REVIEW ROUNDUP: All the NOW. HERE. THIS. Reviews
NOW. HERE. THIS. opened last night at the Vineyard Theatre (108 East 15th Street). The critics are severely divided!
The show is the newest work from the creators and cast of the legendary musical [title of show], which had its Off-Broadway debut at The Vineyard in 2006 prior to its Broadway engagement in 2008.
Charles Isherwood, New York Times: The performers’ winning personas, Mr. Bowen’s frisky songs and the generous doses of off-kilter humor in the book by Mr. Bell and Ms. Blackwell help you to overlook the familiarity of the various rites of passage they enact. ... Those who click with this clique will find plenty in this new chapter of their story to keep them hooked. I’m a convert, I confess.
Michael Sommers, NewJerseyNewsRoom.com: The friendly inherent charm that the performers project -- goofy Hunter, finicky Jeff, sardonic Susan and forthright Heidi – compensates somewhat for the text’s meandering ways. ... Fans of “[title of show]” – and I am one of them – certainly will want to see what these crazy, talented kids are up to on their latest endeavor.
Elisabeth Vincenttelli, New York Post: Despite amusing lines and some tuneful numbers, the navel-gazing Now. Here. This. too often grates where its predecessor charmed. ... As so often happens when friends start reminiscing, the memories are meaningful mostly to them.
Steven Suskin, Variety: A polished and professional production that makes "[title of show]" look as though it were designed by a ninth-grade drama club. But at the end of the day, how many jokes do we want to hear about Hunter Bell's trouble finding a boyfriend? ... But although "Now. Here. This." is not aimless, it does leave you with a nagging feeling of "Should. We. Care."
David Sheward, Backstage: The creative personnel have taken on so much material and given it such a feel-good, crunchy-granola spin that the show comes across as more of an empowerment lecture than an entertainment. ... [The] individual pieces are fun and sometimes even moving—a sequence about the death of grandmothers was touching without being treacly—but they fail to coalesce into a satisfying whole.
Robert Feldberg, NorthJersey.com: Under the direction of Michael Berresse, the 90-minute show moves along snappily enough, and the performers – especially the pudgy, puckish Bell – are good company. But all of the self-revelation pushes them into the dangerous waters of seriousness and sentimentality. ... While the performers are too sharp-witted not to provide amusing moments, the show suggests how tone-deaf people can become when they go on and on about themselves.
Matthew Murray, Talking Broadway: [The cast are] so compelling in fact, operating under Berresse's light-handed staging, that you can't help but become invested in everything they say about their personal histories. The prospect of knowing these people when they were growing up is alluring, to be sure. But the more you dwell on it, the further away from the show you drift. After all, you're not living in the now, here, this any more than they are, something that makes the relevance and relatability of what they say and sing not cosmic than skin-deep.
We'll update this article with more reviews as they come in.
NOW. HERE. THIS. has a book by Hunter Bell and Susan Blackwell, music and lyrics by Jeff Bowen, and is based on a collaboration by Hunter Bell, Michael Berresse, Susan Blackwell, Heidi Blickenstaff, Jeff Bowen and Larry Pressgrove. Vocal arrangements are by Jeff Bowen and Larry Pressgrove. Orchestrations are by Larry Pressgrove and Rob Preuss. Musical direction is by Larry Pressgrove. Howard Joines is Music Coordinator. NOW. HERE. THIS. is directed and choreographed by Michael Berresse.
NOW. HERE. THIS. marks the return to The Vineyard of the ultra-talented team behind the Obie Award winning musical [title of show], which premiered at The Vineyard in 2006 and went on to an acclaimed, Tony-nominated Broadway run in 2008. The six original collaborators are back and all delving into life’s big questions with inimitable humor and humanity. The show explores birds, bees, reptiles, early man, ancient civilizations, and outer space. Also, loneliness, friendship, hoarding, hiding, laughing, living and dying. And middle school. And dinosaurs.
The design team for NOW. HERE. THIS. is Neil Patel (scenic design), Gregory Gale (costume design), Jeff Croiter and Grant Yeager (lighting design), ACME Sound Partners (sound design), and Richard DiBella (projection design). Martha Donaldson is Production Stage Manager.