(Closed June 5, after 58 performances and two Tony nominations; received mixed reviews and had difficulty attracting audiences heading to “Hamilton” at killer prices).




>> “Blackbird,” Belasco Theatre; 111 W. 44th St.

What happens when lovers meet 15 years after an affair gone sour? Was it love? Or was it rape? That was the premise facing Ray (Jeff Daniels), 50ish, and Una (Michelle Williams), mid-20ish, in Joe Mantello’s stunning, bizarre and intense drama, where little is known about him or her.

The obscure, non-descript setting — a pharmaceutical house — also was bewildering; it was after hours and as vacant as the unfolding emotions and factoids She was 12, he was 40, when something sexual exploded, festering an ugly smear of uncertainty.

It was a situation of a tense present dealing with a fuzzy past, where words and charges of pedophilia and abuse and seduction were blurred.

Harrowing, too, with a conclusion not expected, with the two actors exchanging physical and verbal fisticuffs as they filtered and tried to sort out a polarizing incident.

Both Daniels and Williams were at sparring best, with some rough play interspersed among the rabid words.

Love here was a many splintered fling.

(Opened March 10 and closed June 11, after a limited-run 18 weeks; critically praised, with three Tony nominations).


>> “Bright Star,” Cort Theatre; 138 W. 45h St.

I was charmed and delighted by this bluegrass musical, with tunes by Steve Martin and Edie Brickwell (they didn’t appear on stage), that captured Americana with the calm of a hootenanny. A complex melodrama of an infant boy thought to be lost, the plot intertwinedand linked folks who don’t know they have connections. There was a mood-setting train that chugged along the top of the proscenium.

Billy Crane (A.J. Shively) was a war veteran returning home in 1945 to Hayes Creek, N.C., and learned that his dad could not bear to tell him his mom had died. A writer at heart, he delivered scripts to the Ashville Southern Journal, hoping for publication, where he met Alice Murphy (Carmen Cusack), a fussy literary editor who dallied about printing his stuff.

There were repeated flashbacks, and the score was rich in optimistic songs delivered by a splendid cast and rendered by a house band (in a rotating/revolving house) all smartly directed by Walter Bobbie in a package with the vibe of a Hallmark musical, right down to the denouement. Perhaps “Star” needed a bright name for marquee power.

(Closed June 26, after 109 performances and five Tony nominations; possibly lacked box office appeal because of an ensemble cast without a mainstream star).

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