The book by Jessie Nelson, based on the movie written and directed by Adrienne Shelly, tends to flatten most of the characters into comic cartoons. The material is anchored at every step by Bareilles’ melodious pop score and Muellers supremely natural performance as Jenna, said Variety. While the stock characters that surround her may be familiar, they’re a winsome bunch played by sterling performers. Time Out liked the material better than some, calling it an expertly constructed and emotionally satisfying tale of self-liberation in the face of limited options. But overall, the best words were saved for Mueller, whom the Chicago Tribune said, surely there is no singing actress of Muellers generation better able to play a woman of low power and self-esteem. *** The Broadway bow of Becky Modes Off-Broadway hit of 15 years ago, Fully Committed, was next, opening April 25 at the Lyceum. The raison d’etre of this enterprise is TV star Jesse Tyler Ferguson , last seen on Broadway in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee , and now famous owing to serial Emmy winner Modern Family. Ferguson plays more than 40 characters in the solo show, including a harried reservations clerk at an in-demand eatery, the restaurant chef and a series of guests clamoring for a table. Nearly every review described Ferguson as immensely likable, and many dropped the term tour de force. Yet, the reviews as a whole were restrained in their enthusiasm, the critics feeling undernourished by both the play and the production. Mr. Fergusonbrings such warmth and variety to his performance that you may not notice that in the more than 15 years since the play opened Off-Broadway, it has acquired a slightly sour aftertaste, wrote the Times. The Wall Street Journal opined, Mr. Ferguson doesnt quite have the vocal flexibility necessary to impersonate so widely varied a gallery of characters, and so the tour-de-force aspect of Fully Committed isn’t fully realized. Even so, his acting crackles with physical energy and comic life, and it won’t take long for you to shelve your doubts and buy into his performance. Entertainment Weekly, perhaps, put it most succinctly: Fully Committed is the inside track on reasonable strategies of photography full of laughs, but leaves you wanting more. *** Next came Tuck Everlasting, the new musical about a love that could live literally forever, which opened April 26 at the Broadhurst Theatre. The show features a book by Claudia Shear and Tim Federle, based on Natalie Babbitts best-selling 1975 novel of the same name.
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