By William Wolf

ME, MY MOUTH & I  Send This Review to a Friend

It is always a treat to see and hear Joy Behar, and in her current one-woman show, “Me, My Mouth & I,” she is doing some of what she does best, addressing an audience intimately with an overall hilarious survey of her life, personal and professional. Call it stand-up, which was her entry to the world of comedy in the first place. But Behar always had a social edge to her humor, and more than that, she has shown herself to be an excellent interviewer on TV shows of her own, and certainly was a lively and provocative presence on “The View.” Here we can see Behar basking in all her personable glory.

Yes, she gets to gossip about “The View” and its participants, including Barbara Walters. Bitchiness is delightfully wrapped in humor. But mostly this is a performance about the trajectory of Behar’s life, which she reviews in marvelously comedic terms.

Behar affectionately makes fun of her Italian family and growing up in Brooklyn. She notes that she is often mistaken for being Jewish. Someone informed Woody Allen, she says, that she was not Jewish, and Allen is said to have replied, “Has anyone told her?”

In spreading the laughs, she chats about what it was like in her youth and describes her instinctive rebellion against the expected life of a woman to only be a wife and mother. Showing a projected bleak scene of the Long Island Expressway with her exit, 60, she makes it clear that could have been a dead end for her life if she didn’t also seek more for herself after she was first married and busy raising a child.

Citing a number of thwarted professional starts in seeking an entertainment career, she traces her path to standup comedy and being discovered, which was anything but easy. Always the reports come not only with punch lines but with hilarious descriptions. And Behar is expert at congenially establishing close relationships with an audience, as if she is letting everyone into her confidence. Bio with laughs—that’s the steady combination.

Giving an example of many, she describes a crush on one of the celebrities she has interviewed, the glamorous French actress Catherine Deneuve. Behar is still flabbergasted at the response she received when having asked Deneuve if she had any regrets about her life and the actress rattled off a whole list. Regrets? Behar flashes projected pictures of Deneuve’s beauty and what others might envy, including a photo of handsome Marcello Mastroianni, who was Deneuve’s lover. Then comes the contrast, pictures of Behar’s aunt accompanied by funny comments about her aunt’s humdrum life and a picture of her husband (hardly Mastroianni), but reporting that when she asked her aunt whether she had regrets, she replied that she had none at all. It is an uproariously funny segment.

Behar also has the audience in stitches with her take on the famed incident of Lorena Bobbitt—the woman who lopped off her husband’s penis, got in a car, drove some distance and threw the penis out a window into a field. Behar comically points out how long it took to hunt down Osama bin Laden, but that it only took cops two hours to find the penis. She expertly builds the story and descriptions with uproarious detail.

Enough of trying to adequately describe her show. Get there in a hurry and see this remarkable, witty, likable and original entertainer for yourself. At The Cherry Lane Theatre, 38 Commerce Street. Phone: 212-989-2020. Reviewed December 13, 2014.

THE ELEPHANT MAN  Send This Review to a Friend

A striking coup occurs when we first meet Bradley Cooper as John Merrick in the revival of Bernard Pomerance’s “The Elephant Man.” He stands handsome and sturdily before us while Alessandro Nivola, playing surgeon Frederick Treves, describes Merrick and points to photographs depicting his assorted deformities. As the series of pictures are unveiled, Cooper begins to assume the postures depicted until gradually he has manipulated his body into startling distortions. The effect is stunning and touching.

The drama, based on a real person in Victorian England and impressively directed by Scott Ellis, builds from there into a major achievement. I have to admit that I was not especially eager to see the play again (I had also seen the movie), but I was hooked from the outset, and admiration for Cooper and this Williamstown Theatre Festival production grew. The result is emotionally affecting, and Cooper’s extraordinary performance, which hinges on his acting, not make-up design, conveys the pathos of Merrick’s plight, but also provides humor and spirit in the way in which he attempts to cope.

Although he has had stage experience, Cooper is known primarily for the excellent performances he has given in films (‘Silver Linings Playbook,” “American Hustle”). His fans will surely want to see him in “The Elephant Man.” His good looks come across dramatically when he first stands before us as in the above-described scene, which makes his transformation all the more striking.

But while it is the main attraction, Cooper’s performance is not the only strength. Nivola as the man who rescues Merrick from his life as a carnival freak is excellent in his role of giving Merrick shelter, trying to help him survive and simultaneously studying his condition.

There is also the wonderful Patricia Clarkson as Mrs. Kendal, a flamboyant actress who assumes the task of helping to care for Merrick. Their sessions together are fascinating, and we see the bond of humanity and tenderness that develops, especially in a scene in which Clarkson tastefully responds to Merrick’s confession that he has never seen a naked woman. The up-tight Treves intrudes and is outraged at what he finds to be immoral.

As Merrick becomes more and more a high society celebrity, Cooper injects a measure of amusing cockiness into his portrayal, and that renders the play all the sadder as we appreciate the special person Merrick is despite the physical handicap he has been dealt. The drama also involves issues of finances and the extent to which a hospital will host Merrick. But the bottom line for an audience becomes the affection for Merrick instilled by Cooper and the playwright and what we feel at the end for the real person depicted, for Cooper as an actor, for other cast members and for the production as a whole.

Timothy R. Mackabee, scenic and production designer, has used wide curtains opening and closing as a motif, abetted by a collection of ceiling lights to help create a performance area that encases rather than dwarfs the drama that unfolds.

One unanswered question is how Merrick acquired the education that makes him so conversant with various subjects. But that would have made the play longer and not as dramatically succinct. At the Booth Theatre, 222 West 45th Street. Phone: 212-239-6200. Reviewed December 11, 2014.

A CHRISTMAS MEMORY  Send This Review to a Friend

Charm is the order of the moment at “A Christmas Memory,” the Irish Repertory Theatre’s presentation based on Truman Capote’s short story, with book by Duane Poole, music by Larry Grossman and lyrics by Carol Hall. In memoir form, the musical shifts in time between 1955 and 1933 in Alabama, with an interweaving of both periods and sensitivity permeating the reflection by the leading character. All has an enjoyable glow under the delicate and intelligent direction by Charlotte Moore, who is the theater’s long-time Artistic Director.

While its headquarters undergoes renovation, the Irish Repertory Theatre is in a temporary home at the DR2 Theatre at Union Square. Its intimate stage is used effectively with scenic design by James Noone.

Ashley Robinson congenially plays the Adult Buddy, who returns home and acquaints the audience with the characters of his childhood, including himself as a boy. Silvano Spagnuolo, who plays Young Buddy, would seem to be a born entertainer, with all the right, amusing moves in the musical numbers. Director Moore and choreographer Barry McNabb have combined to direct young Spagnuolo smartly, so that he is winsome as an appealing performer. There’s a show-off element, to be sure, but he also captures the required dramatic energy and feelings associated with the role.

Young Buddy is being raised by relatives, and he has formed an especially close bond with Sook Faulk, sensitively acted and sung by Alice Ripley who looks after him and provides a fun aspect to his life as they bake together and provide an element of magic to his childhood and to her life as well. They have some lovely musical numbers together, including “Alabama Fruitcake,” “One Small Seed,” “No Tellin’,” and with the Ensemble, “Buddy’s Midnight Adventure.”

Robinson as Adult Buddy looks fondly on this childhood connection and is a likable observer and explainer of the action. Others in the cast of characters adding to the recollections include Virginia Ann Woodruff, Nancy Hess, Sanuel Cohen and Taylor Richardson.

There is a risk of being too saccharine in such a production, but Moore keeps matters mostly in check so that we are able to enjoy the transfer to the stage of Capote’s short story that undoubtedly was influenced by remembrances of his own childhood. The musical is a welcome opportunity for a family holiday theater outing. At theDR2 Theatre, 103 East 15th Street. Reviewed December 5, 2014.

THE ILLUSIONISTS: WITNESS THE IMPOSSIBLE  Send This Review to a Friend

With flashing lights, music and a cast of magicians, “The Illusionists: Witness the Impossible” is a glitzy but entertaining show that can please broad audiences, youngsters included. There are no extravagant acts involving disappearing elephants or tigers turned into beautiful ladies. This production concentrates on the sort of feats that involve card tricks, birds, a body in parts put back together, participation by audience members and plenty of comedy.

The most elaborate act is performed by Andrew Basso, kown as the Escapologist, who in the tradition of Houdini, is immersed in what appears to be a tank of water, handcuffed and shackled, hanging upside down, with only a tiny metal piece that he uses to pick apart the cuffs and locks while a digital display clocks the minutes that he is supposed to hold his breath before arduously freeing himself and emerging from the tank.

Jeff Hobson acts as a master of ceremonies who besides engaging in some sleight-of-hand provides plenty of humor and can have fun by choosing people from the audience and using them as props for some magic horseplay. There are band members at work on both sides of the stage, and a large very helpful screen is positioned above on which what goes on is projected, thereby giving audience members in the huge theater close-ups. Otherwise, one would feel left out instead of being able to watch carefully to see if it is possible to figure out how the trickery is accomplished.

Other participants include Aaron Crow, billed as The Warrior; Yu Ho-Jin, The Manuplator; Kevin James, The Inventor; Dan Sperry, The Anti-Conjuror and Adam Trent, The Futurist. There is also a battery of assistants to help the performers pull off their assorted coups.

The overall effect is a splashy production that relies heavily on lighting design (Paul Miller), costume design (Angela Aaron), video design (Derrel Maloney) and illusion design (Don Wayne). The show has been touring successfully, and is now ensconced Broadway during the holiday season. At the Marquis Theatre, 1535 Broadway at 45th Street. Phone: 800-745-3000. Reviewed December 5, 2014.

A PARTICLE OF DREAD (OEDIPUS VARIATIONS)  Send This Review to a Friend

Actress Shirley MacLaine, believer in previous lives, might particularly enjoy “A Particle of Dread (Oedious Variations,” playwright Sam Shepard’s spin on the Greek tragedy “Oedipus Rex” by Sophocles that dates to 429 BC. The re-imagined play, presented by the Signature Theater and Field Day, takes place in the present with an investigation of a murder, but with characters representing both the contemporary and the ancient. It was staged in 2013 in Derry, Ireland, under the auspices of Field Day, and Shepard reportedly has done some tinkering with it since then.

The staging of Shepard’s work, under the direction of Nancy Meckler, is an intermission-less 85 minutes of often haunting effect, with an excellent cast headed by superb Stephen Rae as both Oedipus and Otto. A murder has taken place, with three victims, and Officer Harrington (Jason Kolotouros) and Forensic Investigator RJ Randolph (Matthew Rauch) probe what happened in their quest to find the killer. The format has the aura of a split-level detective yarn.

Shepard has cleverly worked out his riff with classical overtones and parallels both with respect to themes and characters representing present and past, all with chilling persuasiveness. Two musicians elevated on one side of the stage, Neil Martin on cello and Todd Livingston on Dobro slide guitar, punctuate the drama with original music by Neil Martin.

Brid Brennan plays Jocasta and Jocelyn, Aidan Redmond is Laius/Larry/Langos. Others in the cast fleshing out the tragedy include Lloyd Hutchinson in four roles, Uncle Del, Traveler, Tiresias and the Maniac of the Outskirts. Judith Roddy is Antigoni and Annalee. At the outset we see the mood set with Rae entering in overalls stained with blood and blood-drenched garments being washed and hung on a clothesline visually informing us without subtlety that this is a bloody tale.

Along the way the prophecy is intoned—Oedipus killing his father and sleeping with his mother—and the tragic action builds inexorably within the context of the sleuthing. A ceiling fixture, part of the set that was designed by Frank Conway, figures in a dramatic stroke near the end of the performance. To the credit of all concerned--Shepard, the actors, the director and other contributors—the overall impact leaves one enthralled and in admiration of what has been accomplished to give yet another face to the mythology that has survived through the ages. At the Pershing Square Signature Center, 480 West 42nd Street. Phone: 212-244-7529. Reviewed November 27, 2014.

A DELICATE BALANCE  Send This Review to a Friend

Edward Albee’s “A Delicate Balance” deals with fears within a disturbed family and fears invading from without. In this revival, sharply directed by talented Pam MacKinnon, a first-rate cast brings the play to a boil after laying the groundwork for its explosive confrontations.

Various casts have had a crack at deciphering what Albee was up to, and this one is an effective ensemble that offers special appeal and a reason for seeing the production. Albee’s plays are always a challenge, as they demand attention to his rhythms and are laced with acerbic dialogue and sometimes metaphysical ideas. Albee has often tended to entice audiences to ponder his meanings, resulting in stimulating discussions.

Glenn Close and John Lithgow play Agnes and Tobias, an upscale wife and husband living with regrets and fears in an appropriately upscale home, as elegantly designed by Santo Loquasto. They are haunted by the untimely death of their son, sleep in separate bedrooms and sex appears to be a thing of the past. For a good way Tobias’s main function is mixing drinks in this heavily imbibing household.

But in the play’s climactic moments Lithgow, astute actor that he is, tears loose as Tobias to reveal how much emotion he is capable of when long-simmering feelings and concerns rush to the surface. It is a performance that keeps building to a peak and makes for a standout turn worthy of award consideration.

As for her character, Close is slyly convincing as the matriarch who manages to look in control, and Albee has given the character some zinger lines that break through her veneer. She has one speech in which she amusingly, and somewhat bitterly, wonders what it would be like if she had been a man. She also speaks of death, and while she pours out her unhappiness, she at one point expresses some tenderness toward Tobias in memory of what their relationship may once have held. But basically, Agnes is a dissatisfied wife and mother with a sharp tongue. Close is especially good in handling a long, revealing statement of her take on the life she has been living. Agnes also suspects Tobias of having had an affair, and while we wonder if there might have been one with his sister-in-law, the issue is never resolved.

Staying with them is Agnes’s sister Claire, played by the superb actress Lindsay Duncan. She loves to drink and is adept at spewing Albee’s brittle dialogue. Her nasty edge carries its share of humor, as well as enlivens the drama. (Albee can be quite funny even when dealing with serious issues.) Martha Plimpton is especially outstanding as Julia, the daughter of Agnes and Tobias. She comes home after the break-up of the most recent of her four marriages accumulated even though she is only 36 years old. Julia explodes with anger when, expecting to have what was her room, she finds it occupied by two family friends, Harry and Edna. She wants them to leave and at one point brandishes a gun.

It is Harry and Edna who symbolize what Albee would appear to be driving at in the play. Skillfully played by Bob Balaban and Clare Higgins, they have arrived at the house uninvited, presuming on the friendship with Tobias and Agnes, with the intention of staying with them because of an unexplained, terrifying fear of being where they are. By bringing this fear into the already shaken family, they are regarded as coming with a plague that can be infectious. Harry and Edna have enough fears of their own, but it is difficult to say no to their friends. At one point it looks as if they may leave, but it is only to fetch and bring back their belongings.

A key issue is whether to tell Harry and Edna to stay or go. Tobias has a split reaction. Although he doesn’t want them to stay, at first he hypocritically urges them to remain. The concept of fear being contagious hovers over the last act of the three-act play, and it is here that Albee injects the crisis that appears more metaphorical than realistic.

Every member of the cast gets a chance to excel at particular moments, and there is a good ensemble quality about the performances as clear views of the characters are delineated. The play won the 1967 Pulitzer Prize for drama, and although it nevertheless may not be Albee’s best, it still reflects his talent for creating characters who in the right hands, as they certainly are here, can command our attention and make the work worth seeing and thinking about again. At the Golden Theatre, 252 West 45th Street. Phone: 212-239-6200. Reviewed November 23, 2014.

SIDE SHOW  Send This Review to a Friend

I enjoyed the 1997 original and I enjoyed the current revision. “Side Show” is a provocatively staged musical with a tough subject that comes through entertainingly without seriously compromising the tragic circumstances of its heroines. The work, with book and Lyrics by Bill Russell and music by Henry Krieger and additional book material by Bill Condon, who directs, is based on the lives of Daisy and Violet Hilton. The twins, who went through life joined at the hip, as they were born in 1908, are portrayed this time around by Emily Padgett (Daisy) and Erin Davie (Violet), who are charming and affecting when they are singing and also when they are expressing themselves in the context of what they must go through.

The show captures much of the ways in which they were exploited, notably in a freak show. They were elevated into vaudeville entertainers, but also later appeared in Tod Browning’s 1932 film “Freaks.” The musical poignantly covers their efforts at romance, and has the courage not to end happily, but nevertheless allows the sisters to symbolically separate as they sing the moving “I Will Never Leave You,” each with her own personality.

The lives of the Hilton twins reportedly were much more grueling than depicted in “Side Show,” as revealed in a documentary, “Bound By Flesh.” After their fame and romantic liaisons, their fortunes declined. They ended up working in a grocery store. In 1969 Daisy and Violet were found dead from flu in their home. Daisy died first, and Violet died four days later.

The sisters learned to exploit their opportunities, but there was always the “freak” element defining their lives as they remained known as the “Siamese twins,” now a politically incorrect designation.

But this is a musical, after all, and it would be self-destructive to make the show overly grim. Padgett and Davie elicit such warmth and high spirits contrasted with what they cope with in life that they are a pleasure to welcome as Broadway stars. Both are divine.

A large supporting ensemble makes a strong impression as the freaks on display, thanks not only to the actors but to behind-the-scenes experts, including Dave Elsey and Lou Elsey, special make-up effects design; Chares G. LaPointe, wig and hair design; Cookie Jordan, make-up design; Paul Tazwell, costume design and Paul Kieve, illusion design.

David St. Louis is outstanding as Jake, who plays an African cannibal in the freak show, then assists in the sisters’ upward career moves and secretly harbors love for Violet. He finally bursts out with his feelings with ardent words and singing “You Should Be Loved.” He has a thrilling voice and his impassioned number is a high point.

Ryan Silverman as Terry and Matthew Hydzik as Buddy are effective as the men who free the twins from their early servitude in the freak show and establish their careers on the vaudeville circuit. There is an especially amusing number, “One Plus One Equals Three,” with the twins in bed with Buddy, a satirical treatment referencing all of the interest in how co-joined twins might manage sex.

A serious standout number is “Who Will Love Me As I Am?” a beautiful ballad expressing what Daisy and Violet are feeling.

“Side Show” packs power that reaches our emotions but also meets the challenge of spiritedly entertaining us. Potential audiences need to know that they should not be put off by not wanting to see a show that might be too downbeat. Here is a musical that while serious, is to be highly recommended as a lively Broadway treat, especially for the conjoined star performances. At the St. James Theatre, 246 West 44th Street. Phone: 212-239-6200. Reviewed November 20, 2014.

ALLEGRO  Send This Review to a Friend

The Classic Stage Company has done a service in reviving the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “Allegro” in a new version directed and designed by creative John Doyle. The result is a charmer, especially with, as is Doyle’s specialty, cast members playing instruments in providing the Richard Rodgers music as well as singing the lyrics and playing the assorted characters of Oscar Hammerstein II’s book. “Allegro” was poorly received when it appeared in 1947, but it has had its advocates. This pared production provides a birds-eye view of the work.

The story involves the childhood to adulthood trajectory of Joseph Taylor Jr., played engagingly by Claybourne Elder, who gets away with depicting the younger years convincingly. We watch him grow up and become a doctor, following in the footsteps of his noted father (Malcolm Gets). The story has its moral issue. Joseph would rather do good and savor hometown pleasures than be rich and successful in bustling Chicago.

Joe marries Jenny (Elizabeth A. Davis), the sweetheart from his childhood, and her ambitions point him in the direction he doesn’t wish to go. Much more attuned to him is a nurse , played by Jane Pfitsch. The book has down-home quality inherently favorable to the simple, decent life of solid values.

But it isn’t the book that resonates most in this revival. It is the score and the talent of the cast putting over the songs and playing the instruments. Under Doyle’s direction, the cast members at times look like itinerant musicians, as they roam about the small stage area with seeming ease.

The show has an engaging flow to it in its present form, eschewing more ambitious staging for the low-key intimacy achieved. Others cast in various roles include Alma Cuervo, Maggie Lakis, Paul Lincoln, Megan Loomis, Randy Redd, Ed Romanoff and Jessica Tyler Wright. The effect achieved is that of a well-tuned ensemble.

“The Gentleman is a Dope” remains the best known song, but there is lots of appealing music well-sung by the cast. It can’t be easy to find performers also expert on their chosen instruments. But here is a success story with justice is done in part by Mary-Mitchell Campbell via her musical direction and orchestrations building on the original orchestrations by Robert Russell Bennett and original choral arrangements by Crane Calder. Original dance arrangements were by Trude Rittman. At the Classic Stage Company (CSC), 136 East 13th Street. Phone: 212-352-3101 or 866-811-4111. Reviewed November 21, 2014.

THE BAND WAGON  Send This Review to a Friend

The silliest thing to have done in seeing the New York City Center Encores! Special Event production of “The Band Wagon” was to compare it to the film, which was in a class by itself. Film and theater are two different mediums. Fred Astaire did it on stage in 1931 and later was an icon in the screen version. What a stage revival needed was a powerful singer in the leading male role and Brian Stokes Mitchell absolutely filled the bill grandly in the elaborate concert version (November 8 -16, 2014).

Those who saw the production at City Center were treated to a highly entertaining, smartly staged show offering sheer pleasure, thanks to the music by Arthur Schwartz, lyrics by Howard Dietz, book by Douglas Carter Beane based on the screenplay by Betty Comden and Adolph Green and the handiwork of all concerned. Direction and choreography was by Kathleen Marshall, with Todd Ellison as Guest Music Director of the Encores! Orchestra, pared for the occasion but nonetheless strong. The overture touching on some of the terrific songs established the right mood at the outset.

Mitchell was appealing in the role of Tony Hunter, a movie star whose reputation has faded and who comes to Broadway in the hope of re-burnishing his reputation. The intended show, initially imagined in a “Faust” mode under the direction of Jeffrey Cordova, colorfully and often hilariously played by Tony Sheldon, is a mess. Paul Byrd, an egotistical choreographer acted accordingly by Michael Berresse, wants to give the musical called “The Band Wagon” a creatively dark edge. His girlfriend, Gabrielle Gerard, portrayed by Laura Osnes, is to have the female lead, and will, of course, fall for Tony, who ultimately will return the favor.

All of the aforementioned were in good form, and the show was given a great boost by Tracey Ullman as lyricist Lily Martin and Michael McKean as composer Lester Martin, a warring couple, with Ullman handling plenty of wisecracks in the Comden-Green manner, in addition to some deft singing solo in “I Still Look at You That Way” and teaming with McKean on “Something to Remember You By” and “Sweet Music.”

Mitchell was a delight to hear singing “When You’re Far Away from New York Town,” aided by the Ensemble, “By Myself,” “A Rainy Day” with charming Laura Osnes, and “I Guess I’ll Have to Change My Plan” with Tony Sheldon,” as well as in combination cast numbers, such as “A Shine on Your Shoes” and the memorable “That’s Entertainment.” And as a bonus, Mitchell got to do a bit of tap dancing, no Astaire, but with his own flair.

One of the most enjoyable numbers was “Triplets,” a favorite from the film with the stars signing while dressed as babies. The feat could be pulled off with the magic of cinema, but on stage there was the extra challenge of making it look real, and it worked with fresh hilarity as Mitchell, Osnes and Sheldon teamed to do the honors. Other major songs that lent themselves to pleasurable treatment included “You and the Night and the Music,” “I Love Louisa,” “New Sun in the Sky,” “Louisiana Hayride” and “Dancing in the Dark.”

The talented women in the ensemble were strikingly dressed (William Ivy Long was Costume Consultant) and the sparse but effective scenery (Derek McLane was Scenic Consultant) made me wonder why intrinsically substantial shows sometimes need elaborate, ultra expensive sets other than to make audiences feel they are getting value for the high prices they are paying. At New York City Center, 131 West 55th Street, 212-581-1212. Reviewed November 18, 2014.

THE RIVER  Send This Review to a Friend

Hugh Jackman is the main attraction of Jez Butterworth’s play “The River,” a production of Britain’s Royal Court Theatre. His co-star is enigma. The drama, set remotely in a cabin along a river good for fishing, invites you to ponder its meaning, if indeed there is a deeper one, and Ian Rickson has slyly directed it accordingly.

On the one hand you can take it metaphorically or mysteriously, or you can simply regard it as a moody tale of a handsome guy who has no trouble getting a succession of women but can’t make up his mind enough to forge a commitment.

As a glance at the program will tell you, there are two women, and they are very effectively portrayed, which helps keep us glued to the action. We meet the first one, listed only as The Woman (Jackman is listed only as The Man), and she is a high-spirited character played by Cush Jumbo. We meet the second, listed as The Other Woman, played by a cozier Laura Donnelly. There are also references to an unusual photograph.

The playwright doesn’t build bridges between the women. They appear following one another without explanation, and you can ponder whether or not they are meant to be the same woman if you masochistically want to play a mental game with Butterworth, who has a surprise in the play’s final moments. And can all the palaver about fishing be a metaphor?

Whatever you may think during the play or after it is over, Jackman still remains the attraction. He looks handsome and well-built, as usual, this time as a personable countrified loner who enjoys his fishing hobby. He is restrained in his behavior, and at one point we see him in a prolonged scene slicing food for his cooking. (He reportedly wounded himself twice in the course of his acting duties.) Anything further that I might write would be a spoiler.

The loud applause rewarding Jackman at the end of the performance I attended indicated that he is the primary reason for those who bought tickets. At the Circle in the Square, 50th Street, between Broadway and 8th Avenue. Phone: 212-239-6200. Reviewed November 17, 2014.

  

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