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 The Visit are In…

Photo by Thom Kaine

Photo by Thom Kaine

The reviews for The Visit are in, and while the critics certainly admire legend Chita Rivera and the long journey this Kander and Ebb musical has taken to Broadway, there’s no denying it’s flawed.  The musical tells of Claire Zachanassian’s return to her hometown, a dark and dingy European village, to inflict revenge on the man who shamed her decades before.  82-year-old Chita Rivera performs a nuanced and passionate Claire, singing with clarity and dancing with grace and emotion.  The other strengths of the production lie in the creative design, particularly Scott Pask’s set design and Japhy Weideman’s lighting.  The atmosphere of the production is rightly ominous and shadowy, complementing the dangerous themes.  Where the musical struggles is with the blend of book and music – the story is predictable and the songs, at times, feel like pause buttons.  Despite flaws, though, there’s something to be said for catching a Broadway legend in a musical she’s waited 14 years to bring to Broadway.

NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW

When Chita Rivera steps solemnly to the edge of the stage in the opening scene of “The Visit,” she sweeps the audience with a gaze that could freeze over hell. Yet a quickening warmth spreads through the Lyceum Theater, where this macabre, long-gestating Kander and Ebb musical opened on Thursday night. The woman

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TIME OUT NEW YORK REVIEW

Claire Zachanassian (Rivera) fled her dreary European town a disgraced, ruined girl, and she returns to Brachen a vengeful billionairess, planning to exact revenge on Anton Schell (Rees), the man who wooed and wronged her. When the old lovers reunite, Schell learns that Claire has a prosthetic leg and an ivory … 

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NBC NEW YORK REVIEW

Never trust a woman who travels with her own coffin. That’s one big takeaway from “The Visit,” the thought-provoking and—there’s no other word for the experience—bizarre musical starring Chita Rivera as the richest woman in the world. It’s just opened at The Lyceum Theatre. Rivera’s vital performance as Claire … 

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HOLLYWOOD REPORTER REVIEW

A second-tier Kander and Ebb score is better than a lot of musical craftsmen’s best, which makes “The Visit” a welcome curiosity, even it’s sure to be a commercial challenge. Finally reaching Broadway after almost 15 years of false starts, the show arrives in a bewitchingly designed production from director John

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ASSOCIATED PRESS REVIEW

Trust a John Kander-Fred Ebb musical to make the sunny color of vitality and youth positively menacing. In the dark, thrilling show, “The Visit,” shoes, money and even tennis rackets turn yellow — a bad sign for one character whose life hangs in the balance. In the works since 2001, “The Visit” opened Thursday at … 

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The Reviews for Something Rotten! are In…

Something Rotten

Photo by Sara Krulwich

The reviews for Something Rotten! are in, and most find the new musical to be something wonderful, while some others feel it’s just a bit more rotten than it should be.  The musical is set in the Elizabethan Renaissance, when Shakespeare (a devilish idol, winningly played by Christian Borle) is the hottest thing in London and the Bottom brothers (played by Brian D’Arcy James and John Cariani) are struggling playwrights hoping to debut the next big thing – the musical! – and win some fame for themselves.  The humor is nerdy and low-brow at once (not wholly unlike much of Shakespeare’s comedy) and the music is extravagant in a tongue-in-cheek way, but there are plenty of smarts at play here too.  There seems to be something for everyone, from Shakespeare-lovers, to big musicals-lovers, even to Book of Mormon and Mel Brooks-lovers.  You won’t hear this much (ever) but head to Something Rotten! for a jolly good time!

NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW

Unchecked enthusiasm is not always an asset in musical comedy, despite the genre’s reputation for wholesale peppiness. “Something Rotten!,” the rambunctious new show that opened on Wednesday night at the St. James Theater, dances dangerously on the line between tireless and tedious, and winds up collapsing into … 

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TIME OUT NEW YORK REVIEW

Do you fondly remember that “Taming of the Shrew” episode from “Moonlighting,” back in 1986? Whenever blue, do you stream “Shakespeare in Love” for succor? Are you a fierce partisan for “Blackadder II?” Elizabethan fops and wenches forming a stagewide kick line cause a little flutter under the ruff? If you answer… 

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HOLLYWOOD REPORTER REVIEW

The Shakespearean references come thick and fast, along with the winking nods to a whole plethora of modern musicals, in “Something Rotten!” But the laughs in this rambunctious comedy by Broadway newcomers Karey and Wayne Kirkpatrick, written with British humorist John O’Farrell and buoyed by a top-drawer cast, … 

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ASSOCIATED PRESS REVIEW

The first sign that things might go a little nutty at “Something Rotten!” is in the second song when William Shakespeare is called, well, a “little turd.” The Bard is mocked as “the poster child for why no one should ever procreate” and “a hack with a knack for stealing anything he can.” Those are some of the … 

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NBC NEW YORK REVIEW

Shakespeare is a charismatic and conniving copycat who wears skin-tight leather pants in the new musical comedy “Something Rotten!” An easygoing effort from the director of “The Book of Mormon,” the real brains—and heart—of “Rotten!” belong to the Bottom Brothers, a pair of aspiring writers who challenge the Bard 

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The Reviews for Doctor Zhivago are In…

Photo by Matthew Murphy

Photo by Matthew Murphy

The reviews for Doctor Zhivago are in, and this new Les Misérables wannabe may lack great music, lyrics, dialogue, and overall storytelling, but hey, at least the gunfire effects are realistic.  Loosely based on the Boris Pasternak novel and more closely based on the 1965 movie, this new musical tells of a love story in an epic era of revolution and war in early 20th-century Russia.  The trouble is – there’s a lot to sell and the critics don’t buy any of it.  The dialogue and lyrics feel uninspired and generic, the seemingly borrowed music feels plodding and unimaginative, and there are no standout performances to speak of (understandable with such lackluster material).  Unfortunately, one of the more anticipated new musicals of the season has gone from a “can’t wait to see” in conception to an “avoid at all costs” in production.

 

NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW

“Doctor Zhivago,” the endless Boris Pasternak novel familiar to most of us from the endless David Lean movie, has been resurrected for dramatic purposes once again, as a musical that opened at the Broadway Theater on Tuesday night. The verdict: Um, is it over yet? Hold your fire, Russophiles and cinephiles. … 

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TIME OUT NEW YORK REVIEW

Based on a sweeping historical novel crammed with characters and incident, “Doctor Zhivago” follows the fortunes of a heroic man with a divided heart across decades of turmoil and revolution, as he is hounded by a self-righteous upholder of justice. Sounds a little like “Les Misérables,” non? But we already have … 

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VULTURE REVIEW

Can we please get this straight, Broadway? Sprawling European novels do not make great musicals. Sorry, “Les Miz” partisans and “Phantomaniacs,” but whatever the virtues of those shows — and they are probably the best of the genre — they are mere patches on the originals. How could they not be? When you’re … 

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HOLLYWOOD REPORTER REVIEW

Currently playing on Broadway is a spectacular production of a lavish musical based on a classic novel, featuring doomed lovers and set during the tumultuous events of a historical revolution. Regrettably for the producers of the new “Doctor Zhivago,” that musical is “Les Miserables.” The specter of that earlier … 

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NEW YORK DAILY NEWS REVIEW

Broadway’s “Doctor Zhivago” is an epic miss. Based on the acclaimed Boris Pasternak novel, this miscalibrated musical is yet another attempt to bottle page-to-stage lightning a la “Les Miserables.” But electricity doesn’t zap. Not much does in this nearly three-hour show, which has been in the works for almost … 

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The Reviews for Fun Home are In…

Photo by Sara Krulwich

Photo by Sara Krulwich

The reviews for Fun Home are in, and the critics agree that this may just – actually – be the best musical on Broadway this season.  Based on a graphic novel by Alison Bechdel, this new musical by Jeanine Tesori (music) and Lisa Kron (book and lyrics) is actually a journey through Bechdel’s personal memories, a journey meant to uncover truths about her family and upbringing and, ultimately, herself.  Though the elevator speech may sound unoriginal, the production defies expectations.  The creative direction is imaginatively conceived and impeccably executed: dialogue and songs blend masterfully, music complements textual storytelling, and scenery and lighting design capture the essence of an emotional journey through the years.  Powerful performances abound, but Beth Malone (as adult Alison) and Michael Cerveris (as Bruce) are powerful stand-outs. Fun Home plays at Circle in the Square and it comes highly recommended.

 

NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW

“Fun Home” knows where you live. Granted, it’s unlikely that many details of your childhood exactly resemble those of the narrator of this extraordinary musical, which pumps oxygenating fresh air into the cultural recycling center that is Broadway. Yet this impeccably shaded portrait of a girl and her father … 

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TIME OUT NEW YORK REVIEW

Alison Bechdel is a cartoonist: It’s her job to fit stories into boxes. But her own life story resists easy lines. Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori’s “Fun Home,” based on Bechdel’s graphic memoir, gracefully and movingly contrasts two narratives. One is about Alison (played as an adult by Beth Malone, as a college … 

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HOLLYWOOD REPORTER REVIEW

Perhaps the most over-trafficked subject matter among contemporary American dramatists is the dysfunctional family. So one of the many wonders of the haunting musical “Fun Home” is the unique perspective it brings to that theme, in a deeply personal story that marries the specificity of individual experience with … 

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HUFFINGTON POST REVIEW

Last season’s best off-Broadway musical is now this season’s best Broadway musical. “Fun Home” is the best Broadway musical in years. Don’t let the subject matter fool you. You might have heard that the Jeanine Tesori-Lisa Kron musical, adapted from the autobiographical “graphic novel” by Alison Bechdel, is about … 

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NBC NEW YORK REVIEW

“Fun Home” is a delicate portrait of family dysfunction that has only gotten richer in the 18 months since it premiered at The Public Theater. Many members of the Off-Broadway cast return for the Circle in the Square transfer, including Beth Malone, Sydney Lucas, Michael Cerveris and Judy Kuhn. Heralded as the … 

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The Reviews for The King and I Are In…

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Photo by Sara Krulwich

The reviews for The King and I are in, and the critics universally admire this astonishing revival.  Playing at the Vivian Beaumont Theater at the Lincoln Center, this sometimes touchy standard is here crafted by the deft, thoughtful hands of director Bartlett Sher. Instead of hiding behind or overemphasizing the seemingly out-of-touch themes of the musical, Sher builds a world of openness and clarity, one where the story and its innate messages somehow ring as truthfully and broadly as ever. The production is at once lavish and large and intimate and honest, thanks in part to creative collaboration with Catherine Zuber (costumes) and Michael Yeargan (set), comrades from Sher’s 2008 South Pacific.  The cast is led by the stunning Kelli O’Hara who wins hearts and makes the tale all the more compelling. Ken Watanabe also plays a winning turn as the King of Siam, complete with an authentic language barrier at times.  Truth be told, there are dozens of reasons to add The King and I to your shortlist. Simply don’t miss it.

NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW

A big, scrupulously detailed 19th-century ship glides toward the audience in the opening moments of Bartlett Sher’s resplendent production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The King and I,” which opened on Thursday night at the Vivian Beaumont Theater. It’s an impressive sight, worthy of every “oooh” it elicits. But … 

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TIME OUT NEW YORK REVIEW

Lincoln Center Theater’s “The King and I” arrives this spring much like the ship Chow Phya heaves into view of Bangkok on the Vivian Beaumont stage: a majestic vessel of excellent construction, expertly piloted and bringing with it many wonderful things—starting with Kelli O’Hara. What’s more, in a year of bland … 

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HOLLYWOOD REPORTER REVIEW

The mutual fascination and eternal struggle for understanding across the cultural divide between East and West is played out on a magnificent scale in Lincoln Center Theater’s breathtaking revival of “The King and I.” As he did with the company’s transcendent “South Pacific” seven years ago, director Bartlett 

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HUFFINGTON POST REVIEW

In a day and age when producers, directors and author’s executors think nothing of imposing their so-called artistic vision on Broadway masterworks that were pretty good to begin with, it is heartening to see producers, directors and executors just do the show as written. Lincoln Center Theater and director … 

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NBC NEW YORK REVIEW

The astonishing Kelli O’Hara is back on Broadway. This time, she’s leading Lincoln Center’s respectful take on “The King and I,” as schoolteacher Anna Leonowens, who stands up to the ruler of Siam — here, Oscar-nominee and Broadway newcomer Ken Watanabe. The revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic musical … 

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The Reviews for Finding Neverland are In…

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Photo by Sara Krulwich

Finding Neverland opened and it seems lovers of Peter Pan and Glee will cheer, but lovers of creative musical theatre will hiss.  You know the story, and you know the names of the actors playing the biggest roles – Matthew Morrison (of Glee fame) and Kelsey Grammer.  So what’s not to love?  Unfortunately, the production begins and ends with what you already know.  Though the story of Peter Pan would seemingly burst at the seams with imaginative possibilities, this production stops short of exploring them. The critics report that performances feel lackluster, the book and music feel boring and sometimes stale, and the passion just doesn’t quite feel present. So there it is again – if you love Peter Pan and wouldn’t dream of missing a new version, the Lunt-Fontanne Theater is your spot.  Otherwise, you might be better served crossing this one off your list.

NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW

The first entrance applause occurs before even the overture begins. Riotous clapping is occasioned when a bright point of light travels over the ceiling and the curtain of the Lunt-Fontanne Theater in New York, where the push-button, button-pushing musical “Finding Neverland” opened on Wednesday night. This little 

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TIME OUT NEW YORK REVIEW

Manic, childish applause might cure the poisoned fairy Tinker Bell, but it’s not medicine enough for “Finding Neverland,” the awkward, garish and manipulative musical based on the 2004 Miramax film about playwright J.M. Barrie and the boys who inspired Peter Pan. Show-doctored into a state of shrill mediocrity 

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HOLLYWOOD REPORTER REVIEW

It had enough admirers to snag several Oscar nominations, including best picture, but I confess I found the 2004 movie “Finding Neverland” a decorous yawn, starring a somnambulant Johnny Depp opposite Kate Winslet in a role that under-utilized her talents. But the preciousness and mawkish emotional manipulation … 

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VULTURE REVIEW

Provenance is a concept usually associated with art, not theater. Who, after all, owns a plot — or the history on which it is based? Still, the problem rears up in several ways in “Finding Neverland,” the new musical starring Matthew Morrison as J.M. Barrie, the author of “Peter Pan.” This is not the first Broadway … 

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NBC NEW YORK REVIEW

I’m sorry “Finding Neverland” has finally opened—you can catch it now at the Lunt-Fontanne—because the behind-the-scenes tinkering has made for such riveting headlines: Harvey replaces creative team! Harvey axes leading man! Harvey fires publicist! Harvey, being Miramax chief Harvey Weinstein, may be a fledgling

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The Reviews for It Shoulda Been You Are In…

Photo by Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Photo by Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

The reviews for It Shoulda Been You are in, and there are too many appropriate “shoulda, coulda, woulda” jokes here to pick just one (so let’s just skip those altogether).  The reviews for this new musical are not positive, and the critics clearly place blame on Barbara Anselmi (music, concept) and Brian Hargrove (book, lyrics).  Tired, overused jokes, over-stereotyped characters, and unimaginative music combine to produce an evening you’re unlikely to brag about.  Director David Hyde Pierce does his best with the material and so does the mostly veteran cast, but unfortunately there’s not much that can save a musical that the entire audience will likely feel like they’ve seen before.  If you’re itching for jokes about Jews or just want a dark place to snuggle with your honey, head to the Brooks Atkinson Theater. Otherwise, steer clear.

NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW

As the father of the bride might put it, “Oy.” “It Shoulda Been You,” which opened on Tuesday night at the Brooks Atkinson Theater, confirms the sad truth that weddings — those supposed celebrations of everlasting love — bring out the worst in some people. That includes cynics, show-offs, heavy drinkers, envious

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TIME OUT NEW YORK REVIEW

The best way to enjoy the madcap, madly old-hat “It Shoulda Been You” is to pretend it’s a lost TV relic from the 1970s. The shortcomings of Brian Hargrove and Barbara Anselmi’s mossy new show, about an interfaith wedding gone awry, are easier to forgive through a lens of affectionate camp: the dated stereotypes

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HOLLYWOOD REPORTER REVIEW

That old popular-comedy chestnut “Abie’s Irish Rose” is given a modern twist in the new musical “It Shoulda Been You,” which plays like vintage dinner theater infused with a Borscht Belt sensibility. That it nonetheless manages to be truly amusing is a testament to the talent both on and offstage: such comic pros … 

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HUFFINGTON POST REVIEW

Something old, something new Something borrowed, something blue-ish. If you can predict that “blue-ish”–in the new musical, “It Shoulda Been You” – rhymes with something like “it’s true-ish when you’re Jewish,” then you’re two (or five) steps ahead of the authors. If it’s Jewish jokes you want, there’s a 

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NBC NEW YORK REVIEW

Broadway’s so-far stuffy spring season needed to loosen up, and relief arrives with the campy ensemble comedy “It Shoulda Been You.” Now open at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, the musical is notable as the Broadway directing debut of David Hyde Pierce, the “Frasier” star. “Shoulda” has a stock set-up: The Steinberg … 

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