This Week on Stage: Julie Taymor fights back; Hugh Jackman returns to Broadway
Broadway’s most expensive musical is still nabbing the week’s biggest headlines. First, ousted Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark director Julie Taymor made her beef with the show’s producers official on Tuesday when she filed a federal lawsuit against 8 Legged Productions and Spidey co-writer Glen Berger for copyright infringement and breach of contract. Their response: We’ll see you in court. Then actor Matthew James Thomas — making his debut as Peter Parker — was injured offstage during a Wednesday matinee performance.
While Taymor and 8 Legged prepared to duke it out and Thomas mended, our critics reviewed a week’s worth of Broadway, Off-Broadway, and Los Angeles shows — including Hugh Jackman’s hip-shaking return to the New York boards. Read the highlights below.
Hugh Jackman, Back on Broadway: “Boy, can he sell a song,” writes stage editor Thom Geier about the Tony winner. Geier gives Jackman’s all-singing, all-dancing one-man musical revue an A- adding, “He’s a first-rate showman with a bounce in his step and a twinkle in his eye … despite an admirable display of technique, he makes it all look easy.”
The Blue Flower: Flower’s hodgepodge of cabaret, honky-tonk, and video narration doesn’t serve its subject, says writer Stephan Lee. He grades the off-Broadway musical about artists and scientists living in Weimer Germany a C+, writing that “the production loses the humanity that its core cast of dreamers and artists are desperately try to hold on to.”
Vigil: EW staff writer Tanner Stransky has little applause for this C+ comedy about a man’s begrudging bedside vigil for an elderly woman (Olympia Dukakis) he assumes is his dying aunt. “The jokes get stale after nearly two hours,” he says about the Los Angeles production. “We get it. He wants her to die and relishes saying nasty things to her.”
King Lear: “The messy, grating, noisily misbegotten” new Off-Broadway production of Shakespeare’s drama earns a D from critic Lisa Schwarzbaum, who points out the miscasting of Sam Waterston as Lear, “confounding creative decisions,” “and the indulgence of a director apparently more interested in messing around with Shakespeare than digging for a deeper meeting.”
Venus in Fur: The new Broadway comedy about a tête-à-tête between a chatty actress and a uptight director scores an A- from Geier, who praises Tony nominee Nina Arianda’s “tour de force performance,” adding that she has the “raw talent of a young Meryl Streep,” and an “energy, wit, intelligence and sexiness that are stunning to behold.”
Godspell: This raucous Broadway in-the-round revival earns a C+ fromcorrespondent Keith Staskiewicz, who writes, “there’s a thin line between energetic and manic, and the cast of Godspell vaults theatrically over that line too many times to count … for the most part it feels like a lot of taking the Lord’s name in vain.”
Queen of the Mist: I give Off-Broadway’s ode to Annie Edson Taylor, the first person to survive a plunge from the top of Niagara Falls, a B+. To me, show’s real focus is lead Mary Testa, “her sparkling eyes, her hoary wig, her generous curves, and of course, her singing.”
Radiance: The Passion of Marie Curie: “[Alan] Alda spins a gripping story out of two potentially dry topics — science and history,” writes Stransky about the actor-playwright’s ode to Curie, her work, and her love affairs. He gives the Los Angeles production a B+.