Off Broadway (and sometimes Broadway) Reviews and Information.

Friday, January 6, 2017

A Few Quick Notes Before We Dive Into the New Year

A few quick notes before we dive into the New Year.  The end of 2016 was hectic and, for me, a bit difficult. Therefore I missed posting about some shows that deserved a great deal of praise.  Two are still playing on Broadway and I want to give you the heads up that you should see them – although the praise of both has been pretty thorough.

First is Dear Evan Hansen 

Ben Platt and the cast of Dear Evan Hansen

It is easy, before seeing it, to strike Dear Evan Hansen as simply a teen angst musical. That observation is both true and woefully inadequate.  Dear Evan Hansen is a brilliant teen angst musical. And it is one that explores how we all react to tragedy and opportunity. It showcases our darkest fears and how we live with our actions. It features a breathtaking performance by lead actor Ben Platt and marvelous staging by David Korins and Peter Nigrini.  See it, it lives up to the hype.

The Second is Natasha and Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812

Josh Groban and Denee Benton as Pierre and Natasha
 If you are a fan of Off-Broadway, you may have seen this at one of the Ars Nova productions. I saw it in the tent in mid-town. The Great Comet is set in a Music Hall / Bar and so I wondered about the transition to Broadway. I am thrilled to say the transition has been done fabulously. The Imperial Theater has undergone a transformation reminiscent of Studio 54’swith Cabaret, and though the bones are obvious, the theatre feels fresh and alive.

The cast, mainly the same from Off-Broadway has been rejuvenated by the move to the Imperial and the addition of Denee Benton and Josh Groban.  Mr. Groban, aided by a fat suit, plays the depressed Pierre very well, making the most of his chances to shine, but not overwhelming the cast. Denee Benton is astonishing and captivating as Natasha. Her voice is excellent, but her presence is luminous and draws us into the show.  The supporting cast is never anything less than thrilling. It is a wonderful production.

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