Though critical praise for the stage adaptation of Some Like It Hot may not have been red hot, it was mostly warm. Director Casey Nicholaw and writers Matthew López and Amber Ruffin’s adjusted the plot and casting to feature black and non-gender binary artists, which most critics felt leant a refreshing new layer to what might otherwise have felt like a dated comedy. Full of a lot of (perhaps too much) tap, great (even if sometimes over-the-top) performances, pretty solid songs, and fabulous design, Some Like It Hot puts entertainment first sprinkled with a couple satisfying ahas on top.
The New York Times Review of Some Like It Hot
Not to put too much weight on what is in many ways a standard-issue Broadway musical comedy circa 1959: often silly, sometimes shaggy, but with entertainment always the top note. That’s a pretty high standard, after all, and in its staging (by Casey Nicholaw), its revamped plot (by Matthew López and Amber Ruffin) and especially its songs (by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman), “Some Like It Hot” clears the bar handily. At least in the first act, the show is an unstoppable train, blowing right past local stations where you might have a moment to wonder exactly where you’re headed. … Nicholaw has loaded the show to bursting with dance. By the time he delivers a five-minute chase sequence near the end of the second act, with gangsters and bellhops and nonstop tapping, you may feel that trading the darker comedy of the movie — literally darker, with its claustrophobic black-and-white cinematography — for the soufflé textures of Broadway entertainment was a Faustian bargain. Fabulous as the visual production is, with Art Deco sets by Scott Pask, Technicolor lights by Natasha Katz and eye-popping costumes by Gregg Barnes, it keeps squeezing out the story’s quirkier soul. … Ultimately, it’s the epiphanies and insights that make it possible to enjoy, without too much guilt, the flat-out entertainment of “Some Like It Hot,” including its groaners, overemphasis and old-school gags.
TimeOut Review of Some Like It Hot
Some Like It Hot is a well-aimed throwback: a jubilant, oldfangled, crowd-pleasing musical comedy. Like many recent Broadway tuners, it is adapted from a well-loved movie—in this case, Billy Wilder’s classic 1959 sex-and-sax farce about a pair of Prohibition-era musicians, on the run from the mob, who pose as women in an all-girl traveling band. The musical version reheats this story with abundant production values and canny attention to modern sensibilities. If it wobbles a little in its borrowed heels at first, it finishes in the confident stride of a hit. Directed and choreographed with zest by Casey Nicholaw, Some Like It Hot taps into a classic vein of musical theater, and I do mean taps: This show doesn’t stint on the clickety-clack of shoe against stage. … What Some Like It Hot lacks in depth, though, it makes up for in shinier musical-theater pleasures. Scott Pask’s set has a swank Art Deco gloss, and Gregg Barnes’s costumes are marvelous; the orchestra sounds brassy and full, and the ensemble…sells the dancing brightly and tightly. When the farce reaches its boil—and Nicholaw and company pull off a hilariously inventive door-slamming chase that gives Jerome Robbins’s bathing-beauty ballet in High Button Shoes a run for its money—the audience bubbles over right along with it. You’ll leave this show with a smile on your face, and why not? There’s a whole lot to like.
Variety Review of Some Like It Hot
Taking a classic film comedy — especially one that plays fast and loose with gender and sexuality — and turning it into a big Broadway musical is far from a sure thing in these contemporary times. But the creative team of the latest stage musical version of the 1959 movie “Some Like It Hot” brings fresh perspectives and a different kind of fun to the iconic film that memorably starred Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe. This stage production boasts swell performances, dandy twists and turns, razzmatazz dancing and a whole lotta energy (under the savvy, playful direction and choreography of Casey Nicholaw) — all of which should please new audiences without alienating fans of the original. If the songs by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (“Hairspray,” “Smash”) don’t always score high marks, well: Nobody’s perfect. … But the major change is one of attitude. Instead of just running wild with the movie’s overriding straight-men-in-drag-fleeing-for-their-lives gag, this show tweaks the leading duo’s perspectives enough to give the story a surprising, contemporary feel and make it more about self-discovery than guys-in-heels. This rethink doesn’t just transfer a hit film and plop it on stage, but rather transforms it into a genuine study of gender and identity — but still one with lots laughs.
New York Post Review of Some Like It Hot
Gentlemen prefer … the movie. The wobbly quality of the new Broadway musical “Some Like It Hot,” which opened Sunday night at the Shubert Theatre, is made much more obvious by the indisputable greatness of its source material. The 1959 Marilyn Monroe film is one of the best comedies of all time. And, so, as only Broadway knows how to do, it has churned out a mostly charmless song-and-dance version of a beloved title. … The repetitive songs by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman gnaw on the ears, there aren’t enough big laughs in Matthew Lopez and Amber Ruffin’s book and the revised ending, in which a character questions their gender identity, feels neither honest nor natural, but as if it’s been exhaustively focus-grouped to avoid Twitter backlash. (And, after the “Tootsie” fracas back in 2018, it probably was.)