Misery
75

Misery NYC Reviews and Tickets

75%
(330 Reviews)
Positive
74%
Mixed
19%
Negative
7%
Members say
Great acting, Entertaining, Great staging, Intense, Absorbing

About the Show

Bruce Willis makes his Broadway debut with Laurie Metcalf in this stage adaptation of Stephen King's best-selling horror novel.

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Member Reviews (330)

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70
Entertaining, Funny, Great acting, Cute

See it if Great performance by Metcalf. Good story. It is campier than it is suspenseful, but it works in that way. Enjoyable.

Don't see it if you expect thrill and angst of the movie or the book.

70
Funny, Great acting, Entertaining, Slow, Campy

See it if You're looking for a fun night out. This is an entertaining show with an excellent performance by Laurie Metcalf.

Don't see it if You are looking to be scared. While there are a couple of tense moments, this show plays more for the laughs than the scares.

Critic Reviews (49)

The New York Times
November 15th, 2015

"'Misery' the play is saturated in what feels like an amused, nostalgic distance from its source material. It’s as if Mr. Willis and Ms. Metcalf had shown up at the behest of a 'Misery' fan club to share memories of our enjoyment of the book and movie and to chuckle over how they once scared the wits out of us. Even the requisite dark-and-stormy atmospherics register as gentle, teasing reminders of guilty thrills past."
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Time Out New York
November 15th, 2015

"On a meta level, 'Misery' is about Willis playing film star Willis being terrorized by Metcalf’s superior acting talent…The pleasures of this production (perfunctorily staged by Will Frears) are mostly visual and all predictable…William Goldman’s stage adaptation of his own screenplay is lazily faithful to his own work…Still, if life imitates art, by the end of 'Misery’s' run, Willis may have learned something about acting from Metcalf. The rest of us just paid to watch the class."
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New York Magazine / Vulture
November 15th, 2015

"What this production mostly demonstrates is the futility of digging up the dead…The movie, with its variety of shots and its focus on details, could disguise that endless tick-tock, but onstage the drama flattens out and separates...Willis has no stage chops…Metcalf knows exactly how to engage the audience...The genre [of suspense] has become so marginalized that it’s finally fallen off the page altogether, landing in a puddle of camp."
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The Hollywood Reporter
November 15th, 2015

"This 'Misery' is an enjoyable enough rerun that recaptures some of its predecessor's B-movie pleasures...The play works surprisingly well in its more Hitchcockian scenes…As far as unhinged stalkers go, Metcalf's Annie is a hoot...It's just too bad nothing else in this rote retread comes close to the unpredictable energy of Annie's almighty insanity."
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Entertainment Weekly
November 15th, 2015

"Luckily, director Will Frears and stars Bruce Willis and Laurie Metcalf are all in synch with the plot’s lack of serious intent…Though the technical specs are excellent, the production suffers from a curious lack of tension. And, moreover, fun…Willis plays Paul with a flatness and passivity that feels too inert, even for a character who is bedbound. And as Annie, Laurie Metcalf is overly conscious of not echoing the line readings as they were delivered by Bates."
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Variety
November 15th, 2015

"Will Frears lets Willis get away with murder by maintaining his sophisticated-author cool well beyond the point of believability…Metcalf skillfully modulates her emotional transitions from adoring to obsessive to psychotic. Her eyelids flutter, her hand gestures quicken, and her vocal range reaches for the high notes. It’s a stunning performance, even if, in this oddly fear-free production, she provokes more pity than terror."
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The Wall Street Journal
November 19th, 2015

"'Misery' has nothing to offer save for the chance to get Mr. Willis’s autograph after the show…As scary as a lukewarm cup of Nesquik. Two big things are wrong with it: Mr. Willis never seems even slightly frightened, and Ms. Metcalf isn’t pitiful…As a result, you can’t feel sorry for her, which means that you don’t buy her…Will Frears, the director, fails to stage its gaspworthy moments with sufficient punch, though it’s not fair to blame him for the failure of a staging that is so ineptly cast."
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Deadline
November 15th, 2015

"If you can put aside the fact that the show offers about five seconds of actual, thriller-type suspense during its 90 intermissionless minutes, you can see glimpses of a younger and extremely likable Willis in 'Misery'...This script just smacks of laziness...What does surprise is that director Will Frears seems to have demanded so little not only of his stars but of most of the production team...What this is, is a summer stock production?"
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Chicago Tribune
November 15th, 2015

"To say that Willis keeps this performance hidden under his bedclothes is a bit like saying that King sold a book or two. The character upon whom King projected his fear of some day being at the mercy of a totally wackadoodle fan is reduced mostly to various manifestations of the mumble...The lack of a zesty scene partner who is really going to challenge her and go for broke eventually seems to wear Metcalf down — it is like watching a two-hander with one of the hands shrouded in mist."
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New York Daily News
November 15th, 2015

"An actor’s job is to make a character, even one who can’t move, come alive. Except for an instant when Willis brashly flashes his nemesis the bird, he’s so bland it’s frightening. And unfortunately, nothing else is particularly scary about this dramatization of King’s novel about a writer terrorized by a demented devotee…As directed by Will Frears, Metcalf lacks a sense of danger. Instead she tilts toward goofy…'Misery' reminds how hard it is to make a thriller click on stage."
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AM New York
November 15th, 2015

"Whereas Rob Reiner's film was chilling, Broadway production (directed without focus by Will Frears), comes off as a psycho version of 'The Odd Couple,' with audience members laughing throughout at Annie's apparent insanity. Those who don't see the humor are likely to find it a pointless star vehicle. Metcalf is big, loud and over-the-top as Annie. On the other hand, the gruff-looking Willis displays little energy or presence, which easily allows Metcalf to overtake the show."
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NY1
November 18th, 2015

"Bruce Willis is completely outshined by his co-star Laurie Metcalf. And because of that, somehow this stage adaptation of 'Misery' is more campy than scary…Metcalf is delivering a tour de force here...Just as Kathy Bates completely creeped us out, Metcalf achieves the same effect, though very much on her own terms...Unfortunately, it’s not just Paul’s legs that are hobbled here, it’s the entire show."
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Theatermania
November 15th, 2015

"Metcalf's performance is inscrutable, layered, and thrilling to behold. Willis feels much less present by comparison. He delivers most of his lines with the verve of a porn actor plodding through the exposition…Something about this change of medium has transformed 'Misery' from a thriller into a laugh-out-loud comedy...Suspense and dramatic tension are virtually nonexistent…'Misery' is a scream. I was never bored and didn't want it to end."
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BroadwayWorld
November 15th, 2015

"From beginning to end, the night belongs to Metcalf's lonely, mentally unstable Annie Wilkes..Willis is fine, but not especially interesting...Familiar moments may invoke laughter and cheers, but the stage version works as more of a character study than a thriller…'Misery' on Broadway is a bit of tasty popcorn elevated to high art by an exceptional stage actor."
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Lighting & Sound America
November 16th, 2015

"If you want to have the bejesus scared out of you, Laurie Metcalf is your woman. As Annie Wilkes in 'Misery,' she is an angel both of mercy and of death...Bruce Willis gives a performance that is largely uninflected and lacking in energy; one never feels the desperation associated with being held captive by a madwoman...A play like this is a kind of game; here, however, only one person on stage is playing for keeps."
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Talkin' Broadway
November 15th, 2015

"You know that what you're watching is terrible, but because the realities surrounding the way you're watching it make it just too unbelievable to absorb, it simply doesn't work as theatre the way it should. It's not a bad time, but when you're a millisecond away from witnessing a brutal act and you and the people around you can barely stifle snickers, it's not exactly a good time, either."
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TheaterScene.net
November 23rd, 2015

"While the tempo might be lax, the production team has done a superb job...Another weakness of the play is that it takes place in 27 short scenes which include endless blackouts. While this is fine in a movie as film cuts, it draws attention to itself on the stage. 'Misery,' the play, will be remembered for Bruce Willis’ mild Broadway debut and Laurie Metcalf’s bravura performance. As a thriller for the theater, it counts heavily on the audience’s expectations as to where the story is going."
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Theater Pizzazz
November 18th, 2015

"Director Will Frears keeps the pacing relatively taut, though some of the early-going feels a bit more dragged out than necessary. Frears’ other secret weapon is Michael Friedman’s eerie original score, which does a fantastic job of adding to the mood of fear. 'Misery' won’t necessarily make you sad, or happy, but it does the job of thrilling and chilling quite well – in addition to providing yet another showcase for the titanic talent known as Laurie Metcalf."
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CurtainUp
November 15th, 2015

"Laurie Metcalf turns out to be an inspired casting choice…Willis isn't as compelling as Metcalf…The resulting part thriller, part comic parody has just one or two really tense scenes but it's amusing to have you giggling at even Annie's most bizarre actions. The production values are good enough to overcome purist objections about the comedic angle being overdone…'Misery' is not high art. But then it never was."
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Front Row Center
November 22nd, 2015

"Well folks, this was a mighty hard slog…The other sad element that drags this production so far down that it barely has a pulse is the performance of Mr. Willis. Or lack thereof…Ms. Metcalf gives a performance that is strong enough to drag Mr. Willis and the entire set along with her. It is heavy lifting indeed…Time passes – could be weeks or months, but it feels to the audience like years."
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Broadway Blog
December 6th, 2015

"The theatrical team has a lot to live up to, and for the most part, does justice to the faithful stage adaptation… Ms. Metcalf and Mr. Willis are each compelling in their own way…For Stephen King fans or celebrity chasers that get thrills by Hollywood’s Broadway invasion, 'Misery' provides a pleasant enough evening at the theatre. But it’s Metcalf that reminds us that there’s nothing like live performance and witnessing a true actor immersed in her craft."
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C
November 17th, 2015

"This adaptation of a classic Stephen King novel is really a showcase for talented theater veteran Laurie Metcalf...She is the highlight of a thriller that’s not very suspenseful…Although it’s only 90 minutes, his production often feels as immobile as Paul’s bruised and bandaged body. Not even Michael Friedman’s moody music can raise the tension. Sudden acts of violence were met with laughs from the audience rather than gasps."
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DC Theatre Scene
November 15th, 2015

"It’s not as good as either King’s novel nor the movie, but it’s likely to appeal to those who don’t know either...Although he does manage some priceless blank stares, Willis' acting registers as something close to a non-performance…Metcalf’s performance, while certainly competent, pales beside the memory of Kathy Bates’…Director Will Frears is hobbled by the absence of the movie’s myriad close-ups...The best thing about 'Misery' is probably the set."
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The Guardian (UK)
November 15th, 2015

"'The suspense is almost nil…Metcalf is far more engaged, yet outside of occasional moments, she and Willis don’t really seem to be inhabiting the same world…'Misery' is often funny, and most of this humor is intentional...It seems to know that it’s a genre piece rather than a serious drama and one wonders why the production didn’t embrace that genre more."
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The Wrap
November 15th, 2015

"Frankly, this 'Misery' doesn’t have enough over-the-top physical torture and mayhem to relieve its long spells of tedium. For the play’s first half, Metcalf makes a terrific Annie, but Goldman’s script doesn’t give her any new notes of dementia to hit in the second half...Willis gives a credible performance, but as a stage actor he doesn’t show much invention or variety."
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Broadway & Me
January 13th, 2016

"To my surprise, and relief, I actually ended up not minding the show at all. Although that's probably for the very reason that others didn't like it: it's not scary. In fact, 'Misery' is so tension-free that I never had to hold my hand in front of my eyes and peek through my fingers at any point...Willis super fans and those of the movie may have a good time."
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Newsday
November 15th, 2015

"The challenge is to get someone who knows the story anxious all over again. And that they do. The box-office catnip is Willis, totally convincing in his first play since his early off-Broadway days…But the wow factor, the precision instrument that keeps propelling the story into psychologically unexpected corners, is Laurie Metcalf...The kind of expertly done, old-time theatrical thriller with little more in its psycho head than stylish, scary fun."
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The Huffington Post
November 15th, 2015

"A bad idea poorly executed, a stage adaptation of the Oscar-winning film 'Misery' has been kicking around for years. It's hard to know why. What might seem creepy on film plays as silly and campy on stage…No one is in good form. "
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Towleroad
November 16th, 2015

"It is not altogether a miserable experience — thanks to the superb Laurie Metcalf, who delivers a crackling, delightfully deranged performance...Bruce Willis' knack for remaining affable in the most dire straits does him few favors in the role of desperate hostage...While the cramped scale is fitting for a story about a man held captive, the staging sometimes gets swallowed up by the dark void of a massive theatre — particularly as its hobbled star performance doesn’t do much to light it up."
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NorthJersey.com
November 16th, 2015

"If 'Misery' were a prizefight, they'd stop it in the first round. That's how much of an acting mismatch is going on...The usual scheming and gambits that are basic to the genre fall flat; it's a cat-and-mouse game in which only the cat is committed to playing. In an attempt to do something to engage the audience and heighten tension, director Will Frears has inserted snatches of ominous music...At times, Frears appears to be poking mild fun at the bizarre plot."
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WNBC
November 15th, 2015

"There’s pressure on Metcalf to keep this play from going camp, and she pulls it off without hamming things up…Willis is persuasive and coy. It’s a physical performance…Metcalf and Willis seem to be having oodles of fun…We may question whether 'Misery' demanded a stage adaptation, but there are two good reasons to see it: Metcalf and Willis. The actors manage to elevate material that is, at best, workmanlike. 'Misery' is entertaining and forgettable."
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DC Metro Theater Arts
November 20th, 2015

"What makes it all work however, is the contrasting and beautiful work of both stars. Laurie Metcalf has hidden reserves of madness stored up within her...Bruce Willis has wisely chosen to stress the inner calm of Paul Sheldon ...There are times when things happen slowly, but I was always involved...I was never quite sure where all this was going, and the conclusion, which may surprise some, deserved the enthusiasm with which it was greeted by a very happy house."
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NJ.com
November 15th, 2015

"Willis delivers an underpowered, half-interested performance…Despite Willis' flat performance, 'Misery' turns out to be something Broadway hasn't seen in years: an old-fashioned chiller from the Ira Levin/'Deathtrap' school, where the gasps and the giggles are deliciously jumbled together…Then there is the magnificent Metcalf, who gives us an Annie Wilkes more recognizably human than Bates, but no less enjoyably monstrous."
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Epoch Times
November 24th, 2015

"The work is truly terrifying at moments but fails to keep the intensity throughout...Metcalf is wonderful...Willis, unfortunately, does not fare as well...Will Frears’s direction works well overall, as does the stage adaptation by William Goldman...Filled with stomach-churning moments, with a few hiccups here and there, 'Misery' is a roller coaster of a thrill ride, where only the most determined survive."
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StageZine
November 19th, 2015

"Recreating iconic scenes from a movie in semi-darkness, inserting cheesy horror music and creaky sound effects, is not innovative direction; it is lazy and unimaginative and borders on tedium...Willis is one-dimensional on the stage. We also know that no one can do crazy better than Laurie Metcalf, but from the onset here she just comes off as demented, and there is no shading to her character...The absent direction by Will Frears does not help either actor."
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NY Theatre Guide
November 18th, 2015

"Metcalf’s performance is finely drawn, well-observed, brilliantly executed and entirely captivating...Bruce Willis as Paul Sheldon is sexy. He is magnetic, probably for all the wrong reasons...Will Frears’ direction is razor sharp. I felt the horror and painful sadness of the piece in his cleverly crafted moments. I feel that William Goldman’s version has brought a necessary humor to the story and allows us to warm up to the characters before the hell ride begins."
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The Associated Press
November 15th, 2015

"In the end, 'Misery' isn't total misery. It's just weird...Nowhere this season on Broadway is there an acting gulf as wide between two leads than here...Metcalf plays a towering psychotic — girlish one minute and inhuman the next. She's so good that she starts making sense...It's hard to act when you're immobile but Willis doesn't try, merely groaning a lot…Everyone is doing their best here except one guy, the one drawing the high ticket prices."
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Village Voice
November 17th, 2015

"Writing is rarely easy. But it's hard to imagine a more nightmarish creative process than that depicted in Stephen King's psycho-thriller Misery...Despite Metcalf's excellently maniacal Annie, the tension here is more discomfort than terror. Emotional cruelty works onstage, but full-throttle fights less so, and it's hard to see why this tale, aside from its star-vehicle potential, demanded to be staged."
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Reflections in the Light
November 28th, 2015

"Metcalf, as always, is brilliant...Willis, on the other hand, is strangely one-dimensional..As a result, Paul doesn't seem very afraid of Annie and even appears to be OK with her mistreatment. We don't get a sense of the author trying to mask his terror, agony or despair. If we did, it would be harder to join in the laughter, I suppose. I enjoyed it, but expecting more...Lighting design, sound design, and original music don't create the suspenseful, on-the-edge-of-your-seat feel that should be there."
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American Theater Web
November 15th, 2015

"Neither William Goldman’s script nor Will Frears’ production will disappoint people who are looking to revisit their favorite moments in the story...For some theatergoers, the recreation of on stage of the familiar narrative will be enough. For those audiences members who are looking for a little more, there are two wonderful surprises...The production settles for the middle-of-the-road, giving audiences exactly what they might expect."
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Financial Times (UK)
November 15th, 2015

"Laurie Metcalf, as obsessed fan Annie Wilkes, attempts gamely to wring entertainment value from this uninspired theatrical adaptation…Willis’s line readings are flat, and he is atrociously slow at picking up Metcalf’s cues…The stage version is streamlined to elicit not sympathy but shock, even though we are a long way from the days when audiences were perhaps more willing to believe that, in the course of a play, gentleness could so quickly turn to horror."
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T
November 26th, 2015

"In a trashily effective—if not especially taut—90 minutes, 'Misery' onstage provides the same thrills of its earlier incarnations...It serves as a vehicle of sorts for Bruce Willis...But the play, movie and novel all belong to Annie, and onstage Laurie Metcalf gives a persuasive and just enough over-the-top portrayal of a self-sufficient woman who just happens to be crazy...Will Frears directs efficiently...Despite its lack of forward momentum, this 'Misery' gets the job done."
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Showbiz 411
November 16th, 2015

"William Goldman’s adaptation is too literal. The movie depended on close ups, of which there are none in the theater. And sadly no one has told Bruce Willis what to do. The direction by Will Frears is less than what I expected. He lets Willis just sit there, or lie there, on stage, like a flounder...Of course, part of the problem is the play itself. As a movie 'Misery' had its campy moments, and you could get away with them. As a play, 'Misery' just seems ridiculous, over the top, and in the end, pointless."
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Peconic Public Broadcasting
November 16th, 2015

"This production, played out on a terrific revolving set by David Korins, is really quite good, that Bruce is almost perfect as the bedridden prisoner and that Laurie does her best as the woman who first saves his life and then tries to kill him...'Misery' is a Broadway show that you should see especially if you know absolutely nothing about the plot."
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Stu on Broadway
November 21st, 2015

"Playwright Goldman...has transformed the essence of the novel into a 90 minute, intermission-less heart-stopping production...Director Will Frears skillfully uses the confined and suffocating space to tease out a building tension within the play. The production is well-paced as it almost lazily heads towards its crescendo. He allows Laurie Metcalf plenty of room for her acting pyrotechnics without letting the actress go over the edge."
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BackStage Barbie
November 3rd, 2015

"Stephen King is known for his suspense, but this production lacks the energy of the source material. There is no 'edge of your seat' quality that you would hope for from King, something that the film did so brilliantly. It's certainly exciting to see stars onstage, but with so many fantastic pieces on Broadway this season, this does not top my list."
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O
November 21st, 2015

"Unbelievable and sometimes silly production...The producers – Warner Brothers Theatre Ventures and Castle Rock Entertainment are trying to pull a fast one here. Attempting to pull the wool over the eyes of some theater patrons who should know better than to be fooled by star casting, playing it for laughs, gimmicks and a cheesy script that has more holes than there are in a huge chunk of Swiss. The good news is that is goes by rather quickly – 90 minutes – no intermission."
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USA Today
November 16th, 2015

"'Misery' flirts with high camp even at its most unsettling moments - especially in those moments. Willis groans and lurches gamely, and offers flashes of the smirking, smart-alecky wit that first brought him attention...Those with a limited tolerance for such mockery may feel uncomfortable watching the fun this 'Misery' has at the expense of both main characters. At just 90 minutes, though, the production should leave you psychically unscathed."
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Philadelphia Inquirer
November 25th, 2012
For a previous production

"Despite a first-class production team, and aside from terrific original music, this is a faithful tribute to the film...'Misery' retains a sense of humor about itself. But if it truly has Broadway ambitions, it needs to embrace the stage, not fight it...Forget realism, let us use our imaginations. That’s usually scarier, anyway."
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