What a coincidence that the Disney Channel movie, High School Musical 2, smashed all kinds of viewing records and revived the family musical this weekend, the very same weekend that the stage musical spawned from a reality television series opened on Broadway.
The latest revival of Grease, whose leads were chosen by audience vote on NBC’s Grease: You’re The One That I Want back in March, faced the critics last night at the prestigious Brooks Atkinson Theatre.
And those New York critics, who once could close a show with the tap of a typewriter key, had the big knives out. Already contemptuous of television and movie stars wedging themselves into Broadway shows to get the tourist dollar in the first place, what would you expect them to think of a show starring amateurs?
The New York Times: The effect is rather like one of those makeover shows in which everyday people are dressed and groomed to resemble red-carpet regulars and wind up looking like game but uneasy impostors…
The New York Post: This crass musical makes Legally Blonde seem like West Side Story… This is where the TV show hits the Broadway fan…
The New York Daily News: Americans may know how to choose pop singers, stand-up comics and ballroom dancers, but they have much to learn about picking Broadway stars… Part reality TV, Broadway revival and marketing gimmick… it all adds up to 2 1/4 hours of likable but lackluster entertainment…
Max Crumm won the role of the rebel Danny Zuko and Laura Osnes was selected to play goody-two-shoes Sandy Dumbroski by you– us, the folks who might visit New York City and take in a Broadway show. What do the esteemed theatre critics think of our choices?
Oy. Read for yourself… after the jump…The New York Post:
“The main trouble with… the uncharismatic Max Crumm as Danny and unexciting Laura Osnes as Sandy… the misguided stars– she being a great deal better, especially in spandex, than he– seems that the kind of chemistry between them could well discourage hydrogen from getting together with oxygen to make water…”
The New York Daily News:
“Crumm and Osnes’ chemistry is more sibling than sizzling. He holds his own singing and dancing, but is short on the sexiness and swoony swagger that’s part of Danny’s DNA. Osnes might be the prettiest Sandy ever, and she can belt. But she’s a limited actress, even playing a cardboard character. During her ballad ‘Hopelessly Devoted to You’ (one of the film tunes grafted onto the show), she wrings her hands and paces the stage like an expectant father in a maternity ward, rather than letting the lyrics show her ache. Without magnetic performances, interest wanes in whether Danny and Sandy will couple up. Chills don’t start multiplying, antsiness does…”
The New York Times:
“No one in the young cast of this revival… is flat-out terrible, including Max Crumm and Laura Osnes, the 21-year-olds elected by television audiences to play Danny and Sandy, the romantic leads… But there’s the numbing sense of performers of undeveloped talent conscientiously doing what they have been told to do and failing to claim their parts as their own…
“Ms. Osnes has a valedictorian’s poise, a sweet singing voice and eyes that instantly well up during emotional moments. But she approaches Sandy the good girl with the earnestness of a first-year acting student doing Juliet.
“Mr. Crumm has the dopey, likably sly face of a nerdy class clown, which makes him a refreshing if improbable choice for the studly Danny Zuko. But he never projects the authority of a natural leader of the pack. (Every time Danny pulls up the collar of his leather jacket in a cooler-than-thou gesture, it feels as if Mr. Crumm is actively remembering this is something he needs to do.)
This revival is a reminder that even in the new democracy of fame, it takes more than a change of wardrobe to make a bona fide stage star…”
The Broadway revival of Grease has already earned more than $15 million in advance ticket sales (and ticket prices range from $71.50 to $121.50). So the esteemed critics are shouting into the wind…
– Tabloid Baby