Review Roundup: HONEYMOON IN VEGAS at Paper Mill Playhouse- UPDATED!
Paper Mill Playhouse has launched its 75th Anniversary Season with the world-premiere, Broadway-bound musical Honeymoon in Vegas, based on the Castle Rock Entertainment motion picture of the same title. Honeymoon in Vegas features music and lyrics by Tony Award winner Jason Robert Brown(The Last Five Years, Parade, 13) and book by Andrew Bergman (director and screenwriter of the film).
Honeymoon in Vegas stars television, screen and stage icon Tony Danza (Who's the Boss?, Taxi, The Producers, A View From The Bridge, The Iceman Cometh) as Tommy Korman, a widowed and unscrupulous gambler looking for another shot at love. Leading the company are Tony nominee Rob McClure (Chaplin) as Jack Singer, Brynn O'Malley (Annie) as Betsy Nolan, Tony nominee Nancy Opel(Memphis, Urinetown) as Bea Singer, Matthew Saldivar (Peter and the Starcatcher) as Johnny Sandwich and David Josefsberg (Wedding Singer) as Tony Rocky/Roy Bacon.
Let's see what the critics had to say...
Michael Dale, BroadwayWorld: Honeymoon In Vegas, based on bookwriter Andrew Bergman's original screenplay for the hit 1992 film, comes to the Paper Mill Playhouse in director Gary Griffin's slick and polished, fast-moving production that has old-school Broadway smash written all over it. It's a little Rat Pack, a little Don Ho, a little New York neuroticism and a whole lot of laughter.
Joe Dziemianowicz, NY Daily News: Director Gary Griffin's production has its eye on Broadway. There's work to do: Pruning an overlong airport-counter scene could tighten it and quicken the pace. Even more urgent, "Vegas" still needs a knock-your-socks-off Wow! number. That'll up the ante and help "Vegas" hit the jackpot.
Frank Scheck, NY Post: As McClure proved last year in Broadway's "Chaplin," he's terrific at physical comedy, and here he also mines big laughs with his increasingly manic line readings. The lissome O'Malley (late of "Annie") brings real charm to her role, and Opel and Matthew Saldivar are a riot as, respectively, the Jewish mother who keeps popping up after her death and Tommy's buffoonish henchman, Johnny Sandwich ("I changed it from Focaccia," he explains).
Peter Fillchia, Daily Record: Many movies that become musicals stink, but this one actually improves on the original. Andrew Bergman, the film's writer and director, has stayed on to deepen it with a few added character traits and plot elements. He's also wisely expanded the role of the mother, who is fortunately played by Nancy Opel, Broadway's favorite crazy-lady character actress. And because it's Vegas, Brown has written songs that have that nice 'n' easy swing. Tom Murray's baton keeps the tempos apt, especially for David Josefsberg. He perfectly apes those lounge-act singers who know why they're not playing the big room but try to keep secret their lack of talent that from the customers.
Jim Beckerman, NorthJersey.com: The true star of "Honeymoon in Vegas" doesn't dance, doesn't act, doesn't belt out a song surrounded by Vegas showgirls or wear a rhinestone Elvis suit. But with apologies to a stageful of highly talented people who do all those things, it is composer-lyricist Jason Robert Brown who is the real hero of this - rather unexpectedly - terrific new musical now making a stop at Paper Mill Playhouse on its way to a possible Broadway run.
Ronnie Reich, Star Ledger: Opening the season at the Paper Mill Playhouse, the new musical pulls out all the stops to entertain, and it often succeeds.
Jeremy Gerard, Bloomberg: "Honeymoon in Vegas" doesn't always know whether it's comedy or parody, a problem that mostly affects the character of Tommy: Is he a gangster creep or just a lonely widower used to getting his way? But Gary Griffin's fleet staging, Denis Jones's stylish dances and a fabulous big band conducted by Tom Murray come alive in Anna Louizos's typically cheeky settings and Brian Hemesath's spot-on costumes. "Honeymoon" is a winner.
Ben Brantley, New York Times: So will this Vegas come to Broadway, where it belongs? One of the lessons of the ill-fated poker game that is central to this show is that nothing is a sure bet. But "Honeymoon," bless its double-dealing heart, sure comes close to feeling like one.