There’s a Sting in this Ship but no sting

Feb 26

There’s a Sting in this <i>Ship</i> but no sting

When a show flops on Broadway and then undergoes serious re-tooling, you hold out hope that lessons were learned, wrongs righted and mistakes corrected. The debut musical from rock icon Sting, The Last Ship, fizzled in New York, but that didn't mean dry dock for this vessel. No, Sting continued to work on it, giving it a complete re-write (with director Lorne Campbell), shuffling and re-shuffling songs and characters and setting out on another voyage, first in England, then in Candada.

Read More

Soaking it up at the SpongeBob musical

Feb 13

Soaking it up at the <i>SpongeBob</i> musical

SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical, is the kind of energetic, colorful endeavor that nearly did the trick when it came to making everybody happy. Director Tina Landau and scenic/costume designer David Zinn delivered something with broad humor, fan service and buckets full of flash and sparkle. Cynical critics had to admit they were somewhat surprised to enjoy something they would never have expected to like in a million years.

Read More

Summer’s a bummer in all but music

Dec 05

<i>Summer’s</i> a bummer in all but music

For a terrible show, Summer: The Donna Summer Musical is fairly enjoyable, and that is for one reason alone: the music. As jukebox musicals go, this one is toward the bottom of the list, which is surprising given that director and co-writer Des McAnuff has two shows much (much) higher on that list: Jersey Boys and Ain't Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations.

Read More

Identity crisis renders Anastasia dull, derivative

Sep 05

Identity crisis renders <i>Anastasia</i> dull, derivative

As much as we might like to think that the future of Broadway looks like Hamilton or Hadestown, I'm pretty sure the future looks more like Anastasia, the inconsequential musical based on the 1997 animated film (in turn based on the 1956 movie starring Ingrid Bergman) that is now touring the country. Given how uninspired this show is, the fact that it ran for two years on Broadway is surprising, but perhaps lukewarm rehashes are just what audiences want.

Read More

Carole King and all that is Beautiful

May 30

Carole King and all that is <i>Beautiful</i>

Almost six years ago, a Broadway-bound musical had its world premiere at San Francisco's Curran Theatre, and though there were a few issues, the show looked like a bona fide hit. Sure enough, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical became a smash on Broadway, winning a Tony Award for star Jessie Mueller and continuing to draw a cheering audience more than five years later.

Read More

Not even Oompa Loompas can save this foundering Factory

Apr 18

Not even Oompa Loompas can save this foundering <i>Factory</i>

A golden ticket doesn't buy you much these days – a cut-rate touring musical with chintzy sets, a mediocre score and about as much joy as you'd find in a board meeting about turning wacky movies into boring musicals. You'd be justified in hoping for more from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a new musical re-working of the 1964 novel by Roald Dahl and the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Read More