The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore. The Mild Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore is far from Tennessee Williams' best work. However, it is involving, funny, sexy, and sad. The situation is familiar: emotionally-needy rich old woman meets financially-needy gorgeous young man. Both are and aren't con artists. Their connection is and isn't genuine. But it doesn't matter. In Williams' world, faux love is better than no love. Olympia Dukakis is uneven but ultimately triumphant as the self-involved, nasty, frightened Flora Goforth. Edward Hibbert, in a piece of inspired casting, does wonders with a role previously played by Mildred Dunnock, Ruth Ford, and Marian Seldes. Director Michael Wilson does a lovely job with unspoken moments but allows a certain thinness to the performances of Darren Pettie in the all-important hunk role and Maggie Lacey as a young widow trapped in a claustrophobically unhappy situation. (Note: I saw a fairly early preview, paid $31.50, and sat in the first row to the far house left.)
The Importance of Being Earnest. The current production of The Importance of Being Earnest isn't earth-shattering, but it is solid and funny. Brian Bedford does well as both director and lead actress. The cast also isn't earth-shattering, but they are all good and they all know how to land their jokes. Perhaps most importantly, the dialogue is about 95% intelligible, which is a very high grade in a Broadway house nowadays. Sitting in the last row of the mezzanine ($10 tickets) at the third preview, I felt completely involved in the show, with none of that sense of distance that often occurs past the tenth row in the orchestra.
Other Desert Cities. I am baffled at the superlative reviews that Jon Robin Baitz's Other Desert Cities has been receiving. The play is in that dreadful genre of "we must avoid telling the truth until late in the second act or we won't have a show." If the big reveal had been at the end of the first act or even in scene one, Other Desert Cities could have focused on the realities of how long-kept secrets can poison families. Instead, it chooses to move into another annoying genre: "a secret is revealed and, boom, everyone is healed." Stacey Keach rises above the material, Stockard Channing gives an interesting voice performance with no facial expressions (Botox?), Thomas Sadoski does well with an odd character, Linda Lavin is underutilized, and the often-wonderful Elizabeth Marvel flails away to little avail. (I saw an early preview, fifth row center, ~$45.)