This Week on Stage: Ethan Hawke, Alan Rickman, and Stockard Channing take the spotlight
The collective sigh you might’ve heard echoing around Times Square last night was the sound of scores of journalists reacting to the news that Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark was officially postponed for the third time. (Its new opening date is March 15, a.k.a. the ill-omened Ides of March). But there was also plenty to smile about this week in the theater world, as several new productions with high-profile stars got respectable marks from EW‘s critics.
The Importance of Being Earnest: Brian Bedford’s gender-bending, “deliciously deadpan” turn as Lady Bracknell in this Oscar Wilde comedy (now playing at NYC’s Roundabout American Airlines Theatre) gets a rave from Melissa Rose Bernardo, who gives the show an A–, calling it “a perfectly pitched, fantastically funny rendition of Oscar Wilde’s self-subtitled ”Trivial Comedy for Serious People.”
American Idiot: Billie Joe Armstrong seems “right at home” in the musical based on his band’s most famous songs, says EW’s Thom Geier, who re-reviewed the show to the tune of a B+. “Armstrong provides an added spike of punk energy and rock-star charisma without ever upstaging the talented cast or upsetting the balance of the show’s admittedly bare-bones story.”
Other Desert Cities: Stockard Channing and Stacy Keach dazzle as the regal heads of a right-wing family in this new drama from Brothers & Sisters creator Jon Robin Baitz. I gave the highly entertaining but imperfect show a B+: “What really sets Other Desert Cities apart from Other Family Plays is the strength and subtlety of the clan’s bond underneath their disagreements… It’s that hesitation, the strategic pulling of the occasional punch, that gives the show its fascinating texture. And when that control vanishes for a moment, it wounds the play immeasurably.”
Blood From a Stone: Ethan Hawke is “believable” as the unemployed son of a working class family in this new drama (now at Off Broadway’s Acorn Theater), which gets a straight B from Geier. “[Tommy Nohilly] manages to pack a considerable punch in Blood From a Stone. With a little more training, this first-time playwright could be a real heavyweight contender.”
John Gabriel Borkman: Geier gives this revival of the little-known Ibsen play about a disgraced banker (now playing at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Harvey Theater through Feb. 6) a so-so grad of B–. “The basic plot is thin, and remarkably conventional, and there’s little that the all-star cast or director James Macdonald’s striking physical production can do to make up for that. Alan Rickman, the British actor best known as Severus Snape in the Harry Potter films, brings his rich voice to the role of Borkman, but he seems oddly somnambulent through the first act…”
More Stage coverage on EW.com