Archive for Brian Yorkey
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.”
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.”
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.”
“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.)”
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.”
Next to Normal has officially won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, lauded by the jury for “expand[ing] the scope of subject matter for musicals.”
The musical joins the ranks of Of Thee I Sing, South Pacific, Fiorello, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, A Chorus Line, Sunday in the Park with George and Rent as one of the few musicals to earn the esteemed award.
Nominated finalists in the category were the plays The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity by Kristoffer Diaz, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo by Rajiv Joseph and In the Next Room or the Vibrator Play, but “after a three-fourths vote, the prize went to a musical that had not been nominated by the jury.”
Exciting stuff, no? Congrats to Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey!