Review Roundup: What Did the Critics Think of the World Premiere of ALMOST FAMOUS at the Old Globe?
Almost Famous has officially opened at The Old Globe! The show features book and lyrics by Academy Award winner and San Diego native Cameron Crowe. Performances run now through October 27, 2019 on the Donald and Darlene Shiley Stage in the Old Globe Theatre, part of the Conrad Prebys Theatre Center.
The cast includes Matt Bittner as Larry Fellows, Chad Burris as Vic Nunez, Gerard Canonico as Dick Roswell, Julia Cassandra as Estrella, Rob Colletti as Lester Bangs, Brandon Contreras as Silent Ed Vallencourt, Colin Donnell as Russell Hammond, Drew Gehling as Jeff Bebe, Sam Gravitte as Dennis Hope, Van Hughes as David Felton, Katie Ladner as Sapphire, Anika Larsen as Elaine Miller, Storm Lever as Polexia, Casey Likes as William Miller, Solea Pfeiffer as Penny Lane, Emily Schultheis as Anita Miller, Daniel Sovich as Darryl, Libby Winters as Leslie, Matthew C. Yee as Ben Fong-Torres, and swings Danny Lindgren and Alisa Melendez.
Let's see what the critics are saying...
Shirley Halperin, Variety: Visually, it makes a lot of a little, employing doors as a frequent prop to set the scene: a backstage dressing room, William's bedroom, and several hotel suites. Moments in the story set on the band's tour bus and plane made use of stacked chairs and hydraulics to great effect, as did a dance number that incorporates classic album covers (enlarged to 15-inch squares for those in the cheaper seats, to use the words of John Lennon).
Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times: "Almost Famous" isn't just a glimpse into the beginnings of a fledgling music-writer who became a major filmmaker. It's the story of any artist's battle between compromise and complexity. But it's the spirit of the music - a vibe that goes from laid back to frenetic in a blink - that captivates. The chaotic, communal spirit of '70s rock is distilled in a musical that seems destined to conquer Broadway.
James Hebert, San Diego Union-Tribune: The fact there are more than 30 numbers - with Crowe contributing some lyrics - makes for a busy show, but Derek McLane's ingeniously quick-shifting sets and Herrin's fluid direction keep things moving. Conductor-keyboardist Daniel Green's 12-member orchestra lends ear-pleasing acoustic textures as well as amped-up rock, boosted by Peter Hylenski's sound design; Natasha Katz's lighting also focuses the action admirably.
Pat Launer, Times of San Diego: There isn't much subtlety or nuance, minimal room for the audience to think, conjecture or make connections of their own. Everything is spelled out. The book hews close to the film, though Penny's role is fleshed out a bit, and that's a good thing. We come to care about William and Penny and Russell, and we prize their individual journeys. There's a great deal of electricity and entertainment here. (Added opening night excitement: the presence of Joni Mitchell and Pennie Trumbull, the inspiration for Penny Lane). It's a great start for a brand new show. But as a fully-formed, ready-for-Broadway mega-musical, one might say it's Almost Famous.