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. More…
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.'
"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
"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." 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
“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
"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." Full Review
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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." Full Review
"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." Full Review
“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
"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
“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
"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
“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
"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
"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
“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
"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
“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
"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." Full Review
"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." Full 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
See it if You want to experience a beautifully staged and acted play that is thought provoking and meaningful. The dancing is captivating. A must see
Don't see it if You prefer a movie or ballgame. There is nothing not to like!!
See it if you love Tony Yazbeck' dancing, you enjoy ballet that includes dialog, you like a good story with superb choreography
Don't see it if you don't appreciate ballet; you like a more conventional musical that includes songs
See it if I did not realize how affecting this production would be. For me, someone who sees a lot of performance, this was in a class by itself.
Don't see it if You don’t like great acting dancing and story
See it if brilliant music by Kander, choreography by Stroman, exquisite dancing by Yazbeck and Dvorovenko -inspired by H. James novella is your cup 'o
Don't see it if you are "dance blind", unsympathetic to inner wounds that might prohibit commitment and deep love, if you are anti-romantic and need lyrics.
See it if It's mesmerizing. The direction, the cast, the dancing, the lighting all lure you into the story. Beautiful night at the theater.
Don't see it if If you want more story than dancing. But the show will pull you in.
See it if you love intelligent, creatively staging with beautiful John Kander music and stunning, intimate ballet dance interspersed throughout.
Don't see it if you hate dance, hate intelligent stories, or need very fast pacing and lots of constant motion.
See it if you want to see Yazbeck dance Stroman's dances. Go to see movement and design merged so smoothly, elegantly, & effortlessly. A visual treat!
Don't see it if you want something big, loud, brassy, riotous, upbeat, and in your face. You have to pay attention here if you want to be drawn in.
See it if You love dance. Are open to some weird effects. Are up to story of person who spends whole life avoiding commitment, missing out on love
Don't see it if Not in mood for serious drama of life without commitment.
See it if you like dance-heavy musicals that feature no singing, at all.
Don't see it if a score without lyrics, even a swooningly romantic score like this one, may leave you feeling a little cheated.
See it if You love triple threat - dance, drama and music! Great staging, and loved the intimate setting. Nostalgic and melancholy.
Don't see it if you don't appreciate dance or reflecting back on life choices.
See it if You like Susan Stroman & her signature puppetry effectively fused with ballet, Kander’s music & a well acted love story (in flashback).
Don't see it if You prefer big musical extravaganzas or can’t sit for 1 3/4 hours without intermission.
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.
See it if Inventive - especially with staging/ lighting/ sound. Fabulous dance play - extraordinary talent of main and background dancers.
Don't see it if you are not ready to think more broadly about what theatre should be.
See it if a visual feast of dance, choreography, art, and abstractions offering a cautionary tale of self-trust and using time meaningfully appeals.
Don't see it if you prefer storytelling not issued through some (exceptional!) dances; disapprove of extramarital affairs; need shocking or happy endings.
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.
See it if a fellow fan of Tony Yazbeck or Peter Friedman—both give compelling performances—or of John Kander, whose music is emotional & exquisite.
Don't see it if you demand a traditional play, void of dance or music, or want grittier material or more character development. My advice: Don't miss this!
See it if you’d enjoy a heartbreaking memory play infused with beautiful dancing & orchestration.
Don't see it if you wouldn’t like dancing incorporated in a play rather than singing or you prefer big productions.
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