Seat Filler: NYC Theater Guide for February 2012
BY Brandon Voss
February 23 2012 5:00 AM ET
The New Group’s out artistic director, Scott Elliott, guides comic and liberal activist Janeane Garofalo in her solid stage debut as Diana, the abrasive matriarch of a Russian-Jewish immigrant family in Brooklyn, in Erika Sheffer's engaging if ultimately unsatisfying drama. Morgan Spector is quietly menacing as muscular Uncle Boris, who awakens sexual desire in his niece and ropes his nephew into a human-trafficking ring.
The Acorn Theatre, through March 24.
Inspired by the 2003 Jayson Blair plagiarism scandal at The New York Times, Gabe McKinley’s drama doubles as an ad for the paper’s enduring integrity. The Gay Ivy’s Kobi Libii is compelling and sympathetic as the plagiarist — here named Jay Bennett — who uses his minority status and Internet savvy to get ahead at the Gray Lady, but a play defined by deadlines and coked-up ambition could use a tighter edit and snappier staging.
Atlantic Theater Company at the Peter Norton Space, through March 11.
The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess
Forget all the hoopla surrounding director Diane Paulus’s ballsy reworking of George and Ira Gershwin’s groundbreaking folk opera about the love affair between cripple Porgy and jezebel Bess in 1930s Charleston. Powerfully and accessibly reimagined for a musical theater audience, it’s a thing of beauty, proving that quality always outweighs controversy — especially when Audra McDonald and Norm Lewis sing their hearts out.
Richard Rodgers Theatre, through September 30.