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Matthew Murray

Matthew Murray is a critic with Talkin' Broadway. This account has been auto-generated, and does not indicate that this person is an active member of Show-Score.com. That said, if you "follow" this member, you will automatically be updated whenever s/he writes a new review.

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Reviews (302)
Preview if i forget key art   show score
35
Talkin' Broadway

"The setting has an arbitrary nature that seems to function only as a way to let Levenson examine our own time from a glib remove, or to let him work in cheap jokes that are a decade or more out of date. Worse still, a handful of major plot points are mechanically articulated and executed, more for maximum surface-level effect than to hit you in the gut. With the exception of Michael, these are not people you feel strongly for one way or another." Full Review

Preview ontheexhale
60
Talkin' Broadway

"Ireland is superb; she's a fastidiously intelligent actress, and that intelligence, so right for this professor, stands in captivating contrast to the visceral warmth that emerges when she takes life and death quite literally into her own hands...This fusion of acting, direction, and writing is 'On the Exhale' at its best, because it levels out a piece that is otherwise rocky...Well-meaning but well-worn pabulum." Full Review

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10
Talkin' Broadway

"An almost unbearable two-hour evening...Hruska defuses any potential insight with his quick dips into apocalyptic absurdism, ostensibly in imitation of (or paying homage to) Samuel Beckett...This isn't regimented or coherent enough to be satire. If it's intended as serious drama, its frequent comedy is at odds with rather than in tune with the underlying distress. And if laughs are the goal, their dark shadows are forever fighting them for focus rather than enhancing their necessity." Full Review

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70
Talkin' Broadway

"Sobelle, an eminently likable everyman type, is the only constant, and though his character comes across as no less confused than you, he has an indomitable spirit that explains why he—and we—should never give up the things that make us most who we are...If the evening's finale were constructed off of this idea, it would be a glimmering little gem...Sadly, that's not where Sobelle goes...Sobelle wraps up 'Object Lesson' by making a big mess of the whole darn, otherwise brilliant, thing." Full Review

Preview 299518
30
Talkin' Broadway

"Saracho's setup is plenty juicy, promising powerful recriminations, trenchant moralizing, and the kind of searing rhetoric on which August Wilson built his career. But the payoff, which consumes all but the first 10 minutes or so of this tedious 95-minute excursion, is so choked with clichés that most of Saracho's strong groundwork, and director Jerry Ruiz's attempts to rouse it from its natural torpor, plunges headfirst into the meaningless." Full Review

Preview the liar white
85
Talkin' Broadway

"Romantic, ribald, classical, modern, lyrical, thumping—Ives maintains, amplifies, and deconstructs these contradictions countless times across the two-hour evening, somehow exploring every conceivable permutation among nine sharply defined characters without ever wearing out the gimmick's lilting welcome...When the execution grates, it's because Ives shirks the high standards he's set for himself...Otherwise, Ives is in fine form, his writing lively and his plotting smart." Full Review

Preview oregon trail
65
Talkin' Broadway

"There's much that's good about 'The Oregon Trail.' Broadwater's staging is incisive, funny, and quick-moving. The physical production...is spot-on for both eras. And with the exception of Arturo...the acting is well pitched with the writing. Still, Brunstetter's writing and conceptualization could be sharper, and, as witty as the references to it are, the game is more of a diversionary tactic than a fully integrated storytelling mechanism." Full Review

Preview 800x1200 jitney
80
Talkin' Broadway

"The story and the relationships do not rivet because of their facts...There's a faint but detectable maudlin streak that becomes more manipulative than Wilson dared get in his later works...Little of this matters because the men won't let even a flimsy structure crumble. Together they form a magnetic bond you can feel emanating from the stage, and, under the capable direction of Ruben Santiago-Hudson, have the properly melodic way with Wilson's epically musical downscale dialogue." Full Review

Preview candide white
60
Talkin' Broadway

"The rift between what you feel (too little) and what you hear (too much) rapidly becomes a bug rather than a feature, with its various components waging a kind of bewildering civil war...Even so, the largely spectacular cast ensures it goes down easily...Alas, even when everything is right...a pervasive wrongness still makes its presence unavoidably felt. Prince has...done all he can to wrangle this beast, and his success at achieving that goal is obvious, even if the point of doing so isn't." Full Review

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60
Talkin' Broadway

"Despite sharp-edged direction from John Crowley, decent design, and strong acting all the way around, this is a dull void of an evening...Thank goodness for Blanchett...Her plight as rendered is mesmerizing and trenchant, a cry against outdated perceptions of who women are and what they're capable of, and that leaves you with plenty to unpack. Too bad the rest of 'The Present' is better left wrapped." Full Review

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85
Talkin' Broadway

"So compelling are the issues raised, and so effectively are they addressed, that the tiny missteps matter more than they ought to...As good as the staging is, it loses credibility in the final quarter...That it hardly matters is a testament to how much this company gets right in every other way...So powerful is the humanity on display here that even though Gold doesn't pretend to have the answers, you'll remain consumed by the questions he asks long after you leave the theater." Full Review

Preview in transit
35
Talkin' Broadway

"Sometimes it sort of works, but usually it, uh, goes off the rails. Too many of the 100 intermissionless minutes are just plain unintelligible...It is, just barely, good enough, with a lot of prettily singing pretty people who are all immensely likable, albeit burdened with no charisma or star quality...You won't remember long what they do or what their songs were about. Nor will you remember much about Marshall's direction and choreography, which are electrically undistinguished." Full Review

Preview the dead white
80
Talkin' Broadway

"The resulting magic is enough to more than cancel out any dramaturgical mediocrity...The thinness of the plot is unavoidable...I felt, as it's seldom possible to do, as though I really was a part of the play—in no small part because I actually was...It's easy, perhaps necessary, to forgive 'The Dead, 1904' a lot, even if you don't want to...'The Dead, 1904' is in no way a terrific play—it is, nonetheless, theatre at its most absorbing." Full Review

Preview rancho viejo white
55
Talkin' Broadway

"A fascinating but severely overdrawn evening…This is a story that should tell itself and, in the best scenes, does…Unfortunately, this is not enough for either LeFranc or his director. They've piled on so much additional 'color,' 'content,' and 'plot' that the underlying, moving tale of contemporary cultural alienation must fight for its life during every single second of the play...By the final act, which is given over entirely to hyperinflated minutiae, you all but give up on it." Full Review

Preview rsz dear evan hansen
70
Talkin' Broadway

"If I'm not quite prepared to say that Platt is giving the best performance I've ever seen a male actor give in a musical, it's darn close—undoubtedly in the top five. Alas, too much of the rest of 'Evan Hansen' fails to ascend to Platt's exalted level...Fancy staging can't easily conjure electricity from no component materials, and, compelling though Levenson's writing may be, it cries out for a charge Pasek and Paul simply do not provide...Platt, though, provides all he can and then some." Full Review

Preview rsz ride the cyclone
30
Talkin' Broadway

"As glorious as the visual experience is, it becomes increasingly empty, if not outright pointless, the longer ‘Ride the Cyclone’ plods on. And, despite running a mere 100 intermissionless minutes, it feels as though it runs through the myriad eternities the production predicts, and then some. This is in part because, despite its appearance, there's not a lot original about what transpires…Think of it as Kurt Weill's ‘A Chorus Line,’ if Weill had no taste or common sense." Full Review

Preview sweet.charity.cropped
45
Talkin' Broadway

"An odd, occasionally schizophrenic show that's been difficult to get right...Bergasse hasn't established a consistent vernacular the way Fosse did; too often, his choreography looks like a bunch of unrelated bits pasted together. Much of Leigh Silverman's production feels like that, though...She wants to have it both ways, but differently than the book and score do. Worst of all, in fooling with the ending, she's neutered the title character's defining optimism." Full Review

Preview taste mc 11 1 orig
45
Talkin' Broadway

"A show that contains a lot less nourishment than it does empty calories…Although there's technically a through line, it's not much more than a flimsy excuse for dispensing watery period-styled songs…It's all peppy, but rather unavoidably pointless…The most successful songs are the two that are more about introspection than pastiche…There's heart in these numbers that's attractive, even moving...The rest of this well-intentioned musical, though, is overbaked." Full Review

Preview adogstory
40
Talkin' Broadway

"All bones and no meat. Even the 90-minute running time seems hyper-inflated given the paper-thin premise…There’s not a single surprise to be found here; this is, most charitably, an old-fashioned rom-com that even Hollywood might reject as too treacly and formulaic…Although Morgan's music is unmemorably catchy, her lyrics tend toward the banal…Brown is a delight as Blair…She lights up the stage every second she's on it. The others are rather dimmer, though they all work hard." Full Review

Preview download
75
Talkin' Broadway

"More often than not it succeeds at making a great time, even if it falls short of making great art...Though I remain an admirer of 'Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812,' I find that its flaws are even more evident now, and Chavkin and Malloy are not able to disguise how hard they're working...Malloy walks a thin line between serious adaptation and rib-poking irony, and does not always get the ratios correct...Ultimately more a triumph of style than it is a classic piece of writing." Full Review

Preview women of a certain age white
90
Talkin' Broadway

"It's Nelson's greatest strength as playwright and director here that he relegates politics mostly to the background; it's oddly secondary that this is at once the most and least momentous installment in the series with nothing and everything happening simultaneously, and at a dizzying pace. Every moment is flooded with meaning...More than ever, it's the acting that sells it. Everyone is superb." Full Review

Preview finian s rainbow white
85
Talkin' Broadway

"A joyous, colorful revival...Watching Charlotte Moore's small-scale (13-actor) but big-hearted spin on this work, it's hard to care too much about the babblings of any nattering naysayers. This is, admittedly, mostly thanks to the score, which ranks as one of the very best ever composed for a Broadway musical...Its underlying story...is pretty hefty stuff...Traditional tropes are at play, of course...It still works when treated as honestly and forthrightly as Moore does here." Full Review

Preview kingdom
60
Talkin' Broadway

"Human is the best way to describe Weiner's thoughtful, if imperfect, play and Kip Fagan's inconsistent production of it...The plot becomes increasingly improbable as it gets more complicated, with the events and attitudes stretching credulity well past the snapping point...Most of the actors are commenting on their roles rather than living inside them...Only Herlihy and Hernandez get everything right...Their performances are complex, just like 'Kingdom Come' at its best." Full Review

Preview keyart 01
40
Talkin' Broadway

"There's practically nothing in this Donmar Warehouse production that touches on danger of any recognizable kind. That is, unsurprisingly, a problem...Only once the second act hits its stride does this production get interesting, and McTeer and Schreiber become genuinely invested. They still have to fight the severe stodginess of Rourke's staging...Merteuil and Valmont should always be flirting with danger. Here, they spend most of their time not flirting with anything at all." Full Review

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80
Talkin' Broadway

"'Falsettos' has cemented its stake for greatness, even for skeptics like me, by proving, with this production, that it has a lot more on its mind and in its heart than just the current political zeitgeist...What struck me this time around was its all-consuming universality...Borle's performance is fully integrated and absolutely seamless, the kind of thing we should see from every Broadway performer all the time, but in actuality rarely do. That includes, sadly, much of what surrounds Borle." Full Review

Preview kid victory key 800x1200
55
Talkin' Broadway

"Kander and Pierce don't present a convincing case as to why this material needs to sing at all...It also doesn't help that Luke doesn't sing; this may successfully alienate him from those around him, but limits how far we're able to dig into who he is...Tommy's production is slick, fluidly staged as a swift-running stream of consciousness...Being not boring and being transformative are two very different things, however, and 'Kid Victory' does not come close to the latter." Full Review

Preview rsz 1rsz evening at the talkhouse
45
Talkin' Broadway

"Shawn's sleight of hand in guiding us from organic discussion to enforced silence is a bewitching magic trick that Elliott has staged at once subtly and to the hilt; both artists prevent us, like the characters, from seeing where we are or where we're going until we're too enmeshed to escape...The problem, though, is that in the end, all the pieces don't come together...Worse yet, at least at the performance I attended, most of the actors were still finding their ways into their parts." Full Review

Preview big river
55
Talkin' Broadway

"Emphasizing Miller's score only exacerbates the issues that already exist...It doesn't matter how good Rob Berman's orchestra sounds...if it all comes across as literature night at a condemned honky-tonk...This approach ends up transforming everyone outside the central foursome into extras rather than integral participants in the narrative...The problem with 'Big River' in general, and this version in particular, is that you don't really care about much." Full Review

Preview sunsetboulevard 2
85
Talkin' Broadway

"Glenn Close makes it look effortless...The songs work together flawlessly, setting up the thesis and then proving it, all the while Close bewitching you as surely as Norma does her cherished 'people in the dark'...Whether 'Sunset Boulevard' is everything a musical is supposed to be is another matter. It plays very well, though in most part because it follows Wilder's prescriptions (and dialogue) closely...Price's attempts at taming this beast are valiant and largely successful." Full Review

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35
Yen
Talkin' Broadway

“Hedges is arrestingly real. He's the only thing that is...Jordan does not succeed at eliciting much humanity from her other characters...Each part of the scenario is unbelievable on its face…Worse, Jordan telegraphs everything, and leaves nothing to the imagination. None of the huge plot twists, and there are several, come as a surprise…Cullman's staging is all broad strokes and shouting, creating a quartet of colorless caged zoo animals and doing the parched script no favors.” Full Review

Preview tell hector i miss him
15
Talkin' Broadway

"There's nothing compelling or addicting about Lázaro's play; she hasn't yet discovered how to assemble its myriad pieces into anything resembling coherent, let alone emotionally attuned, storytelling...The right director could help her focus, but David Mendizábal has delivered such a cluttered, poorly paced production, even what may be passable doesn't get the chance to shine...The acting...is worth neither further discussion nor naming and shaming the performers." Full Review

Preview great american dream white 2
50
Talkin' Broadway

"There are instances of audience interaction both direct and indirect, and it's at these moments that 'The Great American Drama' feels most alive and the performers closest to connecting. Too much of the rest of the time, there's a crisply pressed artificial quality to the proceedings...The actors are dynamic, resourceful, and apparently tireless, equally adept with the comedy and tragedy that emerge...But they can't quite make it add up to anything." Full Review

Preview dorkknight abingdon
80
Talkin' Broadway

"Why shouldn't what we love represent who we are? In his sparkling one-man play, O'Connell explores this idea with both a seriousness and a hilarity that will make you reconsider your own devotions...Humor is his chief building block...But he can be effortlessly moving, too...Which isn't to say it's perfect...O'Connell is at his enviable best when he drops the costumes and lets his underlying humanity speak for itself. Luckily, that happens frequently enough to keep 'Dork Knight' richly invol... Full Review

Preview blueprint white
95
Talkin' Broadway

"The artists behind the original works were uniquely gifted…The wispy, of-its-time plot is crazy but delightful…It is absolutely, gloriously priceless and irreplaceable. The songs are electrifying…And there's no fault to be found with the cast…For writing that was considered all but disposable and inconsequential in its time, it reminds us more than any show in recent memory just how stirring, important, and even transformative musical theatre can be at its most honest and most uplifting best." Full Review

Preview bright colors
80
Talkin' Broadway

"Droege varies his writing well, keeping Gerry on a constant if unpredictable track from skepticism to acceptance, and acting-wise imbues him with a delicious flamboyance that's always rooted in the realistic...Urie's staging is simple and stark, and keeps your attention riveted where it belongs...Despite its momentary weak spots, the play surrounding him does an excellent, entertaining job at rendering him in exactly the adventurous palettes and textures that invitation so openly decries." Full Review

Preview first noel white
85
Talkin' Broadway

"The symbolism, like the plot itself, is more than a little heavy-handed…But if you can get past this, and the rather hokey framing device, ‘The First Noel’ is a powerful story that's anything but hackneyed. The writers don't shy from addressing genuine anguish that comes from a believable place…So compelling is all this drama that the score itself becomes, if not superfluous, then at least secondary…The lead cast members are all superb." Full Review

Preview thebandsvisit
80
Talkin' Broadway

"It is everything the best musicals typically aren't—predictable, shticky, limited of focus—while also unlocking the heart and wonder that the canon's most legendary installments manage. It's totally off-putting yet ultimately enveloping, microscopic and as expansive as the human condition. It works feverishly to make you hate it, but in the end it garners your love just the same...It achieves greatness at the exact moment it matters most." Full Review

Preview tbt white
45
Talkin' Broadway

"The questions are gorgeously intoned by Brannon, Narciso, and Woolams-Torres…But intoning those questions is, essentially, all they do. To the extent drama occurs along the way, it's found in the gradual peeling away of the layers of artifice Sugar builds up around herself to defend against the dangers of Internet anonymity…Is that journey enough to power a full evening, even one this comparatively short? For me, no." Full Review

Preview rsz the babylon line
60
Talkin' Broadway

"The more the pieces fall into place in Act II...the more entertaining and rewarding 'The Babylon Line' is. It's in the more intimate scenes that Greenberg stumbles and stands in the way of the play's greatness...Ignoring someone for two hours and then showing us in the last 10 minutes how vital they always were is a tricky prospect, and one that Greenberg has not nimbly navigated...The outcome may be worthwhile, but...sticking with these people until you reach it is not easy." Full Review

Preview 8131c66a4609bda5bc44d3146e84e715
65
Talkin' Broadway

"If you know you want a lot of liquidy doo-wop music, non-threatening fights and fake-looking Molotov cocktails, an aww-inducing love story, and two showy, starry central performances from Bobby Conte Thornton and Nick Cordero, then rest assured that's what you'll get, with nothing else getting in the way...Earworm wrangler Menken is in solid form here...But none of it causes your spine to tingle or your eyes to leak...There are far worse ways to burn off a couple of hours." Full Review

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55
Talkin' Broadway

"As lively as all these exchanges are with these on-point actors and Mark Brokaw's bull's-eye-hitting direction, they're the culmination of the struggle, not the beginning of it...All we can do is hold on to what works post-intermission, which is pretty much everything...Act I is a complete nonstarter, with nasty writing and ugly acting that only sabotage the possibilities on which you'll want to believe Act II thrives...It does seem to end just once it's getting going." Full Review

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85
Talkin' Broadway

"A curative that could not be more needed right now. And its stunning stars, as always, deliver the goods. Those would, of course, be the 36 Rockettes who, through their military-precise hoofing, kicking, and goodwill knock out the blues and propel us into the Technicolor universe of eternal Yuletide happiness...They just work, just like the 'Christmas Spectacular' just works—a model of mechanical, at times seemingly scientific, approach to mainstream entertainment." Full Review

Preview dps white
75
Talkin' Broadway

"As good a piece of writing as 'Dead Poets Society' is, it's not immune to this production's highly variable direction and acting…Jason Sudeikis is utterly believable as both a crazy and a conservative…William Hochman is outstanding as Knox…But except for Francesca Carpanini, no one else is remotely as good…One does wish Schulman had imparted the adults with as much depth as he did the kids…But Schulman does his level best to ensure that, with 'Dead Poets Society,' you get everything else." Full Review

Preview party23
35
Talkin' Broadway

"Something of a mess, with so much on its mind that it ends up not saying much of anything at all…None of it, though, makes following the myriad plot threads any easier; there are just too many for any of them to receive the necessary amount of development time, especially given the raft of musical numbers applied on top...It also does not help that only a few of the performers, who are all skilled, are charismatic enough to jolt you into the realm of caring.” Full Review

Preview last black man white
65
Talkin' Broadway

"A credible but not quite electrifying Signature Theatre revival...Fascinating but scattershot play...A little of it does go a long way, and even at 75 minutes 'The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World' feels overlong...History, in other words, does not exactly come alive. But maybe it doesn't need to—its arrival at all makes it possible for us to commit it to posterity, so that we'll never forget the identity of the black man who was eternally searching for it." Full Review

Preview master harold white 2
85
Talkin' Broadway

"The play itself has not lost any of its power even if it's lost some of its ability to surprise...Fugard attacks the topic so thoroughly and so bracingly that it remains astonishing that he does so with such sensitivity and beauty that overwhelm the underlying anger...The gasps we may no longer need. But the accompanying insight is, as it has always been, invaluable." Full Review

Preview sweat white
80
Talkin' Broadway

for a previous production "Key portions of the action are dedicated to flipping forward eights years into the future to show us the aftermath of events, something that's anticlimactic and predictable...But the dialogue throughout is cutting and compelling...and the scenes that dig most deeply into their fears, as internalized and externalized, are gut-wrenching in their ferocity. Terrifically directed by Kate Whoriskey, who amplifies every moment, you are never less than an inhabitant in this world." Full Review

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80
Talkin' Broadway

"Though Leonard Foglia's staging moves well, there are times it could put even more emphasis on Smith than it does. Foglia does, however, help Smith elicit great beauty from her time onstage. She is as capable of wrenching tears as cheers, both in the construction of her writing and her pungently sensitive performance...Even when the events Smith covers in 'Notes From the Field' are at their most depressing, such sounds are music we're all better off for having heard." Full Review

Preview theradicalizationofrolfe16 4477
45
Talkin' Broadway

"Bergh has tried fervently to escape the shackles of the source, but they don't release easily...Bergh has plenty of points to make, but they have trouble landing amid all the comedic landmines...It may feel like a lot of filler. This is not because of the actors, who are competent and professional (if never exciting), or director Abigail Zealey Bess, who's staged things with the most kitchen-sink fidelity possible in this format. There's just nowhere for them to go with the material." Full Review

Preview sunday in the park white
90
Talkin' Broadway

for a previous production "Many actors in the role excel at one George or the other, but Gyllenhaal's bridge between the two is the clearest and most complete I've seen…Ashford gives a more traditional performance, but one that's accomplished in its own right…They all sound sumptuous, too…All of Sondheim's songs land, even when director Sarna Lapine's staging is a bit too minimalist to do them visual justice…In this format, 'Sunday in the Park With George' warms the soul." Full Review