Reviews are out for Flying Over Sunset, the latest from James Lapine, and critics were largely underwhelmed by the trip. Though the performers and tech all wowed, the story was ultimately too heavy-handed, heady and flat, leaving critics bored and wanting more. Looking for something new and different? This definitely delivers there. But perhaps in a way no one was looking for…
New York Times Review of Flying Over Sunset
Though sometimes mesmerizing, “Flying Over Sunset,” the new musical about LSD that opened there on Monday, is mostly bewildering, and further proof that transcendence can’t be shared. … Lapine, who also directed the show, steers “Flying Over Sunset” in some very strange and ultimately tiresome directions. … There’s an overly programmatic quality to that setup, especially as delivered in the exceedingly flat dialogue Lapine seems to favor. … At least there are compensations in the typically gorgeous technical wizardry of the Lincoln Center Theater production. The lighting (by Bradley King) and the projections (by 59 Productions) on Beowulf Boritt’s swirling-circles set — along with the immersively psychedelic sound by Dan Moses Schreier — bring us closer to the sensation of melting consciousness than the script ever manages. At times even the costumes (by Toni-Leslie James) seem to be tripping. And Dorrance’s choreography for the show’s opening, arranging the cast’s varying footfalls in rhythmic counterpoint, is sublime. These are not enough to outweigh Lapine’s failure to dramatize what he evidently sees as the life-enhancing possibilities of mind-altering drugs.
TimeOut Review of Flying Over Sunset
If you’ve ever been cornered at a party by someone describing at length how high they are, when you yourself are not high, then you have some idea what awaits you at Flying Over Sunset. … On a basic level, Flying Over Sunset has the War Paint problem of being about famous people whose lives had something in common but who mostly didn’t actually know each other. Even when they are gathered, their journeys remain individual ones, and—this being a James Lapine musical—their hallucinations tend to involve the return of dead loved ones: guilt-trippy ghosts who hover around the action for much of the show. The most memorable parts of Flying Over Sunset come when it goes completely bonkers. … This, alas, is not musical theater on acid; this is acid on musical theater. … The Lincoln Center production has real pleasures: Yazbeck shares a thrilling music-hall duet, choreographed by Michelle Dorrance, with his younger self (Atticus Ware), who is dressed as a girl; Cusack sings as beautifully as always, as does Laura Shoop as Huxley’s wife. And the staging is very handsome indeed: Beowulf Boritt’s expansive set, Toni-Leslie James’s costumes and Bradley King’s lighting are all first-class. But these elements can only distract so much from a show that would probably make more sense as a one-act in a smaller space. What a long, strange trip it is.
Variety Review of Flying Over Sunset
In the Golden Age of Hollywood, LSD was a novel form of mind-expanding psychotherapy, gingerly prescribed under the eye of a medical professional. With that cautionary premise in mind, the creatives of this delectable theatrical bonbon treat us to a tasteful trip on the mild side. The show’s trippy sensibility is strikingly displayed on Beowulf Boritt’s spare, highly stylized cycloramic set and under Bradley King’s luscious lighting, which turns the color blue into a juicy fruit so cool and sweet the eye can almost taste it. Mixing up the senses is very much a quality of this thoughtful and unusually literate musical, which book writer and director Lapine has apparently conceived as a head trip with brains.
Deadline Review of Flying Over Sunset
Flying Over Sunset boasts a top-notch creative team and cast and a physical production that’s one of the most ravishing on Broadway. Carmen Cusack (Bright Star) as Luce, Harry Hadden-Paton (My Fair Lady) as Huxley and Tony Yazbeck (On the Town) as Grant sing and dance like a dream – or a trip, as the case may be – in service of a production that seeks nothing less than to transport an audience to another time (the easy part) and perhaps another dimension (trickier, much trickier). … In a first-rate production by Lincoln Center Theater, Flying Over Sunset takes hold of our imaginations early. … [but] much of Act II feels like retread, repeating the themes and conflicts set forth in the first act without much expansion. Overlong and occasionally (but only occasionally) a bit tedious, the last third of the show loses its way. … Flying Over Sunset just can’t quite figure out what these characters ultimately mean to, or do for, one another. They certainly make for smart and pleasant company, and there’s not a weak link in the cast, but … the human connections that would provide Flying Over Sunset its emotional payoff never quite land.
The New York Post Review of Flying Over Sunset
Being the only sober person in a room full of drunks is never any fun. Neither, as it would happen, is being an audience member at a musical about rich people who are high on LSD. … Broadway, of course, should not dominated by schlocky copycat musicals based on old films, and ingenuity and experimentation must be encouraged. With risk, however, should come drama and the electricity of something new. Writer-director James Lapine has the originality part down, to put it mildly, but, boy, is his show sedate and esoteric. … Beyond oddness, though, “Flying Over Sunset” is unforgivably dull onstage. It would make a fascinating New Yorker article, but is far from a compelling, cohesive musical. … The score is blandly pleasant, evoking the tide coming in or a tree swaying in the wind, and is beautifully performed by the three leads. … Between the hallucinations and outright fabrications of “Flying Over Sunset,” there is nothing real to ground us.