Review Roundup: Off-Broadway's ATOMIC
The new Off-Broadway musical Atomic just opened last night at the Acorn Theatre/Theatre Row (410 West 42nd Street). Atomic makes its U.S. premiere after a wildly successful engagement in Sydney, Australia. With book & lyrics by Danny Ginges and Gregory Bonsignore, and music & lyrics by Philip Foxman, Atomic is choreographed by Greg Graham and directed by Damien Gray.
Atomic is the thrilling new Off-Broadway musical that blasts open the doors of The Manhattan Project, a Government funded program of top scientists with the task of creating the world's first Atomic Bomb. Leo Szilard is the mastermind behind atomic power, but his heart has reservations. Ethics, scientific progress, and true love are tested as Leo discovers exactly what he's capable of when someone believes in him. The cast includes David Abeles, Alexis Fishman, Sara Gettelfinger,Jonathan Hammond, Randy Harrison, Jeremy Kushnier, James David Larson, Euan Morton andGrace Stockdale.
Let's see what the critics had to say...
David Rooney, New York Times: The overstuffed show unfolds like a hurried bio-drama shoehorned inside a lost, guitar-and-synthesizer-heavy 1970s rock opera. Even if we didn't know what was coming, the climactic bomb-blast ballet - in which Japanese newlyweds are bam-kapowed by the tormented scientist who has failed to halt their city's destruction - would probably still feel ineffectual. There's more potential in a coda scene in which the Manhattan Project physicists share a bottle of red and mull the moral complexities of their legacy. But it's too late and too little to make this dud detonate.
Frank Scheck, NY Post: By the time a female scientist plaintively asks, "How do you say I'm sorry to the whole world?" the triviality of the enterprise has become overwhelming. The jokey "Atomic Survival Guide" in the program suggests theatergoers "crouch to the floor in front of you" in the event of an imminent explosion. In this case, it's better just to avoid the Acorn Theater.
Jesse Green, Vulture: Atomic is the kind of show the late Mary Rodgers famously called a why? musical: One that fills no conceivable need. Or am I mistaken: Did the story of the nuclear physicist Leó Szilárd, one of the tortured brains behind the Manhattan Project, cry out to be deepened with pseudo-Who power ballads like "The Atom Bomb Is Here"?
David Finkle, Huffington Post: since this is a musical, there's the music. It's something of a rock score during which every once in a while Kushnier, who has a solid belt, steps center stage--sometimes on a table--and, not unlike Idina Menzel in If/Then, delivers a power ballad with all his might. That just about every song he's given sounds like the one that preceded it isn't helpful, nor are the lyrics, which are rife with clumsy off rhymes. Neither Oscar Hammerstein nor Stephen Sondheim nor any other Golden Age lyricist you might mention would ever rhyme "office" with "nauseous"--especially since the correct adjective is 'nauseated."