Puffs. New World Stages. By Matt Cox. Directed by Kristin McCarthy Parker.
The New Yorker: "Eleanor Philips and Langston Belton are charming."
Theater Pizzaz: "Singling out anyone in a uniformly strong ensemble, particularly in a show where a group of underdogs frequently asserts that they are stronger together, feels unfair."
Exeunt Magazine: "Puffs succeeds above all else as an ensemble piece. The Puffs are a tight-knit and collaborative bunch. Likewise, the actors playing them—as well as a whole host of professors, villains, and other magical figures— work extremely well together. Under Kristin McCarthy Parker’s expert direction, the fast-paced action—rapid entrances and exits, costume and character changes, leaps in time and space— proceeds flawlessly."
Frequent Business Traveler: "The rest of the company includes skillful comedians and improv artists Madeleine Bundy, Jessie Cannizzaro, Nick Carillo, A.J. Ditty, James Fouhey, Andy Miller, Eleanor Philips and Stephen Stout, who masterly portray what seems to be hundreds of characters each, some new and some familiar. Just witnessing Stout’s Alan Rickman, Philips’ Maggie Smith and Cannizzaro’s Bippy the house elf are worth the price of admission."
Edge Media Network: "Puffs biggest asset is the entire twelve member ensemble, a gilded Pandora's comedy jack-in-the-box of solid performers as good as the best of any Broadway season. They revel in each other's agility to the point of almost cracking up at one another's comic sincerity."
Puffs. The Elektra Theater. By Matt Cox. Directed by Kristin McCarthy Parker.
The Columbia Lion: "The vocal dexterity of the cast cannot be denied, as Snape and others take the stage, or even before the play starts, in the half-hour of seating as the actors take turns creating clever and ridiculous school announcements over the P.A....one of whom [Eleanor Philips] throws in an April Fool’s Day joke over the P.A. – using a perfect McGonagall imitation – to lighten the atmosphere."
Riveted: "McGonagall (known simply as McG) is played by Eleanor Philips, who adeptly channels her inner Maggie Smith, while also seamlessly transforming into years 1-3 Dumbledore."
Talkin Broadway: "The 12 members of the cast are all pitched at just the right level of confused caffeination, and give in to neither pure mimicry of iconic Harry Potter actors like Maggie Smith and Richard Harris [both played by Philips] nor the inclination to blaze their own original trails. ...Eleanor Philips is also a hoot as the air-headed Hannah"
Theater is Easy Best Bet!: "Terrific performances by a talented ensemble."
Pop-Culturalist: "The play is an enjoyable, laugh-filled ride for Potter fans. The actors all do an amazing job, especially those who inhabit multiple roles (sometimes at dizzyingly fast speeds)... actors to watch included Eleanor Philips in the roles of “Hannah/Others” (those others including a fantastic McGonagall, as well as Megan’s mother, the bad Puff)"
Nerdist: "[Puffs] never goes more than a minute without a laugh, mining its humor from meta jokes, impressive physical gags, and its characters’ charming ineptitude. "
StageBuddy: "laugh-out-loud funny, whip-smart, and a lot of fun to watch."
Theater Pizzazz: "...it’s the rest of the Puffs who provide many of the funniest moments...The ensemble work in the show is strong enough to make it disappointing not to single out each performer."
Entertainment Weekly: "So fans of Harry Potter, his friends (and enemies) and their adventures, then, will likely be charmed by Puffs, a new Off Broadway Potter parody/alternate story of sorts that’s packed with knowing winks to its source material and has a heart all its own"
Puffs, or: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic, The PIT. By Matt Cox. Directed by Kristin McCarthy Parker.
Theater is Easy Best Bet!
Culture Catch: "The cast is impressive and engaging, and almost everyone plays multiple parts...Eleanor Philips plays Puff Hannah much of the time, but also gets some excellent comic moments as the first version of the headmaster..."
New York Theatre Review: "Eleanor Philips impressively nails a variety of complex British dialects as a she portrays a variety of the school's professors."
OnStage: "Jessie Cannizzaro, Nick Carrillo, AJ Ditty, and Ellie Philips round out the rest of the cast, all of them special and funny in their own fantastic and brilliant ways, but sadly fall victim to ‘not enough space in this review’ syndrome, which is why I won’t go in to depth about how much fun they all are. Much to my chagrin. Put simply, the cast are great, and they do Cox’s script a great service."
New York Times: "a fine ensemble...“Puffs” exudes a jovial, winking fondness for all things Harry."
250 Word Reviews: "Puffs transcends parody and fan service to create a three-dimensional world populated by believable characters whose tragedies resonate as strongly as their triumphs."
Cat Call, Rule of 7x7 at the Tank. By Jeff Ronan. Directed by Jillian Robertson.
Stage Buddy: "And Jeff Ronan's opener, Cat Call, sets the bar very, very high. That it does this relying on a standardized encounter renders the truth of the characters, the wit, and the naturalness all the more impressive."
The Mysteries, The Flea Theater, directed by Ed Sylvanus Iskandar
The New York Times (Critic's Pick): "...there's much to enjoy in between, like Bess Wohl's 'The Denial of Peter,' which narrates the tale from the perspective of the women [Eleanor Philips, Eliza Simpson, and Janice Amaya]..."
Vanity Fair: "The Mysteries might be the most interesting thing to come out of the Bible in centuries."
TheaterMania: "The Bats give emotionally (and sometimes literally) naked performances as they boldly illuminate this millennia-old tale...There are too many brilliant moments to mention them all."
Theater in the Now: "Some of the highlight episodes included 'Transfiguration' by Billy Porter and Kirsten Greenidge, 'The Next Supper' by Lloyd Suh, and 'Pentecost' by Sean Graney. Additionally, one of the grandest song and dance moments that got everyone smiling came from the band The Killers as the ensemble accompanied themselves to the perfectly positioned and integrated 'All These Things That I've Done'..."
Stage Buddy: "At its strongest, the production grants the Bible a brutal contemporaneity: such is the case with...Lloyd Suh's 'The Next Supper'...There is also a constant thread of humor which serves to lift the production: Nick Jones' 'Fruitful and Begettin'...had the audience in stitches."
"Yet the true stars of this heavenly space are the Bats, who undoubtedly flew more like angels than creatures of the night. Their exuberance and constant, indefatigable energy is what truly kept this production thrillingly afloat."
Read my interview about The Mysteries on Theater In The Now!
HowlRound's interview with our dramaturg Jill Rafson: "Rafson admiringly reflects on the grit of the actors. 'For the actors, this crazy workshop was their callback - a callback process where they had some of the country's best playwrights watching them say their words for the very first time, very attentively, for two nights, for about eight hours each time.'"
Talkin' Broadway Off Broadway: "From a theatrical perspective, the real mystery to ponder is how the Flea has managed to pull off this tour de force production in such a way as to keep an audience immersed... Many a Broadway production would do well to heed this lesson."
Theater is Easy: "There is an amazing scene in the third part when two Brooklyn girls [Kate Thulin and Eleanor Philips] meet and clothe Jesus; it is the most moving and poignant five minutes in the entire six hours - plus it's funny - and I appreciated the sentiment"
CurtainUp: "Part Biblical history lesson, part Sunday School catechism, and altogether transfixing (and ultimately transcendent), The Mysteries is a theatrical journey that begins in wonder and ends in wisdom. The acting by the young Bats is uniformly solid, a true ensemble effort."
The Merry Wives of Windsor, Baited Bear Productions, directed by Douglas Honorof
Stage Buddy: "The Baited Bear Players...present the bard's comedy in an impeccably staged adaptation, [and] they have mastered the language and dialect of the period so authentically it feels as though you are watching the play right at The Globe Theater....Mistress Page and Mistress Ford, played charmingly by Eliza Simpson and Eleanor Philips respectively, are wickedly funny as they aspire to make a fool out of Sir John. They turn the gender stereotype of women being weak-willed right on its head."