Author: Jack Viertel


Since its original 1971 production, “Follies” has been Stephen Sondheim’s most controversial masterwork, though over time it has gradually earned its status as just that: a masterwork. Its brilliant score combines pastiches based on the work of earlier Broadway and …Read More

The Caretaker

Harold Pinter’s first real success is receiving a leisurely but beautifully acted revival at The Old Vic, directed by Matthew Warchus. It stars Timothy Spall, who was so wonderful as the artist J. M. W. Turner in the film “Mr. …Read More

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

We went to London to see this production of August Wilson’s first hit play — the one that established his reputation — largely because we wanted to see what an English company would do with Wilson’s highly idiomatic language and …Read More

Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock and Roll

I’m a fan of Peter Guralnick’s work – especially his two-volume Elvis Presley biography and his wonderful Sam Cooke biography. So I picked up his latest, about the extraordinary rock-and-roll pioneer, Sam Phillips, who started Sun Records in Memphis, discovered …Read More

Empire of Sin

Gary Krist’s “Empire of Sin” may not be great literature, but it’s a compelling account of a fascinating era in one of our favorite cities: New Orleans. Since the VDP is stocked with NOLA natives, fans and residents, I thought …Read More

An American in Paris

We were in London for a week and saw not a single show we thought worth posting about. But we took the Chunnel to Paris to get a look at Christopher Wheeldon’s first go-round as a Broadway director choreographer, and …Read More

Venus in Fur

Having enjoyed Davids Ives’s cheeky play “Venus in Fur” twice —- once off-Broadway once on -— we were eager to take in Roman Polanski’s film version, and we’re glad we did. It makes a fascinating contrast to the stage version. …Read More

My Five Must-See Films Noir

  Linda and I have long been fans of film noir, and spent our earliest years as a couple discovering some of these great “B” pictures from the ’40s and ’50s. But now we’re older, and we forget most of …Read More

Remembering Sid Caesar

Having just gotten through the pleasure of presenting “Little Me” at Encores!, and then reading of the loss of Sid Caesar nearly the moment we closed (the show was written for him, to be clear about the connection), I’m recommending …Read More

Neue Galerie

Can there be a more irritating place to look at great art in New York than the Neue Galerie? The building is spectacular. The art is spectacular. The rules and regulations and the polite but relentless pursuit of the guards …Read More

Henry V

The Michael Grandage Season at the Noel Coward Theatre in London ended as it began, with a smashing production. Peter Nichols’ “Privates on Parade” started things off a year ago, and the season concludes with a very straightforward, eloquent and …Read More


We have yet to see an Alexander Payne movie we didn’t like, but “Nebraska” held a special place for us, since we were married in Omaha. As it turns out, relatively little of this beautifully austere black-and-white movie actually takes …Read More

Twelve Years a Slave

Since no one has said much negative about “Twelve Years a Slave,” let me weigh in on the dissenting side. The film seems to me to be a good deed, but not a very good movie. It wears its moral …Read More

Larry Griswold

These last two weeks of August, who’s really doing culture? It’s sit by the pool and wait for cocktail time. So for those who are thinking of pools, and far away from serious culture, here’s a vaudeville-style clip from old …Read More


I have a poem to share. Our son Josh called my attention to it, and I must say it moved me as a summer kind of thing for readers who pull an old book off the shelf, maybe one we …Read More

54 Below

Let’s hear it for 54 Below. I’ve refrained from writing about it in the past because a) my brother is one of the partners and b) whatever performer I’d write about would likely be finished performing by the publication of whatever …Read More

Talley’s Folly

By Lanford Wilson. This has always been a treat but has usually been undervalued. In its current revival at Roundabout’s Laura Pels Theatre, Danny Burstyn and Sarah Paulson give sensational performances as the Jewish accountant Matt Friedman and the Missouri …Read More

It’s a Bird… It’s a Plane… It’s Superman

At Encores! City Center. Self-promoton alert — AGAIN! I wasn’t going to write about it because it’s such a preposteros musical, and I’m not really a self-promoter by nature, but it has turned out to be a ridiculous amount of …Read More

All in the Timing

This David Ives revival is 20 years old, but it still seems as fresh as a daisy in the new production at 59 East 59. The evening — six short one-act comedies — is mind-bending and even moving, full of …Read More

Django Unchained

For those who have been cheerfully bashing this film at the VDP and who might be interested in a contravening point of view, Frank Rich has a terrific piece in New York magazine celebrating “Django,” while giving measured respect to “Lincoln” and …Read More


Everybody drop everything else you’re doing and come see Fiorello! at New York City Center Encores! Self-serving? Who? Me? It only plays through this Sunday, February 3rd, and I bet it will be really fun. Great score, some wonderful performers, …Read More

Le Bernardin

On the restaurant front, we finally, after about 30 years, got back to Le Bernardin, which is the default answer to the question, “What’s the best restaurant in New York?” We like to be iconoclastic about these things, but holy …Read More

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf and The Piano Lesson

Two great productions of two great plays in New York at the same time without a single movie star in the cast? Sounds crazy, no?  But “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” at the Booth, courtesy of Steppenwolf Theatre Company, and …Read More

Richard III and Twelfth Night

We were lucky enough to see the Shakespeare’s Globe  productions, now transferred to the West End, of Richard III and Twelfth Night, both starring Mark Rylance last week. They were pretty stunning, and to see them, as we did, both …Read More


Those who, like me, saw and really enjoyed and respected Lincoln both for the performances (especially Daniel Day-Lewis and Tommy Lee Jones) and the screenplay by Tony Kushner, might enjoy comedian Louis CK’s take that was broadcast on Saturday Night …Read More


I have to say I was a little taken aback by the Al Pacino production of Glengarry Glen Ross, which seems to be misfiring on all cylinders. Dan Sullivan has directed it as if it’s a naturalistic piece of American …Read More


If you’re looking for a holiday entertainment for children/grandchildren, I have to say that A Christmas Story, which holds the least promise of the four Broadway theater choices, is the one that moved me. It’s a little tattery as a …Read More