I review three shows in this morning’s Wall Street Journal drama column. Two are on Broadway–The Times They Are A-Changin’ and Butley–while the third, No Exit, is currently playing at Hartford Stage in Connecticut:
The buzz on “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” the new Twyla Tharp-Bob Dylan jukebox musical, was devastatingly negative. Such omens of impending doom are usually right, but I hoped for the best anyway. Mr. Dylan is one of the greatest songwriters of the postwar era and Ms. Tharp one of its most admired choreographers, so how bad could it be? Now I know: “The Times They Are A-Changin'” is so bad that it makes you forget how good the songs are….
Alan Bates won a Tony for his performance in the original production of “Butley,” which was by all accounts spectacularly memorable. Now Nathan Lane is starring in the first Broadway revival of Simon Gray’s harrowing 1971 play about a seedy, self-loathing professor of a certain age whose life is falling apart. I never saw Mr. Bates in “Butley,” whether on stage or in Harold Pinter’s 1974 film version, thus making it possible for me to view Mr. Lane with an innocent eye. It’s a show he’s wanted to do for years, so I’m sorry to say that his interpretation of the title role is an honorable failure….
Have you heard the one about three unhappy people locked in a small room for all eternity? Most theatergoers know the premise of “No Exit,” Jean-Paul Sartre’s 1940 play about life in hell, and can probably even quote its best-remembered line, “Hell is other people.” But “No Exit” is more talked about than performed–it hasn’t been seen on Broadway since 1946, when John Huston directed the American premiere–so it’s worth paying a visit to Hartford to see Jerry Mouawad’s wonderfully imaginative production….
No free link. To read the whole thing, go out and buy a copy of today’s morning’s Journal, then turn to the “Weekend Journal” section. Better yet, go here to subscribe to the Online Journal, which will give you on-the-spot access to the complete text of my review, plus a plethora of other good pieces.