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Bella: An American Tall Tale

From 246 member  reviews
Members say: Great singing, Entertaining, Funny, Clever, Quirky

About the show

Playwrights Horizons presents the New York premiere of this musical adventure about a wanted woman of mythic proportions who looks to begin life anew in the Wild West. More…

Bella takes us on the trip of a lifetime to escape her scandalous past and bounce into the arms of her awaiting Buffalo Soldier. Rowdy, wild, and hilarious, writer-composer Kirsten Childs infuses this tall tale with soulful tunes and madcap antics aplenty. Giddy-up to our get-down!

Member Reviews (246)


Great singing, Entertaining, Funny, Clever, Quirky
Avg Score

Fun, Entertaining, Long, Great singing, Overreaching

See it if Great singing/music/acting. Great staging and an interesting story overall. Enjoyable.

Don't see it if Should have been trimmed. Some scenes loll and confuse. Sometimes more vignettes strung together than a story thread.

Ambitious, Entertaining, Great singing, Overly long, Unfocused

See it if Probably the most ambitious or elaborate show I've seen at Playwrights Horizons. Great staging. Fun story w/ a great cast.

Don't see it if It's way too long. The first act is lots of vignettes w/ minor characters. Many could be cut to streamline & focus show.

Entertaining, Fluffy, Quirky, Clever, Silly

See it if Fun song and dance. Insight into minority and ethnic contribution to the post civil war western era.

Don't see it if The theme of the magic booty was taken too far. It went from funny to banal. The second act dragged compared to the first.

Banal, Disappointing, Great singing, Flatulent, Long

See it if you want to discover some really fine singers whose careers you can follow as they find some more worthy shows for their talents.

Don't see it if you like depth, meaning, coherence, concision, maturity from your musicals. This show is a mess of mixed messages & erratic musical styles.

Great staging, Great singing, Overrated, Quirky, Raunchy

See it if Good attempt to capture the gap after the Civil War re: Blacks in the US. Some good singing talent. Nice sets.

Don't see it if Attempt to say too much in less than 3 hours.. Divergent tales and back and forth time capsules break the story line.

Clever, Ambitious, Thought-provoking, Great singing, Funny

See it if you enjoy musicals, linear plots, stock characters used for satiric purposes, powerful singing, learning about neglected part of US history

Don't see it if you don't like fanciful, exaggerated musicals, straightforward plots that just progress ahead, resent having history thrust at you

Ambitious, Edgy, Delightful, Funny, Clever

See it if a combination of fun and history set to music is your idea of a good time. Outrageous premise - great production with fantastic costumes

Don't see it if you think history can only be learned from text books -- maybe that's a reason you should see this show?

Entertaining, Funny, Great singing, Great score, Quirky

See it if you enjoy tall tales, quirky narratives and characters, or big voices. This show is wildly imaginative with a ton of heart.

Don't see it if you prefer realism or serious dramas. This ain't that.

Indulgent, Needlessly long, Fun, Ambitious, Fluffy

See it if you enjoy a talented lead, a likeable, energetic cast, shananiganns, visions of "Venus" but more fun, hardships, family and love.

Don't see it if you are looking for a tight script and memorable songs. Both serious and fun topics, but the play needs massive editing and song cuts.

Clever, Entertaining, Great singing, Quirky, Great characters

See it if you enjoy musical fables about the Wild West. Bella,a black woman with a famous booty, becomes an entertainer with many adventures.

Don't see it if you expect a conventional musical and reality; are offended by off-color remarks; are under the age of 14;dislike the circus

Also Go to this show with a big imagination, and enjoy the wonderful singin... Read more Read less

Delightful, Enchanting, Funny, Quirky, Intelligent

See it if You enjoy watching talented performers sing and dance in a fantasy world that draws you in and keeps you interested.

Don't see it if You need a play that takes itself seriously. The songs weren't always great and sometimes the jokes were corny. But just go with it.

Delightful, Entertaining, Funny, Great singing, Clever

See it if You want to be entertained with fun and great singers

Don't see it if You arr looking for a drama

Great singing, Great staging, Fluffy, Quirky, Weird

See it if Amazing music and great voices. Very lively and entertaining, if taken as a concert.

Don't see it if A preposterous book. And here's something I never thought I'd say about a show: too much ass. For real.

Funny, Great singing, Dated, Quirky

See it if You are interested in black and other cultures and enjoy good singing and unusual quirky stories.

Don't see it if You need a well developed solid story line and are bothered by apparently irrelevant tangent deviations.

Entertaining, Great singing, Intelligent

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.

Also I tend to judge plays by the seat of my pants. I found it hard to sit ... Read more Read less

Cliched, Excruciating, Raunchy, Dizzying, Grotesque

See it if you understand/feel African American female motifs/themes/humor/music/anger/low self-esteem/revenge vs. whites. 4 good numbers. Cute scenes.

Don't see it if you haven't and won't watch Beyonce, find jokes about overweight/large buttocks women/objectivism/rape vulgar or dislike musicals/long shows

Clever, Delightful, Great acting, Great singing, Entertaining

See it if Would like to have a fun filled night with wonderful characters and an unusual story ...Belle is bigger than life!!!! No buts about it!!!

Don't see it if If you don't enjoy over-the-top musicals that aren't run of the mill. It's a bit raunchy so if you're uncomfortable with that...well..

Ambitious, Disappointing, Romantic, Slow, Doesn't gel

See it if You like whimsical musicals with fun costumes, set, and energetic (if not terrific) performances. Are a fan of the old wild West.

Don't see it if You need your theatre to be fully baked and sharp.

Also I really had high hopes, but ended up being bored. There are a few fun... Read more Read less

Confusing, Quirky, Slow, Thought-provoking, Indulgent

See it if you've got time on your hands, like smaller musicals, and dislike the whitewashing of American history. Nice critique of the Wild West myth.

Don't see it if You don't like bad endings, works in progress, musicals, strong(ish) black women, or potty humor.

Also Good staging, good singing, very uneven lyrics with moment of brillian... Read more Read less

Delightful, Refreshing, Great singing

See it if Blindsided by something joyous. Subtlety in the delicious lack of subtlety. Entertaining and smart.

Don't see it if No reason not to see


See it if You love musicals, any musical. It's packed with tepid songs and dancing with some good singing, but the first act was just busy.

Don't see it if Like me, you need more (and to be fair, I really am not a fan of musicals). We hurried away at intermission.

Delightful, Entertaining, Funny, Quirky, Refreshing

See it if You want an entertaining fable about the Wild West, which includes lots of diversity and features great music.

Don't see it if You haven't the patience for entire songs trying to teach you a lesson about racism. The musical overshot a bit in attempting profundity.

Clever, Enchanting, Entertaining, Funny, Great staging

See it if You want a rowdy, funny, entertaining show, the things that make a musical -a musical. Great singing & staging. I had a blast!

Don't see it if You want drama, a serious show or a thought provoking-question the meaning of life show. There is too much fun here to find that.

Entertaining, Great acting, Great staging, Relevant, Slow

See it if you like superficial characterizations with entertaining songs and dances. The singers were all wonderful, with powerful, rich voices

Don't see it if you like perceptive characterizations with a subtle humor.

Also I found it hard to sit so long for the play. It would be better if it ... Read more Read less

Great singing, Disappointing, Overrated, Slow

See it if You don't mind a very long play with both good and bad singers.

Don't see it if if you like good musicals or dramas.

June 12th, 2017
"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 ancho...
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June 12th, 2017
"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 ambitious for a show so campy it features an 11-o'clock number sung by the spirit of Bella's rump....
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June 13th, 2017
“Kirsten Childs’ high spirits are infectious. ‘Bella’ is her irresistible invitation to kick up your heels…Although our heroine’s picaresque adventures are the heart and soul of the show, Childs doesn’t neglect the other characters…The fun of the show would seem to depend on the wild tales that B...
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June 12th, 2017
"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 li...
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