The London shows that should come to NYC — and the ones that shouldn’t

0

They’re Brexiting all the way to New York.

“The Nap,” “Girl From the North Country” and “The Ferryman” are just a few of the shows that have leaped across the pond and landed on or off-Broadway lately. But it doesn’t end there.
Here’s a look at what’s coming our way, what should come our way — and what should simply stay away.

WHAT’S COMING

“Tina: The Tina Turner Musical”

When Adrienne Warren starts to sing “River Deep Mountain High,” some extraordinary performers jump to mind: Jessie Mueller in “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” and John Lloyd Young in “Jersey Boys.” Warren is every bit as good as those Tony winners.

“Tina,” which will open on Broadway next fall, is doing a lot right. It has a deep-feeling script by Katori Hall that doesn’t sugarcoat Tina’s rough start and abusive marriage to Ike Turner; it’s slickly directed by Phyllida Lloyd (“Mamma Mia!”) and it makes Ike three-dimensional, thanks to an excellent Kobna Holdbrook-Smith.

All it needs to do next is sustain its adrenaline rush. Several times, bizarre scenery changes snuff out the audience’s applause and energy after some thrilling singing. And Act 2, meant to honor Tina’s struggles, is overly sober. Broadway audiences want to rejoice, not ruminate, when it comes to a beloved singer.

“The Lehman Trilogy”

The British love nothing more than to celebrate American failures. Take “Enron,” about the titular company’s scandal and collapse. It was a huge hit in the UK, but closed on Broadway in two weeks.

Now there’s “The Lehman Trilogy,” about the rise and fall of the Lehman Brothers investment bank. Told mostly in narration, the show is stilted and unnatural, probably because it was translated from an Italian movement-based play by Ben Power. Three actors (Simon Russell Beale, Adam Godley and Ben Miles) play a litany of Lehmans, from their 1844 emigration to New York all the way through to the financial crisis. The early history is fascinating; the middle section is a nap and Act 3 is a sermon.

Director Sam Mendes spins around the Plexiglas set so much, it’s like the “Les Miz” barricade on speed. The actors are strong, but they’re performing an encyclopedia entry.

WHAT SHOULD COME

“The Lieutenant of Inishmore”

A celeb lesser-known to Americans, but still drool-worthy, is Aidan Turner, star of the TV show “Poldark,” which airs in America on PBS’ “Masterpiece.” Onstage, he’s splendid in “The Lieutenant of Inishmore,” Martin McDonagh’s hilarious satire of Irish terrorists.

Turner plays a particularly ferocious one called Padraic, who emotionally breaks down when he discovers his cat is sick. Blood and guts abound.

Director Michael Grandage, who helmed the drippy “Frozen” musical, reminds us here of his comic edge and keen understanding of humanity’s darkness. “Inishmore” was a summer highlight in the West End. Although it played Broadway in 2006, it’s well worth reviving.

WHAT SHOULD STAY AWAY

“Strictly Ballroom”

Based on Baz Luhrmann’s quirky 1992 film, the awful “Strictly Ballroom” is notable because its director, Drew McOnie, is making his New York debut in November with “King Kong.” Only with “Ballroom,” he’s slipped on a banana peel.

“Strictly” follows a group of competitive dancers in the ’80s, bound by ironclad rules for what makes good hoofing. But one rebel, Scott (Jonny Labey), wants to break the mold and try out new moves. His love interest Fran (Zizi Strallen) is along for the ride.

Translating Luhrmann’s quick-cut, campy humor to the stage is tough. The Broadway-bound, superb “Moulin Rouge!” mastered it, but the overblown characters here are awkwardly rendered, especially the second-rate “Cabaret”-style emcee phoned in by Will Young on the night I saw it.

“Killer Joe”

“Pirates of the Caribbean” hottie Orlando Bloom is the best part of a miserable new production of Tracy Letts’ dramedy, which ran off-Broadway in 1998.

Bloom plays Joe, a police officer and hired gun in Texas. When a trailer-park low-life named Chris asks Joe to murder his mom for her life-insurance payout, the smooth assassin becomes a part of the family’s life.

Director Simon Evans is the real killer here. The confused tone, oversize performances and the clunky staging strangle the script. Still, Bloom gives it his all, and even bares his butt.

ReadMore…

Leave A Reply