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“Women on the verge of a Nervous Breakdown”, Broadway musical, review December 30, 2010

Posted by ronannarbor in Broadway Musicals, musical theater.
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Wildly mixed reviews have done -in Women on the verge of a Nervous Breakdown, the musical, which closes on Broadway January 2nd. Boy, am I glad I had the chance to see it before it’s gone.

Starring a virtual who’s who of Broadway veterans (Patti Lupone, Laura Benanti, Sherie Rene Scott, Danny Burnstein, Brian Stokes Mitchell), the show features a large ensemble cast in a show based on Pedro Almodovar’s movie. The book is adapted here by Jeff Lane, and Music and Lyrics are by David Yazbek (The Full Monty, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) and is the most tuneful score in the current Broadway season.

It’s cleverly and brightly designed (I am always fond of primary colors in musicals) and it barrels along at lighting pace. Weaving together the basic storyline of a breakup, a breakdown, and a possible live-in terrorist, it’s a bit schizophrenic but always entertaining. In smaller roles, de’Andre Aziza, Nikka Graff Lanzarone, Mary Beth Peil and Justin Guarini (yes, that Justin Guarini) are all strong, although Justin is  miscast in the macho-nerd part originally created by Antonio Banderas in the film.

Just hand Laura Benanti her Tony right now. Her performance as Candela (stupid-as-a-rock model) is amazing. She single-handedly brings down the house with the funniest musical sequence in any musical in recent memory with “Model Behavior”, a song in which she tries to reach her friend Pepa by telephone but keeps getting her answering machine. Her comedic timing is a thing of beauty. It’s also the most hummable tune in the show.

Patti gets the requisite second act torch song (Invisible) and its a doozy. Sherie Rene Scott delivers her part with a self-assuredness that has grown with every role she has played in NYC.

Sure, there are some rough edges to the show, not the least is the running gag about the pronunciation of “gazpacho” throughout the evening. There’s also some silliness on swings to close out Act I, although the tune itself was exciting, and an embarrassing set of lyrics in Danny Burnstein’s opening number. The songs also have a tendency to peter out before hitting a final note…much like they did in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels…which means the audience at times is left wondering where they should applaud and where they should not.

Sadly, the show closes this coming Sunday, so you only have 4 more chances to try to see the show at the Belasco Theatre in NYC. Hopefully they will record the score, which deserves an audience (especially for the aforementioned songs), and the show will live on. To say it was my favorite musical of the 2010 new musical season goes without saying

You can see what the show looks like here, including a clip of Laura Benanti’s scene-stealer…

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Comments

1. johnsonf - December 31, 2010

I saw this show in New York yesterday and LOVED it! I agree that Laura Benanti was wonderfully funny and I always love to hear Brian Stokes Mitchell sing. I enjoyed my evening and was sorry to hear it was closing Sunday. I don’t think it deserved the harsh reviews.

2. ronannarbor - January 5, 2011

UPDATE: It was announced that there WILL be a cast album recorded on January 17th for spring release. Good news that this tuneful score will be preserved.


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