New on Broadway

GETTING AND SPENDING Linda Purl stars as an idealistic Wall Street felon who employs — and falls for — a powerful defense attorney (David Rasche) who really wants to be a monk. The play, by lawyer Michael J. Chepiga, is hackneyed, but Purl and her supporting cast are formidable — as is the clever design of director John Tillinger’s production. Most impressive are the stock-ticker light strips that transform into a stage-size electric crucifix, but they underscore what we already know: In the late 20th century there are two temples — the house of God and the church of Gordon Gekko. (TC) C+
— Joshua Rich

MAMALOSHEN Those who like Yiddish songs without translation (the title means ”mother tongue”) and Mandy Patinkin’s intense, emotive, big-vibrato-tenor singing style know who they are. Those who don’t probably won’t come anyway. This unusual, heartstring-twanging, CD-length song cycle on a theme of the immigrant experience is linked together by phrases from Paul Simon’s song ”American Tune” and moves from Yiddish repertory standards (”Belz,” ”Raisins and Almonds”) to American songs in fresh translation (”The Hokey Pokey,” ”White Christmas”). (TC) B
— Lisa Schwarzbaum

Off Broadway

KILLER JOE What’s black (comedy) and white (trash) and red (mucho stage blood) all over? Tracy Letts’ ultraviolent Tarantino-meets-Jim Thompson crowd-pleaser about a clan of dim-witted trailer dwellers whose plans to bump off Ma for the insurance money go awry when the hitman they hire (Scott Glenn, brimming with implacable menace) outthinks them (it’s not tough). Don’t look for deep meaning; just enjoy the explosive staging — those Winnebago walls take a nightly beating — and the low-rent perfection of the acting, especially Amanda Plummer’s as the mushmouthed, miniskirted stepmom. Finger-lickin’ good, and for adults only. (TC) B+
— Mark Harris

A NIGHT IN NOVEMBER One-man shows can be deadly bores, but not this one. That’s a credit to playwright Marie Jones’ challenging subject matter — tension between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland seen through the lens of an actual 1993 soccer match played in Belfast — and especially to the terrific performance of Dan Gordon, who shifts effortlessly among more than a dozen characters. Although the play could use some trimming and Robert Ballagh’s set is rather plain, Gordon’s dexterous performance holds the audience’s attention from engaging kickoff to exhilarating finish. (TC) B+
— William Stevenson

NUNSENSE A-MEN! After a miraculous 10 years Off Broadway, Dan Goggin’s lightweight but likable musical Nunsense finally closed in 1995. Well, it’s baaaack. And as you probably deduced from the title, this reincarnation stars an all-male cast as the nuns. The story, such as it is, still involves the motley Little Sisters of Hoboken (one dances, one has amnesia, etc.) putting on a fund-raiser. They all get laughs, but the standout is David Titus as Sister Mary Regina; bug-eyed and pursed-lipped, he puts over lyrics like ”I’m your right reverend mother, there isn’t any other” with irrepressible enthusiasm. And when he exhorts the other sisters to ”sell it, girls,” by God they do! (TC) B
— WS

THE OLD SETTLER The Odd Couple meets How Stella Got Her Groove Back in this swinging, homespun dramedy set in 1940s Harlem. Squabbling middle-aged sisters Elizabeth (Leslie Uggams) and Quilly (Lynda Gravatt) get thrown into a May-December tizzy when Husband (the strapping Godfrey L. Simmons Jr.) rents a room in their flowery apartment. With the addition of a brassy hometown honey named Lou Bessie (Rosalyn Coleman), the foursome offer rollicking performances bursting with heart. But the play, written by the actor John Henry Redwood, is by no means earnest: Bitchy catfights and references to Husband’s erect ”nature” keep the play as irreverent as it is sweet. (212-333-4052) A-
— Clarissa Cruz


ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA This is Shakespeare for the starry-eyed, what with big names Alan Rickman and Helen Mirren acting their hearts out in a Royal National Theatre production whose sets and costumes owe more to Star Trek than to the bard. Alas, Rickman is not for Shakespeare made, stumbling and slurring his way through the noble speeches, while Mirren does her best with bizarre headdresses and an asp that kills her none too soon. D
— Elizabeth Gleick

Los Angeles

DOGMUSIC Ever wonder what goes on inside the mind of a dog? Theatre West’s furry and sometimes fluffy musical tale by Mark Masi and Jess Platt centers on a runaway mutt named Ozzie (Ellen Idelson) and his misadventures in a dog pound. Ozzie and his fellow inmates, all played in a convincingly canine fashion by humans, tell waggish and heartbreaking stories that could easily inspire any dog lover in the audience to dash to the nearest animal shelter. B+
— Ruth Kennison

Washington, D.C.

EXPECTING ISABEL Infertility is just the first hurdle Nick and Miranda (John Ottavino and Ellen Karas) face on the path to parenthood. Playwright Lisa Loomer (The Waiting Room) confronts her nicely neurotic New Yorkers with all kinds of complex questions, but once they stop trying to conceive and start trying to adopt, they begin to discover just how uncomplicated — and how terrifying — it is simply to love. The play, at the Arena Stage, is a bit overstuffed (there’s a gratuitous maudlin rendition of ”Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” and Miranda has hormone-induced hallucinations in FAO Schwarz), but amid the endless soul searching, Karas and Ottavino find moments of grace. B
— Trey Graham


REDHEAD The Goodspeed Opera House, the extremely quaint Victorian theater in East Haddam overlooking the Connecticut River, is reviving the quaint, slightly creaky 1959 Albert Hague-Dorothy Fields musical comedy/mystery Redhead, originally staged by Bob Fosse and starring Gwen Verdon. As Essie, a waxworks-museum curator looking for love and a notorious London strangler, Valerie Wright dances well but can barely be heard above the orchestra. Fortunately, director Christopher Ashley and choreographer Stephen Terrell keep the small stage bustling with activity, and the large cast is clearly having a blast bringing this museum piece to life. B-