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Theater Reviews

A Piece of Bert Berns

by John Platt
Jenny Anderson

"Cry Baby," "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love," "Hang On Sloopy," "Here Comes the Night," "I Want Candy," "Piece of My Heart," "Tell Him," "Twist and Shout" - all big hits of the '60s, performed by artists as varied as Solomon Burke, The Exciters, Janis Joplin, and The Strangeloves. What do they have in common? They were all written or co-written by Bert Berns. Never heard of him?

Two Great American Songwriters

by John Platt
Joan Marcus

The last two Library of Congress Gershwin Prizes for Popular Song have gone to Burt Bacharach (with Hal David) and Carole King. Coincidentally, they are both being saluted - in very different ways - right now in musicals, one on Broadway, one off.

Sublime Sondheim

by John Platt
Joan Marcus

It’s the season of Marsalis this fall. Wynton handpicked the picked the Jazz at Lincoln Center All Stars who are the house band for the thrilling Broadway production After Midnight. And it’s always the season of Stephen Sondheim, so it was bit of genius to have Wynton and others do arrangements of Sondheim songs for A Bed and a Chair: A New York Love Affair, an Encores! special event co-presented by City Center and JALC, which, alas, only runs until Sunday night at City Center.

Catching Big Fish and Jazz After Midnight

by John Platt

It so happens that I’ve seen three of my favorite Broadway actors recently – Michael Cerveris in Fun Home, Danny Burstein in The Snow Goose, and now Norbert Leo Butz in Big Fish at the Neil Simon Theatre. Butz has made a specialty of playing con men in shows like Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Catch Me If You Can, so he’s perfect for the role of the irrepressible father who tells tale tales in Big Fish.

Theater Thoughts

by John Platt
Chad Batka

The fall theater season is in full swing, and I’ve been lucky enough to catch some recent openings. If you’re interested, here’s my take on three of them.

Justice Done to "The Winslow Boy"

by John Platt
Joan Marcus

My brief and undistinguished  stage career included a high school production of The Winslow Boy, Terence Rattigan’s 1946 play about Ronnie Winslow, a 14 year old boy expelled from a British naval academy for stealing a five shilling postal order and his family’s fight to prove his innocence. I played Ronnie’s ne’er do well older brother, Dickie. I remember I had to do the turkey trot while saying my lines (neither very well), and I had the classic exit line, “Oh, rot, father!”

Heavenly Kelli O'Hara

by John Platt

Kelli O'Hara has won a slew of Tony nominations (and my heart) in one Broadway musical after another - Light in the Piazza,The Pajama Game, South Pacific, Nice Work If You Can Get It. Her latest project is Off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons, in Far From Heaven, the musical adaptation of Todd Haynes' 2002 film, through July 7.

Nathan the Nance

by John Platt

If you're a theater maven, you can't help being a fan of Nathan Lane. While he's had success in movies (notably The Birdcage) and TV (recent recurring role on The Good Wife), the stage is his natural element (The Producers,The Addams Family, Guys and Dolls, etc., etc.), and he's a theatrical treasure, who can sing, do broad comedy, and yet do serious drama, too.

Rascals Groovin' On Broadway

by John Platt

The Rascals are rocking the Richard Rodgers Theater in their limited Broadway engagement, Once Upon a Dream, written, produced, and directed by Steven Van Zandt of the E Street Band. Using a high-quality concert PA system and video projections, it tells the story of the Rascals, reunited after 40 years, as they perform 28 songs (backed by a bassist, keyboard player, and three harmony singers).