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A Letter to Harvey Milk

From 337 member  reviews
Members say: Great singing, Entertaining, Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking

About the show

Set in San Francisco in 1986, this musical deals with issues of friendship and loss, the grip of the past, and the hard-won acceptance set in motion by the most unexpected people.  More…

What could Harry, an amiable but lonely retired kosher butcher have in common with Barbara, his young lesbian writing teacher at the senior center? Is it enough to bridge the divide?  When Harry fulfills a writing assignment to compose a letter to someone from his past who’s dead, he writes not to his late wife Frannie, but to Harvey Milk, the first openly gay political leader in California. Barbara is stunned. Harry's letter evokes life-changing revelations that neither could have foreseen. 


Member Reviews (337)

MEMBERS SAY:

Great singing, Entertaining, Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking
79
Avg Score

67
Banal, Disappointing, Funny, Fluffy, Indulgent

See it if The direction and cast is good. If you like the jewish humor. It is a fast paced musical but lacks dialogue of any meaning.

Don't see it if Boring at times, bad dialogue as well as predictable. If you don't like Jewish humor, plays about LGBT or the holocaust.

90
Delightful, Resonant, Moving, Absorbing, Sentimental

See it if Lovely small musical about a friendship between lost souls from different generations. I was in tears by the end. Catchy lyrical music.

Don't see it if You wouldn’t enjoy Jewish and gay themes. You can’t abide sentimentality. You prefer a bigger production.

97
Absorbing, Clever, Great singing, Intelligent, Relevant

See it if you want to see great talent, explore some great problems of the 20th & 21st century ..aging. gender,. relationships the Holocaust, memories

Don't see it if No negatives for partner nor for me. Her 100% (1st time) and my 94%. The singing was excellent esp. the two leads ( left playbill in car)

71
Entertaining, Touching, Pandering, Well-intentioned, Cliched

See it if you seek an earnest, original (albeit old-fashioned) new musical w/affable, relatable characters dealing w/identity, self-doubt & bigotry.

Don't see it if you'll be irked by the manipulative sentimentality, cliched depictions (esp of Jews) & shticky numbers that make this an oft mawkish affair.

Also It is refreshing to see a musical with a lesbian character in the lead... Read more Read less

72
Disappointing, Slow, Well acted & sung, Ambitious, Banal

See it if Unfortunately, Milk's life is just a catalyst to another earnest yet dull liberation story Good singing & comic performances help somewhat

Don't see it if Intentions in the right place but mundane execution Holocaust tie-in feels grafted on Bartoli's Harvey spot-on; show needs more of him

84
Touching, Brisk, Modest, Traditional, Nostalgic

See it if you like modest chamber musicals with lots of music, minimal book & an inspirational message.

Don't see it if you are expecting a musical biography of pioneering gay politician Harvey Milk: Milk is this musical’s 4th banana (& powerful inspiration).

Also “A Letter to Harvey Milk” is not a revolutionary musical, but it is to... Read more Read less

76
Ambitious, Great singing, Dated, Well-meaning, Sweet

See it if you like chamber musicals, intergenerational stories, short one act shows, Jewish humor, stories about LGBT acceptance, the Holocaust, grief

Don't see it if you expect a musical about Milk (he is a minor character), want more than a 7-person cast in 1 act show, don't like LGBT or Holocaust tales

72
Meh musical; see it for star in the making - julia knitel

See it if pleasant music, amusing sometimes clever lyrics; Adam Heller - strong lead; Julia K gorgeous voice, winning actress

Don't see it if lyrics often obvious; story of how 2 lost souls - old Jewish man & young Jewish "Lesbianca" - "save" each other never takes wing

Also Let's try to deconstruct what went awry in play. 1. Old Jewish man is ... Read more Read less

90
Entertaining, Resonant, Moving, Funny, Great singing

See it if I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this show, I really didn't know what to expect. The story & songs were great. I heartily recommend it!

Don't see it if You don't like musicals or the topics covered.

Also Cheryl Stern really was a standout for me. Although she was certainly ... Read more Read less

79
Entertaining, Great acting, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Intelligent

See it if you would enjoy the juxtaposition of gay rights and Jewish heritage in 1986. Good cast delivers the messages in 85 minutes.

Don't see it if the great music played well by the four-piece band overpowering the singing voices many times would be too distracting.

64
Disappointing, Slow, Bland, Uneven, Indulgent

See it if You like 90 minute musicals. You enjoy musicals based on historical events.

Don't see it if You are wanting to see a re enactment of the shooting of Harvey Milk. This show strays far from the actual events.

78
Intelligent, Absorbing, Entertaining

See it if You’d like a musical that ties together events in gay and Jewish history that preserves details that younger generations may not know.

Don't see it if Your expectations are too high; you may be disappointed.

70
Entertaining, Ambitious, Cliched, Schmaltzy, Well-meaning

See it if want to see a musical about a widowed Kosher butcher and his lesbian writing teacher, both of whom were influenced by Harvey Milk.

Don't see it if you are not interested in Jewish or LGBT themes or if you have a low tolerance for works that lack a unified tone.

Also There is a sweetness and earnestness that is undercut by wild variatio... Read more Read less

79
Resonant, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Clever

See it if You want a musical that makes you think.

Don't see it if You’re expecting a deep gay play

79
Great cast, Sentimental then tragic surprise, Great shifts in tone, Pays tribute to fiddleronroof, Entertaining enough

See it if sentimental, old style musical trappings, including LGBTQ / HarveyMilk / Holocaust themes + excellent cast + pit = theatre night well spent

Don't see it if sentimental, old style musical trappings, including LGBTQ / HarveyMilk / Holocaust / Jewish themes = painful theatre experience for you

80
Cliched, Disappointing, Great singing

See it if you are a fan of Harvey Milk and want to learn a little more about him.Play was interesting, but not really satisfying.Score was weak.

Don't see it if you're expecting a real look into Harvey, his life & impact.Main story is fairly trite.I'm glad I saw it, but it doesn't have much substance

79
Great acting, Entertaining, Funny

See it if You enjoy romantic musicals, you are a fan of Harvey Milk or enjoy culturally interesting shows.

Don't see it if If you are not intetested in the struggles of the LGBTQ community or Jewish history and would not enjoy a story featuring both.

68
Wonderful lead male, Last second predictable disappointing curveball

See it if You want to see a compelling lead performance. Unevenly sung but with great stage presence. All his songs were lovely. Nice band. Some

Don't see it if You like good harmony. My ears hurt every time more than one person sang.

Also I found this long at 85 minutes. The wife was stereotypically 50's Jew... Read more Read less

80
Great singing, Ambitious, Delightful, Indulgent, Relevant

See it if you enjoy gay jewish themed musicals that focus on an unusual relationship.

Don't see it if sappy gay jewish themes don't appeal to you. It is a bitg ambitious

79
Fine acting, Uneven, Likeable protagonists

See it if you appreciate Jewish humor, are interested in gay culture & history & can learn how people who may be dissimilar can learn from one another

Don't see it if abrupt shifts in tone bother you. The character of the dead wife was almost a caricature. Overall, worth seeing.

75
Entertaining, Refreshing

See it if Pleasant musical with themes of Harvey Milk’s life , love and loss. An entertaining evening .

Don't see it if Don’t see if you do not like off Broadway musicals.

84
Relevant, Resonant, Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Moving

See it if you’d enjoy a biographical story involving a connection to a real life hero from a seemingly unlikely source.

Don't see it if you want to miss out on a touching, surprising story.

79
Entertaining, Intelligent, Relevant, Cliched, Indulgent

See it if you want an old fashioned musical that's well performed but tries to be too many things to all in a mere 90 minutes. Ending is very moving.

Don't see it if you are looking for a breakthrough musical.

86
Great acting, Great singing, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Funny

See it if You want to see a musical that is very entertaining and thought provoking. You want to laugh and be entertained. You have an open mind.

Don't see it if You want to miss a very good musical that talks about relevant issues. You don't want to laugh. You don't like musicals.

85
Very funny / very sweet / deeply-moving, Great singing, Excellent musicianship (above-the-stage), Resonant / relevant / thought-provoking, Must-see

See it if you'd enjoy a small endearing sweet warm inter-generational & inter-cultural musical w/very funny clever lyrics, deeply-moving book & music.

Don't see it if you want to see a mega-musical. Lots thrown in: death, Jewish humor, gay story-line(s), family banishment, the Holocaust, in under 100min.

Also The twist at the end will leave you motionless.... Read more Read less


March 6th, 2018
"Surprisingly fierce little musical...Ginsburg's lush orchestrations for piano, cello, and woodwinds give the music a sentimental air ideal for a story about the dredging of feelings long thought drowned. At the same time, the lyrics are honest and playful...Pappas juggles the overlapping plot li...
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March 8th, 2018
"There's a lot to like about this show, but it isn't wholly successful for a variety of reasons. First of all, in my opinion, 90-minute musicals rarely work. It's a tall order to develop characters, as well as relationships...While partially due to the short duration of the show, part of that is ...
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March 7th, 2018
"This is an old-fashioned laughter-and-tears exercise that combines wheezy gags with weepy revelations and the tasteless exploitation of certain world-historical events...The dialogue sounds like something thrown together in the writers' room of a mediocre television sitcom...Under Pappas' direct...
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March 6th, 2018
"Mixed-bag of a musical...The plot and characters are potentially quite moving. Unfortunately, the material is undercut by a bland and generic score...The performances are better than the material...Some of the early scenes move along a bit sluggishly, but director Pappas creates some effective s...
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Cast & Creatives (18)