Playbill Critics Circle: Review Encores! Promises

News   Playbill Critics Circle: Review Encores! Promises
The New York Times review of Promises, Promises at the New York City Center's Encores! series said the production was ready to move to Broadway.
Martin Short and Christine Baranski celebrate after the NY Promises revival March 23.
Martin Short and Christine Baranski celebrate after the NY Promises revival March 23. Photo by Photo by Starla Smith

The New York Times review of Promises, Promises at the New York City Center's Encores! series said the production was ready to move to Broadway.

Do you agree? Please write your opinion, and a review of the revival, which sold out its scheduled five performances.

Please respond only if you saw the show, which starred Martin Short, Christine Baranski, Terrence Mann, Dick Latessa, Eugene Levy, and others.

Write your comments -- long or short -- and e-mail them to Managing Editor Robert Viagas at Comments will be posted as they come in.

Here are the results so far. Playbill thanks those who took the time to write:From J. Marchese (
After an overture filled with the most electrifying sounds on Broadway, I just had no recourse but to cry. One can forget LES MIS or MISS SAIGON for emotional content. I found PROMISES, PROMISES to be the most enjoyable evening I've had in a theatre since, well, CHICAGO. And I've seen lots of theatre since CHICAGO. The sheer energy that pervaded the overture, swingingly conducted by Rob Fisher at his brassiest, was marvelously danced. The City Center rocked with applause after every number, every entrance and exit. I don't hesitate to admit that I was moved by the astounding energy, fun and magic onstage from the first chord of the overture to the last strain of exit music.
Martin Short astounded me with his thoroughly capable singing voice; his recording of the score (please, please, PLEASE tell me one is scheduled!) would stand alongside Jerry Orbach's and Tony Roberts' remarkably well. Kerry O'Malley was an appealing Fran, while Dick Latessa and the marvelous Christine Baranski delivered Neil Simon's great one-liners impeccably. The dancing ensemble seemed to be having such a wonderful time up onstage when I saw the show from Row BB on Sunday night; I haven't seen so much energy and excitement in dance since that OTHER Encores! show. Rob Marshall stayed true to Michael Bennett's spirit while creating a show that I do believe (sorry, critics) played well in the 90s. It wasn't nearly as dated as HOW TO SUCCEED (which I did enjoy) and the book remained sturdy Simon. The cast enabled PROMISES to be a totally spirited event.
The lighting and costumes were clever and remarkably well-executed, while the scenery was also very effective. This show looks ready for a Broadway transfer (are you listening, Weisslers?); it is slick and stirring. How could one not be affected by Fisher conducting that pulsating score? I cannot imagine another Broadway show being as magical a time machine into the 1960s. While "Turkey Lurkey Time" is not great theatre music and "Where Can You Take A Girl?" is silly, the fun that the actors are having just permeates the theatre. I couldn't take my eyes off any number in PROMISES. Rob Marshall has real talent, and Burt Bacharach never sounded so good. Orchestrator Jonathan Tunick also deserves a big hand. For the two-and-a-half hours I sat at the City Center, Broadway never sounded so alive.
Enough with my effusive praise, however: where did "You've Got It All Wrong?" come from? Was this a cut number from the original? In any case, it was one of many showstoppers.
Where can you, if you're a man, take a girl, if she's a girl (to quote lyricist Hal David)? Hopefully to a revival of PROMISES, PROMISES in a Broadway theater..... this show's too good to fade into obscurity again. (3/25/97)

From Joe Bravaco:
Encores has scored another one. I saw PROMISES PROMISES at the Sunday afternoon performance, and the show was a winner. It had a fabulous look, the original orchestrations sounded great and most of the performances were wonderful. I totally enjoyed it from the Hullabaloo dancing overture to the exit music (with those same dynamic girls frugging to the overture once again.) No one was leaving the theater even though the house lights were up and the usherettes were manning the exits. The score is in great shape (a couple of clinkers aside), the book is funny and bright, and in spite of what is going on in the plot, the characters are extremely likeable.
I hope Martin Short never returns to Hollywood. He is wasting his time on film. THe man was made for the stage. He lights up every inch of it with charm, charisma and talent. If he somehow could be convinced to appear in something every year, the Great White Way would be a lot richer. What a joy ! The rest of the cast was also top notch. But what impressed me most was Rob Marshall's direction (except for a lame staging of the title tune), this was as slick as they get.
Is it ready for B'way? Production wise, yes. (Maybe a part or two could be recast), but the show is just not as strong as CHICAGO, and Short would probably not be available for long (if at all), and will audiences really sit through another minimalist production? I doubt it. Anyway, Walter Bobbie has passed the torch to Kathleen Marshall and she and brother Bob have taken it and are running at top speed, and judging from the audience reaction at the final performance, they certainly are welcomed. (3/25/97)

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