Closed 1h 45m
The Beast in the Jungle
Gramercy
78

The Beast in the Jungle NYC Reviews and Tickets

78%
(127 Reviews)
Positive
79%
Mixed
16%
Negative
5%
Members say
Great staging, Enchanting, Romantic, Great dancing, Ambitious

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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Member Reviews (127)

55
Melodramatic, Romantic, Cliched, Great dancing, Banal

See it if you want to see a superb debut by ABT's Dvorovenko in an otherwise 2nd rate "dance play" from a crack creative team a bit off their game.

Don't see it if Thompson's trite, mawkish & histrionic dialogue will spoil ur enjoyment of Stro's dance (which speaks well enough for itself) & Ebb's music.

60
Cliched, Disappointing, Romantic, Banal, Quirky

See it if A stalwart actor (Friedman) a great B'way hoofer (Yazbeck) & legendary composer (Kander) are among the collateral damage in this miscarriage

Don't see it if Nothing quite gels in this dance/literary drama It should be elegant & subtle; it's overblown & insipid Book is leaden & choreo uninspired

Critic Reviews (35)

May 23rd, 2018

“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."
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May 23rd, 2018

“Adapted from a James novella in the sense that roadkill might be said to be adapted from a deer...The show squashes James’s elegant psychological study of repression into a vulgar, banal and laborious dance play. It has the guts to fail big, and those guts wind up everywhere...Long and wordless sequences of balletic dance...provide relief from the narrative...The respite is never enough. The beast is always there, lurking. The beast is in the play.”
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May 23rd, 2018

“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."
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May 23rd, 2018

“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.”
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May 23rd, 2018

“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."
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May 23rd, 2018

“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."
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May 23rd, 2018

“It's a disappointing miss...Rarely has a show with this amount of virtuosic dance moved so sluggishly...Some of that is endemic to the source material, which is about as thrilling as a collection of run-on sentences about wasted time can be...Marcher's story has the potential to shake the soul by turning the commonplace into the mythic. Regrettably, Thompson's treatment makes it feel more like a made-for-TV cautionary tale...At least there's decent underscoring to distract us."
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May 24th, 2018

"The vulgarization of the original material wouldn't matter if 'The Beast in the Jungle' had a life of its own, but, without the presence of song to act as a bridge between the dialogue and movement scenes, this is an awkward dance-drama hybrid...Most of the time, 'The Beast in the Jungle' plays like a musical for which somebody forgot to hire a lyricist...Time and again, 'The Beast in the Jungle' is undone by its leaden book, especially the framing device."
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May 23rd, 2018

“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."
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May 23rd, 2018

"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."
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May 23rd, 2018

"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."
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May 28th, 2018

"While 'The Beast in the Jungle' is a musical for our time it contains a message that was dear to the heart of writer Henry James, that of the unlived life. Ultimately, very moving when the story reaches its conclusion, the exquisite Vineyard Theatre production is for elite tastes but all dedicated theatergoers, not the casual entertainment seekers, should see it. It may well start a new trend in theatre musicals, one in which the emotional sections are danced rather than sung."
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May 23rd, 2018

"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."
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May 23rd, 2018

"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."
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May 23rd, 2018

“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.”
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May 24th, 2018

"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."
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May 26th, 2018

"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."
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May 24th, 2018

"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."
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May 23rd, 2018

“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.”
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May 24th, 2018

"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."
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May 23rd, 2018

"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."
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May 23rd, 2018

"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."
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May 24th, 2018

"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."
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May 23rd, 2018

“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.”
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May 31st, 2018

"Yazbeck and Dvorovenko are exquisite individually and together, and their work alone provides enough visual satisfaction for one show...Kander’s score is deeply impressive, varyingly romantic, playful, passionate, menacing, and melodious...The production, its visual splendor notwithstanding, is not without problems...'The Beast in the Jungle' is best when the music, dance and overall production values combine to be the most prominent."
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June 4th, 2018

"This dance play both over-generalizes, removing the specificity of James’ idea, thereby reducing the story to one of mere unconsummated love and fear of commitment, without higher stakes...The good news is that at age 91, Kander’s pen has not run dry...Stroman’s impeccable choreography is also a joy to experience...The show, as a whole, never makes the impact it could or should. It is beautiful to watch and hear, but dramatically unfulfilling."
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May 23rd, 2018

“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.”
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May 25th, 2018

"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."
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May 27th, 2018

"These artists’ dramatization and staging are so inventive and courageous that a truly new work has evolved–one that is haunting and moving...Ms. Stroman has cast six gifted dancers and one exquisite prima ballerina–and she can act...This creative team is melded into one seamless whole, and the complex task of making the material work...It is special; and for those of you who like some meat on the bones of your musicals, there is much to munch on in this one."
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May 23rd, 2018

"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."
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May 26th, 2018

"Elegant and whimsically romantic...leaving audience members mesmerized...'The Beast In The Jungle' is highly refined in presentation, but simple in its theme; either fall in love or fall back...Dvorenko and Yazbeck’s chemistry and Stroman’s choreography build an addicting, attractive love affair, but also an angering one because Marcher will not allow happiness for himself...Felt poignantly relevant to our times...A lesson on how joy is a choice of commitment."
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May 24th, 2018

"The reliable finesse of choreography and direction of Susan Stroman can’t compensate for the clunky, labored book...Stroman creates charming sequences...Composer John Kander provides a haunting, elegiac score with a waltz motif, sensitively played by a nine-piece orchestra, that weaves in and out for a slowly paced, needlessly long, one hour and 45 minutes. Kander’s music is pretty, but its more effective as a substitute for dialogue."
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May 23rd, 2018

“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.”
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May 23rd, 2018

“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.”
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May 29th, 2018

"First and foremost was Susan Stroman’s original, charming, and often clever choreography. The stage came alive when there was dancing...Yazbeck had that easy-going, masculine grace...and Dvorovenko was breathtakingly radiant...Nothing seemed to give the play that necessary, hard-to-explain spark...If there’s a way to go back to the drawing board and revise the play, I wish the creative team would consider it because there is so much to like about this production, especially the dancing."
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