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Bridge and Tunnel In putting together “Bridge and Tunnel,” poet/playwright Sarah Jones demonstrates that she is an accomplished technician and mimic—and not very much more. Her ability to assume accents and to do them consistently is impressive. However, like any mechanical trick, it quickly loses its power to fascinate. Jones portrays a variety of characters who have come to a poetry slam in South Queens—all immigrants who have somehow come together through the Internet—the force of poetry being sufficient to eradicate all preconceptions, racial or religious stereotypes. Would that it were true. Helen Hayes Theatre, 240 W. 44th St. Through Aug. 6. $26.25-$86.25 at 212-239-6200. (Christopher Byrne)

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The Color Purple Spousal abuse. Rape. Incest. Murder. Not exactly the stuff of which Broadway musicals are made. At least not musicals that expect to recoup their investment. But in bringing “The Color Purple” to the stage, at a cost of $10 million, lead producer Scott Sanders knew better. He assembled a crack creative team that was able to amplify the uplifting themes from the landmark 1982 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Alice Walker—faith, overcoming adversity, finding self-love—and turn the doleful epic into a toe-tapping, knee-slapping feel-good fest. Broadway Theatre, 1681 Broadway. $26.25 - $101.25 at 212-239-6200. (David Kennerley)

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THE DROWSY CHAPERONE Musical lovers also know that there isn’t a single moment in life that can’t be improved, explained, or experienced more poignantly through the right original cast album. From joy to heartbreak and everything in between, there’s a song from some musical that always fits. Musical lovers are very often considered freaks to those who don’t get it. Well, there’s vindication for those who turn to the musical for inspiration and solace. It’s the splendid new show “The Drowsy Chaperone,” an unabashed valentine to the musical form and its seductive ability to make sense of life and put it in perspective through song and dance. Marquis Theatre, 1535 Broadway at 45th St. $25-$110 at 212-307-4100. (Christopher Byrne)

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Faith Healer With “Faith Healer,” playwright Brian Friel delivers one of my favorite types of evenings in the theater—a small story, richly and warmly told that exists as much in the art of the storytelling and the characters as it does in the plot. A series of four monologues, the story is ostensibly about the 20 years that an itinerant faith healer, Frank, spent with his wife, Grace, and manager, Teddy, as they scrapped together a living going town to town in the U.K. That’s at least the surface plot. The real story is about how we create our own realities, how we are separate even in community, and the ways in which the heart can guide choices the head might never make. Booth Theatre, 222 W. 45th St. $76.25-$96.25; 212-239-6200. Through Jul. 30. (Christopher Byrne)

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Godot has Left the Building is the cutesy title of a pastiche based on Samuel Becket’s seminal play written by Joe Griffin. It’s hard to get used to the riffs from “Waiting for Godot” interspersed with the much more prosaic dialogue in the contemporary play even though none of Beckett’s dialogue is reprised. “Waiting For Godot” was a spare piece of writing and staging—a poetic tragic-comedy about the futility of man’s existence. It had a simple tree for a prop while this new play has a huge, vaguely post-apocalyptic stage covered with detritus—mostly discarded newspapers and computer keyboards and monitors and Starbuck’s cups. Surely this is meant to evoke man’s technological soullessness but the vagrants in this production don’t interact with the props. They barely comment on just where they are. 45 Below Theater, 45 Bleecker St. at Lafayette. Through Jul. 9. $15 at 212-352-3101. (Gerard Robinson)

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The History Boys In a world that measures worth in dollars (or pounds) and that has traded education for specialized knowledge, have we lost some elements of what makes us uniquely human? That question, though it remains tantalizingly unanswered, is at the center of the sensational new play, “The History Boys,” which opened recently on Broadway. The plot concerns a group of private school boys who are preparing for scholarship exams to get into Oxford and Cambridge. That, at least, is the basic plot, and Alan Bennett’s richly detailed and artfully written play is the greatest argument for the value of a traditional liberal arts education I’ve seen in years. Broadhurst Theatre 235 W. 44th St. $46.25-$96.25; 212-239-6200. (Christopher Byrne)

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HOT FEET Here’s a pitch—a show, based on “The Red Shoes,” set to the irresistible music of Earth Wind and Fire! Maurice Hines conceived it, Heru Ptah wrote the book, and Maurice White added some new songs to the EW&F standards. What sounds like a foolproof concept has been turned into a cliché-ridden concoction. The abundant choreography, which borrows from hip-hop, krumping, ballet, and Lester Horton via Alvin Ailey modern—keeps recycling the same flashy writhing, hip grinding, and split leaps over and over in an array of garish costumes by Paul Tazewell that range from futuristic silver unitards to party-colored street wear to lacy black lingerie to black armor with Darth Vader-like helmets. Hilton Theater, 213 W. 42nd St. $25-$100 at 212-307-4100. (Gus Solomons jr)

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Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris The song cycle takes Brel’s prolific work and boils it down to about 20 numbers that show his emotional and musical range. It is decidedly French. The highs border on the manic, the lows are quite bleak, but through it all there is an unmistakable spirit and adult sensibility that takes life on its own terms and confronts it with an honesty that gives actor/singers something to really sink their teeth into as they sing of love, live, anguish, angst. The compelling and artful production staged by Gordon Greenberg features four very talented singers. The Zipper, 336 W. 37th St. $65 at 212-239-6200. (Christopher Byrne)

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Lestat With “Lestat,” the creators and producers have tried to cram into the show all the elements a general audience would know and love about Anne Rice’s books. This is natural given how familiar they are; but in doing so, they minimize the show’s dramatic potential as the piece becomes driven by plot, rather than character. The story’s all there, but all emotional connection with the audience has been jettisoned. Rice’s characters, who are intriguing, vibrant, sexual, and passionate on the page become flat, sadly, laughable, and ultimately deadly dull on stage. In her books, Rice made the concept of living forever as a vampire perversely appealing, and killing the ultimate kinky sex act. Elton John and crew have made it seem a fate worse than death. Palace Theatre, 1564 Broadway. $35-$110; 212-307-4100 (Christopher Byrne)

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ONE MAN’S WAR Michael Marinaccio plays Doug Hulbert, a gang member who is given a choice by a judge to either go to jail or enter the Marine Corps. Doug chooses the Corps and we follow his experiences in boot camp, in Viet Nam and afterward. Marinaccio endows Doug with great strength of character and we identify with him even though he is a hood. The performance is bold and riveting as we enter this young man’s thoughts about war—from his initial enthusiasm through the experience of scorn upon his return home. Triad Theater, 158 W. 72nd St. Saturdays at 3 p.m. $35, $25 veterans, $20 students at 212-352-3101 (Gerard Robinson)

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SOME GIRLS Neil LaBute’s newest play is arguably his best comic work to date, and MCC’s production is deliciously snarky. It’s the story of the abstractly named Guy (Eric McCormack), who goes on a cross-country odyssey to revisit four women with whom he’s had relationships over the past 20 years—on the eve of his own marriage to a woman about 10 years younger than he is. In each of four scenes set in four different hotel suites, he confronts and is confronted by the demons of his past. While Guy may be seeking solace and “closure,” he doesn’t find it. Instead of his fantasized memories, he gets four doses of reality. It could change a guy… maybe. Lucille Lortel Theatre, 121 Christopher St. at Bedford St. Through Jul. 18. $65-$70 at 212-279-4200. (Christopher Byrne)

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SWEENEY TODD Rich in storytelling, gripping in intellectual scope, and performed by a superlative cast, this quintessential 20th century musical, with book by Hugh Wheeler and music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, has been reconceived for today’s world. Intimate, gripping, and more darkly disturbing than previous productions, it is political theater of the first order in the guise of a seat-edge storytelling experience. The Eugene O’Neill Theater, 230 W. 49th St. $35-$100 at 212-239-6200. (Christopher Byrne)

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TARZAN Over the past two decades, no corporation has done for the musical than Disney. With animated films such as “Aladdin” and “The Little Mermaid,” they have not merely preserved the form but attracted generations to it. Now, with “Tarzan,” Disney takes what has been filmic and creates an entirely new dimension in Broadway entertainment. This should come as no surprise, but while “The Lion King” and “Beauty and the Beast” are more in the traditional vein “Tarzan,” breaks new ground, firmly moving the Broadway musical into another form altogether—what the French call “spectacle.” And it’s fascinating, often breathtakingly beautiful; and while the story and the plot are somewhat simplistic, the show is an amazing achievement of stagecraft, creative vision, and pure theatrical artistry. Richard Rodgers Theatre, 226 W. 46th St. $21.25-$111.25; 212-307-4747 (Christopher Byrne)

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THE WEDDING SINGER Decades from now, it’s more than likely that high schools everywhere will be doing their own, though somewhat verbally sanitized, version of “The Wedding Singer.” Contrary to what you might think, this is intended as a high compliment. In the ways that “Bye Bye Birdie” and “Grease” are now seen as more or less accurate representations of young people in the 1950s and early 1960s, whatever the reality, “The Wedding Singer” is likely to become the cultural touchstone for how people were in the 1980s. Al Hirschfeld Theater, 302 W. 45th St. $56.25-$111.25 at 212-239-6200. (Christopher Byrne).

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Updated 5:17 pm, July 20, 2018
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