Review Roundup: Jason Robert Brown's THE CONNECTOR Opens At MCC Theater

From Tony Award-winning composer Jason Robert Brown (Parade) comes a timely new musical about two talented young journalists on increasingly diverging paths.

By: Feb. 06, 2024
The Connector Show Information
Get Show Info Info
Get Tickets
Cast
Photos
Videos
Review Roundup: Jason Robert Brown's THE CONNECTOR Opens At MCC Theater

MCC Theater presents The Connector, a new musical with a book by Jonathan Marc Sherman (Clive), music and lyrics by Tony Award winner Jason Robert Brown(Parade), conceived and directed by Daisy Prince (The Last Five Years), and choreographed by Karla Puno Garcia (Days of Wine and Roses) opens tonight! Read the reviews!

From Tony Award-winning composer Jason Robert Brown (Parade) comes a timely new musical about two talented young journalists on increasingly diverging paths. Set in the late 1990s amid a rapidly changing media landscape we meet a fast-rising journalist, Ethan Dobson, and an assistant copy editor, Robin Martinez, at the revered magazine The Connector. In a world that values the next big sensation, Ethan’s writing prowess and ambition force him to confront how far he’ll go for the ultimate scoop and Robin to consider how far she’ll go to stop him.

 With a book by Jonathan Marc Sherman, The Connector will feature Brown leading the band at each performance and reuniting with The Last Five Years and Songs for a New World director Daisy Prince.

 The cast of The Connector includes Scott Bakula (“Quantum Leap;” “NCIS: New Orleans”), Joanna Carpenter (Sweeney Todd), Max Crumm (Emojiland), Hannah Cruz (MCC’s Only Gold), George Dvorsky (Closer Than Ever), Ashley Pérez Flanagan (Oratorio For Living Things), Danielle Lee Greaves (Parade), Mylinda Hull(Mr. Saturday Night), Daniel Jenkins (Oslo), Cedric Lamar (King Lear), Jessica Molaskey (Songs for a New World), Fergie Philippe (Hamilton),  Eliseo Román (In the Heights), Ben Levi Ross (Dear Evan Hansen), Ann Sanders (The Music Man), Kyle Sherman (Ordinary Days) and Michael Winther (Fun Home).

 The Connector features scenic design by Beowulf Boritt (New York, New York), costume design by Márion Tálan de la Rosa (Oratorio For Living Things), lighting design by Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew (Kimberly Akimbo), sound design by Jon Weston (Parade), and orchestrations and arrangements by Jason Robert Brown. Tom Murray is the Music Director and Kristy Norter is the Music Coordinator. Erin Gioia Albrecht is the Production Stage Manager and casting is by The Telsey Office / Patrick Goodwin, CSA.

Review Roundup: Jason Robert Brown's THE CONNECTOR Opens At MCC Theater Jesse Green, The New York Times: But that animating idea is also a problem because aside from Jason Robert Brown’s typically propulsive songs, which excite even the most absurd moments of Jonathan Marc Sherman’s book, the engine of the story, set in the 1990s, depends on uncertainty about Ethan’s veracity. That’s a nonstarter.

Review Roundup: Jason Robert Brown's THE CONNECTOR Opens At MCC Theater Matt Windman, amNY: For the most part, I found “The Connector” (which runs just under two hours without intermission) to be engrossing (particularly during explosive production numbers in which the protagonist narrates his stories, conjuring colorful and offbeat characters played by Max Crumm and Fergie Philippe) and sharp (with ominous warnings about how the internet and corporate overlords would remake journalism). The performances and the production values (with Brown himself on piano and conducting the band) are all first-rate.

Review Roundup: Jason Robert Brown's THE CONNECTOR Opens At MCC Theater Frank Scheck, New York Stage Review: There’s a formidable dramatic urgency inherent in the new musical by Jason Robert Brown (music & lyrics) and Jonathan Marc Sherman (book) about a young journalist who advances his career by writing fabricated stories for a prestigious magazine. Unfortunately, that dramatic urgency dissipated more than a quarter-century ago, when the true-life events that inspire The Connector took place. Loosely based on the story of Stephen Glass, who ignited a scandal when his made-up journalism for The New Republic was exposed, the show receiving its world premiere at MCC Theater feels both overly familiar and superficial.

Review Roundup: Jason Robert Brown's THE CONNECTOR Opens At MCC Theater Roma Torre, New York Stage Review: With The Connector, composer Jason Robert Brown has added yet another bravura score to his incomparable canon. His music draws on a rich palette of influences, and each song stands alone as a world unto itself. He is clearly in his element here, combining nuanced lyrics with an eclectic array of rhythms and melodies that both please the ear and propel the story. And it is a story that strongly resonates in our post fact universe.

Review Roundup: Jason Robert Brown's THE CONNECTOR Opens At MCC Theater David Cote, Observer: Following a book that lurches from satire to workplace drama, Brown’s score surfs various idioms, none of which really stick. There are stretches of ’90s power pop (reminiscent of Jonathan Larson), bossa nova, Hamilton–style hip hop, and an overblown sequence set in Israel (or which Ethan claims happens in Israel) where klezmer rock gives way to a Bo Diddley beat. Brown is too strong a composer not to produce intriguing melodies and colorful orchestration and arrangements, but few songs emerge from dimensional people with conflicts we can care about; it’s mostly abstract notions of language, truth, or sexist power structures. Having contributed major works such as Parade and The Bridges of Madison County, plus the beloved two-hander The Last Five Years, Brown deserves a better foundation for his talents.

Review Roundup: Jason Robert Brown's THE CONNECTOR Opens At MCC Theater Dan Rubins, Slant Magazine: If there’s a red pen waiting for The Connector, perhaps it should underline the challenges of telling a tale with a twist that most of the audience will see coming from miles off. (The creative team hasn’t been shy about giving the game away in interviews either.) Indeed, you may wonder if there’s merit in an edit that, by spilling the beans earlier on, spent more time in trying to make sense of Ethan’s unraveling rather than simply hurtling toward it. Perhaps, but The Connector’s momentum is already pretty addictive, thanks to the electric collaboration of the writers and director Daisy Prince, who brought the concept to Brown shortly after helming his off-Broadway musical The Last Five Years in 2002. Prince keeps Robin and Ethan’s officemates constantly in motion and always on stage, either typing away at their desks or observing the action with intense curiosity, offering backing vocals while perched on piles of manuscripts that tower on either side of the stage. And Brown’s score, livelier if less sweeping than those for Parade and The Bridges of Madison County but more clever and compact than anything else he’s written, keeps moving too. Where he most excels as a composer, in soaring vocal lines that gaze down on nomadic grooves laced with sizzling piano licks, is the perfect landscape for a show like this. (He also conducts the show’s entire run from the keyboard.)

Review Roundup: Jason Robert Brown's THE CONNECTOR Opens At MCC Theater Juan A. Ramirez, Theatrely: The Connector ultimately falls victim to a problem not unlike Dobson’s: the story spun is fun but its details are sketchy, the piece easily strayed by colorful characters too easy in their writerly employs, and an overall tendency toward editorial world-building (Beowulf Boritt does great scenic design work) when journalistic acuity would present a better study.

Review Roundup: Jason Robert Brown's THE CONNECTOR Opens At MCC Theater Adam Feldman, Time Out New York: Brown’s score, one of his best, has a decidedly ’90s groove, from the plaintive “Now What”—in which Conrad muses on the state of the news industry—to the twangy “So I Came to New York,” a duet that allows Robin to slam her home state (“Everyone’s an asshole in Texas…”) and Ethan to trash his (“Everyone’s a scumbag in Jersey…”). Musical numbers led by Fergie Philippe and Max Crumm, as Ethan’s dubious sources, give the musical space to breathe away from the office. And Jessica Molaskey and Mylinda Hull, as fact-checkers on Ethan’s trail, are so good that you wish they had even more to do, perhaps in a two-act version of this intermission-less show. But then again, in deference to their characters, this particular story might best be served by just-the-facts-ma’am brevity.

Review Roundup: Jason Robert Brown's THE CONNECTOR Opens At MCC Theater Caroline Cao, New York Theatre Guide: From a musical standpoint, actor Max Crumm (as a Scrabble champ) knocks out the song "Success" just as actor Fergie Philippe (as a hooded whistleblower) seizes his showstopper, “Wind in the Sails.” The show also boasts an intoxicating prayer number, which highlights the violinist Todd Reynolds as well as the thought-provoking link between stories and faith. In an intermission-free 105 minutes, these numbers – career gold for Brown – overcome the sleepiness in the musical’s first hour, when the Ethan/Robin dynamic almost stales.


Average Rating: 65.6%


To read more reviews and to share your own, click here!



Videos