Monday, January 15, 2007

The Apple Tree (The SOB Review) - Studio 54, New York, NY

The Apple Tree (The SOB Review) - Studio 54, New York, NY
**1/2 (out of ****)

Perhaps a more apt name for The Apple Tree would be "The Apple Pie."

The revival is unevenly cut into three rather disparate slices. On the surface, they appear to have many of the same ingredients, but ultimately they taste comedically different.

Sure, they each showcase the breathtaking talent of star Kristin Chenoweth, whether it's her genuine comic timing or her gorgeous four-octave singing voice. In "Eden" (the first act), she is masterful in her heartfelt portrayal of a very wise Eve, always in search of more answers and never ceasing to learn. Chenoweth lets completely loose as Princess Barbára in the second act's semi-barbaric kingdom. And she's all glitz and glammed up for her third act turn as Passionella.

Likewise, each act underscores how criminally underutilized the gifted Brian d'Arcy James is on Broadway. Whether he's playing the somewhat dim-witted Adam in part one, Captain Sanjar in part two or Flip, the Prince, Charming in part three, d'Arcy James makes for the perfect romantic foil for each of Chenoweth's characters.

A third common ingredient, of course, is that the entire musical was scored back in the 60s by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, the songwriting team best known for their blockbuster hit, Fiddler On The Roof.

And although each vignette is ultimately about the quest for knowledge and its implications on love, the three pieces of the pie fail to come together as one, unless you count the references to the color brown. I expected for the reprisal of at least one number in each successive act, yet none came. Even the set and costume designs for each portion are so unique to its own story that lined up side by side, you'd be forgiven for thinking they were from three different shows.

Yes, each segment is delicious in its own way -- the first act set in the Garden of Eden is perhaps the most tasty and poignant -- but as one, the show is not brown enough and comes off as half-baked. It doesn't help that unlike the first and third acts, the second never offers a satisfying ending.

As a result, The Apple Tree's often-tempting pie somehow adds up to less than the sum of its pieces. Yet it sure can be fun sampling each slice.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Click here for tickets.
Related Stories:
Did Apple Revival Fall Very Far From The Tree With Critics? (December 15, 2006)
A Tree Grows In Manhattan: Apple Tree Revival Opens Tonight (December 14, 2006)
Apple Tree In Good Company Among SOB Readers (November 6, 2006)
The Apple Tree's Casting Gets Juicier (October 12, 2006)
Eve of a New Broadway Role for Kristin Chenoweth (September 13, 2006)

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