David Byrne of The Talking Heads and creator of 'Here Lies Love' explores the meteoric rise of Joan of Arc through the lens of a rock concert. A world premiere at the Public Theater directed by Alex Timbers. More…
Once upon a time, there was a girl who talked to God. She built a nation, and they burned her for it. Directed by Golden Globe winner and Tony nominee Alex Timbers, 'Joan of Arc: Into the Fire' is a provocative new show about challenging the powerful and believing in the impossible.
"The production is a dazzling spectacle of stagecraft wizardry. In the center of it all is a heroic performance in the title role by Jo Lampert...Timbers' staging, abetted by a creative team working at what appears to be the zenith of inspiration and technical know-how, is equally impressive...Byrne’s work may not tell us anything new about Joan of Arc, but it reaffirms in epic theatrical style the fascination she has held over centuries for cultures both sacred and secular." Full Review
"With book, music, and lyrics by David Byrne, 'Joan of Arc: Into The Fire' is completely sensational....Sensation is Byrne’s coat of arms. His collaborator, Alex Timbers brings his brand of radical, fantastical, and in-your-face theater to this contemporary musical about the allusive Saint Joan...Playing Joan of Arc, Jo Lampert is astonishing...She delivers an arresting physical performance, while snaring us with a voice that ranges from pure and boyish to piercing and ardent." Full Review
“It’s spectacular, due chiefly to an electrifying performance in the title role by Jo Lampert, an actress of striking physical and vocal sinew…‘Joan of Arc: Into the Fire’ is serious in its contemplation of the mystical, the connection between belief and fate, and so it’s unsettling. It’s also very loud, very moody and as unsparingly bleak as its final, charred image." Full Review
“It’s not surprising the show is a rock musical. Happily, this turns out to perfectly suit the story of the martyred saint. There’s not much dialogue here. Nor does there need to be. Byrne’s score does a marvelous job conveying the passion of Joan’s faith and the pathos of her fate. What’s not conveyed by the music is delivered by Hoggett’s energetic choreography, Townsend’s ecstatic lighting and an ensemble cast headed by the androgynous Jo Lampert as Joan.” Full Review
"An electrifying performance by Jo Lampert as the central character fuels 'Joan of Arc: Into the Fire'...What sets this show apart from a placid retelling of history is the high-tension mix of the best of stagecrafts...Unison movement rivaling the most disciplined work by, say, the New York City Ballet corps...It shows how sticking to one’s principles may ultimately have a remarkable result—even to the point of creating positive change in the hearts, minds, and behavior of many people." Full Review
“Lampert is necessarily required to carry those numbers (and by extension, the show) on her glittering, chain-mailed shoulders, a thing she does with admirable fervor — even when her voice is more powerful than precise…It’s all impressively brisk and smartly executed, though it’s also never quite clear in the end why this version of Joan is especially crucial, after literally hundreds of interpretations on stage and screen.” Full Review
"Byrne’s music is generally very effective, though the lyrics sometimes too literally convey what the characters are thinking, making for some overly declamatory moments. Alex Timbers supplies his usual imaginative staging, and though, as usual there are sometimes too many gimmicks, at least it makes for visual motion...The wiry and intense Jo Lampert is sensational as Joan, bringing her pure voice to the material...An instant classic? No, but it’s not a trial either." Full Review
“The lead actress, Jo Lampert, is new to The Public and a real find—her voice is rich and warm and the joy in her face lights up the stage…Still, Lampert’s Joan is not a contradictory or complicated heroine…Joan may inhabit an androgynous grey area when it comes to gender, but the rest of her world is one of pure good and pure evil…The battle scenes, and the set design in general, are sumptuous and stunning.” Full Review
"Lampert responds with a performance that exudes charismatic attitude and toughness...An exciting production that straddles between contemporary concert and period drama...But...Byrne's nearly sung-through score is tasked with more sophisticated storytelling, and his lightweight lyrics too often linger on points, rather than expound on them...There's little conflict that's of any interest...Hopefully, there'll be brighter theatre spotlights shining on Lampert in the near future." Full Review
“Despite handsome sets and a striking performance from Jo Lampert, this take on the tragic French warrior’s life isn’t quite as wild as it should be…There’s an absence of psychological acuity and Joan never entirely emerges as a definite human character…The pacing is brisk, the cast melodious, the orchestrations clever. It’s an agreeable evening, but shouldn’t it be braver, wilder, more mystical?” Full Review
“A loud, exuberant pageant…The trouble is that the score becomes repetitive and frankly, boring, after a while. Lampert’s performance as Joan achieves stature in the context of Byrne’s rock-vision, and those playing multiple roles as soldiers and others pack the work with further energy. But the music and lyrics fail to achieve emotional involvement…An ambitious effort to present the saga of Joan in a different manner, but it achieves more visual than emotional impact.” Full Review
“The new rock opera is childish and simplistic giving Joan a rather thin and mundane life. With only a handful of defined characters, this becomes Joan's story but she never seems to mature from the 16-year-old girl she was when we met her at the beginning of the tale. Too much of the show is just more of the same making this 95 minute musical seem overly long. Unlike Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's ‘Jesus Christ Superstar,’ this never seems to have a new take on a well-known story.” Full Review
“The show starts off well, with Joan's transformation from poor farm girl into impassioned warrior a powerful moment (Jo Lampert is giving a strong performance and has a great voice); it then idles in the middle, and picks up a bit at the end. Overall, there's no urgency in the production or storytelling. Most disappointingly, though, especially considering Timbers's ingenuity, is that if felt like a safe, staid production…The direction came off as generic, even timid.” Full Review
"A smoothly professional, yet fundamentally unexciting, pop opera featuring a two-dimensional heroine who never begins to suggest the young woman who led armies...Byrne provides a score that is pleasant but which lacks the color and variety needed to suggest the excitement and upheaval caused by this world-historical figure...It's hard to think of a slicker, more professionally staged musical in town at the moment, but this only points to what is weak about it." Full Review
“Alas, the result, though epic and in many ways appealing, has its own set of problems…How can a musical in which nearly every scene is consumed with some kind of fighting lack a pulse?...Without a deeper connection between the staging, the music, and the plot, it often feels as though the three elements are occupying the same ground but unable to communicate with each other...As Joan, Lampert adds plenty of depth of her own, capturing both the innocence and her bloodthirsty passion." Full Review
“Byrne is very direct in his storytelling: English bad, French good and persecuted. Byrne has little to say about Joan of Arc other than that she’s into nationalism and war…Byrne has a nice talent for plaintive soft-rock ballads…When Byrne goes big with his music, he enters ‘Les Miz’ territory, and his lyrics turn jingoistic.” Full Review
"It isn’t a fully successful theatrical experience, and the reasons why 'Joan of Arc' doesn’t quite come off are almost more interesting than the show itself. The most surprising thing about 'Joan of Arc' is its straightforwardness...Every song in 'Joan of Arc' consists of an endless string of four-bar phrases in four-four time...You find yourself longing after a half-hour or so for something to break the sameness...It simply didn’t involve me in the way that I wanted and expected." Full Review
“Lampert, as Joan, is a remarkable, full-throated singer with a gorgeous voice, belting out the banal numbers with gusto…The entire cast, in fact, is terrific…Director Alex Timbers, along with music director Kris Kukul do miraculous things with Byrne’s story (thanks, in no small part, to the strength of Byrne’s actual music). But they are working with thin material and no amount of excellence is enough to sustain the dry, one-dimensional and often trite dialogue Byrne has offered up.” Full Review
“‘Into the Fire’ is ambitious, skillfully sung, and often quite visually impressive, but it falters on a narrative level. While the show gestures towards the complexities behind the character of Joan (played with impressive fire and venom by Jo Lampert), it skirts around much of her back story and glosses over significant moments…It's clear that Byrne's concert musical sincerely wants to be a character study. Instead, it feels more like an encyclopedia entry.” Full Review
“Jo Lampert and the cast can sing...The music, book and especially the lyrics by David Byrne are so monotonous, you wonder how in the world was this show ever produced…I just don’t understand how you take a vibrant tale of the heroine of France who was canonized as a Roman Saint and make her boring…If it weren’t for Lampert’s powerful stage presence and her sexy shimmering armor this show would have fizzled.” Full Review
"Lampert is so conspicuously exotic, that it’s entertaining just to watch her wave her flag and model her sexy armor. The performer’s compelling stage presence and powerful alto help her survive ‘Joan of Arc’…All this stagecraft is ultimately undone by the limitations of the score. Every song seems to spring from the same martial air, and the lyrics wouldn’t tax the intelligence of an eight-year-old. Better to think of this as a fashion show of the prettiest armor you ever saw." Full Review
“A misguided alt-rock musical that reduces the crusade, persecution and death of the 15th century French heroine to a simplistic ‘Martyrdom for Dummies’ with a repetitious beat…The show boasts fabulous production values…It's the surprising lack of sophistication or emotional depth in the material that deflates expectations…The grit, commitment and gutsy vocals of Lampert can't inject emotional nuance into the baldly explanatory, episodic writing.” Full Review
“Despite a story filled with dramatic possibilities, ‘Joan of Arc’ often lacks theatricality...Except for a few scenes...much of the musical feels the same. Even the music and lyrics seem repetitive (‘fight,’ ‘victory’). The musicians move around on stage and often that was more interesting to watch than the performers themselves. As Joan, Jo Lampert works hard and gives an impassioned performance, but I often felt as if I was merely listening to a concert, one that lagged at times.” Full Review
“Ambitious but ultimately disappointing…We're only given the vaguest sense of Joan's visions, betraying a laziness in the lyricism. The melodies are similarly uninspired…Timbers applies his caffeinated style to the story…Unfortunately, none of it can compensate for the subpar material undergirding it all…Lampert brings incredible charisma and an awesome set of pipes to the stage, but it all seems wasted on a role that never asks for more than a one-note portrayal of self-sacrifice.” Full Review
“A monumental dud. Plodding, reverent and dramatically inert, it suggests a ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ stripped of wit, ambivalence and social commentary. Which is to say: Jesus Christ. The lean Jo Lampert, who plays Joan, has a robust voice and a compelling androgynous–kick-ass look, but the show gives her nothing to play but uninterrupted self-belief, rendered banally. Although the music is sometimes energetic, the libretto hardly ever lives up to it." Full Review
See it if you want to be swept up by David Byrne's soaring music and Jo Lampert's soulful voice. What an entrancing way to tell the Joan of Arc tale.
Don't see it if are not into the lives of saints, even heroic ones like Joan's nor find rock concerts/music appealing.
See it if I didn't know all of Joan's story so it was very interesting to see. Jo Lampert is a rock star. Mesmerizing.
Don't see it if It's not a straightforward typical musical. So if typical is what you want, then this isn't for you.
See it if you are a fan of David Byrne's music or Alex Timbers' direction. It's a fresh take on a classic story. Great leading lady.
Don't see it if you don't like modernizing period tales. The anachronistic take is a way of tying the story into our modern reality but not for everyone.
See it if You like rock musicals. Musicals with great lighting and stage effects. Awesome transitions and great singing. The visuals are brilliant.
Don't see it if You want a more traditional show. I thought the show was a hair too long, but not bad at all. If you don't like shows based on history.
See it if you like a great rock musical with an amazing lead woman and a strong ensemble. Jo Lampert (Joan) shakes the rafters with her amazing voice
Don't see it if You don't like a more rock concert like show. I don't have much to say here. I thoroughly enjoyed this production.
See it if You like history, stories about strong women, and if you last learned about Joan of Arc in grade school.
Don't see it if Just see it. It's inspiring.
Also The story is amazingly relevant today.
See it if you enjoy musicals that are out of the norm, tell their stories theatrically, and are visually and musically exciting.
Don't see it if you are easily swayed by critics and find it difficult to block out their harsh criticisms, which enable you to form an opinion of your own
See it if you like operatic historical tales, amazing music and a superb actress who captivates the audience from beginning to end
Don't see it if you don't want to hear almost every lyric sung, if you don't like super talented performers sing about historical politics
See it if You'reInterested in historical stories & like catchy pop/rock scores with great singing; Jo Lampert it great and leads a STRONG ensemble
Don't see it if You dislike musicals that are sung through with little dialog. Surprised at how much I enjoyed this show especially after reading reviews.
See it if you enjoy a good female empowerment story; religious themes; or a classic, true story paired with a contemporary rock score.
Don't see it if you don't like seeing religious stories represented in a nontraditional manner, or you prefer a more traditional Broadway score.
See it if you'd enjoy an exuberantly performed musical dramatization of how Joan's devout faith shaped both her life and her death.
Don't see it if you are averse to a show almost entirely about religion.
See it if You are a David Byrne fan. Like 'rock' musicals -- especially those that retell important stories. Want to be entranced by very cool staging
Don't see it if Can't stand strobe lights. Can't induleg and imaginative and creative telling of a classic historical story.
See it if you like a religious themed rock musical with great singing, high energy, and creative staging.
Don't see it if you are into fluffy musicals with happy endings or if you don't care for religious themes or want a lot of spoken dialogue.
See it if You enjoy rock music & strong performances by an excellent cast and you do not mind a story/book that is lacking.
Don't see it if are expecting this to be another "Here Lies Love" it is nothing like it.
See it if Great voices, music, story. Winningham's song and singing are transcendentally moving. Nice staging. Clear story and lyrics.
Don't see it if you want this to be an inquiry on the veracity or Joan's story. This is a telling, not a documentary. Some of the songs do feel the same.
Get alerts about your favorite artists and theater companies