Skip to main content Skip to footer site map
MASTER CLASS
Click Here for More Articles on MASTER CLASS

Review Roundup: MASTER CLASS on Broadway - All the Reviews!

Manhattan Theatre Club's new Broadway production of Terrence McNally's MASTER CLASS, directed by Stephen Wadsworth, opened Thursday night, July 7 on Broadway. Check below to see what the critics had to say!

Terrence McNally's play about Maria Callas (Tyne Daly) takes us to one of her famous master classes, where, late in her own career, she dares the next generation to make the same sacrifices and rise to the same heights that made her the most celebrated, the most reviled and the most controversial singer of her time.

MASTER CLASS stars Olivier Award nominee Sierra Boggess (Sharon Graham), Clinton Brandhagen (Stagehand), Jeremy Cohen (Manny), Tony and Emmy Award winner Tyne Daly(Maria Callas), Drama Desk Award winner Alexandra Silber (Sophie De Palma), and Garrett Sorenson (Anthony Candolino). The creative team for MASTER CLASS includes Thomas Lynch (scenic design), Martin Pakledinaz(costume design), David Lander (lighting design), Jon Gottlieb (sound design), and Paul Huntley(wig design).

Ben Brantley, The New York Times: "Master Class" is not, by even a generous reckoning, a very good play, though it can be an entertaining one. Mr. McNally is an opera buff who here mixed a passionate fan's knowledge of myth, gossip and music into one pulpy, Broadway-ripe package. Yet Ms. Daly transforms that script into one of the most haunting portraits I've seen of life after stardom.

Jeremy Gerard, Bloomberg: Terrence McNally's funny, reverential and wholly engrossing "Master Class" brings us all too briefly into the distinctive orbit of Maria Callas...And as the play recreates a master class in singing, so Tyne Daly as the singer offers a master class in technique to inspire any acting student or colleague.

David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter: It should be no surprise that someone with six Emmys and a Tony is an accomplished actor, but Tyne Daly is doing something extraordinary in Master Class...Bottom Line: Tyne Daly's mercurial performance gives equal exposure to her character's formidable outer shell and to the corrosive solitude within

Howard Shapiro, The Philadelphia Inquirer: In Master Class, McNally conjures a Callas of flesh and blood - as concerned about high Fs as she is about finding a decent wash-and-set at the beauty parlor. She is a woman who appears to command the world - played here by a woman who clearly commands a room.

Mark Kennedy, Associated Press: Tony Award-winning Daly puts everything she's got into portraying Callas in a new revival of Terrence McNally's play, directed by Stephen Wadsworth, which opened Thursday at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre. Daly is sometimes ragged, but always courageous.

Jonathan Mandell, The Faster Times: Luckily, "Master Class" is less a deep character study than an entertainment, and Daly delivers the zingers like the pro that she is, reliably eliciting laughs when she tells a member of an audience "You don't have a look," or when she dismisses the idea that she is engaged in rivalries with other singers: "How can you have rivals when no one can do what you can do?".

Peter Marks, Washington Post: In Tyne Daly's striking turn as Maria Callas, it's not so much Callas's imperiousness that comes across, as the ferocity of her self-belief...[Master Class] is about 99 and 44/100 percent Callas, a proportion that works just fine with Daly cracking the whip.

Terry Teachout, Wall Street JournalThomas Lynch, the set designer, turns the stage of the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre into a ghostly opera house for the two monologues in which Callas recalls the splendors and miseries of her youth. This is a gratuitous touch-Ms. Daly sets the scene far more than adequately all by herself-but it's in keeping with the scenes themselves, which are too ripe for comfort. They work, though, as does the rest of "Master Class," which is completely successful on the level of intelligent entertainment.

Matt Windman, AmNY: As directed by Stephen Wadsworth, Daly combines the character's tough exterior and emotional ferocity with pitch-perfect comedic timing, the theatricality of a diva, and apparent signs of insecurity and vulnerability. Sierra Boggess ("The Little Mermaid"), Alexandra Silber and Garrett Sorenson make charismatic turns as Callas' brave students and offer impressive vocal renditions from several bel canto operas.

Michael Musto, Village Voice: Tyne is earthy, sharp, bitchy, and moving. When she teaches a student (Sierra Boggess, in Audra's old role) how to play a full-throttle wicked Lady Macbeth, it's almost like Callas is instructing Daly on how to instruct Boggess. Wonderful

Joe Dziemianowicz, Daily News: Terrence McNally's brusque and brilliant rendering of Callas is the sort of meaty role actresses love to sink teeth and claws into. Zoe Caldwell won a Tony originating the role. Dixie Carter and Patti LuPone assumed the part in that run. Now it's Tyne Daly's star turn. Dressed in chic black pants suit and scarf, she cuts a glamorous image far from her "Cagney and Lacey" cop days. Ditto from her grasping Momma Rose in "Gypsy." Daly's sturdy-looking singer isn't exactly the picture of the svelte jet-setter Callas was in 1971, and the actress' skittering accent sometimes visits France, Germany and beyond. No matter. The portrait is complicated and charismatic.

Linda Winer, Newsday: Tyne Daly is such an intelligent, honest, unpredictable talent that, despite the obvious casting improbabilities in the new Broadway revival, we keep waiting for her to pull it off. As directed by opera-pro Stephen Wadsworth, Daly gets the hardhearted parts nailed, perhaps too well. Her face is made up into a frozen gorgon mask. She snaps commands in Callas' self-taught high-European accent, but without the charm that must make us love -- or even like -- this complex, difficult woman, even a little.

Brendan Lemon, Financial Times: All the actors who have appeared in this star vehicle - including Zoe Caldwell originally on Broadway, in 1995, and Faye Dunaway, who's been struggling for years to finish a movie version - have nailed the jokes. Only Caldwell, however, ignited the melodramatic passages. In these sequences, the vocal students recede and we are ushered in to the moments at La Scala where Callas is at her peak. These patches don't come off because the writing is so soap-operatic. The second act monologue about Callas's affair with Greek tycoon Aristotle Onassis is especially ineffective, though Tyne Daly, like her predecessors, tries hard to turn her heartbreak into a grandiloquent Ari-a. As she did with "Gypsy" two decades ago, Daly, clad in chic black trouser suit and print scarf, shows herself at home in the raiments of a diva. Of the three qualities that Callas claims are essential for an opera star - discipline, courage, guts - Daly lacks only the third in her portrayal. Of the trio who play her in-class victims - Sierra Boggess, Alexandra Silber and Garrett Sorenson - it is Sorenson who proves the most engaging.

Elisabeth Vincentelli, NY Post: Daly achieves a decent approximation of Callas' look thanks to spot-on makeup and a wig. But while she's a terrific actress, her basic earthiness is at odds with the role of the refined woman nicknamed "La Divina." Daly nails the catty asides about Callas' peers and can switch from imperious to coyly flirtatious in the blink of an eye. But there are also times when you wonder if Callas is coaching aspiring opera singers or a softball team. And when she drops the soprano's signature "eh" at the end of sentences, Daly's lands in the Atlantic somewhere between Italy and Canada

Marilyn Stasio, Vartiey: Opera queens can sniff all they want about Tyne Daly not having the right kind of chops to play Maria Callas in "Master Class," Terrence McNally's 1995 tribute to the flamboyant opera diva as she neared the end of her life. But while the dynamic Daly might not possess the air of self-dramatizing tristesse that hovered over Callas after her blazing career came to an end, Daly brings something better to the character -- a sense of vulnerable humanity that makes her courage to survive all the more admirable.

Adam Feldman, Time Out NY: Lacking Callas's elegance, the estimable Tyne Daly nonetheless controls the stage and the audience with command, and lends shading to the writing wherever she can; less successful are the three actors playing her students, guided with a heavy hand by Stephen Wadsworth. The pedagogical sequences, at least, have a patina of high culture, unlike the pair of vulgar, melodramatic flashbacks about Callas's doomed affair with Aristotle Onassis that form the climaxes of both acts. "This is a master class, not a psychiatrist's office," she announces early on-to no avail. Stripping La Divina of both mastery and class, McNally shrinks her with a vengeance.


Featured at the Theatre Shop

T-Shirts, Mugs, Phone Cases & More
Branded Broadway Merch
Related Articles

From This Author BWW