Review Roundup: ONLY HUMAN Led By Gary Busey - What Did the Critics Think?
Only Human is a new pop-rock musical starring Academy Award and Golden Globe-nominated and BAFTA Award-winning actor Gary Busey as God. Busey is joined by Mike Squillante, lead singer of the rock band Running Lights and Only Human's composer/lyricist, as 'Lou,' Kim Steele (Summer: The Donna Summer Musical) as 'Maggie,' and Evan Maltby (roles with New York Musical Festival, Musicals Tonight, The Flea Theatre) as 'J.C.' The production also features Ben Bogen (Frozen, Jersey Boys national tour), Lili Thomas (The Hello Girls), and Charles West (The Scarlet Pimpernel).
Only Human features a book by Jess Carson, and music and lyrics by Mike Squillante, based on a story by Jesse Murphy and Mike Squillante. The production is choreographed by Josue Jasmin and directed by NJ Agwuna. Orchestrations, arrangements and musical direction is by Adrià Barbosa. Only Human was developed last year with a workshop at Oklahoma City University.
Let's see what the critics are saying...
Thom Geier, The Wrap: The pop-lite score, written by Squillante (who also gives himself a second-act guitar solo because why not?), is at least competent if sadly derivative and unmemorable. The funny thing is that Busey, with his shambling appearance and stutter-stop delivery of non sequitur Buseyisms ("FUN stands for Finally Understanding Nothing") is easily the best part of director NJ Agwuna's production. But his not-quite-divine presence is mysteriously missing for vast chunks of this Busey-forsaken mess of a show.
Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter: Still, Busey is the most compelling element in a show that otherwise probably wouldn't (or at least, shouldn't) have seen the light of day in an off-Broadway production. There's also no faulting Steele, whose powerhouse vocals make the songs sound better than they are. In the program title page, Only Human is labeled "A Blessed New Musical." That may or may not be true, but there's no doubt that audiences are going to feel cursed.
Elysa Gardner, New York Stage Review: As for Busey, it's impossible not to note that the accomplished actor and sometime musician, who has struggled with various health issues since being felled by a motorcycle accident more than 30 years ago, has looked and sounded better. But while it can be tough to listen to his strained diction and observe his sometimes labored movement, there are also glimmers of wit in the Oscar nominee's performance, and a sense of indomitable drive that, at the preview I attended, carried through to his exuberant bow at the curtain call. I'm sure that God, if watching, would have cheered Busey on. And I wouldn't be surprised if the other guy-and the mortal player representing him in Only Human, for that matter-were a little jealous.