Already closed | 1h 30m | East Village

Pacific Overtures

From 191 member  reviews
Members say: Great singing, Intelligent, Absorbing, Clever, Thought-provoking

About the show

George Takei stars in Classic Stage Company's revival of Stephen Sondheim's musical about a samurai and a fisherman caught up in the westernization of the East. More…

In 1853, Commodore Matthew Perry sailed to Japan on a U.S. mission to open trade relations at any cost. The musical tells the story of the profound implications Perry's efforts had on the identity of Japan. With 'Pacific Overtures'—which first premiered on Broadway in 1976—John Doyle continues his highly acclaimed exploration of Sondheim's work, having directed 'Sweeney Todd' and 'Company' on the Main Stem, and 'Passion' at CSC.

1h 30m | Already closed | Classic Stage Company (East Village)

Member Reviews (191)

MEMBERS SAY:

Great singing, Intelligent, Absorbing, Clever, Thought-provoking
81
Avg Score

75
Intelligent, Disappointing, Great show hobbled by director, Wonderful music

See it if you love Sondheim; you'll hear his fabulous score/lyrics. Brave Doyle's misguided paring to experience S's brilliance. Impt history lesson.

Don't see it if you've seen a good production. CSC's does not fully engage emotions. Lots of male voices, few female. Distracting staging ex: fabric strips

Also Everyone is in ordinary Western dress, so the lines about the shocking... Read more Read less

75
Enchanting, Clever, Intelligent, Historical, Quirky

See it if History lesson set to music. I liked the minimalist staging. The songs were interesting and well performed.

Don't see it if The characters were shallow. There was little dramatic tension. The history wasn't entirely accurate.

92
Absorbing, Clever, Great writing, Relevant, Resonant

See it if history.. Sondheim.. singing.. Sondheim relevance and Sondheim compromise vote... partners 95 my 90 great set

Don't see it if you are a purist and need the original 1974? rendition. many songs cut and now reduced to 90 minutes

79
Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Ambitious, Entertaining

See it if you want to hear Sondheim's rapturous score elegantly sung in a rarely-revived, if stripped down & highly edited, masterpiece.

Don't see it if You're a Sondheim purist. The minimalism distills the show's message & robs the musical of is grandeur. The edits cut the intended impact.

Also Somebody please introduce John Doyle to a set designer, a costume desi... Read more Read less

85
Ambitious, Great staging, Intelligent, Slow, Entertaining

See it if Classic Doyle streamlining doesn't mar Sondheim's thematic concerns Beautiful stage imagery enhanced by artful singing; chamber quality

Don't see it if Despite quality production, piece has a truncated feel Several noteworthy songs cut, ending has an abrupt feel to it but excellent Sondheim

90
Clever, Great singing, Great staging, Great writing, Thought-provoking

See it if You want great singing combined w/great lyrics. You want to see a story of Japan from an Asian perspective.

Don't see it if You hate Sondheim. You love the original Pacific Overtures & don't want any changes.

85
Great staging, Thought-provoking, Clever, Entertaining

See it if you like Sondheim, classic musicals, Asian themes, or stripped-down productions. Doyle also makes great use of the minimalistic staging.

Don't see it if you need a strong resolution. The ending of this show felt rushed to me, but that's a larger issue with the book--not the direction.

82
Absorbing, Great singing, Great acting, Resonant, Thought-provoking

See it if You love Sondheim music and stories of Japanese culture changes in the 1800's, when foreigners first visited the country.George Takei

Don't see it if You expect elaborate costumes and sets. Dislike abridged musicals. Do not enjoy small venues.

70
Great singing, Intelligent, Slow, Educational

See it if you want to learn something about Japanese history thru artistic and musical presentation; you love Sondheim, spare sets and minimal dress

Don't see it if you expect a full blown musical with bells and whistles. This is minimalist production in many ways, but the music comes through beautifully

Also I came into this never having seen it before and with no expectations.... Read more Read less

85
Great music, Entertaining, Great singing, Intelligent, Ambitious

See it if you enjoy using your imagination in a way you cannot with grand sets; you appreciate Sondheim and creative staging.

Don't see it if you prefer your musicals in technicolor, with beautiful costumes and sets; small scale is not to your liking.

84
Atmospheric revival of sondheim pearl

See it if Doyle's minimalism works here. You can see it in the movement. Thankfully, he has an orchestra, which sounds lovely.

Don't see it if I see no reason to trim the show to 90 mins. The performances are uniformly excellent. I wish we could have seen more of these fine actors.

97
Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Great singing, Great staging

See it if you have a pulse.This is what PO should always have been.Exciting,funny,tragic,fast paced, great music/orchestrations. Perfection. GO!

Don't see it if you are an idiot. If you like Sondheim, (and if you don't, please go away) this is an absolute must see. Should transfer exactly as is.

78
Thought-provoking, Resonant, Relevant, Great singing

See it if a stripped down Sondheim history lesson is what you're needing. This musical addresses many topics we're still talking about today.

Don't see it if you're a Sondheim purist and want something staged more traditionally. This is a John Doyle show so it's really minimalist but effective.

81
Ambitious, Great acting, Great staging, Intelligent, Relevant

See it if you like great music and an important story.

Don't see it if you loved the original production and expect this to look and feel the same. The song "Chrysanthemum Tea" was taken out to tighten the focus

85
Delightful, Enchanting, Great singing, Exquisite

See it if John Doyle has directed a gem! Lovely , simple and elegant staging. If you love Sondheim...see it.

Don't see it if Don't see if you like big and brassy musicals or only dramas.

85
Intelligent, Must see, Absorbing, Great singing, Typical doyle condensation

See it if You've never seen it before. Far from the original but must be seen.

Don't see it if Doyle condensations are not your thing.

Also As with every production I've seen, the ending is never redeeming.

82
Topical, Relevant, Resonant, Funny, Thought-provoking

See it if you'd enjoy a show about the West forcing its way into trade with Japan. This is strongest in its funny moments lampooning the West.

Don't see it if you need a lot of bells and whistles. This is slow at times, but worth the journey.

65
Banal, Disappointing, Slow, Stripped down

See it if you want 2 C a rarely performed Sondheim musical, stripped down w/o scenery or costumes to 90 minutes telling the story of Japan's isolation

Don't see it if you hate bare staged productions without any props, costumes or scenery and shortened to 90 minutes .

87
Intelligent, Great staging, Great singing, Great acting, Refreshing

See it if Wish for an intelligent scaled-down production of an overlooked Sondheim musical

Don't see it if Want flash.

90
Absorbing, Great singing, Masterful, Slow, Mesmerizing

See it if You love the Asian aesthetic, Sondheim music and lyrics, inventive staging, and performance art/dance woven in with your theater.

Don't see it if Sondheim rubs you the wrong way and you prefer traditional staging and brisk pacing.

Also Lush Sondheim score contrasts with the spare production; elegantly cho... Read more Read less

72
Great staging, Resonant, Thought-provoking

See it if you're a Sondheim fan and want to see a well done, if abbreviated production.

Don't see it if you're a purist who wants to see everything as originally conceived.

82
Clever, Enchanting, Entertaining, Minimalist, Great score

See it if You want a short, cute musical, with an Eastern-inflected Sondheim score and a sorta clichéd depiction of an interesting historical era.

Don't see it if you don't like John Doyle's minimalist productions, with missing props, actors, and set pieces. Or you don't like Sondheim (obvs).

Also The rapturously lovely "Poems" and the relentlessly clever "Please Hel... Read more Read less

86
Great singing

See it if How the west, esp. US, politically colonized Japan. Amazing all Asian cast with impeccably sung complex songs.

Don't see it if George Takei narrates and plays smaller, non-singing characters. Some Orientalism annoys you. More political than regular plot.

96
Great acting, Great singing, Intelligent, Masterful, Profound

See it if you love Sondheim and want to see one of his masterpieces with a superbly talented cast in a beautifully simple staging

Don't see it if you are not a Sondheim fan - just don't

71
Disappointing, Poor staging, Overrated

See it if you are such a Sondheim fan that you will see anything he wrote and if you don't mind that only one Asian performed in the show.

Don't see it if you are hoping for a stellar production of a Sondheim classic.


May 4th, 2017
"Sometimes-glorious, sometimes-lackluster revival...The lack of clarity that results from a cast of 10 actors playing dozens of characters means that the shock you are meant to feel as Japan hurtles toward a violent modernity is diminished...But...something else is enhanced. The portrait of histo...
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May 4th, 2017
"Boiled down—with all the loss of flavor that implies—to a somber 90-minute procession...Instead of coups de théâtre, this production offers coupures: edits, edits, edits. Gone is much of the material that gave 'Pacific Overtures' levity and texture...Not all is dire. The opening and closing numb...
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May 4th, 2017
"This streamlined adaptation, performed with soulful feeling by a small multi-role cast, and told with haunting narrative simplicity, rewards being savored on its own subtle terms...The frugal restraint of the production highlights the delicacy of one of Sondheim's most evocative scores...This is...
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May 4th, 2017
"Doyle is such a wizard, he could probably stage a show on a postage stamp...The stylized performances of a superb Asian-American cast are ideally suited to this minimalist production of one of the great musicals of our time...Spectacle has no place in this production; it’s replaced with intimacy...
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