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Review Roundup: Broadway-Bound ROMAN HOLIDAY!


Review Roundup: Broadway-Bound ROMAN HOLIDAY! The pre-Broadway engagement of ROMAN HOLIDAY - The Cole Porter Musical, is premiering as part of SHN's 2017 Season this summer. Newcomer Stephanie Styles and Broadway favorite Drew Gehling (Waitress) take on the iconic roles portrayed by Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in the classic film, and Tony Award nominee Jarrod Spector (Beautiful) and TV and stage star Sara Chase ("Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt") round out the principal cast.

Directed by Beautiful's Marc Bruni, the new musical plays SHN Golden Gate Theatre (1 Taylor Street, San Francisco) through June 18, 2017ahead of a fall 2017 Broadway opening.

Based on Paramount Pictures Corporation's 1953 Academy Award-winning film that starred Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck, ROMAN HOLIDAY - The Cole Porter Musicalhas a book by Kathy Speer & Terry Grossman and Paul Blake, and features such unforgettable Cole Porter songs as "Night and Day," "Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye," and "Easy to Love."

In the midst of a whirlwind tour of European capitals, a young princess yearns to experience life - to explore the world beyond diplomatic dinners and Royal balls. Enter an American reporter, who, almost overnight, goes from covering the royal family to covering up her great escape. And in the span of 24 unforgettable hours, they discover the magic of Rome, the promise of love, and a secret they will share forever.

Let's see what the critics have to say!

Variety (Dennis Harvey): A "more the merrier" logic ought to apply here-after all, the wafer-thin original story could use some bulking up. But alas, as cast and directed, none of the four leads demonstrate the personality to enliven (let alone transcend) their stock character types. Meanwhile, Engel's familiar antic delivery can only do so much with the dismal memory-fart digressions she's handed as a running gag here.

SF Gate (Lily Janiak): Music could have helped flesh out character and story, but the Cole Porter tunes shoehorned in are fleeting ditties, topically related to each scene but not telling us any more about budding forbidden love than we could have gleaned from averted eyes or elongated pauses. As much of a treat as it is to hear a live 12-person orchestra back "Just One of Those Things," more often the songs are among Porter's more forgettable, and there's not a standout singer among Bruni's cast.

BroadwayWorld (Linda Hodges): The sub-plot isn't helped by the fact that self-confident Francesca is desperate to have Irving ask for her hand in marriage. That probably won't resonate for the demographic of the Great White Way as it once did. Fnally, while there are hints of attraction between Joe and the princess, the build-up is not the smoldering sensuality that leads to a satisfying, passionate payoff - at least not for 21st-century audiences.

Mercury News (Karen D'Souza): The magnetic Sara Chase certainly adds pizzazz as the brassy Italian chanteuse Francesca, but giving Joe's buddy Irving (a witty turn by Jarrod Spector) a love interest also feels contrived. Chase's sublime rendition of "Begin the Beguine" is the show's musical highlight, but it makes no sense in terms of narrative.

Theatre Arts Daily (Mark Johnson): It doesn't help much that the show's book, by Kathy Speer, Terry Grossman, and Paul Blake (who are most well-known for working on the first four seasons of The Golden Girls) is bogged-down by too many second-rate punchlines and adds in subplots at the expense of the main storyline. Roman Holiday runs for about 115 minutes not including intermission, which is shorter than the film it is based on. The amount of time that the citizens of Rome spend singing, along with the added subplot of Irving's adventures with Francesca, his extremely stereotypical fiery Italian fiancée mean that the amount of time spent in the presence of Anne and Joe is cut almost in half. We aren't given any time to see the romance grow when the show keeps cutting back to its own far less interesting comic side plot, and the weight of the central romance is severely lessened because of that.

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