Broadway to many means big dance numbers and actors hurtling outsized emotions into the rafters. While there are certainly plenty of tiresome revivals and knockoffs alike that make an all too vivid case for this, there are also bold producers remaking the landscape of commercial theater with subversive, challenging and deeply moving musicals and plays.
It is Mr. Ives, and his director John Rando (of Urinetown and A Christmas Story) who make The Heir Apparent a ludicrously luscious affair. Unlike other new comedies recently arrived in town, this one is packed with characters, laughs, and enough information for us to discern an actual plot (such as it is).
A director's work is often tricky to review on the basis of one production -- in the case of a first work, it is often unclear what is a director's idea versus what is a stage direction in the script itself. It is also hard for people to separate actors' choices from a director's touch. But after a period of watching a director's work, you get it.
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.