In 2004 “Intimate Apparel” and “Fabulation,” two new plays by Lynn Nottage, received high-profile Off Broadway productions. All at once she was the talk of the town, and “Intimate Apparel” went on to become the most frequently produced new American play of the 2005-06 season. But Ms. Nottage was no theatrical debutante. Nine years earlier, she had written “Crumbs from the Table of Joy,” a “Glass Menagerie”-style memory play commissioned by New York’s Second Stage Theatre that received mixed reviews, though it, too, is now a regional-theater staple.
I finally caught up with “Crumbs from the Table of Joy” last weekend at Baltimore CenterStage, where it has been given a production of the highest possible quality. As for the play itself, I’ve no idea why it didn’t put Ms. Nottage on the map a decade sooner. It’s at least as good as “Intimate Apparel,” and perhaps even more immediately appealing….
I also went to Philadelphia to report on Arden Theater’s revival of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum:
If there’s a funnier musical than “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” I haven’t seen it. The book, by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart, is a baggy-pants farce based on two comedies of Plautus that overflows with nudge-nudge laughs. Most of Stephen Sondheim’s songs are functional, but brilliantly so, and “Comedy Tonight,” a prologue added at Jerome Robbins’ suggestion during the previews of the original 1962 production, is one of Mr. Sondheim’s wittiest inspirations. The result is a show that rarely fails to send its audiences home happy, and the Arden Theatre Company’s spirited revival, staged with leering gusto by Terrence J. Nolen, the company’s artistic director, is full to the brim with good, dirty fun….
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