Yikes. Critics didn’t care for Almost Famous, the latest film-to-stage adaptation to hit the Great White Way. With pandering over-the-top jokes, a not-at-all-adapted for the stage story, and abysmal lyrics, set and staging, the only saving grace were standout Broadway premiere performances by Casey Likes and Solea Pfeiffer. Overall, critics wished this production had leaned in to truly adapting the show for the stage, rather than creating a semi-original half-jukebox musical rehash of the film.
The New York Times Review for Almost Famous
At its best, rock ’n’ roll is “a form that is gloriously and righteously dumb” — or so decrees Lester Bangs, a character in the new musical “Almost Famous.” Alas, the show, which opened on Broadway on Thursday, gets the wrong part of that formula right. Though celebrating the rock world of 1973, when the real Lester Bangs was the field’s most influential critic, “Almost Famous” is neither glorious nor righteous. It barely even has a form. That leaves dumb, and I’m sorry to say that despite the intelligence of the 2000 movie on which it’s based, and the track record of its creators, the stage musical misses every opportunity to be the sharp, smart entertainment it might have been. In retelling the story of a 15-year-old who gets sucked prematurely into the world of bands and groupies and roadies and drugs, it lands instead in a mystifying muddle, occasionally diverting but never affecting.
Variety Review for Almost Famous
Writer-director Cameron Crowe’s Oscar-winning screenplay about a teen rock journalist’s coming-of-age in the ’70s, “Almost Famous,” lands pretty much intact in Broadway’s latest pedestrian film-to-stage adaptation. For those who love the 2000 semi-autobiographical film, this version provides almost a complete re-enactment of the original (via a book written by Crowe), with some new songs (by Tom Kitt and Crowe) mixed with a sizable set-list of tunes from the era. It’s all entertaining enough — and no doubt a particular draw for the nostalgic baby-boomer-plus crowd — but there’s nothing extraordinary in the transformation to the stage. Not even almost.
Hollywood Reporter Review for Almost Famous
Did it need to become a stage musical? Debatable. But one thing the effusive show gets right, like the movie that spawned it, is the infectious energy of rock ‘n’ roll at a transitional moment — 1973 — when the raw, rebellious spirit of great rock was making way for the slicker, more commercialized sound of mass-consumption superstardom. For many epochal bands and solo artists, that year was an artistic peak they would never again match. That gives Crowe’s quasi-memoir, in both incarnations, a bittersweet undertow of simultaneous discovery and loss. The other big plus the musical has going for it is its casting. … The show is a sincere love letter to the ‘70s; why add pandering jokes to make contemporary audiences feel above it? … The musical is unlikely to supplant anyone’s love for the film. But in the glut of cynical screen-to-stage adaptations that have become an epidemic on Broadway in the past 20 years, at the very least it’s one from the heart.
New York Post Review for Almost Famous
Under the bright lights of 45th Street, though, the greatest foe of the musical “Almost Famous” is most definitely the film “Almost Famous.” Cameron Crowe’s 2000 comedy is a quirky, coming-of-age cinematic gem, which won him an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, and our fond memories of it — a manic-pixie-dream-girl Kate Hudson, Frances McDormand announcing “My son has been kidnapped by rockstars!” “Tiny Dancer” on the tour bus — are a persistent thorn in the stage version’s side. Those classic bits are all still here, yes, but they’re a wisp of the original. British director Jeremy Herrin, who should stick to plays and steer clear of Stratocasters, composer-lyricist Tom Kitt and book writer-lyricist Crowe do not present a compelling case for why the film must be a Broadway musical. It’s pleasant and sweet and passes the time, sure, but should that be enough? … If there is one thing that makes “Almost Famous” come alive, it’s watching two coming-of-age stories play out at once: One, about a young journalist figuring out his future. The other, about an exciting new Broadway actor stepping out onto the boards.