‘Blue Valentine’: they do still make them like they used to

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Character driven and bleakly realistic, “Blue Valentine” feels like a throwback to the moviemaking of the 1970s, when many stars prided themselves on looking unglamorous on-screen and directors loved un-happy endings. Pick a 1970s classic and the chances are fairly good the picture had a downbeat ending, whether it was a detective story (“Chinatown”) or […] [Read More]

‘Gods’: Greenwich hedge fund expose mixes thrills, satire

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The “free market” Wall Street schemers who got us into the financial catastrophe of 2008 and then were bailed out with taxpayer dollars are almost too easy a target for satire. First they bilked their own clients with flimsy financial products, then they took money from our government when those products went bust and the […] [Read More]

‘Good People’ — what a difference Frances McDormand makes

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Frances McDormand deserves combat pay for her acclaimed performance in the new play by David (“Rabbit Hole”) Lindsay-Abaire, “Good People.” The drama opened to strong reviews and has been playing to near-capacity audiences at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre since it opened there in early March. McDormand gives a performance so full of life and […] [Read More]

‘Dead by Midnight” — another airtight Carolyn Hart mystery

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For me, the highlight of the recent crime writers’ gathering in Easton — Murder 203 — was having the chance to spend some time with the guest of honor, Carolyn Hart. Hart is a modern master of the Agatha Christie-style traditional mystery, with plots that fit together perfectly and acute analysis of the psychology of […] [Read More]

A $15 million Broadway mistake called ‘Wonderland’

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The new Broadway musical update of Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass” — “Wonderland” — was the subject of poisonous chatroom buzz during its preview period and then opened last Sunday to almost unanimously bad reviews. Timing definitely hurt the latest show by composer Frank Wildhorn, who has been a critics’ whipping boy […] [Read More]

Back from the dead — the ‘flop’ musical ‘Women on the Verge…’

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The producers of last fall’s short-lived Broadway musical “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown” must have seriously mixed feelings about the liner notes Frank Rich has provided for the original cast recording of the score released this week on iTunes (the CD version will arrive on May 10). If Rich had still been the […] [Read More]

‘Hello Again’: in-your-face theatre from Transport Group

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On a work break earlier this month, I was lucky enough to catch one of the final performances of the Transport Group’s production of “Hello Again” in a loft space in SoHo. The troupe deals in site-specific theatre with each production designed for a different ”real” space that affords an unusually intimate performer-audience relationship. “Hello Again” was […] [Read More]

‘Save Me’: leaving mystery/thriller conventions behind

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It’s always scary to move out of your comfort zone — particularly if that’s a place where you have had great success — but the best-selling novelist Lisa Scottoline has done some real experimentation with style and content in her recent books. Revered by countless readers for a series of legal thrillers that began with […] [Read More]

The Amoralists: real life with the boring parts cut out

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It has been wonderful to watch the New York City-based theater company, The Amoralists, gain traction with each new production they’ve done over the past few years. The resident dramatist Derek Ahonen (below) has produced a string of down-and-out plays — set in contemporary New York — that have been awesome displays of the fine […] [Read More]

‘The Book of Mormon’: another unlikely hit musical

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Ever since “Urinetown” opened on Broadway a decade ago, the notion of what constitutes a “musical comedy” has been evolving — for the better I think. With the core Broadway musical audience literally dying off, the genre was desperately in need of some shaking up to bring in new audiences. “Urinetown” succeeded despite its title […] [Read More]