Three of theatre’s most inventive, inspired and award-winning performers bring to living theater life a comedic and dramatic portrait of a mother, father and son who photographed their lives. Based on Larry Sultan’s acclaimed photo memoir, adapted for the stage by Sharr White, starring Nathan Lane, Zoë Wanamaker and Danny Burstein, and directed by award-winning director Bartlett Sher, Pictures of the house will evoke memories of childhood, parenthood and the hard-won wisdom that comes with them.
Shows for Pictures of the house kicked off on Friday, January 13, 2023, and the production will officially open at Studio 54 on Broadway (254 W 54th Street) on Thursday, February 9, 2023 for a strictly limited engagement.
The design team of Pictures of the house includes Michael Yeargan (Set Designer), Jennifer Moeller (Costume Designer), Jennifer Tipton (Lighting Designer), Scott Lehrer and Peter John Still (Sound Designers), and Ben Pearcy at 59 Productions (Projection Designer).
Jesse Green, The New York Times: Sharr White’s play, which opened Thursday at Studio 54, in a production directed by Bartlett Sher, didn’t go from two-dimensional to three-dimensional. While honorable, thoughtful and wonderful to watch, with shrewd performances from Danny Burstein, Zoë Wanamaker and above all Nathan Lane, it caulks so many of the book’s expressive cracks that the best thing about it – its mystery – is sealed.
Adam Felman, Free time in New York: The play tries to tell what Sultan’s photographs show, and to some extent it succeeds. Because the actors are so attractive, they make for good company: Lane can squeeze laughs out of any line he wants simply by giving it a comedic cadence, and his restless, cartoonish Irv is a fitting foil for Larry. tender and reflective of Burstein; Wanamaker brings spirit and spine to a game that is supportive in more ways than one. Director Bartlett Sher frames the room in a free and asymmetrical physical space, designed by Michael Yeargan and lit by Jennifer Tipton, which keeps it from looking too cozy.
Frank Scheck, New York Scene Review: Pictures from Home proves less artful than the photobook that inspired it, but the universality of its themes and the power of its performances give it an emotional force nonetheless. It would have even more impact had it been housed in a more suitable theatre. (Memo to Broadway producers: Studio 54 is not a suitable venue for small-scale intimate dramas.)
David Finkel, New York Scene Review: Soon after the launch of Pictures From Home, it becomes boring and then abusive for customers. Then, if it’s California’s answer to classic Arthur Miller drama, it becomes a piece that doesn’t need much attention. The minimum attention that could be given is due to the venerable actors Lane, Burstein and Wanamaker. (Lane is headlining, but Burstein gets the last and therefore most important of the separate curtain bows.) Dominating as each can be, they are hampered by Sharr’s storyline and Sher’s acquiescent direction. .
Johnny Oleksinsky, The New York Post: “Pictures,” directed by Bartlett Sher as an afterthought, isn’t much of a play, so much as one guy’s thoughts on the middle class. It’s a drama-free paraphrase of Sultan’s essays punctuated by Nathan Lane and Zoe Wanamaker, as Irving and Jean respectively, making jokes about being old. When you occasionally laugh at their jokes, you briefly forget that you are bored.
Greg Evans, Deadline: While intimate, honest views of the inner workings of a family can only touch our hearts at regular times, Pictures From Home is too direct in its characterizations, with father and son in particular repeating their arguments and complaints. with unstoppable frequency. Lane has the hardest job here, having to convince the public that we don’t know who he really is, that we haven’t seen a version like this displayed and depicted in everything from An American Family to (at his extreme ) Estate. The challenge proves a bit too difficult even for the tireless and always attractive Lane, whose holes remain to be filled with high-volume stitches.
Chris Jones, New York Daily News: But White, and Sher, and this cast, stay focused on the right questions. While Broadway is obsessed with youth and revolt, here’s a sweet, wise Broadway play about just wanting your mom and dad to carry on, wishing they could live forever, and realizing that no any artist can complain and roar, but some sages choose instead to make their loved ones immortal. And the real stars of a star-studded Broadway show too. A rare gift, to be used wisely.
Tim Teeman, The daily beast: The three actors try to squeeze as many laughs and jerk moments out of the script as possible. But they navigate a mostly flabby narrative that feels like a boring treasure hunt with lots of clues and teasing, but ultimately no shiny treasure.
Matthew Wexler, Weird : Set in the couple’s home in the San Fernando Valley and featuring a wide range of photos and real-life family film photography of Sultan projected onto set designer Michael Yeargan’s avocado-colored walls, Pictures From Home stumbles into the past rather than into rides, punctuated by three nuanced performances that question the meaning and value of family.
Nicole Serratore, The scene: Artist Larry Sultan spent 10 years photographing his parents in their Southern California home and analyzing their home movies for his 1992 photo memoir. Now playwright Sharr White is bringing Sultan’s efforts to life in a play of the same name, directed by Bartlett Sher. Frustratingly, however complex Sultan’s memoir is, it results in oversimplified family feuds in White’s script, and is flattened into watered-down comedy by Sher. Still, Nathan Lane and Zoë Wanamaker deliver strong character performances.
Charles Isherwood, The Wall Street Journal: When one contemplates the talent involved in Broadway’s “Pictures From Home,” a cast of Nathan Lane, Danny Burstein and Zoë Wanamaker, under the direction of Bartlett Sher, it’s hard to manage expectations. But necessary. For while the production is impeccable and the performances neat and fun, the play, adapted by Sharr White from Larry Sultan’s book of memoirs and photographs, feels like a snapshot that hasn’t been fully developed, to borrow the most convenient. Diffuse and sometimes repetitive, it somehow feels uncomfortably like the album it’s based on.
Brian Scott Lipton, City tour: Despite their Herculean efforts, however, “Pictures from Home” works better as a play to discuss over dinner than as an utterly engrossing viewing experience. Even when the story’s philosophical questions arise — sometimes with little warning — too often it feels like you’re listening to your neighbors’ mundane conversations. Additionally, much of the piece is reminiscent of watching someone else’s home movies, which we all know is less fascinating to the viewer than the viewer. (And to be clear, sometimes you literally do, as the Sultans’ home movies and photographs are projected onto the back wall of Michael Yeargan’s uninspiring set.)
Jackson McHenry, Vulture: The almost timeless memory-based structure of the piece does not help the forward momentum. The characters speak through the decades but seem to repeat findings from scene to scene through the hour and 45 minutes without intermission of Pictures From Home. It captures how time will blur when you spend time with your family, but it will also blur the drama.
Michael Musto, Chelsea Community News: But the three Broadway veterans who make up the entire cast lend weight to the play. The Tony Burstein (Moulin Rouge! The Musical) winner is convincingly brash, letting dad’s insults fly right at him, while hiding an appealing vulnerability. Wanamaker is also terrific, resolutely going about his business, and even ends up showing a soft side. And Broadway titan Nathan Lane doesn’t downplay his character, lands every laugh and has a volcanic explosion at the end of the play that is brilliantly pulled off. Unfortunately, Irving — who describes himself as a deeply vulnerable person who doesn’t want to be seen as vulnerable — is pretty insufferable company, and director Bartlett Sher lets Lane exacerbate that by shouting so many of his lines. When Irv starts giving Larry the silent treatment out of seething resentment, you’re relieved for his vocal cords.
Juan A. Ramirez, Theater : Throughout the 1980s, photographer Larry Sultan spent nearly a decade photographing his parents in their kitsch home for what would become Pictures From Home, a photobook that evokes the feeling of the American Dream laid out to dry under the Southern California sunshine. Now adapted by Sharr White into a play of the same name, skillfully directed by Bartlett Sher, these images are brought to life by a trio of veteran actors, with Danny Burstein as the artist as the eternal child, and create an often moving portrait of family as an elusive and captivating subject.
Average score: 56.7%