The Observer

MICHAEL APPLER, Staff Writer

All content by MICHAEL APPLER
The cast of “Choir Boy,” center: Jeremy Pope, which opened at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre earlier this month.

Review: Tarell Alvin McCraney’s ‘Choir Boy,’ Fearless and Faithful, Makes Radiant Broadway Debut

February 1, 2019
“Choir Boy,” first presented at Manhattan Theatre Company in 2013, is not simply a musical play — it is itself a spiritual whose song, sung triumphantly by the bountiful talent of its leading star, Jeremy Pope, rises from its stage.
Luka Kain and Ana Roshelle Diaz in K. Lorrel Manning’s “Awake,” now open at The Barrow Group. (COURTESY OF EDWARD T. MORRIS)

Review: At “Awake,” A Carousel of American Contention

January 22, 2019
“Awake” has evolved into a nine-scene collection of conversations on race, sexism, gun violence and immigration.
Teal Wicks, Stephanie J. Block and Micaela Diamond as Lady, Star and Babe Cher in “The Cher Show,” now open at the Neil Simon Theatre.

Review: Gilded in Glitter, How Much Jukebox Inferno Can ‘The Cher Show’ Take?

December 6, 2018
If the makers of “The Cher Show,” among whom the real Cher is a producer, thought the pure divadom of its subject, dressed in all the gloriously gay, sequined and campy stylings of our favorite dark lady, could save the bio-musical from itself, they were holdin’ out for love.
Martin Moran in his one-man show of trauma and testimony, “The Tricky Part,” returning again to New York, now at The Barrow Group.

Review: Martin Moran’s ‘The Tricky Part’ Returns to Prove the Power of Testimony

December 3, 2018
It’s not hard to guess why the Barrow Group may have asked Moran to again surface “The Tricky Part.” But to come to “The Tricky Part” expecting our contemporary social sentience to jolt this play into some electric consciousness is naive.
Molly Pope and Hanlon Smith-Dorsey in “The Making of King Kong,” presented by the Target Margin Theater.

Review: In ‘The Making of King Kong,’ a Hallucinatory Descent into the American Imagination

December 2, 2018
The satire at the heart of Lisa Clair’s “The Making of King Kong,” presented by Target Margin Theater, is not aimed at that famed monster himself. If anything, Kong is the most reasonable being in the room.
Chris O'Shea and Adelaide Clemens in Tom Stoppard’s “The Hard Problem,” now open at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater.

Review: Stoppard’s ‘The Hard Problem’ Looks for Humanity in Human Consciousness

November 20, 2018
“We need to live first of all; to believe in what makes us live and that something ‘makes’ us live — to believe that whatever is produced from the mysterious depths of ourselves need not forever haunt us as an exclusively digestive concern,” Artaud told us, jokingly.
The cast of “The Prom,” now open at the Longacre Theatre on Broadway.

Review: ‘The Prom’ Is a Celebratory Trumpian Footloose When We Need It Most

November 15, 2018
“The Prom” may very well be the musical comedy sensation of this Broadway season — its story of four clueless, Indiana-bound Broadway divas, determined (though misguided in their efforts) to help a small-town lesbian banned from her prom, too tempting of a political carrot for a Broadway community starving for witty political humor and the warm embrace of an indulgent Broadway musical.
Michelle Krusiec and Peter Kim in the New York premiere of “Wild Goose Dreams,” written by Hansol Jung and directed by Leigh Silverman, running at The Public Theater.

Review: ‘Wild Goose Dreams’ Takes You to the Lonely Frontier of Digital Life

November 15, 2018

You’ll need to fight through dense brambles of code and programming, sort through the clamor of social media’s infinite cacophony, to find the heart of The Public’s “Wild Goose Dreams.” Make...

Marianne Rendon (left) and Jax Jackson (right) in “Plot Points In Our Sexual Development,” now open at the Claire Tow Theater, LCT3.

Review: At LCT, ‘Plot Points In Our Sexual Development’ Traces the Edges of Queer Intimacy

November 8, 2018

“Plot Points in Our Sexual Development” — stashed away in the secluded interior of the Claire Tow Theater, the smallest of Lincoln Center’s venues, modest enough in size that you can hear yourself...

Paddy Considine (Quinn Carney – center, standing) and the company of “The Ferryman,” now open at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre on Broadway.

Review: ‘The Ferryman’ Steers Us to the Crossroads of Family and Myth, History and Tradition

November 8, 2018

Pay close attention and you’ll find that “The Ferryman” is washed in the holy waters of classic literature. Macbeth and the Eleusinian Mysteries, Virgil and Sir Walter Raleigh, Sophocles and...

Michael Urie in the Broadway revival of Harvey Fierstein’s “Torch Song,” now open at the Hayes Theater.

Review: “Torch Song” Breathes New Life, Radiantly Led By Michael Urie

November 8, 2018

I don’t need to tell you that “Torch Song” is brilliantly funny, nor do I need to mention that “Torch Song” will make you cry, that its meditation on family and belonging will send you deep into...

Andrew R. Butler as Rags Parkland in “Rags Parkland Sings the Songs of the Future,” now playing at Ars Nova.

Review: At Ars Nova, ‘Rags Parkland’ Takes Us To Our Future

November 7, 2018
“Rags Parkland Sings the Songs of the Future” is a lesson, a study, really, in the very making of folk tradition, of oral history told through song.
De’Adre Aziza (center) in the world premiere of “Eve’s Song,” written by Patricia Ione Lloyd and directed by Jo Bonney, running at The Public Theater.

Review: ‘Eve’s Song’ Makes An Ambitious Attempt at Tackling Family and Violence in Black America

November 7, 2018
Most of “Eve's Song,” The Public Theater’s world premiere by resident playwright Patricia Ione Lloyd, is spent around a table, and that’s because “Eve's Song” is the story of an American family.
The company and audience of The Public’s Mobile Unit production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” directed by Jenny Koons and running at The Public Theater, following a free tour of the five boroughs.

Review: In ‘Midsummer’ The Mobile Unit Delivers a Joyous Celebration of Life and Shakespeare

November 7, 2018
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is an explosion of joy and laughter, bewitched by a cast of New Yorkers dedicated to the art of translation, to the task of bringing the wonderful absurdities of Shakespearean comedy to audiences of diverse providence, and the brightest example of The Public Theater’s founding mission.
Eli Gelb, Idina Menzel and Will Brittain in Roundabout Theatre Company’s presentation of “Skintight,” a new play from Joshua Harmon. (COURTESY OF JOAN MARCUS).

Review: ‘Skintight’ Takes Beauty to Task

August 5, 2018

Why do we stare at the David? What is it about that seventeen-foot-tall Michelangelo that so transfixes, spellbinds the human eye and stops it, frozen by some Olympian opiate, before that dwarfing marble...

Cindy Cheung, Dolly Wells, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Phillip James Brannon in “Log Cabin,” a new play by Jordan Harrison now open at Playwrights Horizons. (COURTESY OF JOAN MARCUS).

Review: “Log Cabin,” and the Wilderness of LGBTQ Equality

June 29, 2018

Log cabins are man-made. They’re visibly intertwined, tangled structures forged by forcing lumber together into sturdy joints. Neat, organized and well-built to the eye, only air separates the sinews...

Stephanie Berry as Aunt Mama, Chinaza Uche as Henry, and Tiffany Rachelle Stewart as Mattie in Manhattan Theatre Club’s world premiere of “Sugar in Our Wounds.” (COURTESY OF JOAN MARCUS).

Review: In “Sugar in Our Wounds,” The Measure of Black, Queer America

June 23, 2018

Little more than a century and a half separates the present from American chattel slavery, only six decades from American segregation. No American tradition has more permanently defined life for inhabitants...

Heather Lind and Chukwudi Iwuji in the Free Shakespeare in the Park production of Othello, directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, running at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park through June 24. (COURTESY OF JOAN MARCUS).

Review: At the Delacorte, a Refreshingly Conventional “Othello”

June 22, 2018

That Shakespearean insult “you are a Senator” fell with extra weight during last Saturday’s performance of the Public Theater’s “Othello.” The senior senator from New York, Chuck Schumer, sat...

Heather Burns, Lois Smith and J. Smith-Cameron in “Peace for Mary Frances,” a new show by The New Group. (COURTESY OF MONIQUE CARBONI)

Review: In “Peace for Mary Frances,” A Terrifying Looking-Glass of Loss

June 6, 2018

For better or for worse, there are times when theater comes dangerously close to reality, when imitation may brush too close for comfort and break the skin. Realism comes at a price. Audiences of “Peace...

Eliza Shea as Alice Liddell, Lewis Carroll’s childhood muse. (COURTESY OF PINKHOUSE PRODUCTIONS)

Review: In “Your Alice,” A Wonderland Shattered

May 31, 2018

Inside the Brooklyn Academy of Music lies a dismantling of your childhood – not its destruction, by any means, but a subtle, unsettling excavation of its innocence, of those fairy-bound delusions we...

The cast of “Light Shining in Buckinghamshire” at New York Theater Workshop. (COURTESY OF JOAN MARCUS)

Review: “Light Shining in Buckinghamshire” and the Revolution that Never Happened

May 21, 2018

The ground does shake in the course interior of New York Theater Workshop’s East Village house. It rattles and convulses with the brandished shudders of revolution, and its floorboards tremor with every...

(COURTESY OF BRINKHOFF & MÖGENBURG)

2018 Tony Award Predictions: Angels Prevail, Wizards Too

May 7, 2018

As nomination day quickly recedes into the distance, so begins the heart of Tony campaign season, a month of cut-throat competition, flattery and persuasion as nominated shows endeavor to woo Tony voters,...

Harry Hadden-Paton, Lauren Ambrose, and Allan Corduner in the Lincoln Center Theater’s Broadway revival of “My Fair Lady,” now open at the Vivian Beaumont Theater. (COURTESY OF JOAN MARCUS).

Review: “My Fair Lady” is Newly Restored, Brilliantly Led by Lauren Ambrose

May 1, 2018

There is a distinct, delightful feeling that sails through the audience of a show as beloved as “My Fair Lady,” a collective sigh of nostalgia that hushes the theater as classic ballads of love and...

The company of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” now open on Broadway at the Lyric Theatre. (COURTESY OF MANUEL HARLAN).

Review: “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” Comes to Broadway, Spellbound

May 1, 2018

Stephen Sondheim told us that children will listen, that they’ll see and that they’ll learn. Somehow, these are the words that hung in my mind as I departed “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,”...

Condola Rashad as Joan of Arc in Manhattan Theatre Club’s new revival of “Saint Joan,” now open on Broadway. (COURTESY OF JOAN MARCUS).

Review: “Saint Joan” is Revived on Broadway; Condola Rashad Soars

April 25, 2018

It’s in the eyes. From the safety of the audience—removed if only slightly from the wrenching, tour-de-force performance given by three-time Tony Award nominee Condola Rashad in George Bernard Shaw’s...

LaChanze (Diva Donna), Ariana DeBose (Disco Donna), Storm Lever (Duckling Donna), and the cast of “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical,” now open at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. (COURTESY OF JOAN MARCUS)

Review: Donna Summer’s Bio-Musical Opens on Broadway, Primed for (If Nothing Else) a Good Time

April 23, 2018

There comes a time in your experience of “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical” — and hopefully it arrives sometime before cascades of glitter rain down into the audience in a disco explosion, sometime...

Lauren Ridloff and Joshua Jackson in “Children of a Lesser God” by Mark Medoff, directed by Kenny Leon on Broadway at Studio 54. (COURTESY OF MATTHEW MURPHY)

Review: “Children of a Lesser God” is Revived with Breakout Star Lauren Ridloff

April 21, 2018

What is on the exterior a well-choreographed dance, a story of that careful circling two people madly in love must make before convincing each other of their devotion, is in truth an all-out battle for...

Jessie Mueller and Joshua Henry star as Julie Jordan and Billy Bigelow. (COURTESY OF JULIETA CERVANTES)

Review: “Carousel” is Revived on Broadway, Ill-Timed and Ill-Equipped

April 12, 2018

At the heart of Jack O’Brien’s new production of Rodger and Hammerstein’s “Carousel” is the fundamental question of revival. Is the act of revival a feat of seduction? Is it an embellished, grandiose...

Abigail Bengson and the cast of “The Lucky Ones.” (COURTESY OF BEN ARONS)

Review: The Heartrending Rapture of Ars Nova’s “The Lucky Ones”

April 10, 2018

“The Lucky Ones” is a show like springtime, like finding a fresh plot of dirt and digging your hands deep into it, like breathing in the earth and holding it up to your face because it is new and because...

Erika Henningsen  (Cady Heron), Ashley Park(Gretchen Wieners), Taylor Louderman (Regina George), and Kate Rockwell(Karen Smith) star in

Review: “Mean Girls” Opens on Broadway for a New Age and New Generation

April 8, 2018

Had there been any doubt that the comedic genius of Tina Fey could not seamlessly carry to the Broadway stage, a new medium for the veteran comedy writer of “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock,”...

Carousel in a #MeToo Moment

March 20, 2018

Jessie Mueller is a vocal chameleon. For her 2014 transformation into Carole King in the award-winning broadway musical, “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical,” Mueller took home a Tony Award for Best...

Renika Williams plays and eye withness with Ian Campbell Dunn as Darren Wilson.  (COURTESY OF CLAY ANDERSON)

In The Theater District, Ferguson Misremembered

January 8, 2018

When the dark of night comes and the people take to the streets, the blackness beneath the clouds saturates with certain and distinct bursts of color. And in the many days and months following the 9th...

The band opened for headliner BØRNS, at last year's Winterfest. (COURTESY OF JESS FULFORD)

FCLC’s Indie Rock Band, Avenue Eight, Releases Debut EP

December 17, 2016

“Well it was a mashup of Green Day’s ‘Basket Case’ and ‘The Static Age’, and there was a saxophone and there was a feather boa,” Franco Giacomarra, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC)...