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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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Nuclear Powerless: Cleaning the Mess Boomers Left Behind

Big themes and human-scale stories twine with elegance, humor and some horror in Lucy Kirkwood’s play The Children, now running on Broadway in a Manhattan Theatre Club production. It’s the first NYC staging of a play seen most recently at London’s Royal Court Theatre; infidelity, guilt and generational legacy haunt a deceptively straightforward yet frequently surprising play.
The Clyde Fitch Report Link to Story
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Stacey Kent Dreams Her Dreams

Stacey Kent is at Birdland to promote her 2017 album I Know I Dream, and lends her delicate vocals and spare musical stylings to English, Portuguese, and French tunes from that recording. She also delights with more familiar selections of standards long-time fans have known for years. In this perfect blending of old and new, she and four familiars (husband Jim Tomlinson on saxes and flutes, Art Hirahara on piano, Tom Hubbard on bass, and Anthony Pinciotti on drums) pare the symphonic treatment of Portuguese, French and English lyrics to fit the intimate Birdland venue.
Theater Pizzazz Link to Story
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Hirabayashi Lives On, Still Defending the US Constitution

Jeanne Sakata’s one-person play Hold These Truths, running in the basement performance space of the Sheen Center in NYC through Dec. 20, delightfully explores an American life — as well as several courtroom dramas, pivotal political events and personal principles. It’s a play about social intolerance, legal oppression and family history, too, all as illuminated by the story of the late Gordon Hirabayashi.
The Clyde Fitch Report Link to Story
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Miller’s “20th Century Blues”: 40 Years, Four Women Fall Flat

I wanted more depth from Susan Miller’s new play 20th Century Blues, about the long-term friendships among four 60-something women, currently running at the Pershing Square Signature Center. The play’s structure and themes suggest two other plays: Donald Margulies’ Time Stands Still, about the wartime and civilian life of a female war photographer set in her loft apartment in NYC, and Wendy Wasserstein’s Pulitzer Prize-winning The Heidi Chronicles.
The Clyde Fitch Report Link to Story
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Halston on Life and Death and What’s Between

Julie Halston is a librarian of memories, a seeker of wisdom in unexpected places, a literary comedian.
Theater Pizzazz Link to Story
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Dreamy “Peter Pan” Grows Wild and Full of Bedlam

A new adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s 1904 play Peter Pan presented by the theater company Bedlam and running The Duke through Dec. 23, takes place within a soundscape of rain, waves and thunder claps. The play’s language is dream-like and poetic and repetitive; the costumes are contemporary and suggestive; the set at once suggestive and literal.
The Clyde Fitch Report Link to Story
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In Broadway’s Gentlest Musical, Hope Strikes Up the “Band”

The wonder holds in The Band’s Visit, the musical dreamscape now on Broadway less than a year after an Off-Broadway unveiling that opened to rapturous reviews. Some wondered whether a show based on a 2007 film about a lost Egyptian military band that spends an unexpected night in a small Israeli town might be, if you’ll pardon the expression, a frame too thin for a musical.
The Clyde Fitch Report Link to Story
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Callaway Jazzes the Movies

Ann Hampton Callaway is a Chicago girl with one of the biggest hearts in cabaret. On a recent evening at Birdland, on a day when a deranged dude in a rental truck several miles downtown killed eight people and injured many more, Callaway pauses to reflect on the healing magic of jazz communication.
Theater Pizzazz Link to Story
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He Said, He Said: “M. Butterfly” Takes Wing on Broadway

Julie Taymor’s elegant revival of David Henry Hwang’s 1988 play M. Butterfly remains a nuanced, spare, evocative dreamwork. It tells the story of a diplomat’s illegal actions, a Chinese citizen’s pragmatic moves to survive, and it is, of course, a gender play that spoke to us in one way in 1988 and now speaks differently to us in 2017.
The Clyde Fitch Report Link to Story
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DeLaria Sings Bowie at Birdland

Lea DeLaria holds court with passion and grace in her David Bowie tribute show. My October 25 late show crowd is treated to guest Sandra Bernhard, who solos on a tune or two, then duets and riffs with DeLaria for a few numbers. Starry guests aside, where we happily dwell for this engagement is in live performances of numbers from DeLaria’s Bowie tribute recording, and the impact is electrifying.
Theater Pizzazz Link to Story
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“The Home Place”: Persnickety Plot Paralyzes Political Play

Friel overreaches in a play of the rising working class, landed gentry, and women’s roles.
The Clyde Fitch Report Link to Story
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Advice and Consent: Nia Vardalos Finds “Tiny Beautiful Things”

Tiny Beautiful Things has returned in quiet triumph to the Public Theater after last season’s sold-out engagement in the tiny Shiva Theater. Co-conceived with Marshall Heyman and director Thomas Kail, actress Nia Vardalos adapted novelist Cheryl Strayed’s anthologized advice columns (“Dear Sugar”) into a play of small moments.
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 been a member of theater awards committees (Jeff in Chicago, Drama Desk in New York), script reader for theaters, festivals, and competitions, and works with playwrights and authors on works in development. Currently serves on the boards of LMDA (lmda.org), ATCA (americantheatrecritics.org), and LPTW (theatrewomen.org).

Steketee 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.