Review Roundup: World Premiere of SOUSATZKA in Toronto - All The Reviews!
The reportedly Broadway-bound, world premiere engagement of SOUSATZKA, with book by Craig Lucas, music by David Shire, and lyrics by Richard Maltby, Jr., based on the original novel "Madame Sousatzka" by Bernice Rubens, opened last night in Toronto! Directed by Adrian Noble and choreographed by Graciela Daniele, the production stars Victoria Clark, Montego Glover, Judy Kaye and Jordan Barrow.
Based on the original novel Madame Sousatzka, written by Bernice Rubens, Sousatzka is set in London, England in 1982 and tells the story of a musical prodigy torn between two powerful women from vastly different worlds: his mother, a political refugee from South Africa and his piano teacher, a brilliant eccentric with a shattered past. These two proud, iconoclastic women must ultimately cross cultural and racial divides to find common ground, or else jeopardize the young musician's destiny. SOUSATZKA, with its inspirational story of art and music as a tool for change and healing, could not be a more prescient response to the current global attitude towards refugees.
Let's see what the critics had to say!
J. Kelly Nestruck, The Globe and Mail: "On the whole, I did admire the ambition behind Sousatzka. If you were to walk into a rehearsal room and listen to a sing-through of this version, you might be impressed by a work that attempts to grapple with big themes and big issues. But as a full production that's billing itself as "prior to Broadway," however, it's a disappointment. Drabinsky's done a disservice to his show by shining too big a spotlight on it before it's ready, which is exactly what Madame Sousatzka warns against in regards to Themba, incidentally."
Karen Fricker, The Toronto Star: "Sousatzka, simply and sadly put, is an overproduced, overcomplicated mess, hobbled by a weak book and lyrics and even weaker music. The attempt is to tell a grand, sweeping story, but plot and character points are narrated (indeed, hammered home) rather than embodied."
Alan Henry, BroadwayWorld: "Somewhere in the mess, there's bound to be a good show. Despite the hype Sousatzkais neither a tear jerker nor a feel good show. The creatives and producers need to decide which story they're trying to tell: a story of serious political conflicts or the romanticized coming of age story of the prodigy piano player and his eccentric teacher."
Wayne Leung, Mooney on Theatre: "Similarly, the show's approach to showing the oppression of both Apartheid South Africa and Nazi-occupied Poland is heavy-handed to the point of being off-putting. Graphic historical images from the Anti-Apartheid demonstrations are projected on the stage at the beginning of the show and later portraits of holocaust victims are projected throughout the theatre. I definitely found those moments exploitative, like the director is trying to manipulate the audience into feeling big emotions that aren't earned."
Carly Maga, Variety: "Drabinsky was right about one thing: A story about a Holocaust survivor and an apartheid survivor bonding through music is certainly one worth exploring. But this "Sousatzka" doesn't seem the best way to do it."
Stay tuned for more reviews as they become available!