Revivals and Movie Musicals Take Over Broadway
A Chat with the Critics about “Evita,” “Newsies” and “Once.”
Friday, April 13, 2012
Chances are if you see a Broadway musical, it's something you've already seen. The selections include many Off-Broadway transfers, revivals and movies made into stage musicals. Broadway veteran composers Andrew Lloyd Weber ("Phantom of The Opera," "Evita," "Jesus Christ Superstar") and Alan Menken, ("Newsies," "Sister Act," "Leap of Faith") both have a record three productions running.
WNYC invited Elisabeth Vincentelli, of The New York Post, and Scott Brown, of New York Magazine, to give us their reviews of three musicals — “Evita,” “Newsies” and “Once” — that are getting some buzz ahead of this year's Tony Awards ceremony on June 10.
The life, rise to power and eventual tragic death of legendary Argentine first lady Eva Peron was first brought to Broadway in 1979, starring Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin. The revival brings pop star Ricky Martin, Michael Cerveris and Argentine actress Elena Silvia Roger to the stage.
“It's what Broadway does best and it’s kind of weird to say that because we kind of forgot what Broadway does best because Broadway has been really sucking at being Broadway lately. They can't seem to get a big flashy musical right. This one gets it right.” —Elisabeth Vincentelli
“I don't think it's bad. I think it falls down for me on the intimacy. My overall impression of ‘Evita’ is people standing in individual pools of light completely isolated from each other.” —Scott Brown
Based loosely on historical events, Disney's 'Newsies' brings a 1899 newsboy strike against the publishing titans of Pulitzer and Hearst dancing and singing through the streets of New York. A 1992 flop of a film, 'Newsies' was tweaked and brought to Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey before opening in a limited run on Broadway.
“In Disney terms, this seems impromptu. It's really rare on Broadway to hear an ensemble, to hear all male voices and that's refreshing.” —Elisabeth Vincentelli
“It's an excellent production, but there are some things about it that I would object to. They milk the Alan Menken compositions to death.” — Scott Brown
Once is based on the Academy Award-winning film of the same name about an Irish musician and a Czech immigrant drawn together by their love of music in Dublin.
“It's the sensitive, folky musical we've all been waiting for. I love it. I cried twice. I think it's romantic without being overly sappy and staged inventively.” —Elisabeth Vincentelli
“I enjoy being manipulated by a certain aesthetic. I'm not above it. People are going to react either very positively or negatively to ‘Once.’ It's not a traditional rock musical.” —Scott Brown