This Week on Stage: ‘War Horse’ in New York, ‘God of Carnage’ in Los Angeles
The Tonys are only two months away, and though there’s still no official word on who will host the show, we did learn this week that past winners Matthew Broderick and Anika Noni Rose will announce the nominations on May 3. Also in the news: The 2009 revival of Hair will return to Broadway for a summer run in July and the long-rumored Samuel L. Jackson-led New York production of the Martin Luther King Jr. drama The Mountaintop will start previews in September — but will not co-star Halle Berry, as anticipated.
Meanwhile, as awards season revs up, our critics saw three big Broadway openings, one off-Broadway stunner, and a triumphant NYC transplant in Los Angeles. Highlights below.
War Horse: “Theater can be like magic,” raves EW stage editor Thom Geier about the horse puppets at the center of the Lincoln Center Theater’s World War I-set cavalry drama. “The life-size creatures seem to breathe, snort, feed, walk, gallop, and rear up just as naturally as the genuine articles,” he writes, giving the play an A-. “In no time at all, they become characters as rounded and complex as any of the humans on stage.”
The Motherf—er With the Hat: Comedian Chris Rock’s Broadway debut in this “patchy” addiction dramedy earns a B from EW writer Clark Collis, who finds the comedian most at ease when his performance as an Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor veers into stand-up territory. According to Collis, Rock’s co-stars Bobby Cannavale and Yul Vézquez “are responsible for the show’s greatest high.”
Catch Me if You Can: Stellar performances by stage vets Aaron Tveit, Norbert Leo Butz, and Kerry Butler can’t save this “old-fashioned” film-to-musical adaptation for Geier. Grading the production a B-, he calls it “oddly paced,” and “curiously structured,” adding “what should have been a fun lark of a story seems almost stodgy, like your grandmother’s idea of a good time.”
Sleep No More: Geier finds this A-grade, interactive production of Shakespeare’s Macbeth to be “the most thoroughly and original provocative live entertainment in years.” Staged in a five-story warehouse that audience members literally walk through as they experience the action, Sleep “combines elements of theater, dance, and haunted fun house for a unique evening that engages all of the senses” and “encourages you to rethink the themes and motifs in Macbeth as well as the nature of theater itself.”
God of Carnage: The reunion of God of Carnage’s original Broadway cast for this Los Angeles production scores with EW West Coast writer John Young, who writes that Jeff Daniels, Hope Davis, James Gandolfini, and Marcia Gay Harden are “at the top of their game” as parents whose sons have engaged in a violent playground brawl. Praising Carnage and giving it a B+, Young writes that it “plays like Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? with less civility and more projectile vomiting… And it’s a hoot.”