Bella: An American Tall Tale
Closed 2h 30m
Bella: An American Tall Tale
76

Bella: An American Tall Tale NYC Reviews and Tickets

76%
(246 Reviews)
Positive
79%
Mixed
16%
Negative
5%
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.

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Member Reviews (246)

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876 Reviews | 904 Followers
76
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.

851 Reviews | 1007 Followers
74
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.

706 Reviews | 214 Followers
75
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.

741 Reviews | 123 Followers
80
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?

689 Reviews | 152 Followers
77
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

MJK
677 Reviews | 188 Followers
40
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.

don
506 Reviews | 1002 Followers
73
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.

480 Reviews | 715 Followers
82
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.

Critic Reviews (28)

The New York Times
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 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."
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Time Out New York
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 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."
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Variety
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 Bella spins out of her fertile imagination. But when her journey finally comes to an end, Bella has made a great discovery about herself.”
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Theatermania
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 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."
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BroadwayWorld
June 24th, 2017

"Childs' joyfully old-fashioned, but sneakily subversive new musical...O'Hara's jaunty production, choreographed with lively period flavor, resembles a kind of saloon entertainment played out with picture postcard visuals...Kelley is an irresistible, moxie-filled charmer in the title role...‘Bella’ embraces the physical side of sexual attraction with a big, brash bear hug and playfully places the iconic African female physique on the pedestal where it belongs."
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Lighting & Sound America
June 14th, 2017

“For most of the first act, it's barely a tale at all, so crammed is it with numbers that go nowhere and characters who quickly vanish from the narrative…There is a very good point wandering around inside ‘Bella,’ but it is obscured by an excess of silliness and vulgarity…Under the fast-paced and often inventive direction of Robert O'Hara, an appealing cast works hard to maintain an engaging mood, even during the more embarrassing episodes."
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Talkin' Broadway
June 12th, 2017

"Childs leaves loose ends flapping all over the place, and you'll stop counting the number of times the narrative just halts dead in its tracks to make room for another diversion. But those diversions are, let's admit, frequently diverting, and even as we're shaking our heads at the looseness of Childs's conception and the illogic of what little story there is, we're entertained...The cast is splendid...Fun and celebratory as much of it is, 'Bella' is one sloppy American tall tale."
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TheaterScene.net
June 20th, 2017

“‘Bella: An American Tall Tale,’ book, music and lyrics by Kirsten Childs, is a rambunctious, sexy new musical at Playwrights Horizons. Ms. Childs, whose ‘The Bubbly Brown Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin’ (2000) will be restaged this summer as part of the Encores! Off-Center series, has written an adventurous musical which occasionally sags a bit, but is always sassy and lively.”
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