Friday, October 27, 2006

Critics: Times They Are A-Wastin'

Critics: Times They Are A-Wastin'

Despite reassurances from Twyla Tharp that major retooling -- including key casting -- on The Times They Are A-Changin' had taken place since its critically-panned San Diego premiere, it appears that those changes weren't enough to make this worth most critics' time.

Offering up two and a half stars out of four, Clive Barnes of the New York Post asks and answers the question du jour: "Will Twyla Tharp do for Bob Dylan what she did for Billy Joel -- make him a Broadway star? Can lightning strike the same place twice? In this case, well, no....after 90 surprisingly long minutes, the whole shebang -- complete with terrific scenery and costumes by Santo Loquasto and imaginative lighting by Donald Holder -- is a one-star concept with a two-star staging, three-star cast and four-star, if patchwork-quilted, score."

A difference of opinion on whether lightning struck twice came from a decidedly more upbeat Elysa Gardner (USA Today) in rendering her three star review: " shouldn't surprise that Times, which opened Thursday at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, is, if uneven, more imaginative and intriguing than Tharp's last Broadway outing....Times mines the sweetness and vitality that are as central to Dylan's popularity, and importance, as any other qualities. There are, to be sure, corny and clumsy moments in Times, but not dull or dishonest ones."

But Gardner seems destined to be alone. Noting that "...when a genius goes down in flames, everybody feels the burn," The New York Times' Ben Brantley laments, "Ms. Tharp single-handedly drags Mr. Dylan into the shallows....Ms. Tharp turns lyrics’ metaphors not only into flesh but also into flashlights, jump-ropes, stuffed animals and new brooms that sweep clean. (If there was a kitchen sink onstage, I missed it, which isn’t to say it wasn’t there.)....Even as the dancers seem to fly, Mr. Dylan’s lyrics are hammered, one by one, into the ground."

A disappointed Terry Teachout at The Wall Street Journal clearly was hoping for the best: "The buzz on The Times They Are A-Changin', the new Twyla Tharp-Bob Dylan jukebox musical, was devastatingly negative. Such omens of impending doom are usually right, but I hoped for the best anyway. Mr. Dylan is one of the greatest songwriters of the postwar era and Ms. Tharp one of its most admired choreographers, so how bad could it be? Now I know: The Times They Are A-Changin' is so bad that it makes you forget how good the songs are."

Another unimpressed critic is Variety's David Rooney "Watching the unengaging mess onstage at the Brooks Atkinson, it's hard to imagine how it could have been helped. The impression is that Tharp's auteurial command prevented anyone from pointing out that the concept is just plain lame."

Over at New York's Daily News, critic Joe Dziemianowicz offers up perhaps the most stinging pan of the show: "Unfortunately, Tharp sabotages herself this time. She makes dance secondary and concentrates on the music.... Everyone dreams about running away and joining the circus. It's too bad Tharp couldn't resist the urge."

OUCH! One can't help but wonder just how quickly the closing notices will be posted at the 950-seat theatre.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Click here for tickets.
Related Stories:
On A Night Like This: Times They Are A-Changin' Opens On Broadway (October 26, 2006)
A Cast That Is A-Changin': Sign Of The Times? (October 4, 2006)

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Technorati blog directory Blog Directory & Search engine
Visitor Map

Powered by FeedBurner