Review Roundup: What Did Critics Think of WE LIVE IN CAIRO at American Repertory Theater?
Inspired by the young Egyptians who took to the streets in 2011 to overthrow President Hosni Mubarak, this world premiere musical follows six revolutionary students armed with laptops and cameras, guitars and spray cans as they come of age in contemporary Cairo. Winner of the Richard Rodgers Award for Musical Theater, We Live in Cairo moves from the jubilation of Tahrir Square through the tumultuous years that followed. As escalating division and violence lead to a military crackdown, the revolutionaries of Tahrir must confront the question of how-or even whether-to keep their dreams of change alive.
The show's cast includes: Sharif Afifi as "Karim/Dance Captain," Abubakr Ali as "Hany," Waseem Alzer as "Ensemble/Understudy for Karim, Hany, Amir, Hassan," Layan Elwazani as "Ensemble/Understudy for Fadwa, Layla," Dana Saleh Omar as "Fadwa," Gil Perez-Abraham as "Hassan," and Parisa Shahmir as "Layla."
We Live in Cairo is written by Daniel Lazour and Patrick Kazour, with direction by Taibi Magar and choreography by Samar Haddad King. Michael Starobin is the Music Supervisor with Madeline Smith as Music Director. The production's designers include Tilly Grimes as Scenic and Costume Designer, Bradley King as Lighting Designer, Kai Harada as Sound Designer and David Bengali as Projection and Video Designer. Daniel Lazour and Madeline Smith created the vocal arrangements with Daniel Lazour and Michael Starobin's orchestrations. Taylor Brennan serves as the Production Stage Manager.
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Check out what the critics are saying from reviews listed below!
Don Aucoin, The Boston Globe: Directed by Taibi Magar, it's the creation of brothers Daniel Lazour and Patrick Lazour, originally from Boylston, who wrote the book, music, and lyrics. The talent of the Lazours is evident - some of their tunes, expertly performed by an onstage seven-piece band, possess a hypnotic beauty - but several members of the cast lack the vocal chops to really put those songs across.
Nancy Grossman, BroadwayWorld: Meanwhile, the Lazours' score fuels the protests, while fulfilling the requisite component of advancing the story. Music Director Madeline Smith (keyboard) leads the onstage band, featuring oud and percussion that lend Arabic authenticity to the sound, and gives the feeling of the pervasiveness of the music to the cause at hand. King's choreography is dynamic and athletic, performed with brio and urgency by the young ensemble. As a unit, their strong vocals are a metaphor for their bond in their mission, while individually, many of the characters tell us who they are with their songs.
Jed Gottlieb, The Boston Herald: A six-piece band of strings, hand drums, guitar and oud score the Lazours' songs of history and heartbreak. Punk fury, Middle Eastern melodies and '60s folk flow with every bit of spilled blood and budding love - a star crossed romance between Christian Amir (Jakeim Hart) and Muslim Layla (Parisa Shahmir) reminds one that rebellion unfolds alongside love, next to everyday emotions.
Bob Verini, New York Stage Review: We Live in Cairo possesses obvious relevance in light of the current rise in hardcore nationalism worldwide. Artistically, too, the premiere at A.R.T. in Cambridge, Mass. seems a logical product of its time.
Paul Babin, Cape Cod Times: I suspect these characters seem so authentic because Daniel and Patrick Lazour, who wrote the play's book, music and lyrics, based them on composites of real people they researched. Watching the group plan their protests in basements, I was struck by their natural rapport. They may be changing the course of history, but they never seem like larger-than-life abstractions. Their personalities and problems are all too human.
Kitty Drexel, New England Theatre Geek: Those of us who also live in constant despair that our rights will be unceremoniously stripped from us like spring wool from a suspicious sheep will appreciate the message that we are not alone. As we American social justice warriors fight for equity and democratic integrity so do our Egyptian sisters and brothers. It's terrifying. It's motivating.