Already closed | 2h 15m | East Village

Soft Power

From 148 member  reviews
Members say: Ambitious, Clever, Entertaining, Thought-provoking, Relevant

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 (148)


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

Banal, Aimless, Uneven, Confusing, Lost

See it if some nice tunes derivative of known Broadway musicals. Nice sets. Ricamora is the only saving grace.

Don't see it if Other than Ricamora, the acting is really not great. This is aimless and all over the place. What is the plot?

Also It's like they had picked catchy songs from Broadway musicals (King & ... Read more Read less

Chaotic, Unfocused, Unconventional, Uneven

See it if You want to see an original musical. It's well intentioned.

Don't see it if Show was all over the place. First Act has some strange musical numbers like the Hillary Clinton burlesque number in McDonalds... Strange.

Quirky, Overrated, Fluffy, Banal

See it if If you want to see something original at the public. It gets confusing at times to what they try to portray in the show.

Don't see it if If you dont like light weight. It's nothing great. As lite as Hillary and the Hillary at Mc Donalds.

Repetitive, Cultural, Quirky, Lush, Biting

See it if Musical satire showing a warped version of US culture from a Chinese perspective. Lush music w/full orchestra & strong vocals.

Don't see it if No real plot; a collection of SNL-like sketches. Repeated themes get tiresome: guns, democracy, romantic love vs familial duty.

Also The song I liked best featured a dejected Hillary Clinton bingeing on ... Read more Read less

Uneven, Ambitious, Disappointing, Lightweight, Indulgent

See it if u want to see a very meta geopolitical musical that takes on Hwang's very real personal trauma & America's very real political drama.

Don't see it if u hope for a new work of genius from this powerhouse creative team; ur not prepared to accept an overstuffed but half-baked work-in-progress

Also Act I is a confusing, self-indulgent, awkward mess of styles, stories,... Read more Read less

Resonant, Thought-provoking, Great staging, Disappointing, Ambitious

See it if Tesori's lush score, Silverman's robust staging & Ramos' lavish designs all conspire to strengthen Hwang's interesting but overstuffed drama

Don't see it if A horrible opening segment gradually opens up to reveal a panoramic view of America & it's discontents Political & personal never quite gel

Satirical, Relevant, Great staging, Clever, Ambitious

See it if Grand is the musical-play that seeks to engage the target audience it singles out to indict:USA leads culture after rescuing the unaware.

Don't see it if Meta multi-genred yellow perspective of the white worldview using accepted Asian cliches are deterrents to serving both involved parties.

Also Could "Power" turn on Peoria and Beijing?

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

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.

Great singing, Indulgent, Dizzying, Glorious music, Ambitious

See it if see notes

Don't see it if see notes

Also It might have been better calling this musical SOFT BALL. It is lightw... Read more Read less

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

Creative, Resonant, Indulgent, Relevant, Ambitious

See it if you’d enjoy a unique take on being an American when America doesn’t always see you or treat you as such or you like political humor w/depth.

Don't see it if you are prone to white fragility & will behave like that pressed white girl angry that she didn’t see herself represented in Slave Play. :b

Also Slightly uneven but definitely worthwhile.

Ambitious, Tired acting, Flaccid, Indulgent

See it if ...political & personal reaction to a physical attack & 2016 election done up in song & dance w references to The King & I attracts you

Don't see it if expect finished product. Plot needs editing, lead actress seems weary, too many directions for 105 minute show. 1st act entertaining.


See it if As an Asian American, moved to watch a stage full of Asian American cast singing and performing in a distinctly Chinese-American story.

Don't see it if Satire about current state of America annoys you, esp. in comparison with China. Guns, white supremacy, tiki torches are triggering.

Also Diversity: all Asian American cast except for one white female actor.... Read more Read less

Funny, Thought-provoking, Resonant, Clever

See it if You enjoy satire, The King and I, and musicals. This had it all. Aspects of this play were clever and it was great to see an all Asian cast

Don't see it if If you expect a coherent script as this was not. I do commend the Public Theater for taking a chance on this play as it was something new.

Ambitious, Banal, Disappointing, Indulgent, Slow

See it if and only if you are a fan of playwright David Henry Hwang.

Don't see it if you were expecting a play as powerful as M. Butterfly because you will be disappointed.

Also Wikipedia defines the term SOFT POWER as the ability to attract and co... Read more Read less

Confusing at times, Informative, Outspoken, A s t o n i s h i n g ! ! !

See it if First act found me open mouthed, laughing at one amazing scene after another. Outspoken about status of Asian Americans in US, political

Don't see it if you want a traditional musical, non-challenging, ruffles no feathers. Questions US China, our system, heroes, Lies of equality in this land

Ambitious, Intelligent, Relevant, Clever

See it if you're a fan of classic musicals and want to see the structure handled from another race and culture's point of view.

Don't see it if you aren't interested in seeing a musical where every aspect should be viewed beyond the surface level.

Must see, Indulgent, Intelligent, Confusing, Dizzying

See it if this is a thrilling, new, political (meta-)musical with a lot to say about the state of the theatre and the world.

Don't see it if there's a lot going on, and for a while, it doesn't seem like it's going to be a musical. When it is, there's a sharp satirical edge.

Also I decided that trying to explain this show would turn people off, but ... Read more Read less

Dizzying, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Resonant, Enchanting

See it if You want to see a very unique musical that works both as a relevant piece of theatre but also contains many wonderful homages.

Don't see it if You dislike musicals that are thematically spread a bit thin and have non-linear plots and meta moments.

Also “Musicals can be very tricky... when you deliver something and you put... Read more Read less

Indulgent, Intelligent, Entertaining, Ambitious, Clever

See it if You want a fresh take on race, identity, and the state of current musicals. It shoots for the moon, and occasionally gets there.

Don't see it if You’re looking for a fully finished, polished musical. I could see where this might end up, and enjoyed it, but it still needs work.

Smart, Well staged, Form breaking, Entertaining, Ambitious

See it if You want to see a form breaking musical that blends satire with smart, sincere political commentary.

Don't see it if You cannot overlook some odd moments in Act 1.

Great writing, Funny, Entertaining, Clever, Absorbing

See it if Funny satirical & earnest all at once exploration of cultural identity/confusion/appropriation filtered through 2016 election and musicals

Don't see it if It’s wild and divergent and tone shifts at all points but so bold and clever and big hearted it’s worth a try

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

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

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."
read more
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...
read more
October 15th, 2019
"Flipping the Classic Musical Script in 'Soft Power'"
read more
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."
read more

Related content