Ends Nov 10 | 2h 15m | East Village

Soft Power

From 78 member  reviews
Members say: Ambitious, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Entertaining, Clever

About the show

Tony Award winners David Henry Hwang ("M. Butterfly") and Jeanine Tesori ("Fun Home," "Caroline, or Change") bring their new musical-within-a-play to The Public for its New York premiere. More…

From the show:

One of the most exciting theatrical collaborations in recent memory, SOFT POWER is an exploration of America's current place in the world, told through an East-West musical from China's point of view, in which a theater producer from Shanghai forges a powerful bond with Hillary Clinton. SOFT POWER is a fever dream of modern American politics amidst global conversations, asking us all – why do we love democracy? And should we? 

Featuring the choreography of Tony nominee Sam Pinkleton (Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812), Tony nominee Leigh Silverman (Violet, Yellow Face, Wild Goose Dreams) directs this exhilarating new show The Los Angeles Times calls “smart & wonderfully funny. A meeting of dauntingly innovative theatrical minds.”


Member Reviews (78)

MEMBERS SAY:

Ambitious, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Entertaining, Clever
76
Avg Score

90
Great staging, Confusing, Clever, Ambitious, Absorbing

See it if you are a fan of original musical theatre pieces. This is not based on a movie from the 80's or 90's.

Don't see it if you are easily confused. There is a lot going on, so concentration is imperative.

Also This is a very ambitious musical. It can get cloudy at times, but stay... Read more Read less

87
Great writing, Great acting, Great singing, Entertaining, Clever

See it if A nearly all-Asian cast turns the cliches we sadly have about Asia on its head, while addressing real world issues. Great music.

Don't see it if If you're an American who can't take a joke about some of our most cherished traditions, you might not like this.

75
Quirky, Great singing, Funny, Entertaining, Ambitious

See it if A musical within a play that reverses The King and I problems, a variety of songs that seem to reference other musicals incl. My Fair Lady

Don't see it if you don't like busy and glitz, too much going on,too many points, political humor

Also Some people laughed loudly and a few left at intermission. Second half... Read more Read less

85
Quirky, Great singing, Edgy, Dizzying, Ambitious

See it if you have a true open mind -- to not only what makes interesting theater but also to geopolitical ideas you may find unappealing

Don't see it if stories about people outside America disinterest you or you are looking for a traditional musical

85
Clever, Relevant, Great staging, Great acting, Delightful

See it if You appreciate clever musicals , Great staging, on current political themes w an irreverent spin

Don't see it if The second act is a bit tidy wanting to leave you with an upbeat hopeful air that’s a bit thin after the fabulous first act

78
Saccharine, Satirical

See it if you're East Asian.

Don't see it if you're the worst.

Also I'm East Asian and I wish it were better. ... Read more Read less

75
Soft power = a persuasive approach to international relations, typically involving the use of cultural influence.

See it if the world from China’s point of view. Our democracy is under siege! This is America! Good fortune will follow, if we somehow survive.

Don't see it if “play with a musical”, Chinese-American identity, stereotypes, hate crimes, voting system, guns, democracy, infidelity, cultural differences

Also If DHH can survive a knife attack, is it possible for our country to s... Read more Read less

99
Queen and i, American patriotism at core, Full house standing ovations, Multi-layered parody, Creators have guts!

See it if You ever concerned about American’s future post-election; High-energy parody drives audience into constant laughter; discuss Sino-American

Don't see it if .. relationship in a witty way; could be offensive to some - Queen (Hilary) & I, Book of ‘Merica; 2 hrs with 1 intermission; Ends 11/10;

74
Different, Thought-provoking, Entertaining, Cultural incite, Cultural insight

See it if Fun, pleasant musical that looks at America through a different lens, but the satire and humor often felt preachy. Some good music, worth it

Don't see it if Don't like stories that grow from a real-life event. Have had enough political theater involving current personalities.

82
Great staging, Great singing, Clever, Delightful, Absorbing

See it if You like new musicals. You like politically relevant theater.

Don't see it if You only like traditional musicals by Rogers and Hammerstein, Sondheim, etc and don’t appreciate parodies.

Also I missed so many of the subtleties of this show that I want to see it ... Read more Read less

79
Entertaining, Relevant, Confusing, Ambitious, Clever

See it if you appreciate theater that’s pushes boundaries. It’s relevant and unpredictable but also very entertaining.

Don't see it if you want linear stories or hummable music. It’s unconventional and thought provoking, but also lots of fun.

88
Thought-provoking, Hilarious, Great singing, Great staging, Ambitious

See it if You want to see a show with all Asian cast about America and China, elections, gun violence, etc.. in a most ridiculously funny way.

Don't see it if You expect to see a serious political play; you are not interested in musicals; or you like simple storylines.

95
Great staging, Great acting, Funny, Entertaining, Ambitious

See it if you want to understand how foreigners see us and what it means to be American. It's satire but with a story and a message. I loved it!

Don't see it if you don't like thought-provoking and funny musicals

54
Banal, Dated, Disappointing, Cliched, Confusing

See it if See it if you like mediocre show tunes and a lot of mylar.

Don't see it if If you like a cohesive story and songs with interesting lyrics.

75
Traumatic, Thought-provoking, Intense, Edgy

See it if You like edgy musicals.

Don't see it if If you don't like political theater.

88
Thought-provoking, Relevant, Entertaining, Clever

See it if Entertaining and smart. Politically charged and simultaneously delightful. The kind of show that could be around for awhile.

Don't see it if You don’t want to think while you are watching a show.....you don’t have an appreciation for classic shows or contemporary politics.

During previews
62
Well-played, A few memorable songs, Intermittently moving personal drama, Flatfooted political satire, Flatfooted parody

See it if you're a fan of Hwang or Tesori & want to see anything they do; you want to see any art that deals with feeling foreign in the USA.

Don't see it if you want a fresh or coherent musical; flatfooted parody or satire is for you so much screeching chalk on the blackboard.

Also At several points in playwright David Hwang’s “Soft Power” the charact... Read more Read less

During previews
84
Broad, Funny, Clever, Ambitious, Absorbing

See it if you're a fan of Hwang or Tesori, like subversive, original musicals & references to classic show tunes, like shows inspired by real life

Don't see it if Don't like satire, not a fan of the classic show tune style, don't want to see HIllary C. depicted, not into topics like dominance of Chines

During previews
81
If you want to see hillary clinton as a romantic lead in a wildly imaginative take-off on "the king and i," this musical w/i a play may be for you; if you like your musicals neat & tidy, maybe not

See it if brilliant riff on "The King and I" told from Chinese perspective; wild satire of US democracy & Trumpism; plus a piercing love story

Don't see it if confusing; lush score not work well w/ jagged satire; not for those who dislike uber-meta/self-aware vehicles

Also "Soft Power" will be hard for some people 2 get comfortable w because ... Read more Read less

During previews
77
Quirky, Intelligent, Insightful, Entertaining, Satirical

See it if you enjoy good acting/singing, some hysterical musical parody, lots of energy, political satire, East meets West themes, wonderful orchestra

Don't see it if looking for something memorable & moving; score is inconsistent; needs tightening. The play is enjoyable enough but wanted something more .

During previews
69
Disappointing, Indulgent, Relevant, Great staging, Entertaining

See it if you are a fan of Tesori or Hwang, neither of whom is at their best here, or if you like satire, no matter how lame.

Don't see it if you are expecting a coherent book that says anything of substance about US-China relations, Hillary, "heart" vs. "face" or our current mess.

Also There is so much talent at work that it is a terrible disappointment t... Read more Read less

During previews
82
Intelligent, Ambitious, Stilted, Baffling if you haven’t seen the king and i, Dizzying

See it if you decode the agenda behind the art/content you consume and want to see that mental activity externalized in metamusical form.

Don't see it if you’d rather see an enveloping story than a knotty analogy (made possible via dream sequence); you’re for the GOP. Semi stilted but…

Also …worthwhile if you believe art takes on its own civic life—in which it... Read more Read less

During previews
85
Relevant, Intelligent, Entertaining, Clever, Ambitious

See it if you enjoy creative, thought provoking theater. Show was an unexpected take on the American musical - a pleasant surprise.

Don't see it if you are tired of hearing about the last presidential election and don't want to see a tap dancing Hillary Clinton.

During previews
70
Entertaining, Confusing, Funny

See it if You like Hwang. Clever interesting original. Lots of wigs, costumes, dance numbers; need to listen and pay attention.

Don't see it if You want a clear cut plot. This is confusing. Part dream, part zaney musical. Hard to follow. Very political.

During previews
75
Relevant, Thought-provoking, Confusing, Ambitious, Clever

See it if You like your theater to make you think and not spoon feed all the answers, just more questions .

Don't see it if You want traditional chronology.

Also Tesori writes beautifully for a large orchestra and the producers have... Read more Read less


October 15th, 2019
"In the Musical ‘Soft Power,’ China Whistles the Tune: A complex look at democracy from an Asian perspective turns 'The King and I' inside out."
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October 15th, 2019
"The awkward first 30 minutes of 'Soft Power' aren't musical at all, and we can tell from all the throat-clearing that the team feels hesitant about jumping into such a wild-spirited spoof…When Tesori's lush music starts, the play sighs with relief: Nothing, it turns out, buoys your post-2016 spi...
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October 15th, 2019
"Flipping the Classic Musical Script in 'Soft Power'"
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October 15th, 2019
"Tony Award winners David Henry Hwang and Jeanine Tesori collaborate on a 'musical-within-a-play,' satirizing American-Chinese relations and featuring a post-election Hillary Clinton as a major character."
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