Seat Filler: NYC Theater Guide for November 2010
BY Brandon Voss
November 16 2010 6:15 PM ET
Following acclaimed runs at off-Broadway’s Vineyard Theatre and the Guthrie in Minneapolis, The Scottsboro Boys is serving an open-ended sentence at Broadway’s Lyceum Theatre, where it brilliantly tweaks old minstrel conventions to explore the civil rights movement–sparking 1930s case in which nine African-American teens were falsely accused of rape. With bold direction and exuberant choreography by Susan Stroman (The Producers, Contact, etc.) and a buoyant score by John Kander and the late Fred Ebb (Chicago, Cabaret, etc.), this electrifying musical more than lives up to its distinguished pedigree. Led by Joshua Henry, whose hunky presence recalls that of 50 Cent, the exceptional cast includes GLAAD Award–winning Big Gay Sketch Show star Colman Domingo, plus standout “boys” James T. Lane and Christian Dante White, who don light drag to double as their white female accusers.
Unlike The Scottsboro Boys, new musical Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown opened on Broadway without an out-of-town tryout. Too bad that a mere month of previews — twice delayed due to technical difficulties — didn’t allow time for director Bartlett Sher to tidy up this manically unfocused, muy caliente mess, but you’d be loco to miss it, since show queens will be howling about it for years. After all, this splashy adaptation of Pedro Almodóvar’s Oscar-nominated 1988 film about entangled Madrid divas, which runs through January 23 at the Belasco Theatre, stars stage greats like Sherie Rene Scott, Laura Benanti, and Patti LuPone, who, despite shoddy Spanish accents, somehow rise above screensaver-y scenic projections and ill-advised bungee stunts. There’s also much to cherish in David Yazbek’s passionate score, particularly La LuPone’s stirring second act solo, “Invisible.”