7 Awful Reviews that Threaten Dr. Zhivago’s Life

Dr-Zhivago-MusicalThere went all the excitement I had for the new musical Dr. Zhivago (I love the movie). It looks like the doctor-poet is barely limping through his opening night. Here’s a quick look at what reviewers are saying. I wonder if we can get a refund, or even if the show will still be open by the time our May 6 tickets roll around.


Rex Reed, The Observer

“Depressed and dying lovers search the Russian steppes for each other in vain, mournfully moaning lyrics that make no sense. Cue the violins, sawing away on atonal melodies nobody can remember. And somewhere, between one world war, one revolution, one civil war, one Red Army, one White Army, the fall of the Germans and the arrival of the Communists, an ambitious saga of tedium unfolds on the stage of the Broadway Theatre called Doctor Zhivago. You can hardly hear it for the snoring. After just under three hours, a verdict is reached. It’s a colossal bore.”

Mark Kennedy, Associated Press

“Will someone kindly tell the projection designer that it’s not necessary to project a massive photo of Lara when she’s ALREADY onstage? And will someone please tell the prop guy in charge of weapons that the rifle discharges are so loud that they’re triggering snowfall that’s supposed to fall from the rafters later in the show? Oh, and one actress’ attempted decapitation may have been a touch unnecessary on top of the several executions, group hangings and spilled guts. … One actor in ‘Doctor Zhivago’ fake-vomits onstage after a bout of drinking and athletic Cossack dancing, and after almost three hours of this highly choreographed mess, you might want to, too.”

Jeremy Gerard, Deadline

“These formidable chemists have come up with an unwieldy mess, daunting in scale, assaultive on the ear, humorless and resistant to any involvement on the viewer’s part in this sweeping tale of love, revolution and war. In a word, it’s a stinko.”

David Cote, TimeOut New York

“No amount of Lucy Simon’s syrupy, portentous music — swamping Michael Korie and Amy Powers’s workmanlike lyrics — can make us care for the synthetic, drably colored pageant. Des McAnuff’s staging looks expensive but ugly, with cheesy video close-ups of actors, giant Soviet propaganda posters, eruptions of fire and the occasional explosion or gunshot to wake us up. To Siberia with it.”

Joe Dziemianowicz, New York Daily News

“Broadway’s ‘Doctor Zhivago’ is an epic miss.”

Rex Reed, The Observer

“It all ends badly, of course. Cue the Stalin posters. I left, worn to a frazzle, remembering Ira Gershwin’s famous lyrics to ‘But Not for Me’: ‘I’ve found more clouds of gray/Than any Russian play/can guarantee.'”

Christopher Isherwood, The New York Times

“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.’… 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. … The cynic in me wondered whether all this artillery was a dramatic choice, to inject notes of harsh realism as a corrective to all the swooning romanticism, or a practical one, to keep the audience from nodding off, and Broadway wags from dubbing the show ‘Doctor Zzzzhivago.’ Oops. Too late.”


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