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The Rise and Fall of Annie Hall

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Washington Post

'Fall of Annie Hall': A Club Deserving Plenty of Members
By Peter Marks
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 21, 2009

"In his early stage and screen comedy "Play It Again, Sam," Woody Allen enshrined tough-talking Humphrey Bogart, the quintessential man's-man film star of the '40s, as a model for handling women and other intimidating tasks of modern life.

Now, a young dramatist named Sam -- Sam Forman -- plays it his own way, by turning the tables on Allen. Forman projects the nebbishy writer and movie director into something akin to the Bogart role in his new, on-the-fringe-of-showbiz satire, "The Rise and Fall of Annie Hall."

The result is an entertainingly cheeky and charming New York comedy, heavily seasoned with inside-theater jokes and, more to the point, the wit and wisdom of the man who first made neurotic self-absorption a turn-on."   CONTINUE READING

Washington City Paper

Allusions of Grandeur
Woody Two-Shoes: The Rise and Fall of Annie Hall is a sophisticated but ingenuous homage.
By Bob Mondello
Posted: April 22, 2009

The Rise and Fall of Annie Hall
By Sam Forman; Directed by Shirley Serotsky
At Theater J to May 24

"Don’t let the glasses fool you. In The Rise and Fall of Annie Hall, Josh Lefkowitz may be playing leading man Henry Poole as a Woody Allen doppelgänger, but there’s more than a bit of This American Life host Ira Glass to him too. The helplessly ingratiating smile, the sly, sideways storytelling. The actor doesn’t just let fly with Henry’s quips, he wraps his body around them, sidling up to punch lines, cocking his head one way and curling his leg the other to send zingers zinging so unpredictably that an audience never quite knows where it’s about to be tickled."  CONTINUE READING

DC Theatre Scene

The Rise and Fall of Annie Hall
April 22, 2009 by Steven McKnight  

Henry Blume (Josh Lefkowitz) worships at the altar of Woody Allen, eats anti-anxiety drugs (without effect), writes about paranoia and anti-Semitism to an audience of zero, and lives off the largesse of his furniture-selling parents. He is about to blunder into the funniest play I have seen in DC this year, Theater J’s The Rise and Fall of Annie Hall.

Henry is a librettist who dreams of writing a musical that will catapult him to fame and fortune.  He is nearly thirty, and he hasn’t had a hit since his graduate-school adaptation of The Seagull briefly earned him wunderkind status.  His live-in girlfriend Annie (Tessa Klein) is running out of patience as she sees Henry schmoozing more than working.  His writing partner/composer Will (Matthew A. Anderson) is a human cloud of marijuana smoke whose ideas are either ridiculous (Titus Obamacus!) or have been tried before.


Washington Times

THEATER: 'Annie Hall' satire instant hit
Musical pays homage to Woody Allen films, humor
By Jayne Blanchard | Friday, April 24, 2009

The romantic and career entanglements of young, self-absorbed New Yorkers are the focus of Sam Forman's hip, laugh-out-loud-funny musical comedy "The Rise and Fall of Annie Hall," an homage to Woody Allen movies tweaked with references to Twitter and Facebook.

The world premiere opens this month at Theater J under the seasoned direction of Shirley Serotsky. Although it embraces trends and new technologies, "Annie Hall" doesn't convey anything particularly new or insightful about relationships and the nuttiness of show business. The material, however, is presented in such a wildly entertaining way that you just shrug and say, "Whatever, dude."

The story charts the quarter-life crisis of Henry Blume (Josh Lefkowitz), a writer for the theater who has yet to pull an "Avenue Q" and make it on Broadway. He and his collaborator, an amiable stoner named Will (Matthew A. Anderson), decide a musical version of "Annie Hall" will get their names up in lights.   CONTINUE READING

Metro Weekly

Hall of Fame
Fresh on the heels of its first Helen Hayes Award, it would appear that Theater J has another winning show on its hands
by Tom Avila
Published on April 23, 2009
It's amazing what people will post online.

Leave aside the conversations people will have, loudly, on their cell phones while walking down the street or riding the train home (''I'm on the train...''). Forget about the level of trust afforded to a tiny logo and the phrase ''secure server'' as we hand social security and credit-card numbers over like they were the address of a favorite deli.

Think Facebook. Think Twitter. Think of all the random comments and photos posted for the world to see without so much as a second thought.

How much could a perfect stranger learn about you with just a few minutes on your Facebook page? Enough to convince you that you had a friend in common? That you were alumni of the same school? That you hate your job and were only pretending to be sick last Thursday?


Recap: The Rise And Fall Of Annie Hall at Theater J
La-di-da, la-di-da, la la

by Maura Judkis
May 1, 2009

If Woody Allen had a Facebook profile, his relationship status would constantly be set to “It’s complicated.” So, too, would Henry Blume’s: A struggling playwright, Henry (Josh Lefkowitz) wants to write the next big musical, but in the eight years since his graduation, he and his stoner writing partner (Matt Anderson) have struggled to produce anything more than pithy, unrealized concepts. So, when he gets the idea for a musical remake of the 1977 Woody Allen film Annie Hall, he pursues the daughter of the film’s producer in a manner similar to Allen’s technique for seducing Julia Roberts in Everyone Says I Love You: He memorizes the details of her Facebook profile to come across as the perfect guy for her—all so he obtain the film's rights.  CONTINUE READING

Express Night Out

See My Complete Profile: 'The Rise and Fall of Annie Hall
Written by Express contributor Erin Trompeter

'IF NOTHING ELSE, Theater J's latest offering serves as a cautionary tale to Facebook users: Adjust your privacy settings. That's the device by which young would-be Broadway genius Henry Blume (Josh Lefkowitz) snares the trust of a film producer's daughter (Maureen Rohn) in Sam Forman's ultra-contemporary comedy, "The Rise and Fall of Annie Hall."   CONTINUE READING


The Rise And Fall of Annie Hall; Laughing With and at Woody Annie Hall: The Musical.
By Missy Frederick

Does the concept cause chills of horror to run down your spine? An odd thrill of excitement? An eye roll and a laugh? Complete and total apathy?

Unless your response is the fourth, you've got a reason to check out The Rise and Fall of Annie Hall, a new play with music from Sam Forman. The plot, after all, revolves around Henry (Josh Lefkowitz), a nebbish little composer with his sights set on pulling off such a feat – if only he can get in good with the folks who are controlling the rights. But if the amusing presence isn't enough to grab your attention, the play has more than its premise going for it.  CONTINUE READING

District Beat

The Rise and Fall of Annie Hall is a story of 20-something angst. It’s a tale of artists, starving in the city, trying to figure out if they can become the performers they think they should be, or if they even want to. It’s all the kooky neuroticism of  Woody Allen, with all the hip banter of  Friends, and all the pot scenes of  Seth Rogan. In the world premiere of Sam Froman’s new play, we are told the captivating story of Henry (Josh Lefkowitz), a struggling 29-year-old playwright, who hasn’t writing a good play since college. He is clearly addicted to brain crack. He sits in his apartment, thinking of brilliant ideas with his writing partner, Will (Matthew A. Anderson)and his girlfriend Annie (Tessa Klein), but he doesn’t seem to do much to make them happen. CONTINUE READING

Washington Jewish Week

4/22/2009 8:59:00 PM  
'Rise and Fall' -- Woody's wackiness, but with heart
by Lisa Traiger
WJW Arts Correspondent

Life, the famously nebbishy Alvy Singer opined, "is divided into the horrible and the miserable. The horrible are terminal cases and blind people, crippled. I don't know how they get through life. It's amazing to me. And the miserable is everyone else. So you should be thankful that you're miserable."

If that sounds a lot like Woody Allen, it is. For those who aren't fans, or for Gen Y-ers who came of age with the darker, more morally challenged and challenging Allen oeuvres, Alvy Singer is, of course, Allen's alter ego. Alvy is also the centerpiece of the filmmaker's 1977 neurosis-laden love story Annie Hall and inspiration for many young, male Jewish nerds from New York and beyond. CONTINUE READING 

Hill Rag

The Sound of Laughter
A New Comedy Debuts At Theater J
by: Brad Hathaway     
Laughter fills Theater J’s home on 16th Street NW through May 24 with the world premiere of a five-character comedy called “The Rise and Fall of Annie Hall.”

Now, the sound of laughter isn’t exactly unknown in the 238-seat Goldman Theatre. After all, laughter punctuates many of the serious explorations of morality and the human condition that Theater J often offers. The company has even hosted a whimsical klezmer musical, and Theodore Bikel’s program of stories about author Sholom Aleichem had the word in its title: “Laughter Through the Years.” CONTINUE READING


Dude, Theater J's musical The Rise and Fall of Annie Hall is just what you need to cheer up your recession blues. Director Shirley Serotsky, her designers and cast have hit a home run with this play about turning a classic film into a Broadway musical.

And dude, playwright Sam Forman has crafted an edgy story about twentysomethings on the cusp of thirty, finding it's time to let go of one set of dreams and embark on another. Dude, his use of current cultural phenomenon like Twitter, Facebook and Wikipedia make it seem like he wrote the play last week. But his story line of two men trying to succeed on the Great White Way is right out of a 1930's or 40's musical. Dude, it just goes to show that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
THE RISE AND FALL OF ANNIE HALL'S Matthew Anderson and Josh Lefkowitz (Photo by Stan Barouh)
Briefly dude, the story goes like this...CONTINUE READING