Ends Apr 30

Joan of Arc: Into The Fire

Members say: Disappointing, Ambitious, Great singing, Great staging, Entertaining
30 reviews
112 reviews

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.... Read 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.

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Reviews (142)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
Avg Score

The New York Times

"How did the immense talents behind ‘Here Lies Love’ come up with something so inert?...It’s as unswerving in its course as its heroine and just about as reverential…Mr. Byrne’s musical wit surfaces only in a calypso-beat number given to the tribunal...Basically, Joan’s character allows no room for the contradictions and idiosyncrasies of which convincing portraiture are made. She is unvaryingly, achingly sincere.” 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


"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


"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

Time Out New York

“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

The Guardian (UK)

“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

Lighting & Sound America

"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

Front Row Center

"David Byrne’s 'Joan' is heavy on rock music and light on story...One event after another is delivered with volume and a myriad of special effects–strobe lights and smoke and did I see a disco ball? There is little differentiating between the moments. There is no story. There is no, you should pardon the expression, arc...The cast is a banquet of talents, all of whom are hemmed in like tigers in a cage. There is a story in here somewhere, but it never sees the light of day." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

“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

The Wall Street Journal

"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

The Hollywood Reporter

“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

New York Daily News

"Running 95 minutes that feel much longer, this pop-rock biomusical about the 15th century French peasant-turned-leader's path to martyrdom is undercooked; it feels like a workshop that wasn’t ready for prime time. The storytelling is simplistic; the score, singsong; the choreography, boy-band-ish; the performances, self-conscious. That includes a hard-working but monochromatic Jo Lampert as future saint." Full Review

New York Magazine / Vulture

“Of the many problems besetting this disappointing rock oratorio, its implicit recommendation of a Catholic martyr as a model of current civic engagement is the most intractable…Byrne is a very talented composer, and Timbers an unusually imaginative director, but this story has defeated them...As Joan, Jo Lampert is a vocal powerhouse and fearless stage animal. It’s not her fault that the character as written is such an unplayable patchwork of clichés and ‘timely’ parallels.” 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


“Almost shockingly deadly…This is a 90-minute hair shirt of a project with no discernible point of view. Despite a breakout androgynous star turn by Jo Lampert as Joan, it is hard not to think we are watching a Sunday school musical about religious history with hymns alternating with pop and rumba.” Full Review


“Really disappointing…What would Byrne, who wrote book, music and lyrics, do with the life of Joan of Arc? The answer is shockingly little…Byrne presents this story, which happened over two years, without irony, psychology or curiosity. It’s essentially a fan’s you-go-girl account of Joan’s indomitable will and fervent belief in her destiny. While Byrne has written some seductive melodies, his lyrics can be flat and awkward…This story of 'Joan of Arc' couldn’t be more uninteresting." Full Review

The Wrap

“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


“A missed opportunity…Byrne’s sung-through score is occasionally anthemic, with touches of Christian rock. It’s generically upbeat and, at the same time, frequently overwrought. The silver lining here is Jo Lampert, as the beautifully androgynous title character…There isn’t ever enough connective tissue between Byrne’s songs to make us care about the girl.” Full Review

Wolf Entertainment Guide

“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

Financial Times (UK)

"Kitsch might be excusable if Byrne had decided to play the story of the virgin warrior for laughs. Instead we get an earnest and predictable account...Exacerbating that cartoonish story is Timbers’ static direction, defined by repeated, desultory fight scenes that never convey any sense of the chaos and bloodshed...And while Jo Lampert’s Joan just about makes you want to follow her into battle early on, her performance strikes a single note and lacks emotional range." Full Review

Reviewing The Drama

“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

The Washington Post

“The results are as deadly as those for ‘Here Lies Love’ were delightful…Part of the problem here is lack of variation...The musical tone almost never shifts. It’s not unlike the effect of a medieval mystery play: a one-dimensional recounting of the events in a believer’s life. The physically vigorous Lampert has impressive lung power but little expressive range…You’re left with the impression that you could learn and feel just as much about Joan of Arc by staring at a stained-glass window." Full Review

Out Magazine

"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

Musical Theater Review

"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


“‘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

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
Avg Score

Entertaining, Great music, Great singing, Surprising, Great story

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.

Also So this is not Here Lies Love. It's a traditional stage it tons of cos... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Disappointing, Messy

See it if you like rock music about religion and joan of arc... or loved Jo Lampert in Hundred Days and want a little bit more

Don't see it if you want to see a more fully realized show... it feels poorly put together

Ambitious, Great acting, Banal, Great singing, Great staging

See it if you are entertained by great voices, good music, choreography, and sets.

Don't see it if the story is really important to you. It lacks enthusiasm, direction. Les "Miss" in all senses of the pun

Ambitious, Disappointing, Cliched, Slow, Eh!

See it if you like everything David Byrne; you enjoy bizarre casting, direction and writing; depending on one actor for all the heavy lifting.

Don't see it if you don't mind music and lyrics you can't remember, statically written scripts, pointless productions; big disappointment from David Byrne.

Ambitious, Disappointing, Slow, Emotionless, Sluggish

See it if You want to learn some history about Joan of Arc. The story is told dry and with very little heart. We're given no real reason to care.

Don't see it if You're expecting anything near another Here Lies Love. The songs in this show are a dry narrative and even the movement seems forced.

Ambitious, Entertaining, Great singing, Great staging, Great effort

See it if Jo Lambert is superb in her role. She never falters in enthusiasm. The choreography is amazing, backed by a fantastic rock band who sing.

Don't see it if You expect memorable songs or the exuberance of Here Lies Love. The stage is too small to enhance the power of the musical numbers.

Ambitious, Edgy, Intelligent, Great music, Great singing

See it if Loved the music; hope they put out a cast album. Jo Lambert as a Joan was amazing. Very entertaining.

Don't see it if It was mostly sung-through. Some might find the way they told the story simplistic. Confusing at times.

Quirky, Disappointing, Excruciating, Slow, Great singing

See it if you're a super fan of David Byrne or Alex Timbers. Otherwise this is disappointing on all levels

Don't see it if you're offended by a poorly written musical about a female hero written by all men.

Ambitious, Confusing, Disappointing, Slow

See it if you're a hard core fan of Talking Heads

Don't see it if you expect quality musical on par with other shows at the Public Theater. The show is about inner faith and not about external conflicts.

Clever, Great acting, Intelligent, Resonant, Entertaining

See it if Interesting concept, excellent production, handsome lighting, fine acting and direction. Music not as interesting but worth seeing!

Don't see it if you do not like rock music or contemporary treatment of issues.

Ambitious, Intense, Relevant, Great music, Fast-paced

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.

Not all stories are enhanced by setting them to rock music

See it if primarily for powerhouse performance/intensity of Jo Lambert as Joan, inventive choreography

Don't see it if music is monotonous/full of full-throated rock anthems, fails to explore complexities in Joan's character or influence, in all disappointing

Ambitious, Overrated, Interesting set, Recycled materials

See it if you enjoy an overly political musical that tries hard to be "relevant" with recycled material from the writer's previous work

Don't see it if you're looking for a fancy nice out in a theater.

Ambitious, Edgy, Disappointing, Cliched, Great staging

See it if you are prepared to be frustrated by what could have been a great experience marred by banal music. Great staging and performances

Don't see it if you want the whole package. The music is so boring and repetitive that it takes away from the experience. There is no edge or anger to Joan

Clever, Edgy, Entertaining

See it if Like original staging and choreography.

Don't see it if you expect another Hamilton

Also The whole production is amazing.The fight scenes and the music are out... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Intense, Quirky, Entertaining

See it if You enjoy seeing developmental productions -- there are many great moments in the show and it is very well performed.

Don't see it if you are not open to new forms and treatments

Boring, monotonous, uninspired

See it if you are interested in loud pulsing music that all sounds the same for the most part.

Don't see it if you are expecting anywhere near the brilliance of Here Lies Love. This show is a big disappointment compared to that show.

Disappointing, Exhausting, Awful, Baffling, Rage-inducing

See it if Don't. Just don't. Don't encourage this. A complete misfire on every level. Totally baffling given the talent involved. Let it burn.

Don't see it if See above. Only masochists and the cripplingly curious won't regret their purchase.

Also It's like watching a wikipedia entry. There's no take on the story, no... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Edgy, Disappointing, Great singing, Great staging

See it if You like a sound and light spectacle with loud, repetitive music. Impressive staging and a very strong lead performance

Don't see it if You are thinking it will be as good as "Here Lies Love," the previous collaboration of Timbers & Byrne. The lyrics and music are not strong.

Disappointing, Excruciating, Insipid

See it if all other theaters are closed

Don't see it if greatly disappointed in all that talent put to waste.

Great acting, Banal, Disappointing, Slow, Great staging

See it if you're a David Byrne fan and if you aren't already familiar with he Joan of Arc story.

Don't see it if you're looking for new insight into or a new way of looking at the Joan of Arc story.

Indulgent, Disappointing, Excruciating, Great singing

See it if Everyone has a great voice and tries really hard!

Don't see it if You value your time. It's not good.

Edgy, Disappointing, Overrated

See it if you are looking for an edgy new musical and love The Public Theater

Don't see it if you are looking for an upbeat musical where you walk out of the theater humming the tunes.

Ambitious, Disappointing, One-note, Under developed

See it if you can grab a cheap ticket and are interested in a work in progress with an interesting concept that's not completely worked out yet

Don't see it if a rock musical of Joan of Arc isn't ideal - or concept musicals are not your cup of tea

Great acting, Indulgent, Confusing, Cliched

See it if you are a huge huge Mare Winningham fan. Her scene is great.

Don't see it if you're already familiar with the story of Joan of Arc