The MUNY opens its 96th season with the heartwarming and hopeful musical "Billy Elliot," based on the popular movie, with book and lyrics by Lee Hall and music by Sir Elton John. The moral, a combination of "be true to yourself" and "don't give up your dreams," is clear from early on, and it's nicely conveyed; but it's the dancing that keeps the audience riveted the entire performance.
New Line Theatre's "Hands on a Hard Body" delivers a sobering, but ultimately hopeful, look at contemporary America. Focused on a car dealership contest held in Texas until 2005, the musical features rock songs and pop-influenced ballads interspersed with dramatic scenes. Though the theme of the show has some dark overtones, the feel is warm, a slice of life with a small town familiarity.
Lovely and heartfelt, “Once” tells the story of two musicians who share a deeply profound love that can only be expressed through songs. This beautifully staged and performed tale is bittersweet and softly played in gentle melodies and pure harmonies, with just the right mix of Irish and Czech-influenced folk traditions.
Expressing the intimacy of a relationship, and the pain of loss, can be a difficult task for actors. Translating these very personal emotions and character choices from the silver screen to the stage is doubly hard. When songs, choreography and fantastic special effects are added, characters can quickly disappear into the spectacle.
The writers and producers of "We Will Rock You" are bringing down the house at the Fabulous Fox with a fitting tribute to the rock band Queen's enduring popularity that is also an incredibly good time.
The rock musical "Rent" is an unflinching, uncompromising look at the struggles of a community of young artists in New York City late in the twentieth century. At its heart, it's a coming of age tale, and New Line Theatre takes this broad concept and distills it into an intimate, emotionally charged production filled with memorable performances. The show isn't always pretty and the situations not easily packaged, but there's an honest, hard-earned integrity that reveals an underlying hopefulness.
There's a contemporary swagger present in the Fox Theatre's current production of "Jersey Boys" that slides smoothly into the history of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. The combination works well, resulting in a smart, snappy production that thoroughly entertains. Openly addressing the influence of perspective and self-interest, the show also avoids self-reverence, even as it keeps the conflict light.
There's a sweet and honest charm to "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum." The show doesn't over-promise and it's impossible to take too seriously, ensuring it remains a favorite go-to show for amateur and professional companies alike. With a focus on frequent and easy laughs, the show is also a can't-miss crowd pleaser.
If you like your scary stories served with a generous helping of ribald and slapstick humor, you'll want to put "Evil Dead The Musical" at the top of your must see list. Stray Dog Theatre kicks off its eleventh season with a show that takes the company's tagline "Come out and play" and ratchets it up to new levels in an energetic, yet playful, spoof on the teen horror movie genre.
"The truth is she never left you,” proclaims the billboard for the tour of the smartly re-invented new revival of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's unlikely 1976 concept album-turned-musical "Evita." For once, there's truth in advertising; "Evita" has been continually in the repertory since Hal Prince first staged it in London's West End in 1978.