Chaplin may not be your typical Broadway crowdpleaser, but it sure is pleasing to crowds!
Much darker - figuratively AND literally - than your typical fare on the Great White Way, Chaplin unflinchingly tells the tale of beloved screen icon Charlie Chaplin, the real Charlie Chaplin. Warts and all!
We love the show's honest depiction of the complex man. There was no whitewashing here! Though there is lots of razzle dazzle, albeit in muted tones - until the big finale when we finally get a pop of color and tears were streaming down our face.
Chaplin has been getting mixed reviews but lead Rob McClure has been getting universal acclaim for his take on the man behind The Tramp. Deservedly so! He brought a real intensity and a lot of emotion to his portrayal. He reminded us of Raul Esparza, and we say that as a compliment.
In many ways, the show reminds us a lot of Man Of La Mancha, a tale based on a pre-existing cannon about a man that was misunderstood by many.
Do we love Chaplin or the character he played? We really related and were touched a lot by the exploration of this topic and the character of Charlie. Self-reflection on many levels! Especially with the role of gossip icon Hedda Hopper playing an integral part in the show.
Hopper was expertly played by Jenn Colella, the show's other standout. She actually was so good and her character so important to the musical that we wish she would have been introduced towards the end of Act 1. It would have raised the stakes by a lot and given us a glimpse of what to look forward to in Act 2.
Dark shows don't often have long runs on Broadway, but they do become cult favorites. And we think Chaplin will easily be the favorite of many this season!
The staging/direction was great. The songs were above average. Though we do wish they had included Charlie's iconic "Smile". And we thoroughly enjoyed the show!
Other standouts were the dreamy Wayne Alan Wilcox as Chaplin's brother (who was wonderful - even though he could have been given at least one solo song!!!) and Erin Mackey as his 4th and final wife Oona. Christiane Noll as Charlie's mother was fine.
Of course Jay Z's wife's new song Formationaddresses the movement, but her dancers definitely paid their respects by donning outfits, including berets like those worn by members of the Black Panthers.
Not only that but Queen Bey's Super Bowl crew was snapped a couple times with their fists in the air -- a tribute to Tommie Smith and John Carlos, the American track stars who made similar gestures during the 1968 Olympic medal ceremony (below):