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The Black Crook

From 15 member  reviews
Members say: Confusing, Clever, Ambitious, Quirky, Entertaining

About the show

First performed 150 years ago, 'The Black Crook' is widely considered the first piece of musical theater. It returns to the stage with new text and songs, performed by an ensemble of eight actor/musician/dancers. More…

When 'The Black Crook' premiered in 1866, it was a five-hour, 100-performer melodrama about a painter who sold his soul to a Sorcerer, combined with dance numbers by a Parisian ballet troupe set to popular music of the period. Now director/adapter Joshua William Gelb is debuting a streamlined, meta version of this historic show at the landmark Abrons Arts Center. Bonus: There will be special guest performers at each intermission.

Member Reviews (15)


Confusing, Clever, Ambitious, Quirky, Entertaining
Avg Score

Original, Ambitious, Disappointing, Dizzying, Confusing

See it if you have an interest in theatrical history, told in a somewhat confusing manner by a talented cast.

Don't see it if you are expecting to see a musical as we know them today; have no interest in theatrical history; like fine singing and dancing.

Masterful over-acting of an old-fashioned melodrama put to music

See it if Very talented actor-musicians tackle an 1866 musical melodrama. The ham is thick and delicious. Nothing like it.

Don't see it if The senescence of the script, acting and music may be too much for some. I ate it up.

Ambitious, Confusing, Disappointing, Dizzying, Indulgent

See it if You've heard about it's legend. America's first musical?? I doubt it!

Don't see it if you don't enjoy watching some very talented actor/musicians being wasted on too much of a so-so thing.

Entertaining, Clever, Quirky, Refreshing, Weird

See it if you want to see what may have, in 1866, been B'Way's 1st Musical. It's really a melodrama, with some music. It's played for laughs.

Don't see it if you want an elaborate production with big orchestra; you don't like alot of book in a musical.

Confusing, Great staging, Quirky, Dated, Original

See it if you want to know more about the show that is considered the first book musical in half the time of the original. Ambitious production.

Don't see it if you don't like dated shows that also provide a Broadway history lesson and you don't want to explore an interesting NYC neighborhood.

Disappointing, Great singing, Quirky

See it if Great talent here but a silly amateurish staging. See it if you like something musical history.

Don't see it if You like production value in a show.

Quirky, Raunchy, Dizzying, Entertaining, Masterful

See it if want to see a group of actors in a farce that can sing , dance and play many different instruments. truly a bizarre story based on fact

Don't see it if you're not in to a weird super fast paced story that requires you really follow along. definitely not main stream

Interesting, Funny, Confusing, Clever

See it if you want to learn about a piece of musical theater history and have a few laughs!

Don't see it if you aren't interested in learning about what is considered to be the first American musical or you don't like plays/musicals about theater.

Ambitious, Absorbing, Entertaining, Informative, Clever

See it if you are interested in the history of the American musical. Here is a taste of the show that has been called the "first" American musical.

Don't see it if theatrical history is not your thing

Also A very creative melange of chunks of the original show and a dramatiza... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Confusing, Funny, Great acting, Clever

See it if You are interested in the history of musical theater.

Don't see it if You are easily confused by multiple plot lines.

Great acting, Intense, Slow, Confusing, Historical

See it if musical theatre nerd, like making of stories, want to see a killer cast

Don't see it if want something new, easily confused, want a straight play, aren't interested in history

Clever, Great staging, Epic, Quirky, Moving

See it if you like "the making of" type stories, like Shuffle Along, if you like quirky, inventively staged, comedic & touching blackbox productions.

Don't see it if you don't like musicals, or if you are easily confused or bored by story-within-stories.

Confusing, Dated, Disappointing, Dizzying, Slow

See it if you want to get a taste of history and have the patience for dragged out old-fashioned dialogue.

Don't see it if you don't follow old language and dialogue well or want something modern and new.

Great acting, Confusing, Entertaining, Funny, Great singing

See it if you enjoy a broad acting style done very well. Gets a little confusing at times with all the layers, but very well played. Well worth it.

Don't see it if you only enjoy naturalistic shows.

Ambitious, Confusing, Clever, Entertaining, Exquisite

See it if You are a "Theater Nerd" with serious knowledge of and interest in theatrical history, 19th Century life and culture, New York area history;

Don't see it if You have no tolerance for convoluted plots or a small company doubling up on roles and "making do".

September 27th, 2016
"A delectable, sneakily intoxicating show, it’s very smartly adapted by Gelb...What Gelb and his excellent company have made from it is a sort of redemptive love letter to theater history, faithful in a minimalist way to the promise of their subtitle: 'An Original Magical and Spectacular Musical ...
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September 21st, 2016
"There is a scrappy perversity to Gelb’s 150th-anniversary quasirevival...Performed by eight actor-musicians in a basement theater, 'The Black Crook' is stripped to humiliation...Gelb places scenes from the play in a biographical frame about Barras and his Mephistophelean producers. This promisin...
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September 25th, 2016
"The production proceeded with often confusing speed with plot points rushing by. (A synopsis might have helped, although the in-depth comments on the many beautifully performed period musical numbers were enlightening.) Despite its silly plot, for theater buffs, this is a must see for hist...
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September 26th, 2016
"A 100%-committed cast of physical performers stud the stage in this thoughtful reflection on the American musical...Gelb’s excellent modern production celebrating the show's sesquicentennial anniversary acknowledges and addresses the weaknesses of the original piece; it exists as half 'story of'...
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