We round up the reviews for Bronagh Lagan’s production which transfers to the Park Theatre following a run at the Hope Mill theatre last year.
The Stage: *** “Though the frustratingly pat first act feels messy and cliché-heavy, the many threads come together nicely: first, as a panoramic view of Jewish immigrant experiences – the ones who make it and the ones who don’t – then as a rousing, moving cry for unionisation.”
London Theatre.co.uk: **** “Bronagh Lagan’s production, first seen at the Hope Mill, Manchester’s thrusting fringe powerhouse of musicals that has previously brought Hair, Pippin and Yank! to London, has been lovingly staged on an evocative set by Gregor Donnelly, constructed out of banks of old suitcases, to bring out the full power of this gorgeous, life-affirming show.”
Time Out: *** “This revival feels timely and then some. Firstly because of the anti-Semitism and anti-immigration abuse and rhetoric faced by the characters and their Italian neighbours. Secondly as a reminder of what America, and its ‘dream’, once represented to millions of people fleeing the worst moments of recent European history: a land of genuine freedom, equality, possibility and… yeah, end of sentence.”
Evening Standard: *** “Bronagh Lagan’s audacious production accentuates the parallels between attitudes to immigration then and now. She covers up the schematic plot and mushy songs by Charles Strouse and Stephen Schwartz with energetic choreography from Philip Michael Thomas and big performances.”
Theatre Weekly: **** “Rags The Musical may not have any moments of huge climax, but it succeeds in keeping the audience engaged throughout. The story is absorbing, and the score succeeds in complementing it rather than overpowering it, but it is the stellar cast who help Rags cast off its plainness and give it a hint of couture.”
The Reviews Hub: **** “This musical is not exactly ragged. Rather it is a patchwork of the good and the ordinary, but Lagan’s vivid, emotionally charged and beautifully sung staging raises it to a higher level.”
Broadway World: *** “For all its saccharine details and predictable manoeuvres, Rags proves commendable for its well-intentioned, hearty treatment of immigrant characters whose desires and predicaments are well worth revisiting.”
Musical Theatre Review: **** “It could even be argued that there are yet more revisions to Rags that could further refine and improve it. But with this Hope Mill Theatre production, one can also be happy that Strouse, Schwartz, Stein and Thompson finally have the story they need to tell, and which audiences owe themselves to see.”
London Theatre1: *** “The book is clichéd especially in the first act and old school and the songs are in the main, disappointing.”
The Upcoming: ***** “In an age where migrants are sent to detention centres, and when racism and xenophobia are enjoying a surge in popularity, we need a musical which forces us to look at the human face of immigration and which shows us that these issues have and will always be there if we let them. Rags The Musical has always carried an important message, but it feels particularly poignant in 2020. Without offending the Park Theatre, this production deserves a much larger stage.”
Rewrite This Story: **** “It’s a life-affirming show which will make you want to hug those close to you a little tighter.”
Rags the Musical continues to play at the Park Theatre until the 8th February.