Review Roundup: UNMASKED: THE MUSIC OF ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER at Paper Mill Playhouse - What Did the Critics Think?
Unmasked: The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber has officially opened at Paper Mill Playhouse! With music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and written with Richard Curtis, Unmasked will continue through Sunday, March 1, 2020.
Directed and choreographed by JoAnn M. Hunter (School of Rock, Paper Mill's Cinderella), with music direction by Sam Davis (Prince of Broadway), the cast features Nicholas Edwards (Frozen), Alex Finke (Come From Away), Alyssa Giannetti (Love Never Dies), Jeremy Landon Hays (The Phantom of the Opera), Kara Haller (School of Rock), Amy Justman (Company), Andrew Kober (School of Rock, Paper Mill's Cinderella), Angel Lozada (NBC's Jesus Christ Superstar), Mauricio Martinez (On Your Feet!), Bronson Norris Murphy (Love Never Dies), Mamie Parris (School of Rock, Cats), Dave Schoonover (Love Never Dies, Paper Mill's Cinderella), and Rema Webb (Escape to Margaritaville).
Let's see what the critics are saying...
Laura Collins-Hughes, The New York Times: "Unmasked: The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber" - a multimedia concert and career retrospective, making its world premiere at the Paper Mill Playhouse here - is a far cry from appalling. Unless of course you are allergic to Lloyd Webber's music, in which case you might run screaming the instant an usher hands you a souvenir paper mask. But even if "The Phantom of the Opera," "Evita," "Cats" and the rest of his shows are your jam, this one runs the risk of underwhelming, despite the technical excellence of the singing and the rich sound of the onstage orchestra. At a presumably somewhat larval stage in its development, this would-be fan pleaser of an evening is weighed down by seriousness.
Marina Kennedy, BroadwayWorld: Paper Mill Playhouse has assembled an outstanding company. Audiences are introduced to them in the first number, a medley of Andrew Lloyd Webber tunes. You will be thrilled by the presentation of over three-dozen songs that include spirited tunes with energetic choreographies, moving melodies, and sincere love songs. We commend Producing Artistic Director, Mark S. Hoebee and Managing Director, Michael Stotts for giving metro area audiences an opportunity to experience Unmasked: The Music of Andrew Lloyd Weber. Gather your group and enjoy!
Jay Lustig, NJ Arts: The thing about a theatrical showstopper, though, is that it's not quite the same when it is extracted from the show it stops. You need to build up an emotional investment in its character, and the story that it's a part of, for it to truly have all of its power. So while many of the 12 cast members of "Unmasked" sing with impressive skill, the show, as a whole, is not as fulfilling as the best musicals of Webber's remarkable half-century career. It is still quite enjoyable in its own right, though, and, needless to say, a must-see for Webber fans, particularly since he serves as host and narrator of the evening himself (via pre-recorded videos) and has written some new songs for it.