Part of the New York Musical Festival: An autistic man wants to marry his girlfriend against his family's wishes in this fast-paced, non-linear tuner directed by Tony-winning actress Victoria Clark. More…
Evan is determined to marry his girlfriend Charlie, but his father and brother don't want him to. Or rather, his father doesn't think he can and his brother doesn't think he will. And his mother won't tell them otherwise. They're all so concerned with what autistic Evan might do, but he knows he is more than just his needs, and he's going to prove it.
“Heath Saunders gives a star-making performance in ‘Newton’s Cradle’, a touching musical he co-wrote with his mother Kim...Tenderly directed by Victoria Clark, who stages the show as what it might feel like to be Evan: a dizzying experience with outbursts of bliss and pain coexisting, ‘Newton’s Cradle’ is emotional without being condescending, and in Saunders’ beautiful work we see the agony and joy that it would be to discover the world anew with every single breath we took.” Full Review
"The company is terrific, so symbiotic one can’t help but hope they stay together for the show’s next iteration. All voices are excellent...Heath Saunders’s score is melodic and evocative; his lyrics sensitive, uncompromisingly specific, often seamlessly intertwined with dialogue. The book is moving and well researched, every character and relationship credible…'Newton’s Cradle' is a tale told with eloquence, grace, and respect, not pity. We leave uplifted and illuminated." Full Review
“Evan’s past - peopled by his vigilant mother, worried father and loving, resentful brother, Michael - overlaps with his present in this warmhearted show. A couple of plot points defy belief...But the score is beautiful, with patterns and loops and cacophonies that echo Evan’s mind. The ensemble is first-rate, and the rapport between the Saunders brothers absolutely translates. It’s Heath Saunders, though, who walks off with your heart.” Full Review
"Clark deftly navigates most of the material for her actors, anchored by Saunders’ poignant, funny, and heartbreaking portrayal...As composer and lyricist, Saunders is equally as gifted…Where 'Newton’s Cradle' may find more solid ground is in its character development beyond the specific family and relationship dynamics...'Newton’s Cradle' reminds us of the gift of musical theatre, that stories of all kind with people of all kind can be told and honored." Full Review
"As one of the most nuanced entries in this year's festival, 'Newton's Cradle' is structured to replicate the brain function of someone on the spectrum...The subject matter, paired with the minimal amount of plot the musical ends up putting forth, leaves the door wide open to trite sentiments, clichéd lyrics, and clinical sermons. Yet, the Saunders family taps a compelling vein within the genre of musical theater, striking a balance that makes 'Newton's Cradle' sing." Full Review
"This is a wondrously complex story. The way things unravel is stunning. It’s intricate and precise. And special...What book writer Kim Saunders has offered is chock-full of immeasurable potential. While the festival setting may have held back the production’s full possibility, the approach and vision could have gone so much further. Director Victoria Clark did a fine job with the material. When it worked, it worked...Where will it go from here? Who knows? But there is a bright future." Full Review
"The cast solidly navigates the often complex score and infuses great emotion into their singing. The lyrics are perhaps this production’s roughest element, and sometimes venture into juvenile rhymes, but overall they are effective in conveying what the character is trying to say...'Newton’s Cradle' is a well-realized production with some rough edges, but it’s worth attending to see a moving show that gives much to reflect upon in the way we define and keep our relationships." Full Review
"The actors are uniformly strong...The music is unmelodic and doesn’t add much color to the show, but the lyrics fare better. The direction by Victoria Clark is steady and clarifies much of the action. 'Newton’s Cradle' has taken on a worthy challenge, but despite the talented cast and director, doesn’t quite paint a cohesive enough picture to match the challenge." Full Review
"'Newton's Cradle' itself struggles to find good reasons to sing. The writers haven't settled on a consistent method of musicalizing Evan's struggle, so you're never really able to crawl into his head the way you ought to be able to do with a main character...This is a musical that seems more about a medical message than telling a story or eliciting feelings through musical and lyrical necessity, and apparently considers that a sufficient replacement for punch and panache." Full Review
"These stories do nothing more than create situations that enable a character to engage in musical numbers that are laden with exposition dialogue and do nothing to move the plot forward. The book needs to focus more on character development to achieve an emotional connection with the audience which convinces them to care...The cast is first-rate...Director Clark puts all the pieces of this puzzle together with a firm hand, but unfortunately it does not create a successful production." Full Review
See it if you enjoy a fast paced show with emotional impact. Strong cast, interesting story and good music. Was on the edge of my seat. Great material
Don't see it if you aren't comfortable with a non-linear story.
See it if you like a musical with substance that is also very entertaining. It's quite brilliant with great insight into some aspects of autism.
Don't see it if you're looking for perfection. The second act still needs some work. But it was still a great evening.
See it if you want fresh take on autism in every day life- the Saunders brothers are fantastic and the writing is beautiful
Don't see it if you need a very linear, easy to follow story, there's work involved but it's worth it
See it if you like thought-provoking, dizzying nonlinear storytelling about identity that challenges you.
Don't see it if you want a simple, straight-forward fluffy musical and/or want a musical with a lot of dancing.
See it if You liked Curious Incident & would be interested in similar settings in a musical. That being said, it's much more adult-themed. Solid perfs
Don't see it if you need a distinct timeline to enjoy a show; it can be a little confusing at first until you get into Evan's character & understand his POV
See it if you're interested in unconventional family relationships/drama, with good singing and believable characters.
Don't see it if you need a linear narrative (or clearly defined flashbacks), you want each song to be more distinct, or dislike shows that need some edits.