Oh puh-leeze!!! What in the heck is going on here? Halfway through the first act I leaned over to my chum and said, “I didn’t know we were going to see American Idol! And when I looked in the program – surprise – Constantine Maroulis was a finalist on the fourth season of the very same. Am I prescient or what???
So the first thing you need to know is that this production is loud. Way loud. Which would be one thing if it were loud and good – but it is my experience that the two don’t often go together. It is as though a performer tries to make up for lack of talent with an abundance of sound - which is not to say that these performers are not talented. Maroulis, Deborah Cox (Lucy Harris) and Teal Wicks (Emma Carew) possess some serious pipes – when they are not singing flat – and can embellish with the best of them. But they appear to know little or nothing about acting.
Each plays their dull and predictable character – good boy and bad boy; virgin and whore – with a dutiful air. But the minute they open up their mouths to sing they drop any vestige of character and deliver the song as if there were finalists in a singing contest. Who can embellish more? Who can hold the longest note? In general, this is a not-so-very-good idea because it gets boring pretty darn quickly. In a musical, however, this manner of performing is tragic.
See, we are supposed to care about these folk. This is supposed to be an iconic story like Othello. A man assumes responsibilities beyond his reach. His ego drives him on until it is too late to turn back. He loses both the women he loves as well as his own life. Life and death – It can’t get much more dramatic than that.
So PS - I didn’t care. Not one little bit. I don’t know who came up with the concept, dark and loud, but this one was executed with a sledgehammer and a trowel. In addition, the book and music are as interesting as a moist washcloth. I am a huge fan of Leslie Bricusse, but this score is less than tepid. There are 25 songs in this show and I cannot remember one of them, which is no small blessing in a way.
It is always a shame to see so many actors working their little butts off and getting nowhere. These actors give it everything. The weakest link is actually Maroulis who undermines himself with his self-referential approach to performing. In addition his mic is also turned up so loud they must be hearing him up in the revolving restaurant on the 48th floor.
But who knows – this could be another Wicked. Now in its 10th year, it is also flimsy and loud and without merit. And ten years later folks are still lining up. There are a lot of tourists who want bang for their buck. They have watched so much reality TV that they want to see one of those shows in person. They don’t want a musical, they want a show.
This is a show. This is a spectacle. That is all. There is no passion. There is no obsession. And it ain’t thrilling.
"There’s no way to digitally airbrush away the hokum that pervades the whole show."
Charles Isherwood for New York Times
"An over-the-top bloody hoot."
Joe Dziemianowicz for New York Daily News
"The evening is a dispiriting slog."
Elisabeth Vincentelli for New York Post
"The bill for stage smoke must be a big one over at the Marquis Theatre. The stuff billows forth in unrelenting profusion... Unfortunately, it never achieves the critical mass necessary to obscure the proceedings."
Erik Haagensen for Back Stage
"I've seen a few worse shows ..., but none as dispiriting."
Robert Feldberg for The Record
"No-holds-barred bravado that results in a fiendishly entertaining show."
Michael Sommers for Newsroom Jersey
"Proves decidedly underwhelming, devoid of thrills or genuine emotion."
Frank Scheck for The Hollywood Reporter
External links to full reviews from popular press...