On stage, ‘The Notebook’ remains a love story for the ages

Nicholas Sparks's novel, the 2004 film adaptation, and the new musical center on a couple who choose each other at every stage of life, even as they change.

Gillian Russo
Gillian Russo

The Notebook tickets transcends time in more ways than one. The romantic story, originally penned by Nicholas Sparks in 1996, follows one couple over 60-plus years of being pushed and pulled in and out of love. As a novel and as a 2004 film starring Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling, The Notebook continues to capture the hearts of new audiences.

The Broadway musical adaptation, which premiered at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre on February 10, aims to do the same. But this Notebook, adapted by Bekah Brunstetter and featuring an original score by singer/songwriter Ingrid Michaelson, approaches time a bit differently than its predecessors. Lovers Noah and Allie may “share a lifetime of love,” as the show’s own synopsis states, but many lives can happen in one lifetime.

“In a year, you can be about five different versions of yourself,” said Joy Woods, who stars in The Notebook as Allie. “Across the entire span of your life, the amount of people you will become is plenty.”

The musical takes that idea literally. Woods is one of three Allies in the show, appearing between Jordan Tyson as a younger version of the character and Maryann Plunkett as an older one. John Cardoza, Ryan Vasquez, and Dorian Harewood play a younger, middle, and older Noah.

“We’re watching and collaborating with each other, and on the other side, because [the characters are] in an era of life that’s unique, [our] true selves can shine as well,” Vasquez said.

The Notebook begins in the 20th-century American South, where Allie is an old-money heiress and Noah is a poor worker. That class divide, World War II, and personal tragedy are among the factors that get in the way of their fairytale romance. Each time the pair find each other again, years have passed, and they’ve changed as people.

Following the war, for example, Allie meets another man: a rich lawyer who happens to meet her family’s expectations while being caring and kind. Noah and Allie are challenged not only with repeatedly rediscovering each other, but reevaluating how — and if — the other person fits into the life they built in their absence.

“We’ve always cared a lot about Allie and her agency,” said Brunstetter. “It’s not just about what dude she’s going to be with; it’s bigger than that.”

Echoed Michaelson, “This is a life she’s choosing, not a relationship she’s choosing.”

Of course, romance is still front and center in The Notebook musical. Fans of the book and movie will see the famous kiss in the rain and hear plenty of romantic quotes. But these “sweeping moments that, especially as a young person, you dream about and imagine love to be,” as Cardoza described, aren’t the true focus of the story. It’s “the various types of love and loss you can experience within one relationship.”

That theme, the company agreed, is what makes The Notebook a love story for the ages. Even as Noah and Allie change time and time again, said Tyson, “they choose each other anyway.”

Get The Notebook tickets now.

Book Tickets CTA - LT/NYTG

Discover more spring preview content on New York Theatre Guide and learn about all the Broadway shows this season.

Photo credit: Maryann Plunkett, Joy Woods, and Jordan Tyson in The Notebook. (Photo by Liz Lauren)

Originally published on

Subscribe to our newsletter to unlock exclusive New York theatre updates!

Special offers, reviews and release dates for the best shows in town.

You can unsubscribe at any time. Privacy Policy