New York | 1h 40m | Already closed

Dead Poets Society

From 33 critic and 103 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Great staging, Absorbing, Entertaining, Intelligent

About the show

Classic Stage Company presents a stage adaptation of the Oscar-nominated movie, with Jason Sudeikis in Robin Williams' inspirational teacher role. Directed by Tony Award winner John Doyle. More…

At a rigorous all-boys preparatory school renowned for its ancient traditions, the unconventional Professor Keating inspires his students to defy conformity and to live passionately. Academy Award-winner Tom Schulman adapts his own screenplay for this world premiere production.

1h 40m | Already closed | Classic Stage Company (East Village)

Front Row Center

"I am not a pushover. But this very fine production of ‘Dead Poets Society’ left me shattered and hopeful. In other words – a mess…This is a seamless production with every member of the cast inhabiting their characters with precision and grace...Every performance matches not only Sudeikis’ skill but the spirit of his character, John Keating, as well. It is a particularly poignant reminder that...the only hope is for us to remain vigilant and seize the day over and over again." Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

"Heart-breaking, gorgeous stage adaptation...It’s a daring task he sets before himself, and in Keating’s words, Sudeikis does in fact ‘Seize the Day’ with all the gusto, power, and humor one could imagine...Each and every one of these young actors could be singled out for their delicate and intricate work, crafting unique portrayals of boys turning into men before our very eyes...The writing is poetic, not surprisingly, as is the direction (John Doyle) and the staging." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"Tender, heartfelt adaptation...Sudeikis brings his own devilish charisma to the role...Director John Doyle brings his special signature to the adapted work by clearing the stage, allowing the story to tell itself...The chemistry between Sudeikis, the actors, and the audience is palpable, and his message to break the mold is inspiring for all...As always, Doyle graces his work with clarity and simplicity, allowing the story to resonate more powerfully on the stage than on the screen." Full Review

NY Theatre Guide

"Schulman, who wrote the original movie script, masterfully adapted the work for the stage. 'Dead Poets Society' makes an incredibly successful stage play, as the impassioned energy of the players is directly and vicariously felt by the audience. Additionally, the characters spend much time speaking about the merits of acting, presenting a wonderfully meta dichotomy...A work such as this that begs its audience to live and think freely is not only refreshing, but necessary." Full Review


"A crisp and engaging world premiere production...Jason Sudeikis is just terrific as John Keating...He plays the role with a winning combination of preppy playfulness and compassion....As with all rebellions, there are losses and tragedies, and 'Dead Poets Society' doesn't ignore the cost of nonconformity. Clocking in at a little over 90 minutes, the intimate production moves swiftly, aided by the sparse efficiency of designer Scott Pask's set." Full Review

Wolf Entertainment Guide

"'Dead Poets Society' is both often funny and moving in its salute to developing an independent mind and matching behavior…Sudeikis is very believable and enjoyable...In the confines of a small stage a variety of story threads come to life, sometimes amusingly, sometimes ultra dramatically. The entire cast is excellent, and Doyle, who has proved himself a master of directing on a small scale, furthers that reputation here." Full Review

Off Off Online

"A deft, engaging stage version superbly directed by Doyle...Sudeikis is an easily likable presence on stage, and he acquits himself very well indeed. Despite the star billing, though, he is only part of a solid, talented ensemble...There’s pleasure to be had, and a tinge of nostalgia in the love of books that Keating represents...Advocates the importance of the individual amid the pressures of social conformity...The message, both bittersweet and satisfying, is as relevant now as ever." Full Review

Reflections in the Light

"A terrific stage adaptation of the film of the same name...Doyle's staging is perfection...The action plays to the audiences on all sides of the thrust-style stage on the floor, pulling us into the classroom. Suddenly dialogue is underscored by humming; songs shift mood...A couple of performances weren't as sure, but I saw a preview, so I am willing to bet that rough edges will be smooth post opening." Full Review


"Penned by Schulman and directed with his trademark mixture of simplicity and ingenuity by Tony winner John Doyle...Sudeikis brings his rather unusual brand of gentle charisma and sharp-yet-loving sarcasm to the role. It’s a rather different take on Keating than his formidable screen predecessor Robin Williams, but it ultimately works quite well for Doyle’s lower-key, less sentimental interpretation." Full Review


"Jason Sudeikis makes a convincing stage debut...Director John Doyle, the CSC chief and respected Sondheim interpreter, has, as is his way, stripped down 'Dead Poets' to the essentials...Mann and Pais both bring sensitivity to the stage. Cody Kostro is equally on point as their rebellious classmate Charlie Dalton...'Dead Poets Society' stands on its own as an effective work of drama, even for a generation of audiences who may have no idea what preceded it." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"As good a piece of writing as 'Dead Poets Society' is, it's not immune to this production's highly variable direction and acting…Jason Sudeikis is utterly believable as both a crazy and a conservative…William Hochman is outstanding as Knox…But except for Francesca Carpanini, no one else is remotely as good…One does wish Schulman had imparted the adults with as much depth as he did the kids…But Schulman does his level best to ensure that, with 'Dead Poets Society,' you get everything else." Full Review


"Masterful staging, impressive scenic design and pleasant performances aren’t enough to make this skillful stage adaptation of the classic film ‘Dead Poets Society’ more than a mildly entertaining 90 minutes…Mr. Schulman has adeptly reconfigured his film script for the theater…Though well-crafted and expertly presented, ‘Dead Poets Society’ with its quaint message and rehashed themes of the coming-of-age youth who must face painful truths, is amiably underwhelming." Full Review

Entertainment Weekly

"Sudeikis doesn’t deliver the same whimsy that Robin Williams brought to the role but does manage to bring a confident charm all his own. Sudeikis plays the humor of the character as deftly as he does the more thoughtful, emotional moments...'Dead Poets Society' follows the same path as its cinematic predecessor perhaps too faithfully, and unfortunately doesn’t find the same level of poignancy...It all pales in comparison to its source material." Full Review


"Sudeikis impressively steps out of the long shadow of Robin Williams in his gutsy portrayal...Schulman has smartly condensed his original screenplay, reassigning scenes to a smaller cast of characters and eliminating others altogether...Despite Doyle's breezy production and solid performances from the cast, the show doesn't make a very good argument for its necessity onstage. You can get the exact same story on-screen, much of the dialogue word for word." Full Review

Bob's Theater Blog

"While there have been many films that were turned into successful musicals, adapting a movie for the stage without musicalizing it doesn’t seem to add any value...A Cliffs Notes version that came across to me as bland and pointless. Jason Sudeikis is fine...The six young men who play the students are also very good...Their valiant efforts were largely sunk by the play’s blandness. Even the ending misfires...All this effort seems misguided as the play itself has so little point to it." Full Review


"Doyle’s clever, simple-truths staging beguiles audiences much in the same way English teacher John Keating, portrayed here by Sudeikis in a remarkable performance, leaves a mark on his impressionistic students...Despite the colorful personalities this ensemble of young performers bring to their roles, the characters are fundamentally written as adjectives...Schulman doesn’t take the opportunity to expand his screenplay, deepen the characters, or explore the complexities of his story." Full Review

Time Out New York

"Let’s just say Classic Stage Company’s earnest but flat-footed adaptation inspires thoughts of Netflix streaming more than leaping up on one’s desk to cry, 'O Captain! My Captain!'...Tom Schulman has competently translated his screenplay to the stage, with scenes smoothly flowing in and out. And Doyle has assembled a solid ensemble of keen young actors as the boys...Sudeikis has a smooth, easygoing air...but he’s far too flip and contemporary to believe as a poetry-loving pedant circa 1959." Full Review


"Jason Sudeikis has this 'Robin Williams role,' and he’s splendid in creating the teacher you always wanted to have and love but never did...Schulman has done well himself with the four precepts he’d designed for Welton; he certainly 'honored' the 'tradition' of his original script and was 'discipline' enough to see the project through. And while he succeeded at making the show 'excellent,' he can’t give us a compelling enough reason why his screenplay should come to the stage." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"John Doyle has done a number of things right by 'Dead Poets Society'...Sudeikis' Keating is exactly the cheerful, trouble-making presence the script demands...The adaptation, by Tom Schulman (who wrote the screenplay), moves well, but, lacking the film's visual texture, is a thin and sentimental melodrama. There isn't a hint of character shading anywhere...Is this sort of warmed-over movie script really the best use of a major Off Broadway theatre?" Full Review

The Huffington Post

"One of the evening’s main difficulties is that the ghost of Robin Williams seems to hover over the whole damn thing...Mr. Sudeikis is fine and altogether convincing as Keating...The problem on display is not one of actors, but adaptation...Doyle does a good job of directing 'Dead Poets Society' on a visionary scale...But there is nothing onstage down at CSC that knocks the film version out of your mind." Full Review


"Sudeikis is compelling, endearing and utterly comfortable...For a story about releasing our free spirit, however, this turns out to be a very conventional play...Despite such directorial stylizations, the 100-minute script, adapted by Tom Schulman from his own Oscar-winning screenplay, is heartfelt but dishearteningly old-fashioned...The six classmates have character definitions that might have been picked according to a one-from-column A, one-from column B writing manual." Full Review

AM New York

"There’s nothing necessarily wrong with the new stage version of the classic film...It’s just completely unnecessary...Tom Schulman’s script is essentially a rehash of his original screenplay, and the sentimental and solemn tone remains the same, which means that this stage adaptation brings almost nothing new to the underlying property...Sudeikis has a chummy ease and subtle quirkiness, but he lacks the sadness and warmth that made Williams so unforgettable." Full Review


"Jason Sudeikis has enough mischief in his eyes to make John Keating a credible non-conformist hero in 'Dead Poets Society'...While there are some pleasures to be had in Sudeikis’ tweedy performance, they’re offset by the blandness of the others and some genuine weirdnesses in the script...The stage version has Sudeikis displaying his own charms, small-scale though they are. But no matter how many dead poets’ names are dragged in to class up the act, hokum is still hokum." Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"Doyle brings his customary stripped-down elegance to the production, and elicits sensitive performances from the young actors playing Keating's students. But Schulman's thin adaptation of his screenplay exposes its contrivances and sentimentality, failing to make a strong case for its stage translation...Despite the classy production's strengths, its insurmountable shortcoming is that this drama remains an imitation, stuck in the shadow of its source." Full Review

Village Voice

"'Dead Poets Society’ may not be anybody's kind of show. It's stiff, shallow, a little perfunctory — the stage seems to diminish the celebrated moments of Schulman's screenplay…Jason Sudeikis, following in Williams's footsteps, seems like a man working very hard to make a borrowed suit of clothes look tailored to fit him. And while the rest of the actors in John Doyle's tidy, modestly effective production aren't bad, the magic they haven't quite caught is readily available on YouTube." Full Review

Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Great writing, Masterful

See it if you are a fan of good writing and good acting.This is a real gem.Do NOT miss it. It's as good as the movie. Touching,thought provoking. GO!!

Don't see it if you are looking for a rom com. This show is as powerful as the movie. Because of the small space at CSC, it is really more powerful.

Entertaining, Great acting, Intelligent, Riveting

See it if Really a great piece of theatre adn the human condition. I never have seen the movei but if you are a fan of that you will be of this too.

Don't see it if you dont want to cry, or be moved on the human condition .

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Intelligent, Must see

See it if The production was absorbing and a must-see if you love intelligent theater. I can't write enough great things about it.

Don't see it if You want to big broadway show.

Absorbing, Great acting, Riveting, Great staging, Thought-provoking

See it if You loved the movie and want to see some excellent staging.

Don't see it if You think the movie can't be improved upon/

Also Surprisingly well done.

Absorbing, Entertaining, Intelligent, Must see

See it if you can forget the movie version. A great job with some young talent to boot.

Don't see it if you are not open to thinking "outside the box' and can handle a thrust stage.

Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Must see, Great acting, Great writing

See it if You like wonderful acting with something to think about.

Don't see it if You like musicals.

Absorbing, Resonant, Funny, Great acting, Great staging

See it if you like the story of Dead Poets Society already, you enjoy minimalist movable sets, and delightful, poking comedy.

Don't see it if you do not like the story to begin with, you want a show with a lot of truly, physically-told action, you want moving sets.

Absorbing, Delightful, Entertaining, Great acting, Great staging

See it if You'd enjoying seeing a classic film set transitioned to the stage by a playwright who wrote the original screenplay

Don't see it if The only Captain you want to see is Robin Williams

Delightful, Entertaining, Great acting, Great staging, Resonant

See it if literate, poetic writing with an enchanting story. Sudeikas is charismatic and a natural on stage.

Don't see it if expect as much depth as the film

Entertaining, Clever, Thought-provoking, Great staging, Great acting

See it if You're familiar with the story - it doesn't surpass the film in excellence, but it's a great production.

Don't see it if You're expecting the film. Sudeikis is great, but he's obviously no Robin Williams.

Inspiring, Great acting, Dated, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

See it if seeking inspiration. I'm an English teacher/writer and loved the literary references and the play's entire milieu. Artists will be at home.

Don't see it if pursuing something incredibly moving or different. This is a well-staged play that feels dated but the young men/students are exceptional.

Absorbing, Entertaining, Great acting, Intelligent, Intense

See it if You enjoy a creative setting, intelligent dialog and being taken back to the enjoyment of the movie. Captain, my captain

Don't see it if You expect a lively story or setting or want to see a fluff story

Great staging, Refreshing, Great writing

See it if You are a fan of the movie or of great writing in general. A well done little glimpse into the lives of youth and the man who inspired them

Don't see it if You're not a fan of Doyle's work. Or are easily bored with stories that take place at New England prep schools

Great acting, Great staging, Thought-provoking, Intelligent, Resonant

See it if to see a great cast unfold a story that invokes your emotions in many different ways. Jason Sudeikis is is terrific as the inspiring teacher

Don't see it if You expect a full scale Broadway production. An exact replica of the movie version.

Also This is Jason Sudeikis first play that I have seen and he nails it. Th... Read more Read less

Clever, Funny, Great staging, Must see, Intense

See it if You don't go by the reviews. Well acted and staged, very funny in places. I would see it again.

Don't see it if You dislike a piece with one or two roles that are more charicature than not

Great staging, Funny, Clever, Relevant

See it if You're a fan of Jason Sudeikis or John Doyle. Sudeikis shines in his stage debut. Doyle strips the play down to its essence.

Don't see it if You're looking for a show with depth because this is fairly light. The play just kind of ends without much resolution so watch out there.

Also While Sudeikis is amazing, the rest of the cast isn't quite up to his ... Read more Read less

Great staging, Intelligent, Resonant, Thought-provoking

See it if You want to see a new take on an old story , an American Mr. Chips , full of heart

Don't see it if You expect Robin Williams . Sue kiss makes the character his own .

Great acting, Great staging

See it if you are a fan of the movie. Wonderfully staged by John Doyle.

Don't see it if See this show!

Great acting, Must see, Intelligent

See it if you appreciate excellent writing, acting and direction. You want a new interpretation of what was in the movie. you want to see a great cast

Don't see it if Zero reasons not to see this. It is 100 engrossing, entertaining, thought-provoking, moving minutes of wonderful theater.

Absorbing, Entertaining, Great acting, Resonant

See it if you want to see excellent comedy and tragedy. The first half was incredibly funny, the second more serious. The humorous moments were golden

Don't see it if you want a new story or to be invested enough in the characters for the tragic moments to have deep meaning

Also I haven't seen the movie for many years and didn't remember the story ... Read more Read less

Delightful, Funny, Great acting, Resonant, Entertaining

See it if you miss Robin Williams a lot, enjoy Jason Sudeikis, love literature with all your heart

Don't see it if you think literary appreciation is pretentious

Absorbing, Great staging, Entertaining, Classic

See it if You are a fan of the movie. It is a faithful adaptation. Jason Sudeikis gives an admirable performance in an iconic role.

Don't see it if You are looking for something new from the story. It is merely a stage adaptation of the film. But as one of my favorites, I didn't mind!

Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Funny, Resonant

See it if Jason Sudeikis does a fine job as John Keating. It is a great transfer of the film to the stage. The cast of young men are superb. Poignant.

Don't see it if Excessive amounts of books, repetitive humming of the same tune and breaking of the wall between actor & audience makes you nervous.

Thought-provoking, Absorbing, Entertaining, Relevant, Slow

See it if You like the movie. Good for those who haven't seen the movie, but you may not be as invested.

Don't see it if You can't deal with dark themes. Saw with my daughter, a mature teenager, who loved it. Not for younger kids.

Delightful, Quirky, Thought-provoking, Great acting, Great staging

See it if enjoy a humorous look at a popular film on stage. Jason Sudakis is wonderful. Cast is young and terrific.

Don't see it if whimsy doesn't suit you

Cast & Creatives (17)