We take a look at what critics have had to say about Lear deBessonet’s production starring Sara Bareilles and Gavin Creel.
The New York Times: “If the production’s style is minimal, it is never austere and on this mostly blank canvas, Lear deBessonet, aided by Lorin Latarro’s playful choreography, paints in rich and plentiful tones. Kindness is a watchword of deBessonet’s work, as seen in her many Public Works productions. A recognition of shared humanity, too. Here it seems to extend everywhere, to actors and audience both.”
Variety: “The revival that opened on Broadway Sunday night is not just a glorious lifeline for fans reawakening to the wonders of live performance after a long, dark hiatus. It’s a crystalline showcase for sensational performances from an all-star cast of marquee veterans, and a testament to the enduring genius of the beloved musical, now in its fourth Broadway incarnation since premiering in 1987. The biggest giant in the sky this time around is Sondheim himself, and exalting his legacy is the production’s unmistakable guiding principle.”
Deadline: “In a top-flight production, the 1986 musical is transcendent. And make no mistake: Whatever else this summer will be remembered for, we can say this: New Yorkers and visitors to this city currently have a chance to witness the transcendence of a musical theater masterpiece.”
New York Post: “You won’t soon forget Sara Bareilles’ perfect rendition of ‘Moments in the Woods’, a notoriously tricky song in which the Baker’s Wife tries to rationalise some taboo forest frolicking. The actress is so warm and thoughtful during the number, but also flies by the seat of her pants. I’ve never seen such a relatable interpretation — she’s the Baker’s Wife of Park Slope.”
Washington Post: “Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s urbane musical twist on fairy-tale endings gets a priceless Broadway revival.”
Hollywood Reporter: “David Rockwell’s simple but effective design initially consists of dollhouse versions of the homes of Cinderella, the Baker and Jack, suspended above their respective identifying props — a bucket, a pastry cart and a milking stool. But even those minimal elements disappear to be replaced by birch trunks and a shifting moon at the back of music director Rob Berman’s 14-piece orchestra, seated onstage behind the playing space. Hearing Jonathan Tunick’s shimmering orchestrations played — and sung — so exquisitely serves as a wonderful tribute to Sondheim, whose death last November left Broadway with an inconsolable sense of loss echoed in the somber moments of this show.”
Time Out: ★★★★ “True to its semi-concert roots, this production is low on spectacle. The trees of David Rockwell’s ghostly set are tall, pale, mottled tubes suspended from the ceiling over an onstage orchestra conducted with flair by Rob Berman. The choreography, by Lorin Latarro, is simple and well-judged. The costumes are a weak spot—even dialled up to Skittles brightness for the Broadway transfer, they are mostly dull and sometimes perversely indifferent to their function—but it hardly matters. The emphasis is on Sondheim’s twisting, punning, verbose score and on the easy charisma of the performers, who seem to be having an infectiously good time and who strike an expert balance between charming and sincere.”
New York Theatre Guide: ★★★★★ “Credit director Lear deBessonet for assembling a Broadway dream team (there have been changes since City Center) as well as her clear-eyed and uncluttered staging. The emphasis is squarely on the wall-to-wall wonders and wit of the script and score. Its familiar songs include ‘Children Will Listen’, ‘No More’, and ‘No One Is Alone’.
Vulture.com: “It’s an inventive piece of staging by deBessonet and her construction team and puppeteers. They give the lie to one more of those aphorisms: The difference between a cow and a bean / Is a bean can begin an adventure. So, it turns out, can anything, even a rare break of timing, the multi-million-dollar version of let’s-put-on-a-show scrappiness. Opportunity is not a lengthy visitor.”
The Wrap: “The stripped-down staging, with music director Rob Berman’s orchestra center stage and only the simplest of sets (by David Rockwell), certainly helps matters, and so does the star-studded cast of Tony winners (and some very talented newcomers) who seem to be vying mightily to steal the show from each other.”