Such inattentiveness is only possible because of the production's curious blandness; little of it feels fully imagined. Some of the shared moments between Audra McDonald's Olivia and Anne Hathaway's Viola unlock the play's delicacy of feeling; Raul Esparza's impetuous Orsino supplies a charge of individuality otherwise absent. The delightful period-meets-pop score, played live by a group called Hem, supplies constant refreshment, and David Pittu (Feste) isn't the only first-rate singer onstage ready to chime in vocally. But these delights all have to fight their way past a prevailing monotony of tempo, and of spirit. As at The Wiz, the show reminds you how magical a popular entertainment can be, and how much skill and effort artists need to keep that magic alive.

Not easing so well down the road: Christopher White, Ashanti, and Joshua Henry in The Wiz
Robert J. Saferstein
Not easing so well down the road: Christopher White, Ashanti, and Joshua Henry in The Wiz

Details

The Wiz
By William F. Brown and Charlie Smalls
City Center Encores!
130 West 55th Street, 212-581-1212

Twelfth Night
By William Shakespeare
Delacorte Theater
Central Park, 212-539-8500

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