By William Wolf

MY FAIR LADY  Send This Review to a Friend

It takes a lot to make one consign the original “My Fair Lady” starring Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison to the illustrious past rather than having it persist as the show’s enduring standard. But the sumptuous new production offered by the Lincoln Center Theater in association with Nederlander Presentations, Inc. does the trick. It is glorious interpretation of the Lerner-Loewe musical, one of the greatest of the genre, on so many counts. It is both an eyeful and an earful, with fabulous sets and costumes and beguiling singing. What’s more Eliza Doolittle is given an extra flair of newly found independence with a dramatically altered ending not defined by anything she says but by what she does. (No spoiler here.)

The overall look of the production is a star in itself. We see a huge, wide panorama of London as background to start with, as part of the wizardry of the set design by Michael Yeargan, who also gives us a revolving interior of the home of Henry Higgins, the street where Eliza sells her flowers, the exterior of the pub where Eliza’s father hangs out and other eye-catching set-ups. Catherine Zuber’s costumes dazzle, especially with the assemblage for the famous race track scene. Christopher Gattelli’s chorography bursts into a rollicking Can-Can style number that lights up the stage. Elegance and earthiness alternates.

Which brings us to the casting and the enduring score. Lauren Ambrose makes a lovely, spunky Eliza, a woman with whom one can steadily sympathize, and she has a golden voice that can especially thrill at the required moments. Harry Hadden-Paton is a forceful Professor Higgins, emphasizing his arrogant traits without letup, yet slyly managing to show us his underlying affection for Eliza that he cannot express. He also handles the numbers well, such as when he sings “I am an Ordinary Man,” and the vocal style, while similar, is a step above the speaking-like method of Harrison’s Higgins.

Norbert Leo Butz gets all of the comic bluster of Liza’s father, Alfred P. Doolittle, and his “Get Me to the Church on Time,” backed by the company, is, as it should be, one of the musical’s highlights. Jordan Donica is fine as the love-struck Freddy, and his “On the Street Where You Live” soars. Allan Corduner is commendable as Colonel Pickering.

There is a special place of honor in the performance by Diana Rigg as Henry’s mother. Rigg gives the lady class and communicates her solidarity with Eliza against her son’s arrogance with astuteness that drew applause at the performance I attended.

The musical remains a tribute to the spirit of its original sources, George Bernard Shaw’s play “Pygmalion” and the motion picture "Pygmalion." Thus the book by Alan Jay Lerner holds up firmly, and the icing on the cake is provided by his lyrics and the music of Frederick Loewe. The excellent orchestra, with music direction by Ted Sperling, gets a special chance to shine in a sequence when it is in full view on stage.

Bartlett Sher deserves unstinting praise for his direction. The magical elements of “My Fair Lady” are brilliantly displayed throughout whether the staging is elaborate or more intimate. It is an up-to-date example of striving for and achieving perfection in reviving a musical theater classic, or for that matter, the staging of any Broadway show—period. At the Vivian Beaumont Theater, Lincoln Center. Phone: 212-239-6200. Reviewed April 23, 2018.

HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD--PARTS ONE AND TWO  Send This Review to a Friend

The “Harry Potter” theater juggernaut has powerfully hit New York and it has already become a must for Potter junkies. The show, “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” arrives after being a huge hit in London. It is based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne & John Tiffany, and is a new play by Thorne.

The saga is being presented in two separate performances, and one can see them in combinations that include a same day option, with matinee and evening performances and a break for dinner. That is what I opted for, and it was quite a hefty experience.

So what’s the verdict? The result is spectacular.

Dramatically, we now find wizard Harry Potter as a father, played by Jamie Parker, and there are father-son issues. Time has marched on, you see. The plot gets complicated, of course, but what’s special about the play is the production.

We find the basic set, designed by Christine Jones, the great central hall of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, dominated by the huge clock. That serves as a major playing area with constant changes. Be prepared for astonishing effects, such as flashes of firepower shooting across stage as part of the illusions and magic design by Jamie Harrison.

The plot toys with time, and a battery of clocks on either side of the stage light up as racing clock hands go backward or forward. The impact is very dramatic. At one point ghost-like figures swirl over the spectators. The visuals are enough to enthrall even the youngest in an audience.

As for the story of working out the relationships, the issues and the dangers, the plot heavy on talk begins to wear some in Part 2, but sudden bursts of action liven things. The cast members are all excellent. Harry’s wife Ginny is played by Poppy Miller and Noma Dumezweni is fun as Hermione Granger, running the Ministry of Magic, where Harry works. Fans of the book will find depictions of assorted memorable characters.

While admiring Rowling’s achievement but not being a Potter groupie, I can’t vouch for the accuracy of all the play’s characterizations. But I can vouch for the dynamic impact of this production, which cost a record $68 million to stage. Director John Tiffany has done a great job in keeping most of the show eye-catching as well as trying to spin out the plot with clarity, a tough task as given all of the elements that go into the new storyline.

“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” looms as a big box office hit that will further the legend of Rowling’s creation that has won over millions of fans the world over. At the Lyric Theatre, 214 West 43rd Street. Harrypottertheplay.com/us. Reviewed April 23, 2018.

THE METROMANIACS  Send This Review to a Friend

Playwright David Ives has done some plum plundering. Intrigued by the 1738 French play “La Métromanie” by Alexis Piron, Ives decided to create a version of his own and the result is a hilarious evening with a delightful cast in this Red Bull Theater presentation.

The setting is the ballroom of a posh house in Paris, and the time frame is kept with events taking place in the Spring of 1738. Ives has much fun with the dialogue delivered in couplets, including outrageously funny rhymes, with some contemporary references tossed into the hopper. One is rewarded by listening carefully and a desire to read the text may be aroused.

The style is farce and the characterizations are interwoven accordingly. Dina Thomas is enjoyable as Lisette, the savvy maid of Lucille, daughter of the household. Lucille is played languidly by Amelia Pedlow. Adam Lefevre is perfect as Lucille’s father, Francalou. Lucille is in love with poetry, and the young poet Damis is on hand in the person of Christian Conn.

Noah Averbach-Katz plays Dorante, who is in love with Lucille. Other characters include Adam Green as Mondor, Damis’s valet, and Peter Kybart as Baliveau, Damis’s unclde. Rest assured that the cast is a marvelous ensemble, getting into the period style and letting the couplets burst forth merrily as if in casual conversation.

Director Michael Kahn understands the secret of good farce. He keeps the players dedicated to naturalness without hinting that they are trying to be funny. Thus the involvements and the language become devastatingly droll. The show gets a boost from the amusing set design by James Noone, including a deliberately fake-looking so-called forest, and the colorful costume design by Murell Horton.

Ives’s take on this excavated play is thoroughly clever. I haven’t read the original that inspired him, and who knows what author Piron would make of the current version if he were alive to pop in and see it. No matter. If you are looking for an enjoyable show with an abundance of laughs and a superb cast to deliver them, “Metromaniacs” can do the job. At The Duke on 42nd Street, 229 West 42nd Street. Phone: 646-223-3010. Reviewed April 23, 2018.

THE SEAFARER (IRISH REPERTORY THEATRE)  Send This Review to a Friend

The devil arrives on Christmas eve to play cards for the soul of a man in his home in Baldoyle, County Dublin, Ireland. The devil, given his power, presumably holds all the cards and even with two badly losing hands as he lies in wait, we by then know that he is a force demanding respect.

“The Seafarer,” a play by Conor McPherson, was previously on Broadway (See Theater under Search for my review) in a production of The National Theatre of Great Britain with the author directing. This time Matthew Broderick is cast as the devil in the person of Mr. Lockhart, who is brought to the home of James ‘Sharky’ Harkin, by Nicky Giblin (Tim Ruddy). Nobody is aware of who Lockhart is, but Sharky, firmly played by impressive Andy Murray, learns the hard way when alone and confronted by Lockhart, who announces, “I’ve come for your soul.”

For a good part of the way “The Seafarer” is an orgy of drinking, with boozer-in-chief Richard, Sharky’s brother, portrayed larger than life by the dynamic Colin McPhillamy. Richard has lost his eyesight, and is dependent on others to help him, here notably by Ivan Curry, another with a thirst for alcohol, played accordingly by Michael Mellamphy.

The setting for all that happens is an elaborate mess of a place, designed by Charlie Corcoran. It comes across as an unusually spacious set for the small stage of the Irish Rep. It works well, with its stairs leading up to the unseen entrance and other rooms.

The excellent actors make the most of McPherson’s humor while we gradually learn about the pasts of the characters. Heavy drinking can be funny, especially when attuned to the Christmas holiday.

To Broderick’s credit he keeps his portrayal low key, making his dramatic pronouncement effective when he raises his voice like a thunderclap.

The card game itself becomes a rowdy affair, with frantic raises of bets and occasional outbursts of temper. But Lockhart plays his hands calmly and the audience is eventually dealt a surprise.

One can ponder what the author is getting at in his play, but it would seem to be a framework for contemplating one’s past as well as messed-up lives wasting away by escape via drinking. And is anyone due a second chance?

Director Ciarán O’Reilly, who is producing director of the theater company, keeps the banter intense, the pace fluid and gives the actors full rein to make the most of their characterizations. “The Seafarer” isn’t a very deep play, but it sure is an arresting one, especially as staged in this revival. At the Irish Repertory Theatre, 132 West 22nd Street. Phone: 212-727-2737. Reviewed April 20, 2018.

CAROUSEL  Send This Review to a Friend

The second act with heaven and then a return trip to earth in the “Carousel” book by Oscar Hammerstein II is as corny as ever, but what remains truly heavenly is the glorious Richard Rodgers music, with Hammerstein’s lyrics. Add the smart staging by Jack O’Brien, the lavish scenic design by Santo Loquasto, other production skills, splendid updated choreography by Justin Peck, a cast with great voices and you have the special aura of the current revival.

Jessie Mueller makes an appealing Julie Jordan, Joshua Henry is impressive as Billy Bigelow, and there are the necessary romantic sparks between them. Lindsay Mendez is a standout as Carrie, excellent actor John Douglas Thompson plays the Starkeeper, and to top it off in the casting department, there is the operatic voice of Renée Fleming, who acts the role of Nettie Fowler.

Consider some of the beautifully executed numbers: Mendez and Mueller singing “You’re a Queer One, Julie Jordan;” Mendez touchingly interpreting “Mister Snow;” Mueller and Henry with “If I loved You,” and Fleming, Mendez and the company spiritedly signing “June is Bustin’ Out All Over.” Henry, with thrilling power in his voice, makes the most of the opportunities to show off his vocal and acting talents. There is also the familiar gospel-like “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” given full treatment by Fleming, then again by Mueller, Fleming and the company in a resounding finale.

All that would be enough of an allure, but there is the standout dancing en masse, and especially by Brittany Pollack and Andrei Chagas as a dazzling duo.

The show offers an abundance of visual delights in addition to the score and the musical high points. There are enough of those elements to override the work’s corny trip to heaven and back. This “Carousel” emphasizes the dark side of the story, as well as its fun and uplifting sides. The result is strong appeal for those who have never seen “Carousel,” as well as for those who have and would like to make some comparisons. At the Imperial Theatre, 249 West 45th Street. Phone: 212-239-6200. Reviewed April 15, 2018.

MISS YOU LIKE HELL  Send This Review to a Friend

The effort of a mother to cement a relationship with her estranged daughter and the horrors of immigration crackdowns are blended into a touching, lively musical in “Miss You Like Hell,” with book and lyrics by Quiara Alegría Hudes and music and lyrics by Erin McKeown. The show, as you can see, taps strongly into contemporary concerns.

The stage set-up is unusual for the Newman Theater at the Public. Audience members are seated on either side of the stage in addition to the audience in front, with supporting performers seated in the rear of the stage and stepping forward into the action when needed. Thus the scenic design by Riccardo Hernandez is a simple one for most of the way, but the creation of a wall, both realistic and symbolic, provides a stunning scenic climax that evokes the present even though the story is set four years ago.

The mother, Beatriz, played by the excellent Daphne Rubin-Vega, has been estranged from her daughter, Olivia, whom she lost in a custody battle, and is living in California. Olivia is portrayed by the intriguing, interesting looking and talented Gizel Jiménez. Beatriz unexpectedly shows up in Philadelphia, where Olivia lives with her father, but is greeted with extreme hostility by her resentful daughter, who has felt abandoned. Olivia has a blog and has given indications of contemplating suicide.

Beatriz persuades her daughter to go on a road trip west and in the process she hopes to forge a new relationship. There is also an ulterior motive. Beatriz, from Mexico, is in the U.S. illegally and she will want her daughter to testify for her in a pending hearing that could result in her deportation. Olivia at first doesn’t know the danger her mother is facing, and when she learns of her mother’s plan, she rages at being used.

The beauty of the show, enhanced by the lead performances, is how well the songs are integrated into the plot and how effectively supporting characters are brought into the story. For example, there is the homosexual couple, charmingly played by Michael Mulheren as Mo and David Patrick Kelly as Higgins. The men befriend Beatriz and Olivia, and inject some musical fizz. There is also the tamale vendor, Manuel (Danny Bolero), whom Beatriz co-opts as a useful helper. Marinda Anderson is effective as Beatriz’s lawyer.

Songs include “Sundays,” “Mothers,” “My Bell’s Been Rung,” “Over My Shoulder,” “Tamales” “Now I’m Here,” and the title one, “Miss You Like Hell,” as well as others, and they are sung meaningfully and, which is important, entertainingly. Director Lear deBessonet integrates story and music smoothly, and the show is brightened by Danny Mefford's choreography. Despite some weak spots here and there, this is a work with originality and heart and appearing just at the right time. At the Public Theater, 425 Layfayette Street. Phone: 212-967-7555. Reviewed April 11, 2018.

MEAN GIRLS  Send This Review to a Friend

There is so much energy expended by the cast of “Mean Girls,” from leads to chorus members, that all must be wiped out by the end of every performance, two on matinee days. One can be pleasantly exhausted just watching it, and also dazzled by the panorama of projections, sliding desks and chairs, flashy lighting and other visual elements that go into this musical version of the film on which this musical is based. Scenery is by Scott Pask, lighting by Kenneth Posner, sound by Brian Ronan, video design by Finn Ross & Adam Young, costume design by Gregg Barnes, with music direction by Mary-Mitchell Campbell.

The plot is as dippy and predicable as ever, although Tina Fey’s book includes lots of laugh lines, and Jeff Richmond’s music and Nell Benjamin’s lyrics provide the appealing cast members with opportunity to score big in the singing department. Casey Nicholaw’s high-speed direction and rapid-fire choreography avoid lulls.

Life in high school with nastiness and rivalries is updated to the age of social media. The charismatic Erica Henningsen as Cady Heron, first shown during her life in Africa, is the new girl in the bustling fictional high school. She is shunned and manipulated, but ultimately learns the ropes and tries to emulate the main rival, Taylor Louderman as the sexy, preening and obnoxious Regina, who lords over a group of gals. Louderman is a knockout in the role, although, looking a bit old for high school, she seems more in the category of a Trump trollop. Of course, she gets what’s coming to her before all turns out happily.

The musical is rife with show-stealing thievery. At the outset we meet Grey Henson as Damian Hubbard, and he entertainingly runs rampant with his role. He is thoroughly amusing with his snappy dialogue, gay movements and hilarious singing. Another scene-stealer is Ashley Park as Gretchen Wieners, whose big number “What’s Wrong With Me?” characterizes her inferiority complex.

Others who make up the cast include the excellent Kate Rockwell, Barrett Wilbert Weed, Kerry Butler, Kyle Selig, Cheech Manohar and Rick Younger. They all have their highlighted moments, which add to the overall strength of the production.

There is a specific audience for “Mean Girls,” starting with those who loved the movie and want to see how it turns out adapted into a musical. Others may be current high-schoolers who may recognize the types. There are Tina Fey fans. But for many the milieu will hardly be inviting, although even a skeptic glad to be far removed from the doings depicted, can admire the cast and the staging alive with Broadway expertise. At the August Wilson Theatre, 245 West 52nd Street. Phone: 877-250-2929. Reviewed April 13, 2018.

LOBBY HERO (2018)  Send This Review to a Friend

At this time when truth and morality loom even more important in light of the daily distortions by our current president, Kenneth Lonergan’s play “Lobby Hero” resonates dramatically in the Second Stage revival. The play has nothing to do with current politics, but it has everything to do with how individuals cope with ethical challenges involving the need to face truths no matter the personal costs. It therefore remains an important play for our time, and it is getting a superb production with the penetrating direction by Trip Cullman and the piercing acting by four splendid players.

Each of the characters comes vividly alive and believable as they are brought together amid personal challenges. The setting, designed by David Rockwell, is a lobby of a Manhattan residence in winter of 1999, and Rockwell has cleverly made the lobby revolving so that varying perspectives can be accented for different scenes, as well as for talk outside the building.

The lobby night security attendant is Jeff (played by Michael Cera), who was booted from the Navy for smoking pot, struggles to boost his self-esteem, hopes for a better job someday, but has a bright sense of humor and likes to say what he thinks no matter the consequences. Jeff is a fascinating character, and Cera gives an especially winsome performance.

His boss is William, an African-American security agent, given a thoroughly convincing portrayal by Brian Tyree Henry. William, who also has hopes of advancement, at the outset threatens Jeff with being fired if he is caught sleeping on the job. Despite the tension between them, they develop a friendly relationship until Jeff blabs about a situation in which William has found himself. His brother has been arrested for a particular brutal murder during a robbery attempt and William feels the need to construct an alibi to help his brother despite what he has done as part of a pattern of screw-ups. He makes the mistake of confiding this to Jeff.

The other characters are two cops. One is Bill, memorably acted by Chris Evans as a self-absorbed, arrogant blowhard, who, although married, makes a habit of visiting a prostitute in an upstairs apartment. But he also comes on to his impressionable rookie partner Dawn, played with charm and sometimes toughness by Bel Powley. She has just had the experience of bashing a perceived perpetrator’s head with her club, knocking out his eye, and there could be a lawsuit. She is attracted to Bill as a mentor and as a man, but is subsequently appalled at his upstairs escapades and his dating demand.

The situation is further complicated as Jeff becomes sweet on Dawn. I never thought I’d describe a cop as cute, but Dawn pleasingly lives up to that description. Yet she earns audience cheers when she flashes her temper in rebellion against Bill.

Each of the characters faces a crisis, starting with William’s wanting to lie to aid his brother. Bill is willing to help William in this respect. Dawn feels compelled to tell the truth when she learns it from Jeff, who is pressured to also tell the truth about the false alibi. How each reacts and counter-reacts is at the core of the play.

Would you believe how much laughter Lonergan and the cast evoke from these circumstances? Comedy runs rampant throughout with sharp lines and funny situations. Yet the seriousness of the issues are not overwhelmed by the humor. What makes the play so effective that the characters become so very life-like that by the end of the evening we feel we really know them. The cast functions as an excellent, intertwined ensemble. At the renovated Hayes Theater, 240 West 44th Street. Phone: 212-239-6200.

THREE TALL WOMEN  Send This Review to a Friend

The appearance of British actress Glenda Jackson on Broadway is a cause for celebration. Having appreciated her talent on screen and stage as well as her political activity in Britain’s House of Commons, I eagerly looked forward to seeing the 81-year-old star at this late stage of her career. In “Edward Albee’s Three Tall Women,” Jackson comes through brilliantly as the major force in this excellent revival.

The performances by Laurie Metcalf and Alison Pill are also splendid, but Jackson is especially amazing. At first she is an irascible, partly dotty old lady of 92—she claims to be 91-- complaining about everything, but also providing a steady flow of muddled memories. She dominates the stage as she rattles on and on, including spewing racist comments, but sometimes she breaks down and cries. When she urgently needs to go to the bathroom she demands assistance, but then rebels against the attempt to help her.

It is her stories, delivered loud and clear, with perfect enunciation on every word and timing that leads up to lines that will make an audience roar with laughter. Of course, Albee has created a basically serious play for three actresses named only A, B and C. In the first scene we see B (Metcalf) in the role of exasperatingly taking care of A (Jackson) and C (Pill) there from a law office attempting to get A to overcome her reluctance to signing a stack of papers.

But Albee soon mischievously surprises us as the play veers into all three interacting actresses playing the same woman at different stages of her life. A (Jackson) has died, but she is still with us on stage as the oldest and dispensing more anecdotes and wisdom. Her past includes a bum marriage and a gay son she dislikes. The account of an erect penis and how a piece of jewelry was presented to her is a classic in the realm of receiving gifts.

Metcalf gets her turn to effectively talk about her life as B, who is inevitably working her way toward becoming elderly. Pill plays the youngest and gets her say about her life up to now. On a bed in the background is a replica of A as a corpse, and we see her son, played silently by Joseph Medeiros, come to see his dead mother.

Scenic designer Miriam Buether contributes importantly, first with a large, elegant room, and then, in the second half with the clever use of mirrors. Costume designer Ann Roth has dressed the women in a manner that helps define them.

Director Joe Mantello demonstrates that he understands the play perfectly and that he knows how to make the staging sharp, as well as knowing how to highlight the performances of his special cast. Thus this production, an hour and 45 minutes with no intermission, is an excellent revival, and an example of theater at an exceptionally mature and entertaining level. Jackson is to be welcomed wholeheartedly, Metcalf and Pill also deserve high praise, and although Albee is regrettably gone, the cleverness and originality of his work is still with us. At the John Golden Theatre, 252 West 45th Street. Phone: 21-239-6200. Reviewed April 1, 2018.

ANGELS in AMERICA  Send This Review to a Friend

There is an uplifting moment in the epilogue at the end of Part 2 of the revival of “Angels in America” that is both a chilling reminder of all who died of AIDS in the epidemic and a ray of hope for the future. Taking us back in time and memory, Andrew Garfield, so brilliant in his role as AIDS-stricken Prior Walter, speaks directly to the audience in a capstone to all that has gone before in Tony Kushner’s remarkable, award-winning 1993 play, subtitled “A Gay Fantasia on National Themes,” this time around in a British National Theatre production. (See Search for a review of a previous revival by the Signature Theatre Company.)

Those of us who remember so many individuals who perished from AIDS at a time when activists had to battle for recognition of the epidemic, and in the years afterward, must inevitably be deeply moved by the fresh look at those turbulent years through the eyes of Kushner and the impressive performances under the equally impressive and inventive direction by Marianne Elliott.

Kushner’s sprawling work is a stupendous blend of reality and fantasy, with political perspective and the interaction of characters portrayed in 1985 and 1986, followed by the 1990 epilogue. There is a total of some seven and a half hours of theater, with the first half, titled “Millennium Approaches” and the second half, “Perestroika.” One can see both parts in various ticket combinations. The result is totally unique, given Kushner’s wide-ranging imagination, daring and insight. Yes, there are sections that could be trimmed, but the totality is what hits an audience powerfully. Amazingly, while dealing with situations of the utmost seriousness, Kushner injects massive humor along the way, and the combination works splendidly, making the work often very funny as well as penetrating and upsetting.

The play offers a bonanza for actors, and this cast comes through admirably. Garfield gives a great, memorable performance as Prior, flamboyantly gay, suffering AIDS intensely, and filled with burning anger at the abandonment by his lover, Louis, played with impassioned, broadly expressed conflict by superb James McArdle. Louis cannot cope with illness and impending death, and although wracked with guilt, he walks away from the stricken, hospitalized Prior.

Much of the drama deals with coming to terms with being gay, a theater contribution to the evolution of gay rights and openness. The problem is epitomized by Lee Pace as Joseph, a judicial clerk in a painful marriage to Harper (Denise Gough). He becomes attracted to Louis despite his reluctance to face the truth about himself in violation of his being raised a Mormon. Gough gives an astonishingly vivid performance as Harper, who is a psychological mess, and needs to find herself.

But the great scene-stealer is Nathan Lane’s dynamic performance as lawyer Roy Cohn, who refuses to recognize that he is dying of AIDS and insists it is liver cancer. The villainous Cohn, who is disbarred for unethical behavior, becomes a larger-than-life character in the play, and we watch him doomed and hospitalized, but still fighting against recognition that he is gay.

Kushner’s imagination brings the ghost of Ethel Rosenberg into Cohn’s room, a reminder of how he helped prosecute her for conspiracy to commit espionage, resulting in her execution over which he gloats. Now it is her turn to haunt him, to the point of saying Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead, as he dies in misery. (Ethel’s accuser, her brother David Greenglass, admitted on television that he lied about his sister to save himself and his wife, thus indicating that Ethel was innocent and wrongly convicted and killed.)

Ethel is played with stoic calm by Susan Brown, who deserves special praise for the multiple roles she assumes. In addition to Ethel Rosenberg, we also see her as a rabbi, as a Russian making a speech about change in the then Soviet Union, as the mother of Harper and as an angel.

Another standout is Nathan Stewart-Jarrett as the sharp-tongued, larger-than-life hospital nurse administering to both Cohn and Prior. Kushner has given him an array of sure-fire laugh lines, and Stewart-Jarrett makes the most of them, his gay characterization and his attitude toward life and his patients.

One of the playwright’s most lavish concoctions is the descent of a wide-winged angel, played to the hilt by Amanda Lawrence, with all of the accompanying costume and effects trappings. She confronts and battles with Prior, who sees her as the angel of death. Some of the long dialogue between them in “Perestroika” could be cut, but the imagery brought to the play by The Angel is surely memorable.

The scenic design is by Ian MacNeil, who excels in helping to facilitate the action, real and imaginary, sometimes in the form of cubicles, sometimes with a room rising from below the stage, at one time with a dropped ladder that Prior ascends and always with a huge overhang that can light up when highlighted. There are many other key contributions—costume design by Nicky Gillibrand, lighting design by Paul Constable, music by Adrian Sutton, sound design by Ian Dickinson and more.

This is a rare opportunity to see one of the most important plays of modern times, one difficult to stage and unlikely to be re-staged any time soon. It is a revival to be cherished, and missing it would certainly leave a gap in one’s theatergoing. At the Neil Simon Theatre, 250 West 52nd Street. Phone: 877-250-2929. Reviewed March 31, 2018.

  

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