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August 24, 2007

TT: She's the one that you'll want

I was back in New York last week, shuttling between Broadway and Central Park to see Grease and A Midsummer Night's Dream:

Kathleen Marshall needs no gimmicks to make a show a hit. Her revivals of "Wonderful Town" and "The Pajama Game" put her solidly in the running for the title of Broadway's hottest choreographer-director. Why, then, did she sign up to stage the Broadway revival of "Grease" mounted by the creators of "You're the One That I Want," the snooze-inducing reality-TV series that let its viewers choose the leads of this production? M-O-N-E-Y, I assume. Nevertheless, I'm pleased (and relieved) to report that Ms. Marshall has emptied her bag of theatrical tricks onto the stage of the Brooks Atkinson Theatre. "Grease" may not be much of a show, but this revival is still fun to see--in spite of the limitations of one of its audience-anointed stars....

It takes a scene or two for Daniel Sullivan's Shakespeare in the Park production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" to get off the mark. But once it starts moving, it quickly picks up comic speed and turns into a show that's very much worth seeing....

Three members of the cast give performances deserving of special mention. Martha Plimpton, lately of "The Coast of Utopia," is commandingly hot-blooded as Helena, the spurned lover. Laila Robins, who made a powerful impression on me three years ago in Bryony Lavery's "Frozen," gives a breathtakingly sensual performance as Titania, Queen of the Fairies. As for Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who played the hapless Leaf Coneybear in the original production of "The 25th Annual Putnam Country Spelling Bee," he's been cast as Flute, the cross-dressing member of the rude mechanicals, in which capacity he brings off the near-unprecedented feat of stealing the show from Bottom....

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Posted August 24, 2007 12:00 AM

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