An Off-Broadway sleeper hit makes the move to Broadway, a beguiling song-and-dance man takes center stage and stops the show, and an outspoken (some would say insult) comedian gets serious, in a very funny way, about body image.
STRIKE UP THE BAND
Last December, “The Band’s Visit” a world-premiere musical, opened Off-Broadway. The monthlong limited engagement received unlimited rave reviews. So, while theater pundits were debating the chances of “Dear Evan Hansen” taking home the 2017 Tony Award for Broadway’s Best Musical (which it did in June), “The Band’s Visit” scooped up most of the other gongs, including the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Musical. Since Broadway likes nothing better than a proven winner, “The Band’s Visit” has now made the journey to the Great White Way, with many actors from its original cast in tow, including Tony Shalhoub. Suffice it to say, the show is already the frontrunner for the 2018 Best Musical Tony.
“The Band’s Visit,” Ethel Barrymore Theatre, 243 W. 47th St., 212.362.6000
Midway through the first act of “Prince of Broadway,” an anthology of greatest hits from Broadway musicals either directed and/or produced by Harold Prince (think: “West Side Story,” “Cabaret” and “The Phantom of the Opera,” just for starters), Tony Yazbeck stops the show. In a dazzling display of tap dancing, choreographed by Susan Stroman, Yazbeck, as Buddy, the philandering husband in Stephen Sondheim’s “Follies,” has a nervous breakdown. Self-loathing and anger are there in Sondheim’s lyrics for the song, “The Right Girl,” which Yazbeck sings admirably. But watch how his fleet feet drive home the character’s frustration, guilt and regret, expanding emotion with every step. There is no finer dancer on Broadway at this time.
“Prince of Broadway,” Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, 261 W. 47th St., 212.239.6200
”Who’s happy with themselves?” asks stand-up comedian Lisa Lampanelli apropos “Stuffed,” the Off-Broadway comedy she wrote and stars in. The question is rhetorical because “everyone has issues,” including Lampanelli whose weight has often been the source of her raunchiest fat jokes. “Stuffed” is the story of four women and their body images. Serious stuff for comedy perhaps, but after losing and keeping off 100 pounds, the now-svelte Lampanelli says humor best handles sensitive issues: “With humor, you educate people and make them feel better about themselves.”
“Stuffed,” Westside Theatre Downstairs, 407 W. 43rd St., 212.239.6200