Sunday, October 27, 2019

Critics and the (Un)criticized

One person’s critic is another person’s crackpot. That they are not united in their opinions is ascribable to the Latin saying: quot homines, tot sententiae. I myself prefer being considered a creep, but that is what you get for having what Vladimir Nabokov called “Strong Opinions.” It is odd that in a country so wallowing in negativity, starting with mass shootings and climaxing with Trump, such an unim-portant matter as theater criticism should generate so much hostility. The only target patently more important is lead in the drinking water.

Anything about theater reviews must start with The New York Times as the only place that can make a difference at the box office between a hit and a flop. Which brings me to a dinner my wife and I had with Elaine May and her partner Stanley Donen, both lovely people, and both execrating the theater reviews in the Times, at that time by Ben Brantley and Charles Isherwood, though it could have been just as easily anyone else. The argument was that these reviewers couldn’t write, which I disputed.

My point was that they could write as far as style and perhaps wit were concerned, but there remained the matter of content, the matter of taste. They were chosen for how they wrote rather than what they wrote, something the editors could see without seeing the shows. They saw clever writing, but most of them had not seen the shows. Hence writing that could as easily overestimate as underestimate. The reviewers were expected to be a few times positive, even if their material was consistently undeserving. My question was why reviewers approve of, even extol, manifestly terrible:shows such a Adam Rapp’s dependably dreadful “The Sound Inside,” which Jesse Green of the Times labeled sublime, and similar things were said in other publications. This even for a thing  that struck me as preposterously pretentious, illogical and even ludicrous. But who am I to contradict the Times?

The problem in the greater circulation dailies, though not exclusively there, is incapability of justly stern judgment, sometimes indeed stinking to please.  There are several possible reasons (though not so much at the Times), the most obvious being that nobody reads reviews at this time when many reviewers  of all disciplines are being dumped as unnecessary. But a favorable review, deserved or not, echoes propitiously at the box office. An unfavorable review might alienate readers, to say nothing of producers, nowadays required in large numbers to foot the cost for even a modest show.

More profoundly, Americans like to “accentuate the positive.” There is in them a basic goodwill that tends to meet forgivingly even the expensiveness of today’s tickets by those who can still afford them. Make them feel that is, never mind think. I have seldom before heard so much laughter, so much ready applause, or seen so much indiscriminate standing and ovating, as I encounter nowadays. Part of it is that if someone spent that much money, he or she will persuade themselves to have had a good time come hell or high water. But much of it also is benightedness, to use a milder term for stupidity. It also reflects the reviewer’s captatio benevolentiae aimed at the employer and the frequently reiterated need to sell the paper, starting with the all-important advertisers. This is especially the case at some very shaky publications.

Important, too, are so-called drama queens, who expect published confirmation for their lightly earned personal enthusiasm. The great critic Kenneth Tynan spoke of two kinds of prevalent wit—and presumably two kinds of theatergoers--Jewish and homosexual.

Some things don’t change. Trash like “Slave Play” and “The Sound Inside” caters to known influenceability. By the way, what does the latter title have to do with the content? The script repeats that title in block capitals at one point twelve times, without having to do with anything—not even specifying the speaker. For even such plays, American hits automatically generate European productions I can’t tell with how much success. I wonder whether it was always so. But European hits tend almost invariably to come to Broadway, usually from England or Ireland, e.g., “The Ferryman” and “Betrayal,” and make it on Broadway. There are now, however, for whatever reason, few translated imports from France.

The itinerary has reversed. It used to be from stage to screen, now it is mostly from screen to stage, often as a musical. Two of our best musicals, “The Band’s Visit” and “Tootsie,” are stage versions of cinematic hits, the one from an Israeli movie, the other from long ago Hollywood. The Broadway version of “Visit” closed already after a goodly run, at first Off Broadway. It starred Katrina Lenk, one of the most attractive and talented actresses of our time.

I will list here, with one exception, only the still running shows I have really liked, starting with the aforementioned ”Tootsie.“ Ain’t Too Proud,” a tribute to The Temptations” is good when singing and dancing, paltry when attempting a story. “Bella Bella,” Harvey Fierstein’s very funny solo tribute to Bella Abzug and himself. ”Betrayal,” Harold Pinter at his infrequent best, starring the wonderful Zawe Ashton. The bilngual “Fiddler on the Roof, in Hebrew and English. “Linda Vista,” a serious comedy by Tracy Letts, unfortunately closing soon. “To Kill a Mockingbird,” despite a devastating review by Kyle Smith in the September New Criterion. “The Prom,” a delightful musical that flopped in spite of an epochal performance by Brooks Ashmanskas. There are also a couple of shows to come, which I haven’t yet seen.

As usual, the season will have had a couple of deserved and a few more undeserved winners, par for the course. More amazing perhaps is the success of such trash as “Slave Show” and “The Sound Inside,” whose worthlessness I cannot often enough proclaim. About some coming shows, I will most likely write in a future blog entry.
Until then, let’s have a pleasant autumn nontheatrical calendar season, the best time of year New York has to offer.

Sunday, September 15, 2019


We have here Robert, a publisher; his best friend, Jerry, a literary agent; Emma, Robert’s sassy wife, a gallerist, for seven years Jerry’s clandestine mistress, but no longer so for two years. Unseen but talked about: Jerry’s wife, Judith, a nurse; each couple’s two children; Casey and Spinks, two novelists, the former perhaps about to become Emma’s next lover.

In a typical Harold Pinter play, characters, even if friends or kin, are involved in a power play. The dialogue, even if seemingly amicable, is double-bottomed, competitive and even threatening.. Running through it are, every few minutes, pauses—the famous Pinter pause—and often even longer silences.. The power shifts sometimes, back and forth, and can be as funny as it is malicious.

“Betrayal” is the rare Pinter work that does no conform to the formula, and is his most performed play. A few years ago we had a production of it with the gifted married couple Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz, good, but the current one is even better. It features very imaginative direction by Jamie Lloyd, was a sold out hit in London, and has transferred to Broadway intact.

Lloyd has rejected specified locations, and has, designed by the talented Soutra Gilmour, a surround of tan flats, with what changes somewhat is the slowly and ominously revolving stage. Also, of course, incisive lighting by Jon Clark, and canny sound design and composition by Ben and Max Ringham.

Against all the neutral color, Gilmour’s costumes stand out darkly:  both men in almost interchangeably as well as suggestively navy outfits. Between them is Emma, in equally dark trousers, but with a light blue blouse.

For seven years, Emma, escaped from the gallery in the afternoons, for an apartment in a distant, unchic area, which she has nicely furnished for the affair with Jerry. The play proceeds backward in time in two-year installments. We follow its mostly happy increments and may wonder, as Jerry does, that there has been no gossip about the lovers.

Lloyd has added a clever device. During the mostly two-person scenes with whichever man  or sometimes the woman, the third member of the trio is seen upstage or to the side, usually immobile, a personification of their thoughts and sometimes guilt. Different, though, is the opening scene, two years after the affair has ended. On a whim, she herself cannot quite understand, Emma has summoned Jerry by phone to meet her at a pub they both know. She says, “Well, it’s sometimes nice to think back, isn’t it?” But she also says, “Listen. I didn’t want to see you for nostalgia. I mean what’s the point? I just wanted to see how you were. Truly. How are you?”  When a “Darling” escapes him, she recoils. And they drink quite a bit: she glasses of wine, he pints of bitters.

It does emerge that Emma and Robert have spent the night in revelations, She tells about Jerry, he about flings he has been having all along. Now they may separate. She has been seeing a bit of Casey.

Three things come up quite a bit  from time to time. One is literary talk: about whom Robert is publishing or not, and about what Emma thinks about books she is reading. The other thing is various places in Italy, Venice, Torcello, etc. and the novels of Casey and Spinks, and their lives. In particular. Thirdly, Robert envies the Italians  and their “laughing Mediterranean ways.”

There is also much talk about shared lunches, one even see in a London Italian restaurant, with Robert and Jerry, best friends; after all, hasn’t Jerry been the best man at Robert and Emma’s wedding? And there is much talk about playing squash and not having played in quite a while, which takes up some of this fascinating scene, complete with amusing Italian waiter.

This is quite symbolic, as was a scene long ago, when with Robert, Emma, Judith and the children watching, Jerry was tossing up and catching Emma’s little daughter, Charlotte, who is now thirteen and talked about lunching with Casey. But that playing with little Charlotte, was it in Emma’s or in Jerry’s kitchen, they can’t agree. Not even some cherished memories can be trusted. And at times, even a spouse can be quite cruel. as when Robert remarks to Emma, “I always liked Jerry. To be honest, I liked him more than I’ve liked you. Maybe I should have had an affair with him myself.”

As usual in “Betrayal”, the acting is excellent. Himself an actor, Pinter writes stuff that actors can have confident fun with. As Robert, Tom Hiddleston is handsome in such a very English way, as if even his face were made to comfortable bespoke measure. He is all tallness and fairness—who would want to betray him? Jerry, with dark beard and dark hair, could pass for an Italian lover providing a touch of romance that Charlie Cox supplies admirably.

But truly sensational is the Emma of Zawe Ashton, a devastating charmer of mixed British and Tunisian descent. She has both the darkness of her pants and the lightness of her shirt, and without being classically beautiful, manages to exude a sexiness rarely matched on stage. Even her elegant feet, which she keeps bare, have a kind of eloquence, contributing to the sensual slinkiness of the woman--or feline-- who sports them. The voice, the demeanor, the essence the actress
exudes, everything  adds up to the spell she can easily cast on a husband or lover or novelist or two. (In real life Ms. Ashton is also a poet, playwright and novelist.)

The cast, in other words, down to the Italian waiter of Eddie Arnold, is flawless. Catch this show if you possibly can—the engagement is limited.

Thursday, August 29, 2019


What Is happening to America's greatest contribution to the theater, musical comedy? Why so many jukebox musicals? Why so many paltry shows?  Why haven't you even tried to hum a  song from a show as you were leaving it? The answers tend to be forbidding. Can it be that possibilities are exhausted? There has not even been a brand new Sondheim show for some time now, and the recent "Road Show," is merely a third version and  even so not a real success. Is there nothing new under the limelight? Is every new note really an old note? No use pointing to new operas, few of them hits and having, as a genre, options that the Broadway musical doesn't have and the off Broadway musical doesn't afford. Some of the new or newish Broadway musicals smell to me of desperation. Take "Hadestown," which, to my nose, is redolent of that desperation, holding no other real interest than Andre de Shields's marvelous performance. But can a single safety belt save a shipload of drowners? The plot is part exhausted myth and part farfetched claptrap.That this elicits ovations reminds me of the German saying "In compulsion, the Devil will eat flies." That is what keeps a mediocre show like "Frozen" going,  that children love it and their parents can at least  bear it. Only two recent musicals have earned my approbation, with "The Prom," despite a sensational performance by Brooks Ashmanskas, already closed, and '"Tootsie," based on a popular movie that offers an adroit actor a timely genderbending role.

Still, with the excellent exception of "The Band's Visit" gone after a respectable run, shows like "Waitress" and "Mean Girls" offer audience-flattering elements  that differ from real quality. Such shows depend largely, if not quite exclusively, on the hunger and gullibility of audiences willing to stand, and stand up for rather meager fare. Most often these are cult favorites, like "Beetlejuice," aimed at and cherished by specific minorities. Another, "ain't too proud," caters to nostalgia for "the life and times of The Temptations," and has at least decent choreography by Sergio Trujillo well executed by an able cast. However, some shows boggle the mind. I am thinking of such nonmusical dramas or comedies as the double bill of "Sea Wall" and "A Life," whose two British authors seem to have gone out of their way to make things needlessly complicated and barely comprehensible as tokens of  presumed profundity. In the former, by Simon Stephens, you never know why a hardly mentioned, submerged wall of sea shore should have become titular; in the latter, by Nick Payne, we never know whether we are dealing with a stepfather's dying or a wife's birthing, the two  becoming somehow scrambled.

But to return to musicals, what are we to make of "Bat Out of Hell," with book, music and lyrics by the songwriter Jim Steinman? He is known for stuff written for, or performed by, the likes of Celine Dion, Barbra Streisand, Bonnie Tyler, and Andrew Lloyd Webber, and a whole trilogy performed by Meat Loaf. But basing an entire show on preexisting numbers is almost like finding a button in the street and having a suit made to go with it. It does not make much sense. Its young hero, Strat, is lover to both Raven and her mother, Sloane, on a rather unbecoming set by Jon Bausor which, not only hard to decipher, does not follow locations called for by the script. The chorus that provides most of the backup is labeled the Lost, though we never find out what they have lost and how. The presumed villain, Falco, is just as vague as the rest, provenance and relationships remaining obscure. The title song does not emerge until the end, and does not explain much of anything.

The show's young hero, Strat, gets little help from having to say or sing things like "Though it's cold and lonely in the deep dark night,/ I can see paradise by the dashboard light." A car and motor bike do indeed figure prominently. The latter "explodes apart/ and his heart explodes out of his chest." "He is drenched in blood" as the Ensemble goes  on repeating without respite oohs and ahs, and we wonder "if life is just a highway. and the soul is just a car" and our hero "seems dead or near dead" in an ambiguity rather hard to enact. Oddly named characters such as Tink and Zahara sprout out of nowhere, the former to have his name comedically mangled, and finally "disappear in a cloud of feathers," which the costume designer, again Jon Bausor, does not quite manage to pull off. And what are we to make of characters named Ledoux, Valkyrie, Kwaidan and Jagwire, among others, who may emerge from the chorus without much conviction or function?

One question haunts the mysterious proceedings: "On a hot summer night/ Would you offer your throat to the wolf with red roses?" As it is worded, I could not even tell whether the red roses come from the unseen wolf or from your throat. After two and a half hours, we get several iterations of a "bat out of hell," when  all we want is for the whole damn thing to be over already instead of coming up with ever more quasi endings. Why doesn't it just go to hell or Hadestown and let us go home? There we can at least play our recordings of true musicals past.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Moulin Rouge!

If you like splash, “Moulin Rouge!” is the show for you. Even more than the Baz Luhrmann movie, on which the musical is loosely based, it can hold your wonderment without abate from start to finish. Let us begin with the enchanting lighting design.

This superabundance of lights basks in everything from several chandeliers to hundreds or seeming thousands of colored bulbs all over the stage and parts of the auditorium. Also neon lights, chamelioning it up from color to rich color. Justin Townsend outlines the stage in concentric heart-shaped frames of differently colored light, simultaneous or successive, to our irresistibly dazzled delight.

Then take the costumes by veteran Catherine Zuber. They can be seriously beautiful or slaphappily comic, but always helping the wearer to the desiderated character. Like the men in top hats and evening garb, smoking cigars, in various parts of he stage, mostly balconies; or, in diverse configurations, the group of cancan dancers, performing or just oolalaing to heart’s content.

Much of the music that Justin Levine has culled, arranged and orchestrated derives from very smart jukeboxes melodious to begin with. Eight experts assisted Levine in their various capacities, all to good effect.

But what about the book by John Logan, primarily the tragic story of the young, innocent composer, Christian (here an American), in love with Satine, experienced   headliner at the Moulin Rouge and courtesan of a certain age? It is clearly influenced by Alexandre Dumas fils’s truth-inspired drama, “La Dame aux Camelias,” and by what Francesco Maria Piave’s libretto for Verdi’s “La Traviata” made of it.

There are thus also the wealthy Duke of Monroth, Christian’s rival for Satine’s body if not heart, and Harold Zidler. a historic figure, compere for both the show and the nascent show within the show for which Christian is providing the music, and which features the secondary, comic couple of Nini, a dancer,  and Santiago, a Hispanic performer, known as the King of the Tango.

Interwoven throughout is the bevy of girl dancers, largely governed by Toulouse-Lautrec, a patron of the Moulin, painter and cripple, enacted by the gifted Sahr Nigaujah.

Satine marks the return to the stage after a long absence by the wonderful Karen Olivo, who looks never a day older or a bit less convincing than of yore. She manages the role with its inherent self-contradiction with exemplary professionalism and compelling charm. She also carries consummately the choreography of Sonya Tayeh, which is consistently evocative.

As Christian, the youthful Aaron Tveit manages the not all that easy task of making innocence interesting in a penetrating role, and there is steady support   from Danny Burstein as Zidler, Robyn Hurder as Nini, Ricky Rojas as Santiago, and Tam Mutu as an almost too appealing Duke.

The show profits greatly from the long-active designer Derek McLane, whose scenery does admirably by conjuring the Paris of 1899 and the particular ambiance of the Moulin Rouge, keeping the versatile sets from succumbing to sprawl. This is a show to make the young feel mature, and the old blissfully young again.

Road Show

It was clever of Encores! to revive Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman’s musical “Road Show,” a musical with some gorgeous music both for individuals and choral. The orchestra under James Moore performed, as is the custom at Encores! admirably, and the chaste scenic design by Donyale Werle like the sober costumes by Clint Ramos were all to the good. So too were Will Davis’s direction and choreography, proving that indeed less can be more.

This is a road show in the sense the that its main characters, the fabled Mizner brothers, Wilson and Addison, moved all over the place along what seems like very divergent roads to what ends up as a shared one. Here is how Sondheim puts it in his book “Look, I Made a Hat,” concerning a show that exists in three different versions:  “Wise Guys,” a1998 reading,  “Bounce” of 2003, my favorite, and “Road Show.” (2008), the final one,

The storied brothers started out in the small California town of Benicia, and headed from the 1880s for the world and their end in the 1930s. Here is how Sondheim puts it; “Wilson was a conman, entrepreneur and. wit, Addison was chiefly an architect. Their personalities were polar opposites, but their relationship was intense and complicated. The show charts their lives from Benicia California through their adventures in the Klondike gold fields of the 1890s to the extremes of New York City society in the early 1900s and into the Florida real estate boom and bust of the 1920s, for which they were largely responsible,”

The difference was that Wilson was a “brilliant and shifty fellow who through a colorful life was at times a goldminer, a saloon keeper, a prize fighter, a cardsharp, a conman , manager of a hotel for criminals as well as the manager of the world’s welterweight champion, a celebrated Broadway playwright, the husband of one of the richest women in America,, a raconteur known for his wit, an entrepreneur majorly [sic] responsible for the Florida real estate boom and bust of the 1920s, a drunk, a cocaine addict, a notorious womanizer, and finally a Hollywood hack and a successful one..” Conversely, the younger brother, Addison, was a closeted homosexual, a gifted If somewhat bizarre architect, think Boca Raton. Of all this you would need more than a clever musical, perhaps a television series.

Even so, Sondheim and Weidman have come up with quite a musical of some 19 winning numbers, among which my favorite is ‘The Best Thing That Ever Has Happened,” as fine a number as anything in the Sondheim catalog. It is sung in “Bounce” to a woman, but here to a man.

The show needs two splendid actors in the principal roles, and here it gets them in Raul Esparza (Wilson) and Brandon Uranowitz (Addison), both terrific in their different ways, both excellent singers. Esparza is one of America’s best actors tragically undervalued  and underemployed. His Wilson moves idiosyncratically and nervously yet also gracefully with the agility of a dancer, along with crystal - clear delivery of dialogue, and  his disputes with his younger brother are part of a uniquely blended natural and theatrical charm. Uranowitz, in turn, puts to good use his talent for comedy plus a childlike innocence combining jovially with adult smartness.

What both Mizners are in this version is ever so fond of their mother, beautifully played by Mary Beth Peil. Whenever either son is in trouble, he comes back home to her to be affectionately chided and straightened out. The admonitory father, earlier deceased, is nicely handled by Chuck Cooper of the commanding baritone.

The final scene is a moving effusion of brotherly love and a reminder of the show’s leitmotif, and its contrasting traversals. Wilson points ahead: “Addie,, you know what that is? It’s the road to opportunity!” To which Addison: “It’s the road to eternity. ” And Wilson sum up, “The greatest opportunity of all. Sooner or later we’re bound to get it right.”

As Will Davis directs, they’re close together, moving upstage, away from the audience as the final darkness falls. Too bad that this excellent production for Encores! as always plays only a few performances.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

In Praise of Slow

Americans are almost always in a hurry, though rush is all too often rash. Even cars are often sold on speed disallowed by law, and so essentially useless. Emblematic is horse racing, , with a winner (think Secretariat) enshrined in historic memory, less speedy losers deservedly forgotten. In just about all sports speed is of the essence, and what Americans are indifferent to sports? Only in sex, for which, significantly, “sport” was once a synonym, is slowness desirable and premature orgasm a failing.

Accordingly, by proverbs and adages, speed is viewed as positive. However jokingly, we tend to get “run like a bunny” or “speedy Gonzales,” or yet “fastest gun in the West,” to say nothing of disapproval for “slow pokes” and “dawdling,” with “dragging your feet” or “Fools rush in where wise men fear to tread” especially notorious. There is, exceptionally, a song, “On top of Old Smoky/ All covered in snow,/ I lost my true lover/ For loving too slow,” in which slowness is not reprehended, though probably not referring to the duration of the sexual act itself. 

But even in an affirmative sense, too much of a good thing may be undesirable. Take   the charming poem “The Lost Race,” by the poet priest Canon Andrew Young, which I reproduce in its entirety.

       I followed each detour
       Of the slow meadow-winding Stour.
       That looked on cloud, tree, hill,
       And mostly flowed by standing still.
        Fearing to go too quick
        I stopped at times to throw a stick
        Or see how in the copse
        The last snow was the first snowdrops.

        The river also tarried
        So much of sky and earth it carried;
        Or even changed its mind
        To flow back with a flaw of wind.

         And when we reached the weir
         That combed the water’s silver hair,
         I knew I lost the race—
         I could not keep so slow a pace.

There are a few places where signs demand that cars go slow—in the vicinity of schools, hospitals, and perhaps churches; otherwise the car corresponds to the equine lower body of a centaur, usually in an especially speedy gallop, as in, say, stretches of Texas, where slow is not even dreamed of.

But the greatest purveyor of mostly unwelcome speed is television, whose racing images outstrip the most excited heartbeat. How many times have I hoped to linger with something worth a moment or two more before the next thing of equal or possibly lesser interest had supplanted it, but there is no stopping the TV it.

To be sure, slowness can be problematic, as when my fast-walking wife is halted by
stops to allow catching up by me, reduced by age to sauntering. On the other hand (or foot), that slow saunter is the only way to get to know a city you want to know and fully enjoy. This may not work for, say, Detroit, but does very much so for, say, Paris. There, on my all too brief visits, except once on a Fulbright, I have reveled in places and people to see. Much has been made of the beauty of the Paris sky, even though a sky depends on what it frames: buildings, monuments, parks, vantage points, persons passing by or lolling on benches. 

Sitting outdoors at a café, taking in the surroundings, one may well be struck by the slowness of so many passing Parisians. That is how I spotted the American ballet dancer performing in Paris who became my girlfriend for a very pleasant while.

And what about the pleasure of learning from what one reads unhurriedly? It is said that if you read slowly, you get more out of it by remembering more. I have always been a slow reader, and occasional attempts to read faster have dependably failed, quite possibly profitably unbeknown to me. I have until fairly recently, had a pretty good memory, although I cannot tell whether more so than faster readers. But let’s face it, there is both good and bad learning from books, and not all good is slow, just as not all fast is bad. But definitely, some good stuff has to be read slowly; I can’t imagine racing through a page of Proust, or even of Henry James, and so much of modern poetry—need I name names?—has to be read slowly or, even more slowly, reread.
                                                                                                                                                              Which brings me to the praise of what is considered to be difficult reading that postulates  slowness, and thus to the praise of slowness itself. That is, when and where “slow “ works, where it isn’t merely the writer  wallowing in obscurity to make him or her seem more profound.

Finally, in music, it is more often than not in a sonata or symphony that the slow movement is by far the most beautiful. It is the adagio or lento that carries  the lyricism, the melody, best. If you don’t believe me, ask Faure, ask Debussy.

Broadway’s Rising Stars

Every year we get a “Broadway’s Rising Stars” show produced by Scott Siegel at Town Hall, a revue of songs performed by recent college graduates aspiring to careers in musical theater other than opera. Some in this thirteenth version already have a bit of a career, having performed with certain orchestras. But all are clearly candidates for Broadway shows and every one of them display genuine talent.

What they do is sing a number from a Broadway show, some with a bit of dancing, or an independent solo number by some established composer, which suits their particular talent, and the evening on July 24 was a pleasure from start to finish. The show’s finale was the contribution of Ali Stroker, now costarring in a revival of “Oklahoma” as Ado Annie, to general acclaim. Here she sang enthusiastically “Be a Lion,” the song from “The Wiz” with which she appeared ten years ago in “Broadway’s Rising Stars.”

Here go the following appreciations. Gabrielle Baker for “If You Knew My Story,” charmingly from “Bright Star.” Jack Brinsmaid, firm in “Corner of the Sky.” Christopher Brian earning an A for “Museums.” John W. Dicaro for a glowing “Once in a Lifetime.” The double delight for twin brothers John and Matthew Drinkwater for “Agony” in the show’s first half, and equally so for “For Good “ in the second. Mara Friedman warm with “Electricity” from “Billy Elliot.” Brian J. Gabriel persuasive in “Make Me a Song” by William Finn. Adan V. Gallegos ably navigating the challenging “I’ll Imagine You a Song.” Esmeralda Garza, apt with “You There in the Back Row from“13 Days From Broadway.” Jonathan Heller’s splendid contribution to the group’s joint “Make Our Garden Grow.” Victoria Kemp justly moving with “Climb Ev’ry Mountain.” Bettina Lobo, eloquent in “This Is Me.”  Tyler McCall for a lively “Defying Gravity,” Albert Nelthropp digging deep into “At the Fountain.” Cameron Nies for a fine rendition of a prophetic “On Broadway.” Luana Psaros for a soulful “I’m the Greatest Star” from “Funny Girl. “Jacob Roberts-Miller with a forceful “Taking the Wheel.” Didi Romero smart in “My Simple Christmas Wish.”

I am looking forward to these talented kids appearing in sundry prominent shows, with their names gracing the Who Is Who listed in the respective programs. Meanwhile I can tell you that, as far as I am concerned, these gifted youngsters are not merely rising, but already risen stars.