Friday, December 15, 2006

Did Apple Revival Fall Very Far From The Tree With Critics?

Did Apple Revival Fall Very Far From The Tree With Critics?

Last evening, the very first revival of the 1967 Broadway hit The Apple Tree opened at Studio 54. Did this Apple fall very far from the original Tree?

The Wall Street Journal's Terry Teachout enthusiastically proclaims: "Rejoice greatly, musical-comedy fans: The Roundabout Theatre Company has revived The Apple Tree as a vehicle for Kristin Chenoweth, and she drives it up and down Broadway like a brand-new Beemer....By turns funny, sexy, endearing and the best singer on Broadway, she nails a high D in 'Passionella,' presumably just because she can. She is also a splendid actress who fills every line and gesture with fully felt, dazzlingly specific life, and woe to the mere mortals who must labor in her shadow."

In awarding three out of four stars, USA Today's Elysa Gardner opines: "This fresh Apple, now at Studio 54, has ample charm to sustain it for two hours....Clearly, even at 4-foot-11, Chenoweth remains a force to be reckoned with."

Michael Kuchwara of the Associated Press has laurels for the celebrated actress, even if not for the show: "Kristin Chenoweth makes her own special brand of musical-comedy magic. The woman belongs in the theater...preferably in a musical that can show off her voice and delirious comic timing at the same time. She gets just such an opportunity in this odd, uneven entertainment...Chenoweth played the lead in The Apple Tree two years ago in a production at 'Encores! Great American Musicals in Concert.' If anything, she has gotten better."

Praising Kristin Chenoweth as "fearless and, when need be, shameless" in his mixed review, Ben Brantley of The New York Times states: "Are the vitality, craftsmanship and musical chops of Ms. Chenoweth and her co-stars enough to turn a rusty time capsule into a transporting time machine? The answer is an unqualified yes only in the first act, based on Mark Twain’s 'Diary of Adam and Eve.' In the second act...The Apple Tree starts to look pretty bare."

Also offering up a mixed review is Variety's David Rooney: "Roundabout's decision to upgrade to Broadway in a slapped-together production at Studio 54 only exposes the flimsy material's limitations. There's still lots to enjoy here, but with a top ticket north of $100, sweet and pleasant don't quite cut it....Chenoweth has the timing and physical comedy skills of a classic screwball star like Carole Lombard, and her airy, effortless soprano makes enchanting work of (the) songs...."

The limited engagement of The Roundabout Theatre Company's The Apple Tree is currently slated to run through March 11.

I'll be paying a visit to Studio 54 in just a few weeks to see this revival for myself. Stay tuned as I provide you with my own assessment.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).
Click here for tickets.
Related Stories:
A Tree Grows In Manhattan: Apple Tree Revival Opens Tonight (December 14, 2006)
The Toast Of Tulsa (December 3, 2006)
Apple Tree In Good Company Among SOB Readers (November 6, 2006)
The Apple Tree's Casting Gets Juicier (October 12, 2006)
Young Frankenstein Workshop To Feature Monster Casting (October 11, 2006)
Eve of a New Broadway Role for Kristin Chenoweth (September 13, 2006)

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At 17 December, 2006, Anonymous Gene in Minneapolis said...

So is this how the Tony race for actress in a musical will shape up?
Chenoweth, Ebersole, McDonald, Monk and either Brown or Bundy?

At 19 December, 2006, Blogger BroadwayBaby said...

To respond to Gene's answer- I think the race will be unusually tight this year...with a tight run off between McDonald and Ebersole. Since Audra has won 4 Tonys already (and she's only in her early 30's), I am sure the voters will give this one to Ebersole who gives a fantastic performance in Grey Gardens.

At 19 December, 2006, Blogger BroadwayBaby said...

Having seen the show on Sunday, I am once again stumped as to why Gary Griffin is considered a genius and why he is directing musicals on Broadway while there are much more talented directors slaving away in regional theatre. While Kristin Chenoweth is amazing in the show and both Kudisch and Brian d'Arcy James give top-notch performances, the whole production is uninspired. This is a very dated show and Griffin has not made any attempts to update the show or to come up with a new "CONCEPT" that would re-invent the show for today's audiences.


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