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Review Roundup: Chris Evans and Michael Cera Star in LOBBY HERO- All the Reviews!

Review Roundup: Chris Evans and Michael Cera Star in LOBBY HERO- All the Reviews!

Kenneth Lonergan's Lobby Hero, directed by Trip Cullman and starring Michael Cera, Chris Evans, Brian Tyree Henry, and Bel Powley, officially opens tonight, Monday, March 26, at the newly renovated Hayes Theater.

What happens when emotions come in conflict with principles, and how do choices under pressure define who we really are? The lobby of a Manhattan apartment building is much more than a waiting area for four New Yorkers involved in a murder investigation. It's a testing ground for what happens when personal and professional personas find themselves at odds. A young security guard (Cera) with big ambitions clashes with his stern boss (Henry), an intense rookie cop (Powley) and her unpredictable partner (Evans) in Lobby Hero, the acclaimed play from the 2017 Oscar-winning writer of Manchester by the Sea.

LOBBY HERO will feature scenic design by David Rockwell, costume design by Paloma Young, lighting design by Japhy Weideman, sound design by Darron L West and casting by Telsey + Company.

Let's see what the critics had to say...

Ben Brantley, The New York Times: There's a reason that Mr. Rockwell's set revolves between scenes, forcing us to adjust our angles of observation. Like morality, identity is relative in "Lobby Hero." Few playwrights match Mr. Lonergan in making confident art out of such constantly shifting uncertainty.

Michael Dale, BroadwayWorld: Lonergan's dialog is sharp and realistically funny, and the question of moral ambiguity when working against structured corruption is intriguingly well-played. Lobby Hero is a play that will inspire a lot of post-theatre debate, but there's no question that this one's a solid dose of good theatre.

Matt Windman, amNY: Despite a slow start and an abrupt ending, the play takes on an absorbing quality with the news that William's brother has been accused of participating in a brutal murder, which brings out the complexities in the four uniformed characters. It also contains many funny moments and themes (harassment, crisis management, social mobility) that are relevant to working professionals.

Adam Feldman, Time Out New York: Second Stage's Broadway revival of Kenneth Lonergan's tonally mercurial 2001 play, directed by Trip Cullman, uses Cera's ineffectual persona to deft comic effect, even as it smartly explores weighty questions of spinelessness and courage.

Joe Dziemianowicz, The Daily News: Chris Evans trades a Captain America shield for an NYPD badge in his Broadway debut in Kenneth Lonergan's drama "Lobby Hero." Evans's deft performance is one of the pluses of this fine-tuned show, which marks Second Stage's inaugural Broadway production at the renovated Hayes Theater.

Robert Hofler, TheWrap: Michael Cera is not a transformational actor. Whether in film or on Broadway in his 2014 debut, "This Is Our Youth," he repeatedly embodies the beta male. Nothing wrong with that. Several comic geniuses, from Charlie Chaplin to Woody Allen, present a defined persona over and over again and yet dazzle with their delivery and timing. Kenneth Lonergan's "Lobby Hero" opened Monday at Second Stage's newly renovated Hayes Theater, and the role of the insecure security guard Jeff fits Cera as tightly as the blue collar and black tie the character wears every night manning the front desk of a large New York apartment building.

David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter: Let's get the obvious question out of the way up front: Does Chris Evans cut it in his leap from the superhero universe to the naturalistic comedy-drama of Kenneth Lonergan's Lobby Hero? Absolutely. Evans fully inhabits his character of a vain but well-liked New York City career cop on track to make detective, who is quite comfortable rationalizing to himself abuses of power large and small in a profession where gender inequality and toxic masculinity come with the badge. The actor best known as Captain America brings plenty of cocky swagger, his thumbs hooked into his utility belt like an Old West cowboy with a bushy mustache to match, but his assured performance never aims to be a star turn. Rather, it's an integral part of an evenly balanced, four-person ensemble piece.

Alexis Soloski, The Guardian: Under Trip Cullman's direction the acting is mostly extraordinary. Michael Cera is doing his typical high-voiced friendly slacker thing and Powley is feisty, though her role is less fully written than the others. Henry is a standout, with his sturdy physicality and his easy authority. He shows William's helpless determination to make the right call and the ways that his choices undermine his sense of self. Evans is a surprise, much more than an action hero trying to prove that he's still got it. His Bill, a fine cop and a lousy human, is a monster you can often empathize with.

Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly: It's Henry, with his murky moral dilemma - should he step in to offer his brother the alibi he's begging for? - and low-key comic timing, who becomes the play's least showy MVP. His family quandary is also what the plot turns on; its jerry-rigged tension eventually comes to a head in a revelation that feels more schematic than earned, and the stress points of race and sex and power the script touches on are only glancingly resolved. but Lobby is still a smart, thoughtful piece of work, fairy-dusted by the starry presence of its celebrated cast.

Marilyn Stasio, Variety: Trip Cullman does his best work with small, tight ensembles like this one, so there's no slack in the emotional tension and no escape from the sticky web that even nice people get tangled up in when they tell lies - especially the lies they tell themselves.

Boris Kachka, Vulture: And as Lonergan's web of dilemmas grows more interesting, Henry's performance blossoms, riding an arc of injustice that seems to bend permanently away from a security guard with big plans and the wrong color of skin. It's powerful to watch him simmer and boil and wither, while Cera plays his downtrodden but still privileged foil. The rest of the show: It's got a lot of potential.

Tim Teeman, The Daily Beast: What pretty, plush new seats the Hayes Theater has. This compact Broadway house, the smallest on the Great White Way, has been renovated under its new owners Second Stage and reopened as a non-profit. Sadly, Lobby Hero, starring Chris "Captain America" Evans and Michael Cera and directed by Trip Cullman, does not blazingly usher in the new dawn.

Mark Shenton, The Stage: Lobby Hero is its inaugural production in the new space. Kenneth Lonergan's 2001 play began life Off-Broadway and it feels slightly under-nourished on a Broadway stage. That's in part down to David Rockwell's design. It puts the single-set lobby on a revolve, but wilts against the splendour of the theatre - also designed by him.

Roma Torre, NY1: "Lobby Hero" is packed with issues that resonate in very big ways today - gender, race, police abuse and the entire criminal justice system, But it's also simply about the conflicted impulses that make us all so terribly and confoundingly human.

Barbara Schuler, Newsday: "How are you supposed to know if you're right and everyone else is wrong?" Dawn asks in the closing moments. The play provides no answers, of course, but when this lobby heroine finally throws it back at her domineering partner with a bold, in-your-face tirade that emphatically puts him in his place, the audience all but stands and carries her out in triumph.

David Cote, Village Voice: Director Trip Cullman commands a starry ensemble - adorkable indie icon Cera is joined by Brian Tyree Henry (Atlanta) as Jeff's supervisor, William; Chris Evans (The Avengers' Captain America) and Bel Powley (The Diary of a Teenage Girl) play NYPD partners - but the focus stays on Lonergan's sly, winding dialogue.

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

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