"'Songbird' proves to be one of the more successful attempts to transpose Chekhov’s major plays...Powered by a terrific country score, with a strong assist from Kimmel’s smart contemporary version of the text, the show succeeds in snugly reframing the story in the world of country music...Under the finely honed direction of JV Mercanti, all the performers are excellent...The production makes up in earthy humor what it may lack in emotional depth." Full Review
"With gorgeous original songs, 'Songbird' is an attractive, albeit sleepy new musical with a distinctively American sound...While the musical performances are spot-on, Michael Kimmel's book scenes make a twee first impression that eventually fades to maudlin...director J.V. Mercanti is never able to push beyond the theme park artifice of the script, leading to our somewhat shallow connection to the story and characters." Full Review
"The idea of setting 'The Seagull' to a Nashville beat isn't entirely bad. But it would probably take a far more ambitious and original approach to make it work, one less slavishly devoted to the original's character and plot structure. 'Songbird' is weighed down by the effort of the book's author, Michael Kimmel, to transpose every detail of the original play into a new context. The result is often airless, an act of pedantry rather than a vital work of drama." Full Review
"Chekhov’s delicate interplay among characters and his reliance on subtextual psychological themes become soap opera theatrics and sudden, superficial, emotional blowups. Covering up the lack of believable transitions and interplay are Ms. Pritchard’s sprightly and even moving songs, mostly C&W but also including blues and rock; the songs are mostly stand-alone and don't help further the plot, as in more conventional musicals. But they're probably the strongest reason for visiting 'Songbird.'" Full Review
"Pritchard pens warm, catchy tunes, performed with casual ease by the talented cast. The large ensemble genuinely seems to be having fun with each other in JV Mercanti's likable production…Kimmel doesn’t do the greatest job of blending music and story...He has given himself the unenviable task of trying to condense the plot of a four-act Russian classic—and it does feel squeezed." Full Review
"If your heart, unlike mine, leaps up at the prospect of 'The Seagull' retooled as a Grand Ole Opry-style musical set in a Tennessee bar, then 'Songbird' is for you...Chekhov's characters and the emotions they unleash are universal. No matter what the setting into which they're plopped, they retain the Russian playwright's dramedy impact. Of course, that's if they're well played, which, it's a pleasure to say, they are." Full Review
"Under JV Mercanti's direction the cast sails from song to dialogue to song. The show overall projects the sense of a much fuller, run down, smoke-filled honky tonk bar in Nashville...There isn't an actor involved in the various sub plots who doesn't at several points grab a guitar and burst into a rousing melody...But for all its fun, 'Songbird' does end sadly. The little bluebird that Dean finds is after all an omen — and Kimmel and Prichard's big-little musical exists courtesy of Chekhov's... Full Review
"Thanks to Michael Kimmel’s rich text, it is a remarkably rich retelling of Chekhov’s classic, following the characters, their conflicts, and their tortured stories in exacting parallel progression...Under JV Mercanti’s scrupulous and precise direction, the ensemble cast rips into Michael Kimmel’s text with passion and exposes every nuance of the script with exacting honesty and authenticity." Full Review
"'Songbird' is not only an excellent Americanized version of the Chekhov classic but works beautifully in its own right. If it has any flaws, it is that it could use more ideas beyond its source material. Even though the plot will be familiar to those who know 'The Seagull,' it is still a moving, engrossing musical experience. Incidentally, the bird that Dean accidentally kills here is a bluebird, more fitting for a Nashville story." Full Review
"Without previous knowledge of the source material, you’d be scratching your head trying to piece together a plot…It’s a shame that the structure of the text prevents 'Songbird' from soaring because Lauren Pritchard’s music is something special. …Material aside, 'Songbird' is stacked with talent...Once the team decides whether it’s a play with music or a musical, going back to the drawing board will allow the show to fly." Full Review
"Truly, though, this is an ensemble effort, and everyone contributes 110 percent. I do believe, however, that the overall production would have been strengthened by using Chekhov as inspiration rather than as a template. As it stands, too much emphasis has been placed on staying true to 'The Seagull,' leading to predictable and melodramatic plot turns. Despite a slew of first-rate performances, 'Songbird' needs some breathing room of its own in order to soar." Full Review
"While respecting Chekhov’s story, Kimmel’s scenario, realised smartly under JV Mercanti’s knowing direction, clips along briskly, avoiding the sense of ennui that often colours the staging of Chekhov’s plays. Pritchard’s score further keeps things lively with a variety of tempos and moods, while remaining within the country and western realm..It stands on its own as an engaging piece of musical theatre." Full Review
"The show is infused with country music, sung and played by the actors. The music not only keeps the play skipping along where a true Chekov play would be rambling, it also intensifies the emotional messages. As the old saying goes, when you can't say it, sing it... This may be the most spirited play with music onstage in a long time." Full Review
"This musical is one of my favorite shows of the past month...'Songbird' unfolds so naturally as though it wasn’t informed by a play from the late 1800s; it appears to operate entirely on its own, with catchy country music to boot. I’m not normally a big fan of that genre but I eagerly ate up all the music presented here. I can’t wait for the next incarnation of this musical." Full Review
"'Songbird' stands fully on its own, without any knowledge of 'The Seagull' required to understand or enjoy the show. J.V. Mercanti, the Director, has done an admirable job working with a great set of actors, who happen to be talented musicians. 'Songbird' is a great piece." Full Review
"Playwright Michael Kimmel and songwriter Lauren Pritchard gambled by setting 'Songbird', their adaptation of 'The Seagull' inside a messy nest of contemporary Nashville musicians. But the resulting work is a fervent theatrical experience that deserves a long, happy future…Engaging performances are delivered by just about everybody…Pritchard’s remarkably diverse score both explicates character and shapes conflict.” Full Review
"For all the connections with Chekhov, and all the story’s rich complexities of pure art and commerce, love and jealousy, betrayal and death, the tone of 'Songbird' lifts off from the moody symbolism of Chekhov’s play into its own joy, rising on the wings of songs wonderful at the time they’re heard, though hard to remember after, and a clever, witty book. I have to think that – once he caught on to the idea — Chekhov would have loved 'Songbird.'" Full Review
"The book is effective and the songs soar. There's just one problem: they don't add up to a musical. The entire score is diegetic, which doesn't have to be a negative, but in this case it is...The more I think about it, the more I would prefer to see an evening just of Lauren Pritchard's work, sung by those terrific singers. 'The Seagull' plot kinda got in the way." Full Review
"So if you’ve seen 'The Seagull,' there might not seem to be much point in your attending 'Songbird' as well, since the musical breaks no new ground and won’t really add to your understanding of the human condition – except for one thing: the cast of 'Songbird' is absolutely superb and they have done a terrific job with the material they have been given." Full Review
"It’s a little musical with a big heart…Michael Kimmel has done a fantastic job at translating the grandness of 'The Seagull' into a two hour show that is modern, relatable, and features great parts...'Songbird’s' compact nature does result in some heavy-handed moments and the whole thing feels slightly incomplete... But overall the story channels the overwhelming sadness of 'The Seagull' and adds in a little more laughter…Lauren Pritchard’s beautiful music is the reason to see 'Songbird.'" Full Review
"The greatest achievement of this production is not how well it translates Chekov’s classic tale of tragic love and relentless ambition into a contemporary Nashville setting (it does, beautifully). Rather, it’s how the stellar script, score and cast make the viewer virtually forget the source material and become completely engrossed in these characters’ travails…Broadway theatre veteran Kate Baldwin commands the role of Tammy Trip." Full Review
"The requisite themes of 'The Seagull' are threaded throughout and each character created in beautiful detail. There’s an enormous amount of talent in the cast and they are ably directed…'Songbird' doesn’t quite thrill. The concept is promising, the actors beautifully cast and clearly interesting, but the music and lyrics are predictable. Somehow the country and western conceit pulls 'The Seagull' into cliché...Nevertheless, it’s a worthwhile experience, created with heart and talent." Full Review
"The plot sticks very closely to Chekhov’s original, so the question becomes does the Russian classic work in this new setting? The surprising answer is yes, if mostly because of the heel-tapping music...In between the songs there’s a lot of wistful talking and whiskey drinking – again reminiscent of Chekhov... Entertaining as this all is, it’s hard to engage too deeply in the characters’ fate, and there are moments when you wish they would all just stop talking and do what they do best: sing." Full Review
"Do you like country music? I don’t…unless I’m listening to it, and, boy, did I like 'Songbird.' With original music and lyrics by Lauren Pritchard and a flavorful book by Michael Kimmel, 'Songbird' is as original a musical as they come...With a uniformly excellent ten-member cast, most of whom also play one or more instruments, the twangy singing, snappy stepping and relationship-rich story come together seamlessly...At two hours, including intermission, 'Songbird' is just right." Full Review
See it if you like country western music and Chekhov (actually, make that "or" to widen the audience). Update of The Seagull worked. Engrossing.
Don't see it if you truly dislike CW songs. Some of the lyrics were annoyingly insipid, but the voices were excellent. Good musicianship.
See it if you love country music, intimate staging, and contemporary approaches to classic plays.
Don't see it if you dislike country music or need a lot of scenery/set changes in order to enjoy a musical.
See it if you're a fan of new takes on old stories or fun music, even if you don't like country music. I don't like country but the music was great
Don't see it if you're not a fan of The Seagull by Chekhov or if the thought of listening to country music really makes you want to die
See it if Kate Baldwin is mesmerizing and believable as a star because she is one. The score is great.
Don't see it if The book is terrible. Some of the performances are embarrassingly bad. Story/characters underdeveloped.
See it if you would like seeing a classic Russian play revamped in Grand Ole Opry style. Acting, score, singing worth the visit.
Don't see it if you don't like plays about dysfunctional relationships. The songs are original and beautifully sung, but if you really hate country music..
See it if Want to hear Kacie tear it up, are skeptical about country Chekov, are up for country if it's this truly soulful
Don't see it if Will be distracted by playing Acting Choice or Bad Direction anytime certain characters are onstage. Have already seen Nashville.
See it if You like country music, shows with darker themes but light hearts, and a real message about how our relationships and actions affect others
Don't see it if You don't like real country music (as opposed to country-pop)
See it if You're a fan of country music or stories exploring themes of alcoholism, fame and its effect on relationships. Kate Baldwin is Fantastic!
Don't see it if You don't like country music or slower paced shows. Baldwin electrifies every scene but the show drags a bit when she's not on stage.
See it if you want to witness a fantastic cast featuring the immensely talented Kate Baldwin. You don't have to like Chekhov to appreciate this show.
Don't see it if you don't like Country music.
See it if you know The Seagull inside and out and want to play spot-the-references. You like good country music.
Don't see it if you hate country and need a plot that makes any sense whatsoever without completely extraneous and unfulfilled side plots.
See it if You don't mind a somewhat slow book, like country music, and like diagenic performances in a musical
Don't see it if You need things to move along fast or an intricate set or dancing
See it if you want to see a beautiful American translation of Chekhov into the heart of Country music. Nashville meets The Seagull w/ BEAUTIFUL songs.
Don't see it if you hate country music or Chekhov (though I usually am bored by Chekhov but LOVED this).
See it if you want to see a superb (and musical) adaptation of Chekhov's "Seagull" that will reinforce the genius of the original text.
Don't see it if you will be bothered by a little literary clumsiness resulting from incorporating songs into a very faithful adaptation.
Get alerts about your favorite artists and theater companies