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Articles by Jonathan Spira

Theater Review: ‘Desperate Measures’ at New World Stages

Would you have slept with another guy, or perhaps shot a man and watched him die, or even dressed yourself up like a nun? While it sounds like it was lots of fun – and it was – we just outlined (and paraphrased) the basic premise of the plot of “Desperate Measures,” a musical loosely based on William Shakespeare’s decidedly non-musical play “Measure for Measure.”
The story – recited mostly in …

Review: The Avenue Q 15th Anniversary Reunion Concert at Feinstein’s/54 Below

Fifteen years ago, theatergoers met Princeton, Rod, Kate Monster, Brian, Christmas Eve, and a rather down-and-out Gary Coleman as the hit musical “Avenue Q” took the world by storm.
In this coming-of-age parable, Princeton wonders out loud, “What do you do, with a B.A. in English?” as he searched for his purpose, while he and his friends on Avenue Q experience and try to conquer the anxieties of becoming adults.
On Monday …

Theater Review: ‘Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope’ at Encores Off-Center at City Center

The third and final musical in the Encores Off Center Series at City Center, “Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope,” completes the trilogy of shows for the season that have a theme but no real plot.
The first – “Songs for a New World,” Jason Brown’s brilliant 1995 opus – was a revue that repeatedly teased us with a plot, almost like a false cadence. The second, “Gone Missing,” served more …

Theater Review: ‘Hairspray’ at Argyle Theatre, Babylon

Welcome to Baltimore ca. 1964.  “Hairspray,” an adaptation of John Waters’ 1988 movie of the same name, looks back at rock ‘n’ roll and race relations in the seaport city and recently opened at the renovated Argyle Theatre in Babylon, Long Island.
The Argyle production features a commanding Jason Simon in the role originated by Harvey Fierstein on Broadway (and Divine in the movie) and Katy Geraghty as Tracy Turnblad, the …

Theater Review: ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ at the National Yiddish Theater Folksbiene

Theodore Bikel would have approved.
The powerful new production of “Fiddler on the Roof” that opened recently at the National Yiddish Theater Folksbiene, is an authentic and, at times, extraordinarily moving experience.
Bikel, whose first stage appearance was in Sholem Aleichem’s “Tevye the Milkman” (one of Aleichem’s stories on which the musical was based) and who performed the role of Tevye in “Fiddler” more than any other actor although he wasn’t the …

Review and Test Drive: 2018 Lincoln Navigator Reserve and Black Label

Back in the day, when I was in high school secretly reading car magazines instead of the approved reading assignment, the battle for the best luxury sedan or coupe was a fairly big deal. One of the leading car magazines of the period would refer to the winner as “King of the Hill” and typically pitted a Cadillac Eldorado against a Lincoln Continental Mark VII or, later, Mark VIII.
The Lincoln-versus-Cadillac …

Review and Test Drive: 2018 Toyota C-HR

Unveiled at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show, the Toyota C-HR keeps everyone guessing what C-HR might stand for. In introducing the car, Toyota said the name was derived from both Compact High Rider and Cross Hatch Run-about, but that really doesn’t matter.
What does matter is that it has a distinctively funky exterior and a solid cabin design. Toyota says it’s based on what it refers to as a Sensual Speed …