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Review Roundup: The Public Theater's GIANT - All the Reviews!

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GIANT-Reviews-20010101

The Public Theater presents the New York premiere production of Giant, an epic love story with book by Sybille Pearson and music and lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa.

Based on the classic novel by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edna FerberGiant is a new American musical that spans generations in an epic chronicle of the state that's like no place else on earth: Texas. The show opened last night, November 15. Directed by Michael Greif, Giant runs through Sunday, December 2. Find out what the critics thought of the new musical below!

The complete cast of Giant features Enrique Acevedo (Miguel); Raul Aranas (Polo); Mary Bacon (Adarene, Mrs. Lynnton); Kate Baldwin (Leslie); Miguel Cervantes (Angel); Natalie Cortez (Juana); Rocio Del Mar Valles (Analita); John Dossett (Bawley); Jon Fletcher (Bobby Jr., Bobby Sr.); PJ Griffith (Jett); Michael Halling (Lord Karfrey, Lynnton); Brian d'Arcy James (Bick); Mackenzie Mauzy (Lil Luz); Doreen Montalvo (Lupe); Michele Pawk (Luz); Allison Rogers (Heidi, Lady Karfrey); Isabel Santiago (Deluvina); Martin Sola (DiModeo); Bobby Steggert (Jordy Jr.); Matthew Stocke (Mike); Katie Thompson (Vashti); and William Youmans (Pinkie).

Ben Brantley, The New York Times: Anyone who knows the work of its composer, Michael John LaChiusa, can be assured that the score will soar and swirl appropriately. The ambitious and inventive creator of "Hello Again" and "Marie Christine," Mr. LaChiusa can set notes to swooping and fluttering like wind-borne leaves in a storm. But there's another, countervailing force at work here: a mighty tug of gravity that keeps pulling the show down to earth and even threatens to bury it. That force is the weighty obligation of condensing a plot-packed, multigenerational doorstop of a novel - about big old, unruly Texas, to boot - into a work that floats through 3 hours 15 minutes of stage time. 

Thom Geier, Entertainment Weekly: Here [LaChiusa] rolls out hummable song after hummable song. The score is richly and satisfyingly complex, with each major character getting a musical motif or style. In the end, though, it is the story and its epic but human sweep that will draw you in. As in Ferber's novel, LaChiusa touches on themes that are both universal (the conflict between fathers and sons, the inevitability of death and loss) and particular (anti-Latino bigotry, Texas' transition from ranching to an oil-based economy). The overarching issue: Just how susceptible are we to change? (Grade: A)

Philip Boroff, Bloomberg: The redoubtable Brian d'Arcy James, Kate Baldwin and John Dossett lead a cast of 22 singing sumptuous melodies by Michael John LaChiusa. They're backed by a 17-piece orchestra, a rare luxury for off-Broadway. But before fantasizing about "Giant" gushing onto Broadway and upending the season's Tony Award derby -- as I did during those thrilling opening minutes -- be mindful of its excesses...too many peripheral characters bog down the story. Especially given Bruce Coughlin's sublime orchestrations for the 25 songs, too much of a good thing is still pretty good.

Terry Teachout, The Wall Street Journal: What I miss in this production is the strong sense of place that you take for granted in a western movie. As lovely as Mr. Moyer's set is, I wish it were dirtier, just as I wish that Mr. Greif had brought in a diction coach. These aren't quibbles, but in the end they don't matter, for the show comes through triumphantly in spite of them. Like "Oklahoma!" before it, "Giant" tells an all-American tale in a way that is well suited to the present moment. It's a myth, but an honest one, enacted with high seriousness and great beauty. This show is built to last.

Jennifer Farrar, Associated Press: Beware of allowing tradition to blind you to the benefits of progress. That's one message from the aptly-titled "Giant," the robust, polished, three-hour new musical that opened Thursday night at The Public Theater...Somehow Ferber's sprawling material has been wrangled into a generally cohesive, often-eloquent musical that retains her concern with social issues while examining 25 turbulent years.

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