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 Roundabout Theatre Company

The Reviews for Violet are in…

violet

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. “

Read the Full Review

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.”

Read the Full Review

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 The Mystery of Edwin Drood are In…

The word is out — The Mystery of Edwin Drood is a raucous good time, even if it does exchange sincerity for camp. The production features fully committed and highly entertaining performances from most of the cast, most notably Chita Rivera as Princess Puffer and Jim Norton as the MC.  Most known for letting its nightly audience indict the story’s bad guy, this revival of the 1985 production boasts energy and hilarity, focusing more on fun than on the actual mystery.  The critics seem to enjoy it, especially those expecting more silliness and less sophistication.

NEW YORK TIMES

“With the explosion of social media inspiring a taste for talking back, the time seems especially ripe for the Roundabout Theater Company’s boisterous revival of “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” the 1985 Broadway musical that allows audiences to savor the satisfactions of impersonating Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot, pointing an accusatory finger at a cowering culprit….The pleasure of fingering a killer is not the only one afforded by Scott Ellis’s exuberant production, which opened on Tuesday night at Studio 54. In an era when Broadway revivals of beloved musicals can seem dispiritingly skimpy, this handsome production offers a generous feast for the eyes, trimmed in holiday cheer for an added spritz of currency….And the evening’s performers — including a bona fide Broadway grande dame, Chita Rivera; a host of plush-voiced singers; and the jovial imp Jim Norton as the evening’s M.C. — throw themselves into the winking spirit of the show….Despite its varied charms, “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” remains a musical that ultimately adds up to less than the sum of its hard-working parts….The musical “Edwin Drood” at least leaves behind moments of shimmering musical pleasure to savor, long after the miscreant of the night has been booed off the stage.”

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WASHINGTON POST

“Perhaps the best part is watching the first-rate cast have so much fun — Stephanie J. Block shows real comedic power, Jim Norton is having a ball, Chita Rivera is giggly, Gregg Edelman is just silly and Will Chase is over-acting perfectly….Scott Ellis’ direction is tight — there’s almost 20 songs, more than 20 actors and multiple identities being juggled — and yet he’s allowed pockets of genuine mirth to open for the veterans on stage to goof around….The jokes are hoary, the songs are ditties (”Off to the Races” is the best known) and the mystery not so mysterious — “You might like to add that line to your list of suspicious statements!” says one character to the audience — but the fun is infectious, even if it seems that the folks on stage might be having more of it than the paying guests….Other highlights include an opium dream beautifully realized by choreographer Warren Carlyle and Anna Louizos’ sets that includes a terrific steam-puffing train. William Ivey Long seems to have had as much fun making the lush costumes…Although “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” won Tony Awards for best musical, best book and best score in 1985, this is the first time it has returned to Broadway. The reason may be simple: In the wrong hands, it can sit awkwardly in a Broadway house — too zany, too arch. But these are the right hands: There are veterans at every turn.”

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HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

“Regardless of the accomplished cast and sparkling design and direction in Roundabout’s Broadway revival, nothing great can come of mediocre material. The show’s biggest selling point is the novelty of having the audience vote to decide the murderer’s identity at every performance. But the charms of this rollicking pastiche are otherwise intermittent….Holmes’ show scores points for ingenuity, but it often feels like being stuck for too long in front of an olde-worlde department-store window display. A vehicle running 2½ hours needs more memorable songs than these mostly interchangeable parlor ditties, and more engaging characters than this bunch, which by design, are cardboard cutouts enlivened by melodramatic flourishes. A genuinely intriguing mystery rather than a half-baked whodunit devoid of psychological complexity wouldn’t hurt either….Director Scott Ellis, set designer Anna Louizos and costumer William Ivey Long all do fine work conjuring London’s Music Hall Royale in 1895…And the cast appears to be having a ball. They double as characters within the evening’s presentation and the ensemble of second-rate resident players and guests hired to impersonate them, ranging from self-adoring stars to ambitious upstarts to shameless hams. Chief among them is the wonderful Irish actor Jim Norton…With his hoary double entendres, Norton makes an effortless master of ceremonies, as at ease with the stage business as he is with the winking innuendo of lining up companionship for single gents in the audience. Ad-libbing occasionally, he strikes the ideal jaunty tone to resuscitate this very British popular entertainment of a bygone era…But all the affectionately antiquated whimsy never quite adds up to robust entertainment.”

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AM NEW YORK

“The Mystery of Edwin Drood, inspired by an unfinished Charles Dickens novel, is one of the most inventive, inspired and rousing musicals ever devised. And it is a pleasure to report that the Roundabout Theatre Company’s revival is thoroughly well-cast and extremely enjoyable….As atmospherically staged by Scott Ellis, with sprightly choreography by Warren Carlyle and excellent music direction by Paul Gemignani, this production is a reminder that well-known musicals do not need to be reconstructed or darkened for their revivals. If the show is strong, have faith in it and all will fall into place.”

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NEWSDAY

“This is a novelty item, tricked-up with cutesy tangents as a play-within-a-play at a provincial English music hall. Everyone in director Scott Ellis’ wonderful-looking production works very hard at jollying up the audience at the start, rallying a sing-a-long and, ultimately, conducting the voting. Then, the murderer confesses in song. The show does have some jaunty, quasi-operetta music with beautiful harmonic blends and a ravishing cast — including Chita Rivera as Princess Puffer, madam of the opium den, and Jessie Mueller as the slinky-to-her-eyebrows Helena Landless, who, with her brother (Andy Karl) brings a bit of Colonial commentary as the exotics from Ceylon. Jim Norton maneuvers around the fast-patter songs with aplomb as the emcee; Stephanie J. Block is authoritative as Drood, the young gentleman who disappears. His beloved (Betsy Wolfe) is coveted by the opium fiend-music teacher (Will Chase)….Instead of trusting the characters and the mystery to build the suspense, however, Holmes aims for the campy, tiresome and childish. To vote, one presumably cares about who does what to whom. Considering Dickens’ storytelling genius, the real mystery is why this isn’t fun.”

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The Reviews for Anything Goes are in…

NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW

“Who needs a brass section when you’ve got Sutton Foster? As the nightclub evangelist Reno Sweeney in the zesty new revival of “Anything Goes,” which opened on Thursday night at the Stephen Sondheim Theater, Ms. Foster has the voice of a trumpet and a big, gleaming presence that floods the house. When she leads the show-stopping “Blow, Gabriel, Blow,” you figure that if no horn-tooting archangel appears, it’s only because he’s afraid of the competition. “

Click here to read the full “Anything Goes” review.

VARIETY REVIEW

“Why, one wonders, should Roundabout see fit to trot out “Anything Goes,” the frequently produced 1934 musical chestnut? Turns out it has a compelling reason: Sutton Foster. She doesn’t just deliver those Cole Porter hits, she knocks ‘em out of the park. Joel Grey gives his happiest performance in years as Public Enemy #13, and director-choreographer Kathleen Marshall has a field day, outdoing herself with several rousing dance numbers. This new “Anything Goes” is a daffy, shipshape romp.”

Click here to read the full “Anything Goes” review.

NEWSDAY REVIEW

“Ethel Merman used to say that “Anything Goes” was about “a girl on a boat.” And that’s pretty much the whole deal, except for the other girls, the guys and the fact that the boat is a deco ocean liner stocked with nonstop Cole Porter standards, standard-issue mistaken-identity convolutions and the usual bunch of ’30s musical-comedy mugs.”

Click here to read the full “Anything Goes” review.

AM NEW YORK REVIEW

“Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes,” widely considered the definitive musical comedy of the 1930s, is a giddy explosion of escapist romance, combining old-fashioned farce, extended dance breaks and light, breezy songs.”

Click here to read the full “Anything Goes” review.

THEATERMANIA REVIEW

“Over the last decade, no leading lady has wowed innumerable audiences with her silvery voice and eager charm more than Sutton Foster. Now, as sassy evangelist-cum-nightclub singer Reno Sweeney, the Tony Award-winning star is simply scintillating in Kathleen Marshall’s highly rousing revival of Anything Goes, now being revived by the Roundabout Theatre Company at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre. “

Click here to read the full “Anything Goes” review.

WALL STREET JOURNAL REVIEW

“Sutton Foster is a star without a sky. Like Kristin Chenoweth, she is a natural-born performer of good old-fashioned musical comedy who lives in an age when good old-fashioned musical comedies are no longer being written. A wholesome beauty with a voice as warm as summer sunshine, Ms. Foster has to date starred in only one first-rate show, “The Drowsy Chaperone,” and until now she’d never appeared in a Broadway revival of a classic musical. The Roundabout Theatre Company’s production of Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes,” directed and choreographed by Kathleen Marshall, isn’t exactly that, nor is the show quite right for Ms. Foster, but her performance is so full of zowie as to overcome all possible objections. If she weren’t already a star, this “Anything Goes” would make her one.”

Click here to read the full “Anything Goes” review.

The reviews for Everyday Rapture are in …

Nearly every critic for Everyday Rapture walked away from the show last night with a large smile plastered across his or her face. In this one-woman showcase, which was a last minute replacement for Lips Together, Teeth Apart, Sherie Rene Scott explodes with energy, charisma, humor and spectacular vocals. The last show to open in the 2009-2010 Broadway season, many are predicting that Scott and her cohorts will steal away more than one award from the competition.

New York Times

Just as the Broadway theater season is drawing to its close, a smashing little show has arrived to remind us of why so many of us keep going back to Broadway, even though it’s broken our heart so many times…. Of course there appears to be a significant overlap between the character and the actress…But in telling the story of Sherie, Ms. Scott embellishes, overstates, understates, bends and weaves the complexities and inconsistencies of one life into the whole-making harmonies of a musical fable. In so doing, she has created a beautiful, funny fiction that is both utterly removed from and utterly true to real life. Which is what I, at least, always hope a musical will do. Read the full review.

Associated Press

Scott and “Everyday Rapture,” her deliciously entertaining mini-musical, have arrived on Broadway, an emergency, end-of-season replacement for the Roundabout Theatre Company’s revival of “Lips Together, Teeth Apart” which imploded during rehearsals…. the bubbly, blond, multitalented Scott has one of those quirky, expansive theater personalities that can really fill a stage…And her story, concocted by Scott and Dick Scanlan, is funny, touching and more than a little melodic. Read the full review.

Backstage

Well, we can use one more theatrical autobiography if it’s as funny, quirky, and offbeat as Sherie Rene Scott’s “Everyday Rapture”…. There’s more than one actor in the cast, the witty script by Scott and Dick Scanlan doesn’t follow a clear chronological line, and Scott…employ[s] a dry, ironic tone [and t]he strong, clear voice and off-center sense of humor that informed her standout performances in “Aida,” “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” and “The Little Mermaid”…. Thanks to Scott’s insightful self-examination, razzle-dazzle showmanship, and dynamite vocals, this is a satisfying and enjoyable way to end the 2009-10 Broadway season. Read the full review.

Hollywood Reporter

There’s no denying that the beautiful blonde Scott possesses considerable talent and charm, both of which are on ample display. She delivers her frequently amusing tale with sly, understated humor in a breathy, sexy voice that recalls Marilyn Monroe’s in its disingenuousness…. Scott, accompanied by backup singers Lindsay Menez and Betsy Wolfe, handles the musical and narrative demands of the show in fine fashion. But “Rapture” comes across as overly precious and lacking the thematic heft that would justify its unexpected Broadway berth. Read the full review.

Variety

In the opening scene of the charmingly frenetic philosophical/autobiographical rumination-with-songs, Everyday Rapture, Sherie Rene Scott classifies herself as “one of Broadway’s biggest, brightest semi-stars.” Not anymore, lady. Here is Scott. She is not merely carrying this enchanting carnival — coauthored by herself — on her more than capable shoulders; she is the show. Scott is a force to be reckoned with. Everyday Rapture has provided an entertaining jolt to the season’s less-than-stellar lineup of new musicals. Read the full review.

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