Author: Donna Herman

Kingdom Come

Roundabout Underground supports and cultivates the work of emerging playwrights and directors, and is presenting “Kingdom Come” by Jenny Rachel Weiner as the first production of its tenth season. Unfortunately, I don’t think “Kingdom Come” is going to be her breakout vehicle. What she’s got is a good idea: two women who don’t believe they are ‘enough,’ go online looking for love while pretending to be someone else. They find each other and form a bond. Weiner also has a great tag line: “What happens when the feelings are real but the people are not?” Okay, but see, the playwright has to make the characters real. Or at least behave believably.

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Vietgone

Look! Up on the Manhattan Theatre Club stage! It’s a love story! No, it’s a comedy! No, it’s a rap musical! No, It’s a live graphic novel! NO! It’s the New York premiere of “Vietgone” by playwright Qui Nguyen. Part playful, part dead serious, Qui Nguyen, born in America to two Vietnamese refugee parents, takes dead aim at both Baby Boomers and Millennials alike in his innovative new work and hits both targets.

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Not That Jewish

Monica Piper who is performing a solo show about her life called “Not That Jewish,” at New World Stages, really is all that Jewish. Even though her childhood next door neighbor in the Bronx, Carol Bengelsdorf, accuses her of being “not that Jewish” not because of her name, but because she catches her in a little (ahem) fib, about having gone to temple on Rosh Hashanah. Oy. So, because she is authentically Jewish, despite Carol Bengelsdorf’s slanderous and unfounded accusations, at age 7, little Monica has an existential crisis about whether or not she’s Jewish. I’m laughing and relating, mostly. As is the rest of the audience who is about three-quarters alta cocker, and one-quarter able to wear lace-up shoes.

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Sweet

Kudos to Raelle Myrick-Hodges who makes her NYC directorial debut, and to Harrison David Rivers whose play “Sweet” is making it’s world premiere at the National Black Theater. And kudos also to the fine cast. Together they have created a pitch perfect world that is truthful, real, and obviously offered to us with thoughtfulness and love as a gift. Set in 1968, against an all-too-familiar backdrop of American life that includes intolerance, injustice, domestic violence and overseas war, we have a town out of time in fictional Juneervy, Kansas, where three young people have to decide whether the course of their lives will bring them into or out of the battleground. And will their choices make them happy?

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Tick, Tick…Boom!

The revival of Jonathan Larson’s “Tick, Tick…Boom!” by the Keen Company at the Theater Row Acorn Theater, is a charming, touching, relevant, well-performed piece of musical theater. An early autobiographical work by the late composer of the Pulitzer and Tony winning author of “Rent,” “Tick, Tick…Boom!” is the story of a struggling musical theater composer named, not coincidentally, Jonathan (Nick Blaemire). A constant ticking is both an opening sound effect and the sound he’s hearing in his head. Jon confesses in his opening monologue and song 30/90, that he’s beginning to fear the appellation “promising young composer” is about to become a misnomer. And with the advent of his 30th birthday the following week, the ticking is beginning to be followed by a distant “Boom!”

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