Carmen Jones
Closed 1h 35m
Carmen Jones
88

Carmen Jones NYC Reviews and Tickets

88%
(226 Reviews)
Positive
95%
Mixed
4%
Negative
1%
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.

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Member Reviews (226)

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84
Great singing, Intelligent, Great score, Ageless

See it if you like Bizet's music, opera and a great deal of drama! Fantastic singers! Great adaptation of the ​original story.

Don't see it if The bareness of the stage has become tedious at Classic Stage. Can barely tell one production from the other anymore.

75
Dated, Great singing, Slow, Clever, Contrived

See it if You enjoy classical music from the romantic period circa 1875. Excellent vocals. Sung/spoken in English and set in 1940s Chicago.

Don't see it if Classical opera music from 1875 is not your thing. Story is not believable. Joe's choices are hard to fathom. Minimalist set.

Critic Reviews (39)

The New York Times
June 27th, 2018

"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."
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Time Out New York
July 12th, 2018

"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."
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New Yorker
July 9th, 2018

“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."
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The Hollywood Reporter
June 27th, 2018

"It's rendered especially captivating by the long overdue return to musical theater of Rose in a sizzling take on the title role... Doyle has made the right choice in treating it as a history piece. He has also cast gifted singers...The production doesn't quite make a case for 'Carmen Jones' as a neglected classic, but the 75-year-old cross-genre mashup does emerge as a fabulous artifact that still thrums with irresistible vitality."
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The Wall Street Journal
June 28th, 2018

"A show that deserves to return to Broadway and will surely end up there...As for Doyle’s small-scale staging, performed by a cast of 10 and accompanied by a six-piece band, it is simple, subtle and wonderfully lucid, and features a performance of the title role by Anika Noni Rose for which the word 'hot' is a wan understatement...I wasn’t fully convinced by Doyle’s production, persuasive though it undeniably is. 'Carmen' isn’t a grand opera by any means, but it isn’t a chamber opera, either."
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AM New York
June 27th, 2018

"Rose gives an authoritative and sexy performance in the title role...While Hammerstein’s slang-style lyrics have not aged especially well, 'Carmen Jones' remains an unusual and fascinating historical artifact...While the opera’s blockbuster moments may feel underpowered, the arias and two-character scenes take on extended potency in the intimate environment. And all in all, the 10-member ensemble cast is vocally spotless."
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Theatermania
June 27th, 2018

“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.”
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BroadwayWorld
July 7th, 2018

“Mounted with such an abundance of cuts...Unaware audience members can be misled into thinking that what they're seeing represents what the author created...The knockout performance of Rose makes the endeavor well worth a visit...So cutting 'Carmen Jones' down to its not especially compelling plot dilutes what Hammerstein originally achieved....Fortunately, Doyle has employed an exceptional ensemble of actor/singers who oftentimes sound downright glorious.”
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Lighting & Sound America
June 28th, 2018

"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. "
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Talkin' Broadway
June 28th, 2018

"There's a lot in this staging that's wonderful and, for the most part, Bizet's justifiably famous score is well served...Tony-winner Anika Noni Rose is sensational. Playful, sultry and dangerous, she moves like a panther and sings like a goddess...But despite the superb cast and great singing, something about 'Carmen Jones' just doesn't quite feel right. If you were telling the story of African-American men and women during WWII today, would this be what it would look and sound like?"
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New York Stage Review
June 27th, 2018

"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."
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New York Stage Review
June 27th, 2018

"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."
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TheaterScene.net
July 1st, 2018

"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."
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Theater Pizzazz
June 28th, 2018

"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."
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CurtainUp
June 27th, 2018

"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."
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Front Row Center
June 28th, 2018

"I do think the piece itself is very problematical and doesn’t achieve Hammerstein’s original goal. Nor do I think this production gets it much closer...Doyle could have used this opportunity to take the beautiful and familiar melodies and arrange them in a more contemporary manner to make it more accessible...For the most part the cast succeeded admirably in avoiding the operatic melodramatic stiffness and posturing often associated with opera...Anika Noni Rose is a revelation."
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Stage Buddy
June 27th, 2018

"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."
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Front Mezz Junkies
June 29th, 2018

“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 down safely.”
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T
July 4th, 2018

"Mr. Doyle has assembled an incredible cast that can do nothing wrong as they forge through the streamlined nine-five-minute, minimalist adaption...This fast-paced version, albeit vocally superior, finds its fault in the lack of emotional connection between the characters, who are not afforded the necessary time or content to develop substantial relationships...The production is not perfect but do not miss this opportunity to see this obscure musical brought to life by this impressive cast."
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C
June 27th, 2018

"From the moment Anika Noni Rose takes the stage as the title character of the 1943 musical 'Carmen Jones,' now being revived at Classic Stage Company, you will instantly recall how transcendent a performer this Tony Award winner can be -- and how much we've been deprived of her incandescent stage presence for nearly four years."
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DC Theatre Scene
June 27th, 2018

"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."
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Times Square Chronicles
June 28th, 2018

“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.”
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Gotham Playgoer
June 27th, 2018

"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."
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The Wrap
June 27th, 2018

"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."
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Wolf Entertainment Guide
June 28th, 2018

“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."
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T
June 30th, 2018

“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.”
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Cultural Weekly
July 4th, 2018

“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."
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Stage Left
July 1st, 2018

"The music is magnificent and the voices gorgeous, but this first major production in 75 years exposes clashes of form endemic to a groundbreaking piece, and chafes under a small-scale vision from director John Doyle that disserves otherwise vibrant and promising material...This shift of time and place works remarkably well, to Hammerstein’s credit, but is plagued by some structural flaws resulting from a slimmer score and shortened plot development."
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Daily Beast
June 27th, 2018

"Doyle’s beautifully mounted production...A company of actors whose singing is sublime. The story is speeded up, and so the emotional transitions from flirty come-ons to jealousy can seem a bit puzzling—it is not opera, or musical, but a kind of curated-feeling musical collection...While beautiful to listen to, is also utterly misogynistic...The musical has nothing to say about race, when—given its era—race and racial inequality would have been experienced by its characters.”
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Off Off Online
June 28th, 2018

"Although it is gloriously sung, the 90-minute production doesn’t make a case that Hammerstein’s musical theater version is the equal of Bizet’s opera...Even if by today’s standards the libretto of 'Carmen Jones' hovers awkwardly near political incorrectness, it’s an enjoyable and engaging piece with fully realized people...'Carmen Jones' is a piece of theater that still works well, even if it will always be overshadowed by one of the most popular operas ever written."
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M
June 30th, 2018

"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 theatre."
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O
June 27th, 2018

"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."
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TheaterScene.com
June 29th, 2018

“No overt Doyle-isms, no actors-with-instruments stuff—the fine six-piece orchestra is safely above the stage...The staging’s on the stiff side, and the choreography is skimpy...Best vocal ensemble on a NY stage right now...The plot’s basic, but the emotions are deep, and the singing’s gorgeous...While it lacks the resources of a full-size, all-out staging...It works just fine in this smaller rendering. The action’s closer to us, and so’s the splendid vocalizing, and so’s the heat.”
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Newsday
June 28th, 2018

"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.'"
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Epoch Times
July 5th, 2018

“Stellar cast, but too much story is lost...While the elements for a classic melodrama are all there, the work ultimately suffers from a lack of subtlety and characterization...Doyle’s often lackluster direction puts too much emphasis on emotion rather than characterization, missing nuances...The script was initially two acts...perhaps too much of the story has been lost...All too frequently, the lyrics are impossible to hear clearly. They’re often drowned out.”
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Drama Queen NYC
June 29th, 2018

“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.”
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Z
June 28th, 2018

"A moderately successful revival...Doyle usually knows how to stage a show fluidly, without the show looking like someone actively staged it. Here, his hand is clearly visible, and the result is at times amateurish...The overall lack of a steady hand at the helm robbed the piece of a lot of its punch. Tony winner Anika Noni Rose as Carmen is a delight, with a natural stage presence, a rich and wide-ranging voice, and a devilish playfulness. Clifton Duncan as Joe was more problematic."
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Film Festival Traveler
July 5th, 2018

“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.”
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The Theatre Times
July 6th, 2018

"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.”
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