Off-Broadway’s been a busy bee. While the Great White Way readies itself for Sunday’s Tony Awards, New York’s smaller venues hosted a series of openings this week, including the four reviewed by our critics. Check out the highlights below, and comeback Sunday for our live blog of the 2011 Tonys, which air at 8 p.m. on CBS.
The Shaggs: Philosophy of the World: EW senior writer Clark Collis dubs The Shaggs, which he gives a B, “something rather special.” He writes that where the musical fails as a standard jukebox tuner that sensationalizes the ups-and-downs of its subject (in this case, short-lived sister group The Shaggs), it wins with characters “written so poignantly, and brought to life so heartbreakingly.”
The Illusion: “Baroque fantasy and modern day wit mix happily….gilded with Kushner’s virtuosic dialogue,” says writer Adam Markowitz about this A- revival of Tony Kushner’s 1988 play The Illusion, itself an adaptation of Pierre Corneille’s L’Illusion Comique.
Through a Glass Darkly: Oscar nominee Carey Mulligan is “more than up to the challenges of this tricky role” as a schizophrenic spending the summer on the coast with her troubled family in this stage adaptation of Ingmar Bergman’s 1961 film Through a Glass Darkly. Writes EW stage editor Thom Geier, “She ping-pongs between reason and madness, Mulligan is at once vulnerable and emboldened, wounded and radiant.” He grades the play an A-.
Lysistrata Jones: Xanadu writer Douglas Carter Beane’s college-set adaptation of Aristophanes’ classic earns a B- from Geier, who likes its “goofy charm” and “delightfully topical” quips, but laments that the rest of the show — about a perennially loosing basketball team and the cheerleaders who refuse them sex — “can’t maintain that level of wit and sophistication.”