PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Nov. 16-22: Spider-Man to Fly Off Broadway and A Gentleman's Guide Opens

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22 Nov 2013

Jefferson Mays
Photo by Joan Marcus
The Times wasn't the only paper with Sondheim on the brain. Wrote Variety: "How very daring — a witty musical about a serial killer that Stephen Sondheim didn't write… The English music hall format is the perfect performance style for this adorably wicked show." Bloomberg News declared, "A stylish music-hall mystery in which we know whodunit from beginning to end, A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder has lively songs, a congenial villain and a physically and morally flexible mistress."

The few detractors tended to fault the score. "Problem No. 1 is Freedman and composer Steven Lutvak's score, a collection of innocuous music-hall pastiches," complained the New York Post. The Daily New agreed, saying "Finally, there's the score, and, alas, it's a bit of bore."

Nobody was bored by Mays, however, who, most agreed, topped his Tony-winning work in I Am My Own Wife. Wrote the Times, "Mr. Mays sings, dances, ice-skates, bicycles and generally romps through some eight roles — flipping among personas male, female and somewhere in between — at a pace that sets your head spinning... As each precise caricature of British snootiness or silliness comes bounding onto the stage, Mr. Mays seems to be challenging himself to elicit bigger laughs, and he almost always succeeds. All but one of his characters ends up six feet under by the time this daffy, inspired musical concludes, but his brilliant performance deserves to be immortalized in Broadway lore for some time to come."

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Also opening this week was another show about love and wholesale murder — in this case, a 400-year-old classic. Ethan Hawke and Anne-Marie Duff play the murderous marrieds in the Lincoln Center Theater Broadway revival of Macbeth, directed by Jack O'Brien.



The production was not well received, with critics pretty much laying it on the line, calling the production "botched," "dark and dismal" and "strangely conceived."

The best marks were given to English actress Duff, who is making her Broadway debut. AP said, "making a triumphant American debut, is an exquisite Lady Macbeth... Duff expresses a range of emotions. She's initially taut and steel-spined as Lady Macbeth hectors her malleable husband into murdering their king, then gamely tries to cover for her unstable spouse during a sumptuously staged banquet." (AP also liked Hawke.)

Continued...

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