10 critics reviewed the show, resulting in a weighted average of 62.
The New York Times
"Sprawls in so many directions—with changes in tone to match (or mismatch)—that it collapses into inertia...The idea of a woman who leads unabashedly with her rear has both comic and heroic appeal. The conceit never quite lands. What should be an anarchic life force often feels more like an anchor...The score lacks a steady musical signature to reconcile the abrupt shifts in tone. And as staged by Mr. O’Hara, this story of action-packed adventures feels strangely static."
"In its most coherent moments, 'Bella' looks and sounds like a dubiously dramaturged educational musical for kids. This is disappointing because Childs sets her story in a time of rich dramatic potential...At least the cast works hard to sell this muddled material...Director Robert O'Hara does little through staging and design to clarify Childs's winding script...Rather than feeling inspired, challenged, or even amused, audiences are most likely to leave 'Bella' feeling baffled."
Time Out New York
"The show is such a hoot that it never feels didactic. That’s not to say that it isn’t ungainly. The episodic nature of the first act grows tedious, and the musical’s heavier-handed second half...is ambitious for a show so campy it features an 11-o'clock number sung by the spirit of Bella's rump. But for the most part it bounces along buoyantly, thanks to Robert O’Hara's smooth direction and go-for-broke actors who also reveal the humanity in their over-the-top characters."
“Bella: An American Tall Tale” was also reviewed by Robert Sholiton of Bob's Theater Blog, Elyse Sommer of CurtainUp, Robin Riegelhaupt of Reviewing The Drama, Thom Geier of The Wrap, Marc Miller of Talkin' Broadway, Michael Bracken of Theater Pizzazz, and Erin Kahn of Stage Buddy.
The show was also reviewed by 72 Show-Score members, whose collective ShowScore is a weighted average of 76.
Top five adjectives describing the show:
Entertaining, Great singing, Ambitious, Funny, Clever
See it if…"You are prepared to deal with some fluff and nonsense to enjoy fabulous acting and singing; the entire cast is outstanding."
Don't see it if…"The author has written two plays: an epic tall-tale musical on black Americans in the Wild West, and a full-on farce. The tone changes are dizzying."
See it if…"Probably the most ambitious or elaborate show I've seen at Playwrights Horizons. Great staging. Fun story with a great cast."
Don't see it if…"It's way too long. The first act is lots of vignettes with minor characters. Many could be cut to streamline and focus show."
See it if…"You want to sit back and be entertained by talented, powerful voices, good acting and a new take on the South."
Don't see it if…"You don't like musicals that are fluffy and slightly silly."
See the Show Page with all critic and member reviews.
Note: The ShowScore displayed above is current as of right now, and may be different from the ShowScore when the article was published.