Review Roundup: Dave Malloy And Rachel Chavkin's MOBY-DICK Opens At A.R.T.
American Repertory Theater's world premiere production of Moby-Dick set sail tonight at the Loeb Drama Center, 64 Brattle Street, Cambridge, MA. See what the critics are saying!
From the creative team behind A.R.T.'s 2015 production of Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 comes an epic musical adaptation of Herman Melville's iconic American novel. As the egomaniacal Captain Ahab drives his crew across the seas in pursuit of the great white whale, Melville's nineteenth-century vision of America collides head-on with the present.
Tickets on sale now: online at AmericanRepertoryTheater.org, by phone at 617.547.8300, and in person at the Loeb Drama Center Ticket Services Offices (64 Brattle Street, Cambridge).
Don Aucoin, Boston Globe: ...an ambitiously conceived and superbly executed musical, too, if occasionally self-indulgent. Heaven knows what Melville - an onstage bust of whom silently observes the proceedings during the world premiere of "Moby-Dick'' at the American Repertory Theater - would make of this creation by the team of Dave Malloy (music, lyrics, and book) and Rachel Chavkin (who directs and helped develop the musical). But the author would be hard pressed to gainsay the fact that Malloy and Chavkin have devised an arrestingly expressive theatrical language of their own.
Kobi Kassal, Theatre Talk Boston: While you only have until January 12th to see Moby-Dick at the A.R.T. the future of this show is bright-I think I am safe to say you might see it set sail to New York soon. Leave your life vest at home and come meet the whale that will have novel enthusiasts and theatrelovers alike talking for years to come.
Bob Berini, New York Stage Review: Chavkin remains peerless at melding disparate theatrical elements into a coherent, unselfconscious whole; she and Tony-winning Great Comet partners Lien and Bradley King (lighting) are joined by costume designer Brenda Abbandandolo, all at the top of their game. The sets and clothes-not to mention Chantal DaSilva's sinuous choreography-partake equally of the 19th century and the 21st, all wrapped by King into a rapturous blanket of color and shadow, including a giant white light wall to convey the passage of Ahab's nemesis. And though it feels unfair and reductive to opine on a score this ambitious on a single hearing, especially with so much else going on, Malloy impressively weaves Melville's prose into his lyrics, and the melodies soar with only the smallest hint of repetitiveness.
Iris Fanger, Metro West Daily: The first segment of the show sets up the purpose of the voyage beyond whaling for economic gain; Part II is a side-track on the process of the hunt that includes 16 volunteers from the audience who help crew the whaling boats. The story of the cast-away, young cabin boy Pip (Morgan Siobahan Green) forms a separate vignette as Part III; Part IV encompasses the fearsome climax, plus a brief epilogue detailing Ishmael's fate. Although there's some sermonizing about issues of race and an environmental concern for the planet (especially pointed in the use of puppets, designed by Eric F. Avery, that are constructed out of trash), the finger-pointing goes down easy.
Carolyn Clay, WBUR: The more somber second half of the show, though, is almost unremittingly gorgeous, beginning with the poignant if tambourine-driven suite of jazz songs that set the smallness of Pip (a touching Morgan Siobhan Green) against the vastness of the ocean. From there on, the work becomes more otherworldly, with Ishmael and Queequeg mordantly dancing as the Pequod drifts further from reality and Ahab going down fighting "thou all-destroying but unconquering whale."
Nancy Grossman, BroadwayWorld/Boston:The much-anticipated MOBY DICK (A Musical Reckoning), from the team that brought you NATASHA, PIERRE & THE GREAT COMET OF 1812 in 2015, has finally surfaced at the Loeb Drama Center of the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge. Based on the iconic American novel by Herman Melville, the three-and-a-half-hour-long musical endeavors to theatricalize about 40 of the book's 135 chapters, taking a much larger bite from the source material than the mere 70- page section of Leo Tolstoy's WAR AND PEACE adapted for THE GREAT COMET. Oh, would that Dave Malloy (music, book, lyrics, and orchestrations) and Rachel Chavkin (director, co-developer) had approached this project with such surgical skill, rather than casting the broadest of nets upon the waters.