Review Roundup: What Did The Critics Think of Paper Mill's THE HONEYMOONERS?
The reviews are in for The Honeymooners, based on the CBS television series, with book by Dusty Kay and Bill Nuss, music by Stephen Weiner, and lyrics by Peter Mills.
America's favorite dreamers have a brand-new scheme. The Honeymooners is a world-premiere musical comedy inspired by the classic television series. Ralph Kramden and his buddy Ed Norton are back and still shooting for the moon. After shocking their wives by winning a high-profile jingle contest, they are catapulted out of Brooklyn and into the cutthroat world of Madison Avenue advertising, where they discover that their quest for the American Dream might cost them their friendship. Filled with big laughs and an infectious score, The Honeymooners will bang-zoom its way into your heart.
The principal cast features Tony Award winner Michael McGrath as Ralph Kramden, Michael Mastro as Ed Norton, Leslie Kritzer as Alice Kramden, andTony Award nominee Laura Bell Bundy as Trixie Norton, with Lewis Cleale as Bryce Bennett, Lewis J. Stadlen as Old Man Faciamatta, and David Wohl as Allen Upshaw.
This world-premiere musical features direction from Tony Award-winner John Rando, choreography by Emmy Award-winner Joshua Bergasse with musical direction and vocal arrangements by Remy Kurs.
The production is a limited run through Sunday, October 29, 2017, at Paper Mill Playhouse (22 Brookside Drive) in Millburn, NJ.
Let's see what the critics have to say - and stay tuned as we update live as reviews come in!
Marina Kennedy, BroadwayWorld: Leading the outstanding cast are Broadway greats, Michael McGrath as Ralph Kramden, Michael Mastro as Ed Norton, Leslie Kritzer as Alice Kramden, and Laura Bell Bundy as Trixie Norton. Their performances are faithful to the original characters, yet they bring a new and delightful spirit to the roles.
Neil Genzlinger, The New York Times: This musical knows that fans of the TV series are legion and that its job is to hit their sweet spot again and again, which it does expertly. Don't look for innovation or intellectual challenge here; this show is content just to give you a nostalgia bath. And it's a darned enjoyable one thanks to some fine performances and a couple of impressive musical numbers...Call-outs to some of the original show's signature lines, scenes and episodes are sprinkled throughout, but not so heavily that they become tiresome.
Joe Dziemianowicz, NY Daily News: But, like McGrath, who's reportedly wearing a fat suit, the show is uncomfortably wedged into one as well. The musical keeps grafting concepts onto a simple idea that would have resolved itself in 22 minutes. On stage, Ralph's jingle schemes lead to Madison Ave. dog-eat-dog business antics, Park Ave. high-life fantasies and eventually to the real-life variety series "Cavalcade of Stars," which Gleason hosted, and a weirdly bloated and busy production number (choreography is by Joshua Bergasse) that's led Trixie that's not even half as funny or winning as it thinks it is.
Matt Windman, amNY: Whereas the original episodes had speed, unpredictability and grit, the musical is sappy and sanitized, resembling a two-and-a-half hour valentine to a half-hour sitcom, depending heavily on sentimental romance and bromance, plus shout-outs to classic moments and contemporary fads for easy laughs. The production...is polished, peppy and pleasantly old-fashioned in style. The cast...is game for the occasion. McGrath evokes (without directly imitating) Jackie Gleason's exaggerated physical mannerisms, and Kritzer excels at offering snappy, street-smart replies to the deluded men around her. But the book...takes the characters out of their natural habitat of working-class Brooklyn, and the score...is workmanlike and forgettable.
Frank Rizzo, Variety: Even those who are favorably inclined toward nostalgic recreations of beloved TV shows will find their affections tested in "The Honeymooners," the lumbering, scattershot musical premiering at the Paper Mill Playhouse. Musical stage adaptations of TV sitcoms have had a history of disappointing at-bats ("Happy Days," "The Addams Family") and this outing - which has been in development for several years - won't do anything to change the stats.
Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter: Whether you're old enough to have seen them when they first aired or grew up watching the reruns that have become a television staple, everyone loves The Honeymooners. The classic 1950s sitcom only produced 39 episodes (although the characters were seen in numerous other incarnations), but its cultural impact was massive. And if you watch one of the shows today, the comedy still holds up. But here's the thing. The shows were only a half-hour long. That, unfortunately, is not the case with the new musical version receiving its world premiere at New Jersey's Paper Mill Playhouse. Running two hours and 40 minutes, this bloated extravaganza feels like a Madame Tussauds exhibit come to sputtering life.
Patrick Maley, NJ.com: Nostalgia can be warm, charming, even uplifting. Rarely is it revelatory or exciting. "The Honeymooners," a world-premiere musical at the Paper Mill Playhouse, based on the classic 1950s Jackie Gleason-Art Carney sitcom, delivers punchy laugh lines and bouncy songs to accompany a large dose of purposeful nostalgia; it is perfectly pleasant by any measure. But like most successful sitcoms, "The Honeymooners" musical -- which many have suggested will follow such recent Paper Mill efforts as "Bandstand" and "A Bronx Tale" to Broadway -- invests itself above all in that which is time-tested and safe.
Jim Beckerman, NorthJersey.com: It's a given that a musical called "The Honeymooners" is going to have songs called "Baby, You're the Greatest" and "To the Moon." The trick would be to make them memorable. It doesn't help that, in deference to modern sensibilities, Ralph has to spell out that he Really Doesn't Mean It when he threatens to send Alice to the moon, in case anybody should think the show condones domestic violence. Or that Alice, in reply, tells Ralph - cue soft music - "you're over the moon for me."
Jay Lustig, NJArts.net: Book writers Dusty Kay and Bill Nuss make the musical feel like a super-long episode of the hallowed TV series: They recycle its catchphrases and even some routines, like Ralph teaching his best friend Ed Norton (Michael Mastro) how to play golf. But they also give Ralph et al. some new things to do, and come up with a great surprise twist, near the end, that I never saw coming.
Gwen Orel, Montclair Local: But Stephen Weiner's music, while not memorable, is fun. Beowulf Boritt's set is architectural: a three-dimensional city skyscape appears in the background of many scenes. Jess Goldstein's period costumes center on lavender and pink, and add to the overall wholesome feeling of the show.
Bobby McGuire, Edge Media: Director John Rando does an admirable job in keeping the overstuffed evening moving and even manages to emphasize the comic characters' humanity. However, the show's style falls apart whenever the largely superfluous dancing ensemble is on stage. And while choreographer Josh Berg Jackie Gleason's variety program, that reference is lost anyone in the audience older than a baby boomer.