John Simon

  1. 25 days of cats
    Looking Back at John Simon’s Positive 1982 Review of Cats“If you like lavishness, if you like opulence, if you like kitty-literature at its grandest, Cats is surely your thing.”
  2. star wars countdown
    Looking Back at New York’s Critical 1977 Review of Star WarsStar Wars will do very nicely for those lucky enough to be children or unlucky enough never to have grown up.”
  3. Extremities“…Quartermaine’s Terms is a treasure only a fool would miss. The imbecile Moose Murders was an all-time low…”
  4. The Twain MeetA charming revival of Big River mixes hearing and deaf actors performing together; Avenue Q reinvents Sesame Street as a […]
  5. Curtain CallThe backstage drama aside, Sweet Charity is winsome if terribly slight. PLUS: A critic hangs out his closing notice.
  6. A Bad BusinessDavid Mamet and his audience adore the horrid men of Glengarry Glen Ross. This can’t be a good thing.
  7. Dirtyish DancingA sexy dance but a cheesy production, ‘Forever Tango’ loses its tang after a few minutes.
  8. A Streetcar Named DesireWho’d think that the day would come when one would ache to escape from a performance of Tennessee Williams’s masterpiece?
  9. Truly ScrumptiousThe delightful Chitty Chitty Bang Bang proves that children’s theater need not be intolerable to adults.
  10. Everything is IlluminatedThe Light in the Piazza sparks at least a hope for the future of the Broadway musical.
  11. Exquisite CorpsesThe Pillowman revels a bit too much in its own brilliance and repulsiveness.
  12. Going to St. IvesHere the chief concern is what I’ll call the Cold Peace, whereby the West, including ophthalmologists, is blind to Third World genocide.
  13. Character AssassinationMiscast and misdirected, Denzel Washington is a poor Brutus in a worse Julius Caesar.
  14. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?How many more overrated British directors are we going to import to become serial killers of American theater?
  15. Sure ThingJohn Patrick Shanley’s Doubt, a nearly flawless work, suffers not a bit in the transfer to Broadway.
  16. Medieval TimesAnd now for something completely exhausted: Spamalot’s gags and songs are weary from their quest.
  17. RomanceThis is vintage farce (and in farce, as in wine, old is good), with no holds barred and all foibles bared.
  18. Pros and ConsEven with so-what songs, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is a fun night out with a terrific cast.
  19. Good VibrationsHow, I wonder, could one salvage the presently disastrous musical Good Vibrations, which is based on the preexistent songs of the Beach Boys?
  20. The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling BeeThe 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is almost too much title for a wispy little musical that hangs on the horns of a dichotomy.
  21. Twisted SistersSutton Foster is a delight, but everything else in Little Women goes horribly, horribly wrong.
  22. HurlyburlyThe New Group’s revival of David Rabe’s Hurlyburly confirms it as a major play, so absorbing bit by bit that by the time its three hours seem ov […]
  23. A NumberThe new golden rule for playwrights is: the less comprehensible, the better. Caryl Churchill’s short A Number is as fine a specimen as an audien […]
  24. Whispers and SizeFat Pig reveals Neil LaBute’s strengths (cruel wit) and weaknesses (the tender bits).
  25. Gem of the OceanEvery talented author is entitled to the occasional clinker. August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean is a big, bustling mess, supposed to represent the […]
  26. The Caged Bird SingsLa Cage aux Folles may no longer be shocking, but it’s still good farcical fun.
  27. The Singing SamuraiIn the revived Pacific Overtures, the arrangements grow more Japanese as the delivery goes Broadway.
  28. Dame Edna: Back With a Vengeance!Some comics transcend their material; Barry Humphries, a.k.a. Dame Edna, is one such. Edna is funny in appearance, demeanor, voice, and, yes, au […]
  29. Faith-Based InitiativeA tale of Catholic-school scandals, Doubt treats both victims and villains with admirable ambiguity.
  30. The God Of Hell Sam Shepard, impeccable actor but uneven dramatist, gives us a staunchly Bush-baiting stinger in The God of Hell, an absurdist but not entirely […]
  31. ’Night, Mother’Night, Mother is about daughter Jessie carefully preparing her suicide, and mother Thelma unable to stop her.
  32. RealpolitikMichael Frayn shows the human side of the democratic process, in all its tragicomic muddle.
  33. Five by TennNot all of Tennessee Williams’s unpublished or forgotten playlets deserve staging. Five by Tenn comprises four of the former and one of the latter.
  34. Southern ExposureMatthew Broderick goes nonnative in the fishing farce The Foreigner.
  35. The Shtetl Hits the FanRussian Jews bring bananas and banality to Texas, in a hypothetically heartwarming musical dud.
  36. No DoubtTwelve Angry Men is headed for the canon, thanks to a subtle script and actors who know nuance.
  37. Lullaby of BrooklynThe latest pop musical embodies today’s Broadway: flashy, splashy, and contraindicated for those over 60.
  38. Wit Man’s SamplerA revue of Sondheim tunes, both famous and obscure; a bouncy Mary-Louise Parker in Reckless; an annoying Othello; and Peter Dinkla […]
  39. Amos and CandyThe race-switching farce White Chocolate is surprisingly tasty; Last Easter and Nine Parts of Desire are chock-full of an […]
  40. They’re Still HerePaula Vogel’s elderly prostitutes talk too fancy, String of Pearls falls apart, and Hedda Gabler is crazy. But Kitty Carlisle Ha […]
  41. Meat Is MurderA gory, all-male Shakespeare production slices and dices three plays, with mixed results; Tina Howe’s translation of Ionesco is half full.
  42. Recovered Memory SyndromeGuantánamo—a documentary dramatization of government abuse—is static, earnest, and beautifully performed. Plus: A miscast Susannah York.
  43. Bloody HellFrank Wildhorn’s Dracula sucks. Plus: Mickey Rooney, winsome against all odds in a cabaret performed with his eighth wife, Jan.
  44. Shavian CreamA hyperkinetic Pygmalion and a virtuoso performance in Man and Superman rise to the top at another memorable Shaw Festival.
  45. American BridalHorton Foote’s latest tells a poignant tale of a wedding gone wrong.
  46. Croak ClassicThe Frogs fails to make a splash. Plus a neatly trimmed After the Fall, some too-clever Fiction, and a lively adaptation […]
  47. Farce TimeA splashy, trashy, unsubtle—but audience-pleasing— Shakespeare in the Park; Baryshnikov as a man who believes he’s a car.
  48. Regime ChangeA refreshing new cast for Hairspray—especially sweet, innocent Carly Jibson and Michael McKean as a credible Edna.
  49. Going PostalAddress Unknown has Jim Dale, but doesn’t deliver. Plus mangled Molière; lesser Lynn Nottage; Norwegian whining.
  50. In Brief: Audra McDonald at Zankel Hall and The Joys of SexOn leave from A Raisin in the Sun, quadruple Tony winner Audra McDonald recently gave four performances of a 75-minute concert in Zankel Hall.
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