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How to Be an American

Members say: Entertaining, Great singing, Relevant, Disappointing, Clever
67
Critics
62
3 reviews
Members
67
36 reviews
 

The York Theatre Company presents a turn-of-the-20th-century political cabaret featuring classic American songs. Presented as a staged concert reading as part of its New2NY Series.

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Based on the book 'Plunkitt of Tammany Hall: A Series of Very Plain Talks on Very Practical Politics,' this new musical consists of tunes from the early 20th century American songbook. The year is 1905, one week before the next election in New York City. Tammany Hall politician George Washington Plunkitt has gathered a group of new immigrants for the purpose of educating them on the subtleties of the American political system. Directed by Bill Castellino, who helmed York's hit musical 'Cagney.'

 


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Reviews (39)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
62
Avg Score

55
Talkin' Broadway

"Mildly pleasant, occasionally tuneful, and roundly forgettable...The numbers don't add much except for a few moments of melody, and their gentle, now-old-fashioned attitudes violently clash with the consistently conniving book...It doesn't make for much in the way of coherence or excitement, which are helpful things to have when your show only has two jokes...If you want something historical, educational, and sort of entertaining, it will suffice well enough." Full Review

75
Times Square Chronicles

"The score featured songs from the early 20th century American Songbook and the cast nailed them in every way…This mufti-style staged concert performance was expertly lead by Tim Jerome, whose voice and acting was perfectly political…T. Cat Ford ‘s book, however, is confusing because in all honesty I do not know what this show was trying to say. It seemed it had no objective and though it was was wonderfully presented, this show seems slightly outdated." Full Review

55
Wolf Entertainment Guide

"Only moderately entertaining...The best parts of the offering are the appealing performances...They collectively get into the spirit of an old-fashioned political revival meeting...Although amiable and bright in spirit, the musical lacks sufficient wit to make it more than a pleasant satire on how immigrants to the United States could be molded into dominated voters for those holding onto power so that elections could be manipulated." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
67
Avg Score

8
Banal, Disappointing, Excruciating, Cliched, Dated

See it if someone over 80 years old

Don't see it if You are easily bored

61
Indulgent, Confusing, Overrated, Great singing, Fluffy

See it if you feel patriotic yet cynical, enjoy satire with strong NYC history, enjoy some strong male voices but not crazy shenigans

Don't see it if You don't enjoy scores composed of patriotic songs used to uphold the tyranny of Tammany Hall, or readings with scripts of musicals

70
Original, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Great writing, Entertaining

See it if You are a lover of Political History, and you don't mind seeing a Donald Trump-like character from over a Century ago.

Don't see it if You think that all politicians are truthful. You don't mind seeing a show that is a watered down production. You don't like sing-a-longs.

68
Cliched, Tedious, Good singing, Generally amusing

See it if you want to learn about politics in the early 20th century.

Don't see it if you are offended by rampant cultural stereotypes, or if you are bored by a show completely made up of political proselytizing.

78
Funny, Entertaining, Historical, Thought provoking, Good performances

See it if you would like to know more about Tammany Hall!

Don't see it if you are tired of the political arena.

62
Fun, Cute

See it if You like audience interaction. Light-hearted political revue.

Don't see it if You like your political analogies to be more insightful. You don't like audience participation.

78
Original, Clever, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if If you enjoy shows that the audience is member of the cast. This show is about a Tammany Hall meeting and we the audience are in attendance

Don't see it if If you only enjoy tight-fitted, well-rehearsed big shows. The cast is on book and only performing for 10 days.

77
Funny, Relevant

See it if You are interested in American history, and early 20th century politics, enjoy songs of that era.

Don't see it if You don't want to be a bit bored at times.

Also Not the worst show, entertaining, but nothing special

45
Banal, Disappointing, Excruciating, Slow

See it if you like boring musicals that use uninteresting songs from the early 1900s...and you enjoy awkward, ineffective audience participation.

Don't see it if you want something creative, clever, and absorbing.

82
Resonant, Entertaining, Historical, Timely, Educational

See it if like me, you thought Tammany was an Irish politician, and if you love learning about the history of our great city. Also, George M. Cohan!

Don't see it if You don't have patience for something engaging and charming, and makes you feel so good at the end. Or, if you're done with politics.

55
Thought-provoking, Disappointing, Slow, Unfocused

See it if it has good intentions but the comparison to today's politics albeit timely and real is still misconceived.

Don't see it if You don't want to sit through a work in progress or don't care for audience participation sketches.

65
Amateurish script, baffling choice of songs

See it if A musical paean to Tammany Hall. Forgettable.

Don't see it if See the anti-Tammany musical, Fiorello, instead

73
Absorbing, Ambitious, Relevant, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if You like singing and political issues. I enjoyed the singing. They sounded great together. Entertaining and funny. Keep an open mind.

Don't see it if You can't laugh at political issues and the state of political affairs. Can't handle the political truth.

78
Ambitious, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Resonant

See it if You enjoy being one of the first to see an original musical. You enjoy shows with a historical and political theme + audience participation.

Don't see it if You only enjoy very polished, perfect productions. This show is a work in progress. You don't like shows that break the fourth wall.

Also I saw the 3rd performance of this brand new unusual style musical toda... Read more Read less

68
Funny, Great acting, Confusing

See it if You like history. Some fun songs.

Don't see it if You don't know anything about history. Writing has its ups and downs

55
Ambitious, Slow, Uneven, Misconceived, Hard-working

See it if you're interested in 1905 politics (w/ its 2016 echoes). HTBA wants us to like AND loath politicians; tough balancing act. Some good songs.

Don't see it if you have other options. The concept doesn't really work and the messages are muddled. The actors work hard and do fine. I liked my flag.

89
Clever, Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if The 2016 election has importance. An entertaining intelligent slyly relevant well executed & performed reveal of our present thru our NYpast

Don't see it if You don't like politics, history, electioneering (past or present) or well-executed & performed political campaign songs from the 1900's.

Also Slight of hand time travel sets up an easing into the gentlest bit of ... Read more Read less

66
Original, Ambitious, Quirky, Cliched, Slow

See it if You're curious about Tammany Hall and prefer viewing this show to Googling it. You want to hear rare turn of the 20th century music.

Don't see it if You prefer showy choreography, hummable music and lyrics. Prefer to leave your history lessons for the books... or internet...

65
Thought-provoking, Slow

See it if you like politically relevant subject matter. Unfortunately, like a one-joke show, the theme tires out quickly.

Don't see it if you want fully developed play. This is a first time showing that needs work.

80
Ambitious, Clever, Intelligent, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if You enjoy history and learning.

Don't see it if You are looking for a huge big time musical.

94
Funny, Clever, Great acting, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if you appreciate clever jibes at Tammany Hall politics and great singing from an enthusiastic cast.

Don't see it if you prefer shows with a large cast and extravagant sets.

75
Funny, Original, Clever, Delightful, Relevant

See it if Tammany Hall antics integrated with period music. Entertaining and quirky, with good performances

Don't see it if You prefer big stage productions

75
Funny, Original, Clever, Interesting, Great singing

See it if You are interested in history with particular emphasis on government

Don't see it if You are interested in flashy productions with exciting plots.

Also The talk back provided extra nuances that added to the show. Perhaps i... Read more Read less

50
Thought-provoking, Disappointing, Not quite as advertised

See it if You want to see how little has changed in political campaign; are curious about Tammany Hall; don't mind works in progress.

Don't see it if You expect: that a musical will focus on the music; a coherent concept; polished performances.

Also A big part of the message is that Tammany, which history associates wi... Read more Read less

73
Funny, Great singing, Fluffy

See it if This is not really a musical. It is more of a staged group of songs about the days of Tammany Hall and immigration.

Don't see it if Native Americans being portrayed in trite and stereotypical way isn't your idea of entertainment.