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Review Roundup: SKELETON CREW Opens On Broadway- See What the Critics Are Saying!

The play is written by Tony Award nominee Dominique Morisseau and directed by Tony Award winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson.

Manhattan Theatre Club is presenting the Broadway premiere of Skeleton Crew, written by Tony Award nominee Dominique Morisseau and directed by Tony Award winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson. The production opens tonight at MTC's Samuel J. Friedman Theatre. Let's see what the critics are saying!

In 2008 Detroit, a small automotive factory is on the brink of foreclosure, and a tight knit family of workers hangs in the balance. With uncertainty everywhere, the line between blue collar and white collar becomes blurred, and this working family must reckon with their personal loyalties, their instincts for survival and their ultimate hopes for humanity.


Jesse Green, The New York Times: In truth, some of the plot devices, the neat parallels and red herrings, are, like Faye, a bit creaky with use. But that doesn't stop them from working; indeed, it's a pleasure to surrender to classic craftsmanship. Though you can certainly sense Morisseau's debt to August Wilson in her dramaturgy - "Skeleton Crew" is part of a trilogy of works set in Detroit, as Wilson had his Pittsburgh Cycle - you also sense the brute efficiency of problem plays by Ibsen and the best television procedurals.

Helen Shaw, Vulture: The production, too, rests on Rashad's presence. Dirden is good (as he always is) at showing thought-in-action: You can see doubts shudder through his body even when his back is turned. The audience and the Friedman Theatre, though, need an operatic figure to focus all that space - and Rashad is it. Rashad's Faye wears baggy jeans and a shlumpy sweatshirt, and when she walks, she favors her back, like a woman who has done manual labor for a long time. But then, when Rashad turns her head suddenly, she looks like a queen. At its root, Skeleton Crew is about finding dignity - both in work and in the relationships between people - and it's useful, therefore, to have a person onstage who can gather majesty around her like a shawl. Rashad might seem to stop being Faye in these moments, but it doesn't break the show. She takes on the spirit of the underlying play, becoming something like the personification of labor itself. She turns into something larger and more commanding than the merely individual drama around her, and all of Broadway turns to look.

Ayanna Prescod, Variety: The playwright Dominique Morisseau knows what she is doing. That's clear not only because she says it so convincingly in her Playbill note for Manhattan Theatre Club's production of "Skeleton Crew," but because she writes this moving drama with pristine delicacy and develops its characters with rigorous detail and tact. Under the masterful direction of Ruben Santiago-Hudson, "Skeleton Crew" presents a vibrant cast, poetic dialogue and profoundly layered storytelling that move the audience to audibly engage.

Greg Evans, Deadline: In the most cramped of times - days as economically and emotionally pinched as the ones we're living through now, and the ones we survived (or didn't) in 2008 - theater can remind us of, or point the way to, some sense of emotional generosity, of expansive spirit, of connection. Dominique Morisseau's Skeleton Crew does all that and more, finding hope in the unlikeliest of places, like a cluttered, ramshackle break room of a noisy, about-to-fail factory in an about-to-fail city like Detroit.

Charles Isherwood, Broadway News: "Skeleton Crew" resolves the conflicts and tensions that arise in an appropriately understated key: Although revelations come, the play does not rise to a dramatic confrontation between workers and supervisor over the fate of their jobs. This, one assumes, is Morisseau's express intent. For the many thousands of workers whose formerly secure jobs evaporated as much auto manufacturing moved out of Detroit, the end came not with a sudden bang, as of a car backfiring, but with a sad, despairing whimper - to extend the metaphor, the sound of a tire going flat.

Juan A. Ramirez, Theatrely: Morriseau has created a brilliant, modern workplace tragedy, masterfully attuned to the ways the American Dream has made sleepwalkers of us all. If there is a tiny bit of motherly compassion missing from Rashad's portrayal of the plant matriarch, it is more than atoned for by the nuances and moments of joy felt throughout the play: a stunning assembly line of workers trying their best to not fall off the belt.

Tim Teeman, The Daily Beast: Tony winner Rashad's performance in this Manhattan Theatre Club production is pristine, sharp, deeply felt, caustic, and warm. Faye is a bullshit-destroyer on contact, and Rashad immediately imbues her with such depth of personality-rigid bearing, direct eye contact with whoever she speaks with-she has created one of the most distinctive and engaging characters on the Broadway stage this winter.

Robert Hofler, The Wrap: Under Ruben Santiago-Hudson's taut direction, this cast of four is uniformly splendid. Rashad, famous for playing a mother on TV in "The Cosby Show" and on stage in "Blue" and "A Raisin in the Sun," completely transforms herself into a seasoned factory worker here, and she wears those overalls with absolute confidence. Boone delivers a fierce, raw performance that consistently galvanizes the drama when he's on stage. Granted, he has a slightly easier task than the other three actors. His Dez character is the only one not infected with a blinding naivete about the world in which they live and work.

Matt Windman, amNY: "Skeleton Crew" could have easily ended on a downbeat note. After all, no one is coming to save the factory, and the characters face an uncertain future. But the compassion they share for one another, the sacrifices they make for each other, and the unexpected pride they take in their work, turn "Skeleton Crew" into a most unlikely feel-good - or rather feel-hopeful - drama.

Adam Feldman, Time Out New York: If some of the grit has been lost in Skeleton Crew's refurbished Broadway form, which also includes flashy video effects, Morisseau's play remains firmly based in the lives and evocative language of its characters, whom Santiago-Hudson treats with the respect they deserve. They're flawed but decent people, driven by forces that may or may not be beyond their control.

Diep Tran, New York Theatre Guide: When Shanita (a warm, affable Adams) talks about why she takes pride in her job - saying, "I'm building something that you can see come to life at the end. Got a motor in it and it's gonna take somebody somewhere" - it is moving and commands your respect. That is perhaps why Skeleton Crew hits more potently now than it did in 2016 for me. When society shut down in 2020, we all saw who the true essential workers are. They are not the CEOs or people who worked in glass high-rises. They are the people stocking grocery store shelves, delivering packages, making cars. And they are disproportionately people of color. Society has now caught up with Morisseau's play. In Skeleton Crew, Morisseau makes us see the line that divides the blue collar and white collar workers as what it really is, a man-made structure that must be dismantled, because it is that line that keeps all of us from realizing our true power.

Frank Scheck, New York Stage Review: If you've ever hung out at a break room at work, you know that generally not very much happens there. People eat snacks, engage in small talk, and generally relax during the few precious minutes they have before resuming their labor. Playwright Dominique Morisseau captures that ambience all too well in her 2016 play now receiving its Broadway premiere courtesy of Manhattan Theatre Club. Stronger on atmosphere than actual drama, Skeleton Crew never proves thematically arresting, although it does earn points for sociological resonance.

Melissa Rose Bernardo, New York Stage Review: With the exception of casting, director Ruben Santiago-Hudson's production is virtually the same as the terrific one he helmed in 2016 at the Atlantic Theater Company. (Thankfully, he did bring back performer-choreographer Adesola Osakalumi, whose kinetic movement between scenes illustrates the constant, precision motion of the assembly line.) Rashad is fantastic as the "tough as bricks" Faye, and Dirden-featured in Santiago-Hudson's gorgeous revivals of August Wilson's The Piano Lesson (2012) and Jitney (2016), not to mention in Detroit '67 (2013)-is simply spectacular as the buttoned-up Reggie.

Jonathan Mandell, New York Theater: The script, full of dialogue that is both streetwise and lyrical, is unchanged from the original Off-Broadway production six years ago. The play still unfolds as an increasingly revealing portrait of four decent if flawed people depicted with humor and affection. The director, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, who also helmed the original, has gotten largely effective performances out of a new ensemble cast

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