Musicals

Sep. 23 SF Opera: Sweeney Todd

Brian Mulligan (top) as Sweeney Todd and Wayne Tigges as Judge Turpin in Sondheim's "Sweeney Todd" (photo: Cory Weaver)

Amplification problems aside, SF Opera’s ‘Sweeney Todd’ a bloody good show

Stephanie Blythe’s role as Mrs. Lovett was a triumph — eclipsing all others and recalling the great Angela Lansbury

By James Sohre
Contributing writer

It is hard to argue with the boisterous, enthusiastic reception given San Francisco Opera’s Sweeney Todd. But let me try…

Sep. 11 CNY Playhouse: 9 to 5 The Musical

Doralee (Korrie Taylor, left) and Violet (Shannon Tompkins, right) enlist the help of a junior accountant (Mike King) to check the company books in the CNY Playhouse production of "9 to 5 The Musical" (photo: Amelia Beamish)

CNY Playhouse’s ‘9 to 5 The Musical’ offers ribald humor with plenty of laughs

But Patricia Resnick’s book is too weak to make credible the oppressed office workers’ character transformations

By Michael O’Connor

The Central New York Playhouse production of “9 to 5 The Musical,” Dolly Parton’s reworking of the 1980 hit film by the same name, provides laugh-out-loud comic moments. What’s lacking is a believable story arc that allows the audience to buy in to the radical transformation the characters undergo…

July 19 Glimmerglass: Candide

Andrew Stenson as Candide and Andrew Maughan as Cacambo in The 2015 Glimmerglass Festival production of Leonard Bernstein's "Candide" (photo: Karli Cadel)

Glimmerglass’s ‘Candide’ makes political satire satisfying entertainment

Francesca Zambello demonstrates how a musical whose story is based entirely on politics and philosophy can ‘glitter and be gay’

By David Rubin

Leonard Bernstein’s Candide has never been, in any of its many versions, the best of all possible American musicals. The challenges it poses to a production team are simply too many…

April 25 SU Drama: Avenue Q

Beyond the sleaze there’s lots to please in SU Drama’s ‘Avenue Q’

Let’s just say these puppets have been around the block a few times…

By Michael O’Connor

The greatest enjoyment from watching Avenue Q comes from its manner of presentation. Many of the characters in the show are puppets that look as if they walked off the set of Sesame Street. Yet while there’s a certain sophomoric joy in watching these puppets discuss adult subject matters like sexuality, pornography, and drunkenness…

Mar. 18 Broadway: On the Town

‘On the Town’ is off the charts

Dance is king in Broadway’s hottest show — but the staging, costumes and action will knock you off your feet as well

By David Abrams

The current Broadway revival of On the Town, now playing at the Lyric Theater on 42nd Street, will give you a taste of the Big Apple that will likely linger on your palette for some time to come. This two and one-half hour production is sheer joy from start to finish — with sparkling sets and costumes, spunky dance numbers and a clearly inspired 28-piece orchestra (the largest on Broadway, I am told)…

Feb. 6 Syracuse Opera: A Little Night Music

Syracuse Opera’s ‘A Little Night Music’ a little too lean

With a pit orchestra of only six players and no projected titles, Sondheim’s “operetta” doesn’t seem whole

By David Abrams

There’s little point in arguing whether Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music is, at its core, a musical or an operetta. It could be either, depending on the resources put into the production effort. Syracuse Opera chose to trumpet the work as “operetta,” not musical theater, during the weeks leading up to Friday’s premiere. And that label calls into question the company’s use of a chamber-sized pit orchestra…

Dec. 5 Syracuse Stage: Hairspray

‘Hairspray’ paints a smile across the face that holds

There’s ‘real good’ singing and dancing in this ‘feel good’ co-production by Syracuse Stage and SU Drama

By Michael O’Connor

Love wins out against all odds in the Syracuse Stage-SU Drama co-production of the charming holiday spectacle, Hairspray — the delightful musical that tackles issues of race relations, class discrepancy and body image without becoming overbearing…

2014 Wexford Festival Opera

Wexford Festival Opera, champion of ‘unjustly neglected’ works, draws opera lovers worldwide

Reviewer James Sohre recaps 63rd season of the international festival, which has now been designated ‘Ireland’s National Opera House’

By James Sohre
Contributing writer

Before a note sounded at Wexford Festival Opera, the Minister for the Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht got the season off to a rousing start by announcing that the venue had been designated henceforth as “Ireland’s National Opera House…”

Oct. 22 Famous Artists Broadway: The Book of Mormon

‘The Book of Mormon,’ winner of nine Tony Awards, embodies the soul of American musical theater

What can one say about the show’s long-overdue arrival in Syracuse, except… Hallelujah!

By Laurel Saiz

The Book of Mormon is a hysterically irreverent and an ultimately sweet exultation of the human spirit. Sweet? Exultation of the human spirit?…

Oct. 11 SU Drama: Parade

SU Drama’s ‘Parade’ pleases the ear, challenges the mind

The Tony Award-winning Broadway musical about intolerance and bigotry in the old South raises issues America has not fully addressed

By Michael O’Connor

Like many Americans, I grew up reading and learning about America’s civil rights movements. Victims of racially motivated violence in this country are burned into my memory — names such as Emmett Till, James Byrd Jr., Mary Turner, Vincent Chin, and Leo Frank.

These names remain symbols of America’s difficulty in coming to grips with its past and present…

July 18 Glimmerglass: Carousel

Glimmerglass’s ‘Carousel’ goes ‘round and ‘round on the strength of its music, not visuals

McKinny crafts a formidable anti-hero in Billy Bigelow, and the cast of Glimmerglass Young Artists does justice to Rogers & Hammerstein’s beloved musical

By David Abrams

At first glance, setting Hungarian playwright Ferenc Molnár’s dark and depressing drama Liliom as musical theater hardly seems like a winning formula for making a hit on Broadway…