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    Review: A Glorious ‘Titanic,’ Returned From the Depths

    Maury Yeston’s score, stupendously played and sung, is the star of the final production of an excellent Encores! season at New York City Center.Among the 1,500 people who died aboard R.M.S. Titanic on April 15, 1912, eight were musicians, playing through the ship’s last hours to solace themselves and their doomed companions. It seems only fitting, then, that among the many ways to love the splendid Encores! revival of “Titanic,” which opened on Tuesday at New York City Center, the best is as a tribute to the power of music to address the largest and gravest human emotions.And what music! Though fully a modern theatrical work, the score by Maury Yeston harks back to the grandeur and pathos of period English symphonists. In “Godspeed Titanic,” his glorious hymn to the ship upon its departure, it’s Elgar and Vaughan Williams you hear. When Peter Stone’s book requires a more expository style to depict the class contrasts onboard, it often arrives in the operetta voice of Arthur Sullivan. For comic bits and social dances, Yeston ventriloquizes ragtime and early salon-style jazz. All of this is wound together in a seamless composition that could almost stand on its own.Or at least it could in the Encores! revival, which features one of the series’ largest orchestras — larger even than the one in the pit at the show’s 1997 Broadway premiere. Here the 30 instrumentalists are fully visible, on a platform above the stage, responding to the music direction of Rob Berman with full drama and no schmaltz. Seeing them play almost continuously as the action below hurtles toward disaster — there are nearly two hours of music in a production that’s barely longer — further echoes and honors the efforts of their Edwardian colleagues.The cast of 32, especially when singing en masse, does the same for the lost passengers. (The vocal arrangements are thrilling.) At times, the beauty and force made me cry, then blew the tears out of my eyes.A focus on musical excellence is more than just a welcome return to the Encores! mission (as this entire season has been). That mission — to revive shows that would be difficult to produce otherwise, in simple stagings that prioritize the spirit of their original musical intention — is a bull’s-eye for “Titanic,” which thematically and otherwise depends on its size. Even so, it is a test for the series, which, over the years, has enhanced its sets, costumes and choreography to a nearly commercial level, sometimes at the expense of other values.But in approaching “Titanic,” the director Anne Kauffman, represented on Broadway this season by the exquisite “Mary Jane,” has moved decisively back toward bare bones. Not that there was much choice: An Encores! revival could not begin to encompass the show’s drama by visual means, as the original Broadway production did with massive decks lifting, tilting and sliding. In that version, the ship’s architect, Thomas Andrews, was killed by a rogue piano.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    A Cave Explorer Died 99 Years Ago. Now His Story Is Broadway Bound.

    “Floyd Collins,” a musical about a trapped spelunker and the media circus surrounding his failed rescue, had a brief Off Broadway run in 1996.In 1925, a spelunker named Floyd Collins got trapped in a Kentucky cave and the unsuccessful efforts to rescue him became a media sensation, with print and radio reporters breathlessly tracking the endeavor.Now a musical about the tragedy is heading to Broadway, three decades after it was first performed and a century after Collins’s death.Lincoln Center Theater, one of the four nonprofits with Broadway houses, said on Monday that it would stage a revival of “Floyd Collins” at its Vivian Beaumont Theater next spring, with previews beginning March 27 and an opening on April 21.The musical features a bluegrass score by Adam Guettel and a book, as well as additional lyrics, by Tina Landau, who will direct the production. No cast has been announced.The show debuted in Philadelphia in 1994, and then had a generally well-received Off Broadway production in 1996 at Playwrights Horizons; it won an Obie Award for music, has periodically been staged at theaters in the United States and Britain, and has fans thanks to an Off Broadway cast album.Guettel, a Tony winner for “The Light in the Piazza,” is experiencing a bit of a renaissance. He is a Tony nominee again this year, for “Days of Wine and Roses.” And next spring, in addition to “Floyd Collins,” his new musical “Millions,” adapted from the novel and film of the same name, will have an initial staging at the Alliance Theater in Atlanta.“Floyd Collins” will be one of two Broadway shows staged by Lincoln Center Theater this season, which is the final season of its longtime producing artistic director, André Bishop. The nonprofit previously announced that this fall it would stage a Broadway production of “McNeal,” a new play by Ayad Akhtar, starring Robert Downey Jr. as a novelist.The theater also announced on Monday that it would stage Off Broadway productions of “The Blood Quilt,” written by Katori Hall and directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz, and Henrik Ibsen’s “Ghosts,” revised by Mark O’Rowe and directed by Jack O’Brien.They join an already announced Off Off Broadway production of “Six Characters,” a new play by Phillip Howze, directed by Dustin Wills. As a fund-raiser in December, the theater is planning a one-night reunion concert of its Tony-winning 2008 revival of “South Pacific.” More

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    In ‘Dark Noon,’ Hollywood Westerns Get a South African Reboot

    At St. Ann’s Warehouse, a collaboration between a Danish director and a South African troupe that questions the tropes of Western films.The saloon is there. So are the dusty cowboy hats, the freshly laid railroad tracks and the Native American headdresses.But while “Dark Noon” basks in these hallmarks of Hollywood westerns, it examines them through new eyes, leaving no triumphalist cliché unquestioned. Virtually every scene in this collaboration between a Danish director and a South African theater company (at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn in previews before opening June 17) ends with at least one bullet-riddled corpse on the parched red earth of the set. Many of the dead are female or Indigenous.“It is a western town,” Nhlanhla Mahlangu, the co-director and choreographer, said of the archetypal tumbleweedy community that rises up over the course of the action, “but it is all the settlement towns of South Africa as well. We are also talking about the shootings in our country.”Nearly all of the play’s seven actors piled into an increasingly crammed green room with Mahlangu to discuss the work after their final performance at Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, S.C., and they agreed about these similarities. “So much of our own lives are connected to these tropes,” said Mandla Gaduka, a cast member.The narrative in which the white-hatted cowboy tames the Wild West, typically through the explicit or (usually) implicit genocide of his Indigenous predecessors, comes in for withering scrutiny in “Dark Noon.”John Ford’s 1956 film “The Searchers,” starring Harry Carey Jr., Jeffrey Hunter and John Wayne, is considered a classic of the western genre.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    Pride Month 2024: An Abundance of Theater of All Stripes

    From Broadway to the city’s smaller stages, a flurry of shows with wide-ranging appeal, familiar faces and rising talent.American theater has long been more welcoming to queer lives and stories than Hollywood has been, so the abundance of shows during Pride Month is unsurprising. It’s also overwhelming — there is just so much to see.On Broadway, queer characters play central roles in productions as starkly different as “Illinoise,” a dance-theater work based on a Sufjan Stevens album, and Paula Vogel’s autofictional “Mother Play,” starring Jessica Lange. In the Max Martin jukebox “& Juliet,” a romance involving Juliet’s nonbinary best friend makes up a sweet subplot.And of course, the gayest show of the year returns on June 26, when Cole Escola’s madcap comedy “Oh, Mary!” — about Mary Todd Lincoln’s secret life and aspirations — begins previews on Broadway after a popular run at the Lucille Lortel Theater. As Joshua Barone wrote in his review, “Escola’s humor is tailored like a Bernadette Peters concert gown to New York gays who were brought up on a diet of alt-cabaret and ‘Strangers With Candy.’”Cole Escola, left, as Mary Todd Lincoln and Conrad Ricamora as Abraham Lincoln in “Oh, Mary!,” which is moving to Broadway after a run at the Lucille Lortel Theater.Sara Krulwich/The New York TimesSusannah Millonzi, left, and Purva Bedi in Bailey Williams’s “Coach Coach.”Maria BaranovaSave some money for the city’s smaller stages, though, because they are offering a flurry of shows for Pride Month and are where you can spot rising talent.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    ‘What Became of Us’ Review: Reflections on a Family’s Immigration Tale

    Shayan Lotfi’s topical play about a family building a new life in a new country leaves the details vague, deliberately.Details are sparse in Shayan Lotfi’s play “What Became of Us,” but the imprecision is by design. Onstage at Atlantic Stage 2 in Manhattan, the two-hander is meant to be one size fits all, to a degree: a story of immigration that doesn’t specify its characters’ country — neither the one they quit, in the Global South, nor the one they adopt, in the Global North.Q (Rosalind Chao), the daughter of the family, is alone onstage when she begins mining her memories of what she will always call “the Old Country,” from which she emigrated with her parents when she was 6.“They wanted to leave because of the economic, and the political,” she says, her vagueness allowing space for imagination. “They wanted to leave to find autonomy, and safety.”And, she suggests, they wanted their then-only child not to be frightened by the momentous change they had decided on: “They explained the journey to me using words from the fantastical stories I loved to read: adventure, new, exciting.”Q’s gaze hovers above the audience, but she is not talking to us. These recollections are for Z (BD Wong), her sibling, who was born in what she calls “This Country,” when Q was 7. For all of them, the new baby would be “a root into This Country that could never be ripped out.”Does it need mentioning that there is nothing sinister in that sentiment — that their parents were simply building their family as they built a new life in a new place, to which they wanted to be connected? Such are the electrified politics around immigration these days, and not just in the United States, that maybe it does.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    Review: In ‘Breaking the Story,’ All’s Unfair in Love and War

    Maggie Siff plays a war journalist facing the most dangerous assignment of her life: domesticity.“If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired.” So Chekhov instructed playwrights, and so they are taught in drama schools everywhere.But perhaps there should be a corollary: If you start your action with a bang, a gun had better follow.In Alexis Scheer’s “Breaking the Story,” which opened on Tuesday at Second Stage Theater, the initial bang is an earsplitting doozy: an explosion that throws a war journalist and her videographer to the ground. Nor is it the first life-threatening attack that the journalist has experienced. We quickly learn that in her 20 years on the front lines, Marina (Maggie Siff) has been knocked down, knocked out, cut up and resewn many times over. A scar runs up the right side of her face like a cherry gummy worm.Arresting and alarming though that is, it sets up an impossible comparison with the rest of the play, which, despite the director Jo Bonney’s efforts, is woefully light on dramatic ammunition. A rom-com is no match for a war.That’s not just the play’s problem, but also Marina’s. The slim thread of story concerns her attempted retirement from conflict journalism and sudden engagement to the videographer, Bear (Louis Ozawa). But on the weekend of the wedding, it turns out she isn’t so sure she wants (or can even survive) the safe, domestic life she has spent her career avoiding. Danger was not merely a risk she took in choosing to be a war correspondent but the reason for the choice in the first place.Thrill-seeking disguised as high-mindedness might be an interesting idea to explore, and indeed Donald Margulies’s “Time Stands Still,” about a war journalist likewise returning to regular life, explored it movingly in 2010. But Scheer’s framing, in which a flock of comic and undermining kibitzers descends for the wedding on Marina’s new estate in Wellesley, Mass., is too lightweight to support much content. For most of the play they treat Marina’s war-lust as an endearing character trait, already factored into their love for her.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    What if the Disabled Characters Were Just Going About Their Day?

    Madison Ferris and Danny J. Gomez star in the meet-cute “All of Me” — proof that depictions of disability onstage don’t have to be “a buzz kill,” as Ferris puts it.A bizarre thing happens when the actors Madison Ferris and Danny J. Gomez are out and about in public together, using mobility aids to get around: she a scooter, he a wheelchair. Inevitably, she said, strangers approach, presuming that the two are somehow in distress.“People will be like, ‘Are you OK? What’s going on?’” Ferris said the other afternoon at the Pershing Square Signature Center in Manhattan, where they are starring in the New Group’s Off Broadway production of Laura Winters’s romantic comedy, “All of Me.”And if several wheelchair users should roll down the street together, Gomez said, “then it’s like the circus is in town.” Such as the night a few friends of his from the Los Angeles dance team the Rollettes came to the play, and he and Ferris left with them afterward.“Everywhere we went,” he said, “just stares, left and right.”To Gomez, who was paralyzed from the waist down in a mountain-biking accident in 2016, that kind of othering underscores the need for theater, television and film to depict more disabled people, and do it more matter-of-factly.“Then it wouldn’t be so weird in real life,” he added. “It would just be people going about their day. Like, I don’t stare at you when you’re with your group of friends.”Not that “All of Me” is intended as pedagogical, but he does think it could help.In “All of Me,” Ferris and Gomez play characters who rely on electronic text-to-speech devices to talk. Kyra Sedgwick, left, plays Ferris’s mother.Richard Termine for The New York TimesWe are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    Review: For ‘Molly Sweeney,’ Not Seeing Was Never the Obstacle

    The Irish Rep ends its season-long Brian Friel survey with the story of a blind woman who undergoes an operation to try to restore her sight.Molly Sweeney can identify dozens of plants by touch, catch a lie in a familiar voice and dance ecstatically through a crowd without disturbing a hair. Because she lost much of her eyesight when she was 10 months old — except, crucially, her ability to discern light from dark — Molly has developed keen powers of sensory perception.Sure-footed though she is, the title character in “Molly Sweeney,” now running at the Irish Repertory Theater, is treated like a pawn by two men who can’t see beyond their own self-interests. That’s one of several conspicuous paradoxes explored in Brian Friel’s 1994 confessional drama, the final installment of the theater’s season devoted to the playwright’s work.Like Friel’s more often revived “Faith Healer,” “Molly Sweeney” is told through a series of monologues addressed to the audience. All three characters, who remain onstage throughout, narrate their subjective recollections of a six-month span (the year is unspecified; the setting is Ballybeg, Friel’s fictional Irish hamlet). But only one of them can speak with unbiased clarity on the central occurrence: what happened when a doctor tried to restore Molly’s sight.Friel’s extraordinary hand with vivid prose is especially evident in Molly’s version of events. Played with a poised sense of wonder by Sarah Street, Molly recalls relishing in the beautiful details of a world she had no need of seeing. The idea for an eye operation came from her husband Frank, played by John Keating with the frazzled intensity of a mad scientist. A dilettante prone to colorful tangents, he sees Molly as an object of fascination and a personal cause. Molly’s egocentric ophthalmologist, Mr. Rice (Rufus Collins), considers her a potential miracle patient who might revive his career.Directed by Charlotte Moore, this production is faithful to the author’s stated preference for minimal staging (the program quotes Friel’s disinterest in “concept or interpretation”). That puts the focus squarely on the three actors, who do fine work illuminating Friel’s descriptive language, particularly Street and Keating as spouses who gravely misjudge each other. The performers are confined to their thirds of the stage, sparse but for a chair and window each (the set is by Charlie Corcoran), while mottled blue-and-violet lighting (by Michael Gottlieb) creates an impression of a developing field of vision.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More