Friday, February 20, 2009

Did Critics Think This Story Deserving Of Long Broadway Life?

Did Critics This This Story Deserving Of Long Broadway Life?

Last night, Neil Bartram and Brian Hill's The Story Of My Life opened at Broadway's Booth Theatre. Directed by Richard Maltby, Jr., the tuner stars Will Chase and Malcolm Gets.

With one exception I could find, most critics' reviews panned. (Links will be provided later.)

As the exception, the Associated Press' Michael Kuchwara calls this "a heartfelt little musical that has the courage of its sweet-tempered, low-key convictions.... In a Broadway world of big musicals determined to sell themselves, this gentle new show celebrates softly but with an emotional pull that slowly wins you over."

Calling the show "utterly conventional," Ben Brantley of The New York Times is largely dismissive: "In addition to jettisoning the usual excesses of tourist-trapping extravaganzas, they have tossed away such niceties as originality, credibility, tension and excitement. I don’t think it’s spoiling anything to tell you that Mr. Gets’s character is dead when the show begins. So, for all practical purposes, is The Story of My Life.... The problem is that when a show sticks as closely as this one does to the bare bones of a sentimental formula, it needs to adorn those old bones with fresh flesh. The Story of My Life doesn’t try to disguise its clichés."

Deeming the tuner "generic," David Rooney of Variety is also critical: "This flavorless new musical is not exactly terrible, but it's not terribly interesting, either, which makes you wonder why its producers thought it belonged on Broadway. Whatever the reason, it's unlikely to be staying long.... Even in its most touching moments, this dull, drippy show never makes you care much.Matching the story and characters, the songs don't leave any lasting impression. They are pretty, melodic, interchangeable and more than a little derivative."

Sniping that the musical "will probably require (a eulogy) soon for itself," Frank Scheck of New York Post awards just one and a half stars: "Director Richard Maltby Jr. fails to leaven the overall tedium. The actors are similarly adrift. While Gets at least provides some intensity to his turn as the neurotic Alvin, Chase fails to bring any life to his blandly repressed character, signaling emotions mainly by putting on or removing his jacket."

Joe Dziemianowicz of New York's Daily News also slams with his two out of five star review: "Gets and Chase are likable actors stuck playing stick figures.... Besides being formulaic -- whenever Tom gets stuck while writing the eulogy, it's time for another crumpled piece of paper and a flashback -- the creators frustratingly dangle plot points."

Blasting the show as "banal, improbable and unrelentingly derivative. And boring? Please," Newsday's Linda Winer whines: "After all the flashbacks, guilt trips and ancient sexual hang-ups, we never do believe that Alvin, with his curiosity and creativity, would have been so stunted. The snow angels, however, are very pretty."

With poor reviews like these, can closing notices be far behind?

UPDATE (2.21.09, 6:50 p.m. EST): Alas, The Story Of My Life will in fact close on Sunday, February 22.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

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At 20 February, 2009, Blogger Aaron Riccio said...

Out of curiosity, what's the deal with the AP? From what I can tell, their reviews generally tend to skew way above the common consensus (look at "Mourning Becomes Electra"). Are they just out of touch, or do they have a vested interest (because of the syndication) with staying positive?

At 21 February, 2009, Blogger paul said...

I watched "On Stage" this morning and eagerly awaited the review of Roma Torre. In a nutshell, she liked it but thought it would do better in a smaller house. From the brief scenes and the review, I thought this is something worth making the 2 1/2 hour drive to NYC: Creative, original, two talented, charasmatic leading men, brings out emotions. Alas, not to be. Read on that the show is closing Sun. Tastes and opinions are so subjective and for a few critics to kill a show, well, I think it's disgusting.I just feel so badly for those who put so much into this show.


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