New in 2010 Sean Hayes (Emmy winner for "Will & Grace") and Kristin Chenoweth (Tony nominee for "Wicked") star in a revival of Burt Bacharach's swingin' '60s musical. Closes January 2nd.
The Broadway production of Promises, Promises closed January 2, 2011. For current Broadway show listings and tickets, please click here.
Set in 1962, in the Manhattan headquarters of a giant insurance conglomerate, "Promises, Promises" tells the story of a junior executive on his way up (Mr. Hayes) and an executive dining room hostess on her way down (Ms. Chenoweth). All in all, it feels a bit like a singing, dancing version of "Mad Men."
Broadway critics were less than thrilled by this first-ever revival, with most agreeing that the only compelling reason to see it is the terrifically appealing Mr. Hayes. He has moments of comedic brilliance (including a Jerry Lewis-ish tango with a ultra-mod chair), sings well, and gives an altogether winning performance as the enterprising young exec.
Unfortunatly, Ms. Chenoweth's enormous talents are largely wasted as the sadder-but-wiser hostess. She gives it her all, though, and delivers the show's best known songs ("I Say a Little Prayer" and "I'll Never Fall in Love Again") with conviction. Kristin Chenoweth will not perform Dec 29 at 8pm, Dec 30 at 2pm & 8pm, and Jan 1 at 8pm.
The show's best moments come at the start of the second act, when Sean Hayes has about 20 minutes of truly hilarious physical comedy with "Saturday Night Live" alum Molly Shannon.
Here's a bit of video that will give you a sense of the overall vibe of the show:
2010 Tony Awards: Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical (Katie Finneran). 2010 Drama Desk Awards: Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical (Katie Finneran). 2010 Outer Critics Circle Awards: Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical (Katie Finneran).
For much of the time, the production coasts amiably on the considerable appeal of its leading man, Sean Hayes, who is making an impressive Broadway debut. Ashford's choreography is efficient if not exactly joyous. But it's that Bacharach-David score, augmented by superb Jonathan Tunick orchestrations, that provide the best nostalgia kick.
The new Broadway revival demonstrates that while some shows are destined to become tantalizing time capsules, others will merely seem dated in retrospect. Hayes, though likable, is being a comic (every line a gag) rather than a comedian (an actor embroiled in a comic situation). Director-choreographer Rob Ashford has given us too much choreography and not enough direction, or the wrong kind.
As directed and choreographed by Rob Ashford, the show forges ahead through the sheer force of design elegance, dance-floor stamina, performance energy, and the quick thinking of Hayes. The actor is nimble, funny, likable, and buoys the show with his generosity. He also compensates for Chenoweth's discomfort in her role. And when Hayes is paired with agile and hilarious Katie Finneran, the two break through barriers of time and setting to produce timeless audience laughs of pleasure.
New York Daily News
The new production, directed and choreographed by Rob Ashford, is stylish and handsome, but only occasionally memorable. Aside from the pop gems, catchy as ever (try to shake the brassy title number and "I'll Never Fall in Love Again"), the dancing is dynamic and Katie Finneran is side-splitting as a boozy bar crawler. Otherwise, it's a so-so mixed bag. Blame the show itself and the new redo.
New York Post
Led by Sean Hayes and Kristin Chenoweth, the show is like a big dessert cart - with just enough bittersweet grace notes to prevent things from being marshmallow-cloying. Hayes, Chenoweth and the excellent supporting cast benefit from Ashford's direction: The staging of pop songs has rarely been as sharp as it is in this show. "Promises, Promises" is a candy-flavored ride that more than delivers on its title.
New York Times
"Promises, Promises," comes fully to life only briefly, at the beginning of its second act. Otherwise the white-hot charms this musical is said to have once possessed are left sleeping. Mr. Hayes locates a winning physical clownishness within this sad-sack character. He also has an agreeable, suitably conversational singing voice. As for Ms. Chenoweth, this hyper-talented star was not meant to play Fran, and you sense that she knows it.
Time Out New York
The endearing Hayes excels at his nebbishy physical comedy and zany confidences with the audience, but still seems nervous in the wrong ways when he sings. More problematic is the talented but miscast Chenoweth, who tries to work against her patented micro-Valkyrie persona but remains too strong and mature for Fran. Two famous songs - "I Say a Little Prayer" and "A House Is Not a Home" - have been added for her; although the second one actively contradicts the plot, in a way it is this production's theme song.
The songs strain to fit Neil Simon's messy book, which lurches from hokey comedy to movie-of-the-week melodrama. And this new production seems to have two main goals: to exploit contemporary audiences' taste for retro kitsch and, more nobly, to provide a vehicle for a few talented stars. Those who come for the kitsch won't be disappointed. The stars aren't quite as well-served.
"Promises" is like a well-calibrated watch that has been pulled apart and reassembled with a spring missing (or in this case, with a couple of extra parts). Director/choreographer Rob Ashford is less resourceful than usual and only intermittently effective; his big idea here seems to be to add dancers doing the frug in the background. It is energy and humor that is altogether missing from the current staging. Neither is the physical production especially helpful.
Wall Street Journal
Not only is [the revival] dully staged, but it's so miscast that even Kristin Chenoweth, normally one of Broadway's hottest commodities, looks like she showed up at the wrong theater. The score consists of a string of chirpy soft-rock ballads. Rob Ashford's staging is bland and unamusing. "Promises, Promises" is slick, pointless and forgettable.