Lorne Michaels, producer of the TV show Saturday Night Live is co-producing the planned Broadway transfer of Randy Newman's Faust, according to Cathy Kerr, personal manager for the show's composer/lyricist/co-librettist.
Kerr told Playbill On-Line that the musical is being readied for New York, probably in autumn 1997.
The contemporary musicalization of the Faust legend will conclude its sold-out extended run at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago Nov. 2.
Kerr said no New York theatre has yet been booked, but that the show is being co-produced for Broadway by Michaels and Warner Bros.
Kerr said there are no current plans for another pre-Broadway production of the musical, but "you never know." Here are excerpts from published reviews of Randy Newman's Faust, which opened Sept. 30.
From Richard Christiansen, Chicago Tribune:
Randy Newman's Faust is not yet the Broadway musical it appears destined to be, and even as it is, it suffers from some excruciating moments of bad taste and bad judgment.
But taken for what it is, right now and right here in its tryout time at Goodman Theatre, it is an often giddily enjoyable show, filled with Newman's melodic songs, spiced with laugh-out-loud good humor, enlivened by marvelously crafty performances and gleaming with bright professional polish."
From Mary Shen Barnidge, This Month ON STAGE:
She made three suggestions for improving Faust before it ventures to the Great White Way: "1. Consolidate the half-dozen song snippets that open the show into one or two cohesive numbers... 2. Consolidate the Costa Rica scenes into one cohesive number. We know that the whole subplot is an irrelevant gag designed to introduce some syncopated rhythms into [Randy] Newman's relentlessly ricky-ticky, strut-time tempi... 3. Point up the generation gap conflict between slackerly Henry Faust and the middle-aged Lucifer." On the plus side, Barnidge went on to praise Newman's "luscious score," and the singing of Aisha deHaas.
From Roy Leonard, WGN Radio/TV:
If you are among the many who wonder whether God is still listening, wander over to Chicago's Goodman Theatre and catch a performance of a remarkable production called Randy Newman's Faust. I think composer Randy Newman and writer David Mamet have a pretty good handle on what might be going on celestial-wise these days. And besides, there hasn't been this much fun in the musical theatre in a long time. . .
There are outstanding performances by David Garrison as a smooth, dapper and cynical Devil and Ken Page with both the voice and presence for the omniscient Lord. Although some of the secondary voices don't quite measure up, the overall evening is a joyous and entertaining experience."
From Betty Mohr, The Daily Southtown:
Randy Newman's Faust . . . raises hilarious hell in one of the most exciting new musical comedies to hit the stage. Newman, the singer-songwriter best known for his satirical pop songs, wrote the music, lyrics and book with collaboration on the script by playwright David Mamet, and has come up with an irreverent, bawdy and bitterly ironic new show that is non-stop funny . . .
The power struggle between God and Lucifer takes place in heaven against a backdrop of starry skies and a green golf course; in Hell, a red-splashed basement filled with red upholstery and red furniture; and in Las Vegas and South Bend, Ind. These settings, conjured up by designer Thomas Lynch, with lighting by Christopher Akerlind, give the show a tongue-in-cheek contemporary look. . .
Watching this production is like going to musical comedy heaven. Run to see it.
From Chris Jones, New City:
No characters change or develop much: they are too busy cracking funnies. The expensively staged material could still use more work -- a production number set in Costa Rica has nothing to do with anything and one suspects Newman and company had no idea how to end the show. But the singing and production values are of the highest quality. (Ken Page as God is worth the price of admission alone), the satire bites like starving fish and the slimy David Garrison's Lucifer always keeps things rocking. Even though the show is reminiscent of the thematically superior Damn Yankees, Newman is likely to attract a whole new audience for musicals with this often hysterically funny piece -- the musical theatre needs his fans more than it needs another crowd of purists or (worse, worse) another revival.
From Dan Zeff, Copley News Service:
The show revolves around Lucifer, and audiences are treated to a show-stealing performance by David Garrison. His Lucifer is tired of his exile in hell and wants to get back into heaven where the climate and scenery are better. He's a conniving and shrewd wiseguy and a joy to see and hear. The devil will always upstage the deity in a story, but Garrison really makes the character his own. He sings, acts, does some funny comic turns and even does a middling good tap dance. It's a lip-smacking performance that Garrison seems to relish as much as the audience.
Newman has written an eclectic score, incorporating gospel, rock, love songs, even a 1930s movie musical sequence. Only a few of the numbers can be readily identified as Newmanesque, the best being "Can't Keep a Good Man Down" and "Never Good Enough." None of the songs will send spectators whistling into the night but they are all listenable at worst, and exhilarating at best.
The show's problem is that interest tends to flag whenever Lucifer is out of the action . . ."
From Sherman Kaplan, WBBM Newsradio:
The Lord is no also-ran in the hands of Ken Page, who gives to the Omnipotent the joy of a gospel preacher and singing voice to match. Kurt Deutsch plays Henry Faust with a lascivious leer coupled with Generation X fogginess.
. . . Dialogue is often laugh-out-loud funny, and street-smart vulgar. Newman's mark can be clearly heard on some of the more whimsical songs that dot the score, while his haunting ballads, "It Was Beautiful," sung by Ken Page, is as beautiful as popular music can get.
But, more often than not, Randy Newman's Faust is a rip-roaring , flamboyant, comic burlesque, played for broad laughs with its wonderfully politically incorrect innuendoes. And, when it becomes serious, it raises all the right questions. I could not dislike this show if I tried.
To see what Playbill On-Line users think of the show, check the Playbill Critics Circle in Theatre News. If you'd like to post YOUR own review of the show in the Playbill Critics Circle section of Playbill On-Line, send an e-mail to Managing Editor Robert Viagas at email@example.com. We'll post them daily.
-- By Robert Viagas