First off, this isn’t a review because the material isn’t ready to be reviewed, by any means. But since last night was one of the most infuriating nights on Broadway and I would be remiss if I didn’t write about my experience. By the night was over, I almost had a nervous breakdown of my own.
When director, Bartlett Sher, asked the audience for “love, kindness and to come back to see the show”, we all accepted wholeheartedly. He explained that this was the first preview of a brand new show opening on Broadway with no out-of-town tryout. I think he called it crazy. He was pleading with the audience to show them some grace and forgiveness if anything stopped the show or they had to hold for any reason. Apparently, they tried to get through the whole show on Thursday night, but ended up stopping mid-way through the second act. First preview became the first run through of the show.
The show was a disaster. I think everyone was so worried about the technical aspect of the show that they forgot about the material. The set was moving almost after every scene and it wasn’t just one small piece that moved, the whole stage turned into something new in every scene. The projections on the back wall were also changing every second of the show. The biggest contraption (that actually failed to work at one point during the second act) was the taxi car. Every time the taxi went off stage, they stagehands had to literally store it in the air about 10 feet off the ground. You could hear the taxi being chained up as the actors were trying to act on stage and at one moment, during a particularly melodramatic scene, it was extremely distracting.
Overall, everyone involved probably felt last night was a success because they were able to get from beginning to end without stopping. And in that regard it was a success, but the technical aspect of the show seemed to be the only thing that anyone was worried about.
I wanted to walk into the theatre with no preconceived notions, so I haven’t watched the popular 1980’s movie. Now, I need to see the movie, so I can fully understand what the vision of the show was supposed to be. (I didn’t want another Billy Elliot experience.)
I’ve also never had such a bad seat on Broadway. I’ve bought numerous tickets in partial view on Broadway and this was by far the worst seat I’ve ever had at any Broadway house. I saw about 20% of the stage. I actually saw more of what was going on back-stage then I did on-stage. I feel cheated by the Lincoln Center that they sold me that seat. It shouldn’t be sold and I want my money back.
My biggest question in regards to the casting was the fact that none of the main characters are actually Latino. My wife, who is half-Latina, was actually offended by this. Sherie Rene Scott is not believable as a Latina at all. I’ve always loved everything Rene Scott has done, but she struggled to find herself in the material. Patti Lupone commanded the stage, but her songs “Time Stood Still” and “Invisible” were almost forgettable. I couldn’t believe that Yazbek didn’t write better songs for Lupone.
Laura Benanti was by far the best part of the production. Her character was hysterical and she looked and sounded great. She sang the best song of the night, “Model Behavior” and the audience loved it. I couldn’t understand a word she sang, but it was funny. Justin Guarini did a great job as the nervous son, Carlos. He sounded great and I think he’ll only get better. (If was after all, his first performance on a Broadway stage.)
The material severely needs an overhaul and a facelift. It will become tighter as the show goes on, but Yazbek’s score was no where near the caliber of The Full Monty or Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. The book by Jeffrey Lane felt rushed and a bit manic – too many stories happening at once. The telenovela style of the show is going to escape most Broadway audiences. This show is neither a drama or a musical comedy. It’s a melodramatic telenovela on stage with no Latinos; it doesn’t make any sense.
I was very excited to witness the first preview of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown for so many reasons and I wanted to show love and kindness toward the cast, but overall they just weren’t ready to show what they had produced to a Broadway audience. At $116 dollars, I expect a show that’s at least watchable. This production needs a good couple of weeks of rehearsal to get it where it should be.
Even when I’ve seen bad Broadway, I’ve never felt cheated, but last night I felt that Lincoln Center Theatre cheated me out of $232.00 and frankly, I want my money back.
My suggestion: don’t see this for at least a month and wait for it to officially open. It’s not worth the money.