All articles by James MacKillop

A New Take on the Bard’s Star-Crossed Lovers

Romeo & Juliet at CNY Playhouse

As a director Dan Rowlands made his reputation by taking well-worn properties, like Arsenic and Old Lace, and treating them as if they had just been discovered. So it is with Romeo and Juliet, now at the Central New York Playhouse in Shoppingtown.

Shark Bait on the Kitchen Menu

Swimming in the Shallows at Kitchen Theater Company

Adam Bock was still an unknown playwright in February 2003, when Ithaca’s Kitchen Theatre Company took a risk by slating his Swimming in the Shallows two years before its award-winning debut in New York City. Since then his work has been produced everywhere, he’s won an Obie and further awards, and his name is commonly cited with such wits as Sarah Rule (The Clean House), Annie Baker (Circle Mirror Transformation) and David Henry Hwang (Chinglish).

Time to Rhyme with Seussical: The Musical

Seussical: The Musical at The Redhouse

Redhouse Arts Center executive artistic director Stephen Svoboda was suffering near-crippling back pain last week. He was not there for the opening night of Seussical: The Musical, one of three components of the third annual District Festival.

Puppet Hand Jive for Avenue Q

Avenue Q, the season finale from the Syracuse University Drama Department

The PBS children’s series Sesame Street, launched in 1969, was an urban oasis where everyone got along, regardless of race or class, and every child could see himself or herself as special and could do anything. Every dream was worth pursuing.

Mamet’s Provocative, Profane Sales Pitch

‘Glengarry Glen Ross’ at CNY Playhouse

David Mamet did not become America’s most imitated playwright by depicting well-spoken Galahads. His best and most characteristic work, Glengarry Glen Ross, is the rhetorical equivalent of Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club.

Yuppies Get Physical in God of Carnage

(Review) God of Carnage at Covey Theatre Company

God of Carnage, Yasmina Reza’s much-lauded black comedy, is not about God or religion at all. It does, however, have much to do with blood-letting combat.

Brecht Gets Whacked in the Windy City

The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui at Le Moyne College

German modernist master Bertolt Brecht was fascinated with America, especially before he actually moved to the United States during World War II. Having fled the Nazis in 1941, he was stranded in Finland when he imagined that Adolf Hitler’s consolidation of power in the previous decade could be retold as a cautionary tale by portraying the brutal ambitions of a Chicago-area gangster not unlike Al Capone.

Witty Writers Take Sides in Syracuse Stage’s ‘Other Desert Cities’

James MacKillop reviews ‘Other Desert Cities’ at Syracuse Stage

“It was the liberals who ruined Hollywood with all their whining and preaching.” So opines ever-blonde Polly Wyeth (Barbara Broughton), once a middle-level writer for MGM who now lives in elegant seclusion in a white-on-white showplace near Palm Springs.

Syracuse Opera’s Close Shave

Syracuse Opera’s ‘The Barber of Seville’

Gioachino Rossini’s The Barber of Seville ranks ninth on Operabase’s list of most-often performed operas worldwide. But it’s No. 1 as a reliable deliverer of laughter.

Shakespeare Comedy Offers Vienna Vice

(Review) Measure for Measure by SU Drama Department

Defying the advertising truism that “Sex Sells,” Shakespeare’s dark comedy Measure for Measure is not performed very often. Yes, sex not love, as in a working brothel, its statuesque madam, her rascally pimp and a hypocritical Puritan brought low by his unbridled lust.