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Review Roundup: The Critics Weigh In on GETTIN' THE BAND BACK TOGETHER on Broadway

Gettin' the Band Back Together

Gettin' the Band Back Together on Broadway, directed by Tony Award winner John Rando and choreographed by Chris Bailey, celebrates its official opening night tonight!

Mitch Papadopolous always dreamed about being the next Bon Jovi, but he chose security over stardom and left those daydreams behind for a day job. For a while he thought he had everything - the high paying job, the high-rise apartment - until his 40th birthday when he got handed a pink slip and had to move back in with his mom in Sayreville, New Jersey.

And when his high school arch nemesis threatens to foreclose on their house, this big-shot banker must save his small-town home the only way he can... by winning The Battle of the Bands. So he dusts off his guitar, gathers his old gang, and sets out to win the battle... and maybe even win back the high school sweetheart he left behind... proving it's never too late to give your dreams one last shot.

Let's see what the critics had to say!

Jesse Green, The New York Times: To the extent that "Gettin' the Band Back Together" is not based on a specific pre-existing property, he's technically right. But originality isn't novelty, and the show is such a calculated rehash of a million tired tropes that it can best be described with Broadway math: "School of Rock" plus "The Fully Monty" divided by "The Wedding Singer" - and multiplied by zero.

Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune: This isn't a show that worries at all about internal logic or credibility or diversity; it's an ode of lamentation to lost youth, a theme as old as Broadway itself. No crime there and some discount ticketbuyers will have fun. There even are a few touching moments when the musical manages to home in on the repressiveness of small-town lives and dreams.

Matt Windman, amNY: Originality (as in not being based on a pre-existing film or song catalog) turns out to not be the equivalent of quality in "Gettin' the Band Back Together," a tacky, witless and amateurish new pop-rock musical set in Sayreville, New Jersey, that might have been commendable had it been written and performed by high school students from Sayreville, but is a total embarrassment to find on Broadway.

Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter: To say that the humor is unsophisticated is an understatement. The jokes are frequently hoary ("We're on, Mitch," Tygen taunts. "We're on like your prom date's dress.") and such running gags as Tygen constantly beginning epigrams only to leave them uncompleted ("It's like my dad used to say. There are two kinds of people in the world.") get tired awfully fast.

David Cote, Observer: Having sat through the sweaty, janky garbage fire Gettin' the Band Back Together, I strongly suspect that producer and book writer Ken Davenport has a chest tattoo that reads (in Gothic script), "No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public." Davenport, who is also responsible for My First Time (about losing your virginity), The Awesome '80s Prom and That Bachelorette Show, seems to never hesitate in grabbing, shall we say, the fruit that hangs low.

Robert Hofler, TheWrap: That song, titled "Bart's Confession" and delivered with real gusto by Klaitz, almost makes you forget the previous dozen songs by Mark Allen that too accurately capture the homogeneous anonymity of garage bands, lounge acts and wedding singers. There's also an exuberant dance-off between the two bands, cleverly choreographed by Chris Bailey, that's far more imaginative than the final contest.

Adam Feldman, Time Out New York: You can smell the flop sweat before Gettin' the Band Back Together even begins, as Ken Davenport-the show's lead producer and also, not coincidentally, its principal author-takes the stage with a handheld mic to deliver a curtain speech. "What you're about to see is one of those rare things on Broadway these days: a totally original musical," he claims. But although the show is not based on any single preexisting souce, it is, in fact, supremely unoriginal, from its formulaic '90s-movie plot to its instantly forgettable '80s-rock score. A community-theater vanity production that has somehow surfaced at a Broadway house, it is schlocky at every turn.

Tim Teeman, The Daily Beast: This is a show, directed with a loopy Labrador's energy by John Rando, that sells itself shamelessly to its intended audience. Perhaps in the next few weeks, the company will start handing out fliers at Penn Station. You'll roll your eyes at that repeated geographical gag, and at much else in this musical, not least its hackneyed rock 'n' roll, ageing dreamers, reclaiming-past-glories storyline.

Elisabeth Vincentelli, Newsday: You can't say the new musical "Gettin' the Band Back Together" doesn't try hard. At one point somebody shoots T-shirts into the audience from a cannon. Marilu Henner, who plays the lead's mom, passes along Rice Krispies Treats during the intermission. Throughout, the game cast sells the action with undeniable energy - if Broadway quality was measured in sweat, "Gettin' the Band Back Together" would be a shoo-in for a Tony. Unfortunately, other factors must be considered. The show is a willfully silly piece of cheese, but that stuff is actually hard to pull off - and "Gettin' the Band Back Together" is no "Head Over Heels" or "Rock of Ages."

Melissa Rose Bernardo, New York Stage Review: Gettin' the Band Back Together is not based on a movie, like so many of last season's new musicals, including the Best Musical and 10-time Tony winner, The Band's Visit; it's not a jukebox show, like another just-opened tuner on 44th Street, Head Over Heels. But it is most definitely not "totally original." An overwhelming feeling of déjà vu-or, to quote one of Mark Allen's more insightful lyrics-"disappointment mixed with déjà vu"-underscores Gettin' the Band Back Together.

Jesse Oxfeld, New York Stage Review: The show is too long. It's plot mechanics are creaky. Some of those character numbers should be cut, delightful as they are-darlings waiting to be killed. (Bart's, which is hilarious, is also too dirty for a family show.) And yet it's all just a really good time.

Marilyn Stasio, Variety: Although simplistic by design, the script is funny without being hilarious, grooving along mainly on its many goofy throwaway lines. One nonsensical exchange reveals that Sharon once had a thing with Aerosmith's renowned lead guitarist, Joe Perry, and was the inspiration for "Back in the Saddle." "Oh, grow up," Sharon scolds her scandalized son. "So, your mom was into S&M - so what?"

Jessica Derschowitz, Entertainment Weekly: To keep with the musical parlance of the title, Gettin' the Band Back Together is like hearing an artist cover a favorite song - it's not the first time you've heard it, and it might not be all that original, but you'll be smiling and tapping your feet just the same.

Greg Evans, Deadline: And given the musical's two-or-three year gestation period, director Rando had plenty of time to trim the repetitions (and cut a couple gratuitous stereotypes from the secondary character line-up). Every bar band has to learn when its riffs are wearing thin.

Sara Holdren, Vulture: But this is the universe of Gettin' the Band Back Together: one where you cango home again, one where you are the rock-and-roll god you always thought you were, and one where, to quote Kurt Vonnegut, the destructive myth that "it is very easy for any American to make money" is cheerfully upheld. The show's denouement - and the salvation of Mitch, his mom, and his buddies - involves a big check delivered out of the blue, in the ultimate deus ex rockina. It's one big American fantasy - Hey, you too might recapture your youthful glory and randomly become a millionaire! - being marketed to folks who couldn't afford to see Springsteen on Broadway and came to this instead. And if the cheers that surrounded me are any measure, plenty are happily buying in.

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