The National Catholic Review

Theater

  • August 3-10, 2015

    In June President Barack Obama concluded his eulogy at the memorial service for the victims of the shootings in a Charleston, N.C., church by singing the first verse of the beloved hymn “Amazing Grace.” The choir and indeed the entire congregation—and perhaps even the millions watching the service on television—joined the president in singing a hymn that has special meaning for the African-American church. It was a remarkable moment.

  • May 18, 2015

    There’s no use denying that a certain vestigial Englishness is a persistent strand in our American DNA. This is not strictly a matter of colonial history—that our nation’s so-called founding fathers, to a man, began their lives as subjects of the Crown. It is more like an affectionate familial bond with an old relative from a half-remembered hometown; a fond recognition, from a comfortable distance, that we share with the United Kingdom something more than a...

  • June 8-15, 2015

    “Some people watch TV, we sing,” says Tanya, a middle-aged prostitute who’s part of the downbeat tableau vivant of Lisa D’Amour’s grittily sentimental new play Airline Highway, now on Broadway. Tanya is explaining to an outsider, a young high schooler from Atlanta, why her tribe of New Orleans motel residents occasionally breaks into lively group song, trading raps to the accompaniment of an overturned plastic drum.

  • May 11, 2015

    One recent Saturday night, in the grand space of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in Manhattan, a small troupe of actors performed a dramatic enactment of Flannery O’Connor’s story, “Everything That Rises Must Converge.” The audience gathered in the hushed space of the church sanctuary seemed as wary as I. The story, written by a white Southerner in 1961 at the height of the civil rights movement, dares to address racial hatred and prejudice in all its...

  • March 9, 2015

    Depending on when you date its birth, it took rock music as much as a decade and a half to move from the pop charts to the Broadway stage, with 1968’s “Hair.” Hip-hop has been with us nearly twice as long—at least 30 years, if you measure by mainstream success—and as such is long overdue for its own stage musical moment, not least because rap, even more than rock, is a natural narrative form.

  • In 1912, at the tender age of 24, an aimless, alcoholic college dropout named Eugene O’Neill tried to commit suicide in a New York City flophouse called Jimmy-the-Priest. By then he’d already been married, had a son and divorced, and there was much more personal tumult to come in his eventful life. But while recovering from his suicide attempt and a bout of tuberculosis that same year, the young O’Neill had time for a lot of reading and reflection, and he found a new calling: to become a...

  • Depending on when you date its birth, it took rock music as much as a decade and a half to move from the pop charts to the Broadway stage, with 1968’s “Hair.” Hip-hop has been with us nearly twice as long—at least 30 years, if you measure by mainstream success—and as such is long overdue for its own stage musical moment, not least because rap, even more than rock, is a natural narrative form.

  • February 16, 2015

    A show that skewers show business strikes a slippery bargain with its audience, and it can backfire. While we may smile knowingly at its insights into backstage chicanery and the cynicism of producers, and enjoy its winking parodies of other, implicitly lesser shows, a piece of entertainment intended to make us think critically about the value of entertainment itself risks having its own judgments turned back on itself.

  • February 9, 2015

    ‘Tell all the truth but tell it slant,” wrote Emily Dickinson. These days, as concern about immigration, racism and terrorism take center stage, many people seek the truth about these issues, so perhaps there is no better time to experience Ayad Akhtar’s provocative Pulitzer Prize winning drama, Disgraced, which appeared off-Broadway two years ago and is now running on Broadway.

  • One of the most delightful forms of satire occurs when theater makes fun of itself. Some of the classics of the type include such hits as “The Royal Family,” Edna Ferber and George S.