Michael Mastro, Laura Bell Bundy, Leslie Kritzer, Michael McGrath. Photo by Evan Zimmerman.
The reviews are in for Paper Mill Playhouse’s brand-new musical comedy, inspired by the classic television series and directed by John Rando.
Book by Dusty Kay and Bill Nuss
Music by Stephen Weiner
Lyrics by Peter Mills
Directed by John Rando
Choreographed by Joshua Bergasse
Cast: Michael McGrath, Michael Mastro, Leslie Kritzer, Laura Bell Bundy, Lewis Cleale, Lewis J. Stadlen, David Wohl
Playing through November 29, 2017
Marina Kennedy – Broadway World
Get excited and get your tickets. Paper Mill Playhouse opens their 2017/2018 season with the world-premiere production of a dynamic new musical comedy, The Honeymooners. The show features a stellar cast, brilliant direction by John Rando, terrific choreography by Joshua Bergasse with superb musical direction and vocal arrangements by Remy Kurs.
Frank Rizzo – Variety
Even those who are favorably inclined toward nostalgic recreations of beloved TV shows will find their affections tested in “The Honeymooners,” the lumbering, scattershot musical premiering at the Paper Mill Playhouse. Musical stage adaptations of TV sitcoms have had a history of disappointing at-bats (“Happy Days,” “The Addams Family”) and this outing — which has been in development for several years — won’t do anything to change the stats.
Joe Dziemianowicz – NY Daily News
But, like McGrath, who’s reportedly wearing a fat suit, the show is uncomfortably wedged into one as well. The musical keeps grafting concepts onto a simple idea that would have resolved itself in 22 minutes. On stage, Ralph’s jingle schemes lead to Madison Ave. dog-eat-dog business antics, Park Ave. high-life fantasies and eventually to the real-life variety series “Cavalcade of Stars,” which Gleason hosted, and a weirdly bloated and busy production number (choreography is by Joshua Bergasse) that’s led by Trixie that’s not even half as funny or winning as it thinks it is.
Frank Scheck – The Hollywood Reporter
Director John Rando (Urinetown) has assembled a terrific cast of Broadway talents, but ultimately they’re hamstrung by essentially having to imitate the inimitable original performers. Wearing extensive padding, Michael McGrath expertly recreates Jackie Gleason’s vocal delivery, signature stammering and physical gestures as bus driver Ralph Kramden. Michael Mastro similarly echoes Art Carney’s hilarious deadpan posturing as sewer worker Ed Norton. The two actors look uncannily like their predecessors and have their comic interactions down pat. But you’re always aware that you’re looking at impersonations. They’re not really playing Kramden and Norton; they’re playing Gleason and Carney playing Kramden and Norto
Matt Windman – AM New York
Whereas the original episodes had speed, unpredictability and grit, the musical is sappy and sanitized, resembling a two-and-a-half hour valentine to a half-hour sitcom, depending heavily on sentimental romance and bromance, plus shout-outs to classic moments and contemporary fads for easy laughs.
Patrick Maley – NJ.com
Nostalgia can be warm, charming, even uplifting. Rarely is it revelatory or exciting. “The Honeymooners,” a world-premiere musical at the Paper Mill Playhouse, based on the classic 1950s Jackie Gleason-Art Carney sitcom, delivers punchy laugh lines and bouncy songs to accompany a large dose of purposeful nostalgia; it is perfectly pleasant by any measure.