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 Frank Wildhorn

The Reviews for Jekyll & Hyde are in…

jekyl-and-hyde-stage-review

The critical reviews for the first revival of Jekyll & Hyde aren’t much nicer than those for the original mounting. Ripping most ferociously into the abismal lyrics, “pea-fog thick” smoke and confused direction by Jeff Calhoun, most critics were impressed by Costantine Maroulis and Deborah Cox, R&B artists who  manage to bring moments of nuance and amazing vocal chops to an otherwise overcooked production. The show says: “Take me as I am.” — if you aren’t ready to embrace a campy, scantily-clad, over-amplified, steampunk Jekyll & Hyde, you’ll be much happier watching Cinderella down the street, but bad reviews or no, you can rest assured that Jekkies will line up nightly to take in this latest mounting of one of Wildhorn’s best shows.

NEW YORK TIMES

“Let us give a warm welcome back — or maybe just a shrug, a sigh and a tip of the bowler hat — to the return of Jekyll & Hyde…Mr. Maroulis meets the throat-thrashing challenges of Mr. Wildhorn’s score with aplomb, his high-reaching pop tenor evincing little strain when rising to the piercing climaxes. I was also impressed by Mr. Maroulis’s quietly intense performance as the obsessive Dr. Jekyll…Statuesque and beautiful, Ms. Cox brings a suffering dignity to this cliché in corsets. More important for those who have come to hear a pop diva do what pop divas do best, her dark, lustrous voice does nice justice to her character’s signature song, the power ballad ‘Someone Like You.’… I register no objections to allowing Mr. Maroulis to give his voice a rest by having the evil Hyde appear (via video) as a flame-haloed, glowering devil in a giant mirror, his half of the duet having been prerecorded. If anything, this innovation reduces the campy histrionics of having the same actor engage in a singing duel to the death with himself…Unfortunately there’s no way to digitally airbrush away the hokum that pervades the whole show, like the ample stage smoke puffing away throughout the proceedings, giving a most commendable featured performance as the fabled pea-soupy London fog. The actors portraying the sniveling or snobbish enemies of Dr. Jekyll all perform their chores with flavorsome relish…Mr. Wildhorn’s score is probably his most appealing, as it mixes equal parts Hammer horror, Andrew Lloyd Webber-style pseudo-operatics and adult-contemporary-radio anthems…Do the clichés in the lyrics outnumber the exclamation points, or vice versa?”

Read the Full Review

HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

“Technically impressive and well sung by its two leads, this revival of the bombastic, ballad-heavy musical would feel right at home in a Vegas casino…To do full justice to the campy excesses of Jekyll & Hyde, this review would most appropriately be delivered in the form of a power ballad. Such overbearing musical numbers permeate this 1997 musical by Frank Wildhorn (music) and Leslie Bricusse (book and lyrics), which previously enjoyed a four year run on Broadway despite critical brickbats. Audiences may also embrace this revival of the turgid tuner based on the classic horror tale by Robert Louis Stevenson despite a likely similar negative reception…Director-choreographer Jeff Calhoun (Newsies) has ratcheted up the show’s gothic elements in his high-intensity staging, featuring extensive projections, a deafening sound design and a Grand Guignol-style presentation. But for all the production’s excesses, it proves decidedly underwhelming, devoid of thrills or genuine emotion…Jekyll & Hyde never immerses us in its classic tragic tale. It’s akin to a well-designed haunted house from which you find yourself eagerly longing to escape.”

Read the Full Review

ASSOCIATED PRESS

“Yes, it is bombastic and overwrought. It’s true that there’s enough smoke to make three Whitesnake videos. OK, it sometimes makes The Phantom of the Opera seem small and staid. But there’s something to cheer about in the revival of Jekyll & Hyde that has rolled into Broadway after a 25-week national tour. It is what it is, and it does that very well. It’s a big, loud rock opera and makes no apologies for itself. Nor should it. If you wanted a subtle musical without stabbings and bondage, what exactly are you doing at Jekyll & Hyde? The new version…takes itself so seriously that it almost veers into camp, but it’s a stunningly beautiful steampunk vision with great costumes, projections and sets. Plus, the three main vocalists who came along to sing these Frank Wildhorn songs will make your ears bleed: Constantine Maroulis, Deborah Cox and Teal Wicks. Who cares if there’s way too much lightening and overacting? These three can deliver, some even while wearing naughty Victorian outfits…Sometimes when watching Jekyll & Hyde there are moments when it seems like what you’re watching is outtakes from ‘This Is Spinal Tap.’ But that’s this show’s charm. You’ll always be of two minds about it, so just give in to the silly side.”

Read the Full Review

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

“‘It is the curse of mankind that these polar twins should be constantly struggling.’ The same could be said of the 1997 musical itself, now receiving an overamplified, dry ice-drenched Broadway revival following a national tour: It’s good and — well, not evil, but head-scratchingly, laughably, even painfully bad. And one that you’ll be constantly struggling to sit through…As the titular schizophrenic scientist, American Idol alum Constantine Maroulis — a 2009 Tony nominee for his turn in the ’80s jukebox show Rock of Ages — supplies hair-band-worthy locks and lungs of steel. His ”This Is the Moment” (the 11 o’clock number that comes 45 minutes in) is indeed momentous — a triumph of vocal pyrotechnics over clichéd phrases, misaccented lyrics, and throat-testing key changes. He also supplies an accent that travels the whole of the United Kingdom…Cox — as Lucy, the hooker with the heart of gold and bustier of steel — is quite terrific throughout. She even manages to make that ubiquitous cabaret tune/power ballad ”A New Life” audible over the stadium-level orchestrations. Oh yes, the tunes: Wildhorn has written some darn good ones. And they’ll get lodged in your head so firmly that you’ll need ”It’s a Small World” to clear them out. But, oh, the lyrics! Example: ”You’ve not heard/A single word I’ve said/My fear is he’s in over his head!”…Perhaps that’s why the music is amplified to eardrum-splitting levels! But there are so many puzzlements in this production, which is both over- and under-directed…Calhoun came up with a good idea — which then went terribly, terribly wrong. It is, I think, the curse of Jekyll & Hyde. C-“

Read the Full Review

The Reviews for Bonnie & Clyde are In…

The reviews for Bonnie & Clyde are in, and though they’re not the worst Wildhorn has seen, they are far from positive. Reviewers did find some redeeming qualities in the show’s cast, but found the story and songs simply didn’t deliver. Unoriginal and uninspired, most of them left the theatre asking the question: “Why?”

NEW YORK TIMES

That Clyde Barrow is such a cutup. Why, the boy will do most anything to stir up his sluggish fellow Americans: slap at them, tickle them, shoot them in cold blood. He’ll even punch his fist clean through a wall and drive a big old car right onto the stage, just to try to get a rise out of somebody. But Clyde, honey, t’ain’t nothing you can do to raise the pulse of something that’s as near to dead as the show you’re in.

Click here to read the full “Bonnie & Clyde” review.

HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

Of all the legendary real-life outlaws who have cemented their place in the pages of classic Americana, few have been as iconically brought to life as Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow in the landmark 1967 Arthur Penn film. So it takes a bold creative vision to put a fresh stamp on the doomed Depression-era felons. The new musical Bonnie & Clyde assembles four talented leads in a good-looking production, but its trite storytelling leaves them shooting blanks.

Click here to read the full “Bonnie & Clyde” review.

VARIETY

Boy meets girl on a deserted road in Depression-era West Dallas, and sooner than you can say “Warren Beatty,” they’re rolling in the hay — or rather, the dust. Seeing as how his name is Clyde and hers is Bonnie, the eventual outcome is no surprise here, and indeed the dead-end story trajectory grows burdensome, as does the fact that unschooled white-trash gunslingers generally aren’t loquacious enough to steal the spotlight. For all that, three exciting performances and a better-than-usual score from Frank Wildhorn combine to make this an arresting if problematic new musical.

Click here to read the full “Bonnie & Clyde” review.

WALL STREET JOURNAL

‘Bonnie & Clyde’ isn’t the worst musical to open on Broadway in the past decade. It isn’t even the worst Frank Wildhorn musical to open on Broadway in the past decade. (That would be “Dracula.”) It is, however, quite sufficiently bad enough to qualify for the finals of this year’s What-Were-They-Thinking Prize. Why would anyone not obviously deranged put money into a show with music by a composer whose last three Broadway outings tanked? And who thought it was a good idea to write a commodity musical whose title gives the impression that “Bonnie & Clyde” is based (even though it isn’t) on a 44-year-old movie that is no longer well remembered save by upper-middle-age baby boomers? Nor have Mr. Wildhorn and his feckless collaborators managed to beat these long odds: “Bonnie & Clyde” is so enervatingly bland and insipid that you’ll leave the theater asking yourself why you ever liked musicals in the first place.

Click here to read the full “Bonnie & Clyde” review.

NEWSDAY

There should be — and I’m guessing there will be — a place on Broadway this season for “Bonnie & Clyde.” Certainly, Arthur Penn’s 1967 film masterwork of violence and gorgeous outlaws does not cry out to be a musical. And, if it did, vanilla-pop composer Frank Wildhorn would not appear on most lists of feasible adapters.

Click here to read the full “Bonnie & Clyde” review.

The Reviews for Wonderland are in…

NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW:

“If only little Alice, dozing away on the riverbank before sliding down the rabbit hole, had an inkling of the deeper import of the zany adventures that were to come. All those talking animals, querulous playing cards and animated chess pieces were not just peculiar, slightly menacing playmates, according to the new Broadway musical “Wonderland.” “

Click here to read the full “Wonderland” review.

BACKSTAGE REVIEW:

“If you put the script of “The Wiz,” a self-help book, every pop tune of the past 10 years, and some lame jokes about easy targets like the Tea Party and Disney into a blender, the result might resemble the gloppy mess on stage at the Marquis Theatre. “

Click here to read the full “Wonderland” review.

VARIETY REVIEW:

“There is a distinct lack of wonder in “Wonderland,” the new Frank Wildhorn musical at the Marquis. Unless one was to wonder how a big, Broadway musical based on Lewis Carroll’s wildly inventive and delectably fantastical characters can be so utterly devoid of the aforementioned elements. Or to wonder why — after a full-scale 2009 presentation in Tampa Bay and Houston — the producers saw fit to remount this less-than-scintillating, $15 million tuner on Broadway. “

Click here to read the full “Wonderland” review.

THEATERMANIA REVIEW:

“There’s little rhyme or reason to Wonderland, the splashy, high-tech new musical extravaganza now playing at Broadway’s Marquis Theatre. Given that the show is a contemporary variant on Lewis Carroll’s fantastical stories about Alice’s trip down the rabbit hole and through the looking glass, this may seem like a compliment. But, unlike these deliberately crafted classics, there’s nothing precise or controlled about this show’s randomness. “

Click here to read the full “Wonderland” review.

HOLLYWOOD REPORTER REVIEW:

“The Bottom Line: What’s curious and curiouser is how this tedious mess ever made it to Broadway. “

Click here to read the full “Wonderland” review.

Bye Bye “Birdie,” Hello New Work and New Horizons

Bye Bye “Birdie”

The universally panned production of Bye Bye Birdie, starring John Stamos and Gina Gershon, closed on Broadway on Jan 24 after playing 117 performances. Though selling at 90% capacity, producers decided the show’s success would dwindle upon the departure of its stars and so closed as planned, rather than extending its run.

Hello New Work

Wildhorn’s Wonderland

An exciting new musical that’s been getting lots of buzz in the social media sphere Frank Wildhorn (Jekyll & Hyde, The Scarlett Pimpernel, The Civil War) and Jack Murphy’s (The Civil War) Wonderland, a new take on Lewis Carol’s “Alice in Wonderland.” The show opened on Jan 20 at the Alley Theatre in Houston.

The cast includes a lot of Broadway names, including Janet Dacal (In the Heights, Good Vibrations), Jose Llana (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee), Karen Mason (Sunset Boulevard, Mamma Mia!), Darren Ritchie (Dracula: The Musical), Nikki Snelson (Legally Blonde), Ed Staudenmayer (Forbidden Broadway) and Tad Wilson (Rock of Ages).

This show definitely has Broadway aspirations, though no dates or official plans have yet been announced. Cross your fingers that its sooner rather than later.

Duncan Sheik’s The Whisper House

Spring Awakening‘s Dunkan Sheik celebrated the world premiere of Whisper House, which opened Jan. 21 at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego. The show, which features a hauntingly beautiful score, has hopes of making it to Broadway sometime in the next couple of years.

The Pee Wee Herman Show

Another show with Broadway aims is the Pee Wee Herman Show, which opened on Jan 20 at the Los Angeles’ Club Nokia @ L.A. LIVE. Paul Reubens stars the title role he created back in the 1980s and looks to be having just as much fun today as he did back then. Though more a show with music than a musical, I couldn’t not include it on the blog here. I mean, it’s Pee Wee Herman!

A Spice Girls Musical?

Yep. Pee Wee Herman isn’t the only pop-culture icon to be brought to the stage. Mamma Mia! producer Judy Craymer is turning her attention to a jukebox musical that will use the songs (and we can only hope, the personalities) of that crazy English girl-group of the 90s – the Spice Girls.

New Horizons

Original Foursome will Make their Broadway Debuts with Million Dollar Quartet

The original foursome from the Chicago production of the musical Million Dollar Quartet, Eddie Clendening, Lance Guest, Levi Kreis and Rob Lyons, will reprise their roles in the show’s Broadway premiere, all making their Broadway premieres. They will be joined by two Broadway veterans: Hunter Foster (Urinetown, Little Shop of Horrors) and Elizabeth Stanley (Cry-Baby, Company).

Showtime to Document the Process of Taking a Musical from Concept to Broadway

If you’ve kept up with the blog here, you know that Speilberg is producing a new Showtime series tracing the evolution of a new musical.

Composers Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (Hairspray, Catch Me If You Can) were previously announced as being on board, and now a writer has surfaced – Theresa Rebeck – the author who penned the recent off-Broadway hit the Understudy and has a fair number of TV shows under her belt.

I don’t know about you, but I’m excited to see this show get off the ground, and if the success of Glee and the long string of casting shows series, I’m not the only one that’ll be eating it up.

Norbert Leo Butz on TV

Norbert Leo Butz (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Wicked, The Last Five Years) is starring as Rowdy Kaiser on ABC’s “The Deep End,” a new drama series about five first-year lawyers starting out at a top firm. If you missed last week’s premiere – check it out on ABC’s website.

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