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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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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
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Son to Forgive His Betraying Mother? Ask “The Treasurer”

What happens to a 13-year-old boy when his mother leaves the family for another life? “She left and poof, there went our family,” says our narrator, called Son (Peter Friedman), the abandoned adolescent now a middle-aged man. In a theatrical musing on mortality and the limits of forgiveness, Max Posner’s play The Treasurer explores what happened next.
The Clyde Fitch Report Link to Story
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“Mary Jane,” Mom to Chronically Sick Child, Gently Explodes

There’s quiet devastation in the all-female voices of Amy Herzog’s Mary Jane, now playing at Off-Broadway’s New York Theatre Workshop after a run last spring at Yale Repertory Theatre. Herzog’s play does explode, but gently, exposing life around the edges of achingly ordinary domestic details. Carrie Coon assumes the potent, resilient, resonant role of Mary Jane, mother of a chronically ill two-year-old that we never see on stage — except as a pile of clothing on a hospital bed late in the play.
The Clyde Fitch Report Link to Story
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Teaching Manners to Build a Community

"Laughter during a confession or vulnerable moment tells you people are listening." MCC Theater's new drama focuses on a one-of-a-kind charm school.
TDF Stages Link to Story
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Searching for a Shore, This Family Settles Into Silence

On the Shore of the Wide World, first staged in Manchester and London in 2005, is the first Atlantic Theater Company show of the 2017-18 season. with American actors edging into various regional accents and a British reserve. Sudsy plot points drive a narrative involving three generations of the working-class Holmes family in rural England, including pregnancies, abortions, births, early marriages, threatened dalliances, and an event that the audience should experience as a surprise, so no spoilers here.
The Clyde Fitch Report Link to Story
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Women in Charge

Two playwrights, Kate Hamill and Karen Zacarías, prove that female characters are limited neither by their senses nor their destiny. Two theatremakers coming to OSF next season assemble new work out of existing genres with women’s voices, for women performers. Their plays are infused with feminism, humor and social commentary in equal measure.
Prologue 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.