Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Closing!!! 'Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown' in NYC

Belasco Theatre marquee (image: playbill.com)

Another musical based on a movie closes. The pedigree of the new musical 'Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown' had hit written all over it. No doubt Lincoln Center thought so and was probably seeking a long run to fill the coffers of the not-for-profit organization. Lincoln Center produces a musical now and then and among them were the hit revivals of 'South Pacific' (2008) and 'Anything Goes' (1987) as well as the dance musical 'Contact' (2007). All three extended well beyond the announced limited engagements.

The company (all production images: Paul Kolnik)
Then there are the creators: composer David Yazbek ('The Full Monty', 'Dirty Rotten Scoundrels'), writer Jeffrey Lane (also of 'Scoundrels), director Bartlett Sher ('South Pacific', 'Light in the Piazza') and a design team attached to a string of major musicals.

Next the performers have garnered 17 Tony Award nominations and 4 wins: Patti Lupone, Sherie Rene Scott, Brian Stokes Mitchell, De'Adre Aziza, Laura Benanti, Danny Burstein and Mary Beth Peil. Let's not discuss the addition of American Idol first season runner-up Justin Guarini to the cast.

Patti Lupone & Sherie Rene Scott
Finally the source material is one of Spanish director and writer Pedro Aldomovar's first films to gain popularity in America and an Oscar nomination for foreign language film. The breakout star of the 1988 film was a young Antonio Banderas.

It didn't hurt the film had a screwball story. Described by amazon.com: A woman's lover leaves her, and she tries to contact him to find out why he's left. She confronts his wife and son, who are as clueless as she. Meanwhile her girlfriend is afraid the police are looking for her because of her boyfriend's criminal activities. They talk to a female lawyer, who turns out to be the lover's new lover, and everyone's path keeps crossing each other's in a very complicated and confusing manner.

Nikka Graff Lanzarone, Laura Benanti, Justin Guarini
Where most recent musicals based on a movie had a source that was widely popular, New York Times reported before the show's opening:
The $5 million show is a rarity: a new musical based on a foreign film from two decades ago that is probably not widely known among the tourists who are the backbone of Broadway box offices. And the show is opening in New York without the traditional out-of-town tryout used by every other new musical now on Broadway ('Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark' was yet to play its first preview) to test material to make corrections.
Brian Stokes Mitchell, Nina Lafarga, Justin Guarini
The review from Variety:
The recipe for gazpacho is scrawled large across the curtain. Like the dish in question, the new Almodovarsical is refreshing, peppery and palate-cleansing, but it is still, in the end, cold tomato soup -- invigorating and highly spiced, but not satisfying enough for a full meal or a full evening's entertainment. Tuner is blessed with some delicious performances and any number of items of interest, but the result can be summed up as a women (and men) on the verge of a coherent musical.
Part of the problem is all those characters, played by all those musical-comedy luminaries, unable to step back into a supportive ensemble when necessary. (The design team) produce a visually fascinating show. But Lane and the talented Yazbeck, in an attempt to stay true to the film and provide songs and scenes for each of their nine featured principals, have spread their story so thin that audience interest soon deflates.

Sherie Rene Scott
'Women..' opened at the Belasco Theatre on November 4, 2010 (previews from October 8, 2010 after being delayed twice) and closed on January 2, 2011, three weeks earlier than the scheduled January 23 closing date, for a run of 30 previews and 69 performances. A cast recording of the musical is scheduled for release on May 10. More production photos below the video.

Patti Lupone
Laura Benanti, Justin Guarini, Sherie Rene Scott
Sherie Rene Scott
Nikka Graff Lanzarone, Justin Guarini, Nina Lafarga
Sherie Rene Scott

Mary Beth Peil, Sherie Rene Scott
Sherie Rene Scott, Danny Burstein
Sherie Rene Scott, Brian Stokes Mitchell 
Patti Lupone, De'Adre Aziza
Patti Lupone
Danny Burstein
Brian Stokes Mitchell 
Laura Benanti
Patti Lupone


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