We're kicking off Giving Tuesday early this year! Your donation today will be matched up to $10K, doubling your impact! If you donate $50 today, the Reader will receive $100.

The Reader is now a community-funded nonprofit newsroom. Can we count on your support to help keep us publishing?

Posted inArts & Culture

Once Upon a Time in New Jersey

Susan DeLallo and Stephen Weiner’s new musical breaks no ground and strains credulity, but director Marc Robin’s cast spins the Italian stereotypes in amusing ways. Set in 1956 New Jersey, shy Vinnie secretly loves Angie, but she’s hot for womanizing Rocco, who’s chasing after buxom, neglected Celeste. When Celeste’s mobster husband puts a hit on […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The Tempest

In Shakespeare’s comedy, deposed duke/magician Prospero conjures up a storm to bring his betrayers to the deserted island where he’s living with his daughter and a troll-like servant. The real squall, however, is brewing within Prospero himself as he aims to settle the score. But in this First Folio Shakespeare Festival outdoor staging, we rarely […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Witch Switch

A 12 Steps Program performs Jason Williams’s play, ostensibly an episode of canceled sitcom Arrested Development. Here the Bluth family’s booze-soaked matriarch, Lucille, changes places with a cheery suburbanite. Some of the character likenesses are striking, such as Anne Harvey as Lindsay and Adi E. Paliti as her maybe gay husband, Tobias. With others, however–like […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Leaving Iowa

Tim Clue and Spike Manton’s bittersweet comedy follows a man traveling country highways looking for a meaningful place to scatter his father’s ashes. Naturally the road is littered with mea culpas and memories: agonizing family trips to places of dubious historical import provide fuel for the extended, well-worn road-trip jokes (“Don’t make me pull over!”). […]

Posted inArts & Culture

State Fair

Reminiscent of Oklahoma!, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s 1945 follow-up celebrates love between man and wife, boy and girl, farmer and pig. Written for film, then remade for stage and screen over the next 50 years, it picked up an assortment of “trunk songs”–material from other shows–along the way. These jell to produce a tuneful, memorable score–as […]

Posted inArts & Culture

And Then There Were None

In Agatha Christie’s adaptation of her novel, ten strangers converge on a secluded island retreat at the invitation of the owner, whom no one has met in person. As they begin to die off–in a fashion consistent with the “Ten Little Indians” nursery rhyme–and seeing no one else on the island, they start to suspect […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Brave Potatoes

Three pals vie for the “best potato” prize at a county fair, only to be stalked by a sadistic chef seeking a base for chowder. James E. Grote’s adaptation of Toby Speed’s kids’ book offers lessons in teamwork and underdog achievement, and George Howe’s music and lyrics–ranging from disco to a Les Miz-style freedom anthem–give […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Daughters, Sisters, Mothers

The highlight in this Mamet festival evening of one-acts is Jolly, in which a woman and her brother and husband rehash years of parental mindfucking. The taut ensemble draws hilarity from raw pain, and Todd Lahrman gets extra credit for conveying so much love and humor even though he rarely speaks more than three consecutive […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Twelfth Night, or What You Will

Noble Fool Theatricals director Nick Sandys takes an Alice in Wonderland approach to Shakespeare’s play, adding a Mad Hatter and hookahs–which works well visually. Shipwrecked Viola disguises herself as eunuch to Duke Orsino, whom she hopes to marry, but he’s in love with Olivia. When Viola (in male garb) delivers the Duke’s sentiments to Olivia, […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Brighton Beach Memoirs

However sparkling a performer, Noah Rawitz hasn’t developed the comic subtlety or dialect skills to play Neil Simon’s pubescent alter ego in the first installment of his autobiographical trilogy. But because all Rawitz’s scenery chewing stifles the comedy, the family’s struggle to hold together during the Great Depression and the dawn of World War II […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The Pirates of Penzance

As in Wilford Leach’s acclaimed 1981 production, later a film, director William Osetek soft-pedals Gilbert and Sullivan’s operatic score. But if you neutralize the music, you must dial up the comedy–and Osetek’s uninspired staging offers merely a bland story about silly, inept pirates sniffing around maidens in Victorian England. Die-hard G & S fans will […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Private Lives

Ex-spouses Elyot and Amanda rediscover their passion–for good or ill–and tweak the nose of social convention while honeymooning with new loves in Noel Coward’s wicked comedy. Joseph Wycoff masters Coward’s wit, gliding through Elyot’s sneers, barbs, rages, and sulks with the lusty grace and precision of a tango master. Melanie Keller’s Amanda holds her own, […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Thoroughly Modern Millie

There’s nothing like a white slavery scandal to intensify what could have been just another musical about a farm girl in Manhattan. This adaptation of Richard Morris’s 1967 screenplay travels easily to the intimate Marriott stage in a production led with lanky charm by Tari Kelly as Millie, supported by an attractive, nimble-footed ensemble. At […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Bus Stop

Rick Snyder’s production of William Inge’s 1955 classic offers fresh, meaningful portraits of loneliness, compassion, and hope while flawlessly maintaining period authenticity. Some of the ideas in this play about people waiting out a snowstorm in a small-town diner may be outdated–who expects to marry a virgin anymore? But the ensemble finds a timeless vulnerability […]