Review Roundup: Did the Critics Give Heart-Eyes to EMOJILAND?
Emojiland has officially opened off-Broadway!
Led by Lesli Margherita and Josh Lamon, the complete cast features Lucas Steele (Great Comet) as Skull, Max Crumm (Grease, Disaster, The Fantasticks) as Man In Business Suit Levitating emoji, Jacob Dickey (Aladdin Broadway as Aladdin) as Smiling Face with Sunglasses, (aka "Sunny"), Dwelvan David (Finding Neverland & The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess Tours) as Guardsman, Heather Makalani (Aladdin) as Kissy Face, Tanisha Moore (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Tour) as Woman Dancing and Jordan Fife Hunt (A Chorus Line First Revival Tour) as Man Dancing, George Abud (The Band's Visit) as Nerd Face, Emojiland Co-Writer Laura Schein as Smiling Face with Smiling Eyes (aka "Smize"), Emmy Winner & Grammy Nominee Felicia Boswell (NBC's Jesus Christ Superstar LIVE, Shuffle Along, Motown) as Police Officer, and Natalie Weiss (Everyday Rapture, YouTube's "Breaking Down the Riffs") as Construction Worker.
Emojiland will run through Sunday, March 8, 2020 at The Duke on 42nd Street in New 42nd Street Studios (229 West 42nd Street, between 7th and 8th Avenues).
Let's see what the critics are saying...
Laura Collins-Hughes, The New York Times: This is a tonic of a musical, big-hearted and comforting. In "Emojiland," even world-threatening mistakes can sometimes be repaired by the very people who made them. And if you sense an allegory there, it might just cheer you up.
Michael Dale, BroadwayWorld: Though the satirical aspect of the plot has potential, Emojiland is just too blandly written to sustain itself through its two hours plus running time. But the cast jumps in with gusto, and thanks to Vanessa Leuck's make-up designs and Bobbie Zlotnik's hair/wig designs everyone nicely resembles their virtual alter egos from the neck up. Leuck's smart cartoon costumes take care of the rest.
Raven Snook, Time Out: With 16 musical numbers, dozens of characters, three main plot lines (including a heavy-handed political one about building a firewall) and a running time of well over two hours, Emojiland is a case of more-is-way-too-much-especially since the cyber-silliness isn't that well scripted. Thankfully, its good old-fashioned analog performances prevent the show from crashing.
James Wilson, Talkin' Broadway: Miraculously, though, the human emoji are not eclipsed by the spectacle. In fact, as directed by Thomas Caruso, the performances in particular are worth the trip to Emojiland. Margherita is stunning and hilarious, and she demonstrates her vocal prowess in "Princess Is a Bitch." The choreography (by Kenny Ingram) in this virtuosic number concludes with a jump split, and the performance rivals the best lip-synch-for-your-life moments from "RuPaul's Drag Race."
Suzanna Bowling, Times Square Chronicles: This cast its uber talented and each have moments to shine. I had forgotten how amazing Lucas Steele is. Of course Lesli Margherita will blow your mind as will Ann Harada, but this entire cast is supreme. The direction by Thomas Caruso and choreography by Kenny Ingram are high octane, layered and really fun.
Sandy Macdonald, Theater News Online: I've yet to employ an emoji. Have we not long since graduated from the crude semaphore stage of communication? Casting snobbery aside, I emerged from Ken Harrison and Laura Schein's sprightly, clever musical sorely tempted to start. I would begin by according this show four Shooting Stars, in hopes of helping to launch it toward Broadway, which could use a bit more fizz right now.