Author: Donna Herman


The 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall uprising has gotten a lot of attention in NYC during Pride Month – which, after all, is held in June every year to commemorate that event.  Reviving a Charles Ludlum/Ridiculous Theatrical Company work seems like it would be a no-brainer to include in the festivities.  Ludlum’s body of work from the late ‘60’s to the late 80’s pushed the boundaries of comedy by using wild exaggeration, cross-dressing and pointed satire, but he resisted labels like “camp” or “avant-garde.”  He not only wrote the plays, but most often starred in them (in drag) and directed them as well.  Openly gay, his death in 1987 marked the first front page obituary by The New York Times to mention a death from AIDS. But will a 1987 work translate?

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A Strange Loop

What is it like to be “a young overweight-to-obese homosexual and/or gay and/or queer, cisgender male, able-bodied university-and-graduate-school educated, musical theater writing, Disney Ushering, broke-ass middle-class far left-leaning black-identified and classified American descendant of slaves full of self-conscious femme energy and who thinks he’s probably a vers bottom but not totally certain of that obsessing over the latest draft of his self-referential musical “A Strange Loop!” And surrounded by his extremely obnoxious Thoughts?”  Well, you’ll have to get yourself to Playwrights Horizons to see the world premiere of Michael R. Jackson’s brave new musical “A Strange Loop” in order to find out.

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Moira Buffini’s Handbagged is a much-needed meta-comedy currently enjoying its NY premiere in the 59E59 Theaters 2019 Brits off Broadway Festival.  Handbagged explores the relationship between Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-living and longest-reigning British monarch; and “Iron Lady” Margaret Thatcher, the longest reigning British prime minister of the 20th Century and the first woman British prime minister.  Much needed because it serves to remind us that political gorgons aren’t all American made.

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Public Servant

I’m a fan of Bekah Brunstetter’s.  I’ll go see whatever she writes.  She’s a striver who thinks and deals with the stuff of life.  She may not hit it out of the park every time she’s up at bat, but she always swings for the fences. Brunstetter’s new play “Public Servant,” is the second in a trilogy that began with “The Cake.” Both Ed Sink (Chris Henry Coffey), newly elected County Commissioner, and his daughter Hannah (Anna Lentz) don’t question that Ed is one of the good guys.  Miriam (Christine Bruno), a disillusioned New Yorker is in town to sell her late mother’s house and she needs Ed’s help.  But politics is a three-ringed circus and Ed learns he’s no P.T. Barnum.  Theater Breaking Through Barriers is kicking off its 40th Anniversary season by presenting the World Premiere of “Public Servant” through June 29th at Theatre Row’s Clurman Theatre.

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The Importance of Being Earnest

I used to love going to see Shakespeare in the park until it became a career trying to get a ticket.  There’s something compelling about seeing theater outdoors.  Perhaps it’s the Ancient Greek in my Jewish soul.  Last night I fell in love again with theater in Central Park when I saw NY Classical Theatre’s production of Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest.”  There’s nothing more satisfying, and nothing more quintessentially NYC than sitting on the grass with others in the know, enjoying the wonderful weather, the idyllic backdrop of a body of water framed with drooping trees, and a talented troupe of actors performing a witty, erudite piece of classical theater.  For free!

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