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Review Roundup: Erika Henningsen Stars in JOY World Premiere at George Street Playhouse

Joy also features Sami Bray, Stephen DeRosa, Trent Saunders, Vicki Lewis and more.

Erika Henningsen is leading the world premiere of new musical Joy the Musical at George Street Playhouse, directed by Casey Hushion (Broadway: Aladdin, The Prom), with choreography by Emmy Award winner and Tony Award nominee Joshua Bergasse. The new musical features a score by Tony Award nominee AnnMarie Milazzo, music direction by Rick Edinger, musical supervision by Andy Einhorn and a book by Tony Award winner Ken Davenport, who obtained the rights to the life of best-selling author, inventor, and self-made millionaire Joy Mangano.

Joy is the story of a family across three generations, centered on the girl who becomes the woman who founded a business dynasty and becomes a matriarch in her own right. Facing betrayal, treachery, the loss of innocence and the scars of love, Joy becomes a true boss of family and enterprise. Allies become adversaries and adversaries become allies, both inside and outside the family, as Joy's inner life and fierce imagination carry her through the storm she faces.

The production runs now through December 30, 2022.

Let's see what the critics had to say!

Jay Lustig, NJ Arts: Projecting indefatigable optimism, Henningsen does all she can to make Joy someone you can root for. DeRosa brings a sense of glee to Rudy's well-meaning but questionable manipulations. And Lewis shows she has the cast's strongest voice in her big second act number, "Mother's Daughter." (Unlike some of the other actors, she could always be heard clearly above the orchestra.) Director Casey Hushion does a particularly good job with the QVC scenes, making the company seem, simultaneously, like both the key to Joy's salvation and the epitome of corporate soullessness. But there is only so much that Husion, or Milazzo, or the actors, can do to counteract the weakness of the story itself.

Neal Zoren, Princeton Info: Davenport and Milazzo do a good job of showing how Joy gets inspirations. An opening number, about how Joy sees shapes and gleans how to construct a useful object, is telling and the right place to begin. Throughout the show, Joy peruses sketches or reads ledgers and remarks, "Who'd have thought it would be so simple?" showing how well she perceives and assimilates details. Details, though, seem to be sorely lacking in several first-act scenes. Times moves too quickly, so fast you don't get a sense of how much elapsed between, say, conception and completion. In the scene in which Joy makes her mop, the process seems as miraculous as the item's eventual name.

Allen Neuner, Out in NJ: While Joy has many solid components, there are several areas that could be revised and fleshed out. Despite that, Joy is entertaining, delivering a solid uplift for the audience, splendid visually and vocally. As entertainment, George Street Playhouse has come up with a welcome addition to the holiday season, filled as it is with hope and the strength of family and dreams. Don't postpone Joy!

Marina Kennedy, BroadwayWorld: The Creative Team has done a fabulous job of bringing Joy, the Musical to the New Brunswick stage. They include scenic design by Anna Louizos; costume design by Tina McCartney; lighting design by Jen Schriever; sound design by Dan Moses Schrier; hair and wig design by Liz Printz; make-up design by Megan Burke. The casting is by Tara Rubin Casting/Claire Burke, CSA. The Production Stage Manager is Melissa Chacon.

Check back for more reviews!

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