Closed 1h 30m
Smart Blonde
Midtown E
78

Smart Blonde NYC Reviews and Tickets

78%
(35 Reviews)
Positive
83%
Mixed
11%
Negative
6%
Members say
Great acting, Entertaining, Great singing, Delightful, Absorbing

About the Show

In this new play with music, Judy Holliday lays down a series of tracks about her rise to fame amidst the politics of the 1950s.

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Member Reviews (35)

76
Ambitious, Profound, Funny, Great singing

See it if A very good show about judy Holliday and the entertainment business. If you want to hear some good songs.

Don't see it if If you want a deep play that is less show biz and deeper.

78
Great singing, Great acting, Delightful, Clever, Absorbing

See it if Fractured memory play w/ singing honouring the talents of a yesteryear comedic siren.Likable actor confounds the role of the cinematic Ditz.

Don't see it if Clever sound booth structure makes also for a jumpy evening, unlike the similar "Looped."Bio-plays might not land ifthe source is unfamiliar

Critic Reviews (21)

March 26th, 2019

“As disjointed as Mr. Holtzman’s script is, Ms. Burns, who created the part in the play’s 2014 premiere, holds the production together...Burns captures Holliday’s vocal mannerisms, wit and comic timing. But she also connects with Holliday’s vulnerability. When Ms. Burns, who, refreshingly, does not wear a body microphone, melts into ‘What’ll I Do’ or ‘It must be Christmas’, it’s easy to forget who is singing. And that is not an impersonation, but a performance.”
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March 26th, 2019

“The frustratingly sketchy and episodic play somehow leaves you wanting more and less at the same time...A plethora of biographical material is dealt with in just 90 minutes, making it more inexplicable that the playwright also felt the need to musicalize the proceedings...Burns superbly conveys Holliday's charm, comic gifts and emotional complexity. And the supporting players handle their multiple assignments with protean skill."
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March 28th, 2019

"Will keep you enthralled from the first minute to the last...Get your tickets now for this unforgettable theatrical and musical experience...The score is wonderfully performed and perfectly designed to bring the story of 'Smart Blonde' full circle...The Design Team has done a top job of bringing the mood of the 1950's and 60's to the stage."
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March 27th, 2019

“’Smart Blonde’ is a collection of sound bites trying to pass as biographical drama...Trouble is, so much happens so quickly that none of it has any impact...The script's many factoids are presented without sufficient context...Burns creates a plausible version of the sometimes-troubled woman...It's a fascinating performance, filled with eccentric gestures that would seem false or bizarre on any other performer, but which on her are incontrovertibly right.”
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March 26th, 2019

“Holtzman's sketchy by-the-numbers bio play...Leaves us wanting more...Directed at a fast pace but without much ingenuity...The play is made up of short scenes about Holliday's life...’Smart Blonde’ touches upon much that begs for a richer and fuller treatment than what we are getting here...There is plenty of material to command a strong play or musical about Judy Holliday. Regrettably, this isn't it.”
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March 26th, 2019

"The actress does not offer a precise catalogue of Holliday’s attributes nor a step-by-step impersonation, but she smoothly and convincingly (and entertainingly) brings to life this representation...Instead of creating a compelling play, he offers episodes from the life of Judy Holliday. Many are highly amusing, especially as staged by Peter Flynn and breezily performed by three versatile actors who cover all bases...Burns is constantly and unflaggingly winning."
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April 1st, 2019

"Holliday’s learning how – and why – to inhabit the role of the dumb blonde is a strong throughline up to this point, but it falls short of effectively delineating all of Holliday’s complex life, and that structural flaw leaves this play less satisfying than Holliday deserves. Under the direction of Peter Flynn, the cast performances, however, do much to make up for this drawback."
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March 31st, 2019

“Willy Holtzman has written ‘Smart Blonde’ to amend this situation. ‘Smart Blonde’ takes on, perhaps, too much, telling Holliday's entire life in ultimately unsatisfactory tiny chunks, never digging deep enough, but held together by its hardworking star, Andréa Burns (who was just as terrific in ‘On Your Feet’ and ‘In the Heights’).”
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March 27th, 2019

“Although this production begins slow paced...it resolves into the backstory that is the heart and meat of ‘Smart Blonde’...In 90 minutes, we’re treated to a cast of multi-role performers...Throughout, we’re treated to songs that are interspersed at the right moments...You’ll be caught up in the engaging performances, beautifully directed by Peter Flynn, and the star quality of the well-chosen Andrea Burns as Judy Holliday.”
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March 26th, 2019

“’Smart Blonde’ is sprinkled with many of the songs Holliday covered...Despite her somewhat thin voice, Burns delivers these songs with great feeling...Flynn directs a cast of four...Although some characters come alive better than others, for the most part the cast is quite believable...A bit too ambitious for such a small production...Nevertheless, the show creates a very true picture of the life and times of its subject...A timely tribute to a very talented woman.”
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March 26th, 2019

"Burns gets to show off her priceless way with a wisecrack or put-down along with her remarkable ability to display raw emotional vulnerability. Further, while Holliday shot to stardom by playing the ultimate dumb blonde (Billie Dawn in 'Born Yesterday'), the real Judy was a brilliant and highly intellectual woman who had to subvert her smarter side in order to succeed in show business, something Burns' moving portrayal makes abundantly clear."
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March 30th, 2019

“Modest but fitfully effective…Can't avoid superficiality, or the sense that we're missing important things. One thing I definitely missed…is the lack of a single song from ‘Bells Are Ringing’…Burns performs what she's given with Holliday-like charm. She has a sweet personality and big smile, and, while she looks nothing like the original, really nails her speaking voice…Burns's supporting company lacks the versatility to cover their many roles with anything other than workmanlike portrayals.”
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March 30th, 2019

"Burns, though terrific, is not the typical choice for this role...Having been a Judy Holliday fan all my life, these were stories I knew and they barely scratched the surface. Burns is superb, but fails to really get Holliday’s singing complexity...Director Flynn keeps this show fast-paced, but the material had audience members looking at their phones. The play is more of a series of sketch comedies that makes you want to know more and one has to think was this a ploy to buy the book?"
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March 28th, 2019

“’Smart Blonde’ takes us through Judy Holiday’s life with dizzying rapidity. Because actors play multiple roles, it’s impossible to know who they are before identifying themselves...Holtzman works hard at integration, but clumsiness is all but unavoidable. The attempt to feature pivotal junctures includes too many bridging scenes...Editing would serve by illuminating better, not more. This doesn’t mean the piece is not entertaining, only that it’s difficult to get involved.”
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March 28th, 2019

"At numerous points, 'Smart Blonde' tugs at the heartstrings...Directed at a breakneck clip by Peter Flynn, this production features four superb actors...Smart Blonde is at its best when the cast is singing (and especially when they’re mimicking The Revuers). What’s disappointing is that, in this tour of Holliday’s biography (at once lightning-fast and bland), Holtzman affords the talented actors ample room for caricature but gives them scant opportunity for characterization."
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March 31st, 2019

"An affectionate, often affecting sketchbook of Holliday’s life...In its 90 minutes or so, it’s fairly cluttered, but then, so was Holliday’s life...The production’s bare-bones feeling doesn’t detract irretrievably; on the positive side, you could just say it’s all a coup de théâtre. But...the seemingly makeshift physical production values are all too apparent, diminishing clarity and dramatic effect. Holtzman’s writing and, particularly, Holliday’s story deserve more."
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March 29th, 2019

"It’s a rich life, and Andrea Burns delivers a more than passable impersonation...A pretty smart brunette, Burns doesn’t try to literally imitate Holliday—nobody could. But she does suggest much of what was special about her, and Holtzman’s retrospective of her life manages to touch on most of her notable achievements and relationships, though we’re still left a little hungry...Burns aptly conveys Holliday’s frustrations, and Holtzman gives her some ripe lines to express them."
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March 26th, 2019

“Unfortunately, the play’s approach to Holliday’s story is disappointingly uninspired. It’s a shame, since her life story is fascinating...The story hits all the expected beats, but the vignettes themselves rarely rise above basic exposition of biographical details, with little room for genuine dramatic expansion...Burns, an extremely talented and funny actress in her own right, falls short of completely embodying her, but through no fault of her own. She still gives a charming and grounded performance.”
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November 25th, 2014

"This is a drama about a Holliday with two L’s — actress Judy Holliday...Andrea Burns is just about perfect in portraying Holliday and in making seamless shifts between her two identities...Both Brody and Heller are fine actors who work overtime to contribute reality and nuance to a multiplicity of characters. But, while this cross-gender role-playing may add to the fun of comedies...it works less well in a drama where people are dealing with real-life issues."
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November 24th, 2014

"It’s a tumultuous tale of triumph and tragedy spinning around in the recording studio set. It’s a retrospective of some of the best days and worst days of her life...Andrea Burns deftly plays Holliday with gusto...It’s a smart script from playwright Willy Holtzman, but it is enhanced by kinetic direction of Peter Flynn...Holtzman and Flynn are an excellent combination. Add Burns, Brody and Heller and you have a magical evening."
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November 26th, 2014

"Holtzman covers a lot of ground in this 90-minute play...This play is overloaded with incident, but without enough time to explore any of it. Everything is here and it's like having very talented people read you a Wikipedia entry...Flynn's direction is bursting with energy and movement...There's a great story to be got from Holliday's life and I urge Holtzman to continue with his noble quest."
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