Non-Registered Critics: Deborah Wilker



While it could still use some editing, the result is a more compelling story of anger and angst — the panic, and in this case determination, that besets a community as livelihoods disappear.

At its heart, The Last Ship has always been a show about labor and workers uniting, a tonally distinct descendant of musicals like Kinky Boots or The Pajama Game. But Billy Porter, Bob Fosse and "Steam Heat" would not be at home here. While flashy in its own way, the show treads a careful line between dramatic-play-with-music and all-out Broadway musical.

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Through smart cuts and additions, a little Disney magic and ongoing tweaks, the tale of sisters Elsa and Anna in search of one another finally lands in a way that a commercial blockbuster should.

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In the divine vocals, chart-topping singles and supple dance moves of Ain't Too Proud — The Life and Times of The Temptations, audiences will surely find a lot to love next year when this much-anticipated production about the Motown trailblazers opens at New York's Imperial Theatre. But as a pop culture artifact and the latest entry in Broadway's glut of bio-musicals based on extraordinary performers and stellar music catalogs, Ain't Too Proud, at the moment at least, is also an example of missed opportunities.

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Our Very Own Carlin McCullough

Set in cheap hotel rooms, the family kitchen and out back behind the tennis courts, the play is well staged by director Tyne Rafaeli, never feeling at all hemmed in by the limitations of mounting a tennis story in a tiny theater. Incidental music and sound design by Lindsay Jones are also a plus.

The two young actors who play Carlin — first as a pre-teen (Abigail Dylan Harrison) and later at high school age (Caroline Heffernan) — are both superb, displaying just the right sense of smarts and indifference. And terrific Tyee Tilghman as Salif, an elite coach with troubles of his own, rounds out this taut, four-character study.

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Chasing Mem'ries: A Different Kind of Musical

If you've aged past 50 and haven't asked yourself, "Where did the time go?" — a) what's wrong with you?; and b) this might not be the show for you. But for anyone who has ever really pondered a friendship gone awry or a chance taken that turned out surprisingly well, Daly and writer-director Ravetch combine for a compact meditation on it all.

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Given the show's record 16 Tony nominations, 11 wins, the mountain of hype that surrounds it, record box-office grosses and the cost of tickets, expectations will continue to be off the charts. All of which makes cloning Hamilton a delicate process. There is no room for an almost-as-good road version of Aaron Burr. These guys have to crush it — and then some. It's a pleasure to report that they do. The production that opened Wednesday night at the Pantages fires like a brand new show — crisp and exciting and full of breakout performances.

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Director Randall Arney, who is also the Geffen's artistic director, conveys the humor and panic that has engulfed these characters as they navigate L.A.'s hip Silver Lake neighborhood.

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