Posted in 2-hander, air force, also a film, army airmen, autobiographical, based on a movie, based on a real world conflict, based on a true story or event and historical documents, based on true events, Bryce Pinkham, carpet bombing, comedy about a serious subject, dark comedy drama, drama based on real events, duped by love, ensemble acting, family, fathers and sons, holiday show, memoir, memories, musical theatre, musicals and dramas, narration, new work, Off or Off-Off Broadway Transfer, offbeat work, parents and children, play, play with music, Roundabout Theatre Company, serious comedy, storytelling, stylistic, the damaged and hurting, theater, Vietnam background, war

Legacies of war

Jon Hoche, Raymond Lee, Paco Tolson (center), Jennifer Ikeda, and Samantha Quan. Photo © Carol Rosegg

History can sometimes revel in a very personal dynamic.

For instance, those of us who lived through and joined in protests against the Vietnam War may not share the viewpoint of the main character in Qui Nguyen’s Vietgone, currently playing at MTC’s City Center Stage I through December 4th.

Quang (Raymond Lee) was a pilot in the South Vietnamese armed forces. He was trained in the United States. He saw the North Vietnamese as a genuine threat to life and liberty and welcomed the help of American soldiers in the struggle.

Vietgone is a fast-paced kind-of-multi-media excursion into the hero’s and heroine’s, Tong (Jennifer Ikeda), survival. They meet at a state-side refugee camp where Tong and her mother (Samantha Quan, in a number of roles) have come after the fall of Saigon.

The piece is, and isn’t, narrated by the Playwright (Paco Tolson, also playing several people), who is commemorating his parents’ story. There are rapped love songs, (original music by Shane Rettig) motorcycles, a roadtrip, and a bromance– all trappings to some extent of the era portrayed in the plot.

For the most part, Vietgone is entertaining, interesting, unusual in structure, and well presented. There is room for some cuts here and there. The cast, under May Adrales’ direction, and staging, with scenic designs by Tim Mackabee and projection design by Jared Mezzocchi, are excellent.

In other subscription house news from our household:

Roundabout’s Love, Love, Love (reviewed earlier and playing through 12/18) can make us feel guilty first for Brexit and now Trump as it portrays boomers resting in reactionary comfort.

Over at Studio 54 througfh January 15, 2017, Roundabout has mounted a vehicle for nostalgia. Holiday Inn, with no irony whatsoever, cries out for Mickey and Judy. It is well-served by the cast on hand, however, and a pleasantly tuneful production makes for a great afternoon at the movies, er theater.Bryce Pinkham and Corbin Bleu are the friends and dancing partners, along with Megan Sikora, and Lora Lee Gayer who lead the ensemble in song and dance.

Heisenberg Georgie- Mary-Louise Parker and Alex-- Denis Arndt; Set Designer Mark Wendland; Costume Designer Michael Krass; Lighting Designer Austin R. Smith; Original Music and Sound Designer David Van Tieghem. Photo © Joan Marcus
Georgie- Mary-Louise Parker and Alex– Denis Arndt;
Set Designer Mark Wendland; Costume Designer Michael Krass;
Lighting Designer Austin R. Smith;
Original Music and Sound Designer David Van Tieghem. Photo © Joan Marcus

MTC gives us Heisenberg at its Broadway venue, the Friedman Theatre through December 11th. Why Heisenberg? The play, so well-acted by Denis Arndt and Mary-Louise Parker as to have one puzzling over the quantum physics of it name, is an enjoyable two-hander. It’s gimmicky staging notwithstanding, the dynamic of the drama is captivating. Heisenberg is a sweet-crazy story, written by Simon Stephens, the pen behind The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Heisenberg was a transfer from Off-Off, and as such had some buzziness surrounding it.Director Mark Brokaw elicits strong performances from both his actors. Parker, who unleashes the odd-ball in her character in little bursts, is fun to watch.Arndt’s charm reveals how a pent-up man can suddenly be both impetuous and child-like. So, back to the title: Heisenberg has an underlying if small principle of uncertainty that you will likely enjoy.

Posted in 2016 Tony nominations, based on a film, based on a movie, Jessie Mueller, menu, musical, musical theater

The overlooked contender or 2

It looks like Waitress has all the pluck of the indie project from which it was created. Like Something Rotten!, it carries on.

As if the presence of star Jessie Mueller and a lovely cast were not enough, Waitress is offering a little sweetner: groups as few as 4 (and up to 11) people can get discounted tickets- with pie- to attend.

Our Theater Blog: TandBOnTheAisle

In my predictions for the nominations Tony is about to make,, I left out some of this year’s Broadway starts. School of Rockwas not mentioned, and truly, despite its spunk, I doubt it stands a chance in this contest. Nor will American Psycho overturn Hamilton in its run to the top.

May 3rd, noon, Looks like the Tonys left out a contender, too: Audra McDonald was not nominated for the Best leading actress in a musical.

Here’s where the oversight is more serious: From the list (entitled The Chanteuse) below, I have left out Laura Benanti, a soprano to be contended with, often on the short list for many an Award, and Tony winner (for “Gypsy”). Benanti stars beautifully in a wondrous revival of She Loves Me, the musical descendent of a personal favorite among Magyar tales–Little Shop Around the Corner. (In view…

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Posted in based on a movie, fromscreentostage, musical theater

Get Ready to be Schooled

Rock and roll, properly spelled rock ‘n roll, I believe, can be transformative, or progressive, or divisive. It is sometimes a rebellious shout, sometimes a soulful whisper.

Alex Brightman as Dewey, and the kid band from School of Rock-The Musical Photo by Matthew Murphy
Alex Brightman as Dewey, and the kid band from School of Rock-The Musical Photo by Matthew Murphy

In School of Rock–The Musical, at the Winter Garden Theatre in a predictibly long run,  it serves to bring together as much as it does to pull asunder. Based on the motion picture, written by Mike White and starring Jack Black, School of Rock… has  lyrics by Glenn Slater, music by Andrew Lloyd Weber and a book by Julian Fellowes, that pretty much steps along with its source.

As in the original, Dewey (Jonathan Wagner, standing in for Alex Brightman, at our performance) is an earnest rocker who mooches off his best friend Ned (Spencer Moses) and is expelled from the band he founded. His dream of climbing to the “top of Mount Rock” looks to be out of reach when Ned’s live-in girlfriend, Patty (Mamie Parris) threatens him with eviction.

Sierra Bogges and the kids ensemble of School of Rock-The Musical Photo by Matthew Murphy
Sierra Bogges and
the kids ensemble of School of Rock-The Musical Photo
by Matthew Murphy

Things brighten up for Dewey when he decides to impersonate Ned for a substitute teaching gig at a prestigious prep school. At Horace Green, Dewey meets his future bandmates, the ten-year olds in his class.

School of Rock-The Musical gives rock ‘n roll one other dimension. It is also heartwarming.

The music has variety and offers many opportunities for its stars to shine. The shiniest in School of Rock... are the little scene-stealers who form the eponymous band. These kids can really rock out. They can also act and dance. Standing out, but by no means standing alone in this fabulous young cast, are Isabella Russo as the masterful if somewhat bossy Summer, Luca Padovan as the boy, Billy, who designs costumes for the band, and Jared Parker as Lawrence, the keyboardist. Evie Dolan’s Katie and Brandon Niederauer’s Zack are amazing instrumentalists.

The Children Ensemble. Photo By Matthew Murphy.
The Children Ensemble. Photo By Matthew Murphy.

The adults in the ensemble are also excellent, with Jonathan Wagner fulfilling the role as a Jack Black sub to a tee. He is charming and talented, and his interaction with the youngster is wonderful to watch. Sierra Boggess, like her character the principal Rosalie, seems uncomfortable being severe and stern; despite that, Boggess  hits some very high notes– she has “music in her,” after all–; in the Queen of the Night scene she soars.

Joann M. Hunter gives children and adults some great rock-centric moves in her smooth choreography. The scenic designs and costumes by Ann Louizos fluently move around a palette of rebellious and straight-laced. Laurence Connor directs with a light touch.

For more information about School of Rock-The Musical, please visit

The Wright Wreport also published a review by TB at