Review Roundup: Critics Weigh in on the World Premiere of MARY AND MAX: THE MUSICAL
Theatre Calgary presents the world premiere of MARY AND MAX - A NEW MUSICAL, with music & lyrics by Bobby Cronin, book by Crystal Skillman, directed by the organization's new artistic director, Stafford Arima, and orchestrations and music supervision by Anna Ebbesen.
Based on an Australian claymation film by Adam Elliot about two unlikely pen pals, Mary and Max - A New Musical is a hilarious and heartening tale that proves friendship can be found in the most unexpected of places.
The musical recently received a staged reading at Pace Performing Arts (under the umbrella of Pace New Musicals), directed by Amy Rogers and musical direction by Angie Benson. It also had a workshop and staged reading in Atlanta, by Broadway Dreams, in June 2017.
The musical is running now at Theatre Calgary through November 10, 2018.
Let's see what the critics have to say!
Louis B. Hobson, Calgary Herald: There are sequences in Arima's Mary and Max that would definitely appeal to family audiences as when Mary dreams she is the queen of chocolate heaven. It's a high spirited, totally delightful flight of fantasy that provides Alana Hibbert (Mother Chocolate) the opportunity to lead a great, old-fashioned production number.
Vicky Trask, BroadwayWorld: This is a big story to tell - and writer Crystal Skillman does it well. There are a lot of plot points and intense emotions to carry across and sometimes, I felt overwhelmed by the songs; their pacing and the amount of important information I needed to comprehend. It is an unyielding musical to say the least. The only moments to breathe were during the scenes and those merely continued the moment in silence. Act one ended and I didn't realize how long I was holding my breath, anxiously engaged in the story.
Stephen Hung, The Globe and Mail: They're all fantastic singers, but the showstopper comes from Susan Gilmour, as Mary's verbally abusive alcoholic mom Vera - who admonishes plain-Jane Mary to smile more by saying, "Pretty girls smile no matter what" - stoned in the bathtub, sucking on a flask, singing The Only Thing You Can't Steal Is Time, an ode to not succumbing to the could-haves and should-haves of life that's genuinely moving and beautifully sung.