Review Roundup: Joshua Henry Stars In THE WRONG MAN At MCC Theater - See What The Critics Are Saying
MCC Theater's highly anticipated World Premiere of The Wrong Man, the new stage musical written by multi-platinum songwriter Ross Golan opened this week at The Newman Mills Theater at The Robert W. Wilson MCC Theater Space. Read the reviews!
The Wrong Man stars three-time Tony Award nominee and Grammy Award nominee Joshua Henry, Ciara Renée, and Ryan Vasquez. They are joined by "American Idol" finalist Anoop Desai, Tilly Evans-Krueger ("RENT: Live"), Malik Kitchen (Hamilton, Chicago), Libby Lloyd, Amber Pickens (Cirque du Soleil Paramour), Kyle Robinson (An American in Paris), Debbie Christine Tjong (Rags Parkland Sings the Songs of the Future), and Julius Williams.
The production marks the reunion of Hamilton's Tony Award-winning and two-time Emmy Award-winning director Thomas Kail and Emmy, three-time Tony, four-time Grammy Award-winning orchestrator Alex Lacamoire. The production will also feature choreography by two-time Emmy winning choreographer Travis Wall.
The creative team for The Wrong Man includes scenic design by Tony Award winner Rachel Hauck, costume design by Jennifer Moeller and Kristin Isola, lighting design by Betsy Adams, sound design by Tony Award winner Nevin Steinberg, hair and make-up design by Tommy Kurzman, music direction by Taylor Peckham, and casting by Telsey + Company. The Production Stage Manager is Jason Pacella. Tickets are now available at mcctheater.org
In this singular and exciting new work, The Wrong Man meets the wrong woman in the wrong place at the wrong time. Set in Reno, Nevada, The Wrong Man tells the story of Duran, a man just scraping by, who is accused of a murder he says he didn't commit.
Ben Brantley, The New York Times: For better or worse, though, my fists soon unclenched themselves. It's not that "The Wrong Man" strays from the spine-tingling elements it establishes at its beginning. On the contrary, it hews to them with an unchanging insistence that ultimately drains them of their power. The show keeps reiterating its central premise, without grounding a dark conceit with the details that would give it gooseflesh-and-blood existence.
Adam Feldman, Time Out New York: Thomas Kail directs it with intense panache; Alex Lacamoire's arrangements bring out the score's pop polish; the lighting and sound are impeccable. But while the music is fresh, the musical is cramped. Golan's songs are narrative, not dramatic, and there are barely any characters, much less character development.
Robert Hofler, The Wrap: Golan's music consistently rivets the attention. Only occasionally, with the girlfriend's songs, does he overpack his lyrics with too much exposition and background. "The Wrong Man" is sung-through, and when the actors aren't singing (all of them in strong voice), they're dancing, and it's here in the many extended ballets (choreographed by "So You Think You Can Dance" vet Travis Wall) that Alex Lacamoire's orchestrations imbue Golan's music with gorgeous impressionistic colorings.
Marilyn Stasio, Variety: Throughout the musical, Golan's lyrics are just as direct and unadorned, but always painfully honest - and from time to time, those raw feelings hold their tongues and let intelligent thought have a say. The songs have unmistakable power, and with Henry and Renee embracing their fated roles, they also have palpable sincerity. The rap-inflected pop score is sung through, which smoothly integrates the music with Duran's introspective monologues. Arranger-orchestrator Alex Lacamoire executed that same feat in "In the Heights" and "Hamilton" to establish a similar sense of theatrical unity. Rachel Hauck's set, Nevin Steinberg's soundscape and especially Betsy Adams' mood-reflecting lighting make their own contributions to the exquisite harmony of this unusual show.
Steven Suskin, New York Stage Review: Henry is as strong as you'd expect in The Wrong Man, singing and acting his way through numerous numbers and whipping the audience to a not-infrequent frenzy. Even so, this reviewer left the sparklingly new Robert W. Wilson MCC Theater Space not quite enthused nor convinced.
David Finkle, New York Stage Review: But-here comes the fly-in-the-salving-ointment complaint-The Wrong Man wants to give the impression that it's dispensing some meaning observations on justice in an unjust, inescapably cruel society, but as it proceeds to the end of its intermissionless 90-minute way, the aspiring tuner adds up to no more than shallow musical-drama, fare that's somehow reminiscent of 1930s Depression flicks wherein someone might have chanted "Remember My Forgotten Man."
Madison Malone Kircher, Vulture: That said, some of those eleven o'clock numbers do come through. Golan has written several powerful standalone songs for the show, enhanced by arrangements and orchestrations by Alex Lacamoire. (The show debuted originally as a concept album to positive reviews at SXSW earlier this year.) "Stay Positive," Duran's attempt to self-soothe while hiding out from the cops and realizing the likeliness of his fate is a particular standout. But taken collectivel,y The Wrong Man's songs can feel one-note. Literally in their repetitive patter - Golan's work is at its best in verses straight from Duran's stream of consciousness, like a line about Duran noticing Mariana's alphabetized DVD collection, a delightfully funny moment preceding the foreboding grim turn - but also in their narrow emotional bandwidth. As the cliché goes, it's hard to invest fully in the forest when all you're shown are the trees.
Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter: The evening certainly provides a powerful showcase for Henry, who anchors the proceedings with his imposing physicality and booming yet emotive vocals. The actor - who's previously wowed New York audiences with his work in such musicals as The Scottsboro Boys, Violet and Carousel, among others - is so good you're almost willing to overlook the show's flaws. And Vasquez (another Hamilton veteran), who plays the role of Duran at certain performances, makes for a suitably intense villain. Unfortunately, their hard-working efforts aren't enough to make The Wrong Man feel like more than a dramatically inert song cycle.