POST-TONY AWARDS, V PICK THE HOTTEST TICKETS ON THE GREAT WHITE WAY, SUMMER 2014
The movie star Michelle Williams offers up a whole lotta Liza Minnelli, replete with quivering body and goggly eyes. While channelling a legend, the slender actress, who looks beyond darling dancing around in lingerie and boyish dresses at Studio 54's Kit Kat Klub, still offers a unique look into heartbreak as the British stripper Sally Boyle. Her child-like demeanor is wickedly and perfectly juxtaposed by Alan Cumming's reprisal of the Berlin Klub's salacious Emcee. It comes as no news that the Scottish Cumming nails the half-naked role, and carries the show from his first note in "Willkommen," through the dark and depressed time of Nazi Germany. It's a sharp turn the play takes, and with Williams and Cummings in the drivers seats, with help from the supporting actors Linda Emond and Danny Burstein, the audience is left with an overwhelming feeling of sadness and pain that can only be summed up as catharsis. KATE BRANCH
Cabaret runs until January 4, 2015 at the Kit Kat Klub
Heathers, the 1989 Daniel Waters cult film, created memorable catch phrases like "what's your damage," and starred young, relatively unknown heartthrobs Winona Ryder and Christian Slater. The musical version written by Kevin Murphy (Reefer Madness) and Laurence O’Keefe (Legally Blonde) transfers the film's caustic dialogue into a pop black comedy that is sure to have the same impact on a new generation of viewers. After Veronica Sawyer (Barrett Wilbert Weed) meets bad boy J.D. (Ryan McCartan), she’s drawn into the murders of the popular girls and jocks that terrorize the hallways of their high school. Standout performances are the Heathers themselves, especially their brilliant leader Heather Chandler, played by Jessica Keenan Wynn. Lightened in tone by its irreverant musical numbers with titles like “My Dead Gay Son" and “Dead Girl Walking,” this production undercuts the darker meaning the satirical source material has taken on in the post-Columbine era. GREG KRELENSTEIN
Heathers is now playing at The New World Stages
The journey of Hedwig and the Angry Inch to Broadway has been well documented, traveling from the queer rock’n’roll party Squeezebox to the 1998 production at the Jane Street Theater and later to the big screen. The Tony award-winning glam rock-meets-punk collaboration between John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask is an epic rock concert about a “girlie boy” from East Berlin who makes it across the wall with an American G.I. after a botched sex operation. Later divorced and left alone in a Kansas trailer park, Hedwig falls for an army brat, who she molds into a famous rock star known as Tommy Gnosis. Neil Patrick Harris stars as the transgender diva in this year's revival, and the second he floats down in his Aladdin Sane pants and steps into gold high heeled boots, you know you’re in for something to remember. He delivers a powerhouse performance that will erase everything you thought you knew about this sitcom star. The show is directed by Michael Mayer (Spring Awakening) and brought to life by the brilliant costume design of Arianne Phillips (Madonna's stylist). Hedwig’s memorable songs, including highlights “The Origin Of Love," "Wig In A Box," and "Wicked Little Town" capture the raw power of the character's musical icons David Bowie, Lou Reed and Iggy Pop. The journey of the character remains just as heartbreaking and life affirming as anything I've ever seen on stage. GREG KRELENSTEIN
Neil Patrick Harris stars as Hedwig now through August 17; Andrew Rannells stars as Hedwig from August 20 through October 12 at the Belasco Theatre Casa
Valentina, the new play written by Harvey Fierstein (Kinky Boots, Newsies), is set in the post-WWII 1950s. The title refers to an idyllic Catskills resort for men who leave their wives for the weekend to dress up in women’s clothing. The owner, George (Patrick Page), becomes Valentina for this secret sorority, while his loving saint of a wife, Rita (Mare Winningham) runs the place, hosting the variety of personalities that find sanctuary in heels and wigs. Threatened with bankruptcy, he calls upon the help of Charlotte (Reed Birney), who is leading a political movement that would receive government funding, while threatening their formerly comfortable existence. The play is a fascinating character study that explores the complications of gender identity, sexuality, within the hypocrisies of acceptance in a community and a culture at large that still has some strides to make. GREG KRELENSTEIN
Casa Valentina is now playing at the Manhattan Theatre Club.
Following the success of Tom Hopper’s Oscar-nominated film version and Susan Boyle’s cover of “I Dreamed A Dream” comes the welcome revival of the unstoppable powerhouse that is Les Miserables, which ran for 16 years on Broadway in the 1980s. Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg’s mega-musical adaptation of Victor Hugo’s novel is every bit a revelation, due to the incredible cast and updated production—the iconic revolving sets are replaced by projected images inspired by Hugo’s own paintings. The story of Jean Valjean (Ramin Karimloo) a prisoner who stole a loaf of bread to feed his sisters starving family, while pursued by the officer Javert (Will Swenson), who devotes his life to catching the fugitive, is as iconic as they come. The chase and redemption of Valjean is the central storyline, but on the dawn of Act Two, we are introduced to the French revolutionaries led by Enjolras (Kyle Scatliffe), ready to storm the barricades, a young student Marius (Andy Mientus), who has fallen in love at first sight with Cosette (Samantha Hill), and the suffering Eponine (Nikki M. James). The musical has perhaps retained its popularity because it explores all of life’s big themes—love, death, forgiveness—and this production delivers to its adoring global fanbase who have been singing along at the top of their lungs all these years. GREG KRELENSTEIN
Les Miserables is now playing at the Imperial Theatre Box Office
Rocky on Broadway is perfect for those who typically hate musicals (aka straight men) and theater-goers alike. It's got everything you expect from watching all seven of the motion pictures: blaring horns for the hit song "Gonna Fly Now," tons of topless Bronson-type jawns in short shorts throwing punches, and steamy love scenes between Rocky Balboa and his girl, Adrian ("Adriaaaan!"), played by the Emmy-nominated actor Andy Karl, and Margo Siebert, respectively. The ever-expanding set, grand enough to satisfy the famous jog up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, is reason enough to pay for a ticket (partial viewing seats start at $39). Due to this impressive set, designed by Chris Barreca (who took home a Tony for Best Scenic Design of a Musical) and the seamless incorporation of technology, the production successfully catapults the audience into Rocky's big match with the undefeated champ, Apollo Creed. Spoiler alert: golden circle seats, get ready for your close up. KATE BRANCH
Rocky on Broadway runs through March 26, 2015 at the Winter Garden Theater.