Act One reviews

ethan231h
Broadway Star
joined:5/5/11
Act One reviews
Posted: 4/16/14 at 09:37pm
Post em here!

Updated On: 4/17/14 at 09:37 PM
bjh2114
Broadway Legend
joined:4/19/06
Act One reviews
Posted: 4/17/14 at 05:43pm
NBC New York is mixed:

"Likeable performances will also keep you engaged throughout. Santino Fontana gives Hart a lightness and charm that’s impossible to root against. Shalhoub and Martin are great in their various roles, bringing uniqueness and distinction to their characters. Shalhoub is particularly effective as Kaufman, portraying him as a neurotic, twitchy, germaphobe genius, not unlike the character he played to great-acclaim (and three Emmy awards) on “Monk.” Martin brightens up the stage each time she steps foot on it, finding the laughs in all three of her roles, as expected. But it’s her tender take on Aunt Kate where you’ll really fall in love.

Regardless of how good Shalhoub and Martin are, though, one does have to question Lapine’s decision to have them each play three roles. For example, by casting Shalhoub as Hart’s father, Kaufman and an older Hart, I suppose we’re to understand that these two men helped influence and shape who Hart eventually became. Problem is, Hart shows little-to-no respect towards his father in the show, and never seems to connect with Kaufman beyond the work. So how much have they really shaped him?"


http://www.nbcnewyork.com/entertainment/the-scene/Review-Act-One-Scores-in-Second-Act-255622821.html
bjh2114
Broadway Legend
joined:4/19/06
Act One reviews
Posted: 4/17/14 at 08:01pm
Matthew Murray is mixed:

"Andrea Martin angles a bit broad as the loving Aunt Kate, but pulls herself back to deliver satisfying turns as agent Frieda Fishbein and Kaufman's wife, Beatrice. Shalhoub is rockier, tasked perhaps with playing too many conflicting characters (he's also Moss's father) without strongly differentiating them, and moving from the adult Moss to his cloudy Kaufman in mere seconds induces a whiplash of confusion. Supporting actors, who include Mimi Lieber as Moss's mother, Will LeBow as Augustus Pitou and Jed Harris, Chuck Cooper as Max Siegel and the actor Charles Gilpin, and Matthew Saldivar as a dreadfully miscast Irish actor in Moss's comic-western debut, fare much better.

It's when the unique personalities of pre-Depression New York shine through most brightly that Act One fares best; you feel closest to not just Moss but Hart, and the aborning cultural sensation that so captivated them both. It's difficult not to wish that Lapine had subjected the script to the same rigorous fat-cutting that his version of Kaufman insists upon (ad nauseam) for Once in a Lifetime, but if a story must be this robotically familiar, you could do worse than to have too much of Hart's good thing."


http://www.talkinbroadway.com/world/index.html
Updated On: 4/17/14 at 08:01 PM
bjh2114
Broadway Legend
joined:4/19/06
Act One reviews
Posted: 4/17/14 at 09:20pm
Vulture is negative:

"Perhaps Lapine, who also directs the production, has been too loyal to the book, preserving more of its beloved anecdotes than he could satisfyingly shape. Certainly he has been too loyal to the heirs who permitted the adaptation. His Hart is shiny and confident, a man whose tortured upbringing is nothing more than a rotogravure memory. Fontana, who carries most of the load of portraying Hart, is too attractive an actor to suggest on his own, with no textual support, the man’s twisted self-doubt and manias; even the final scene, a rampage that reads like a mental breakdown in the book, is presented here at face value, as a liberation from poverty. If the unexamined psychopathology of the original renders it floridly disagreeable, the play is oddly enervated, with no pathology at all. It’s just busy build-up and no emotional payoff, like a musical without the numbers. (There is, however, delightful live piano music, by Louis Rosen.) Act One is still a love letter to the theater: I smiled through most of it. But it’s a love letter written in disappearing ink."

http://www.vulture.com/2014/04/theater-review-act-one.html
Updated On: 4/17/14 at 09:20 PM
iluvtheatertrash
Broadway Legend
joined:11/9/04
Act One reviews
Posted: 4/17/14 at 10:31pm
Lots more nice notices than I expected... I really thought it a snooze-fest.
"I know now that theatre saved my life." - Susan Stroman
ethan231h
Broadway Star
joined:5/5/11
Act One reviews
Posted: 4/17/14 at 10:44pm
Just got back from the opening performance!
Thought it was great! it could win best play!
bjh2114
Broadway Legend
joined:4/19/06
Act One reviews
Posted: 4/17/14 at 10:50pm
Newsday is mixed to negative:

"Lapine, whose own distinguished career includes collaborating with Stephen Sondheim on "Sunday in the Park with George" and "Into the Woods," seldom captures the urgency in the storytelling here. The big cast is adept but scattered, with most actors playing two and three finely-drawn but overly familiar types. Life brightens, however, whenever Martin buzzes through as the live-wire literary agent, Frieda Fishbein.

Fontana has a compelling earnest energy as Hart as the young artist. His budding relationship with the veteran Kaufman, which flourishes in the second act, is the most beguiling part of this problematic play obsessed with the fixing of a troubled play. Shaloub, a marvelous character actor, finds a way to find comedy in another seriously-disturbed man without mimicking the character he played on TV's "Monk." Both actors share narration as the young and the older, debonair Hart.

What will be remembered from this memory play, however, is Beowulf Boritt's splendid, cunning turntable set, which spins us around locations from Hart's hardscrabble roots to his high life like an enormous carousel. If only the story could spin like that."


http://www.newsday.com/entertainment/theater/act-one-review-hart-but-not-much-drama-1.7728116
bjh2114
Broadway Legend
joined:4/19/06
Act One reviews
Posted: 4/17/14 at 10:52pm
The AP is positive:

"Boritt's revolving three-story set spins like a globe that contains apartments, offices, bars and a large theater stage. It has staircases, tenements, grand ballrooms and Broadway marquees. It defies logic. It's like a M.C. Escher painting come to life.

This is ultimately a valentine to the theater and the poor folk who work so hard at it. It's also a celebration of a remarkable man, whose stories sometimes seem too good to be true. And he knows it: "Let's face it," Hart winkingly tells us in Act 1, "life often imitates bad plays." But this is a good play that does his life justice."


http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/wireStory/review-act-sweet-ode-theater-23372545
bjh2114
Broadway Legend
joined:4/19/06
Act One reviews
Posted: 4/17/14 at 10:54pm
LA Times is mixed:

"But on stage this roller coaster journey, unable to induce butterflies of excitement, seems unduly repetitive. The book hasn't been distilled into a workable dramatic form. But then artists blundering through the process of creation, with its false starts and agonizing reversals, isn't the most inherently theatrical of subjects.

On a giant turntable set, designed by Beowulf Boritt (no doubt planned with Lapine as a homage to Hart's signature method of staging such classics as "My Fair Lady" and "Camelot"), the story whirls about in a rapid succession of scenes that could desperately use another round of editing. A person could get dizzy watching this merry-go-round, especially with Louis Rosen's somewhat heavy-handed music intensifying the sense of vertigo.

But there are rewards to the production. Three actors play Moss Hart: Matthew Schechter is young Hart, Tony Shalhoub is the older Hart looking back, and Santino Fontana is the anxious, eager-beaver acolyte Hart determined to conquer the Great White Way. All three are terrific, but Shalhoub, who also plays Hart's father as well as a highly neurotic George S. Kaufman (who has some of the same compulsive tendencies as Shalhoub's TV character Monk) is outstanding."


http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/culture/la-et-cm-act-one-review-20140418,0,290866.story#axzz2zCcs0ojk
loliveve
Broadway Star
joined:6/24/12
Act One reviews
Posted: 4/17/14 at 10:55pm
revolving three-story set spins like a globe...

Was the set really 3 stories? I remember two... Regardless, I thought the set design was gorgeous!
bjh2114
Broadway Legend
joined:4/19/06
Act One reviews
Posted: 4/17/14 at 10:57pm
Variety is mixed to negative bordering on just negative:

"But while Shalhoub and Fontana have perfected their comic routine — with Hart coming up with the big ideas and Kaufman cutting them down to size — it soon settles into a repetitive pattern. A cocktail party with notable wits Dorothy Parker and Alexander Woollcott among the guests (all fashionably dressed in Jane Greenwood’s stylish period costumes) is a rare and welcome break from the endless typing and talking and talking and typing. But for the most part, there’s no dramatic correlation between the manuscript pages flying out of the typewriter and the finished scenes onstage.

There is one wonderful moment in Act Two, however, when Lapine shows us what might have been. As Kaufman and Hart sit at the typewriter up in their office, picking and poking at a problematical scene in the play, down below, a trio of actors playing the three vaudevillians for whom the dialogue is being written keep stopping to reset their lines, as dictated from above. It’s clever, it’s witty, it’s a very, very funny scene. And if George S. Kaufman were really looking down from above, there might have been a lot more of them in this play."


http://variety.com/2014/legit/reviews/broadway-review-act-one-starring-tony-shalhoub-1201159101/
bjh2114
Broadway Legend
joined:4/19/06
Act One reviews
Posted: 4/17/14 at 10:59pm
Chicago Tribune is mixed to negative:

"Part of the problem here lies with Lapine's self-directed adaptation which, although understandably faithful to its justly beloved source, does not theatricalize it sufficiently — an issue laid bare at one point in the second act when various influential figures in Hart's life are seen at one of his openings, popping up with words of support followed by signing off with their names, even though we all know very well who they are, being that we've been watching them all night. Since Hart's story uses up many characters on the hero's journey to good fortune, Lapine has forged an elaborate doubling and tripling scheme that requires Tony Shalhoub, the show's star, to play Moss Hart himself, Barnett Hart (Moss' dark, self-loathing father) and George S. Kaufman, the more established playwright with whom Hart was thrilled to collaborate on the comic masterpiece "Once in a Lifetime" — the back story behind which takes up much of the stage time.

This, frankly, turns out to be too much of a burden for Shalhoub, who is delightfully droll as the brilliantly neurotic Kaufman (it's a beautifully admiring bit of acting and great fun to watch) but much less secure as the narrator and as the elder Hart, a British immigrant whose dreams and masculinity are stymied by extreme poverty. It's not so much that those characterizations are weak; more that you strangely resist having to watch the same guy play all these roles, especially as part of a 22-strong company of actors. (Mime Lieber is admirably rooted as Hart's long-suffering mother, Lillie.) Santino Fontana is on hand to play the younger Hart — at times, he and Shalhoub go at the narrative role together — and Fontana is fine and boyishly charming as far as that all (and he) goes, but you're still left with the sense that the storytelling device has not been cracked."


http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/theater/ct-ent-0418-act-one-broadway-review-20140417,0,2311871.column
bjh2114
Broadway Legend
joined:4/19/06
Act One reviews
Posted: 4/17/14 at 11:01pm
Hollywood Reporter is negative:

"But Lapine seems unable to make the hard choices about what to remove. As a play, Act One remains entirely imprisoned on the page from its earliest scenes. As soon as you appoint two actors to play Hart – as an eager youth looking forward (Santino Fontana) and a wiser adult looking back (Tony Shalhoub) – and give them dueling narrator chores, you're in trouble. Every time one of them steps forward to spout another line of cumbersome linking dialogue ("Lo and behold, the next morning…") any theatrical air the play has managed to inhale quickly escapes.

Another key problem early on is the characterization of Aunt Kate in Andrea Martin's hammy performance. In the book she's an incurable romantic, charming in her cultivated eccentricity. Onstage she's a selfish snob, waltzing off to matinees while sniffing disdainfully at the paying boarders, and refusing to contribute financially to the struggling household or to lend a hand to her drudge of a sister (Mimi Lieber). When Moss' Cockney father (Shalhoub again, in one of three roles) kicks her out, you're on his side, not that of his distraught young son (Matthew Schechter)."


http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/review/act-one-theater-review-697276
bjh2114
Broadway Legend
joined:4/19/06
Act One reviews
Posted: 4/17/14 at 11:05pm
NY Times is Brantley and it's positive:

"In any case, I’m not going to quarrel with any device that allows us to see Mr. Shalhoub’s Kaufman. Mr. Shalhoub doesn’t look much like the real thing, yet he weaves impeccably calibrated physical tics and vocal inflections into a portrait of a divine eccentric that matches exactly the Kaufman described by Hart in “Act One.” And to watch Mr. Fontana’s Hart sharing the labor pains of creation with Mr. Shalhoub’s Kaufman is to witness this season’s most electric onstage chemistry. (Sorry, “Bridges of Madison County.”)

Well, unless you count the chemistry between Moss and Moss. Without spelling them out overtly, the differences between Mr. Fontana’s and Mr. Shalhoub’s allows us to assess both the blessing and the toll of answered prayers.

I was happy to note, though, that the two Mosses pronounce one word in exactly the same way. That’s “theater,” with the accent on the first syllable, a palate-tickling middle “t” and the unironic devoutness of a true believer."


http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/18/theater/several-moss-harts-are-in-act-one-at-lincoln-center.html?_r=0
Kad
Broadway Legend
joined:11/5/05
Act One reviews
Posted: 4/17/14 at 11:13pm
Half of that review seems like Brantley desperately telling people that he really does like theatre, he swears.
jnb9872
Broadway Legend
joined:11/24/08
Act One reviews
Posted: 4/17/14 at 11:25pm
I swear, it feels like I can't remember the last Brantley review that more about Brantley somehow than the show he's reviewing.

Even when I agree with his views on the shows, he's become a chore to read.
Words don't deserve that kind of malarkey. They're innocent, neutral, precise, standing for this, describing that, meaning the other, so if you look after them you can build bridges across incomprehension and chaos. But when they get their corners knocked off, they're no good anymore…I don't think writers are sacred, but words are. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.
MadsonMelo
Swing
joined:3/24/14
Act One reviews
Posted: 4/17/14 at 11:32pm
so, this time he's the only one who actually liked the play? LOL
RippedMan
Broadway Legend
joined:8/14/05
Act One reviews
Posted: 4/19/14 at 06:39pm
Has anyone sat in the side sections of the LCT for this show? Is it an okay view?
ethan231h
Broadway Star
joined:5/5/11
Act One reviews
Posted: 4/19/14 at 08:35pm
I sat there opening night i thought it was good not great but good the way the beautifully designed set was presented on stage you don't really miss anything important!
Rinaldo
Chorus Member
joined:5/5/09
Act One reviews
Posted: 4/20/14 at 11:55am
I recall, seeing it in previews, thinking that I could easily imagine reviews that were all positive, all negative, or any mixture in between. (I know, that's true in some sense of most shows, but I was especially conscious that it was possible to see this one in a variety of valid ways.) One can enjoy the entertaining anecdotes and rags-to-riches story and how-a-play-is-improved insidery bits, as well as the two great lead performances. Or one can notice that it hasn't been given any real shaping beyond this-happened-and-then-this, that characters come and go without leaving any real mark, that the audience isn't being made to care unless they arrived already caring because they remember the book fondly (as I did). Both extremes are true.
RippedMan
Broadway Legend
joined:8/14/05
Act One reviews
Posted: 4/25/14 at 11:35pm
I saw this tonight, and I don't know about everyone else but i LOVED it. It just impacted me on such an emotional level. As a young actor/writer in this business, I just really attached to Hart. I understood his drive and determination. I had tears in my eyes throughout all of Act Two. I was really iffy about seeing the play knowing it was long and people saying it was boring, but I was surprised to look down at my phone and see it was 11pm by the time we left. I thought it all flew by where as other shows didn't seem to end (Rocky?).

I would urge everyone to see this. Some beautiful moments. My only real critique would be to cut out the narration. I always feel like narration is such a lazy writing tool. It works well in a book - obviously - but to me I think there are more interesting ways to convey that information. And I also agree with others that it could work as a musical, although he wrote plays, so maybe making it into a musical would have been a little stupid. You'd have to stop the singing and dancing to the show play scenes, etc.

Anyway: GO see it.