Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Did Critics Make This A Glory Day For Glory Days?

Did Critics Make This A Glory Day For Glory Days?

Last evening, James W. Gardiner and Nick Blaemire's tiny little musical called Glory Days opened at Broadway's Circle In The Square Theatre. Eric Schaeffer directs Steven Booth, Andrew C. Call, Adam Halpin and Jesse J.P. Johnson as four high school friends who reunite one year beyond graduation.

Among critics, there was virtually no glory to be had, but there was the faintest degree of encouragement from a most unlikely source.

Dismissing it as a "callow portrait of four friends on the cusp of manhood," The New York Times' Ben Brantley nevertheless strives to be truly constructive in his criticism, as if afraid to hurt the feelings of the youthful writers and cast: "[T]he production manages to seem fresh and seriously stale at the same time.... So there are sweet-sounding, wandering pop ballads steeped in premature nostalgia.... Unfortunately, they also avoid creating individually shaped personalities -- I mean, as defined by more than bulging biceps or long hair -- that register big onstage. This may be appropriate for characters who have yet to figure out who they really are. But such blurriness rarely makes compelling theater. And the music captures the particular, poignant bond among these young men only in a couple of charming, wistful, close-harmony numbers."

Charitably offering that the musical's "creators show promise, but it's still a mystery why the play was rushed in," Joe Dziemianowicz of New York's Daily News provides a one star (out of five) review: "The barely-there, cliched plot is about four high-school friends returning to the football stadium a year after graduation for a one-night reunion to catch up on each other's lives.... Blaemire has spent too much time listening to Rent and boy-band harmonies - and his lyrics lack focus.... Director Eric Schaeffer ... needed to do more nurturing."

Labeling it a "self-indulgent hymn to the problems of early post-adolescence," New York Post's Clive Barnes pointedly critiques with just one half star: "The music is difficult to describe and utterly unmemorable (it certainly has nothing to do with Bruce Springsteen's hit of the same name), and the lyrics are jejune.... The performances by Steven Booth, Andrew C. Call, Adam Halpin and Jesse JP Johnson are high-spirited and, for the first five minutes, engaging. But it wasn't long before I found myself wishing that they would turn on the sprinklers and let us go home to read a good book."

Lamenting "the less common case of too much, too soon," Linda Winer of Newsday gently pans: "As a grown-up offering in a Broadway house (not to mention at Broadway prices), this little-show-that-can't is so far in over its sweet head that we fear for its safety.... The songs are pleasant; the orchestration tinny. The better folk-rock sounds suggest James Taylor. The lyrics experiment with squeezing a lot of words into a phrase and then a little into a phrase, and lean on the dubious allure of forced rhymes -- team/mean, change/pain.... Will, who keeps a journal, leaves us with the promise to write "my next story." Perhaps producers should have waited for that one."

Writing that one "immature self-indulgence" slipped through the Broadway, Variety's David Rooney gives this a failing grade: "The producers have done an extreme disservice to the inexperienced creative team by shoving them into the spotlight with what's likely to be a commercial embarrassment. While it doesn't have much spark, the show will probably hold some charm for anyone still immersed in the adolescent experience and could find admirers in youth theater or school productions.... [T]his show barely skims the surface.... [T]he awkwardly inarticulate lyrics just string together platitudes about formative memories, bonding experiences, feeling at home and fearing change, but it's nostalgia without the wisdom of hindsight."

Concluding that "This seems odd to say about a Broadway debut, but perhaps it will be all uphill from here," Eric Grode of The New York Sun rounds out the F-grades: "It is not generally my policy to blame the producers for a musical as tedious and inconsequential as Glory Days, which contrives to reunite four former little men on campus a year after high school graduation for a night of cheap beer and even cheaper insights.... Not many writers in their early 20s would turn down an offer to come to Broadway on the grounds that their material wasn’t remotely ready yet. That’s the job of more seasoned veterans, such as Mr. Schaeffer or the producers.... I like to think that the glory days for Messrs. Blaemire and Gardiner, and their collaborators, still lie ahead of them."

So there you have it folks. Looks like my own SOB Review may have been among the more charitable out there. With and the fact that this show has been struggling for any life at the box office -- last week barely registering with 21.8% capacity -- can this show even survive the week? My guess is it that the only Glory Days for this show were last night.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Click here for tickets.
Related Stories:
Glory Days (The SOB Review) (May 7, 2008)
Opening: Glory Days Hopes For Glory Night (May 6, 2008)
Early Tony Handicapping (March 25, 2008)
No Glory In Crap Shoot (March 24, 2008)
Glory Days Yet To Come This Broadway Season? (March 19, 2008)

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At 07 May, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In mentioning Brantley, there's a new site that takes his reviews and rates them on a Ben-o-Meter and gives you an idea of what he thought with one glance. Check out for some funny pictures of Ben


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