Three Broadway Musicals – “Beautiful,” “The Bridges of Madison County,” and “Pippin”

This review aired on KBAQ April 7, 2014


Stephen Sondheim Theatre
New York City, NY

Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre
New York City, NY

The Music Box Theatre
New York City, NY

For theatergoers who love splashy musicals, Broadway is a great place.  A recent New York trip provided the chance to see eight Broadway musicals.  Of the shows, the musical version of “Bullets Over Broadway,” Idina Menzel’s “If/Then,” and the newest “Forbidden Broadway,” were in previews so these shows can’t be officially reviewed.

Today, I will review three shows including “Beautiful – The Carole King Musical,” the musical version of the popular film “The Bridges of Madison County,” and the “Pippin” revival that is scheduled as part of the 2014/15 ASU Gammage Broadway season.

The “Pippin” revival, staged by Diane Paulus, gives the 1972 musical a contemporary feel and it doesn’t recreate Bob Fosse’s original concept.  It is blessed with Patina Miller’s commanding and effervescent portrayal of the Leading Player who guides Pippin in his development as a man and Matthew James Thomas as the energetic title character.  I’ve never liked Miller but this is her part as she dances magically, sings effervescently, and brings boundless dramatic flair to her dynamic performance.  Thomas performs dashing athletic feats as he develops as a man.  Both performers have since left the show and it will be interesting to see if the tour successfully recreates these remarkable performances.  Terrence Mann as Pippin’s father and Annie Potts as Pippin’s spry grandmother are also pluses in this entertaining revival.

“The Bridges of Madison County” is a touching musical blessed by Kelli O’Hara as Francesca and Steven Pasquale as her love interest Robert.  The story lends itself to several touching ballads composed brilliantly by Jason Robert Brown.  Francesca moves from her native Italy to Iowa to marry Bud.  The loveless marriage pushes her to Robert when he arrives to photograph local bridges.  The pair fall in love and the show touches emotional places musicals rarely go.  I was moved like nothing I’ve ever experienced in a musical.

“Beautiful” pays tribute to singer/songwriter Carole King by presenting her most famous tunes.  Fabulous star Jessie Mueller artfully recreates King’s style with grand finesse and style.  The show doesn’t do anything particularly interesting with King’s great songs but there is no denying the brilliance of the tunes and Mueller’s masterful performance of them.

So, if you are headed to Broadway, you can’t go wrong with “Pippin” or “The Bridges of Madison County” if you want to see either a splashy or a touching musical and if you love Carole King music, “Beautiful” pleases.  Broadway continues to deliver great entertainment.  Later this month, I’ll talk about the other two Broadway shows I saw “Kinky Boots” and “Aladdin” plus the three shows I saw in previews.  For tickets, call the Telecharge box office at 212-239-6200 or order tickets online at


2 Responses to “Three Broadway Musicals – “Beautiful,” “The Bridges of Madison County,” and “Pippin””

  1. Steven C. Schemmel said:

    Apr 08, 14 at 23:10

    Chris: read latest post re your NYC visit. Saw KINKY BOOTS twice last April, PIPPIN last May with Andrea Martin; again in November with Tovah Feldshuh, both great. Hope the new leads do well. I’m leaving Monday, 4/14, for a week in NYC. Have 10 shows I’d like to see: Bullets, Cabaret, Casa Valentina, Forbidden B’way, Hedwig, Lady Day, Le Miz, Irma Vep (with Phoenix’s Robby Sella with whom I did 1,000 Clowns back in ’76), Mothers & Sons and Of Mice & Men. Any thoughts on them?

  2. Chris Curcio said:

    Apr 11, 14 at 14:16

    Don’t miss “If/Then” because of Idina Menzel who is fantastic although the show isn’t great. Suggest you see “The Bridges of Madison County” as it is an unbelievable musical. “Kinky Boots” is a great show very entertaining. Next NYC reviews on April 17, 2014. Enjoy New York City and Broadway!