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Terms of Endearment

From 31 critic and 86 member reviews
Members say: Entertaining, Great acting, Disappointing, Slow, Absorbing

About the show

Molly Ringwald stars in a stage adaptation of the Oscar-winning movie. 59E59's production is the US debut of this play based on both Larry McMurtry's novel and James L. Brooks' screenplay. More…

'Terms of Endearment' traces the complicated relationship between a challenging mother, Aurora Greenway (Ringwald), and her equally stubborn daughter, Emma. A funny and heartbreaking story about love in the face of life's challenges, both large and small, this show examines the delicate and sometimes fractured bonds between mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, and lovers, both new and old.


"The direction by Michael Parva is absolutely superb. With a stellar cast, it is a must-see production. 'Terms of Endearment' is an enthralling, realistic portrayal of humankind with all of its affection, humor and conflict...Bravo to the remarkable cast. Even if you are familiar with the story of 'Terms of Endearment,' you will be fascinated by this company's passionate and compelling performances...This charming yet heartrending story is one to cherish this holiday season." Full Review


"Gordon’s adaptation is reminiscent of the Oscar-winning comedy-drama…In this thoughtful production director Parva teases out fine performances from the always engaging Molly Ringwald and others in the cast. They marshal their talents to hit their mark on the comedy and the poignancy…Gordon has maintained the story’s brilliant dialogue and humorous events…If you adore the book and/or the film, then the play 'Terms of Endearment' will not disappoint." Full Review

Reflections in the Light

"Molly Ringwald gives a powerful performance directed by Michael Parva, who manages to assemble a cast that puts us in mind of the film's iconic stars without trying to imitate them…This production really is a perfect representation of the popular film…Gordon's script captures all of the humor of the characters and the emotion of their relationships. I don't think I ever have heard such sobbing in the theater." Full Review

Theatre is Easy

"A beautiful adaptation of a movie classic, using a light touch to illuminate the deepest and most important expressions of compassion and human decency...There is not a wasted word or superfluous gesture in this taut, and often funny, production...'Terms of Endearment' is a terrific production, touching every major cradle-to-grave issue, from love, loyalty, and commitment to illness, medical malfeasance, and death. It’s well worth two hours of your time." Full Review

Wolf Entertainment Guide

"'Terms of Endearment' has all the makings of a tearjerker, but as staged here under the direction of Michael Parva, it is so much more than that. There is much humor present, thanks to the level of the performances and the writing, and one gets to feel that this is ultimately a very human and even entertaining story that rises above button pushing to elicit tears and instead evokes real emotions and well-earned wet eyes...It stands as an impressive work well worth visiting." Full Review

NY Theatre Guide

"It is directed by Michael Parva, who lends his tremendous experience to telling this heartbreaking, heartwarming story with sensitivity...He has crafted satisfying moments of emotional intensity and comedic charm…The chemistry between Ringwald and Brown was superb…Theirs is the pivotal, essential relationship in the play, and they held the center strong with their potent performances…A very well made play. And it’s a tidal wave tearjerker." Full Review

Woman Around Town

"Between Brown’s charisma, Ringwald’s gravitas and their chemistry together, this is a production not to be missed...Parva, who has worked with playwright Dan Gordon before, have worked together to craft a graceful, flowing, nearly seamless production...Unfortunately, due to space and time constraints, there are some really powerful moments in the film that simply don’t happen in this version. It’s a disappointment, but not enough to keep from recommending this production." Full Review


“It isn't until the second act of ‘Terms of Endearment’, based on both the Larry McMurtry novel as well as the Academy Award-winning screenplay by James L. Brooks, that the play takes off. Featuring the now grown-up film star Molly Ringwald in the role of Aurora Greenway that won Shirley MacLaine the 1984 Oscar for Best Actress, the first act jumps around, skipping huge chunks of time as you can in movie cutting, but seems like something has been left out on stage.” Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"Although abbreviated, both the humor and devastation of a complicated mother/daughter relationship pushes its way through.…The ending still resounds as the tear-jerker you recall in the film. Molly Ringwald gives a fine performance…This is a yeoman’s job bringing 'Terms of Endearment' to the stage...Probably an undertaking best left untouched." Full Review

Manhattan Digest

"Dan Gordon’s stage adaptation remains faithful to the source material and, under Michael Parva’s direction, it provides a moving and pleasant evening of entertainment that should appeal to both newcomers and longtime fans of the film…Ringwald lacks the natural austere demeanor of MacLaine and, dare I say, she may be miscast. Still, the chemistry she has with Dunne feels sincere...Gordon’s treatment is a fond trip down memory lane." Full Review

Says Me Says Mom

"The show works best in the small intimate moments. Seeing these moments brought to life on stage draws the audience in much more than is possible in a movie. However, some of the larger moments which are only mentioned in the show but actually occur in the movie don't always come across as well in the show...All in all although the show is perfect for mother/daughter bonding, it can be enjoyed by anyone whether they've seen the film or not." Full Review

Exeunt Magazine

"Despite the aura of the movie hanging over nearly every scene, this production reminds us that, even if we know how it ends, a good story will still be good whether on stage or screen...The snippets of music between scenes are also very short and end abruptly, creating an uneven pace that suggests that director Michael Parva just wants to get to the real heart of the play. That seems to arrive with Jeb Brown...The chemistry between Brown and Ringwald is real and they bring the play to life." Full Review


"The production feels like a live digest of the movie…Ringwald counteracts the anemia of the enterprise by making Aurora her own in a way that's more McMurtry than MacLaine. She and Hannah Dunne invest their duologues with wit, steering the poignant passages clear of mawkishness…Efficiently directed by Parva with brisk pacing that prevents the most melodramatic moments from being syrupy.…'Terms of Endearment' seems content to be an attraction for fans of flicks from the 1980s." Full Review

The Huffington Post

"A by-the-numbers adaptation...Molly Ringwald as the mother Aurora Greenway to Hannah Dunne’s daughter Emma Greenway acquit themselves well under Michael Parva’s direction. Or well enough...Ringwald and Dunne rise to the tear-jerking occasion—as do Brown and Milord—but the thought remains that the production is somehow superfluous." Full Review


"For all its virtues–including a trio of fine performances–the reality of the production is that it could never top the multi-Oscar winning 1983 film. And I honestly am not sure what was the point in trying…Ringwald brings a sort of regal dignity to Aurora. She doesn’t quite have enough bite to make some of Aurora’s carefully chosen barbs sting as strongly as they should, but she melts beautifully…Like the film, the play has both tears and laughter. It just lacks transcendence." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"The production comes alive most fully with the appearance of Jeb Brown as Breedlove…Unfortunately, the basic plotline unfolds like a checklist…Garrett Breedlove awakens Aurora's heart through a middle-aged love affair. Their banter, their moments of honest affection, and even their sexual sparks are the highlights of what otherwise is the CliffsNotes version of McMurtry's novel and Brooks's screenplay." Full Review


"'Terms' takes the points of highest emotional intensity from its source material, and strings them together, without the quiet interludes the film used to help us ease into the characters…Ringwald isn’t a prickly wisecracker, like MacLaine, but she’s solid here as an opinionated woman too involved in the life of her daughter…I enjoyed Brown as the sloppy space musketeer, with all his leering, heavy breathing and slouching…Endearing? Sometimes. But not a must-see." Full Review

Epoch Times

"It’s a show with heart, insight, and funny and touching moments. Unfortunately, some glaring weaknesses combine to make the production far less than it could be...For a work of this nature to really come alive, the characters must be totally believable and that’s not always the case here...Many of the early scenes have an almost sitcom-like feel. It’s mostly due to the efforts of Ringwald and Brown that the play has redeeming qualities." Full Review

Front Row Center

"Hannah Dunne as Emma Horton shines. She wins our hearts, just as the script intends. Molly Ringwald and Jeb Brown do fine jobs as Aurora Greenway and astronaut Garret Breedlove, whose name says it all, but it’s unfair to compare anyone to Shirley MacLaine and Jack Nicholson in these iconic parts...The story gets across, with its sad ending....All in all, the play is not a distinct enough creation to put the movie out of your mind, but how could it, after all?" Full Review

Plays to See

"While it is easy to find fault with Ringwald’s somewhat shallow interpretation of the complexities of Aurora’s personality, one must acknowledge that an actress is guided by a script...A great deal of effort is put into the visuals...The actors manage to migrate nicely from scene to scene." Full Review


"Seeing Ringwald resemble MacLaine reminds us, though, that we’re watching a story we’ve already seen...Why remind us that we’ve had the quintessential 'Terms of Endearment' experience long ago, especially if you can’t do it as well on stage?...The playwright uses clunky exposition all too often, and starts too many scenes with such lines as 'It’s been two weeks' and 'It’s been five years'...Just another reminder of how much 'Terms of Endearment' relies on the film." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"Little more than a scrapbook of scenes from a beloved film...Very few, if any, scenes end with any kind of a 'button' or climax; more often than not, they simply trail off. You can get away with this in a film, through artful editing; onstage, it is living death...What works in the film is often painfully limp here, thanks to the disjointed structure, the aimless pacing of Michael Parva's direction, and the fact that Shirley MacLaine, Jack Nicholson, and Debra Winger are missing in action." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

“The question arises regarding the idea of turning a terrific movie into a claustrophobic stage play on a cramped stage: as they say, if it ain't broke don't fix it...Without the illuminating performances of MacLaine et al., the story seems unexceptional, even dull, with its tragic twist more manipulative than ever...A pallor of superficiality pervades Michael Parva's heavy-handed production...Ringwald, who can be a delightful stage simply out of her element here.” Full Review

The New York Times

"The stage version, directed by Michael Parva, is largely pedestrian. Whereas the movie jerked tears and evoked laughs, too, the stage adaptation more often evokes yawns...Ms. Ringwald, in long red curls, gives a satisfactory if perhaps insufficiently feisty performance as the self-involved Aurora..The film performances were indelible, and the ghosts of them inevitably hover over the production like a dampening shroud." Full Review

Theatre Reviews Limited

"Too much and yet not enough happens in the play’s five-year time span to effectively establish a sufficient dramatic arc. There is no character growth or building of relationships. At times it feels as though there are several solo performers each telling their own stories. The cast works admirably with the material they are provided but are not afforded the time or circumstance for them to form strong bonds. Except for the final scenes, they appear as personalities rather than people." Full Review

Absorbing, Funny, Entertaining, Must see, Delightful

See it if you enjoy drama with a twist of humor and want to see an actress of film & movie fame

Don't see it if you don't enjoy movies brought to the stage. You don't want to see a show involving real life tragedies

Also This was, by far, the best show I've seen this year on or off Broadway... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Ambitious, Quirky, Entertaining

See it if You loved the movie or Molly Ringwald. You don't mind deviation from screen to stage. Being up close and personal with the actors. Crying.

Don't see it if You don't want to cry. If you don't want an "epic" story played by five people. Suprizing acting on all fronts.

Absorbing, Edgy

See it if You appreciate fine acting even if the story line may bot be captivating

Don't see it if you are a fan of the big touristy type of shows

Absorbing, Enchanting, Funny, Great acting, Profound

See it if Absolutely terrific acting, directing, and score; a great mother and daughter story, the space made it intimate.

Don't see it if if you did not have a good realation with your mother, or if you do not like sentimental stories.

Entertaining, Absorbing

See it if you're a fan of the movie. This is a scaled down version but includes all of the most memorable scenes/lines. Great job by Molly Ringwald.

Don't see it if you've never seen the movie.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Entertaining, Nostalgic

See it if you are interested in drama that explores intense family issues.

Don't see it if you saw the movie and will be distracted by the differences.

Also I was a fan of Molly Ringwald in her heyday and expected to find this ... Read more Read less

Funny, touching, good acting

See it if you liked the movie. Molly Ringwald terrific as is her costar who plays the Jack Nicholson role with charm, warmth and humor. Sweet play.

Don't see it if you don't want to sit through a second act of a dying woman writing to her children. A bit long. But overall, worthwhile.

Great acting, Funny

See it if you're a Molly Ringwald fan...

Don't see it if you don't like sad stories...

Also The acting was good, IMHO...

Raunchy, Refreshing, Funny, Entertaining, Delightful

See it if Really loved the movie and want to see a pretty good interpretation of it. The actor who plays the Jack Nicholson character is hysterical.

Don't see it if Did not enjoy and movie and do not like shows with sad endings.

Enjoyable, fun, Fluffy

See it if you want to see a copy of the original movie performed on stage in a scaled down version with not the punch of the movie.

Don't see it if the movie is a favorite and you don't want to make comparisons and be disappointed.

Clever, Dated, Thought-provoking, Great acting

See it if You want to see your favorite actors up close, you like family dramas, you don't have expectations of how the story should be presented

Don't see it if You have certain expectations especially after being a fan of the movie

Entertaining, Funny, Great acting, Great staging

See it if you like stories about mothers and daughters. The actors were great and molly ringwald did an amazing job making Auroura her own.

Don't see it if You don't like plays about a mother losing a daughter to cancer...Hope that was not a spoiler alert.

Ambitious, Great acting, Intense, Romantic, Funny

See it if You liked the movie, you like tear jerkers. I thouoght Molly Ringwald was great in the Shirley McLaine role and Jeb Brown was great in the

Don't see it if Jack Nicholson role. The play was more about them than the daughter. I saw many people with tissues crying.

Also Other than the 2 main roles, the other characters were not fleshed out... Read more Read less


See it if you like family dramas. Engaging to watch with very good acting. Last half act a bit too melodramatic for me.

Don't see it if you don't like sentimental endings to plays.

Great acting, Great writing, Entertaining, Relevant, Must see

See it if You enjoy dramatic presentation of classic movies. See it if you can grasp Molly Ringwald as a grandmother. Hannah Dunne is upcoming star

Don't see it if You have the mindset that Molly Ringwald is only a sweet sixteen year old coming of age.

Funny, Great acting, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if if you are a fan of the movie and molly ringwald. if you like mother/daughter stories.

Don't see it if you are not into female based stories.

Entertaining, Disappointing, Overrated, Thought-provoking

See it if You enjoy a low key story about dysfunctional relationships. If you like simplicity in stage, story and acting

Don't see it if You expect a lively storyline, superb acting or fancy staging

Entertaining, Great acting, Resonant, Fluffy, Intense

See it if you're a fan of Molly and want to see her perform in a small theater.

Don't see it if you're expecting it to be better or as good as the movie.

Also Hannah Dunne and the rest of the cast do a good job, as does Molly Rin... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Ambitious, Entertaining, Great acting, Resonant

See it if You're a Molly Ringwald fan interested in seeing how she performs live and in a serious role

Don't see it if You're expecting something as engrossing as the film -- some scenes didn't translate all that well to the stage

Parallels plot of the movie by the same title

See it if If you are curious to see a live staged version of the movie & retain your worship of Molly Ringwald from the 1980's John Hughes movie era

Don't see it if You expect to be as moved by the sadder plot elements and heartwrenching performances as those in the movie version.. does not translate.

Saw it back to back very different experiences

See it if you haven't seen the film.

Don't see it if you have seen the film---they did it better

Also The performances were wildly different.... Read more Read less


See it if Your a fan of Molly Ringwald. She does a fine job as Aurora Greenway.

Don't see it if The film opened the story up more, which made for a better story. The play seemed to condensed and rushed from scene to scene.

Entertaining, Humorous, Unoriginal, Intelligent, Retro

See it if you were a fan of Molly Ringwald or the movie, Terms of Endearment. If you like emotional stories regarding mother-daughter relationships

Don't see it if you are expecting anything new of a play based on a famous movie. If you like big extravaganzas instead of intimate plays.

Also Molly Ringwald in Terms of Endearment was entertaining, but not blow-a... Read more Read less

Entertaining, Ambitious, Nice try

See it if you liked the movie and are curious to see it staged. Doesn't quite make it. The acting is good and for the stage size, the set works.

Don't see it if you want to be disappointed that the emotions of the movie do not carry through this stage version.

Entertaining, Disappointing, Ambitious

See it if You want to see Molly Ringwald up close in a small theater. She does a solid acting job. Entertaining 2 hrs but cant compare to movie

Don't see it if You loved the movie & expect the same depth. Seemed abbreviated. Hard to recreate story that was told so well on screen.

Cast & Creatives (19)