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Martha Wade Steketee

Critic. Dramaturg. Researcher.

New York, NY

Martha Wade Steketee

Lover of ghost lights, magic of live performance, and storytelling in song.

Featured

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‘Pretty Woman: The Musical’ Is So Unpretty

There’s a moment early in the first act of Pretty Woman: The Musical — adapted by the late Garry Marshall and J.F. Lawton from Lawton’s screenplay for the 1990 Julia Roberts film that has landed on Broadway with a neon-colored thud — that clues us into the show’s stumbling course and conflicting tone and messages.
The Clyde Fitch Report Link to Story
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Be More Chill is Infectious Joy On Stage and Off

You will hear, see, and feel the future of musical theater. In just over two hours, our adolescent protagonist loses and finds his way, his parent and best friend join forces to bring him back, several girls find each other and their own power, and evil is repelled by good.
Theater Pizzazz Link to Story
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Marcus Gardley Constructs ‘The House That Will Not Stand’

In Marcus Gardley’s The House That Will Not Stand at New York Theatre Workshop, eight characters — seven women of color and one dead white man lying in state — populate a splendid New Orleans transmutation of Federico García Lorca’s The House of Bernarda Alba. Lorca’s play, published in 1934 and first produced in 1945, involves a Spanish widow, the multi-year mourning period she imposes on her five daughters to honor her deceased husband, and how the children respond.
The Clyde Fitch Report Link to Story
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Destruction and Rebirth in Coney Island

"I'm interested in how we frame narratives and who is empowered to tell any particular story." Groff's latest play, Fire in Dreamland, is a time-traveling meditation on the cycle of destruction and rebirth seen through the eyes of local do-gooder Kate (Obie winner Rebecca Naomi Jones), who tries to help a Dutchman named Jaap (Enver Gjokaj) complete his passion project about an iconic amusement park that went up in flames.
TDF Stages Link to Story
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In ‘Mary Page Marlowe,’ Six Actors Create One (Un-) Exceptional Woman

Six actors and a fake baby in sequential performances dramatize one woman’s life journey in Tracy Letts’ Mary Page Marlowe at Second Stage’s Tony Kiser Theater. The story is an expertly selected set of key points in this woman’s life, from infancy to terminal diagnosis. And it’s a kind and cruel and glorious ride.
The Clyde Fitch Report Link to Story
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Vivian Reed Performs Her Story to a Lena Horne Set List

We assembled to celebrate, with Broadway Baby and cabaret veteran Vivian Reed, what would have been Lena Horne’s 101st birthday.
Theater Pizzazz Link to Story
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Ezra, Henry and a Refuge From Adulthood in ‘Log Cabin’

What happens when you fold three couples with overlapping friendships and lurking past connections up against one another, throw in gender flexibility and sexual shenanigans, and add an element magic realism where infants speak more coherently than the adult caregivers around them? In playwright Jordan Harrison‘s Log Cabin, currently running at Playwrights Horizons, you have an old-fashioned romantic farce and comedy of manners seen through an early-21st-century social and political lens.
The Clyde Fitch Report Link to Story
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In the Theater of Nwandu, Black Men Yearn to ‘Pass Over’

Antoinette Nwandu’s Pass Over, currently at Lincoln Center Theater, invites comparison with other plays but, in the end, stands on its own. “Waiting for Godot Meets Black Lives Matter,” mused Chris Jones in his Chicago Tribune review of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s 2017 world premiere — and the text and plot does hint at Samuel Beckett’s Godot, as well as the call-and-response conventions of vaudeville and sketch comedy.
The Clyde Fitch Report Link to Story
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“The Camera is My Beloved”: Memran on Fornés

"The Rest I Make Up" is a poetic rumination by filmmaker Michelle Memran about playwright María Irene Fornés, now in her late 80s and living with late-stage Alzheimer’s. The film is a visual and literary love letter to its subject. I talked with Michelle in late February 2018, about a week after the film’s world premiere screening at MOMA.
HowlRound Link to Story
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At Last, There’s ‘Peace for Mary Frances’ (and Lois Smith)

In The New Group’s production of Lily Thorne’s painful and beautiful play Peace for Mary Frances, an extended family contends with an aging parent and numerous family legacies. One by one, in groups of two and three and four and sometimes more, family members and health care workers cope with both past and present and hope for the future.
The Clyde Fitch Report Link to Story
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Unpacking The Role Of Women In Ibsen’s “The Enemy Of The People”

Goodman’s Resident Dramaturg on how her work gives texture and specificity to a production.
The Theatre Times Link to Story
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‘Light Shining in Buckinghamshire’ Feels Dim

Caryl Churchill’s 1976 play Light Shining in Buckinghamshire, now revived Off-Broadway by New York Theatre Workshop, takes its title from a 1648 political pamphlet outlining the sources of economic slavery amid a murky mess of religion and politics. The execution of Charles I in 1649 then left England without a king, and years of oppressive, experimental governance ensued.
The Clyde Fitch Report Link to Story

About

Martha Wade Steketee

Martha Wade Steketee works as a researcher, policy analyst, editor, theater critic, dramaturg. She writes for numerous outlets including her own site UrbanExcavations.com that focuses on theater, film, and live performance.

Steketee has served on theater awards committees (Jeff in Chicago, Drama Desk and Henry Hewes Design Award in New York); reads scripts for theaters, festivals, and competitions; and works with writers on plays and books in development. Has served on the boards of Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas and League of Professional Theatre Women, and is currently on the Executive Committee of the American Theatre Critics Association.

She lives in New York City with her husband, no pets, too many books, and four original Art Shay 1962 backstage photographs of Judy Garland at the Arie Crown in Chicago.