Review Roundup: DUCK COMMANDER MUSICAL Opens in Las Vegas
Based on the best-selling book The Duck Commander Family by Willie and Korie Robertson, DUCK COMMANDER MUSICAL made its world premiere at the Crown Theater inside Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino on April 15. The DUCK COMMANDER MUSICAL features music and lyrics by Robert Morris, Steven Morris and Joe Shane, with a book by Asa Somers, and is directed and choreographed by Jeff Calhoun.
The cast portraying America's favorite backwoods family includes Mimi Bessette as Miss Kay, Jesse Lenat as Uncle Si, Ginna Claire Mason as Korie, Ben Thompson as Willie, Tad Wilson as Phil, Russell Arden Koplin as Missy, Mary Little as Jessica, Tommy McDowell as Jase, Matt Stokes as Alan,Haley Swindal as Lisa, and Josh Tolle as Jep. DUCK COMMANDER MUSICAL also features Chelsea Rae Bernier, Christopher Harrod, Charlie Ingram and Cathy Trien.
The DUCK COMMANDER MUSICAL transports the Louisiana bayou to the Las Vegas stage in a captivating 90-minute show seasoned with all the southern spirit and down-to-earth humor you expect from America's most famous rednecks, the Robertson family. But while the true-to-life, rags-to-riches story behind A&E's mega-hit DUCK DYNASTY will surely please its most loyal fans, audiences unfamiliar with the Robertsons will also find themselves charmed - and even moved - by this surprising tale of faith, food, and family.
Let's see what the critics had to say...
Kimberly Pierceall, Associated Press: There is no shortage of beards, camo, hunting and God alongside a bit of recent real-life scandal in Duck Commander Musical...The 90-minute show...alternates between something akin to a live-action commercial celebrating the family business to a mostly cheery singing and dancing scrapbook of their tight-knit journey. Skeptical observers who envisioned a high-kicking dance number complete with hunting rifles and flashy sequin camouflage costumes when they heard of the musical won't be disappointed...The rest is populated with earnest songs with lyrics such as "there's no time for rest, this is my quest," and "be yourself in camouflage" and on the other end, comic relief courtesy of the family's Uncle Si offering fart jokes and "that's what she said" replies.
Jordan Riefe, The Hollywood Reporter: What might have been a campy and hilarious look at some good ole boys who hit it big turns out to be a paean to religion and family. With fart jokes...Actor-turned-writer Asa Somers dooms Duck Commander Musical with one-liners that land with the grace of a bird shot out of the sky...Less egregious than the absence of conflict is Somers' failure to flesh out the characters...the libretto feels like it was hastily penned on the back of a Vegas cocktail napkin...The songs by Robert and Steve Morris (with an assist by Joe Shane) are the show's second-biggest liability. Country, gospel, disco and pop blend together to form a bland score that lacks either clever lyrics or memorable melodies. Fresh off the success of Newsies, director Jeff Calhoun phones this one in, leaving most of his performers standing around while the principals deliver their lines...As Miss Kay, Bessette is the brightest spot in the show, overcoming thin characterization and forgettable songs with her gorgeous mezzo-soprano.
Mike Weatherford, Las Vegas Review-Journal: It's not a spoof, but it might be satire...It is even, gasp, a bit touching. "Duck Commander Musical"...lives up to its pledge not to make fun of its subjects. But making fun of how and why the Robertsons are famous? Open season. Perhaps the creators from the New York side of this cultural collision want to bring in their friends and point out a deeper layer; that their well-crafted and tuneful froth is also a looping "meta" musical about pop culture spiraling to the point where we have a "Duck Dynasty" musical...The problem with the 90-minute show lies more in its structure than its slick look and sound, or even its outlook. It works better in short bursts than as a whole. There's too much talking to call it a revue, but not enough happening to make much of a story...If the collective effect is uneven, the craftsmanship is right up there with a Signature Series Willie duck call.
Robin Leach, Las Vegas Sun: The show, with its great cast, wonderful music and memorable songs, is too good, fun and emotional to not have big recognition on New York's Great White Way...Kudos to his top-notch production team...Uncle Si, played by the brilliant Jesse Lenat, is a bona-fide scene stealer. He's completely bonkers and plays the role as boisterously and out of control as he can be...Ginna Claire Mason as Korie Robertson and Ben Thompson as husband Willie Robertson are matched as perfectly as their real-life counterparts...Tad Wilson...is a sterling performer in the role of going from awkwardly endearing to repulsive to charmingly engaging again. The live band plays well on a raised area at the back of the stage, and they've got some foot-stomping, finger-snapping, hand-clapping and infectious music to work with...Bravos to Mimi Bessette, who played Miss Kay. Her voice is wondrous and powerful...The show is full of magical moments. It doesn't come across as too preachy, and the message of faith and family is warm, embraceable and not at all uncomfortable.
Steve Bornfeld, Vegas Seven: Duck Commander Musical -- though fairly amusing and staged with style and craftsmanship -- isn't quite the stuff of impending theatrical legend...It's song-and-dance rednecks. Nothing more. And -- in terms of socio-political significance -- a whole lot less, with one notable caveat: Addressing Phil's comments on homosexuality made to a GQ reporter, plus the resulting uproar and family's irritation with him, the musical doesn't repeat them, but doesn't repent over them, either...Such a have-it-both-ways cop-out is also weirdly admirable and honest in a country where celebrities say and do ugly things, then utter apologies they don't mean and no one believes...let's just say Duck isn't likely to waddle through John F. Kennedy International Airport and grab a cab to a midtown rehearsal loft. Fret not. We'll always have our outrage -- fraudulent, overblown or even actually legitimate -- to keep us entertained.
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