THE HONEYMOONERS at Paper Mill Playhouse

The Honeymooners at Paper Mill Playhouse; Photo by Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade; from left to right: Leslie Kritzer (Alice), Laura Bell Bundy (Trixie), Michael Mastro (Norton) and Michael McGrath (Ralph)

**1/2

I wanted to like THE HONEYMOONERS, A New Musical Comedy. It has great characters played by great actors; just look at that cast! But what book writers Dusty Kay and Bill Nuss don’t know about the construction of a musical is stupefying. In the first act alone there are two big “let’s celebrate” numbers that are totally unearned. What the hell are they celebrating? All of the comedic “bits” from the original show are here, but they trot them out for display, rather than use them to any effect. The outcome is a string of TV sitcom episodes pasted together with songs thrown in to try to make a musical.

The second act is marginally satisfying, but the music is forgettable and the lyrics are clumsy. If you want to watch “The Honeymooners,” I would suggest YouTube. There are plenty of old episodes there for free. And let’s hope that the next projects for Michael McGrath, Leslie Kritzer, Laura Bell Bundy and Michael Mastro will be worthy of their estimable talents.

Show Site & Info

Show Clip

COME FROM AWAY

****1/2

First, let me put your mind at ease; although this musical takes place on 9/11/01 and the days following, this is NOT a musical about painful memories. It IS a joyous, good-will musical about 9,000 stoic, weather-beaten north islanders defrosting their hearts and opening their homes to give 7,000 displaced people accommodations and hospitality for a few days, and changing their lives in the process. This is the definition of a feel-good musical.

The music ranges from Celtic to pop show tunes. The stories are interesting and honest. The cast of 12 (not a chorus boy among them) play multiple roles as townsfolk and their stranded guests. Plus, it’s always a pleasure to see Jenn Colella and Chad Kimball perform. The Book, Music and Lyrics for COME FROM AWAY are by the husband & wife writing team Irene Sankoff and David Hein, based on their own experience and interviews. (See if you can spot their on-stage doppelgangers.)

This show had MANY out-of-town performances leading up to the Broadway run and it pays off with clockwork precision both in the delivery of the lines and songs. Under Christopher Ashley‘s direction, this cast knows what works and exactly how to milk it.

Clips from the Show

Show Info

Show Site

SWEENEY TODD

Jeremy Secomb and Siobhan McCarthy in The Tooting Arts Club production of Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Photo by Sara Krulwich.

****

A friend recently said to me “Oh, God! Not another SWEENEY TODD!” And I understand. I couldn’t sit thru another GYPSY. But aren’t we all waiting for that one SWEENEY that really terrifies us?

This SWEENEY may be teeny with only 8 Actors and 3 Musicians, but it is the first one that truly creeped me out. I found myself looking all around so I wouldn’t be startled at Mr. Todd’s final entrance. Not that this production is gruesome. There is actually less blood than most, but Jeremy Secomb and Siobhan McCarthy are such a lethal pair, I found myself wondering which one was responsible for “breaking down” the corpses.

This production was site specific in London, but we have to settle for “immersive” at the Barrow Street Theatre, which is gutted to create a pie shop. Pies are available pre-show and the dinner tables double as playing space. There are no mics, which is both irksome and exciting.

So this SWEENEY delivers on meat pies and mayhem, and when Norm Lewis and Carolee Carmello take over on April 11th, I may need to sit thru yet another performance of SWEENEY TODD. ; )

Show Site

Video about the production