"This mounting is pretty obviously a workshop more than anything else...Still, there's a lot to cherish in this piece, which still needs work but is on the right track...The first act is a simultaneous mix of too much and too little expository information...But once Cat Jones comes on stage, the show takes off...The second act, however, plays more like an outline than a fully fleshed out story...A cheerfully optimistic piece that encourages audiences to dream big." Full Review
"A promissory note for a show not yet fully conceived...The characters are little more than attitudes in period clothing. The songs are like placeholders...And the book consists of a series of big moments lacking the connective tissue that would string them together into a meaningful narrative. Furthermore, much of what happens is downright odd, in dire need of further explanation...Birch's staging is solid enough, but she can't do much to straighten out the sketchy, jumbled script." Full Review
“If your theatergoing sweet tooth craves a sugar bun of a rags-to-riches show business musical, you might consider tasting 'Sweetee'...It's got plenty of gooey plot implausibilities and clichés that stick in your gullet, but it sings a song of social significance and has an appealing cast, a tuneful score, and a sprightly staging...The script is loaded with stereotypical characters, and the narrative not only has too many loosely connected scenes but can be annoyingly predictable.” Full Review
"The tuner certainly has the feel of someone awkwardly transferring the sprawling events of a complicated narrative from page to stage...Nevertheless, much can be forgiven in a musical that so firmly has it heart in the right place...Its pluses are many, starting with strong voiced Tyson...Director-choreographer Birch has her keen way with the cast...The songs are always tunefully serviceable...The ballads have some power but maybe aren’t the kind auditors long to hear over and over again." Full Review
“Implausible…The casting of Ms. Tyson as this amazing singer makes no sense considering Morgan Siobhan Green has the better voice…Mr. James has that leading-man persona and Alladin is a standout. I take my hat off to these performers who were given material that is untuneful, lyrically a bore, and a book that seems more community theater than Off-Broadway. What does stand out is Tim Mackabee's set and the off-stage band that made the most of this material.” Full Review
“There is nothing very wrong with Gail Kriegel's new musical, ‘Sweetee,’ other than that it seems very familiar and derivative. An on-the-road story set in the racially divided Deep South 1936-1942 and ultimately ending up in New York, it resembles the social commentary Warner Brothers films of the late thirties...While the music is catchy, Kriegel's lyrics are mainly clichés and don't forward the plot one tiny bit. Her melodramatic story is both repetitious and predictable.” Full Review
"Certainly, there is potential for a compelling work within this outline. But sadly 'Sweetee' is altogether sketchy as the story plays out through a series of short, poorly connected scenes...Of the cast, Jelani Alladin is the standout, while Jordan Tyson shows she is likely to evolve into an excellent performer...However, while the show may encompass big dreams for its characters and its creator, it will take a great deal of continued work to bring 'Sweetee' to stage-worthy readiness." Full Review
“A charmer of a well-cast little musical…Best of all, it has in the title role Jordan Tyson, a highly appealing actress with a dynamic, infectious voice. She is worth a special trip and so is this standout show…The plot is a stretch but the performers, Birch’s astute staging, and the appeal of the score dominate…The love aspects may be clichéd, but there is an overall spirit that ignites, and a good feeling emerges when the company gathers for a singing finale.” Full Review
"The Depression-era South is the fearful setting for much of the poignant, uplifting and soulful musical 'Sweetee' in a limited, must-see run. 'Sweetee' is a unified, dynamic production that is well-acted, lyrically sung, precisely directed/choreographed, staged and set with minimalist brilliance. Gail Kriegel demonstrates her prodigious talents (book, lyrics and music), in her thoughtful characterizations, developing story line and versatile command of music genres." Full Review
"An exuberant quintet of ragtag youthful music-makers makes a lot of 'Sweetee' quite a satisfying theatrical journey...Birch’s fluid staging keeps the picaresque story pushing ahead with clarity and spirit, using the intimate venue and her talented cast to good advantage...Kriegel’s storytelling hits some bumpy patches, with plot developments that threaten to turn really dark and then somehow get glossed over…‘Sweetee’ may not yet be a total confection, but she’s a gal worth keeping an eye on.” Full Review
“The scenes are sketchy, but the show moves swiftly under the sure hand of director-choreographer Patricia Birch...Tyson’s singing and youthful energy enliven the spirituality of the gospel and hymn songs of the Reverend's band…Many songs are just short snippets and at least four are from the hymn/folk songbook…'Sweetee' has heart but it needs CPR in plot and music to make this show a credible theatrical event." Full Review
"The use of the space is well thought out and allows for a seamless and unencumbered telling of the story. Yet the story itself is a bit scattered...While the show attempts to incorporate an abundance of ideas and goes in many directions, it does not fully commit to any single choice...Overall, I enjoyed the show. The actors are lively, engaging and charismatic...But in the end I wanted a stronger emotional attachment to the characters and their lives." Full Review
"The score is by far the best thing about 'Sweetee.' And it's definitely a show in which the music takes center stage - the play often feels like it's all built around the musical numbers. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Still, I could have wished for a little more story at times, and some further character development might not have been a bad idea...But for the most part, 'Sweetee' rolls along at a nice pace, featuring characters who are lovable underdogs." Full Review
“'Sweetee' is a delight. It is a very entertaining show with an interesting plot and fascinating characters…It is definitely worth seeing. The acting in the show is extremely good…There is not one role that has not been perfectly cast. The songs in the show are quite engaging as well…This is a show that definitely stirs your emotions…If you like theater that really touches you emotionally, you will love this show.” Full Review
See it if If you like a musical that's still in its workshop stage. If you like better-than-average singing. If you like shows that are slightly edgy!
Don't see it if You're not a fan of hearing the "N" word said by white men. If you're expecting a Broadway Musical Production. If you hate a minimalist set.
See it if You like a good musical with a talented cast and good singing around a topic of race, prejudice, redemption and inner strength
Don't see it if You don't like small theater. The cast filled the stage... well done
See it if you want to see a mildly entertaining musical about an orphan singing troupe in the 1940's South, and all the hardships in a weak musical
Don't see it if you don't want to see a musical that should have been moving and heartwarming, but lacked that emotional punch and connection.
See it if you like experiencing unknown musicals and don't mind a bare bones production... There are lots of talented people in the cast...
Don't see it if you want a show that's in a big venue with elaborate sets and costumes...
See it if Not a bad seat in the house given three qtr thrust. Young cast supplies as much pluck as possible. Lead's suitor feels more like lead.
Don't see it if Mediocre, forgettable songs. Lead is sweet and charming, but lacked presence. How many shows about orphans can audiences endure?
See it if you'd enjoy listening to great music, strong singers, & experiencing a debuting ingenue. Musically entertaining; sadly, script is very weak.
Don't see it if you're expecting a BIG epic musical. Minimal set, though perfect for small house. Show has SO much potential, just not quite fulfilled yet.
See it if you enjoy new musicals, black singing groups in the 30's-40's, fan of jazz and gospel, tracing growth of a shy young female to assertiveness
Don't see it if musicals in development are not your thing, issues of abuse discomfort you, expect large production numbers, too much coincidence
See it if You want to hear very talented singers. You like Southern-style music. You want a musical w/a social message.
Don't see it if You want good acting from the whole cast: some are painful! You want a clear story: there are unexplained plot points & time jumps.
See it if You love musicals and are eager to support a hard working cast of seasoned and up and coming performers.
Don't see it if You're interested in strong plot lines, creative staging or unique set design. This set and the use of it reminded me of Color Purple.
See it if you want to see a well acted show with a touching story and nice music.
Don't see it if you don't like shows about kids that form bands or that deal with big issues like poverty and racial injustice.
See it if You like small ensembles with varying talents. Costumes and a few moments are good, but the cast is not well-served by the script.
Don't see it if You want creative staging or sets. Although the cast works hard, at times it felt merely like a good high school production.
See it if you're interested in new musicals, know the movie, want to see young up-and-coming performers, are interested in a jazz-inflected musical.
Don't see it if you're expecting a full budget off-Broadway musical. This is an off-off or workshop production in an off-Broadway space.
See it if You like to see a developing musical with a super cast, great jazzy score, and a wonderful group of talent.
Don't see it if If you need a fully staged musical with full set. You can use you imagination with Sweetee and it's wonderful
See it if you like old style music in an intimate venue & open stage style. It adds to the theater experience in a good way.
Don't see it if you expect big production numbers on a big stage with only lively musical numbers, as this has a lot of melancholic but enjoyable songs too.
See it if You appreciate an ambitious new musical with a large, talented cast for such a small production. You're interested in Jim Crow south stories
Don't see it if You were hoping for a greater emotional pull. Songs are okay, but lacking any showstoppers which is unfortunate since cast has the pipes.
See it if You like hearing great singing and seeing a well acted compelling story in an intimate theater setting. It's still in previews.
Don't see it if You believe the reviews of some of those who saw it earlier. The story is not fun but needs to be told. I suspect the show improves daily.
See it if you enjoy eating cake batter before it gets the chance to become, with all the all the magical ingredients, it's intended purpose.
Don't see it if you prefer to eat a fully baked cake, icing and all.
Get alerts about your favorite artists and theater companies