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Review Roundup: Transport Group's THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN - What Did the Critics Think?

The Unsinkable Molly Brown

Transport Group's The Unsinkable Molly Brown officially opened last night at Abrons Arts Center, 466 Grand Street.

The cast of The Unsinkable Molly Brown is Tony Award nominee Beth Malone (Fun Home) as Molly Brown; David Aron Damane (The Book of Mormon, Big River, The Life) as JJ; Whitney Bashor (The Bridges of Madison County) as Julia; Omar Lopez-Cepero (On Your Feet!) as Vincenzo; Alex Gibson (SpongeBob SquarePants; Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812) as Erich; and Paolo Montalban (Pacific Overtures, The King and I) as Arthur. Rounding out the cast are Paula Leggett Chase; Kaitlyn Davidson; Tyrone Davis, Jr.; Gregg Goodbrod; Michael Halling; Karl Josef Co; Nikka Graff Lanzarone; Shina Ann Morris; Keven Quillon; and CoCo Smith.

Let's see what the critics are saying...

Elisabeth Vincentelli, The New York Times: The resilient heroine of the Meredith Willson musical "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" was always an upbeat go-getter, with an action-packed journey that took her from a hardscrabble Rockies mining town to the Denver upper crust. But the Transport Group revival that just opened at Abrons Arts Center has turned Molly (played by Beth Malone, a Tony nominee for "Fun Home") into a human exclamation mark. The production is simultaneously busy and lifeless - a feat of sorts, if not a desirable one.

Raven Snook, Time Out New York: The erstwhile Fun Home star is enchanting as she evolves from dreamy tomboy to headstrong wife to new-money firebrand while blazing through songs including "I Ain't Down Yet," "I've A'ready Started In" and "Belly Up to the Bar, Boys." She even manages to sell some of Scanlan's hokier lines and more far-fetched bits, but even so, the book scenes often feel sluggish. You wait impatiently for Malone and the talented company to start singing and dancing again. When they do, this new Molly Brown doesn't just sail, it soars.

Brian Scott Lipton, CitiTour NYC: The talented librettist Dick Scanlan has decided that none of us really know the "real" Molly and has tried to remedy that fact - up to a point - with his long-aborning "revised" take on the show. Now being presented by the Transport Group at the Abrons Arts Center, the show offers a truly dynamite central performance by the fiery Beth Malone, some first-rate choreography by director Kathleen Marshall (although one number, "Belly Up to the Bar," is way too reminiscent of Michael Kidd's work in "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers") and a tuneful-enough score to create a diverting entertainment.

Elysa Gardner, New York Stage Review: Leading players Beth Malone and David Aron Damane are also key to this accomplishment. Malone, best known for her Tony Award-nominated performance in Fun Home, brings to Molly a buoyant, game-for-anything presence and one of the most distinctive voices in musical theater: a fierce, gleaming mezzo with a supple twang (Malone's Broadway debut was the gorgeously sung Johnny Cash homage Ring of Fire) that suits the Missouri-born Molly to a tee.

David Fox and Cameron Kelsall, Parterre Box: There are so many lovely things in this show, so full of heart and good will, but let's not wait any longer to praise the fabulous Beth Malone, who is the Molly Brown of my dreams-forthright, bold, and a superbly gifted singer with just the right touch of country twang. She also dances very well! She's as good here as in Fun Home, and she gets to show off a whole other set of musical theater skills.

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