Members say: Great staging, Ambitious, Enchanting, Great dancing, Romantic

About the show

The Vineyard presents this new adaptation of Henry James’s classic 1903 novella, which fuses dance, drama, and music in its telling of the powerful and romantic tale of love and loss.

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From composer John Kander, Tony-nominated playwright David Thompson, and five-time Tony Award-winning director and choreographer Susan Stroman, 'The Beast in the Jungle' is the story of John Marcher, a man haunted by personal demons, whose great yet unfulfilled love affair with an unforgettable woman spans decades and continents. With a waltz-inspired instrumental score, and choreography that traverses the worlds of ballet and contemporary dance, this reunites the creative team behind 'The Scottsboro Boys.'

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Theater Pizzazz

"Something so extraordinary that one is awe struck watching and listening to what is currently gracing the stage at the Vineyard Theatre...A stunning 1 hour, 45 minute entre into a world of psychic realization that probes the inner mind and soul...The exquisite dramatic portrayals tell the story in balletic movements, reaching into contemporary dance, with complete devotion to detail...I cannot give enough praise to this inspired piece of theater." Full Review


"Ultimately, I think it's impossible not to learn one's own life lesson from this piece -which is not to let any sort of fear (real or imagined) stop you from going after what you truly desire. It's necessary advice for all of us to hear, and I'm glad that Stroman, Kander and Thompson listened to it themselves rather than settle for making a more conventional musical." Full Review

DC Metro Theater Arts

“Imaginative, lyrical, and bittersweet...Combines the form of a memory play with dance, a musical without lyrics, and a parable told through simple dialogue, all beautifully intertwined to convey the poignancy of unfulfilled love, a life afflicted by fear, and the true tragedy of death and loss...Phenomenal cast...An exquisite synthesis of drama, dance, and music, a unique refashioning of a classic, and a timeless life lesson...One enthralling experience in the theater.” Full Review

Times Square Chronicles

"This piece loosely based on Henry James novel captivates...Yazbeck part Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, and Nureyev brings his masculine balletic style to full glory. Paired with the exquisite prima ballerina Irina Dvorovenko, the two show courtship pas de deux style. They are poetry in dance. Stroman’s direction and choreography is truly lovely and elegant. She keeps our attention and we feel for this man who is so lost within himself. Kander’s music is hypnotic and haunting." Full Review


“An enchanting new dance musical...The sublime cast of dancers...beautifully evoke the glad, sad and and scary elements of this half a century spanning love story...The dancing and the simple but elegant and full of surprises stagecraft by Stroman and her designers deflect any sense of monotony in the persistent 3/4 beat of the music...Call it what you will— a story ballet, a dance play, or dance-driven book musical— it works, though it would be even better with a ten-minute trim.” Full Review

Front Row Center

"A moody, gloomy piece, and for its self-absorbed and regretful protagonist, John Marcher, things do not turn out very well...Yazbeck, an extraordinary dancer...Dvorovenko is simply sensational. The two of them dance together beautifully, and it is a decided pleasure to watch them perform...Although the sum of its parts may not add up completely into a powerful theatrical whole, the parts themselves are alone well worth the price of admission." Full Review

Theatre is Easy

"The cast is impeccable...The plot—albeit simple—becomes rich through Susan Stroman's direction and choreography...However, 'The Beast in the Jungle' is brought to even greater heights through the use of puppetry and expertly designed props employed by the women of the play. The 'Beast in the Jungle' provides a sure-to-please evening of classically trained artists free of overcomplicated commentary that sucks you into an era of entertainment that, in 2018, is increasingly rare." Full Review


"It is glorious...Kander has chosen to tell the story through a series of waltzes and Stroman turns them into an eclectic mix of dances, from tarantella-like folk pieces to an amusing take on musical chairs. Dvorovenko is wonderful to watch, bringing so much emotion to her dancing...Yazbeck is gripping as he fights off the panic brought on by the beast. The play ends with a potentially uplifting breakthrough for the young nephew, a man who might have demons of his own." Full Review

Gotham Playgoer

“A ‘dance play’ with no lyrics and relatively little dialogue...Stroman had varying success in selecting aspects of the story that could be told through dance. Some of the dance numbers are quite effective while others are embarrassingly kitchy. The chorus of six female dancers often seems superfluous. Kander’s music made surprisingly little impression...The three leads all perform well. Much as I admire all involved for their efforts, I regret to say that I found the results underwhelming.” Full Review

Theatre Reviews Limited

"It is so personal yet so revealing, so fluid yet so powerful and manages to provide pages of beautiful illustrations to accompany the narrative...Pushes boundaries of traditional musical theater relying on the melodic score by Kander, sometimes reminiscent of his earlier work and always pleasing to the ear but void of lyrics...It is not a perfect endeavor into a new genre and comes with a few misgivings that could be revised but certainly delivers a creative, entertaining evening of theater." Full Review

The Wrap

“A lush and romantic score...Matched by the athletic and sometimes sexy dancing of Tony Yazbeck and Irina Dvorovenko...Stanton’s lighting is a revelation, adding new layers of meaning and heightening key moments...But for all the stunning visuals and the spirited and balletic movement of the talented cast, ‘The Beast in the Jungle’ remains steadily earthbound when it comes to David Thompson’s book.” Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

"For a production that is being called experimental and daring, the structure seems stuck within an obvious and constrained framework. It is basically a classic dance and a clumsy play folded in together...Yazbeck is glorious and appealing...Dvorovenko is a glorious dancer who has a moderate ability to deliver a line, but when given the chance to talk to us through her physicality, she soars. Together their dancing is the fire and drama...telling of the story of a traumatic attachment disorder." Full Review

New York Theater

“An experiment in hybrid form, appreciating the creative effort as a whole, while overlooking the awkward fit and occasional whiff of the ludicrous. There is enough to enjoy that indisputably works, especially Kander’s lively instrumental waltz music, and the splendid dancing by Yazbeck and Dvorovenko...Yazbeck is spectacular as usual. Dvorovenko is ideal in the role: Graceful and gorgeous and spirited, it is easy to see why Marcher would fall in love with her.” Full Review

Financial Times (UK)

"With a jaunty, unchallengingly agreeable score by John Kander, this 'Beast' is a raunchy, melodramatic spectacle that owes more to Barbara Cartland and Jilly Cooper than it does to James...Such chutzpah is oddly charming. And while it’s a bit too long at nearly two hours, Susan Stroman’s staging does conjure an appealing albeit slightly shallow sense of romance. Yazbeck and Dvorovenko display real chemistry when dancing, less so when talking." Full Review

Broadway Blog

"While the core talent of director/choreographer Susan Stroman, along with music by John Kander and book by David Thompson is evident, this particular venture lacks cohesion that can’t be tamed...Stroman doesn’t necessarily break new ground in terms of the art form but certainly showcases her performers’ exceptional abilities. Yazbeck shows glimmers of Gene Kelly through his muscular, athletic movement, but the venue feels too small for him at times." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

“A superb cast and sumptuous production values...There's a lot for fans to enjoy... Kander's waltz-inspired score is lush and beautiful with many haunting tunes...Much of the choreography is lovely and artful, but I'm not convinced it advances the plot with the clarity and vigor it needs despite how well it's executed. As for Thompson's play, he's taken such liberties with Henry James' story that, if you've read the novella, you'll have a hard time reconciling what he's done to it." Full Review

Theater Life

"Performed with minimal sets, the show has a modestly budgeted look… James's story defeats dramatization, having been converted here into a dour tearjerker sometimes suggesting a parody of those sentimentally melodramatic 1950s Douglas Sirk movies…'The Beast in the Jungle' will attract fans of Kander, Stroman, and Yazbek. The chief reason to see it, though, is its artistic stealth bomb, ballerina Irina Dvorovenko, whom I'd want to see more of even if she weren't dancing." Full Review

New York Daily News

“Intriguing and semi-successful show...The dancing is strong and elegant. Dvorovenko is light on her feet and powerful. Yazbeck reeks ease and athleticism. But a twirling, leaping, posing chorus of women at times gets silly. As directed, Marcher's fear sometimes appears to be acute appendicitis. More distracting is clunky narration and dialogue that keeps interrupting the flow...Easy to admire for ambition, experimentation and fine performances, but it's a mixed bag." Full Review

New York Stage Review

"The result might be inspired by James but is, as a dance play, not sufficiently inspiring...Appealing dances that range from the pleasant to the provocative to the tormented...Viewers who haven’t read the James novella could be in for a rewarding time, whereas those familiar with the slim volume may be concerned with, if not disturbed by, what’s lost in the liberal Stroman-Thompson translation." Full Review

New York Stage Review

"Both entirely lovely and occasionally makes you want to run away...The poetics of this show are gorgeous; the prose is clunky and plodding...The dances are routinely wonderful...Stroman’s choreography is balletic and elegant...But Kander and Stroman’s poetry is consistently interrupted by Thompson’s tedious, repetitive prose...Stroman provides her excellent cast with charming directorial flourishes. You can’t help wanting to fall in love. But you won’t." Full Review

Melinda's Malarky

“The combined talents of Stroman, Thompson, and Kander has all the makings for a real knockout show only it falls flat...The dance play is ephemeral fluff lacking in bite...The two leads went a few rounds with some charming though uninspiring choreography...The only knockout punch came from Kander's original score performed live. Stroman leads this 'Jungle' into a bungled beast. It's a sleepy, tangled mess.” Full Review

The New York Times

“While James’s ‘Beast’ is about life-denying emotional paralysis, this latest version focuses on the more active perils of promiscuity and its tedious cousin: commitment phobia...I was always happy to see the Beast, since it usually put a stop to the annoying dialogue and let Mr. Kander’s haunting, minor-key waltzes take over...The view of our leading lovers is blocked by a mountain of name-brand cultural baggage and cumbersome back stories." Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

“The cast is first-rate...But the bounty of talent counts for little in a tedious, inert piece that awkwardly shoehorns numerous dance interludes into a thin storyline...Dialogue is sparse...Dance sequences plentiful, but Stroman's ballet-inspired choreography quickly begins to feel repetitive...The overall effect is underwhelming, feeling constrained on the small stage. The same can be said of Kander's waltz-flavored score, which proves typically melodic but unmemorable.” Full Review

The Observer

“While this creative team brings plenty of craft, the result is that of conventional artists straining to experiment. Tender slides into crass; subtlety jostles with overstatement. If Agnes de Mille unfurled a passion project, it might resemble this: pop-balletic passion that verges on pantomime silliness...That core triteness is never fully mitigated by swoony music or flashy dancing...Dance storytelling wedded to a talky book means that we grow over-informed about an already meager narrative." Full Review

New York Magazine / Vulture

“Sometimes beautiful, and often frustrating ‘dance play’...Despite the show’s attempts to take its audience places both romantic and dark, and despite Kander’s sweeping, often beautiful music, I fear I often felt resistant to its pull...The frustrating thing about Thompson, Kander, and Stroman’s take on James’s novella is that they reframe his study of nameless menace as an easier piece of psychology." Full Review

Beautiful, Must see, Romantic, Great dancing, Haunting

See it if You want to see a haunting and beautiful show in an intimate space. Yazbeck and Dvorovenko shine and Friedman is brilliant.

Don't see it if You don't like shows that use dance to tell the story, although it is beautifully done here.

Also This show is unique, heartbreaking, captivating, and beautiful. I didn... Read more Read less

Enchanting, Refreshing, Great staging

See it if You can appreciate an old fashioned and romantic production with marvelous music and movement.

Don't see it if You are not a fan of dance - or of love stories.

Also This had a definite throwback feel - but it worked for this piece. The... Read more Read less

Enchanting, Romantic, Great writing, Entertaining, Great dancing

See it if you want to be swept off your feet by a lovely, romantic show with a simple (but not simplistic) story and beautifully performed ballet.

Don't see it if dance isn’t your thing, or you’re too macho to appreciate a beautiful love story.

Absorbing, Clever, Intense, Romantic, Great dancing

See it if you like to see lovely dance performed by beautiful people. I am a big Tony Yazbeck fan, so I loved seeing him dance. Clever staging, too.

Don't see it if you don't like danced shows or if you expect the story to really make sense. It is simple but not really logical. But see it for the dancing

Enjoyable but missing something

See it if you want to see a good dance play. See it is you want a few hours of something a bit different.

Don't see it if you are expecting exquisite dance movements, though, both principals are good, the Stroman choreography isn't that inventive.

Also The sparse staging works, and the Kander music adds much to the audien... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Romantic, Disappointing, Slow

See it if you want to see what the powerhouse creative team came up with, even if it falls short of expectations. Just okay for such big hitters.

Don't see it if you want to see a play with dance or see a dance with dialogue - it falls short on both so doesn't fully satisfy either.

Romantic, Disappointing, Slow, Trite, Great staging

See it if You love dance set to music that sounds classical, but is newly-composed.

Don't see it if You’re expecting a musical (there’s no singing), or classic John Kander music. While the music is lovely, the play is too simple and bland.

Ambitious, Cliched, Great dancing

See it if you're a Tony Yazbeck fan or want to see delightful choreography by Susan Stroman.

Don't see it if you're expecting a well-written play. This could be beautiful as a dance piece, but minus the dialogue...

Ambitious, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Great staging, Unique

See it if you want to see a visually gorgeous show with storytelling told through acting, dancing, puppetry, lighting, music & staging.

Don't see it if you want a happily ever after or don't want to be left thinking. Also if you want big showstopping production numbers.

Also I thought it was a lovely show, but it just didn't completely click fo... Read more Read less

Banal, Twee, Forced

See it if um, I guess, you like seeing Tony Yazbek dance?

Don't see it if you are a fan of the novella. Yeesh.

Indulgent, Banal, Excruciating, Cliched

See it if you are related to someone in it.

Don't see it if you have a book to read or anything else to do!!

During previews
Absorbing, Intense, Great writing, Great staging, Spectacular dancing

See it if You want to see a brilliant collaboration of dance, drama, and music set against changing backgrounds that are so perfect they entrance.

Don't see it if You are not a fan of contemporary theatre stylings. You can’t “go with the flow”. You need a happy ending to enjoy a theatre piece.

During previews
Profound, imaginative, exquisite, brilliant acting, best dancing

See it if You love ballet, love Tony Yazbeck (and if you don't you must have a brain tumor), and especially, if you love Henry James.

Don't see it if You're a dance philistine, lowbrow, and want neon lights and Vegas show with boring trite writing, a la Mean Girls.

Also I could write 10 pages about this show because my unfinished PhD disse... Read more Read less

During previews
Ambitious, Great acting, Masterful, Must see, Great dancing

See it if You want a refreshing “play with music”. The creative team is extraordinary as well as the performers. Tony Yazbeck took my breath away.

Don't see it if You’re expecting a musical, don’t like dance, or are looking for a bright happy ending. This is John Kander! All the darkness and joy...

During previews
Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Riveting, Romantic, Great staging

See it if You like shows like "Contact" or other heavily dance-driven shows. It's a beautiful dance play, a wonderful piece of theater.

Don't see it if You like regular shows with a typical plot and old-fashioned music.

During previews
Delightful, Enchanting, Exquisite, Great staging, Great dancing

See it if You love great dancing You love Tony Yazbeck. He shines as usual. The female lead Irina Dvorovenko is amazing as well.

Don't see it if You don't like shows with a lot of dance or if you're looking for a true musical. There is no singing

Also I loved this show. The dancing was magical. The 2 leads had great chem... Read more Read less

During previews
Enchanting, Exquisite, Refreshing, Romantic, Great dancing

See it if Exquisite dancing, staging, music. Delightful in "old fashioned" style. Excellent choreography- Susan Stroman original w/ hints of "Contact"

Don't see it if looking for large scale Broadway musical..Don't like Ballet or looking for strong plot line vs.creativity.

During previews
Enchanting, Exquisite, Intelligent, Riveting, Phenomenal dancing

See it if You love classic dance as an integral part of the telling of an interesting dramatic tale.

Don't see it if You want your drama told in a straightforward way without the lead characters breaking into modern dance.

Also If you have followed my reviews in the past you will know I am a sucke... Read more Read less

During previews
Absorbing, Enchanting, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Romantic

See it if you can appreciate a romantic tale of missed opportunity and personal limitations. Well played. Irina Dvorovenko is beautiful and perfect

Don't see it if Romance is not your thing. This is somewhat awkward at times but passionate and lyrical always. A Timeless Tale of choices not made and gone

During previews
Enchanting, Masterful, Resonant, Great staging, Tender

See it if You love Susan Stroman, John Kander or any of the amazing performers. If you like dance, or are curious to see a show that uses it well.

Don't see it if You absolutely HATE dance. If you don't like love stories that aren't necessarily the most happy

Also Be aware that there is no singing in this show! John Kander is only re... Read more Read less

During previews
Masterful, Entertaining, Great staging, Great choreography, Terrific score

See it if you love storytelling through dance and acting.Tony Yazbeck's dancing & Peter Friedman's acting are both terrific.Romantic story of loss

Don't see it if you are looking for something deeply profound.The choreography & staging are so brilliant that flaws in the script can be forgiven. Riveting

During previews
Enchanting, Great writing, Great dancing, Great choreography

See it if Tragic lifetime romance portrayed through acting and dance accompanied by music. Based on fear of intimacy in Henry James’ novella.

Don't see it if You expect singing. This show uses music, dance, and acting, not singing.

During previews
Exquisite, Riveting

See it if It’s lyrical and sweet.

Don't see it if You hate dance and are looking for a standard musical.

During previews
Ambitious, Enchanting, Exquisite, Masterful, Great staging

See it if you're open to an imaginative dance driven musical piece, gorgeously staged and intensely acted.

Don't see it if you want a clearly laid out plot and don't enjoy the artistry of dance

During previews
Enchanting, Masterful, Romantic, Great staging

See it if You enjoy dance, beautiful bodies, lovely music and choreography and a romantic, if sad story

Don't see it if You are looking for a realistic play done the usual way

Cast & Creatives (17)