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Entries by David Finkle from 11/2012

First Nighter: Jessica Chastain as 'The Heiress' -- or Not

| Posted 11.01.2012 | Arts

It's as simple as this: If you've got a play called The Heiress, it's absolutely obligatory that whoever assumes the eponymous role is utterly persuasive. Unfortunately, that's not the case at the Walter Kerr.

First Nighter: Annie Back on Broadway But a Bit Tired

| Posted 11.09.2012 | Arts

The next question in any Annie concerns the comic-cruel Miss Hannigan role. This frame, it's the usually divine Katie Finneran. No third Tony seems to be waiting in the wings for the work here -- or perhaps "overwork" is the better word.

Richard Nelson's Sorry at the Public Is Nothing to Be Sorry About

| Posted 11.09.2012 | Arts

Families -- usually described as dysfunctional -- are the meat-and-potatoes of the best (and not infrequently the worst) American dramas. Now consider adding to them the Chekhovian quintet Richard Nelson has introduced.

First Nighter: Ethan Hawke Superb in a Not Quite Superb Ivanov

| Posted 11.12.2012 | Arts

Austin Pendleton's production of Anton Chekhov's Ivanov at the Classic Stage Company is something of an unsolved puzzle. And that status probably isn't entirely due to Pendleton's direction of a highly competent cast. More likely, it's traceable to the tough challenge posed by the Russian playwright himself.

First Nighter: Four Clicks and a Clunk Around Town

| Posted 11.12.2012 | Arts

Charlie weighs in at somewhere between 550 and 600 pounds and conducts his online course in literary criticism and composition lying on his besieged sofa like an Idaho-Mormon-country beached behemoth.

First Nighter: Christopher Durang's Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, and What Else Is New?

| Posted 11.12.2012 | Arts

There's a huge difference between sketch-writing and playwriting, but Christopher Durang often seems to have trouble remembering what it is.

First Nighter: The Mystery of Edwin Drood Entertainment Challenge Handily Solved

| Posted 11.13.2012 | Arts

Whether singing, dancing or acting, not a man or woman among the ensemble submits less than an effervescent performance. Rivera, who knows every trick in her personal book, gleefully pages through it. Chase is amusingly dastardly.

First Nighter: Musicalized Giant Not Extra-Large but Still Plenty Large

| Posted 11.16.2012 | Arts

Maybe that reminder of good parts compensating for the less-than-successful whole -- along with a stageful of singers shining in individual scenes that catch fire -- will and should work for Giant. At the moment, it, sho' 'nuff looks like show enough.

First Nighter: August Wilson's The Piano Lesson in Fine Tune

| Posted 11.19.2012 | Arts

Did August Wilson deliberately place The Piano Lesson in 1936, because that was the same Great Depression year Gone With the Wind was published? Did he intend it as a counter-balance to the version of slavery and its legacy depicted in Margaret Mitchell's best-seller?

First Nighter: Tommy Tune Invigorates Cabaret and So Does Ben Rimalower

| Posted 11.23.2012 | Entertainment

Thanks to Simon Cowell and to the scornful fellow's frequently equating "cabaret" with "old-fashioned," millions of televiewers have no idea that cabaret can be as fresh a form of entertainment as any others available to the hungry public.

Easy Reader: Thornton Wilder's Biography By Penelope Niven Is a Must Read

| Posted 11.25.2012 | Books

Were Thornton Wilder notable for only explicating one thing -- he's notable for many -- it would be the hope for the human race he promotes in the 1938 play 1938 Our Town and in the 1942 Pulitzer-Prize-winning Skin of Our Teeth.

First Nighter: Theresa Rebeck's Entertaining (More or Less) Dead Accounts, Anne Bogart's Disappointing Trojan Women (After Euripides)

| Posted 11.30.2012 | Arts

Even the best theater craftspersons can't make something from nothing, but give them at least a smattering of palpable elements to work with and it's startling what wonders they perform.