The Broadway Musical Blog – Musical theater news and gossip from the Great White Way

Dishing out daily (or almost daily) Broadway musical news and gossip. The companion site to The Broadway Musical Home (broadwaymusicalhome.com), a directory of Broadway musicals with the story, songs, merchandise, video clips, lyrics, tickets, rights & awards for almost 200 shows.

Archive for On Broadway

The Reviews for Gigi are In…

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The reviews for Gigi are in, and most of the critics agree that this revival’s pretty surface fails to totally cover the weaknesses just underneath.  Originally a novella by Colette, then a 1958 Lerner and Loewe film, and then a 1973 Broadway bust, the latest version features a revised book by Heidi Thomas that aims to modernize the tale but ends up sterilizing it.  Vanessa Hudgens, known from “High School Musical,” brings brightness to the title role and sings her songs with sparkle, but misses the mark emotionally.  The supporting cast is strong and the scenery and costumes are impressive, but in the end, this revival of Gigi just lacks a heart and a soul and wears a bit too much make-up.

NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW

A shower of soap bubbles descends upon the audience at the finale of the pretty and pleasant revival of the musical “Gigi” that opened at the Neil Simon Theater on Wednesday. The gentle downpour is meant to evoke the fizz in a glass of Champagne, the delights of which have been celebrated in one of the bounciest … 

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TIME OUT NEW YORK REVIEW

Champagne, as Gigi reminds us, “is not actually a force of nature, but the result of industrial chemistry!” Neither natural force nor chemistry, alas, is much in evidence at this fizzless toast to Parisian romance in the Belle Époque. Based on a story by Colette, and its 1958 film adaptation by Alan Jay Lerner and 

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HOLLYWOOD REPORTER REVIEW

Given her famously ambivalent acquaintanceship with Coco Chanel, it seems possible that novelist Colette might be rolling her eyes, if not quite rolling over in her grave at Père Lachaise Cemetery, upon discovering that double-G T-shirts mimicking the interlocking-C Chanel logo are being sold at the merchandise 

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HUFFINGTON POST REVIEW

The movie Gigi with book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner, music by Frederick Loewe and direction by Vincente Minnelli won the 1958 Oscar as best movie. That was one of nine — count ’em, 9 — Oscars handed the box-office hit. Others included best screenplay adaptation (Lerner), best song (Lerner and Loewe’s title 

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NBC NEW YORK REVIEW

Vanessa Hudgens brings verve and vivacity to a reimagined version of the classic musical “Gigi”—a production equally memorable for its rich contributions from Tony winner Victoria Clark, as the carefree young girl’s indulgent grandmother. “Gigi” has just opened at the Neil Simon Theatre, following a world premiere 

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The Reviews for On the Twentieth Century are In…

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The reviews for On the Twentieth Century are in, and the critics are happy to have been invited aboard for the ride.  There’s a charming simplicity to this musical – sign the star before the train’s 16-hour trip to NYC is finished – which is made all the more compelling by the virtuous vocal performances, the fast-paced plot movement, and the stunning look and feel.  Andy Karl and Mary Louise Wilson shine in their character-role performances, but it’s Kristin Chenoweth and Peter Gallagher who really steal the show…especially Chenoweth.  If you’ve forgotten while she’s been on TV and in the movies, her abilities are top-tier and on full display as the film star Lily Garland.  Overall, the critics’ message resounds as clearly as a train whistle pulling into Grand Central – there’s no one who won’t love On the Twentieth Century.

NEW YORK TIMES

In the theater, there is overacting, which is common and painful to watch. Then there’s over-the-moon acting, which is rare and occupies its own special cloud land in heaven. I am delighted to report that this latter art is being practiced in altitudinous-high style at the American Airlines Theater, where Kristin

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NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Next stop, Broadway musical bliss. That’s where the Roundabout revival of “On the Twentieth Century,” directed with verve by Scott Ellis, takes you. The setting for this fast-paced, flab-free screwball operetta by Cy Coleman, Betty Comden and Adolph Green is a luxury coach en route from Chicago to New York in the… 

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NEW YORK POST

“They don’t write dialogue like this anymore,” a producer says, leafing through the Bible in “On the Twentieth Century.” And they don’t write musical comedies like this anymore, either. Gloriously revived by the Roundabout Theatre Company, this 1978 musical — now with sparkling turns by Kristin Chenoweth and Pete… 

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HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

At the top of Act II in “On the Twentieth Century,” four tap-dancing redcap Pullman porters work overtime to funnel syncopated energy into the facile analogy of “Life is Like a Train.” But this strained farce set in 1932 aboard the luxury Chicago-to-New York express passenger service is a musical stubbornly lacki… 

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The Reviews for Honeymoon in Vegas are In…

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The reviews for Honeymoon in Vegas are in, and this cheese-laden Las Vegas glitter-bomb seems to have all the stuff of a winner.  Based on the 1992 film, Honeymoon in Vegas pits two men (of totally opposing temperaments) against each other in battle for the same woman.  What the story lacks in complexity, it makes up for with goofiness and outlandishness that make the entire world (from Brooklyn to Vegas to Hawaii and back again) both endearing and entertaining.  The leads hit their marks – Tony Danza, Rob McClure, and Brynn O’Malley all deliver strong performances — but the original score is the real star.  Jason Robert Brown deftly blends motifs of brassy, Vegas lounge music with the Broadway style he knows so well.  Whether you still miss Danza’s “Who’s the Boss?” or love Jason Robert Brown’s work or just want to see something dazzling, Honeymoon in Vegas is a good bet for you.

NEW YORK TIMES

“Wake up and smell the mai tais, New York. Las Vegas has come calling on you. And it’s on such good behavior, you’d be a churl not to embrace it as if it were a long-lost sibling. As embodied by the bright and bouncy new musical Honeymoon in Vegas, which opened on Thursday night at the Nederlander Theater, the…” 

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TIME OUT NEW YORK

“How to answer snobs who denounce Broadway as a cultural wasteland of gaudy lights, musical cheese and tacky titillation, a place where suckers from around the world flock to get fleeced? You could say at least it’s not…Las Vegas? Well, the Great White Way has now become Sodom of the Southwest, and whatever happens ther…” 

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NBC NEW YORK

“Would you bet against Tony Danza? I sure wouldn’t, certainly not in a vehicle as full of cheesy goodness as Honeymoon in Vegas, which just opened at the Nederlander Theatre following a well-received world premiere at New Jersey’s Paper Mill Playhouse. All the leads are back for the Broadway run. Adapted from the 1992 film, which…” 

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VARIETY

“Honeymoon In Vegas answers gloomy Gotham’s crying need for some good old lowbrow farce — the kind of show with silly songs, mindless physical comedy and towering showgirls in feather headdresses. Scribe Andrew Bergman has turned his not-quite-cult 1992 movie (with James Caan, Nicolas Cage and Sarah Jessica Par…” 

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HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

“In the 1992 screen comedy Honeymoon in Vegas, Nicolas Cage gets over his prolonged wedding jitters and flies exasperated fiancée Sarah Jessica Parker to Nevada to tie the knot, only to risk losing her to shady professional gambler James Caan, who sees her as a dead ringer for his dear departed wife. I…”

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The Reviews for Side Show are In…

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The reviews for the revival of Side Show are in, and the critics agree that this production is at least twice as compelling as the 1997 original.  As the title gives away, the story features sideshow freaks, including attached twins Violet and Daisy.  Though the world of Side Show can be grungy and vile in more ways than one, the final message is touching and reflective of the experience we all face as humans.  The production quality is stellar (the makeup design of the sideshow freaks is particularly convincing) and the performances are impressive, especially those from Erin Davie and Emily Padgett as the twins.  Those successes combine to somewhat counter the production’s weaknesses and, in the end, deliver a totally revamped Side Show that’s emotional and delightful at once.

NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW

“Being a freak is virtually the new normal, so the timing couldn’t be better for the thrilling Broadway revival of Side Show that blazed open Monday night at the St. James Theater. The musical by Bill Russell and Henry Krieger, about conjoined twins searching for love and fame, or maybe just a half-measure of…”

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TIME OUT NEW YORK REVIEW

“When Side Show opened in 1997 for a brief Broadway run, the American musical was in crisis and the show seemed, to some, like a lifeline. If period-Americana tuners about unusual women in conformist worlds were your ball game, then here was a real double-header: the story of Daisy and Violet Hilton, conjoined twi…”

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NEW YORK DAILY NEWS REVIEW

“For a musical about true-life conjoined twins Daisy and Violet Hilton, the strange and stirring Side Show has a nagging habit of losing its grip. Chalk it up to dramatic inconsistencies and thin characterizations.  Even so, there’s a lot to like about the revised vision of this Depression-era biograp…”

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HOLLYWOOD REPORTER REVIEW

“While the commercially disastrous 1997 Broadway run of Side Show generated a substantial cult following, the big surprise for those of us coming to it fresh is that its exotic subject matter — real-life conjoined twin sisters who became fixtures on the 1930s vaudeville circuit — adheres so naturally to the central th…”

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ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY REVIEW

“If ever there was a show that defines the phrase ‘cult musical’, it’s Side Show. Apologies to Chess, Follies, and that telekinetic favorite Carrie. In the 17 years since its premiere, the Bill Russell and Henry Krieger labor of love inspired by the true-life tale of the Hilton sisters—conjoined twins–turned–vau…”

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The Reviews for The Last Ship are In…

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The reviews for The Last Ship are in, and while this dramatic musical may leave you with a rousing, working-man’s ballad in your brain, it may also leave you struggling to describe the plot to your friends.  The new musical, featuring songs by Sting, transports audiences to a once-great shipbuilding town in northern England.  The scenery and effects create a bleak environment that epitomizes the attitude of the frustrated townspeople – matching the fervor with which the cast struggles.  The problem isn’t the music or direction or choreography or scenery, though – it’s the story.  With numerous characters playing major roles and questionable and/or predictable plot machinations peppered throughout, it’s easy to fill disengaged.  The musical is certainly unique on Broadway right now and the capable cast certainly conveys the story with conviction, but with an underachieved storyline, it’s a bit tough to wholly recommend The Last Ship.

 

NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW

“Hard times, blighted lives and the bleak humor that occasionally lifts the fog: The universe of The Last Ship, the new musical with a score by Sting about a shipbuilding town in decline, lies at some distance from its peppier neighbors on Broadway, where megaphoned uplift and easy escapism tend to thrive. For that rea…”

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TIME OUT NEW YORK REVIEW

“To use shipbuilding as an analogy for crafting musicals, the songs are the hull—the most visible part of the thing, taking up the most space. But you won’t sail far without a strong, even keel, the beam around which the hull is constructed—the book, in other words. With The Last Ship, a fervent, rollicking…”

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ASSOCIATED PRESS REVIEW

“You may be tempted upon leaving Sting’s Broadway musical The Last Ship to head straight to a pub to drain a pint and sing some sea shanties. Or maybe go weld something. Or do both. Such are the foot-stomping, testosterone-filled feelings that emerge from the Neil Simon Theatre, where a blast of British working…”

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ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY REVIEW

“The biggest selling point of The Last Ship is also its greatest stumbling block: multiple Grammy winner and Tantra enthusiast Sting, who provides the music and lyrics to his first-ever Broadway show. Fans hoping for the same pop sensibility that turned ”I’ll Be Watching You” and ”Desert Rose” into hits wil…”

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HOLLYWOOD REPORTER REVIEW

“He may not appear onstage, but there’s no mistaking the voice of Sting in both wistful balladeer and rousing reveler modes in his stirring score for The Last Ship. Set against the demise of the shipyards in the composer’s hometown of Wallsend in North East England, this melancholy musical is without doubt…”

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NBC NEW YORK REVIEW

“Submerged beneath an often told prodigal-son story is a haunting, gorgeously executed and involving musical that marks the debut of a new Broadway composer—Sting. The British songwriter was inspired by his own childhood in writing The Last Ship, about a group of U.K. ship builders whose livelihoods are threatened by the c…”

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The Reviews for On the Town are in…

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The reviews for On the Town are in, and the critics agree that this is one helluva revival!  Director John Rando has created a fresh, fun, and bouncy New York that only appears in the eyes of excited newcomers and the dreams of long-time citizens — it’s the American capital of opportunity.  Choreography by Joshua Bergasse matches the aesthetic, creating a wholesome, exciting magic that spreads to every seat in the Lyric Theater.  Of course it doesn’t hurt that the stars of the show deliver serious star performances – Tony Yazbeck is a dazzling lead sailor and Megan Fairchild, of the New York City Ballet, is captivating as the owner of his heart.  On the Town offers a night of delightful (and harmless) skirt-chasing and takes you to the New York you dreamed about as a child.

NEW YORK TIMES

“And now, a show about sex that you can take the whole family to: the kids, the grandparents, even your sister the nun. That idea may sound kind of creepy, or (worse) dreary. But I assure you that the jubilant revival of On the Town, which opened Thursday night at the Lyric Theater, is anything but. On the cont…”

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NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

“Three footloose sailors aren’t the only ones who get lucky in On the Town. The audience does, too. Director John Rando has assembled a great cast for this fizzy and frisky revival of the 1944 musical by Betty Comden, Adolph Green and Leonard Bernstein. Tracing a tale of World War II tars on leave in the bi…”

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

“The webs have been swept away, the comic book villains are long gone and even the name of the theater has changed. So what better way to bid farewell to the doomed Spider-Man musical at the re-christened Lyric Theatre than with a pure American classic? An exuberant, dazzling revival of On the Town…”

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HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

“A glorious 28-piece orchestra playing “The Star-Spangled Banner” in front of a giant American flag safety curtain has the audience on its feet before On the Town gets started. But it’s the jagged blasts of brass, the languorously bluesy romantic ballads and the exuberant comedy numbers of Leonard Bernstein’s jazzy…”

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NBC NEW YORK

“Living in New York City, day in and day out, it’s easy to forget the fun of experiencing it all for the first time. The wonder of looking up at the skyscrapers from the streets below. The excitement of being among the diversity of its residents. It’s the sort of childlike discovery that makes even a crowded subway seem…”

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The Reviews for Holler If You Hear Me are In…

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The reviews for Holler If You Hear Me are in, and unfortunately the critics don’t think anyone will holler for this new jukebox musical based on songs of the late rapper Tupac Shakur.  The critics almost universally recognize the power of Tupac’s lyrics and the strength of the song performances, but they can’t get past the poor story and over-emphasized presentation.  Recent Tony-winning director Kenny Leon leads the charge and seemingly isn’t confident that the public can pick up on the themes of the story.  The result is an “overwrought” and “well-intentioned but toothless” musical about life on the streets, violence, hard knocks, and second chances.  Critics believe that it may leave fans of Tupac unsatisfied and fans of Broadway wondering “…why?”.  It’s true that Broadway is due for a hip-hop musical that will set the industry ablaze, but unfortunately Holler If You Hear Me doesn’t seem to be the one.

NEW YORK TIMES

“The beats are sweet, and the words often have an electric charge in Holler if Ya Hear Me, a new Broadway musical inspired by the lyrics of the popular but troubled rapper Tupac Shakur, who was shot and killed at 25 in Las Vegas in 1996. Unfortunately, much else about this ambitious show, which opened on Thursday at the Palace Theater, feels heartfelt but heavy-handed, as it punches home its message with a relentlessness that may soon leave you numb to the tragic story it’s trying to tell. Written by Todd Kreidler and directed by Kenny Leon, a Tony winner this year for the revival of A Raisin in the Sun, the show admirably yanks the jukebox musical, which has mostly been mired in the hit parade of the baby-boomer years, into the last decade of the 20th century. It was then that Shakur’s raw, propulsive music struck a powerful chord, especially among disaffected black (and white) youth living in poverty amid explosive violence, while America was supposedly firing on all economic cylinders.”

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NBC NEW YORK

“It’s a safe bet that a swath of theatergoers has steered clear of hip-hop—at least, the kind not scripted by In the Heights composer Lin-Manuel Miranda—because it’s gritty, racy and has a perception problem in some quarters. If that’s you, then Holler If Ya Hear Me, the Broadway musical “inspired by” the lyrics of Tupac Shakur, is a chance to correct a grave omission. If, however, you’ve been on the Tupac train all along, then Holler, which has just opened at The Palace Theatre, is a banner opportunity to stand in awe of a rich canon that, it’s difficult to grasp, originated with a man who died at only 25.”

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TIME OUT NEW YORK

“In theory, hip-hop ought to have a bigger presence in mainstream music-theater by now: Broadway showstoppers have never been short on rhyme, syncopation or populist sentiment. Practice is a different matter. While there have been rap-rich musicals (In the Heights), the fusion of hip-hop and razzle-dazzle has been tricky at best, tacky at worst. The latest attempt is Holler if Ya Hear Me, a ghetto-not-so-fabulous repurposing of songs by Tupac Shakur (1971–96) for a ramshackle morality tale about revenge and second chances.”

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

“Broadway has had a punk jukebox musical with Green Day songs and one featuring harmonies by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. There’s a jukebox show with Abba songs and a new Carole King one. Now it’s time for rap. Holler If Ya Hear Me is the intriguing musical inspired by songs by Tupac Shakur, one of hip-hop’s greatest artists who wrote about the ugly life in the drug-fueled mean streets before dying of gunshot wounds in 1996. The high-energy, deeply felt but ultimately overwrought production opened Thursday in a blaze of N-words at the Palace Theatre, proving both that rap deserves its moment to shine on a Broadway stage and that some 20 Shakur songs can somehow survive the transformation — barely.”

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HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

“John Singleton can relax. Any danger of his long-in-development Tupac Shakur biopic being beaten to the punch by Holler If Ya Hear Me is quickly dispelled by the deflating experience of this well-intentioned but toothless Broadway rap musical. The show is not a biographical drama but a story of friendship and family, gun violence, racism and redemption in an inner-city black neighborhood, inspired by Shakur’s lyrics and poetry. However, therein lies the problem. The music is often powerful and the performers uniformly capable, but the songs are a poor fit for narrative presentation, at least in writer Todd Kreidler’s cut-and-paste of cliched situations and stock characters.”

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