Review Roundup: What Did Critics Think of Kelsey Grammer in MAN OF LA MANCHA?
Man of La Mancha is back in action in the West End starring Kelsey Grammer, Danielle De Niese, Nicholas Lyndhurst, Peter Polycarpou and Cassidy Janson. The acclaimed musical opened on 30 April at the London Coliseum where it will run for a limited six week season.
Featuring the iconic song 'Dream the Impossible Dream', Man of La Mancha is inspired by Miguel de Cervantes's masterpiece Don Quixote. It is produced by Michael Linnit and Michael Grade, the same team who brought to the Coliseum the smash hit productions ofSweeney Todd, Sunset Boulevard, Carousel and Chess.
Let's see what the critics had to say...
Michael Billington, The Guardian: Inspired casting, such as Peter O'Toole in the movie version, can still rescue the show. Grammer, however, has no such capacity. In the TV show Frasier, he played a man who couldn't make up his mind. Here, as the Don's fake chin hair suddenly came off, he seemed like a man who couldn't make up his beard. More seriously, Grammer has neither the haggard mien nor the sense of otherworldliness to make a plausible hero. There is an irrevocable sanity about him that makes his casting seem oddly quixotic.
Dominic Maxwell, The Times: It's 51 years since this Broadway musical version of Don Quixote was last seen in the West End. To judge by this charmless revival, starring an unpersuasive Kelsey Grammer as Cervantes's ageing dreamer, we could happily put up with another 51 years till we see it again.
Tim Bano, The Stage: What director Lonny Price is trying to do at any moment is clear, but it's just done clumsily. Most of the comedy fizzles out somewhere between the stage and the stalls. Timing is off; there are long moments when nothing happens; some actors are badly lit; there's a pointlessly long and gratuitous scene where Danielle De Niese's Dulcinea is attacked and knocked unconscious by a group of men.
Marianka Swain, The Arts Desk: The protagonist's stirring idealism is perhaps better sold through the music than the clunky book - particularly in the piece that has since become a popular standard, "The Impossible Dream". Facing a tough vocal test here, Grammer just about passes, though there are certainly moments of straining to reach the unreachable notes, and reprises of his numbers by the able ensemble show a clear difference between his carrying a tune and the kind of rich tone and fully supported singing that rings out in the Coliseum.
Alice Saville, Time Out London: Alas and alack, Grammer doesn't quite skewer the comedy. He moves stiffly (perhaps afraid that one of those eyebrows will scurry off) through this show's panoply of comic misunderstandings and makes broadly accurate but oddly blank-faced work of the musical's only enduring hit song 'The Impossible Dream', which is a highlight in Mitch Leigh's atmospheric but not always memorable score of Spanish pastiches. It's a song that sums up the show's more serious theme, the idea of longing for goodness and nobility in a corrupt world. Book writer Dale Wasserman heightens these ideas by giving Cervantes's story a kind of Brechtian framing device, where the author is trapped in a purgatorial jail awaiting trial by the Spanish Inquisition.
Giles Smith, The Daily Mail: People familiar with the unhinged karaoke flavour of his singing on the theme for Frasier might have worried about how easily Grammer would tap into his inner Pavarotti. Yet he even carries off The Impossible Dream.
Photo Credit: Manuel Harlan