Doctor Zhivago BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Matthew Murphy
  • NY TIMES

  • TIME OUT

  • VULTURE

  • HR

  • DAILY NEWS

Opening Night:
April 21, 2015
Closing:
May 10, 2015

Theater: Broadway Theatre / 1681 Broadway, New York, NY, 10019

Synopsis: 

Set during the final days of Czarist Russia, the First World War and the chaos of the Russian revolution, the romance follows Zhivago. Raised an aristocrat, he is a political idealist, physician and poet whose life is tossed by the tides of history as he is torn between a life with his devoted wife, Tonia Gromeko and the passionate and mysterious Lara Guishar. Zhivago is not alone in his yearnings for Lara, competing for her affections with the young revolutionary Pasha Antipov, and the aristocrat Viktor Komarovsky.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF Doctor Zhivago

    ‘Doctor Zhivago,’ the Broadway Musical

    Charles Isherwood

    April 21, 2015: “Doctor Zhivago,” the endless Boris Pasternak novel familiar to most of us from the endless David Lean movie, has been resurrected for dramatic purposes once again, as a musical that opened at the Broadway Theater on Tuesday night. The verdict: Um, is it over yet? Hold your fire, Russophiles and cinephiles. Obviously many revere the book, first published in Italy in 1957 after being banned by the authorities in the Soviet Union, where it wasn’t published until decades later. The 1965 movie, starring a luminous Julie Christie and a pair of moist, doggy eyes otherwise known as Omar Sharif, is considered by many a classic in Lean’s late, sumptuously pictorial style. But after slogging through both recently, I remain staunch in my opinion that the book is among the most drearily indigestible of so-called modern classics, and the movie rich in visual atmosphere but dramatically flaccid. My reaction to the musical, with a book by Michael Weller, music by Lucy Simon and lyrics by Michael Korie and Amy Powers, doesn’t derive from the usual sorrowful observations about the inferiority of the stage version to a beloved book or movie. No, the dismay here has to do with the musical itself, a turgid throwback to the British invasion of Broadway in the 1980s, and more specifically to the epic-romantic style of the Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil shows “Les Misérables” and “Miss Saigon.” Of course, those musicals, too, have innumerable admirers. If full-throated love ballads and thundering militaristic anthems, baggy plots, highly expositional dialogue and doomed romances are your cup of tea, fire up the samovar and give the show a try. But be warned: Even as it shares similarities with those long-running hits, “Doctor Zhivago” is inferior in most respects to the musicals it is emulating.

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  • TIME OUT NEW YORK REVIEW OF Doctor Zhivago

    'Doctor Zhivago' Theater review

    David Cote

    April 21, 2015: Based on a sweeping historical novel crammed with characters and incident, "Doctor Zhivago" follows the fortunes of a heroic man with a divided heart across decades of turmoil and revolution, as he is hounded by a self-righteous upholder of justice. Sounds a little like "Les Misérables," non? But we already have a pale imitation of that long-running juggernaut; it’s called "Les Misérables" and it’s playing at the Imperial. Zhivago, on the other hand, is Jean Valjean with a poetic streak and a medical bag. There are crucial differences between the shows, of course: "Les Miz’s" epic narrative is far better organized, and the music is bombastic, but effective. "Zhivago," based on Boris Pasternak’s 1957 doorstop (which also inspired the great David Lean film) is a dauntingly interior novel to distill into a musical.

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  • VULTURE REVIEW OF Doctor Zhivago

    'Doctor Zhivago' Needs Intensive Care

    Jesse Green

    April 21, 2015: Can we please get this straight, Broadway? Sprawling European novels do not make great musicals. Sorry, "Les Miz" partisans and "Phantomaniacs," but whatever the virtues of those shows — and they are probably the best of the genre — they are mere patches on the originals. How could they not be? When you’re adapting a doorstop saga for the stage you’re obviously going to be making huge cuts. Usually this will mean excising the poetry, philosophy, and psychology in order to preserve a series of action highlights that will then stick out like angry pimples. The result is usually more of a medley than a narrative — Don Quixote’s greatest hits! — and thus unsuited to the musical’s work of grounding song in character and situation. Indeed, when New York convened a panel to come up with a list of the greatest musicals ever, not one of the top ten was based on a thick slab of fiction by Hugo or Stevenson or Cervantes or Tolstoy or Dumas or Dickens or Du Maurier. (Only two were based on novels at all, and both were American.) Original tales, or small-scale works like plays and short stories, generally produce more successful results, and give the librettist something better to do than rip out pages and jimmy the segues. Unfortunately, this lesson (despite being taught in many musical theater programs) has fallen on deaf ears at the Broadway Theatre — and I don’t just mean those forced to endure the overamplified mess that is "Doctor Zhivago." I also mean its authors and director, who together have turned Boris Pasternak’s 700-page novel into a musical so aggressively awful it is almost sadistic.

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  • HOLLYWOOD REPORTER REVIEW OF Doctor Zhivago

    "Somewhere, My Love," there's a great musical to be made from this classic tale. This isn't it

    Frank Scheck

    April 21, 2015: Currently playing on Broadway is a spectacular production of a lavish musical based on a classic novel, featuring doomed lovers and set during the tumultuous events of a historical revolution. Regrettably for the producers of the new "Doctor Zhivago," that musical is "Les Miserables." The specter of that earlier show hangs uneasily over this adaptation of Boris Pasternak's 1957 novel, set in Russia during the early decades of the 20th century. So, unfortunately, does the memory of David Lean's classic film version, starring Omar Sharif in the title role and a luminous Julie Christie as his beloved Lara. Speaking of Lara, it's also hard to walk into the theater without the strains of the film's gorgeous theme song, "Somewhere My Love," otherwise known as "Lara's Theme," playing in your head. And sure enough, as if not wanting to dash the audience's expectations, the number is performed midway through the first act. Not as a soaring love ballad, mind you, but rather as an ersatz folk song delivered by a group of female nurses. The notes are all there, but the emotion is sorely lacking. The same could be said of the entirety of this big-budget musical directed by Des McAnuff ("The Who's Tommy," "Jersey Boys"), featuring music by Lucy Simon ("The Secret Garden"), lyrics by Michael Korie ("Grey Gardens") and Amy Powers, and a book by Michael Weller. The show dutifully features all the major characters and dramatic moments familiar from the book and film, but in a breathlessly paced, mechanical style that never manages to engage the heart or mind.

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  • NEW YORK DAILY NEWS REVIEW OF Doctor Zhivago

    Musical based on Boris Pasternak novel of love and war on Broadway

    Joe Dziemianowicz

    April 21, 2015: Broadway's “Doctor Zhivago” is an epic miss. Based on the acclaimed Boris Pasternak novel, this miscalibrated musical is yet another attempt to bottle page-to-stage lightning a la “Les Miserables.” But electricity doesn’t zap. Not much does in this nearly three-hour show, which has been in the works for almost two decades, set against the bloody upheaval of the Russian Revolution of 1905 and World War I. Michael Weller’s adaptation relies on supertitles to situate us in the sprawling narrative. The score by composer Lucy Simon and lyricists Michael Korie and Amy Powers resonates with occasional Russian-inflected melodies and lots of ardent power ballads. Respectable, but unremarkable, songs hang like wallpaper. The famous song “Somewhere My Love” is sung by optimistic nurses.

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