By William Wolf

MY NAME IS LUCY BARTON  Send This Review to a Friend

Laura Linney as Lucy Barton is a marvel as she commands the stage and mesmerizes her audience in the one-woman play adapted by Rona Munro from a novel by Elizabeth Strout. The work, running an intermission-less 90 minutes, is in the form of a confessional as Lucy spins her life story for us in a revealing account of her experiences, emotions and attempts to understand the trajectory of her relationships up to the present stage at which she has arrived with her earned status as a successful novelist.

“My Name is Lucy Barton” was originally produced by the London Theatre Company at the Bridge Theatre in 2018. It is now brought to us by the Manhattan Theatre Club and the London Theatre Company in association with Penguin Random House Audio.

Richard Eyre has directed with simplicity within Bob Crowley’s bare stage design, including a hospital bed, a night table and a chair, but with Luke Halls’ video design of rear projection subtly introduced within the hospital room window as background to Lucy’s narrative, which is so consistently compelling that one has to pay special attention to realize that the visuals behind her are changing. In addition to the regular theater seating, audience members are positioned on the sides of the stage, and Linney, as she strategically moves about, occasionally faces them as well as front and center.

Lucy’s recollection of her long and fearful stay in a hospital as a result of a dangerous unidentified illness is the jumping off point for her account tracing back to growing up on a farm. But this is not a play about illness. Its concerns reflect, for example, Lucy’s attempts to understand her estranged mother and achieve closeness, even though her mother’s manner eschews demonstrative affection. Yet we come to understand the underlying bond that exists, evidenced when Lucy’s mother arrives unexpectedly to visit her in the hospital.

Lucy’s reflections cover her failed marriage to a husband who hates hospital visits, and also with thoughts about experiences with her father, her brother and her children. She is a bundle of conflicted feelings, persistently trying to understand them and come to terms with their meanings. The play doesn’t really seem as deep as it intends to be, but the performance overrides any weaknesses in content.

Linney speaks with great clarity and knows how to maximize expressions, as well as how to ring laughter from the recounting of her tale. There is an air of utter truth about everything that she does and says. She moves with authority, and can switch gears when required. Linney is also immensely likable and enjoyable.

Her imitation of her mother speaking is colorful, and she slips into her mother’s voice with apparent ease and precise observations often tinged with sarcasm.

Linney’s performance is flawless and surmounts the problems of one-person shows that run the risk of becoming boring, at least in parts, in lengthy efforts to grip an audience. Surely this is the occasion for award consideration this season. Here is a fresh opportunity to see a luminous, skillful actress at work. At MTC’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, 261 West 47th Street. Phone: 212-239-6200. Reviewed January 19, 2020.

LONDON ASSURANCE  Send This Review to a Friend

Dublin-born playwright Dion Boucicault’s farce “London Assurance), set in 1841, has endured as a classic, and the Irish Repertory Theater has revived it for a contemporary look. This was one of the earliest plays of Boucicault (1822-1890), and it has had various incarnations. Director Charlotte Moore, with her customary expertise, has assembled a quality cast and scenic designer James Noone has provided appealing London and Gloucestershire home settings via a revolving stage.

Viewed today, the farce, with its convoluted plot and tangled relationships, unfortunately is only intermittently funny. The characters are colorful, and the cast members ham it up stylishly, but the result emanating from the writing is more busy than laugh-evoking.

For me the funniest line comes from Sir Harcourt Courtly, played by an over-the-top, preening and portly Colin McPhillamy, who reports that his wife ran off with his best friend. Pause, then, “I miss him.”

Boucicault, of course, is satirizing his characters, notions of love and the importance of money, as well as the extremes to which the characters will go in pursuit of their involvements, requiring intrigue and posturing.

Grace (pert Caroline Strang), the niece of Max Harkaway (Brian Keene), is set to marry the much older Sir Harcourt for financial reasons. However, Sir Harcourt’s son Charles (Ian Holcomb) falls for Grace, who is about to become his stepmother, and she secretly falls for him too.

The flamboyant and married Lady Gay Spanker (Rachel Pickup), plots to get Sir Harcourt to fall for her, thus tearing him away from Grace, and leaving the path open for Charles. (There’s some fake identity switching on the part of Charles along the way.)

Naturally, all turns out happily in the end as the farcical elements run their course. Others in the cast include Elliot Joseph, Craig Wesley Divino, Meg Hennessy, Evan Zes and Robert Zuckerman. While watching the assorted portrayals by the cast members is enjoyable, the plot can grow tiresome during the two hours-twenty minutes production including an intermission. I longed for the play to become much funnier. At the Irish Repertory Theatre, 132 West 22nd Street. Phone: 212-727-2737. Reviewed December 20, 2019.

JAGGED LITTLE PILL  Send This Review to a Friend

I didn’t know quite what to expect from ”Jagged Little Pill,” the show based on the 1995 hit album by Alanis Morissette, who wrote the music and lyrics capturing the angst and lives of young people for whom the songs rang a bell. Lo and behold, it turns out that the show, an American Repertory Theater production, is a terrific entertainment, with much to say about a host of subjects. It is spectacular to watch, often very funny and sometimes moving. The cast is phenomenal and the staging under the direction of Diane Paulus is a knockout. The lyrics are by Morissette and the music is by her and Glen Ballard, with added music by Michael Farrell and Guy Sigsworth.

Before I get into the songs and the book by Oscar-winner Diablo Cody, praise is in order for the overall staging. The glitzy scenic design by Riccardo Hernández, with huge panels that move about relentlessly, the extensive use of projection (video design by Lucy Mackinnon), the dynamic lighting (design by Justin Townsend), the ear-challenging sound (design by Jonathan Deans) and the variety of costumes (Emily Rebholz) give the production enormous oomph. The often-on- stage orchestra generates more heat, with music supervision, orchestrations and arrangements by Tom Kitt.

Morissette’s pop-rock music is not my style but provides the right impact for the material, and the lyrics when they come through clearly amid the mayhem are often clever and on occasion moving. There is a large supporting cast of singers and dancers (Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui is movement director and choreographer) and the mass numbers are energetic and rousing.

The story effectively encompasses many subjects worth attention—marriage, parenting, race, bisexuality, rape, and playing a big part, drug addiction. There are demonstrations with provocative placards to promote causes. Remarkably, although “Jagged Little Pill” could qualify as a jukebox musical, it bursts forth as if freshly original with the songs fitting the story and emotions without seeming as if they were tossed in.

At the center is the upscale Healy family in Connecticut. Mary Jane Healy is the wife and mom and frames the story. She is played by Elizabeth Stanley, whose strong and touching performance certainly merits award consideration. Mary Jane is a bundle of nerves, increasingly despondent and harbors a past secret. She also has a current secret--she has descended into an increasingly dangerous drug habit that nobody recognizes, a plot aspect that fits current concerns about the national opioids crisis.

But Mary Jane can also be feisty and amusing, with her personality reflected in Stanley’s appealing singing, as in such numbers as “Smiling,” “Forgiven” and "Uninvited,” as well as in her duet “So Unsexy” and “Not the Doctor” with Mary Jane’s husband, Steve.

Played with charm, anger and perplexity by Sean Allan Krill, Steve works long hours and he and Mary Jane have become increasingly estranged. They go to a marriage counselor, and as serious as their bickering becomes, there is also humor in the scrapping.

The Healys have two children, Nick (Derek Klena), who has just been notified that he is being admitted into Harvard. He knows more than he has told about a high school party rape. His sister Frankie, 16, is a rebellious adopted African-American girl with bisexual feelings, partly for Jo (Lauren Patten) and also for Phoenix (Antonio Cippriano), with whom she has been smitten. Patten as Jo delivers a number, “You Oughta Know,” which is likely to earn an ovation at every performance.

The rape plays a big part, as efforts are made to secure Justice for the victim, Bella (Kathryn Gallagher), who struggles to have people believe what happened to her in an example of how the perpetrator is more trusted than the victim. Although appreciative, Bella is also angry and resentful after Nick bravely tells what he has seen because she notes that even when justice is served it is a man who becomes the hero, being believed when she, a woman wasn’t. Gallagher makes the most of Bella’s moving song “No.”

Much more is contained in the production that runs 2 hours and 35 minutes with an intermission. “Jagged Little Pill” establishes itself as a bright, accomplished new Broadway musical that hits it mark with thought-provoking, meaningful entertainment. At the Broadhurst Theatre, 235 West 44th Street. Phone: 212-239-6200. Reviewed December 13, 2019.

ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN IN THE THEATER--THE MUSICAL WORLD OF MAURY YESTON  Send This Review to a Friend

Composer-lyricist Maury Yeston, now 74, has won Tony Awards for the Broadway musicals “Nine” and “Titanic” and is the inspiration for the musical “Anything Can Happen in the Theater,” conceived and directed by Gerard Alessandrini and being presented by the York Theatre Company. Five talented performers bring a bevy of Yeston’s numbers to the stage in a delightful revue.

Alessandrini, with an eye toward casting as reflected in his “Forbidden Broadway” shows, has assembled Benjamin Eakeley, Jovan E’Sean, Alex Getlin, Justin Keyes and Mamie Parris, all of whom reveal the wide range in acting-singing styles needed to interpret the variety of Yeston numbers sandwiched into the production.

The songs here, even though appealing, are not generally very well known. Most familiar perhaps are those from “Nine,” based on the film “8½,” with music and lyrics by Yeston. Benjamin Eakeley, with charm and a commanding voice, sings “Guido’s Song,” about a director’s liking for multiple women, and also impressively sings “Only With You.”

Attractive and versatile Mamie Parris sings “A Man Like You” and “Unusual Way,” also from “Nine,” as well as the amusing “Call from the Vatican.” She also effectively teams with Keyes and E’Sean on the lively “Nine” number “Cinema Italiano.”

As for songs from other shows, Parris delivers knockout numbers “ Shimmy Like They Do in Paree” (“Death takes a Holiday”) and “I Want to Go to Hollywood” (“Grand Hotel”), with the full company delivering the title number from “Grand Hotel.”

Alex Getlin, who has a most interesting face with soulful expressions and a voice that can ooze intimacy, excels with solo numbers “Danglin’,” and “Strange.” She also teams hilariously with Parris in the feminist “No Women in the Bible.” Handsome, strong-voiced E’Sean is also a standout with “I Had a Dream About You” from “December Song” and “Mississippi Moon.”

One of the most delightful numbers is the sexy “Salt n’ Pepper,” performed by Justin Keyes, who, wearing a chef’s toque, sings about his kitchen availability. It’s the kind of number that a woman would entice with, and is especially enjoyable when Keyes delivers his saucy interpretation.

The full company is impressive when gathering for such songs as “Anything Can Happen in the Theater” and “Godspeed, Titanic,” that one from the musical “Titanic,” as well as other ensemble numbers. The revue breezes through in an intermission-less 80 minutes, with piano accompaniment by musical director Greg Jarrett and choreography by Gerry McIntyre. At Saint Peters, 54th street and Lexington Avenue. Phone: 212-935-5820. Reviewed December 12, 2019.

THE THIN PLACE  Send This Review to a Friend

Lucas Hnath’s play “The Thin Place” deals with a so-called thin place of between being here on earth and a twilight zone with communication beyond. But the real thin space is what is happening on stage in the play, a compendium of gibberish.

The character whom we first meet is Hilda, effectively played by Emily Cass McDonnell, who rambles on about her grandmother’s insistence that she could instill thoughts in Hilda’s mind, a relationship that loomed importantly in Hilda’s psyche. Grandma also presumed that after her death there could still be communication.

McDonnell is good at bringing to life the playwright’s discourse but unless you believe in the world beyond, you may grow impatient with it all.

The most concrete element is the role of Linda (Randy Danson), a British immigrant to America who has found a way of making money by exploiting people subject to pondering instilled ideas about a thin place between here and the hereafter. Having rich clients and posing as a psychic, she presumes to help them, and finds ways to exploit the revelations that she gets from them.

The other two characters in the play are Jerry, played by Triney Sandoval, Linda’s cousin, and Sylvia, acted by Kelly McAndrew, who looks at Linda with suspicion.

The play has been directed by Les Waters, who provides a haunted mood and the intimacy involved in trying to spin a tall tale and make us take the occult seriously.

Perhaps you will be swept into its orbit. As you gather, I was not, despite the expertise applied by the cast and director. At the Peter Jay Sharp Theater at Playwrights Horizons, 416 West 42nd Street. Phone: 212-279-4200. Reviewed December 13, 2019.

THE YOUNG MAN FROM ATLANTA  Send This Review to a Friend

Horton Foote (1916-2009) was a playwright who could zero in on characters with amazing insight and place them in environments that he knew very well. Thus his works were involving and moving. We see the evidence once again in the Signature Theatre’s revival of “The Young Man from Atlanta,” his 1995 Pulitzer Prize winner.

Director Michael Wilson, with an excellent cast, has skillfully brought to the surface various elements of Foote’s observations. The play is set in Houston, Texas, in 1950, and scenic designer Jeff Cowie has provided the set, mainly the large house of Will Kidder (Aidan Quinn), very successful in the wholesale food business. At least he has been successful until the first act in his office, when he is dismissed by the business owner and suddenly finds his American dream crashing.

We soon meet his wife, Lily Dale, played superbly by Kristine Nielsen with less of the extremes she is known to often shower on characters she portrays. Nielsen is very effective as the wife who is determined to look after her husband, who has been diagnosed with severe heart problems. Will is not the sort to give in, and carries on with bluster after his loss of employment coupled with his heart crisis.

The new situation they face is complicated by a far greater loss. Their son, Bill, has drowned in Florida at the age of 37, and we can see that it was most likely a suicide, a fact that Will and Lily Dale will eventually have to face. There is also the undercurrent that Bill was most likely gay and involved with a roommate, the title character whom we never see.

Little by little pieces from the various lives covered in Foote’s drama emerge through the assembled characters. We meet Lily Dale’s stepfather Pete Davenport (Stephen Payne), and Carson, his great-nephew (Jon Orsini).

There is Lily Dale’s housekeeper Clara (Harriett D. Foy), and entering the picture with a poignant performance is Pat Bowie as Etta Doris, a former housekeeper for Lily Dale, and now older, she wants to be recognized and remembered and has come to pay her respects. The scene is a reminder of times past, and the dignity projected by Etta Doris punctuates the story with a fresh burst of feeling.

What Foote has been slowly cooking up comes to a boil via Lily Dale in a powerful climax. Meanwhile, we have also observed Will attempting to get his life together with the possibility of going back to his old firm in another capacity. By the final curtain, so much has been revealed about the lives of all concerned, and what has been kept under wraps is bubbling to the surface even though not thoroughly stated. At the Pershing Square Signature Center, 480 West 42nd Street. Phone: 212-244-7529. Reviewed December 8, 2019.

THE INHERITANCE  Send This Review to a Friend

There is a double meaning to the title of Matthew Lopez’s ambitious two-part play “The Inheritance,” with a total running time of some six and one-half hours. On the one hand the title refers to a question of inheriting a historically important mansion, depicted in miniature, where gays plagued with AIDS were given refuge. The title also refers to the heritage of gay struggle and history handed down to contemporary homosexuals who have new problems of their own.

The cumulative effect of the play, incisively directed by Stephen Daldry on a set that consists mainly one wide low platform, is powerful, although it could very well be shortened. Yet, with a superb cast and riveting emotional highlights, seeing “The Inheritance” is an overwhelming experience, especially if you attend the two parts on the same day with a dinner break between, as I did.

E.M Forster’s 1910 novel “Howard’s End” inspired Lopez, and indeed one can find connections. When he wrote “Howard’s End,” it did not involve homosexuality--it was only later that Forster would admit to being gay. One of the things that Lopez has done is to create the character Morgan as a stand-in for Forster. Morgan, memorably played by Paul Hilton, becomes the guide to telling the story, steering Toby Darling (Andrew Burnap), who is an author, and others into how the drama is meant to unfold. He thus becomes a unique kind of narrator while also emerging as a tribute to Forster. (Morgan was Forster’s middle name.)

The play takes place in New York ity and its environs.What we witness is the relationships between various gay men in a mix of assorted difficulties in finding the right mate, happiness and success in life. Toby is especially troubled, and in Part 2 he has a big moment in which he pours out an agonizing description of the anxieties stemming from his childhood.

There is Eric (Kyle Soller), who is in love with Toby. Samuel H. Levine, plays Adam, with whom Toby is intrigued, and also has a juicy role as Leo, a male prostitute, John Benjamin Hickey delivers an astute characterization as conservative Henry Wiilcox, a successful businessman who wants to have a homosexual relationship without the sex as a result of his still mourning for his dead previous partner.

Hovering over everything is the past AIDs epidemic. There is a particularly powerful moment when ghostly representations of a generation of men of many talents who, one can presume, were AIDS victims, turn up to gather on stage, in effect making a statement that they are not to be forgotten,

Some of the emotional conflicts between the key men are basically of the sort that might also plague heterosexual couples, although under difference circumstances. Parts of what goes on could be cut. There is no need for the play to be as long as it is, although length is a statement in itself that calls for extra attention to the aspirations of the work.

There is a good deal of humor, as when Toby early on confesses to having thrown up on Meryl Streep at a wild party. Lopez has the ability to get laughs without undercutting the seriousness of what he is attempting.

There is only one woman in the cast, the phenomenal Lois Smith as Margaret, the caretaker of the all-important mansion. In Part 2 she has a long soliloquy in which she reveals much about her life and taking care of her dying son and oothers, and one gains renewed respect for her acting strength.

There is so much to experience in this unusual and important work, and it is highly recommended as one of the major plays of this theater season. It also deserves to take its place as one of the key works devoted to illuminating various aspects of gay lives. At the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, 248 West 47th Street. Phone: 212-239-6200. Reviewed November 29, 2019.

A BRIGHT ROOM CALLED DAY  Send This Review to a Friend

Tony Kushner’s vintage play, “A Bright Room Called Day,” which the Public Theater staged in 1991, is now being revived by the Public and impressively mounted by director Oskar Eustis. It is full of political ideas, but the trouble is that the play is quite a muddle, and only on occasion do the ideas break through effectively. Kushner, whose later “Angels in America” is a classic, has done some tinkering, and as a result there is added humor, so at least we also get some laughs along with the deciphering.

“A Bright Room Called Day” is on two levels, one a play within a play depicting left-wing scrambling in Berlin in the early 1930s in the face of the rise of Hitler. The other is the 1980s take on the creation of the play, and although this was the Ronald Reagan era, Kushner has now managed to inject some information projecting into the current Trump era. The authoritarian menace in Germany, hardly comparable as a warning to America under Reagan in the first place, is a bit more relevant to the authoritarianism of Trump, but still nowhere near any accuracy measured against the Nazi terror.

What Kushner has now mainly done is create a stand-in for himself as playwright Xillah, amusingly portrayed by Jonathan Hadary, who intervenes at various points to comment, sometimes amusingly, about what’s happening in his play and what the characters should be doing. The discourse is on occasion directed to the audience, but also with the outspoken Zillah (a name not to be confused with Xillah), who has her own loudly voiced ideas on how the play within the play should evolve.

During the 1930s portion there are a series of headlines flashed on a screen to indicate Hitler’s rise, including the infamous Reichstag fire blamed on the communists. We meet those who are endangered by their actions or associations. Linda Emond plays Annabella, a militant painter. Michael Esper is Vealtninc, a Trotskyist. Michael Urie is Gregor, who is gay, and although he has the unlikely opportunity to shoot Hitler in a cinema, he is afraid to pull the trigger because he knows he will be killed. Grace Gummer plays Paulinka, a self-centered actress hooked on psychoanalysis and mainly worrying about herself.

The most interesting of those in Xillah’s play is Agnes, vigorously enacted by Nikki M. James, but she is hesitant when it comes to action. Her sympathies are with the comrades, but she is greatly conflicted and too afraid to become an activist, which makes her reluctant to allow her apartment to be used as a safe house for those forced to go underground.

Estelle Parsons shows that at 92 she can still command a stage in paying Die Alte, an old woman squatter who is desperately trying to survive as best she can. Parsons makes the most of her plight and of mysterious comments of foreboding that she forcefully delivers.

The effort to interweave the time periods results in awkwardness, and also lengthens the drama to its two hours and 45 minutes. The attempt to force relevance to our Trump era also seems mechanical, although Kushner gets a laugh out of the horror voiced by Zillah when she learns what will happen. At the Public Theater, 425 Lafayette Street. Phone: 212-967-7555. Reviewed November 30, 2019.

EINSTEIN'S DREAMS  Send This Review to a Friend

I left the musical “Einstein’s Dreams” feeling that the score, lyrics, singing and overall production were so rich that I would enjoy seeing the show again to fully digest the creativity. The music certainly bears repeated listening.

The musical, presented by Prospect Theater Company and adapted from Alan Lightman’s “Einstein’s Dreams,” has book and lyrics by Joanne Sydney Lessner and music and lyrics by Joshua Rosenblum, with Cara Reichel directing and Milton Granger as music director. The staging runs 100 minutes without an intermission.

The plot is built around the great scientist Albert Einstein, who in 1905 is dreaming about the theories he is exploring. Einstein, portrayed by Zal Owen, has a habit of falling asleep at his desk, and from that people and events taking place in his mind burst into visibility and song that capture the progression of what turns out to be one of the great discoveries of all time--his theory of relativity, re-confirmed repeatedly through the years by scientists testing it. One amusing song in the show is “The Relativity Rag,” sung by Eisntein and the ensemble.

Throughout there is the periodic appearance of Josette, an imaginary woman who becomes Einstein’s muse. She is played by the delightfully seductive Alexandra Silber, who sings thrillingly, as in her early duet with Einstein in “I Will Never Let You Go,” repeated toward the end after Josette and Einstein sing the title number

In bringing Einstein to life on stage the musical encompasses one of his important actions, writing a letter to President Franklin Roosevelt, urging development of nuclear bombs because the Nazis were working to acquire them. That act is covered in a number called “Letter to Roosevelt,” by Einstein and the ensemble.

Others in the cast in include Talia Cosentino, Stacia Fernandez, Lisa Helmi Johanson, Michael McCoy, Tess Primack, Vishal Vaidya and Brennen Caldwell.

The scenic design by Isable Mengyuan Le features a huge circle against the back wall, with it alternating between a scientific motif to a clock, and Herrick Goldman’s lighting design figures prominently in giving an array of different impressions. Important projection design is by David Bengali. A platform overhead enables movement by cast members, with illumination at times highlighting them. At the left (from the audience viewpoint) is a staircase, from which Josette impressively descends. Period costumes are designed by Sidney Shannon.

A six-piece orchestra at the rear of the stage does a superb job with the score. It consists of music director Milton Granger at the piano and conducting, Bruce Doctor, percussion; Kiku Enomoto, violin; Jonathan Levine, woodwinds; Eleanor Norton, cello (Jessica Wang Dec. 10-14) and Saadi Zain, bass. At 59E59 Theaters, 59 East 59th Street. Reviewed November 21, 2019.

TINA--THE TINA TURNER MUSICAL  Send This Review to a Friend

The greatest pleasure offered in “Tina--The Tina Turner Musical” is the opportunity to enjoy the fabulous performance of Adrienne Warren as Tina. Wow, can she sing! She also does a terrific acting job in the role, and that combination enables her to dominate the musical in a manner that honors the real Tina Turner.

After earning ovation after ovation with her numbers in the show, Warren breaks the fourth wall completely for the curtain call. She connects directly with the audience and rouses the crowd with numbers in which the cast and ensemble participate. It’s a blow-the-roof-off finale that leaves one even more impressed with Warren’s talent, charisma and magnetism.

The term juke box musical has become something of a pejorative. But although Turner’s songs are sandwiched into the show, they at least mostly are made to fit the narrative, and the musical becomes more than just a song collection. There is enough of a bio in the book by Katori Hall, with Frank Ketelaar and Kees Prins, to touch essential bases.

We get Tina’s tough childhood, including an abusive father (David Jennings) and a mother (Dawnn Lewis) who doesn’t really want her. There is of course the ugly, violent abuse by Ike, played convincingly by Daniel J. Watts. The show encompasses Tina’s rise to fame, the problem adult years and a comeback, and it also delves into various personal and professional relationships. There’s only so much depth a musical like this can reach, but there is certainly enough to give one a sense of Tina’s life.

The production itself has razzle-dazzle, including energetic, body-shaking dancing (choreography by Anthony Van Laast), effective projection (design by Jeff Sugg), flashy lighting (design by Bruno Poet), powerful sound (design (by Nevin Steinberg), glittering costumes (set and costume design by Mark Thompson), and all-important wig, hair and makeup (design by Campbell Young Associates). The contingent of musicians are woven into action (music supervision, arrangements and additional music and conducting by Nicholas Skilbeck), and then positioned on stage as a unit in the encore blast. Phyllida Lloyd’s direction smoothly entwines the drama in Tina’s life with Warren’s singing.

There’s a special treat—the performance by Skye Dakota Turner (no relation) as young Anna-Mae (later named Tina Turner by Ike), who can also sing powerfully, which she further proves in her lively audience-pleasing duet with Warren in the curtain call finale.

The large cast also includes Tina’s grandmother (Myra Lucretia Taylor), record honcho Phil Spector (Steven Booth), and of course, the thrilling Ikettes (Holl’ Conway, Kayla Davion, Destinee Rea and Mars Rucker). Among the songs that Warren sings are “Better Be Good to Me,” “River Deep—Mountain High,” “I Don’t Wanna Fight No More,” “Private Dancer” and “What’s Love Got to Do With It.”

The show’s many attributes are packed tightly into this spectacle geared for those primarily seeking an entertaining Broadway production. And Warren is giving what surely deserves to be an award-contending performance. At the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, 205 West 46th Street. Phone: 877-250-2929. Reviewed November 15, 2019.

  

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