New York | 1h 35m | Already closed

Carmen Jones

From 39 critic and 224 member reviews
Members say: Great singing, Entertaining, Absorbing, Great acting, Must see

About the show

Using the score from Bizet’s opera 'Carmen,' this adaptation by Oscar Hammerstein II resets the story with an all African-American cast. CSC's presents the first major New York revival since its Broadway debut. More…

As the Second World War rages, parachute maker Carmen Jones wages her own quarrel involving an airman and a boxer. Tony Award winner Anika Noni Rose ('Caroline, or Change'; 'A Raisin in the Sun') will play the title role in this production directed by CSC Artistic Director John Doyle ('The Color Purple') and choreographed by Bill T. Jones ('Fela!').

1h 35m | Already closed | Classic Stage Company (East Village)

The New York Times

"Sublime. There’s no point trying to resist such sheer, distilled beauty...In its own way, this production is as primal and breathlessly seductive as the great director Peter Brook’s 'La Tragédie de Carmen'...Electrically choreographed by Bill T. Jones; the audience feels what the characters feel, on the rutted road to a harrowing catharsis...Smashingly effective...Mr. Doyle and his team go with the magnetic flow and personality-shaping detail of the original composition." Full Review

New York Stage Review

"This vest-pocket production takes 'Carmen Jones' off the shelf and reveals it to be living, pulse-pounding, musically marvelous and altogether terrific...Passions are alive and well; and the cast...almost roar their way through the intensely passionate score...Those of us accustomed to Doyle’s style of accentuating musicals by stripping them down to essentials are aware of how monumental the results can be when he is at his best. He is here at his best...This is pure theatrical dynamite." Full Review

Theater Life

“The grand passion of opera and the minimalist esthetics of director John Doyle blend perfectly...Doyle strips the material down to its essence and allows its raw, explosive power to explode fully...A spectacular ten-person cast deliver the vocal and dramatic goods...Doyle wisely downplays the exaggerated nature of the speech and emphasizes the emotional connections of the story and Bizet’s music, resulting in an unforgettable rediscovery of a curio from Broadway’s Golden Age.” Full Review

Musical Theater Review

"Glorious singers all...What dominates the stage is an intensely intimate distillation of the opera’s story of a potentially great love affair gone bad...The denouement is overwhelming. You feel as if you’re experiencing it for the first time...Some might say his lyrics are too fancifully black or stereotypical...The terrific cast makes the words totally organic, bringing truth to just about every moment of the show...Thrilling musicality of a night at the opera galvanized with gut-grabbing t... Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"It’s a perfect match for John Doyle’s prodigious talent as a visionary director...A superb troupe of ten African-American actors...This is one of those productions where all the artistic planets are aligned, and the results are glorious. It’s vividly imagined, clearly rendered, fluidly directed, and beautifully paced. A master at maneuvering an ensemble, Doyle has the entire cast present throughout the performance...Their collective presence adds to the heat and urgency of the piece." Full Review

Stage Buddy

"Near perfection. Glorious and devastating in one package, it's a thrilling, artistically concise revival...Where 'Carmen' thrills is not so much in its plot line, but its melodic line. By extension, that's where 'Carmen Jones' succeeds most...What ultimately carries the day is Bizet's irresistible music, Hammerstein's well-fitted lyrics, and John Doyle's cast of heart-stopping vocalists...A whirlwind tour of desire, obsession, and the extremes of human nature...A resounding success." Full Review


“A master of revelatory and efficient revivals of classic musicals, Doyle gives 'Carmen Jones' the stripped-down treatment, forcing us to think about the porous border between romance and terror…We're taken in by the joy and enthusiasm that radiates from the cast as they seamlessly pull these elements together to tell a good story….That level of can-do resourcefulness is what makes 'Carmen Jones' both refreshing and impressive. It's the performances, however, that make it unforgettable.” Full Review

Cultural Weekly

“Doyle strips the material down to its essence and allows its raw, explosive power to explode fully...A spectacular ten-person cast deliver the vocal and dramatic goods...Rose sets fire to the stage as she slinks, slides and trills up and down Bizet’s scales and Hammerstein’s saucy lyrics...Doyle wisely downplays the exaggerated nature of the speech and emphasizes the emotional connections of the story and music, resulting in an unforgettable rediscovery." Full Review

On and Off Broadway

"It was such a joy to be reunited with Oscar Hammerstein II’s adaptation of Bizet’s opera...The most thrilling musical treat of the season so far...Doyle has once again cut to the essentials eliminating much of the size and splash of the huge original. With the use of only ten gifted triple-threat actors, a simple and suggestive set, and some colorful costuming, he’s delivered a glorious 'new' musical." Full Review

Film Festival Traveler

“The strength of both the music and tragic romance are enough to motor Doyle’s typically stripped-down staging...studded with muscular singers and powerhouse performers...Rose fills Carmen’s form-fitting clothes to perfection...Rose is spectacular...Graceful and athletic choreography makes the tragedy visceral as well as emotional, and a tight six-piece ensemble plays Bizet’s well-known score as passionately as the remarkable Rose and the rest of the cast sing it.” Full Review

The Theatre Times

"Razor-sharp...Doyle’s direction shines in this production...Doyle has reduced a work that sometimes suffers from its larger parts to an immersive, in-the-round retelling of ‘Carmen Jones’ that unearths the depths of the story. This smaller scale creates opportunities for intimacy and delicacy that turn Bizet’s succulent and technically difficult score into a playground for seasoned actors...The cast is sensational...The most remarkable aspect is Rose.” Full Review

DC Theatre Scene

"Pretty damn exciting, thanks to a cast led by Anika Noni Rose and the show’s fascinating history...A more resplendent staging might have made a better match for such a purplish plot. Still, the vocal talent of the cast makes much of the show feel plush. The ensemble singing fills the intimate theater, and the individual performers seem to be in a competition to floor us with their arias...But it is Anika Noni Rose who conquers." Full Review

Time Out New York

"Offers a physically spare but musically rich account of a historically significant curio. Hammerstein’s attempts at African-American vernacular are often clunky, and the staging fumbles a few key moments of violence. But the score is sung thrillingly...It’s hard not to be seduced." Full Review


"Thank you John Doyle for giving New Yorkers a chance to experience this show on stage and seeing it performed by a marvelous cast of strong voiced performers. Doyle has once again applied his essential staging style...And at a trim 95 minutes, this 'Carmen Jones' keeps the music coming and the story moving along without longueurs...All ten cast members are wonderful singers and actors and provide audiences with a most enjoyable watching and listening experience." Full Review

Gotham Playgoer

"The production currently at CSC makes a good case for reviving this rarity...The leads all have wonderful voices and are fine actors too...I am not that fond of Hammerstein’s libretto and lyrics, but Bizet’s music is so well sung that I didn’t mind it that much...Doyle is back in good form." Full Review

The Wrap

"Hammerstein’s tinkering is nothing short of brilliant, and that includes his lyrics, his snippets of dialogue and, above all, his totally convincing update of the story to an all-black military base in the South during World War II...Doyle’s work here makes clear that 'Carmen Jones' deserves a revival on Broadway. And the superb cast he has assembled is more than ready for midtown Manhattan." Full Review

Wolf Entertainment Guide

“It is the singing that defines and triumphs in the neatly scaled down production...A superb group of performers make the songs potent and moving...By shortening the work and condensing the plot details, the dramatics get somewhat shortchanged and all the explosive relationships seem rushed...But the gambit results in primary focus on expression via the singing, and listening to one dynamic number after another brilliantly sung becomes a thrilling experience." Full Review

New Yorker

“In Doyle, Rose may have found her ideal director, someone who lets her play to her strengths...It’s Rose’s investment in the character that illuminates the production from moment to moment...It’s a relief to see actors of color being allowed to concentrate on acting...Doyle doesn’t let us get sentimental about any of this. His staging, spare and quick but not rushed—only a great director could have fashioned this tight, ninety-five-minute jewel—shows Carmen as a woman who’s trying to survive." Full Review

New York Stage Review

"Performed within these intimate circumstances, the fast-moving show proves to be fiery with feeling...In these sensitive times of cultural appropriation, Hammerstein’s 1940s usage of dis, dat and similar vernacular wordplay may make some viewers a tad uneasy, but there is no denying the easy flow of his lyrics and the straightforwardness of his libretto. Fluently staged by Doyle and performed so winningly, this 'Carmen Jones,' like its heroine, is irresistible." Full Review


"Anika Noni Rose sizzles with a vibrancy that shakes your very core...John Doyle who, with a pared-down cast of just 10 extraordinary actors, gives the rarely performed musical a new intensity, distilling it to the essentials...The colloquial vernacular of the black South can be jarring at times...Still, the strength of the story, combined with incredible vocals all around, is reason enough, as one of the songs suggests, to simply lose yourself in 'de sweetness in de music.'" Full Review

Drama Queen NYC

“An evening of beautiful music, beautifully sung...In that style sometimes called ‘legit’...The music is irresistible, and it’s hard not to be charmed by Hammerstein’s warmth and wit...Doyle’s direction is well within his minimalist, story-centric approach. Sometimes things get a little too still for my taste, but that also means when Jones choreography bursts through it’s all the more powerful. It’s finally Rose’s show and she is magnificent. Recommended.” Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

“The singing is glorious...Jones is played with full-voiced sensuality by Anika Noni Rose...Those others in Doyle’s superb recreation of this difficult piece of aged musical theatre deserve just as much of our loving gaze throughout...The piece as a whole feels a tad bit slow-moving, inauthentic at times...But you can’t help but feel the rhythm and the soul that beats in the heart of ‘Carmen Jones’...The singing transcends it all, lifting us up to heights that only a parachute can help us dow... Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"This staging may be short on amenities, but it doesn't stint on vocal sizzle; when the gifted cast members tear into some of the most popular arias in the entire opera repertory, the walls all but tremble...There's a choppy continuity to the action that may partly be Hammerstein's adaptation, but which also, I'm pretty sure, has to do with Doyle's desire to cut the book to the bone...'Carmen Jones' may be a strange creature, but her charms are very real and won't be denied. " Full Review

Times Square Chronicles

“Director John Doyle has again stripped down the piece, allowing the passion of the music, sexual tension, and violence speak for itself...Bizet’s music sung to Hammerstein’s slang-style lyrics does not always work...Rose sizzles with sex appeal. She is the ultimate lady in red and this show is all hers. It is hard to pick out who sang the best as this show is vocally astounding...All managed to create intricate characters, while sounding glorious.” Full Review


"Due to the use of the arena staging, wherever one looks one sees other members of the audience throughout the evening, though the cast does acknowledge their presence occasionally to flirt with them. The lack of scenery makes it difficult to know where this all takes place; except for references to Chicago, there is no explanation where the parachute plant is located either in the libretto or in the program. The luxurious country club scene is the most affected by this." Full Review

Great singing, Riveting, Absorbing

See it if you enjoy musical theater. I enjoyed it immensely.

Don't see it if you prefer the opera on which this is based.

Enchanting, Great acting, Great singing, Masterful

See it if You want a very accessible intro or revisit to the world of opera. This production is superb! There’s not a single thing wrong with it.

Don't see it if Opera is not your jam. Though understand you are missing an extraordinary production.

Also Anika Noni Rose!❤️

Delightful, Romantic, Must see, Enchanting

See it if This was one of the place musicals that I have ever witness. Every seat is great view because the theater is so small. Please see it.

Don't see it if There is no reason why you should not see this show before the last performance on August 19, 2018.

Absorbing, Exquisite, Great singing, Masterful, Must see

See it if You adore singing and masterful theater in the round. No weak links in this cast! Simply sublime.

Don't see it if Opera isnt your thing or you cant get past the southern dialect.

Must see, Glorious, Great singing, Great staging, Soaring

See it if you love Bizet's music from Carmen, you want to see a top notch cast with marvelous voices

Don't see it if you don't like theater in the round, you don't like opera

Exquisite, Great singing, Great staging, Riveting, Must see

See it if You like amazing singing, acting, staging. Intimate and astounding.

Don't see it if You need spectacle, hate opera, or can't see this in its historical perspective.

Delightful, Great singing, Must see

See it if Love great operatic singing and soaring sopranos and tenors Love Anika Noni Rose Love a talented ensemble cast Love an intimate setting

Don't see it if Don’t like opera Don’t want chills and goosebumps from the power of stellar voices

Great singing, Great acting, Masterful, Intense, Riveting

See it if Literate script with GREAT music, brilliantly performed....minimal staging at its best

Don't see it if if you don't like musical theater

Delightful, Great singing, Must see, Romantic

See it if You appreciate beautiful singing or you'd like a light-weight introduction to opera.

Don't see it if You are a grump.

Also An amazing experience. The audience gave a well-deserved standing ovat... Read more Read less

Delightful, Entertaining, Great singing, Must see, Refreshing

See it if You love hearing dynamic operatic voices. The entire cast is amazing. This is a delightful production not to be missed and the orchestration

Don't see it if You don't like Opera and a bit of a surprise ending if you don't already know the story.

Ambitious, Enchanting, Great singing, Great staging, Riveting

See it if Phenomenal singing! The score was excellent and the cast extremely talented. One of the best shows of 2018!

Don't see it if I can't think of any reason not to see it if it is brought back next year.

Perfection, Enchanting, Mesmerizing, Must see, Masterful

See it if like passionate and exquisite performances --the whole cast was absolutely stellar. A true gem.

Don't see it if You don't like opera, or Carmen, but this resonant moving drama was utterly enthralling, and had us rapt and in tears.

Clever, Delightful, Great singing, Great staging, Relevant

See it if see also

Don't see it if see also

Also Fantastic production of a missed classic (for oh so long} Super cast o... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Exquisite, Great singing, Great staging, Refreshing

See it if You love Carmen or just any form of a love story with an INCREDIBLE cast.

Don't see it if You don’t like opera.

Masterful, Must see, Great singing, Entertaining, Refreshing

See it if You want to see very talented people deliver a beautifully re-imagined production of a gorgeous opera.

Don't see it if You want to see a TV star in a comic book story.

Great singing, Great acting, Riveting, Must see

See it if you love great music, great singing and a show that I hope moves to Broadway. WOW!!

Don't see it if you don't like brilliant musicals.

Absorbing, Great acting, Delightful, Great singing, Entertaining

See it if If you like beautiful music and great singing. The show was well directed and staged. Great intimate space.

Don't see it if If you don't like beautiful music stay away.

Great singing, Great acting, Masterful, Must see, Theatre-in-the-round

See it if You are ready to be enchanted by an amazing cast headed by Anika where the minimalist esthetics of Mr Doyle make the actors shine

Don't see it if can't sit thru operatic voices, need all the action facing you


See it if you like high drama, great singing, and tragic love stories.

Don't see it if a grim tale with a tearful finale might leave you feeling a little...depressed.

Also A streamlined version of the Georges Bizet opera "Carmen"--in its firs... Read more Read less

Great acting, Great singing, Riveting, Intense, Must see

See it if You like period musicals in an intimate theater. The all black cast is extremely talented in this sultry tale.

Don't see it if If you hate musicals.

Great singing, Enchanting, Entertaining, Riveting, Confusing

See it if you like the music from Carmen and you want to see a cast of 10 excellent singers give life to a theatrical oddity

Don't see it if understanding every single word is essential or if you don't like the sound of Bizet's opera Carmen

Also I've known of this work for 40 years maybe; what a thrill to see it in... Read more Read less

Delightful, Great acting, Great singing, Great staging, Must see

See it if It is excellent in every way--a real treat showing how fine music,voices. terrific acting, fine direction can meld to make a great show!

Don't see it if If one doesn't like operatic music or an old fashioned plot.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Great singing, Great staging

See it if you have never seen Anika Noni Rose on stage - she's a marvel. It's the 1st revival of this show in 75 years and it is wondrous.

Don't see it if I can't think of a reason, really. If you don't like old musicals? Honestly, it's spectacular.

Absorbing, Great singing, Great acting, Entertaining, Masterful

See it if you love to hear great voices sing. If you're familiar with the original opera, show, or movie musical. If you like revivals of classics.

Don't see it if you don't like theatre in the round or small venues. If you don't like musicals that don't have original scores.

Also They don't give out any programs, which pissed off the collector in me... Read more Read less

Riveting, Must see, Masterful, Great singing, Exquisite

See it if You want to see a spectacular cast, in a spectacular show, in a tiny theater. This was simply amazing. Don’t miss the first revival ever!

Don't see it if You need a big show with lots of special effects. This operated on the sheer chemistry and talent of the cast, in a musical sadly forgotten.

Also This is really a must see. It’s affordable, and better than most thing... Read more Read less

Cast & Creatives (19)