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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  NY Theater Reviews

 
THE WRONG MAN
at MCC Theater

MACDONALD'S TOP PICK OF 2019
By SANDY MACDONALD

  Joshua Henry and Company/ Ph: Matthew Murphy

I have a feeling – or rather a hope – that we haven’t seen the last of The Wrong Man. Thomas Kail chose to direct this chamber musical on the heels of Hamilton, and it’s easy to see why. Ross Golan’s book and multi-genre music, based on his concept album, checks a lot of topical boxes: violence against women, racial prejudice, wrongful imprisonment. But mainly The Wrong Man served, in its too-short run off-Broadway, as a showcase for the extraordinary vocal and emotive gifts of Joshua Henry.
 
We’ve seen Henry’s artistry previously in The Scottsboro BoysPorgy and Bess, Violet, Shuffle Along and, notably, Carousel. Here Henry commands a basically bare stage as the central character, Duran, a lonely, discouraged middle-aged man left desolate when his girlfriend takes off with children he has come to love as his own. One ill-fated hookup with a Reno femme fatale (sultry Ciara Renée) and he brings on the ingenious vengeance of her estranged husband, aka the Man in Black (Ryan Vasquez, radiating cold-hearted evil).
 
If the characters sound cartoonish, so be it. Once the plot is set in motion, with much of its action doubled by a shadow cast of superlative dancers choreographed by Travis Wall, we’re in no need of Shakespearean subtlety. The only imperative is to sit back, with suitable awe, while taking in Henry’s extraordinarily taxing performance. As the walls, real and psychic, close in on Duran, Henry exerts himself to the max, and miraculously beyond.

 


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