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Review Roundup: THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN at The Muny

Review Roundup: THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN at The Muny Hannibal Missouri's own brash and beguiling Molly Brown shines in this exhilarating adaptation of Meredith Willson's 1960 musical. Her rags-to-riches story sparkles with a new book by Dick Scanlan (Thoroughly Modern Millie), and new songs from the Meredith Willson songbook. The tempestuous can't-live-with-him/can't-live-without-him love story that survived the Silver Boom, Gold Rush and sinking of the Titanic returns to the stage with more fun and flair than ever. This is one of those classic musicals that will have your heart soaring!

This talented cast includes: Beth Malone (Molly Tobin), Marc Kudisch (J.J. Brown), Whitney Bashor (Julia), David Abeles (Erich), Justin Guarini (Vincenzo) and Paolo Montalban (Arthur). They are joined by an outstanding ensemble including: Karl Josef Co, Donna English, Jennifer Evans, Patty Goble, Gregg Goodbrod, Mike Haggerty, Michael Halling, John Hickok, Emily Hsu, Dionna Thomas Littleton, Omar Lopez-Cepero, Kate Marilley, Stephanie Martignetti, Carissa Massaro, Georgia Mendes, Paul Scanlan, Mike Schwitter, Gabi Stapula, Cullen R. Titmas and Daryl Tofa. The company will also be joined by The Muny kid and teen youth ensembles.

A headline worthy design team spearheads this production with additional lyrics and book by Dick Scanlan, direction and choreography by Kathleen Marshall, music direction, music adaptation, vocal and incidental arrangements by Michael Rafter, scenic design by Derek McLane and Paul Tate DePoo III, based upon original design by Derek McLane, costume design by Paul Tazewell, lighting design by Rob Denton, sound design by John Shivers and David Patridge, video design by Nathan W. Scheuer, wig design by Leah J. Loukas, with production stage manager Matthew Lacey.

Let's see what the critics have to say!


BroadwayWorld (Chris Gibson): Beth Malone is a self assured wonder as Molly, engaging and full of life, she brings her knowledge of the role to the stage of the MUNY and completely captures your heart with her performance. Since we view every other character through her prism, it's essential that she stands out, and Malone definitely does. Mark Kudisch fights a tug of war with Molly as her beleaguered, but supportive husband, J.J. Brown. Molly isn't typical of the times by anyone's standards, so it's a true test of love that keeps them together when that bond is strained, and it is, often. Whitney Bashor is quite good as a recent widow (there's that miner superstition coming true) Molly encounters, and Justin Guarini (Vincenzo), David Abeles (Erich), and Paolo Montalban (Arthur) contribute nicely as miners. The ensemble also does splendid work.

St. Louis Today (Wes Jenkins): The roles are well-played, though. "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" is an enjoyable, lighthearted show because of its actors and impeccable work by director Kathleen Marshall. The relatively simple staging of the production - primarily one or two set pieces per scene and none of the Muny's usual ornately painted booms - worked to the show's benefit. It's in the latter scenes where the most memorable moments are created, largely between the inspired work of Malone as Molly and Marc Kudisch as her husband, J.J. Brown.

BND.com (Lynn Venhaus): As she progresses from fireball to firebrand, Malone effortlessly moves between songs, dances, comedy and drama. Her boundless energy propels her from scene to scene, never letting up or letting anyone else down while they have their moments. The Tony nominee for "Fun Home" is a revelation here, but so is the rest of the captivating cast. The top-shelf production team has boosted an old-fashioned storytelling formula with charming characters that we can invest in, along with keener sensibilities to engage modern audiences.

Snoops Theatre Thoughts (Michelle Kenyon): For anyone who hasn't seen the "original" Molly Brown, I'm convinced anyone seeing it now would think this was the original. The beauty of using "new" songs written by Meredith Willson rather than having a new composer try to write in his style is that the songs-even with modified lyrics-fit right into the show, in terms of tone and style, and they sound completely authentic. The new book makes a lot more sense than the old book, as well, in that while it still contains fictional elements, it's more in tune with the real life of the woman on whom it is based. With this production, we get to see Molly as a philanthropist and activist, as she was in real life, and the tensions between her and her husband are given more of a realistic basis. Also, the new characters fit into the story well. Also, it doesn't seem revisionist at all. It seems like the show should always have been like this, and in overall atmosphere it's very much a classic musical. This is a remarkable feat for all involved.

CBS Local (Harry Hamm): At the end of the evening, Beth Malone has made Molly one of the most winning heroines of this season at The Muny. "Molly Brown" and Beth Malone at The Muny are a knockout combination. Lots to love in this show. You're going to fall for Molly.


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