Here’s a quick glance of some notable happenings on Broadway’s Great White Way this week:
The new musical comedy Gettin’ the Band Back Together had its official Broadway opening at the Belasco Theatre last week. Reviews for the new production were mixed to negative, with many critics faulting the musical for its corny humor, thin plot and uninspired music:
New York Magazine – “…the stage is set for mediocre running gags, upbeat if not particularly memorable rock anthems, and the standard mix of dude-on-dude shenanigans and dude-on-lady sentiment. It may be original, but it’s nothing we haven’t been sold before.”
New York Times – “The obviousness of the characters and the outcome of the plot give the songs almost nothing to do. With its slapdash aesthetic, the result has the mouthfeel of mystery stew: old ingredients randomly cooked.”
Time Out New York – “…supremely unoriginal, from its formulaic ’90s-movie plot to its instantly forgettable ’80s-rock score.”
But some were able to enjoy the production on its own terms, noting the game cast and the silly proceedings scored with more than serviceable ’80’s inspired rock songs:
Variety – “Although simplistic by design, the script is funny without being hilarious, grooving along mainly on its many goofy throwaway lines. Cheap laughs? You bet, but even cheap laughs count; and let’s admit it – it feels so good to laugh real laughs on Broadway.”
Entertainment Weekly – “Even if the route is obvious, Gettin’ the Band Back Together is not a bad ride…while none of the musical’s songs are bound for a greatest hits compilation, they fit the upbeat, rocking vibe the show is going for.”
Hollywood Reporter – “…Some of the comic bits are very amusing. The performers are often genuinely funny. The score is strictly generic pop-rock but bouncy enough. Director Rando keeps things moving at a sufficiently brisk pace.”
Pretty Woman: The Musical, a contemporary stage adaptation of the popular 1990 romantic comedy, celebrated its official opening on Broadway at the Nederlander Theatre last week. Critical response was mostly negative, as most reviews were not kind to the generic score and line-by-line adherence to the film’s dialogue. Some critics also found the adaptation of the dated storyline tone-deaf in the era of the #MeToo movement:
Time Out New York – “The show makes a few grudging tweaks to its source to accommodate modern sensibilities, reproducing nearly every well-known line in roughly the same order. Not only does this approach miss an opportunity to rethink the story’s sugar-daddy fantasy in a deeper way, it also gets stale fast.”
Village Voice – “The problem with the score is how slenderly it connects to characters and situations. It’s Velveeta Rock…vapid, musically dead, and dramatically flat.”
Variety – “With anything mature or sensual systematically removed, Pretty Woman: The Musical goes all-in on fantasy, casting two sizzling talents as bland, pretty people singing pretty tunes with nothing much at stake.”
However, some reviewers appreciated the musical on its own merits, admiring the work of the capable cast and enjoying the sense of nostalgia for the original film:
Entertainment Weekly – “If you absolutely adore the film, director Mitchell has put together a show that will feel instantly familiar. There’s pleasure to be had at Pretty Woman, to be sure. But it’s the pleasure of familiarity, not novelty.”
Hollywood Reporter – “…the show is best appreciated as a retro pleasure, guilty or not… the combination of warmly drawn characters with persuasive chemistry and fun fish-out-of-water elements made the movie irresistible. The stage iteration is no different.”
New York Post – “…the leads go for broke. It takes guts to step into Roberts’ thigh-high boots, [and] Samantha Barks sings the hell out of the part.”
Broadway News and Notes:
Initial Casting Announced for Broadway’s Beetlejuice
Tony Award nominee Alex Brightman (School of Rock) will take on the title bio-exorcist in the upcoming Broadway-bound musical Beetlejuice. A stage adaptation of the 1988 film, the musical is set to begin performances October 14 at the National Theatre in Washington, D.C. Joining him will be Sophia Anne Caruso (The Sound of Music Live!) as Lydia Deetz. The musical will feature a score by Australian musician-comedian Eddie Perfect, who is also co-creating the music for Broadway’s upcoming King Kong. While inspired by Tim Burton’s dark comedy, the show will focus more on Lydia, the bleak teenager (played on screen by Winona Ryder) with a fascination for death – and the only one in her family who can interact with the ghosts of their new home. In an attempt to scare off her parents, Lydia calls on Beetlejuice (in the film, Michael Keaton) – an eccentric, crude demon with a plan that involves arranged marriages, a girl scout, and song and dance. More details here.
Boys In The Band and Pretty Woman Break Box Office Records
In its final week, Joe Mantello’s staging of The Boys in the Band earned $1,152,649, smashing the Booth Theater’s previous $1,113,192 house record set back in 2015 by The Elephant Man. The 50th anniversary staging of Mart Crowley’s Boys recouped its $3.5 million investment in the 11th week of its 15-week engagement. Director Jerry Mitchell’s Pretty Woman: The Musical set a new house record at the Nederlander Theatre, scoring $1,142,989, the highest total for any eight-performance week in the venue’s 97-year history. More details here.
Keri Russell Joins Broadway Cast of Burn This
Golden Globe Award Winner and Emmy Award Nominee Keri Russell will join three-time Emmy Award nominee Adam Driver in the first revival of Pulitzer Prize Winner Lanford Wilson’s Burn This. Directed by Tony Award winner Michael Mayer, Burn This will begin performances in March 2019 at a Broadway theater to be announced. The critically acclaimed drama tells the story of four New Yorkers whose lives are uprooted by a young dancer’s accidental death. Russell returns to the New York theatre after making her off-Broadway stage debut in Neil LaBute’s Fat Pig. She has most recently received her third Emmy nomination as Best Actress for her role as Elizabeth Jennings in FX’s The Americans, which just completed its sixth and final season. More details here.
Cast Complete for Broadway Revival of True West
Marylouise Burke and Gary Wilmes will join Ethan Hawke and Paul Dano in the cast of Roundabout Theatre Company’s revival of True West on Broadway this winter. The Sam Shepard play will begin previews at the American Airlines Theatre on December 27. Burke, who has appeared on Broadway in Fish in the Dark, Into the Woods, Inherit the Wind and Is He Dead?, will play the role of Mom. Wilmes, who will play the role of Saul Kimmer, appeared in Chinglish on Broadway in 2011. In True West, two brothers – one, a moderately successful screenwriter (Golden Globe nominee Dano), the other, a drifter (Tony and Oscar nominee Hawke) – reunite to discuss their mother’s recently abandoned house, leading to the airing of old resentments and some unexpected twists in the relationship. More details here.