Around Broadway

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Every Wednesday morning, Jeff Spurgeon finds out what's new on Broadway and beyond from Charles Isherwood, theater critic for The New York Times.More from Around Broadway »

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Len Cariou Mixes Showstoppers with Shakespeare

Actor Len Cariou has enjoyed a long and distinguished career. Among his many appearances, he created the role Sweeney Todd in the eponymous Stephen Sondheim musical. Perhaps less well-known is Cariou's long résumé of Shakespearean roles. Early in his career, he performed in several of Shakespeare's plays at both the Stratford Festival in Ontario, Canada, and the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. Now, in his new one-man show, Broadway and the Bard, Cariou presents Shakespeare's soliloquies alongside apt show tunes. New York Times theater critic Charles Isherwood shares his impressions.

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Linda Lavin Stars in 'Our Mother's Brief Affair'

While on the latest of her many supposed deathbeds, a "tart-tongued" mother, played by Tony-winner Linda Lavin, reveals to her children the details of a tryst from decades past that may resonate in the present in Richard Greenberg's "Our Mother's Brief Affair." The play, directed by Lynne Meadow, also features Kate Arrington, Greg Keller and John Procaccino. Lavin is "an occassion unto herself," says New York Times theater critic Charles Isherwood, as he weighs in on the merits of this 11th collaboration between Greenberg and the Manhattan Theatre Club, which is currently running on Broadway at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre.

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An Unusal Birthday Party for Thomas Merton

To mark last year's centennial of the birth of the writer and theologian Thomas Merton, the Actors Theater of Louisville has produced a play about him called "The Glory of the World." Merton spent much of his life in a Trappist monastery near Louisville. The play, written by Charles Mee and directed by Les Waters, has now blown its way into the Harvey Theater at BAM. The play is by no means a straightforward biographical drama and, in fact, it's unusual enough that we'll just let New York Times theater critic Charles Isherwood explain. "The Glory of the World" can be seen at the Harvey Theater through Feb. 6.

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'Noises Off' Is Back On Broadway With Starry, Funny Cast

Michael Frayn's frantic 1982 sex farce-within-a-farce "Noises Off" returns to Broadway for a third run this season under the auspices of the Roundabout Theatre Company. This time around the director is Jeremy Herrin, who staged the two-part Tudor drama "Wolf Hall" last season. The starry cast features Andrea Martin and Megan Hilty, among others. New York Times theater critic Charles Isherwood tells us whether or not it's worth running to see at the American Airlines Theatre, where it's running through March 6.

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Red Bull Theater Brings Jacobean Drama to Off-Broadway

Jacobean era dramas are rarely seen on major New York stages, but the enterprising Red Bull Theater company, under the artistic directorship of Jesse Berger, has made a specialty of them. Its latest foray into the period — the time during the reign of James VI of Scotland from 1567–1625 — is a production of "The Changeling," a play from 1622 written by Thomas Middleton and Thomas Rowley. Jacobean dramas are generally noted for their sensational stories of lust and violence and revenge. New York Times theater critic Charles Isherwook lets us know if "The Changeling" satisfies on these fronts and what it has to offer a contemporary audience. "The Changeling" can be seen at the Lucille Lortel Theatre through Jan. 24.

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'Fiddler on the Roof' Back on Broadway

The beloved 1964 musical "Fiddler on the Roof," with its book by Joseph Stein and score by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, is back on Broadway this season. Based on writer Sholem Aleichem's Yiddish tales of Tevye the milkman, this new production of "Fiddler" is the show's fifth return to the Great White Way. The role of Tevye was originated by Zero Mostel, played on stage and film by Chaim Topol, and on Broadway by Herschel Bernardi, Theodore Bikel, Leonard Nimoy and Harvey Fierstein, among others. In this production, five-time Tony Award nominee Danny Burstein has the role, and the director is Bartlett Sher, acclaimed for his Rodgers and Hammerstein revivals on Broadway. But do we really need yet another "Fiddler on the Roof?" New York Times theater critic Charles Isherwood explains why we just might. "Fiddler on the Roof" runs through July 3 at the Broadway Theatre.

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A New 'View From the Bridge' on Broadway

Arthur Miller's "A View from the Bridge" hasn't exactly been a stranger to Broadway. It has already been revived three times, most recently in 2010 in a production starring Liev Schreiber. But it's back once more this season in an innovative production from the Dutch director Ivo van Hove. The staging was originally seen at London's Young Vic Theater and later in the West End. Ivo van Hove is known for his radically stylized productions of classic plays by authors ranging from Ibsen to Moliere to Lillian Hellman. New York Times theater critic Charles Isherwood lets us in on how the director approaches this particular American classic. "A View from the Bridge" runs through Feb. 21 at the Lyceum Theatre.

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Shakespeare Takes a Jolly Romp Through 1960s London

The new musical "These Paper Bullets!" at the Atlantic Theater Company bills itself as a "modish ripoff" of Shakespeare's comedy "Much Ado About Nothing." The new adaptation is by Rolin Jones, who has updated the setting to London during the swinging sixties. The production, directed by Jackson Gay, also features new songs written by Billie Joe Armstrong, the front man for the band Green Day who wrote the Tony Award-winning musical "American Idiot." We are used to seeing Shakespeare plays set in any number of times and places, and we ask New York Times theater critic Charles Isherwood if this production sounds like something more radical.

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The Rock and Roll Return of Andrew Lloyd Webber

One of the world's most successful musicians returns to his musical roots in his latest Broadway show. Andrew Lloyd Webber, best-known for "Phantom of the Opera," "Evita" and other shows that feature pop music in an operatic vein, has made a musical out of the movie "School of Rock." The 2003 film starred Jack Black as a slacker dude who gets a job as an elementary school teacher. It's a throwback for Lloyd Webber, whose first successes, "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" and "Jesus Christ Superstar," were musically cast in a more pop-rock idiom. The new show also features a book written by Julian Fellowes, creator of "Downton Abbey." New York Times theater critic Charles Isherwood checked it out to see if Lloyd Webber still has his magic touch. "School of Rock" can be seen at the Winter Garden Theater.

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Taylor Mac's Bold Comedy 'Hir' Brings Many Issues To Broadway

A downtown theater playwright, a sensational Broadway actress and a most unusual family are all part of the show called "Hir" (pronounced "here"). Playwright Taylor Mac is probably best known — to those who follow downtown theater, at least — as an androgynous singer and actor who appears in his own shows. But with "Hir," in which he does not appear, he's advancing his career in a new direction. The family-in-crisis story involves a returning war veteran, an angry spouse and more than a little gender-bending. New York Times theater critic Charles Isherwood looks at this twice-extended bold comedy, which has been extended yet a third time to run through Jan. 3 at Playwrights Horizons.

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