From least baffled, bored or bugged to most:
10. Kinky Boots
This show has become more beloved since yahoos condemned it during Thanksgiving. I always found it entertaining, in a Busby Berkeley sort of way, but it’s too by-the-numbers safe and familiar for me.
9. Waiting for Godot and No Man’s Land
One hesitates to apply the word “beloved” to these two difficult modernist classics, but most critics certainly gushed at the current Broadway productions running in repertory. I suspect this was primarily because of how charming (and beloved) their two stars, Sir Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen. They were a pair of muppets compared to the actors in other productions I’ve seen of Waiting for Godot, which were far more haunting, and, one feels, more true to a play written shortly after World War II during a period of increasing fears of nuclear annihilation.
As for No Man’s Land, it just baffled me.
8. The Last Five Years
While this musical about the unraveling of a marriage told backwards has never been a critical favorite, it is deeply beloved by many people whose judgment I respect. I didn’t hate it; there were a couple of lovely songs, some startling stage moments. It just didn’t move me the way it did the sobbing theatergoers seated around me.
Way too long for what it is, which is a self-consciously campy one-joke spoof, albeit partially redeemed by first-rate performers singing 70’s pop songs
6. I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat With Sue Mengers
I loved that Bette Midler wants to do theater again, but too many people made excuses for this clunker of a vehicle that brought her back to Broadway.
5. Murder Ballad
This deafening musical about a violent love triangle was so hip I nearly choked.
Yes, turning this musical into a circus makes it more entertaining. But, not having seen Pippin previously, I was shocked by its insipid story, an un-refreshing mix of child-like lessons about finding yourself with childish insertions of foul language and bawdy insinuations.
3. A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder
Targeting out-of-touch British aristocrats from the early twentieth century, is not just easy. It becomes tiresome — and at times disturbing.
I am puzzled by the excitement for this 70-minute acting exercise on such dramatically wobbly legs that it comes crashing down during its ludicrous ending.
1. Lucky Guy
Having worked at the newspapers depicted in Lucky Guy, I was personally offended by this love-fest for journalists who are depicted as sexist, reckless drunks. As with I’ll Eat You Last, this lame play got a free ride because of the excitement that greeted its star. Lucky Guy marked the Broadway debut of Tom Hanks, who is — yes — beloved.
Note: StageGrade is a site that aggregates critics’ reviews of New York theater, coming up with a consensus grade for each show. I list the StageGrade grades here to indicate how I deviated from the consensus.
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