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 Reviews

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.”

Read the Full Review

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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AWARDS SEASON 2014: Drama Desk Award Nominees

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Nominations for the 2014 Annual Drama Desk Awards were announced April 25 at 54 Below by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Fran Drescher.

Awards Announced: June 1, Hosted by Laura Benanti

Follow all of the awards coverage as we live blog, tweet, facebook or view a summary of all things awards at The Broadway Musical Home.

Here are all the nominees:

Outstanding Play
Nell Benjamin, The Explorers Club
Steven Levenson, Core Values
Conor McPherson, The Night Alive
Richard Nelson, Regular Singing
Bruce Norris, Domesticated
Robert Schenkkan, All The Way
John Patrick Shanley, Outside Mullingar

Outstanding Musical
A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder
Aladdin
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
Fun Home
Love’s Labour’s Lost
Rocky
The Bridges of Madison County

Outstanding Revival of a Play
I Remember Mama
London Wall
No Man’s Land
Of Mice and Men
The Cripple of Inishmaan
The Model Apartment
Twelfth Night (Shakespeare’s Globe Production)

Outstanding Revival of a Musical
Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Les Misérables
Violet

Outstanding Actor in a Play
Bryan Cranston, All The Way
Hamish Linklater, The Comedy of Errors
Ian McKellen, No Man’s Land
David Morse, The Unavoidable Disappearance of Tom Durnin
Chris O’Dowd, Of Mice and Men
Daniel Radcliffe, The Cripple of Inishmaan
Denzel Washington, A Raisin in the Sun

Outstanding Actress in a Play
Barbara Andres, I Remember Mama
Tyne Daly, Mothers and Sons
Audra McDonald, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill
Laurie Metcalf, Domesticated
J. Smith-Cameron, Juno and the Paycock
Harriet Walter, Julius Caesar

Outstanding Actor in a Musical
Neil Patrick Harris, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Adam Jacobs, Aladdin
Andy Karl, Rocky
Jefferson Mays, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder
Steven Pasquale, The Bridges of Madison County
Bryce Pinkham, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder

Outstanding Actress in a Musical
Sutton Foster, Violet
Idina Menzel, If/Then
Jessie Mueller, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
Kelli O’Hara, The Bridges of Madison County
Margo Seibert, Tamar of the River
Barrett Wilbert Weed, Heathers: The Musical

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play
Reed Birney, Casa Valentina
Chuck Cooper, Choir Boy
Peter Maloney, Outside Mullingar
Bobby Moreno, Year of the Rooster
Bill Pullman, The Jacksonian
Brian J. Smith, The Glass Menagerie

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play
Betty Buckley, The Old Friends
Julia Coffey, London Wall
Diane Davis, The Model Apartment
Celia Keenan-Bolger, The Glass Menagerie
Jan Maxwell, The Castle
Sophie Okonedo, A Raisin in the Sun

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical
Danny Burstein, Cabaret
Nick Cordero, Bullets Over Broadway: The Musical
Joshua Henry, Violet
James Monroe Iglehart, Aladdin
Rory O’Malley, Nobody Loves You
Bobby Steggert, Big Fish

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical
Stephanie J. Block, Little Miss Sunshine
Anika Larsen, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
Adriane Lenox, After Midnight
Sydney Lucas, Fun Home
Laura Osnes, The Threepenny Opera
Jennifer Simard, Disaster!
Lauren Worsham, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder

Outstanding Director of a Play
Joe Calarco, A Christmas Carol
Tim Carroll, Twelfth Night
Thomas Kail, Family Furniture
Bill Rauch, All The Way
Anna D. Shapiro, Domesticated
Julie Taymor, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Outstanding Director of a Musical
Sam Gold, Fun Home
Michael Mayer, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Bartlett Sher, The Bridges of Madison County
Susan Stroman, Bullets Over Broadway: The Musical
Alex Timbers, Rocky
Darko Tresnjak, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder

Outstanding Choreography
Warren Carlyle, After Midnight
Steven Hoggett, Kelly Devine, Rocky
Danny Mefford, Love’s Labour’s Lost
Casey Nicholaw, Aladdin
Susan Stroman, Bullets Over Broadway: The Musical
Sonya Tayeh, Kung Fu

Outstanding Music
Jason Robert Brown, The Bridges of Madison County
Andrew Lippa, Big Fish
Steven Lutvak, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder
Alan Menken, Aladdin
Kevin Murphy and Laurence O’Keefe, Heathers: The Musical
Jeanine Tesori, Fun Home

Outstanding Lyrics
Howard Ashman, Tim Rice, and Chad Beguelin, Aladdin
Jason Robert Brown, The Bridges of Madison County
Robert L. Freedman and Steven Lutvak, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder
Michael Friedman, Love’s Labour’s Lost
Michael Korie, Far from Heaven
Lisa Kron, Fun Home

Outstanding Book of a Musical
Chad Beguelin, Aladdin
Robert L. Freedman, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder
Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair, Murder for Two
Lisa Kron, Fun Home
Douglas McGrath, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
Marsha Norman, The Bridges of Madison County

Outstanding Orchestrations
Jason Robert Brown, The Bridges of Madison County
John Clancy, Fun Home
Larry Hochman, Big Fish
Steve Sidwell, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
Michael Starobin, If/Then
Jonathan Tunick, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder

Outstanding Music in a Play
Lewis Flinn, The Tribute Artist
Elliot Goldenthal, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Rob Kearns, The Life and Sort of Death of Eric Argyle
Tom Kochan, Almost, Maine
Nico Muhly, The Glass Menagerie
Duncan Sheik, A Man’s a Man

Outstanding Revue
After Midnight
I’m a Stranger Here Myself: Musik from the Weimar and Beyond
Le Jazz Hot: How the French Saved Jazz
Til Divorce Do Us Part
What’s It All About? Bacharach Reimagined

Outstanding Set Design
Christopher Barreca, Rocky
Alexander Dodge, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder
Richard Hoover, Small Engine Repair
Santo Loquasto, Bullets Over Broadway: The Musical
Ian MacNeil, A Doll’s House
Donyale Werle, The Explorers Club

Outstanding Costume Design
Constance Hoffman, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
William Ivey Long, Bullets Over Broadway: The Musical
Zane Pihlstrom, Nutcracker Rouge
Loren Shaw, The Mysteries
Jenny Tiramani, Twelfth Night
David C. Woolard, The Heir Apparent

Outstanding Lighting Design
Christopher Akerlind, Rocky
Jane Cox, Machinal
David Lander, The Civil War
Peter Mumford, King Lear
Brian Tovar, Tamar of the River
Japhy Weideman, Macbeth

Outstanding Projection Design
Robert Massicotte and Alexis Laurence, Cirkopolis
Sven Ortel, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Aaron Rhyne, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder
Shawn Sagady, All The Way
Austin Switser, Sontag: Reborn Ben Rubin, Arguendo

Outstanding Sound Design in a Musical
Kai Harada, Fun Home
Peter Hylenski, Bullets Over Broadway: The Musical
Peter Hylenski, Rocky
Brian Ronan, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
Dan Moses Schreier, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder
Jon Weston, The Bridges of Madison County

Outstanding Sound Design in a Play
M.L. Dogg, The Open House
Katie Down, The Golden Dragon
Paul James Prendergast, All The Way
Dan Moses Schreier, Act One
Christopher Shutt, Love and Information
Matt Tierney, Machinal

Outstanding Solo Performance
David Barlow, This is My Office
Jim Brochu, Character Man
Hannah Cabell, Grounded
Debra Jo Rupp, Becoming Dr. Ruth
Ruben Santiago-Hudson, August Wilson’s How I Learned What I Learned
John Douglas Thompson, Satchmo at the Waldorf

Unique Theatrical Experience
Charlatan Cirkopolis
Mother Africa
Nothing to Hide
Nutcracker Rouge
The Complete and Condensed Stage Directions of Eugene O’Neill Vol. 2

Special Awards:

Soho Rep: For nearly four decades of artistic distinction, innovative production, and provocative play selection.

Veanne Cox: For her ability to express the eccentricities, strengths, and vulnerabilities of a range of characters, and notably for her comedic flair as evidenced in this season’s The Old Friends and The Most Deserving.

Ed Sylvanus Iskandar, the Sam Norkin Off-Broadway Award: For his visionary directorial excellence. This season’s The Golden Dragon and The Mysteries exemplify his bold and strikingly original imagination.

To the ensembles of Off-Broadway’s The Open House and Broadway’s The Realistic Joneses and to the creator of both plays, Will Eno: For two extraordinary casts and one impressively inventive playwright.

The Open House: Hannah Bos, Michael Countryman, Peter Friedman Danny McCarthy, and Carolyn McCormick

The Realistic Joneses: Toni Collette, Michael C. Hall, Tracy Letts and Marisa Tomei

A few notes from the Drama Desk: As the current revival of Cabaret replicates the 1998 production, the Board deemed the show ineligible in the Outstanding Revival of a Musical category, as were performers, creative team members, and technical personnel associated with the earlier incarnation in their respective categories. Soul Doctor was considered for its Off-Broadway production in the 2012-13 season. Under Drama Desk rules, only new elements in its transfer to Broadway were eligible this season. Finally, Billy Crystal’s 700 Sundays was deemed ineligible because it was a return engagement of the 2005 Drama Desk winning show.

The Reviews for Cabaret are In…

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Cabaret has opened in Studio 54, and while the decadent, pre-World War II, night club musical is enjoyed highly by all, most critics needed to pinch themselves to make sure they hadn’t traveled back in time to 1998.  The Roundabout Theater Company production that won such praise the first time around is back and almost entirely unchanged — if you missed it in then, now is your chance to see what all the fuss is/was about!  Alan Cumming returns to play the Emcee, a role for which he won a Tony in 1998, and his performance is every bit as delicious this go around.  Other highlights include the awesome onstage band and the 360-degree design of the Kit Kat Klub setting.  If you didn’t see this production over a decade ago, head to Studio 54. Even if you did see this production over a decade ago, head to Studio 54 — ten years is a long time and you could always use more Cabaret.

NEW YORK TIMES

“Hot diggity dachshund, it’s old home week on the campus at Weimar Berlin, otherwise known as the Kit Kat Klub. And if we take off our glasses and squint, we can pretend that life is just as divinely, dangerously decadent as it was when we were all 16 years younger. Why, here’s that adorably creepy M.C., a little softer around the jaw, maybe (aren’t we all?), but still such a cutup. Look at him pretending to have sex with the school slut. (Or one of them; there were so many.) And isn’t that Sally Bowles over there in the pink boa? Looking good, Sal; love the platinum bob. But why so uptight? Don’t forget what you always said: “Life is … .” Uh, what was it you said again? A little more than 16 years after it first opened, and only a decade after it closed, it feels as if the popular Roundabout Theater Company production of Cabaret never left Studio 54, where it reopened on Thursday night.”

Read the Full Review

TIME OUT NEW YORK

Cabaret is on Broadway again: Willkommen home, you magnificent beast. Originally staged in 1966, then brought to a sordid cinematic life in Bob Fosse’s (heavily adapted) 1972 film, the Kander and Ebb classic was revived and reconfigured anew in Roundabout Theatre Company’s triumphant 1998 account. Now that version has returned with its original star: the supreme Alan Cumming as the Emcee of the Kit Kat Klub, a decadent nightclub in Berlin’s Weimar period. Why so soon? A better question might be: Why not? This Cabaret is a superb production of one of the great Broadway musicals of all time—an exhilarating, harrowing masterpiece.”

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NBC NEW YORK

“Theatergoers walking into Studio 54 for the now-opened revival of Cabaret might be struck with a case of déjà vu. That’s because the Roundabout Theatre Company has produced an exact restaging of Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall’s 1998 Tony-winning production. From the Playbill cover design to the fringe on the lamps of the tables of the Kit Kat Klub, you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped into a time machine. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. There’s a reason the ‘98 revival was such a big hit, after all. Mendes and Marshall had reimagined John Kander and Fred Ebb’s classic musical, stripping away any glitz and glamor leftover from the 1972 film. Together with book writer Joe Masteroff, they gave us a dark, gritty take on Cabaret that amped up the asexual undertones in John Van Druten’s original play and Christopher Isherwood’s stories, forcing us to see the material in a whole new light.”

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VARIETY

“Alan Cumming must have sold his soul to the devil to acquire his divinely debauched persona as the Emcee of the Kit Kat Klub in Cabaret. It seemed nuts, but proved shrewd of Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall to retool their dazzling 1998 revival of the Kander and Ebb masterpiece, fit Cumming with a new trenchcoat for his triumphant return, and bring the decadent netherworld of 1920s Berlin back to Studio 54, the revival’s ideal venue. Inspiration flagged, however, in casting Michelle Williams, so soft and vulnerable in My Week With Marilyn, as wild and reckless party girl Sally Bowles. Smoking is verboten at Studio 54. The wait staff is not as scantily clad as the louche boys and girls at the Kit Kat Klub. The patrons aren’t even doing lines on the tables. But other aspects of this infamous club’s setting — the glitzy design of the house, the cabaret seating and drinks service, and the superb audio system for the fantastic onstage band — contribute to the show’s illusion that going out clubbing can still mean living dangerously.”

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

“Barely sneaking in under the Tony Award nomination deadline this season is a dear old friend to Broadway, the decadent Cabaret. The only appropriate salutation is: willkommen. Not a revival so much as a revival of a revival, this Cabaret — again produced by the Roundabout Theatre Company — opened Thursday night, with only hours to spare before its eligibility expired. Whatever it’s called, it’s as thrilling as ever, a marvel of staging that hasn’t lost its punch. If it looks a lot like the version that ran from 1998-2004, that’s understandable: Alan Cumming is back in his Tony Award-winning role as Emcee and director Sam Mendes and co-director and choreographer Rob Marshall are again pulling the strings on this show about life in pre-World War II Berlin. Orchestrations and costumes — what little there are — also are the same.”

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HUFFINGTON POST

“Sometimes the melancholy metaphor that claims “You can’t go home again” comes to mind unexpectedly. I’m sorry to say it has too recently occurred to me. It happened at the Studio 54 revival of the 1998 Cabaret so beautifully engineered then by Sam Mendes, Rob Marshall and Cynthia Onrubia. That’s the one that introduced the extraordinary Alan Cumming (also currently Eli Gold on The Good Wife) to Broadway. Let me quickly specify that Cumming, repeating the role that brought him a Tony 16 years ago, is every juicy leer as good now as he was then in his role of the deliciously decadent compere at the Third Reich’s Kit Kat Klub in Berlin, where, we’re assured, life is beautiful and the girls are beautiful. A decade and a half later, he uses the intervening years to supply the slinky fellow with a hint of the weariness that descends after cajoling too many patrons to cheer up over too many cheerless nights.”

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The Reviews for Hedwig and the Angry Inch are In…

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And now for something completely different!  The reviewers give the Broadway premier of Hedwig and the Angry Inch two emphatic rock ‘n roll horns and one long, outstretched Gene Simmons tongue.  Neil Patrick Harris owns the central role in this hard rock musical about the gender-mysterious lead singer of a German rock band.  His charisma, confidence, and showmanship match the energy of the ultra-crazy tech effects and his adept handling of struggles balances a personality to which almost no one is similar but everyone can relate.  The John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask musical plays at the Belasco Theatre and is nirvana for those seeking a Broadway night out of a totally different (and much more hard rockin’ and glitter-laden) variety.

NEW YORK TIMES

“Do not be alarmed by recent reports that Neil Patrick Harris, an irresistibly wholesome television presence, has fallen deeply and helplessly into the gap that separates men from women, East from West, and celebrity from notoriety. There’s no need to fear for his safety, much less his identity. Quite the contrary. Playing an “internationally ignored song stylist” of undefinable gender in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Mr. Harris is in full command of who he is and, most excitingly, what he has become with this performance. That’s a bona fide Broadway star, the kind who can rule an audience with the blink of a sequined eyelid.”

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TIME OUT NEW YORK

“The omnitalented Neil Patrick Harris plays the titular crotch-botched German rock singer in the first Broadway production of John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask’s genre-bending 1998 rock musical. Transitioning from child star to adult gay icon, sitcom prince and social-media wizard, Neil Patrick Harris always seemed to be a cultural rock star. But in his latest reinvention, it turns out that the actor is, y’know, an actual rock star. As the imperious, spurned, fright-bewigged, sweaty glitterbomb at the heart of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Harris makes Broadway rock harder than it ever has before.”

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NBC NEW YORK

“If David Belasco’s ghost really does haunt the balcony of his namesake theater off Sixth Avenue, as Neil Patrick Harris declares at the start of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, he is, by now, both deaf and blind. That’s not such a bad thing. If you’ve gotta lose two key senses, I can think of no more auspicious way to bid them auf wiedersehen than via the 95-minute stretch of ear-splitting rock and aggressive strobe-lighting that is the new take on Hedwig, the John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask musical about a rock-and-roll band fronted by an East German singer disfigured in a botched sex change operation.”

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VARIETY

“The screaming starts when a bespangled Neil Patrick Harris parachutes onstage in Hedwig and the Angry Inch and doesn’t stop until he’s back in his dressing room. That’s the kind of rock-star performance he gives in this spectacular revival — helmed with fabulous flash by Michael Mayer — of the 1998 musical (and later movie) by John Cameron Mitchell (book) and Stephen Trask (music & lyrics). Harris’ Hedwig is an imperfectly transformed transvestite who grew up in East Berlin before the wall came down, resplendent in the punk drag of a nihilistic rocker but still concealing a heap of hurt under her wig.”

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AM NEW YORK

“Neil Patrick Harris, who appeared on Broadway three times before being scooped up by How I Met Your Mother for nine years, still managed to maintain a regular presence in the theater by hosting the Tony Awards no less than four times. Now that his long-running sitcom has ended, not only is Harris back onstage, he is tackling one of the most outsized, flamboyant and intense musical theater roles ever created in the first Broadway staging of Hedwig and the Angry Inch.”

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

“It’s obvious from the first moments of Hedwig and the Angry Inch that star Neil Patrick Harris is doing something special. And it’s not just trying on a new role. He is lowered to the stage in a jumpsuit and ferociously feathered blond wig and immediately begins the show’s first rock-punk song, getting down on all fours, grinding into the microphone stand or licking the guitarist’s strings. The crowd inside of the Belasco Theatre, where the show opened Tuesday, loses its mind, and why not? “Thank you! Thank you, you’re so sweet,” Harris says. “I do love a warm hand on my entrance.””

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The Reviews for Violet are in…

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The reviews are in, and the critics love Violet and Sutton Foster, version 2.0.  In many ways, Violet and Ms. Foster is an unlikely pair — a deeply emotional musical about a farm girl with a disfigured face doesn’t typically call for a twirling, big-grin, big-Broadway star.  In this story, though, Ms. Foster reveals an ability to capture her character from all angles, revealing hope, vulnerability, despair, defensiveness, and what most critics call prickliness. By all accounts she’s captivating.  The Jeanine Tesori and Brian Crawley musical is only made more special by the touching story and songs (influenced by the setting of the American South in 1964).  It’s not glitzy or glamorous, and it certainly doesn’t showcase the Sutton Foster you know, but Violet is unique on Broadway and not a show to be missed without good reason.

NEW YORK TIMES

“When Sutton Foster appears on Broadway, she’s usually boasting a sunbeam smile, flapping away in tap shoes, clowning around amiably and generally behaving like a girl determined to nail the talent competition in a beauty pageant, and maybe take home the Miss Congeniality award, too. But pep-allergic people will not need to steel themselves to see the terrific, heart-stirring revival of Violet, the musical by Jeanine Tesori and Brian Crawley that opened at the American Airlines Theater on Sunday night, starring Ms. Foster in a career-redefining performance. Portraying a young woman from North Carolina desperately hoping an evangelist can pray away the deep scar on her face, Ms. Foster moves into thornier territory than she has occupied before in frothy musicals like Thoroughly Modern MillieThe Drowsy Chaperone and the recent revival of Anything Goes. By the show’s conclusion, her familiar megawatt grin has been unfurled, but the journey to sunrise on this occasion allows Ms. Foster to reveal the full range of her expressive gifts as a musical theater performer. She dazzles with the bright sheen of her voice, yes, and slings wry jokes with the ease of a diner waitress slapping down plates of eggs and grits. But she also brings a prickly emotional intensity to the moving story of a woman grappling with shame, self-delusion and the fear that a deformity will forever leave her standing alone outside the circle of humanity. “

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TIME OUT NEW YORK

“It took 17 years, but Jeanine Tesori’s beloved musical about a woman with a facial deformity journeying through the 1960s South has made it to Broadway. Featuring the formidable talents of Sutton Foster and Colin Donnell (Anything Goes) and Joshua Henry (The Scottsboro Boys), this bittersweet period piece is directed by Leigh Silverman (Kung Fu). Adapted from Doris Betts’s short story The Ugliest Pilgrim, Jeanine Tesori and Brian Crawley’s 1997 musical follows the spiky title character on her trek to an Oklahoma faith healer who, she hopes, will remove the grotesque facial scar (invisible to us) that she received from an ax wound years before. It’s the darkest and richest role Foster has played, and she swings with marvelous speed from defensive prickliness to poignant hope.”

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NBC NEW YORK

“Those expecting to see Sutton Foster belting and tap-dancing her way through her latest Broadway leading-role should be warned: the 39-year-old actress, who won Tonys for her turns in Thoroughly Modern Millie and Anything Goes, provides a restrained, intricate performance inViolet, the Jeanine Tesori-Brian Crawley musical now open at the American Airlines Theatre. It’s a startling turn from the Foster we’re used to seeing, but one that will transfix you all the same. Stripped of any glitzy costumes, wigs or makeup, Foster stands on stage in a plain sundress, her hair uncombed and pushed behind her ears, and breaths life into a complicated, flawed, hopeful character. You’ll feel as though you’re witnessing a star being reborn, 18 years into her career.”

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HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

“Broad strokes and big effects often appear to be the default setting for Broadway musicals, so it’s always refreshing to see a modestly scaled show in which the cast and creative team trust in the value of emotional intimacy. Driven by a performance of incandescent yearning from Sutton Foster that’s all the more moving for its restraint, Violet is a delicate wildflower, craning toward the sun. Director Leigh Silverman’s spirited yet sensitive production of Jeanine Tesori and Brian Crawley’s country, bluegrass and gospel-flavored 1997 musical makes this poignant story of a facially disfigured farm girl’s journey to self-acceptance genuinely uplifting. The revival was hatched out of a one-night-only concert event last summer that drew love-letter reviews for Foster, a triple-threat Broadway baby seen here in a subdued mode. While the production retains a stripped-down feel, Roundabout Theatre Company has given it dimensions that are a perfect fit for the material, set in September 1964 in the American South.”

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

“Some musicals are big and brassy, calling out for attention with their razzle-dazzle and sassy sets. Others are more demure, letting their simple beauty shine. How appropriate then that a show about inner loveliness chose the latter path. Violet, which opened Sunday at the American Airlines Theatre, makes a Broadway debut with just a few chairs, a simple bed, no big costume changes and a score so rich and sublime that you’ll hardly notice anything is missing.”

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The Reviews for Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill are In…

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Few shows garner overwhelming critical applause like Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, and few performers command undeniable respect and admiration like Audra McDonald.  The musical, now playing at Circle in the Square, shows Billie Holiday (McDonald) in a fictional final concert near the end of her hard-fought, tiresome life.  The glory of this production rests in Audra McDonald’s performance; it’s not only that she completely captures Holiday’s late-life sound and spirit, it’s also that some critics admit to once questioning her casting in the piece!  Rest easy, those critics eat their words in the very same sentence.  McDonald is, without a doubt, one of the most revered and captivating Broadway stars, and any doubters need only snatch tickets to this thoughtfully-staged and unforgettably-performed musical to experience the majesty for themselves.

NEW YORK TIMES

“When Billie Holiday sang, history attests, her audiences tended to clam up. Even in the bustling nightclubs where she mostly performed, Holiday often insisted on total quiet before she would open her mouth. The quiet usually held, as one of the great singers of the last century turned jazz songs and standards into searching, and searing, portraits of life and love gone wrong that cast a shimmering spell. When Audra McDonald takes to the stage and pours her heart into her voice in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, a similar sustained hush settles over the Circle in the Square, where the show opened on Broadway on Sunday night for a limited run. With her plush, classically trained soprano scaled down to jazz-soloist size, Ms. McDonald sings selections from Holiday’s repertoire with sensitive musicianship and rich seams of feeling that command rapt admiration.”

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VARIETY

Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, Lanie Robertson’s elegiac lament for the jazz singer Billie Holiday at the end of her broken-down life, has been knocking around forever in regional theaters. But in all those years, this intimate bio-musical was waiting for a great singer like Audra McDonald to reach out and bring this tragic figure back from the grave. There’s an uncanny immediacy to this production, which helmer Lonny Price has shrewdly staged in the round, with theater patrons sitting and sipping drinks at little club tables while bearing witness to the final days of a lost Lady. The ungainly stage at Broadway’s Circle in the Square has proved an inspiration for set designer James Noone to recreate Emerson’s Bar & Grill, the seedy joint in North Philadelphia where Billie Holiday played one of her last club dates in 1959, three months before she died.”

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ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

“Audra McDonald has done it again. In Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, a new Broadway drama imagining a late-in-life concert by the great jazz diva Billie Holiday, McDonald delivers a mesmerizing performance that is not so much an act of mimicry or even impersonation as it is a transformation. A record-breaking sixth Tony Award seems like a foregone conclusion. While McDonald’s vocal inflections can seem a tad overstudied in the show’s opening number, ”I Wonder Where Our Love Has Gone,” as she spits out breaths at the end of each musical phrase, the actress quickly settles into the role and erases all memory of her operatic belter’s soprano and her naturally bubbly personality. In their place: a voice both smoky and breathy, and a demeanor that suggests a hard-lived life in the first half of the 20th century. “

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LA TIMES

“Only a fool would second-guess the transformative power of Audra McDonald, but when it was announced that this five-time Tony Award-winner was going to portray Billie Holiday in the Broadway production of Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, I must confess that I had my qualms. When one recalls Holiday’s sublimely ruined sound at the end of her career, the period in which Lanie Robertson’s concert drama is set, one doesn’t think of McDonald’s soaring, Juilliard-burnished soprano, a gold medal voice still in its athletic prime.”

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NBC NEW YORK

“It’s Audra McDonald’s world—we’re all still just living in it. For proof, swing by the Circle in the Square, where the reigning Queen of the Rialto holds court in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, a late addition to this season’s Broadway calendar that showcases McDonald as jazz singer Billie Holiday. Over 90 minutes, McDonald interprets more than a dozen of the combustible artist’s recordings, among them “God Bless the Child” and “Strange Fruit.” The setting, a theatrical conceit, is a small bar in South Philly during spring 1959, a few months before Holiday will succumb to cirrhosis and heart failure.”

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BROADWAY WORLD

“Audra McDonald’s luxurious soprano with thoughtful lyric phrasing may not be the first voice that comes to mind when drawing comparisons to the emotionally thick, laconic blues of Billie Holiday. But then, Lanie Robertson’s 1986 theatre piece, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, despite its inclusion of over a dozen Holiday-recorded standards in a 90-minute performance, is not merely a re-creation concert. It’s a drama about how a great artist’s self-destruction permeates into her art, and for that, an actor of McDonald’s high caliber is certainly required. Robertson’s inspiration for the play came when a boyfriend described for her a 1959 Holiday performance he attended in a little North Philadelphia dive, roughly three months before her death. It had been twelve years since she served jail time for drug possession and though she had sung at Carnegie Hall and appeared on Broadway since then, New York City’s refusal to grant her a new cabaret license prevented her from doing what she loved best, singing in Manhattan nightclubs.”

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The Reviews for Bullets Over Broadway are In…

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Well, the critics are in agreement about Bullets Over Broadway, but it’s not the consensus that anyone may have expected. Despite the script by Woody Allen and the formidable direction/choreography by Susan Stroman, the would-be comedy musical, based on the 1994 Woody Allen film of the same name, just isn’t funny.  Sure, they say Zach Braff is okay and that Marin Mazzie performs well, but the problems run deeper.  The musical employs old songs from the 1920s and seems to carry a different, more brash, less sophisticated style of humor in its veins.  Bullets Over Broadway just seems to have an identity crisis, it’s caught between wanting to play with the big-time Broadway musicals and wanting to represent the dry style of the Woody Allen comedy classic.  Consider yourself warned – if you have long anticipated this opening, you may be most in line for disappointment.

NEW YORK TIMES

“Some things were never meant to be shouted through megaphones. On the basis of Bullets Over Broadway: The Musical, the occasionally funny but mostly just loud new show that opened at the St. James Theater on Thursday night, that would include the wit of Woody Allen. This production, directed in heavy italics by Susan Stroman and featuring a score of 1920s standards and esoterica, is inspired by Mr. Allen’s 1994 film of the same title. It features the same story line, most of the same characters and much of the same dialogue. Yet while the movie was a helium-light charmer, this all-talking, all-singing, all-dancing reincarnation is also all but charm-free. The experience of watching the film was like being tickled, gently but steadily, into a state of mounting hysteria. From the get-go, the musical version, which stars a credible Zach Braff (doing Mr. Allen) and a misused Marin Mazzie (doing Norma Desmond), feels more like being head-butted by linebackers. Make that linebackers in blinding sequins.”

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VARIETY

“Everyone hoped Bullets Over Broadway would be the show to get those flickering Broadway lights blazing again. In certain wonderful ways — Susan Stroman’s happy-tappy dance rhythms, the dazzling design work on everything from proscenium curtain to wigs, and a fabulous chorus line of dancing dolls, molls and gangsters — Woody Allen’s showbiz musical is the answer to a Broadway tinhorn’s prayer. Surprisingly, though, the book (from Allen’s own screenplay for his 1994 film) is feeble on laughs, and certain key performers don’t seem comfortable navigating the earthy comic idiom of burlesque. So, let’s call it close — but no cigar. Bullets is that rarity, a musical without an original score. But the two dozen vintage songs culled from the Tin Pan Alley archives to fit the 1920s timeframe have been chosen with as much intelligence as affection.”

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NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

“Showgirls dressed like frisky tigers shake their moneymakers near the beginning of Woody Allen’s Bullets Over Broadway — and they’re a symbol, for this musical certainly works its tail off to tickle and delight. It’s too bad that the comedy about a playwriting hit man is a bit of a miss. On the plus side, director and choreographer Susan Stroman’s dance numbers pack sure-footed pizzazz. And the good-looking production depicts 1929 New York with wit and grace notes. A theater proscenium decorated with living angels is a lovely little touch. “

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NBC NEW YORK

“A gangster appears at the start of Bullets Over Broadway, firing an automatic weapon into the curtain and slowly revealing the musical’s title in the brightly lit “bullet holes” he’s just carved out. It’s the first of countless attention-seizing moments in the terrific new screwball thriller from perfectionist duo Susan Stroman and Woody Allen. Now open at the St. James Theatre, Bullets Over Broadway is a zany, old-fashioned spectacle that features the Broadway debut of actor-writer Zach Braff and a marvelous turn from three-time Tony nominee Marin Mazzie as an aging diva with a signature plea: “Don’t speak!” While not without some curious choices, Bullets is certainly the best of the musicals to open on Broadway so far this season, though make note … it’s a new musical with old music.”

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HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

“There’s a ton of talent onstage in Bullets Over Broadway, evident in the leggy chorines who ignite into explosive dance routines, the gifted cast, the sparkling design elements and the wraparound razzle-dazzle of director-choreographer Susan Stroman’s lavish production. So why does this musical, adapted by Woody Allen from his irresistible 1994 screen comedy about the tortured path of the artist, wind up shooting blanks? Flat where it should be frothy, the show is a watered-down champagne cocktail that too seldom gets beyond its recycled jokes and second-hand characterizations to assert an exciting new identity.”

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FINANCIAL TIMES

““They go wild, simply wild, over me,” sings Helen Sinclair, an ageing diva, in a deluded attempt to persuade David Shayne, a fledgling playwright, of her enduring appeal. Sinclair, portrayed by the wonderfully self-assured Marin Mazzie, is one of the reasons to see Bullets Over Broadway, the new musical birthed by Woody Allen from his 1994 movie of the same title. The Broadway show makes a Sinclair-sized effort to persuade us of the value of early-20th-century songs shoehorned into a 1929 setting. The attempt is intermittently enjoyable, extremely well crafted by the director/choreographer Susan Stroman, and progressively unthrilling.”

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AM NEW YORK

“In an ideal universe, the new musical Bullets Over Broadway, based on the 1994 Woody Allen film, would shut down for a few months so that a talented songwriter – perhaps David Yazbek (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels or the young team of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (A Christmas Story) – could pen an original score for it. To its credit, Bullets Over Broadway is mildly entertaining. But given that it has been directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman (The Producers) and has a script by Allen himself, everyone was expecting it to be a knock ‘em dead musical comedy blockbuster.”

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The Reviews for IF/THEN are In…

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The reviews for If/Then are officially out — if you like Idina Menzel, then you’ll probably like this.  On the whole, though, the critics are fussy about this new musical.  Some say the plot is too simple, maybe even unoriginal, while the message is muddy and unclear.  It seems the critics just expect more from writers Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey and director Michael Greif, the team behind the emotional powerhouse musical Next to Normal.  The critics also expect a lot from Idina Menzel, and she, fortunately, does not disappoint.  Menzel’s performance of the central role is the highlight of the production.  The critics seem to want to like If/Then for being an original musical in a sea of remounts and adaptations, but it just doesn’t seem to satisfy.  Head to the Richard Rodgers Theater if you’re looking for a night of star power with your favorite girl from Wicked, but maybe skip this one if that’s not your thing.

NEW YORK TIMES

“New York City has never looked cleaner than it does in If/Then, the gleaming drawing board of a musical that opened on Sunday night at the Richard Rodgers Theater, starring the shiny-voiced Idina Menzel. Actually, to find any urban environment that is this spick and span, you’d need to look back to the 1970s, when Mary Tyler Moore conquered Minneapolis on television. The nearest contemporary equivalents are those commercials in which peppy young things go dancing in the streets to trumpet the virtues of cars and colas. But even they — and If/Then does bear a passing resemblance to such ads — lack the antiseptic sheen of this production, written by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey, with direction by Michael Greif, the team that gave us the four-handkerchief triumph Next to Normal several years ago. Every surface here appears to have been so thoroughly polished that you could not just eat off the sidewalks but see your own reflection in them, if you so chose.”

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NBC NEW YORK

“If you’re buying a ticket to the new musical “If/Then,” which has just opened at the Richard Rodgers Theatre, then chances are you’re doing so to see the wickedly talented Idina Menzel. The 42-year-old Tony-winner’s career has been on an upswing lately, fueled by her powerhouse vocal performance in Disney’s animated blockbuster “Frozen” and her Oscar-winning, chart-topping hit “Let It Go.” Audiences looking for their Menzel-fix in “If/Then” won’t be disappointed; she spends almost all of the two and a half-hour show onstage. But the show’s muddled plot might leave you wondering what the new musical, from the creators of “Next to Normal,” is trying to say.”

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TIME OUT NEW YORK

“There is—there can only be—one Idina Menzel. She of the armor-piercing vibrato and earworming ratio of nasal to breathy. The Wicked power belter—inviting and untouchable—is what every little girl and boy glued to Glee wants to be when they grow up, and even if she only gigs on the Great White Way every 6.3 years (on average), she’s still the multiplatform avatar of the Broadway star. They broke the mold with Menzel, which is why the idea of her playing two versions of herself in If/Then intrigues. She portrays a single woman whose forking life-paths are presented in alternating scenes. In If/Then’s conceit (also used in Sliding Doors), Elizabeth (Menzel) gets split into Liz, who pursues love at the expense of a career, and Beth, who lands the fancy job but misses romance.”

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ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

“Can a 40ish American woman really have it all? If you’re Idina Menzel, you can get a hit movie, viral fame as Adele Nazeem, and a meaty role in the new Broadway musical If/Then complete with a soaring 11 o’clock number aimed squarely at your in-leaning target audience. But you’re also the appealing heart of an overly cluttered story, by writer-lyricist Brian Yorkey, that gives more than a passing nod to the 1998 movie Sliding Doors. Menzel’s middle-aged divorcée moves to New York City and explores two separate life paths: In one, she’s Beth and scores a dream job as a city planner but has unfulfilling flings with her married boss (Jerry Dixon) and her nominally bisexual pal (Anthony Rapp). In the other, she’s Liz and settles for a blah teaching job but lands a hunky doctor (James Snyder) who’s more golden retriever than man. (His first-act solo, ”You Never Know,” is a take-a-chance-on-me ode to neutered self-deprecation.)”

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AM NEW YORK

“As one of the few new musicals not based on a familiar film or pop song catalog (or anything else for that matter), If/Then certainly is a breath of fresh air. And despite nagging issues with its overall concept and divided story lines, it is a smart, romantic piece with a well-crafted soft rock score and great performances all around. It also functions as a dynamic and demanding star vehicle for Idina Menzel (aka Adele Dazeem), who is joined by many other strong musical theater performers including Anthony Rapp (Menzel’s Rent co-star), LaChanze, James Snyder and Jenn Colella.”

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The Reviews for Les Miserables are In…

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Les Miserables is back, and to no one’s surprise, it’s STILL worth seeing!  The first revival of the musical since the Academy Award-winning film graced the big screen, this version, adapted by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg, showcases a grittier, smokier, gloomier France, somewhat improving on aesthetics employed in the film.  Amidst the doom and despair, though, is joy.  The acting is on and the singing is even better — Ramin Karimloo is an astounding Jean Valjean and delivers one of the many performances that will call you back to the Imperial Theatre for another trip to the French Revolution.  You’ve seen it before, but that doesn’t make the tale any less heart wrenching.  If you liked seeing “Les Miz” before, you’re definitely going to like seeing it again now.

NEW YORK TIMES

“While I was watching the new revival of Les Misérables, it occurred to me that this beloved stage adaptation of Victor Hugo’s novel may have helped pave the way for the pop singing contests that have proliferated across the globe in this century. Much like those televised competitions —American Idol and The Voice being the national brand leaders — Les Misérables presents audiences with a stage full of singers who, one by one, have a chance to step into the spotlight (in this case a very smoke-suffused one) and astonish us with the mighty heft and range of their voices.”

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NBC NEW YORK

“Who is he? Who is he? He’s Ramin Karimloo, and as Jean Valjean, he’s the main reason to reacquaint yourself with the “newly reimagined” revival of Les Miserables, now open at the Imperial Theatre. Sentimental? The Imperial is where “Les Miz” ran for the lion’s share of its original run, which ended just over a decade ago. Since then, it’s been hard to miss the epic story based on Victor Hugo’s novel, because it never really went away. “Les Miz” returned to Broadway in a slimmed-down 2006 revival, and hit big screens in 2012.”

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HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

“The turntable that was the defining design element of the original Les Miserables is gone. Yet this first revival to hit Broadway since Tom Hooper’s bludgeoning screen version extended the brand often seems like a record being played at high speed. Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg’s all-singing mega-musical adaptation of Victor Hugo’s epic 19th century novel hurtles along in a breathless marathon for almost three hours. Despite that running time, this reboot feels faster, grittier, gloomier and, above all, more emphatic than ever, which is saying something for a show that was always an unrelenting assault on the tear ducts.”

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ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

“It’s been just six years since the last (and limp) revival of Les Misérables left Broadway. But it’s also less than two since Tom Hooper’s big-screen adaptation rode the Occupy Wall Street wave to box office riches and three Academy Awards. Now uber-producer Cameron Macintosh is remounting Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg’s blockbuster musical about income inequality in 19th-century France with a first-rate cast and a new production that nods to its recent cinematic incarnation.”

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

“The barricades have once again gone up on Broadway. Are they worth dropping everything and joining this time? The answer is a resounding “Oui!” Bring your flag. The well-traveled Les Miserable has rolled into town for its third bite at the Broadway apple — not to mention fresh off a celebrated 2012 film — but there’s nothing tiresome about its gloomy, aching heartbeat. Directed this time by Laurence Connor and James Powell, with new orchestrations, stagecraft and costumes, this terrific Les Miserables opened Sunday at the Imperial Theatre, capping a national tour that began in 2010. It’s beautifully sung and acted — Ramin Karimloo, Will Swenson, Caissie Levy and Nikki M. James as leads can do no wrong — and the clever sets, superb lighting and moving projections highlight a creative team fully embracing Victor Hugo’s epic novel about good and evil, revolution and romance, in 19th-century France.”

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The Reviews for Aladdin are in…

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The reviews are in for Aladdin and though the critics don’t strike 100% agreement, the overall sentiment is that this BIG comedy musical is perfect for anyone looking for light-hearted fun with a whole lot of spirit.  There’s magic at play here.  With all the dazzling Broadway costumes and scene settings, the flying carpet (yup, you read that right, the flying carpet), and the fun, stylized direction and choreography by Casey Nicholaw, the New Amsterdam Theatre is transformed into a palace of wonder nightly.  How’s the acting? Go to see the comedic and charismatic Genie, James Monroe Iglehart, who’s woven a complex and quirky menu of characters into his portrayal.  You know the story and you love the songs, now go experience the unabashed wonder of Aladdin live — just maybe leave your jaded, critical self at home.

NEW YORK TIMES

“If a genie had sprung from my teakettle last week and offered to grant me three wishes, I might impulsively have asked to be spared any more children’s musicals. Since a certain blockbuster feline arrived well over a decade ago, Broadway has been lapped by wave after wave of big, often gloppy songfests adapted from animated movies, mostly from the mother ship, Disney. So the prospect of Aladdin, promising another weary night in the presence of a spunky youngster and wisecracking animals, didn’t exactly set my heart racing. But this latest musical adapted from one of Disney’s popular movies, which opened on Thursday night at the New Amsterdam Theater, defied my dour expectations. As directed and choreographed (and choreographed, and choreographed) by Casey Nicholaw, and adapted by the book writer Chad Beguelin, Aladdin has an infectious and only mildly syrupy spirit. Not to mention enough baubles, bangles and beading to keep a whole season of RuPaul’s Drag Race contestants in runway attire. “

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NBC NEW YORK

“Don’t be fooled by the title of Disney’s latest film-to-stage transfer. Aladdin may be named after its lead street urchin character, but the musical comedy that just opened at the New Amsterdam Theatre is all about one character: the Genie. That’s due to the casting of the energetic James Monroe Iglehart, who all but erases the memory of Robin Williams, the voice of the Genie in the 1992 animated film. It’s rare that you see an actor playing a character he was born to play in a career-defining performance. Iglehart, last seen on Broadway in Memphis, uses his background in improv to create a comedic and charismatic Genie, who’s equal parts Fats Waller, Luther Vandross and Oprah Winfrey (“You get a wish! You get a wish!”).”

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HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

“Its exotic Middle Eastern setting and multiethnic cast aside, Aladdin offers less “A Whole New World” – to quote its signature song – than a traditional Disney fairy-tale realm; it’s perhaps the most old-school of the company’s screen-to-stage adaptations since Beauty and the Beast. But that shouldn’t deter audiences from making this splashy Arabian Nights wish-fulfillment fantasy into a family-friendly hit. Directed and choreographed by musical comedy specialist Casey Nicholaw with loads of retro showmanship, an unapologetic embrace of casbah kitsch and a heavy accent on shtick, this is sweet, silly fun. It’s not the most sophisticated entertainment, but the target demographic won’t mind at all.”

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VARIETY

“The magic-carpet ride is magical. The Cave of Wonders is wonderful. And yes, you’ll hear the tunes you loved in the 1992 movie. But the notion that “Disney Aladdin” somehow resurrects the spirit of the late Howard Ashman, who had the original inspiration for the movie and contributed most of its clever lyrics, is a joke. Restoring a person’s work without respecting his artistic sensibility is no tribute at all. If this super-costly Disney extravaganza doesn’t really represent Ashman’s artistic vision, whose vision does it reflect? Chad Beguelin (Elf, The Wedding Singer), who wrote the book and contributed new lyrics, obviously plays a significant role, as does Alan Menken, who scored the film and wrote new songs for the show. Even more so does helmer-choreographer Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon), who stylistically turns the film’s romantic fairy-tale adventure into shtick comedy.”

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NEWSDAY

“The carpet flies, kids, and it’s awesome. Aladdin, an urchin from the streets, and Princess Jasmine float far away into the extremely twinkly sky. Such awesomeness, of course, is to be expected from Aladdin, Disney’s latest Broadway translation of a beloved animated fantasy. But what’s a whole new world, as the song promises, is the almost modest, down-to-earth human scale of director-choreographer Casey Nicholaw’s big, cheerful production — an enjoyable throwback to old-time musical comedy.”

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