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This Week on Stage: Alec Baldwin, Nathan Lane, The Rascals and a slew of new openings

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Jekyl And Hyde
Chris Bennion Larry Busacca/Getty Images

The theater season is in full-swing glory right now, and EW has covered no less than nine (!) shows since last week. Broadway is saying one permanent good night (RIP Breakfast at Tiffany’s), and hellos to stage stalwarts as varied as Alec Baldwin, Nathan Lane, Bobby Cannavale and Constantine Maroulis. And Motown legend Berry Gordy throws his hat into the ring too. So, who’s most worth your hard-earned bucks? (Click on the links below to read the full reviews):

The Assembled Parties  Richard Greenberg (already on the boards this season with Tiffany’s) unveils a new play about two Christmases in a tense Upper West Side family’s history. Tanner Stransky called the play “as close to bullet-proof as they come on the Great White Way these days”, highlighting “a first-rate cast [including Judith Light and Jessica Hecht] that feels as familiar and complicated as any real-life clan”. EW grade: A–

The Big Knife The ubiquitous Mr. Cannavale returns to Broadway for the second time this season as a conflicted 1940s movie star in a rare revival of Clifford Odets’ noirish take on Production Code Hollywood. Critic Lisa Schwarzbaum mostly enjoyed the sultry ride, citing it a “swanky if ultimately time-dated production” with high praise for the production values: The money and glamour are great, elegantly communicated in John Lee Beatty’s gold-hued set.” EW grade: B+

The Call  The tricky subject of adoption is the hot-button topic of this new work at Playwrights Horizons, starring Kerry Butler (Catch Me If You Can) and Eisa Davis (Passing Strange) – is it worth the pilgrimage? I state that “there are no slackers in this fine ensemble” though “there are so many artfully raised points in [Tanya] Barfield’s script that one can’t help be disappointed when creakier material is introduced”. EW grade: B

Jekyll & Hyde  Frank Wildhorn’s half-adored, half-reviled musical takes another stab (bwahaha) at Broadway glory, featuring Constantine Maroulis (Rock of Ages) and singer Deborah Cox. Is this the moment? Not a chance, says Melissa Rose Bernardo: “an overamplified, dry ice-drenched Broadway revival…it’s good and — well, not evil, but head-scratchingly, laughably, even painfully bad.” EW grade: C–

Julius Caesar  BAM presents the Royal Shakespeare Company’s modern-day African take on Shakespeare’s bloody revenger (complete with onstage band!), but critic Melissa Rose Bernardo didn’t quite feel the sting. “Aside from an impassioned ”friends, Romans, countrymen” funeral speech…there’s not much more vibrancy in this nearly three-hour production.”  EW grade: B–

Motown the Musical  59 songs from one of the grandest moments in musical history fill this period tuner, written by none other than impresario Berry Gordy. So, did our Thom Geier hear a symphony? He says it “plays like a theme night on an all-star season of American Idol” but “you might not be able to help yourself (sugar pie, honey bunch) from having a just good enough time”. EW grade: B–

The Nance  Nathan Lane makes a long-awaited return to Broadway as a homosexual vaudevillian navigating identity in 30s burlesque. A gay old time to be had? “Nathan Lane is at his tragicomic best”, says Melissa Rose Bernardo while acknowledging the play’s flaws. “[He] gets to be campier than…well, think of the campiest thing you’ve ever seen. Then double it.” EW grade: B

Orphans This is Alec Baldwin’s first Broadway show in nearly 10 years (but that wasn’t what you heard about most with this production). So how did he, Ben Foster (The Messenger) and Tom Sturridge (On the Road) fare in this intense drama? “[Lyle] Kessler’s three-man drama remains a vibrant exploration of masculinity and the challenge of forming and maintaining family connections”, says Thom Geier. “[The cast] make this simple story feel both real and somehow larger than life.” EW grade: A–

The Rascals: Once Upon a Dream  The boomer generation rock band rest-stops on Broadway for a sit-down production directed by none other than The Sopranos star/E Street Band-er Steven Van Zandt. So was reviewer Melissa Maerz “Groovin’”? “The music still sounds fantastic” but “in the end, their story doesn’t sound much different from any other band you’d see on Behind the Music. EW grade: B–

Read More on EW.com:

See Opening Night Video for The Nance

Listen to three tracks from Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812

Broadway Review: Matilda the Musical