Review Round Up: Some Like it Hot, Shubert Theatre

We take a look at what critics have had to say about the new musical based on the classic film.

(c) Mark J. Franklin

The Guardian: *** “But in wanting to treat the comedy of men in dresses with greater care and sensitivity – a terrific goal in and of itself – changes the meaning of Some Like It Hot itself. The original, in its sophistication and ambivalence, is a celebration of disguise, of the quick wits, silver tongues and wild cheek that let Joe and Jerry juggle their multiple fictions. Yet in this version (as in López’s earlier play The Legend of Georgia McBride), drag becomes a means to self-acceptance, a beribboned road to truth. It’s scrupulousness that’s feted here, not the scam. Here’s the millionaire’s response to Daphne this time: “You’re perfect.””

Entertainment Weekly: “Some Like It Hot succeeds where Sugar didn’t by not trying to recreate the film, but rather capturing its essence. Wilder’s comedies were always a little dangerous, a little dark, often disguising hard, unspoken truths. But that edge is what makes the laughter that much sweeter.”

New York Times: “Not to put too much weight on what is in many ways a standard-issue Broadway musical comedy circa 1959: often silly, sometimes shaggy, but with entertainment always the top note. That’s a pretty high standard, after all, and in its staging (by Casey Nicholaw), its revamped plot (by Matthew López and Amber Ruffin) and especially its songs (by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman), “Some Like It Hot” clears the bar handily. At least in the first act, the show is an unstoppable train, blowing right past local stations where you might have a moment to wonder exactly where you’re headed.”

Time Out: **** “What Some Like It Hot lacks in depth, though, it makes up for in shinier musical-theater pleasures. Scott Pask’s set has a swank Art Deco gloss, and Gregg Barnes’s costumes are marvelous; the orchestra sounds brassy and full, and the ensemble (which includes Angie Schworer as Sweet Sue’s right-hand lady) sells the dancing brightly and tightly.”

The Wrap: “Casey Nicholaw directs and choreographs with his usual flair for parody. He mines real romantic gold in the scenes between Ghee and Del Aguila, who’s pure cockeyed bliss every single moment he’s on stage. Nicholaw’s direction of Borle and Hicks strands them in another musical. As a choreographer, Nicholaw overuses tap to keep the show moving at a relentless pace that leaves the audience, not to mention the chorus, exhausted by intermission. In the movie, the three leads are members of an all-girl band. In the musical, they have to do double duty, and also perform as a tap-dancing trio. Never has more been way too much.”

Variety: “This stage production boasts swell performances, dandy twists and turns, razzmatazz dancing and a whole lotta energy (under the savvy, playful direction and choreography of Casey Nicholaw) — all of which should please new audiences without alienating fans of the original. If the songs by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (“Hairspray,” “Smash”) don’t always score high marks, well: Nobody’s perfect.” “The enjoyment of Shaiman and Wittman’s score owes slightly more to skilful orchestrations than to melodies but lyrics from the pair are strong. Enamoured by movies, Sugar scores a lovely I wish song, “At the Old Majestic Nickel Matinee,” also soaring with 11 o’clock ballad “Ride Out the Storm.” The title song makes for a fabulous full company act one finale. Celebrating the blessings of self discovery, Daphne’s “You Coulda Knocked Me Over With a Feather” looks set to join “I Am What I Am” as a knockout queer anthem for the ages.”

New York “What works best overall for me in the musical “Some Like It Hot” is the music – and the performers who deliver it, especially NaTasha Yvette Williams, whose character the bandleader Sweet Sue thankfully gets a much larger role in the show than the character did in the movie. Most of the melodies aren’t distinct enough to be memorable, but they make for lively listening in the moment.”

Slant Magazine: “Some Like It Hot’s predictable pizzazz may be enough to help the show survive in an economically turbulent Broadway landscape, but it’s Ghee’s Daphne, an explosive star turn, not to mention history-making for a non-binary actor, that’s one for posterity.”

NY Stage Review: **** “For the most part, Some Like It Hot succeeds in its aim of simply entertaining its audiences with those two most glorious words in the English language. And for many, that will be more than enough. But it’s hard not to wish that the show could have reached a higher temperature.”

Deadline: “Nicholaw’s choreography, like the score, borrows from here and there, now and then – mostly then – without seeming like pastiche or rip-off. You’ll see all the pre-War dance crazes you want, and they’ll look as fresh as if they’d never been done before, as if they’d been waiting all this time for Some Like It Hot. “But somewhere amid all the careful noting and updating of the original, Some Like It Hot’s fire has been dimmed. It’s easier to note all the ways the show doesn’t do anything wrong than the ways it executes new ideas of its own. There’s only so much you can get from something so on the defensive about its own existence. Everything goes so smoothly that there’s hardly any friction at all—and you need friction to generate heat.”

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