New York Times

The New York Times – London Theatre Reviews

London theatre reviews from US newspaper The New York Times.

A round-up of reviews of London shows from the theatre and arts critics at The New York Times newspaper.

We have also included a number of Broadway reviews for shows of special interest to UK audiences.

Also see: All theatre reviews and reviews round-ups

The Devil Wears Prada at the James M. Nederlander Theatre, Chicago (2022)

"An Adaptation That Needs Tailoring"

"The new Elton John-Shaina Taub musical, based on the popular film about a fashion-world ingénue and her demanding boss, isn’t yet ready-to-wear."

"In the film, Meryl Streep played Miranda with sleek silver hair and a voice like liquid nitrogen — an ice queen to sink the Titanic. But Leavel is an actress of humor and warmth with a gift, demonstrated in “The Drowsy Chaperone” and “The Prom,” for arch self-parody. Miranda should have her underlings shaking in their Louboutin boots. Here, everyone stands pretty tall."

"The musical’s first act closes with its title song, a suggestion that the fashion world is a kind of inferno. “Hell is a runway,” the chorus sings (with a sound mix so muddy that I had to look up the lyrics later), “where the devil wears Prada.” But nothing in the show confirms this. The worst anguish Andy suffers? Her boss calls too often. “The Devil Wears Prada” isn’t as sumptuous as it should be or as bitingly incisive. If it wants a life beyond Chicago, it could use some alterations."

Alexis Soloski, The New York Times
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ABBA Voyage at the ABBA Arena (2022)

"No Ordinary Abba Night at the Club"

"With a concert spectacle mixing wizardry and technical skill, the band makes a case for its continued relevance."

"It’s a mix of wizardry and technical skill that, decades later, after movies and musicals and greatest hits compilations, is still at the pinnacle of pop maximalism. To hear the closing piano riffs on “Chiquitita” in a crowded arena is an exalting experience, and despite its eyebrow-raising premise, Abba Voyage miraculously takes flight."

Juan A. Ramírez, The New York Times
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Macbeth at the Longacre Theatre (2022)

"In a New ‘Macbeth,’ Something Wonky This Way Comes"

"Daniel Craig and Ruth Negga star in Sam Gold’s oddly uneasy take on the Scottish play."

"Though the production too often feels as if it were designed for the company’s own edification — an endless rehearsal rather than a Broadway revival — it is not without its outward-facing qualities, especially after the initial throat-clearing. There are beautiful, quietly observed moments: a glance between Craig and Negga, for instance, that says more about marriage than some entire plays on the subject. There are smaller characters crystallized in a flash: Lazar’s Duncan dainty and handsy, Maria Dizzia’s Lady Macduff heartbreakingly resolute."

Jesse Green, The New York Times
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More reviews of Macbeth

Jerusalem at the Apollo Theatre (2022)

"In ‘Jerusalem,’ a Once-in-a-Lifetime Performance, Again"

"Mark Rylance is back in a role that won him a Tony more than a decade ago. But this London production isn’t just coasting on past kudos."

"There’s mighty, and then there’s Mark Rylance in “Jerusalem,” a performance so powerfully connected to its part that it feels almost superhuman. That’s as it should be for a play about a larger-than-life character named Johnny Byron, who demands an entirely fearless actor, and has one in Rylance."

Matt Wolf, The New York Times
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Funny Girl at the August Wilson Theatre (2022)

"Broadway’s First ‘Funny Girl’ Revival Shows Why It Took So Long"

"To rip the bandage off quickly: Feldstein is not stupendous. She’s good. She’s funny enough in places, and immensely likable always, as was already evident from her performances in the movies “Booksmart” and “Lady Bird” and, on Broadway, in “Hello, Dolly!” You root for her to raise the roof, but she only bumps against it a little. Her voice, though solid and sweet and clear, is not well suited to the music, and you feel her working as hard as she can to power through the gap. But working hard at what should be naturally extraordinary is not in Fanny’s DNA."

"Still, you can’t blame Feldstein for the show’s problems; that would be like blaming the clown for the elephants. The main elephant is the book, written by Isobel Lennart and fiddled with for this production by Harvey Fierstein, to no avail."

"Mayer’s staging, which at times seems to aim for the ghostly nostalgia of “Follies,” feels lumbering and underfunded, with cheap-looking sets (by David Zinn), a cast of 22 in place of the original 43 and wan new orchestrations for 14 players, based on the glorious originals by Ralph Burns for 25. (You’re going to sell me “People” with two violins?) Only the aptly gaudy costumes by Susan Hilferty suggest the Ziegfeldian overabundance that shows like “Funny Girl” were designed to purvey."

Jesse Green, The New York Times
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More reviews of Funny Girl

The Music Man at the Winter Garden Theatre (2022)

"Even With Hugh Jackman, ‘The Music Man’ Goes Flat. Sutton Foster also stars in this neat, perky, overly cautious Broadway revival of a musical that needs to be more of a con."

"There comes a moment in the latest Broadway production of Meredith Willson’s “The Music Man” when high spirits, terrific dancing and big stars align in an extended marvel of showbiz salesmanship.Unfortunately, that moment is the curtain call."

"Until then, the musical, which opened on Thursday night at the Winter Garden Theater, only intermittently offers the joys we expect from a classic revival starring Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster — especially one so obviously patterned on the success of another classic revival, “Hello, Dolly!,” a few seasons back."

"Jackman mostly suppresses his sharky charisma here; this is not a star turn like Dolly Levi or, for that matter, Peter Allen in “The Boy From Oz.” Instead, he seems to see Hill as a character role: a cool manipulator and traveling horndog who in being unprincipled must also be unlovable."

Jesse Green, The New York Times
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More reviews of The Music Man

Cinderella at the Gillian Lynne Theatre (2021)

"‘Cinderella’ Is Worth the Wait"

"This 1934 show is Depression-era escapism fit for post-Covid times. If you want to remove yourself from the world for a few hours, this is the place to do it."

"The long-awaited show from the 73-year-old industry veteran turns out to have been worth the wait. “Cinderella” is a big, colorful production, painted in deliberately broad brushstrokes by the director Laurence Connor, that turns a time-honored story (somewhat) on its head. The result may not be quite the theatrical equivalent of its heroine’s cut-glass slipper, but it nonetheless looks set for a sturdy West End run. Best of all: “Cinderella” is fun."

Matt Wolf, The New York Times
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Jagged Little Pill at the Broadhurst Theatre (2019)

"With ‘Jagged Little Pill,’ They Finally Fixed the Jukebox"

"clear in its priorities, rich in character, sincere without syrup, rousing and real. It easily clears the low bar of jukebox success to stand alongside the dark original musicals that have been sustaining the best hopes of Broadway in recent years."

Jesse Green, The New York Times
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Sergei Polunin at the London Palladium (2019)

"A tepid hour of emoting and flailing"

"Rasputin,” a tepid hour of emoting and flailing (padded out with an intermission) that must have left even Mr. Polunin’s keenest supporters feeling something was missing. In fact, many things were missing: choreography, intelligence, taste and technique among them."

"But the choreography for Mr. Polunin is all smoke and mirrors; flailing arms and wild jumps with built-in falls that disguise his lack of technical control. Ms. Oishi displays no ability to create memorable encounters or create movement that delineates character, despite giving Mr. Kobborg an odd puppetlike jerkiness and suggesting that Yusupov enjoys cross-dressing. (The implication is that there is a homoerotic component to Yosupov’s relationship with Rasputin is an odd counterpart to Mr. Polunin’s Instagram musings."

"Mr. Polunin still has charisma and stage presence. He still seems to have an audience. But the narrow window he still has to save his technique, talent and reputation has almost closed."

Roslyn Sulcas, The New York Times
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More reviews of Sergei Polunin

All About Eve at the Noel Coward Theatre (2019)

"Has a vampire had its way with All About Eve?"

"Has a vampire had its way with “All About Eve”? The anaemic spectacle now sleepwalking across the stage of the Noël Coward Theater here shares a title, characters and much of its dialogue with Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s Oscar-winning 1950 film about the glamorous narcissists who inhabit the dark and glittering world of Broadway."

"Yet as adapted and directed by the international auteur Ivo van Hove, what was originally a crackling, high-gloss satire now feels like a horror movie without a pulse."

"His “Eve” is always on the edge of slipping into a coma, taking its audience with it."

Ben Brantley, The New York Times
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The Cher Show at the Neil Simon Theatre (2018)

'Except for the dozens of eye-popping outfits Mr. Mackie gorgeously recreates for the occasion, it’s all gesture, no craft: dramatically threadbare and surprisingly unrevealing.'

'It’s only with Star — the “bad-ass,” mature Cher — that we get a character who rewards our attention. Not only does [Stephanie J. Block] ace Cher’s vocal inflections and physical mannerisms, including the half-mast eyes, the arm akimbo and the dancing-from-the-hair-up hauteur, but she somehow integrates them into a portrait of a woman at odds with the very dream that sustained her.'

Jesse Green, The New York Times
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Clueless - The Musical at the The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre (2018)

'I had hopes that this screen-to-stage transfer would retain the charm of the original...Yet the perverse flattening process that too often occurs when two-dimensional films are translated into the three dimensions of live theater has befallen “Clueless” as well.'

'As the latest incarnation of Cher (and did I mention there’s a movie remake in the works, too?), Ms. Cameron has the poise and presence to anchor a show, and she sings and dances like a pro. Yet in stepping into the heightened, smiley landscape of musical comedy, Cher has perhaps inevitably acquired an extra, fatal degree of sparkle, and it pushes her from charming into cute.'

'The whole production, choreographed with a dutiful energy by Kelly Devine, suffers from a similar heightened twinkliness. It makes you appreciate how adroitly Ms. Heckerling sidestepped caricature and preciousness in her film. Like its shortsighted, matchmaking heroine — who looks for love in all the wrong places — the movie exuded a delicately balanced aura of deadpan, self-delighted innocence.'

'Clueless cultists will find many of their favorite lines have made it to the stage intact, including Cher’s immortal put-down, “As if!” But the character who registers most piquantly is one I scarcely remembered from the film: Travis the stoner.'

Ben Brantley, The New York Times
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More reviews of Clueless - The Musical

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