Thursday night saw the opening of the last new show of the current Broadway season, Kander & Ebb's long-in-the-works The Visit.
The show was originally supposed to reach Broadway in 2001 as a starring vehicle for Angela Lansbury. Life happened. Lansbury dropped out. Chita Rivera stepped in. And 14 years later it finally debuts in New York!
The Visit reteams the iconic composing duo of Kander & Ebb with frequent collaborator Rivera and playwright Terrence McNally, both of whom worked on Kiss Of The Spider Woman with them.
Like many Kander & Ebb shows (Cabaret, Chicago), The Visitexplores dark themes.
A rich old woman comes back to her hometown after being gone a lifetime to avenge her past!
That rich old woman is the rich in talent Rivera, who at 82 years old may be making her final appearance on Broadway. And it is quite the star turn for her!
We last saw her on the stage in The Mystery Of Edwin Drood, which was not a good vehicle for her. The Visit, after many revisions throughout the years and finally being (smartly) trimmed down to it's current state of performed without intermission, is custom-tailored for Rivera.
This is Chita at her best! There's even a little dancing!
This old broad's still got it!
The production is on the smaller scale of Broadway musicals, but it is beautifully done by director John Doyle.
The show is a lot like Chicago in that it lives in an alternate world. It's based on reality but the whole affair is rather surreal. We kept waiting for the end and a reveal that it was all a dream, which never happened.
In addition to Rivera, the real star of the show is the music.
Fred Ebb may no longer be with us but John Kander is - he was at the opening! - and these songs they have left behind are of the highest quality.
Oftentimes the later work of composers isn't as good as their younger output. Thankfully, The Visitis not that case! These songs are some of their best!
The cast is mostly great, though we wish they would have chosen a better vocalist as Rivera's main love interest.
And kudos to newcomer John Riddle, who has a bright future ahead of him - and not just because he was so pretty to look at. He was captivating!
EXQUISITE vocal arrangements by music director/supervisor Ron Melrose!
GORGEOUS orchestrations by Danny Troob to really show it off!
And, unfortunately, THE WORST book of the new Broadway season.
This musical would have worked sooooo much better as an opera - without any dialogue. Or maybe with heavy narration and minimal dialogue.
Michael Weller had the merciless task of condensing the long book/film (both long) into a long and hard-to-follow musical. And as if that weren't daunting enough, he was also faced with not just editing down but also creating…. lots of cheese!
This love story is so melodramatic that it's hard to find any of it believable and even harder to not audibly laugh at some of this campy dialogue.
It's a shame because many of the songs - with music by Lucy Simon and lyrics by Michael Korie & Amy Powers - are quite beautiful and really good.
It doesn't help either that director Des McAnuff has loaded the show with so many guns going off continually. It's incredibly loud and distracting!
Kelly Barrett as Zhivago's love interest is a revelation in this role and absolutely spectacular! And Paul Alexander Nolan, whom we've seen in previous productions, delivers the best performance we've ever seen him give in Doctor Zhivago.
As for the title character, Tam Mutu would have been served far better if - like we said - this were an opera!
If you're a fan of Renée Fleming, then you will love Living On Love, the new Broadway play about an aging opera singer starring the real life opera singer.
Fleming is making her Broadway debut with the comedy, which seems to have been created as a starring vehicle for her. Unfortunately, this is no Master Class.
Fleming's singing voice, which she gifts the audience in snippets throughout the play, is a force of nature. Unfortunately, this show fails to come anywhere near her brilliance as a vocalist.
And, since she's not given the best material to work with, Fleming does not shine the way she should!
She's funny and endearing, but playwright Joe DiPietro paints her character so broad and cartoonish that she's too over-the-top and the audience doesn't root for her. The same could be said of her husband in the show, the usually superb Douglass Sills, who in Living On Loveis trying so hard! Too hard! He's overcompensating for a fine but far from great script.
There are moments of greatness - and truly funny insider jokes - but those are not enough to make this overly familiar and rather generic show feel as special as it needs to be!
Stunning, sensational, dazzling and epic! These are just a few of the adjectives that first come to mind when describing An American In Paris.
It took over 60 years for this show to make it to Broadway, and it was well worth the wait!
This grand story of love and art and is done justice and so lovely and artful!!!
This is now the best show we have seen this season - by far!
Based on the iconic Vincent Minnelli film starring Gene Kelly and with a score from the Gershwin brothers, An American In Parisfeatures some of the most beloved songs of the 20th century - from I Got Rhythm to 'S Wonderful and They Can't Take That Away From Me.
An American In Paris is both classic and ultra modern. It feels like West Side Story, if it were created today.
EVERYTHING works in unison here. It is what musical theater in its most excellence should do! Everything furthers the plot along!
The songs! The dancing! The sets! The lighting! The costumes! It's all spectacular and all the vision of Christopher Wheeldon, who shockingly makes his directory with An American In Paris.
His choices are so bold and inspired! Assured! Nothing would indicate this is a first-time director!
Wheeldon's background is in ballet and he also serves as the show's choreographer. And WOW is there some dancing in this show!
No other Broadway musical has as much dancing as An American In ParisAn American In Paris! And all kinds of dance - from ballet to tap! It feels very Jerome Robbins, and that is a very high compliment!
The dance numbers are so exquisite!
The scenic design is so inventive!
We can't stop thinking about it all, and especially Robert Fairchild in the Gene Kelly role.
The entire cast is great, but Fairchild gives one of THE BEST performances we have ever seen in the theater!
Not only is he an exceptional dancer - he's a member of NYC Ballet - but he also has the vocal and acting chops to pull this all off so seemingly effortlessly.
He is working so hard on that stage but he makes it seem easy!
This is a Tony-winning performance and a timeless production that must be seen by everyone worldwide!
It Shoulda Been Youis not only the best new musical of the current Broadway season - it is the best theatrical experience we have had since Here Lies Love.
It Shoulda Been Youis everything we wish A Gentleman's Guide To Love And Murder was but isn't. And that won the Tony for Best New Musical last year!
This is a brand new musical that's not based on a movie or book or the songs of a famous artist.
We can't think of a single thing we disliked about the show! It did EVERYTHING right!
It Shoulda Been Youfeels a lot like an uproarious romantic comedy film (think My Best Friend's Wedding) set to songs, and that's partly due to the super effective choice of not having an intermission and to the show being written by a sitcom veteran and Broadway newcomer, Brian Hargrove, who's worked on such shows as Wanda At Large, Titus, Caroline In The City and more. He's also married to Frasier alum David Hyde Pierce, who makes his Broadway directorial debut skillfully helming this musical about a wedding with many twists and turns.
BUT, the great one-liners and humor would not land if it weren't delivered effectively and this great ensemble cast does a superb job of bringing the laughs! And it's a true ensemble with some mega talent! Everyone has their moment to shine!
And Lisa Howard, especially, gives a star-making performance as the sister who's not-so-lucky in love.
Wow! Wow! Wow! What a revelation she is!
The cast is rounded out by such talented actors! Tyne Daly, Harriet Harris, Sierra Boggess, David Burtka, Montego Glover, Chip Zien, Josh Grisetti, Adam Heller, and Nick Spangler all shine and are utilized to the best of their abilities!
We don't want to give away any of plot because there are so many surprises, which make the show so fun. But It Shoulda Been Youisn't all fluff. Hargrove, who also wrote the lyrics in addition to the book, and composer Barbara Anselmi, have created some beautiful songs about love, acceptance, feeling "a little bit less than" and real meaningful themes! Plus there are just some hilarious songs as well!