Book by John Weidman
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Additional Material by Hugh Wheeler
Directed and Designed by John Doyle
Karl Josef Co, Marc Delacruz, Steven Eng, Megan Masako Haley, Ann Harada, Kimberly Immanuel, Austin Ku, Kelvin Moon Loh, Orville Mendoza, Marc Oka, Thom Sesma, George Takei
Music Supervisor: Rob Berman
Music Director: Greg Jarrett
Costume Design: Ann Hould-Ward
Lighting Design: Jane Cox
Sound Design: Dan Moses Schreier
First Performance April 6, 2017
Opening May 4, 2017
Final Performance May 27, extended through June 18, 2017
Submit a review for Pacific Overtures
In the ground-breaking Pacific Overtures, Commodore Matthew Perry sails to Japan in 1853 on a U.S mission to open up trade relations at any cost. The musical tells the tale of a samurai and a fisherman who are caught up in the Westernization of the East.
With Pacific Overtures, which first premiered on Broadway in 1976 (directed by Hal Prince), John Doyle continues his highly-acclaimed and award-winning exploration of Sondheim’s work, having directed the legendary composer’s Sweeney Todd and Company on Broadway, and Passion at CSC.
Jesse Green – New York Times
The sometimes-glorious, sometimes-lackluster revival that John Doyle has staged in Classic Stage’s 200-seat Off Broadway home takes that less-is-more proposition nearly to a point of no return. Unlike Harold Prince’s original production at the 1,500-seat Winter Garden, with its jaw-dropping Boris Aronson scenery and costumes by Florence Klotz, Mr. Doyle starts from zero and adds only what he feels he must. He’s an essentialist, not a minimalist.
Marilyn Stasio – Variety
Director John Doyle is such a wizard, he could probably stage a show on a postage stamp. The stage at Classic Stage Company is larger than that — as reconfigured for this Off Broadway house, the playing space for Stephen Sondheim’s “Pacific Overtures” unfurls like a Japanese scroll, creating a ramp that runs the length of the theater. The stylized performances of a superb Asian-American cast — including George Takei — are ideally suited to this minimalist production of one of the great musicals of our time.
David Rooney – The Hollywood Reporter
The frugal restraint of the production — using minimal props and lengths of wave-print fabric to represent everything from water to tatami matting to ceremonial robes — highlights the delicacy of one of Sondheim’s most evocative scores. Dominated by woodwinds, strings and unsettling bursts of percussion, Jonathan Tunick’s orchestrations for eight musicians are perfect for the intimate setting (the audience is seated on either side of the long stage), giving crystalline clarity to every lyric.
Robert Hofler – The Wrap
Doyle’s staging of Sondheim and John Weidman’s “Pacific Overtures,” which opened Thursday at Off Broadway’s Classic Stage Company, isn’t devoid of humor. He has made the inspired choice to cast Ann Harada in a number of roles, and the original “Avenue Q” cast member brings her inimitable wry panache to several scenes, often cross-dressing to wonderful effect.
Howard Miller – Talkin’ Broadway
The elusive heart of the Stephen Sondheim/John Weidman musical Pacific Overtures remains missing-in-action in director John Doyle’s truncated Classic Stage Company production, in which characters and songs have been inexplicably dropped like feathers from a molting chicken. What’s left is essentially a well-performed 90-minute semi-staged concert featuring a talented Asian American cast, who blessedly are not called upon to play musical instruments, a hallmark of several of Doyle’s past projects (Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd and Company, and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Allegro). In keeping with the spare presentation, orchestrator Jonathan Tunick has reworked the score to fit the nine-member orchestra, conducted by Gregg Jarrett.
Robert Kahn – NBC New York
Doyle has trimmed Sondheim’s operatic 1976 musical (with librettist John Weidman) down to a single 90-minute act, in the process cutting a couple of songs beloved to purists. The result, though, is a spare and serene story that seems particularly relevant in a day when nations everywhere are reexamining stances on globalization.
Adam Feldman – TimeOut NY
Pacific Overtures, Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman’s musical about the West’s intrusion on Japan in the 19th century, is a show with spectacular demands. The original 1976 production was staged (and written) as a grand Kabuki pageant; the 2002 Japanese-language production at the Lincoln Center Festival went for plainer Noh frills, but offered several breathtaking stage pictures. John Doyle’s revival at Classic Stage Company is less lavish still: It has been boiled down—with all the loss of flavor that implies—to a somber 90-minute procession for 10 actors in modern dress, with the barest suggestion of sets and costumes. The Emperor has dull clothes.
Linda Winer – Newsday
A fundraising pitch in the program for Classic Stage Company describes its mission as “epic stories, intimately staged.” Anyone tempted to dismiss that as hype needs to nab a scarce ticket for “Pacific Overtures.”