Critics: Pirate Queen Not See-Worthy
Last evening, The Pirate Queen
-- costing more than $16 million, making it one of Broadway's most expensive shows ever -- opened to critical pans. It has the dubious distinction of being one of the
worst reviewed shows of the entire 2006-07 Theatrical Season.
The "best" of the worst comes from Michael Kuchwara
of the Associated Press, who writes: "[E]ven Grace (O'Malley) is defeated by this earnest musical adaptation of her life story, a stilted history pageant that is long on looks but woefully short on emotional engagement. The lavish production...telescopes the woman's life into a series of dramatic tableaux that are underlined by a bombastic score courtesy of Alain Boublil
and Claude-Michel Schönberg
Calling it a "loud and restless musical," Ben Brantley
of The New York Times
dismisses the spectacle: "[E]verything ultimately blurs into what feels like the aimless milling of a crowd on a carnival midway...The Pirate Queen
registers as a relic of a long-gone era, and I don’t mean the 1500s. The big-sound, big-cast show pioneered by Messrs. Boublil and Schönberg is now as much a throwback to the 1980s as big hair and big shoulders....(The songs) often have such sweaty, shoehorned rhymes, it is as if they had been invented on the spot."
Using terms like "lumbering epic" and "monotonous," Variety
's David Rooney
also pans: "Their all-plot, no-heart new show is persuasively sung by a valiant cast, yet it never forges an emotional connection with the audience....[D]espite (the Riverdance
) phenomenon being perhaps the world's most over-exposed commercialization of traditional Irish culture, the too-infrequent explosions of step-dancing -- during a wedding, a funeral and a christening -- are the only times The Pirate Queen
really comes alive. Whoever thought they'd be waiting impatiently for the next Celtic kickline?"
Making inevitable comparisons ("Les Miserables
going out to meet Riverdance
and somehow missing the boat"), New York Post
's Clive Barnes
musters up one and a half stars: "Apart from the repetitive and self-congratulatory music, the only major flaws in the show are the basically banal lyrics and sung-through book....Before long, though, The Pirate Queen
capsizes and sinks. There are some gallant attempts at bailing out by the crew of actors and dancers, shakily captained by director Frank Galati
and Graciela Daniele
, who's credited with the musical staging."
Labeling it "the latest bloated opus from Alan Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg," Elysa Gardner
of USA Today
bestows a mere one star on the show: "[T]hey've constructed a visual and sonic assault that leaves no audience-pleasing trick untapped. This package is wrapped in a faux-populist, pseudo-feminist story line, revolving around 16th-century pirate chieftain Grace O'Malley, an Irish lass whose skill and fortitude in battle were matched, we're assured, by her passion as a lover and mom....We know the Brits are morally inferior because they dress and speak grandly, and their songs sound like Gilbert
rejects, as opposed to the Céline Dion
throwaways crooned by the Irish."
Gardner is not the only critic to invoke the "C" word -- Ben Brantley also stated, "Under pressure, this Pirate Queen
turns into a Céline Dion screecher." Come to think of it, my own review
last October that began with "Think Les Misérables
as ships passing in the night" (thank you, Mr. Barnes!) continued, "Céline Dion herself could not have sounded better, yet I half expected (Stephanie J.) Block
to belt out 'My Heart Will Go On.'"
Will the reviews be enough to sink the show? Next stop will be a check on the box office totals, which last week were floating around the 80% capacity mark.
This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).
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Labels: Broadway, Critics' Capsule, Les Miserables, Musical, Riverdance, The Pirate Queen