Peter D. Kramer

See ‘Once’ at least twice

In Reviews on March 19, 2012 at 8:05 am

Like many contemporary Broadway musicals, “Once” — which opened last night at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre — is based on a feature film, a 2006 work of the same name.

Unlike other contemporary Broadway musicals, “Once” hasn’t a trace of irony or snark. Its touch is feather light, a musical unafraid of wearing its considerable heart on its sleeve, in a story without a buttoned-up ending.

“Once” is the real deal, a refreshing breath of fresh air.

It’s a boy-meets-girl story, about an Irish busker (simply “Guy”) and his whirlwind weeklong encounter with a Czech woman (“Girl”) he meets in Dublin. It stars Steve Kazee and Cristin Milioti (above, in a photo by Joan Marcus), as two lonely people who share their loneliness and a love of music.

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Just not buying this ‘Salesman’

In Reviews on March 18, 2012 at 1:52 pm

“Death of a Salesman,” that titan of the American theater, is dozens of great plays in one.

Want to see a play about the lost American Dream? Arthur Miller has done that to perfection in “Salesman.”

How about a work that examines a boy who peaks in high school, whose glory days are long gone? Miller’s done that to a tee in “Salesman.”

Perhaps you’d like to watch a masterpiece about a woman who, bound by the restrictions of her age, spends her life wrapped up in her husband and sons, powerless to help them? For one of the best examples of that story, see “Salesman.”

Ibid. Ibid. Ibid.

Analyst, heal thyself

In Reviews on December 12, 2011 at 6:59 am

One can’t help but wonder if an analyst’s care might have prevented “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever,” the mess of a musical that opened last night at the St. James Theatre on Broadway, a big bipolar and jaw-droppingly embarrassing work directed and “reconceived” by Michael Mayer, who had success with “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” “Spring Awakening” and “American Idiot.”

Mayer, it seems, always loved listening to the cast recording of the 1965 Burton Lane-Alan Jay Lerner musical about a girl, her shrink, and the woman she once was. In the original story, Daisy has ESP and a past life as Melinda Wells, who lived in the 18th century. Her psychiatrist, Dr. Mark Bruckner, hypnotizes Daisy and falls in love with Melinda, making for a bizarre love triangle.

Mayer loved the music, but not the book, which he calls “problematic.”

Then, 15 years ago, while directing “Side Man” at Vassar College, he had a breakthrough. He could save this musical.

What was his vision at Vassar? His epiphany in Poughkeepsie?