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CHAPLIN Reviews

LimelightMike Profile Photo
LimelightMike
Broadway Legend
joined:6/21/06
CHAPLIN Reviews
Posted: 9/10/12 at 01:13am
Today is Monday, September 10, marking the official opening of the new musical Chaplin, depicting the life of screen legend Charlie Chaplin and chronicling the rise and fall of the infamous Little Tramp, playing the Barrymore Theatre.

Rob McClure stars, having previously originated the role of Chaplin in 2010 at La Jolla Playhouse, where the musical received its world premiere under the title of Limelight; that staging received Craig Noel Awards for Outstanding Lead Performance in a Musical (McClure) and Outstanding New Musical. Warren Carlyle, choreographer of the out-of-town tryout, returns as director and choreographer for Chaplin's Broadway bow.

Here's how producers characterize the new musical: "From the slums of London to the heights of Hollywood, Chaplin is the showbiz Broadway musical about the silent film legend the world couldn't stop talking about Charlie Chaplin. The brand new 24-person musical reveals the man behind the legend, the undeniable genius that forever changed the way America went to the movies."

LimelightMike's 2010-2011 Theatergoing Schedule: THE PITMEN PAINTERS (10.03.10) A LIFE IN THE THEATRE (10.10.10) BLOODY BLOODY ANDREW JACKSON (10.16.10) THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS (11.06.10) WOMEN ON THE VERGE OF A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN (11.13.10) BRIEF ENCOUNTER (11.22.10) THE PEE-WEE HERMAN SHOW (11.28.10) LA BETE (12.23.10) A SMALL FIRE (01.13.11) THAT CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON (03.09.11) ARCADIA (03.16.11) BLACK TIE (03.19.11) PRISCILLA: QUEEN OF THE DESERT (03.21.11) THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST (03.26.11) BENGAL TIGER AT THE BAGHDAD ZOO (03.30.11) GHETTO KLOWN (03.31.11) HOW TO SUCCEED... (04.07.11) ANYTHING GOES (04.12.11) JERUSALEM (04.20.11) SISTER ACT (04.29.11) iHO: (05.22.11)
wonkit
Broadway Legend
joined:9/30/08
CHAPLIN Reviews
Posted: 9/10/12 at 10:08am
I really enjoyed this show, and here's a big "break a leg" wish to cast, creatives and crew!
kyl3fong2 Profile Photo
kyl3fong2
Broadway Star
joined:3/10/11
CHAPLIN Reviews
Posted: 9/10/12 at 10:20am
Break a leg to everyone involved in this production!!
lightguy06222
Broadway Star
joined:12/3/06
CHAPLIN Reviews
Posted: 9/10/12 at 11:17am
what time is the show tonight?? 6:30?


anyone on here going?
Updated On: 9/10/12 at 11:17 AM
lynnetoomey
Understudy
joined:5/8/09
CHAPLIN Reviews
Posted: 9/10/12 at 06:40pm
AMNY (Windman)

You've probably seen worse musicals than "Chaplin," a forgettable biography of Charlie Chaplin. But how did this slow-paced and sentimental musical, which has the taste of a cup of coffee mixed with a dozen packets of sugar, make it to Broadway?

The songs of Christopher Curtis - who has previously written theme songs for the Discovery Channel - are occasionally tuneful but mostly tacky. Still, they are far better than the show's melodramatic and strange book.

A straightforward Act One observes Chaplin's rise to fame as the Little Tramp in broad brush strokes. Act Two depicts an increasingly political Chaplin waging battle with gossip columnist Hedda Hopper and courting of his fourth wife Oona O'Neill.

At least "Chaplin" provides a very nimble Rob McClure, who is best known as a replacement cast member in "Avenue Q," with a much deserved starring role.

McClure handles the role's physical demands with aplomb, including walking a tightrope, roller-skating and Chaplin's trademark shuffle. The cast is rounded out by Broadway regulars including Christiane Noll, who does her best with the odd role of Chaplin's mentally unstable mother; an energetic Michael McCormick as silent film icon Mack Sennett; and the quirky Jenn Colella as Hopper.

Despite a strange ensemble ballet where a chorus line dresses up like the Little Tramp, director-choreographer Warren Carlyle provides a somewhat professional staging designed with a black-and-white motif.

Even if "Chaplin" were a better crafted musical, it would still remain a mostly futile enterprise. Why see an impersonation of Chaplin instead of just watching Chaplin himself in his best films?
qolbinau Profile Photo
qolbinau
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/08
CHAPLIN Reviews
Posted: 9/10/12 at 06:42pm
ouch
tazber Profile Photo
tazber
Broadway Legend
joined:5/10/05
CHAPLIN Reviews
Posted: 9/10/12 at 08:02pm
That's pretty much what I expect. Not out and out pans, but general indifference and sense of "why?".

....but the world goes 'round
egghumor Profile Photo
egghumor
Broadway Legend
joined:3/9/11
CHAPLIN Reviews
Posted: 9/10/12 at 09:04pm
From CHICAGO TRIBUNE
Simplistic 'Chaplin' silences the magic of the Little Tramp
by Chris Jones
At the crucial emotional juncture of "Chaplin," the new musical about the Englishman who became, for a good while, the most famous movie star in the world, the character Charlie Chaplin sings of the pain that flows from declining interest in his work. "Now the world's changed to color, so what can you do?" goes Christopher Curtis' thudding lyric. "You're still black and white, so now you're old news."
Well, that's a deflating moment that crystallizes the fundamental problem at the Barrymore Theatre. Despite an enigmatic, career-making performance from Rob McClure in the title role, an earnest turn from Wayne Alan Wilcox as his tag-along brother Sydney, and an engaging performance from Erin Mackey as Chaplin's late-in-life love Oona, "Chaplin" is a musical where the material is just not up to the complexity of its enigmatic subject. It's impossible to believe that the creator of such masterpieces as "Modern Times" and "The Gold Rush" would express himself in such prosaic, cliched terms. He may not have spoken in his works, but he surely was thinking up a storm with every twitch of his Tramp's eyebrows.
Aside from the crippling limitations of its music and lyrics, "Chaplin," which features a biographical book by Curtis and Thomas Meehan and was directed with great efficiency but not enough depth by Warren Carlyle, ultimately disappoints because it makes the easier choice of picking an external villain in the gossip columnist Hedda Hopper, rather than really probing deeply into the dark side of Chaplin himself, whose clout and interest in very young women led to a string of wives, lawsuits and even an attempted prosecution under the Mann Act, designed to prevent human trafficking.
I's true that Hopper, a notoriously nasty namer of names in the McCarthy era, went after Chaplin's lefty politics and sleazy love life, leading to his being denied a re-entry permit into the United States in the early 1950s. But in this show, Jenn Collella's Hedda warbles like Cruella De Vil, determined to take down Chaplin from his Hollywood pedestal, apparently in a fit of pique after he refuses to appear on her radio show. Some broad simplifications were perhaps inevitable; but this is all too melodramatic, especially since Chaplin had enough demons to serve as his own antagonist.

You might think that the trickiest and most daunting thing about a stage musical about Chaplin would be trying to replicate the actual, famous comedy sequences. Thanks to McClure, whose performance deftly captures the crucial intersection of physical precision and the darkness of the comedian's soul, those all-too-brief scenes are actually the strongest and most appealing aspects of the show, especially since the designer, Beowulf Borritt, has come up with a plethora of clever tricks to segue vintage film and live performance.
McClure, we quickly grasp, has Chaplin's skills down cold and thus one craves seeing more of the process which this fine performer surely could replicate in considerable detail. Yet he never really gets the chance to dissect his chap doing what he most famously did his brilliant observed and hilarious silent movies. The show has a huge biographical sweep as its agenda and Chaplin's life and times were busy, so it glosses over most of the great silent shorts and features, even though they are, to a large extent, what people would want to see.
The book of the musical spends most of its time probing Chaplin's lifelong pain over his inability to communicate with his mentally ill mother (played, with some poignancy if not full clarity, by Christiane Noll), a onetime music-hall performer who put her cute son on the London stage, if only to cover her own inadequacies. That's fair enough; it explains a lot about Chaplin. And, in what's by far the best segment of the show, McClure sings a touching number to his mother about his life, after she asks him, caught in the grip of memory loss, what happened to her little boy. It will resonate with many folks with struggling elderly parents. But it's a brief oasis of stillness and intensity in a newsreel swirl.
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loliveve
Broadway Star
joined:6/24/12
CHAPLIN Reviews
Posted: 9/10/12 at 09:39pm
The Philadelphia Inquirer seems POSITIVE, especially Rob McClure: "In the new musical Chaplin, which is every bit as entertaining as Charlie Chaplin himself, Rob McClure portrays the film genius with an irresistible sweetness, like candy you can't - and don't want to - stop eating."

Philly Inquirier
lynnetoomey
Understudy
joined:5/8/09
aaronb Profile Photo
aaronb
Broadway Star
joined:6/3/12
CHAPLIN Reviews
Posted: 9/10/12 at 09:59pm
McClure was good, but otherwise I thought it was pretty forgettable. You can read my review here: http://scribicide.com/2012/09/10/lets-rehearse-your-song/
Check out my theater blog, http://www.scribicide.com
kyl3fong2 Profile Photo
kyl3fong2
Broadway Star
joined:3/10/11
CHAPLIN Reviews
Posted: 9/10/12 at 10:08pm
Any chance McClure will get a Tony nom for his performance you think?
egghumor Profile Photo
egghumor
Broadway Legend
joined:3/9/11
CHAPLIN Reviews
Posted: 9/10/12 at 10:18pm
There's a good chance for Rob McClure to snag a Tony nomination, but that will be the ONLY one to come from this show. Actors and other show elements that get good notices still have hard time being remembered at Tony time when they open this early in the season. McClure's reviews thus far are strong enough to help him be included next spring.
kyl3fong2 Profile Photo
kyl3fong2
Broadway Star
joined:3/10/11
CHAPLIN Reviews
Posted: 9/10/12 at 10:24pm
I see...he was the only memorable and good part about this show when I went to see it. I think he at least deserves a nomination for his performance, but I agree, nothing else in this production will.
aaronb Profile Photo
aaronb
Broadway Star
joined:6/3/12
CHAPLIN Reviews
Posted: 9/10/12 at 10:27pm
I think he deserves a nomination...and maybe the costume design as well? I did like the grayscale.
Check out my theater blog, http://www.scribicide.com
broadwayman17
Broadway Star
joined:10/27/07
CHAPLIN Reviews
Posted: 9/10/12 at 10:28pm
EW: C+
"Even without 'Smile,' though, this musical about the life and times of Charlie Chaplin is a curiously flat affair. Composer-lyricist Christopher Curtis whose Playbill bio credits him with 'the theme songs for the Discovery Channel ('A Wedding Story,' 'Travelers,' 'On the Inside')' has a written a series of pleasant but utterly forgettable songs with titles like 'What'cha Gonna Do?' and 'Where Are All the People?' And he's strung them together with a by-the-numbers book (co-written with Thomas Meehan) that's burdened with so many childhood flashbacks that the show never gets any forward momentum."
http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20364394_20628663.00.html
Yes, but sometimes people have a third deeper layer thats the same as the first. Like pie. Dr. Horrible
egghumor Profile Photo
egghumor
Broadway Legend
joined:3/9/11
CHAPLIN Reviews
Posted: 9/10/12 at 10:31pm
aaronb, I enjoyed reading your review. Well done.
chrisampm2
Broadway Star
joined:5/26/07
CHAPLIN Reviews
Posted: 9/10/12 at 10:32pm
Guys, there aren't an unlimited number of Tony nominations. This second opening of the season seems a bit early to declare uncategorically that any nom is deserved.
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jv92
Broadway Legend
joined:11/4/05
CHAPLIN Reviews
Posted: 9/10/12 at 10:33pm
I would agree with chrisampm. It's September!
egghumor Profile Photo
egghumor
Broadway Legend
joined:3/9/11
CHAPLIN Reviews
Posted: 9/10/12 at 10:38pm
Someone here asked the question about a possible Tony nomination. Just offering an opinion, and mentioning the fact that it's quite early in the season yet.

Are you saying McClure will not likely be nominated?

Updated On: 9/10/12 at 10:38 PM
ACL2006 Profile Photo
ACL2006
Broadway Legend
joined:2/11/06
CHAPLIN Reviews
Posted: 9/10/12 at 10:47pm
will this make it past the New Year??
A Chorus Line played its final Broadway performance on August 17, 2008. The tour played its final performance on August 21, 2011. A new non-equity tour started in October 2012 played its final performance on March 23, 2013.
kyl3fong2 Profile Photo
kyl3fong2
Broadway Star
joined:3/10/11
CHAPLIN Reviews
Posted: 9/10/12 at 10:55pm
Still no NYTimes review?
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jeffmiele
Broadway Star
joined:11/6/07
CHAPLIN Reviews
Posted: 9/10/12 at 10:57pm
chrisampm2
Broadway Star
joined:5/26/07
CHAPLIN Reviews
Posted: 9/10/12 at 10:59pm
Updated On: 9/10/12 at 10:59 PM
Kad Profile Photo
Kad
Broadway Legend
joined:11/5/05
CHAPLIN Reviews
Posted: 9/10/12 at 11:05pm
That... is not very mixed. It's pretty negative. He has few words of praise.
ACL2006 Profile Photo
ACL2006
Broadway Legend
joined:2/11/06
CHAPLIN Reviews
Posted: 9/10/12 at 11:06pm
mixed review from the NY Times??
A Chorus Line played its final Broadway performance on August 17, 2008. The tour played its final performance on August 21, 2011. A new non-equity tour started in October 2012 played its final performance on March 23, 2013.

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