Party People
Closed 2h 45m
Party People

Party People NYC Reviews and Tickets

(71 Reviews)
Members say
Ambitious, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Great singing, Absorbing

About the Show

The Public Theater presents the New York premiere of Universes' explosive new work about the complicated legacies of the original Black Panther Party and the Young Lords.

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Member Reviews (71)

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Ambitious, Disappointing, Excruciating, Overrated

See it if I don't really have anything good to say. I left at intermission. The story was banal and unmotivated. The songs were astoundingly bad.

Don't see it if The acting wasn't awful but the plot was...plotless. The one hard hitting moment missed its mark for me buried between bad dance and music.

Confusing, Disappointing, Lacking good songs, Choreography that misses, Biased

See it if you know a lot about the Black Panthers and Young Lords and are very sympathetic to their cause.

Don't see it if you enjoy a theater experience that teaches you something through memorable songs and dialogue. Read more

Disappointing, Confusing, Overrated, Thought-provoking, Quirky

See it if you enjoy less than mediocre, boring plays that try to be deep while creating an atrocity of theater. Too much expositional dialogue.

Don't see it if you want to be entertained for the duration of a play, don't enjoy random clowns, or understand the difference between art and amateur.

During previews
Energetic but often incoherent portrayal of legacy of black panthers and young lords

See it if you enjoy high energy, almost manic multi-media presentation w songs/dance (mostly marching) of success/failures of panthers/young lords

Don't see it if /since overlong, strident, chaotic agglomeration of ideas & presentation styles leave many with a headache Read more

During previews
Excruciating, Indulgent, Ambitious, Cliched, Confusing

See it if You are interested in the history of the Black Panther movement and the Young Lords.

Don't see it if Confusing plot, a lot of yelling, way too long at almost 3 hours Read more

During previews
Banal, Confusing, Disappointing, Indulgent, Good staging

See it if In service of interesting staging, you can look past poor writing and banal dramas.

Don't see it if You prefer shows with compelling dramatic arcs.

During previews
Confusing, Ambitious, Excruciating, Disappointing, Raunchy

See it if If you want to be confused by Political plays with music

Don't see it if Almost three hours of " heavy " political talking and singing scare you

During previews
Disappointing, Excruciating, Overrated, Junior varsity

See it if Don't. The notion was great and as it was at the Public Theatre we figured it would be well done. It wasn't. We left at halftime

Don't see it if Your threshold of professionalism is a summer camp production. This didn't clear even that bar.

Critic Reviews (27)

The New York Times
November 15th, 2016

"In the current political climate, it may be the most frightening and exciting piece of theater now up...'Party People' derives its language, vibrant and volatile, from actual interviews. Yet the storytelling is less than cohesive...It is too long, too unfocused and perhaps too democratic...Yet in a room full of people distraught and enraged by the election of Trump, 'Party People' felt heartbreakingly timely and intensely necessary."
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Time Out New York
November 15th, 2016

“A wildly ambitious and overstuffed homage to grassroots activism and in-fighting among the Black Panthers and the Young Lords…’Party People’ is nothing if not kinesthetically engaged…The piece is a researched yet original blend of docu-musical, family comedy, live video and hip-hop, defiantly unstable and sprawling...As it is, 'Party People' is a galvanizing education for the young (or ignorant) and a provocation to everyone to take sides."
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New York Magazine / Vulture
November 15th, 2016

“Two young men are introduced in the process of putting together an evening of performance art to explore the ways in which the activism of their forebears might be carried out in the present. This apparently includes gassy monologues, overacting, and a mortifying clown show…However much this history needs to be explored, merely relating facts and demonstrating atrocities does very little to elucidate the matter. Brutality comes to seem not just the cause of action but a motive in itself."
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November 15th, 2016

"Nonstop music, movement, and energy undergirded by scant thematic substance…As Primo, Ruiz portrays the most insufferable theatrical creation in recent memory…It all feels incredibly exploitative with very little redeeming value…Liesl Tommy delivers a production that does little to clarify the haphazard script and regularly skimps on the basics of efficient direction…This is unfortunate since this tireless cast seems more than game for any physical challenge thrown their way."
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November 19th, 2016

"Millicent Johnnie's choreography imitates the rebellious demands for freedom that these demonstrators took to the streets, backed by a lively musical score of Latin, funk and soul...After an election that has left many feeling that their rights and physical well-beings are in danger (yes, there is a mention of our president-elect) 'Party People' is enormously relevant, as Americans keep finding new ways to band together to express their outrage and work for change."
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Lighting & Sound America
November 18th, 2016

"This is rich, rich material and the biggest problem with 'Party People' is that it tries to mine the entire lode, raising fascinating questions but never exploring them in enough detail...'Party People' runs about two and a half hours, but that isn't nearly enough time to deal with the teeming cast of characters or to consider the complex, troubling issues that it raises...If 'Party People' is something of a mess, it's a lively, provocative one - riveting and irritating in equal measure."
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Talkin' Broadway
November 15th, 2016

"Something of a mess, with so much on its mind that it ends up not saying much of anything at all…None of it, though, makes following the myriad plot threads any easier; there are just too many for any of them to receive the necessary amount of development time, especially given the raft of musical numbers applied on top...It also does not help that only a few of the performers, who are all skilled, are charismatic enough to jolt you into the realm of caring.”
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December 3rd, 2016

“At times, ‘Party People’ is confusing as it tends to blur time and place so that it is not always clear what is happening in the present and what happened in the past. The show also has several false endings before the real one which is hauntingly moving. ‘Party People’ which is too long and could use a bit of tweaking is nevertheless a powerful, inventive investigation into a history and an era which has almost been forgotten in a time when many of the same issues are still being fought.”
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Theater Pizzazz
December 7th, 2016

"'Party People,' a raw, raucous new musical, is protesting injustice and intolerance–both in the past and the present. It’s a bold, brave semi-documentary…This provocative work looks back on two radical political groups from the '60s...Interviews and conversations are interspersed with a mélange of hip hop and Latino song-and-dance numbers performed by a vibrant company of multiracial performers…Kudos to the OSF for keeping the historic home fires burning."
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November 18th, 2016

"The combination of historical documentary and a meta-theatrical plot can be difficult to navigate at times...But the structural foibles are easy to look past when you consider the power of its performances and its staggering, gut-punching relevance...In the aftermath of an election cycle featuring some of the most racially charged rhetoric in decades, this is a work that has taken on a different kind of resonance and urgency...That makes it one of the most important shows on stage today."
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Front Row Center
November 16th, 2016

"I’m not sure if knowledge of history will save us from repeating it, but I know it can’t hurt. For this reason alone, I would urge you to see 'Party People'...It’s riveting, fast-paced, well-written and performed by a versatile and talented cast...Hard questions, asked with sensitivity and unbearable timeliness, 'Party People' will resonate with everyone who sees it whether you lived through the '60s or not. Kudos to everyone involved."
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New York Theater
November 15th, 2016

"Powerful and intelligent documentary theater—although the documentary theater part struggles for attention amidst all the other elements of this lively, sprawling, overlong play/musical/multi-media hip-hop performance art piece...'Party People' is full of intriguing historical tidbits, exciting choreography, rhythmic singing, galvanizing fist-pumping, suspenseful encounters and poignant moments–too full, actually. It’s overstuffed and unfocused."
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Theatre's Leiter Side
November 15th, 2016

"It's preaching to the choir, of course, and knows full well what buttons to press-like a crack at Donald Trump's expense-to get the responses it seeks, but for all its freeform dramaturgy, stereotypical characters, and simplified conflicts, it has an infectious nonstop energy and point of view that you enjoy for its performative values while also discovering that it might influence your behavior, even if you're not a Marxist-Maoist ideologue."
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The Huffington Post
November 15th, 2016

"A rousing, raucous play-with-music...The entertainment, which begins the powerful, if from time to time polemical, work—and is choreographed to a foot-stomping, arm-raising fare-thee-well by Millicent Johnnie—is something to behold...Sly and leavening humor crops up occasionally...Considering what’s afoot nationally right this minute, 'Party People' has the potential to stir up as much of a societal kerfuffle as 'Hair.'"
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Wolf Entertainment Guide
November 17th, 2016

"The production is a fierce blend of song and dialogue. It is often too shrill and overstated, but the show has guts and furthermore, ties the past to the present in ways that proclaim issues yet to be resolved...The entire show is extremely intense, and although it gets repetitive and over-long, its passion commands attention and appreciation, and the overall perspective adds to our remembrance of those turbulent times."
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Theater In The Now
November 27th, 2016

"A powerful and provocative piece of art about art and activism spanning generations...'Party People' is more of an idea than a well-made theatrical story. Tommy would have been better served to allow the story to unfold rather than hammer a message in...This ensemble carried the weight of the world on their shoulders. They worked wondrously as a unit...But there was something off with 'Party People.' With disconnect and lack of cohesion, 'Party People' is not as strong as it could be."
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Broadway & Me
November 19th, 2016

"Director Liesl Tommy uses every theatrical device she can find to recreate 40 years of history...A mostly excellent cast of black, brown and white actors, led by longtime UNIVERSES members Willie Ruiz, Mildred Ruiz-Sapp and Steven Sapp, portrays a full panoply of characters…At nearly three hours, the show could use some pruning and yet there are many moments of sheer exhilaration, particularly for people unhappy with the current political situation."
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Financial Times (UK)
November 15th, 2016

"An unusually timely work. Those old rallying cries certainly still pack a powerful rhetorical punch, which reverberates throughout the lively musical sequences…Under Liesl Tommy’s direction, the play can also become clunky whenever it tries to shift from a provocative Brechtian approach to a more self-effacing naturalistic style. There is nonetheless a continual sense of messy vibrancy here. The ensemble genuinely seems to be trying to work it all out on stage."
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Village Voice
November 16th, 2016

"A passionate ode to the radical histories of the Black Panthers and the Young Lords, exploring the necessity and danger of revolutionary dissent. Its timing couldn't be more apt…Between scenes, montage-style song and dance sequences explore the history of the parties, black and Puerto Rican identity, and the new generation's anxieties…These sequences are raucously enjoyable, but it's the quieter moments that sink in."
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November 28th, 2016

"Doesn’t live up to its grand ambitions...The cast has massive energy, singing, dancing, reciting tirelessly. But they’re pushing boulders uphill: The evening is overstuffed, overlong, and overblown. There is much emotion, little of it used to build character from caricature, and the complexities and legacies of both Panthers and Lords feel unexplored at the end of the exhausting night’s work. It’s not a fun party, nor a rewarding one."
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NY Theatre Guide
November 16th, 2016

"A brilliant collaboration of talents, highlighted by the finest ensemble cast that I have ever had the privilege to behold. More than that: it is a very fine play…It couldn’t be more timely. Director Liesl Tommy has done a masterful job here and she couldn’t have done it without Millicent Johnnie’s rousing choreography…I’ve never written these words before: 'Party People' is an important play. So, please do yourself a favor, and RUN to see it."
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Times Square Chronicles
November 21st, 2016

"The inclusive casting of all ages and ethnicities unites to tell the story as an informative presentation of this sensitive material. With bilingual songs and dialogue, dancing and reciting spoken word, this cast is a dynamo...Liesl Tommy’s direction is exciting and adds an energy that is explosive...This show is passionate, tempestuous, turbulent and a must-see in this political climate."
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Front Mezz Junkies
November 14th, 2016

“An exciting and provocative history lesson…It is a much-needed addition to our dialogue; although it is sometimes difficult to follow, the overall effect is intense…The main problem that arises while watching this provocative musical is that the young curators seem foolish in comparison with their elders. This may very well be the point, but it is also a structural problem…The musical numbers representing the historic battle become the most powerful moments of this uneven musical.”
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San Jose Mercury News
October 25th, 2014
For a previous production

"This is a powerful and raw documentary theater piece. While the nearly three-hour play feels too long and convoluted, it’s also an engrossing examination of the generation that believed in trying to change the world. Directed by Liesl Tommy and starring a riveting ensemble, ‘Party’ is an alternately thrilling and frustrating study of counterculture movements…If you let the production wash over you like a jagged theatrical collage, 'Party' will leave its mark on you."
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October 27th, 2014
For a previous production

"That conflict is part of a complex vision that makes 'Party' as intellectually stimulating as its fluid, nonstop action is overwhelming. The Panthers and the Lords are celebrated for their vision, courage and community programs. But they’re criticized as well…Intense, sharply performed scenes — from Oakland to Chicago and beyond — alternate with showstopping numbers by a charismatic Sapp, the irresistible Ruiz and magnetic Ruiz-Sapp…Power to the people, indeed."
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Theater Dogs
October 25th, 2014
For a previous production

"An ambitious, over-the-top show that leaves you feeling moved by the wheels of history and the vagaries of the human heart...What’s extraordinary about 'Party People' is how powerfully it works on its own terms...That’s not to say that 'Party People' is perfect...But missteps are rare in this 2 1/2-hour fantasia on race, revolution and justice...As relevant and as thought-provoking as it is, 'Party People' is also mightily entertaining."
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November 20th, 2014
For a previous production

"The writers, producers, and actors of 'Party People' make the generational contradiction the central theme of their work. That—along with the cleverness of the creation of this piece, the competence of the actors in capturing the contradictions of those times and these, and the brilliance of the staging—make 'Party People' one of the freshest, most original, most insightful, and most honest looks at those organizations and that era that we may have yet seen."
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