Cameron Mackintosh may have to watch his back. Strongly positive reviews for the Chicago musical The House of Martin Guerre, with a score by Canadian Leslie Arden, make the show a possible challenge to his London Martin Guerre.
Goodman spokesperson Cindy Bandle said she was aware that commercial producers have been coming to see the Chicago Guerre, with an eye to continuing the show beyond the end of its Chicago run. But that no such production has been announced or is actively being planned to the best of her knowledge.
Here is a sampling of reviews for The House of Martin Guerre, by Arden and Anna Theresa Cascio, which opened July 1 at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago.
* Sid Smith, The Chicago Tribune:
"Go and enjoy this thrilling, richly varied, highly original Goodman undertaking. . .
"In its rush of a story, moments of grand singing, colorful details and powerful human emotions, Martin Guerre is already a production worth remembering. . .
"House of Martin Guerre manages to embrace the deep truths of this complex matter without forgetting light-hearted entertainment. It wanders through high drama, low comedy and tingly romance with a clearheaded sense of direction, often looking and sounding astonishingly fresh.
"A few flaws: The melodrama sometimes assaults the viewer, even in a nevertheless effective Act I finale. Act II needs trimming, starting with the thematically heavy-handed 'The Way of the World" . . .
"But never mind the nits. House of Martin Guerre is promising, funny, moving and enlightening, proof that an old tale can unleash newfound joy."
* Hedy Weiss, The Chicago Sun-Times:
"Leslie Arden's new musical, rich in emotional power and soaring melodies, makes her a genuine Broadway contender . . .
"Arden's exceptional work, written in collaboration with writing Anna Theresa Cascio and directed by David Petrarca, is a remarkable achievement -- meticulously structured, driven by a tautly beautiful and emotionally fiery score, and enhanced by a visually stunning production that takes its inspiration from Pieter Brueghel's vibrant paintings of 16th century European peasant life . . .
"With more than 30 songs -- including several ravishing and unusual duets that also function as solos ("It Isn't That Easy for Me" and "No Life at All") and a masterful choral work ("Eight Years") -- Arden weaves this story with the blend of complexity, directness and sophistication found in the work of her mentor, Stephen Sondheim . . .
"Along with the plangent tones of Arden's music, and her elegantly shaped lyrics and detailed storytelling, these radiant stage pictures capture the steady flow of nature and the mysterious beauty of a world on the brink of enlightenment."