Closed 2h 15m
The Black Crook
Lower E Side
73

The Black Crook NYC Reviews and Tickets

73%
(15 Reviews)
Positive
73%
Mixed
20%
Negative
7%
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.

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Member Reviews (15)

68
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.

80
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.

Critic Reviews (8)

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 Drama.' With live music that is often arrestingly lovely, it is fluent in the stage language of then and now...What’s stealthy about this 'Black Crook' is its beauty, and its emotional punch."
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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 promising conceit, however, lacks sharpness in execution; the intertwined narratives get smudgy. The vigorous cast is admirably multitalented...but the lack of compelling real-life characters grows dull."
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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 historic reasons."
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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' and half modern interpretation...This 'Black Crook’s' clever combination of smarts and escapism treads these murky blame-filled waters just fine as a fun night out for theatre fans of all stripes."
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October 4th, 2016

"A history lesson, a romp, and a reconstruction that attempts a lot and achieves quite a bit...Much competence and multidimensional dexterity is demonstrated by the eight-member cast, from dance flexibility to musicianship to facility with presentational stylistic acting...Whether this 'Black Crook' achieves the aspirations of 'Shuffle Along' and 'Indecent'...it is certainly true that this production frames and stages an essential part of American theater history that is worth a visit."
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September 22nd, 2016

"To mount a work known for being bigger-than-life in such a small space was a gamble. But I was not surprised—having seen Gelb’s work before—that he has pulled the whole thing off. His use of imaginative staging, accomplished lighting and sound effects, silhouettes, stage smoke, convincing period costumes, and—most important—a game and talented cast of actors (who also sing and play musical instruments skillfully) makes 'Crook' well worth seeing."
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September 26th, 2016

"The real-world frame introduces some clever and illuminating mirroring between the dual plots...The musical numbers often sound quite modern...All of this is packaged with lots of comedy...Gelb and his team have created a thoroughly enjoyable postmodern take on a very significant piece of America's theatrical past. You will learn a little history while having a lot of fun at 'The Black Crook.'"
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September 20th, 2016

"For a short while, this all seems to work relatively well. The actors’ considerable talent and impressive timing seem to overcome this demanding undertaking. Soon, however, the scheme comes undone...The plot completely unravels...The singing might best be described as pedestrian and muted, and the dancing did not seem particularly well choreographed. Costumes were lackluster, and the sound effects and music were amateurish. Once the plot was lost, little else remained."
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