The York Theater Company presents a new staging of this 1967 musical, a chronicle of the African-American struggle for equality during the first half of the 20th century. More…
'Hallelujah, Baby!' tells of Georgina, an African-American woman on her journey to financial and social independence during one of the most tumultuous socio-political times in U.S. history.
The Musicals in Mufti Series presents three to five concert revival readings of underappreciated Broadway musicals for 10 performances each. "Mufti" means "in everyday clothes, without all the trappings of a large production," and each show is presented script-in-hand, with minimal staging.
"This show exudes Broadway...This upbeat musical tackles the sober topic of racism in America...With beauty, elegance, and a versatile, big stage voice, Umoh is razzmatazz in leading lady form...Some of the material feels a bit dated and the balance of book to music feels a bit off...Could use some judicious trimming. In addition, Georgina carries the majority of the show, in a veritable marathon of singing that risks wearing us out. Nonetheless, 'Hallelujah, Baby!' is a terrific show." Full Review
"When the York’s Producing Artistic Director James Morgan came on stage to introduce the show, he explained that the cast had only seen the material on Monday morning, six days before and only a splendid cast and great producing team could have accomplished this amazing feat in such a short time. Kudos to all at the York for this outstanding series that gives audiences the opportunity to see and hear both overlooked and celebrated musicals of the past." Full Review
"Umoh delivers a confident and compassionate performance in that star-making role...'Hallelujah Baby!' is a bit of a curiosity in the history of Broadway musicals...An ambitious, but somewhat didactic attempt to create something that expands the boundaries of the art form to address contemporary issues...There are certainly better musicals about the black civil rights struggle in America, but it's still a valuable experience to attend imperfect shows." Full Review
"There are various reasons to see the York Theatre Company’s concert-style revival...A major one is the smashing performance by Stephanie Umoh...Seeing her reconfirms my enthusiasm for her artistry...The show itself has an excellent score...It is a work that definitely merits a fresh look...The book, although sometimes a bit clunky, cleverly spans decades...The overall direction is by Gerry McIntyre, who deserves credit for whipping the musical into shape with about a week’s rehearsal." Full Review
"Umoh has a powerful, clear voice...Convincingly frustrated, selfish and aggressive...Seems to add pith to the show...Sessions' Harvey is believable from the get-go...Brings authenticity to every speech, glance, and song...Fine vocal style and is thoroughly appealing...Director McIntyre is adept with both vivacity and gravitas. Choreography is appropriate and fun; emotional moments theatrically credible." Full Review
"Both problematic as well as a fascinating commentary on the complicated race relations that still plague our country...Umoh does an admirable job...The men fare less successful, if only for lack of chemistry with their leading lady...With another overhaul of Laurents' book, perhaps 'Hallelujah, Baby!' might find its footing. Until then, there are gems in the score...as well as the reminder that as far as we've advanced in racial equality, the journey is far from over." Full Review
“While it is interesting to see Arthur Laurents' second thoughts on ‘Hallelujah, Baby!,’ his next to last original Broadway musical, the revised version is still something of a disappointment. It remains an ambitious failure with memorable moments.” Full Review
"Time has not been kind to 'Hallelujah, Baby!'...None of this is a reflection on the performances at the York...But the minimalism requires us to focus on the material itself...Styne and Comden & Green have produced enough high-quality numbers that make the visit to the York well worthwhile to their legions of fans. But there is no getting around the timid approach to the subject matter. It was bad enough in the 1960s, but now it all just seems terribly condescending." Full Review
"The show certainly has its heart in the right place...But that’s just the problem: it drips with liberal guilt...'Hallelujah, Baby!' also fails in terms of basic storytelling...The show comes off as both plodding and didactic...Manufactured plot complications seem to arise and abate...robbing the story of dramatic build...Conflicts arise without a clear reason...and the characters feel like ideas rather than people...Fortunately, the cast helped make the proceedings a good deal less painful." Full Review
See it if you consider yourself a serious student of American Musicals. This rarely seen piece by some masters of the craft deserves your attention.
Don't see it if you are weary of stories about the black experience.
See it if You appreciate great singing and love Jule Styne/Comden and Green. You are interested in lesser known musicals.
Don't see it if You want a piece about black history to be more on target and penetrating, with an ending that doesn't just fade away.
See it if You want to hear a cast with amazing voices, to see an iconic show, to experience a "Mufti" show (a show street clothes) Really fun.
Don't see it if You expect Broadway budget as far as staging and costumes. You don't want to go the the East Side.
See it if you are enjoy seeing rarely produced musicals delivered by top flight performers.
Don't see it if you prefer fully staged and designed shows. A problematic book ruins the show for you.
See it if You want a show that tried to deal with US racist history. You love Jule Styne musicals. You are willing to overlook huge flaws in script.
Don't see it if You want high production values or full orchestration or huge chorus. Actors are on script, and in street clothes.
See it if you haven't seen this musical before. The musical does make you think about the black experience during the 20th century.
Don't see it if you are expecting a full-scale production. Instead of a chorus line of dancers, you get just two.
See it if you enjoy an old fashioned Broadway musical with great songs, some long forgotten. Young cast of Broadway hopefuls turn it out.
Don't see it if you don't like musicals or have problems with interracial couples and how show business overcame race.
See it if you're interested in the Jule Styne canon; you like to catch shows you might not ever get another chance to see.
Don't see it if you're not comfortable with a show dealing with the black experience in America written by whites.
See it if You love the original cast album and would love hearing the songs done by some powerhouse belters.
Don't see it if You don't like small staged readings of big musicals. The actors hold their scripts and there is no orchestra, just a piano and bass.
See it if you want to experience a remarkable and oft-ignored score performed by a remarkable cast.
Don't see it if the notion of white writers trying to capture the black experience makes you feel icky. (it IS indeed a bit icky)
See it if great singing, actors were all very good with good voices, nice staging with an economical space. Lead and mother great voices.
Don't see it if actors went on with script, was distracting at times and limited actors. story gets confusing at times and rushed at times.
See it if to discover a Tony-winning, rarely produced musical, to learn about the AFrican-American experience over a century musicalized
Don't see it if you don't like bare-bones musicals with no sets & minimal costumes or a gimmick of characters not aging as they move through time
See it if you want to see well acted well sung rarely produced show by Jule Styne.
Don't see it if you don't like shows that jump around in time but the characters stay the same and don't age.
See it if you want to see a brilliantly sung production of a rarely done musical. Umoh in particular is incredible.
Don't see it if you dislike the mufti setup, or are not a fan of musicals that deal with race and history.
See it if you enjoy rare Jule Styne musical that rehashes another story told in 100 years of a black stars rise to the top overcoming racial prejudice
Don't see it if you don't want to be preached in a show with some great songs, but overall is tired and lacks that magic we all love in musicals.
See it if you want to hear Jule Styne's score in context & just want to see all that the stalwart York Theatre Company's Musical in Mufti series does.
Don't see it if you want to witness a notable cast adrift. The director Gerry McIntyre has not provided them with any sense of engagement with the material.
See it if You saw it once years ago and wanted to relive the past. The actors worked hard and were a very professional troop and hard great music.
Don't see it if You are uncomfortable with presentations of racial stereotypes.
See it if Interested in musicals from classic broadway but don’t expect too much from a bare bones staged concert production
Don't see it if Staged concert version is disappointing, of interest only academically, doesn’t do justice to the original full production
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