The Cradle Will Rock
Closed 1h 30m
The Cradle Will Rock
71

The Cradle Will Rock NYC Reviews and Tickets

71%
(186 Reviews)
Positive
66%
Mixed
26%
Negative
8%
Members say
Great singing, Disappointing, Relevant, Slow, Ambitious

About the Show

CSC presents a new production of Marc Blitzstein’s 1937 play in music, which explores corruption and corporate greed as it tells a tale of worker's efforts to unionize.

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Member Reviews (186)

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57
Uneven, Relevant, Slow, Dreary, Dull

See it if You have a fascination about this show or historical works in general-or if you don’t mind that it’s got no sets or costumes and only piano.

Don't see it if You’re expecting a full show. This is so stripped down it felt like an amateurish high school show with some performances to match. Read more

65
Banal, Slow, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Disappointing

See it if Blitzstein's populist 'musical drama' is nothing if not earnest yet despite it's broad strokes has moments of raw power & anger....or should

Don't see it if Doyle's lamely staged production & uninspired cast makes a dull evening & sadly wan political statement Yazbeck & Co seem defeated by it all

Critic Reviews (34)

The New York Times
April 3rd, 2019

"The simplicity that has felt clarifying in Doyle’s best work feels stingy here. The piano accompaniment strips 'Cradle' of much of its sostenuto beauty; what’s left is further eroded by singing that sometimes grates the ears. The staging is largely static and, where musical theater razzmatazz is called for, totally underwhelming. Too much of the acting seems deliberately wooden....Just as you begin to fear that denying pleasure has become a point of pride, the production coalesces.”
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New York Magazine / Vulture
April 3rd, 2019

“Doyle seems to be approaching his current production by rote. It’s a plodding revival...Doyle’s use of his purposefully limited aesthetic vocabulary here seems mechanical rather than ingenious. We’re never surprised, either by Blitzstein’s tale or by Doyle’s use of the scenic world to tell it...The missed opportunities feel especially palpable. If this is a kind of people’s parody of wealth and privilege, why not go further with the acerbic, handmade pageantry of it?”
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The Wall Street Journal
April 14th, 2019

"Doyle is exceptionally good at staging small-scale musical revivals, and he knows exactly what to do with shows like this...This production is sung without amplification, and Doyle has cast actors who can sing rather than singers who can act...It’s important that you be able to hear the lyrics in order to follow the action, and you will often find that hard...Not only are Blitzstein’s clear-cut tunes full of off-center harmonies that light up every phrase, but his lyrics are as sharp as a switchblade."
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Theatermania
April 3rd, 2019

"It's a joyous tale of regular people defying fearsome institutions, and singing in the face of power. It's a pity none of that comes through in Doyle's dispassionate, soporific revival...Doyle does his production no favors by falling back on old tricks...With this semi-intelligible production, Doyle seems to assume that his audience already knows this rarely revived play, robbing newcomers of the opportunity to discover the work in its full clarity.”
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BroadwayWorld
April 4th, 2019

“”The Cradle will Rock’ is quite a revolutionary piece...For Classic Stage Company's sturdy revival...Doyle abstains from his frequent practice of stripping down the texts of deceased authors...allowing Blitzstein's work to speak for itself...Though there's the occasional lack of tension that makes the 90-minute production tend to lag at times, individual performances are quite good, and the climatic confrontation...is fiercely played.”
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Lighting & Sound America
April 4th, 2019

"Seeing John Doyle's revival, you may have trouble understanding why the piece was considered too hot to handle, so much so that the opening night only took place following a concerted effort to suppress it...Clearly, this revival means to draw parallels to today's fraught politics, but the resemblances are often blurry...And in Doyle's fretful, low-energy production, a show that should have the hammerlike impact of a propaganda poster often seems to be looking for a style."
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Talkin' Broadway
April 3rd, 2019

“A lifeless production which, despite an abundance of talent at his disposal, never explodes with rage under Doyle's flaccid direction...Not even the mighty, triple-threat Yazbeck can save this revival...There's no energy or vitality propelling the storytelling of Doyle's production and, as a result, the audience's interest and attention-span flags. The pieces just don't fit...’The Cradle Will Rock’ deserves better than its current mounting at Classic Stage.”
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New York Stage Review
April 3rd, 2019

“An admirable presentation of an historically important musical...Doyle and his denizens blow the accumulated dust off the piece, bringing out the strengths in this most uncompromising work...Doyle puts his well-known devices to work on the piece, stripping it down to essentials...Doyle’s favored use of actor-musicians works perfectly...The intimate production places full attention on the cast, revealing some fine performances...A compelling production of a compelling piece of writing.”
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New York Stage Review
April 3rd, 2019

"Doyle not at all at his considerable best. The result is less than impressive...It’s too bad that this often fevered, entirely fascinating work’s proletarian and musical charms are muffled in Doyle’s misjudged, under-performed production...Generally, there’s too little zest to their group effort, however, and the show merely plods along rather than rouses the audience. Sad to say, this rendition of 'The Cradle Will Rock' scarcely rocks at all."
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TheaterScene.net
April 7th, 2019

"Many of Blitzstein's melodic tunes are plunked out on the piano by several of the players at various points. But the fault is not only due to Doyle's direction: what's missing from Blitzstein's 'The Cradle Will Rock' is the heart and/or soul that every musical requires. It's a wannabe musical or opera that, ironically, lacks substance, given its heavy-hitting intentions."
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Theatre is Easy
April 4th, 2019

"Classic Stage offers a first-rate production of a mediocre script. The performances are top-notch, especially an energetic and rousing big finish by Tony Yazbeck. CSC artistic director John Doyle directs and designs a beautiful set that creates the illusion of theatre on a shoestring budget...It's fun to watch this production while imagining the excitement that surrounded 'The Cradle Will Rock' when it premiered during the Great Depression."
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Theater Pizzazz
April 4th, 2019

"While it’s a great story of art fighting against censorship, that doesn’t necessarily mean the art itself was great. In making a case for the latter, the Classic Stage Company has stacked the deck impressively, restaging Blitzstein’s mostly sung-through work with a cast that could have given Welles’s legendary Mercury troupe a run for its money...Doyle’s left Blitzstein squarely in the past, speaking a radical language that doesn’t seem to connect anymore."
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CurtainUp
April 3rd, 2019

"The cast will pull you into the power of the gritty score as sung by the actors...While ‘The Cradle Will Rock’ tends to come off as a sermon more than an entertainment, the finely sung songs make up for this. And this production does fit Doyle's vision for theater more reliant on its actors' talent and versatility than more elaborate stagecraft...Ultimately, my biggest disappointment was that it wasn't hopelessly dated, but undeniably relevant.”
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Stage Buddy
April 8th, 2019

"The songs tell the story, but little is memorable and at times the stories are plodding and uninspiring. The show has a few earnestly-moving moments, especially with Yazbeck as the struggling druggist and Lara Pulver as Moll, but the show is little more than a series of events...Although the economy is better today, the themes still resonate as the wealthy classes and big business continue to hold sway over all facets of the economy."
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Front Mezz Junkies
April 5th, 2019

"Although actually adding ballet movement might not be the key to this dramatic play with music, the passion and emotional depth of what dance might have brought to the thesis on corruption and resistance is what this CSC production is lacking...The singing registers beautifully, the dance of the staging entertains, the enthusiasm of the cast resonates, but the heart of the piece never pumps with the same power of what that first rebellious production had to endure."
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Exeunt Magazine
April 10th, 2019

"The contemporary relevance is tenuous at best and Doyle’s production does not go any further in clarifying it. Blitzstein’s songs are all performed with the same rousing drive and they blend together until they’re numbing. By the time Tony Yazbeck leads the title song towards the end, it doesn’t inspire a wave of collective support in the union, it’s just another blip on the radar. That’s no fault of Yazbeck’s who turns in another in a string of phenomenal performances...The minimalism is too minimal."
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C
April 3rd, 2019

"Are you tired of living in a world where corporate greed reigns supreme, where the working class must fight daily for a decent wage, and where the rich and poor are treated differently? If that's your point of view, I suspect you're not alone. More to the point, I suspect John Doyle believes you're not alone either, which is likely why he is concluding his current season at Classic Stage Company with a solid revival of Marc Blitzstein's rarely produced 'The Cradle Will Rock.'"
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Theatre's Leiter Side
April 4th, 2019

"If you don't know the script, or can't make out the lyrics as they're being overpowered by the piano pounding,…you'll have considerable difficulty in making out who's the plutocrat, the cop, the druggist, the hooker, the foreman, and so on. Nor will it be easy to separate the different characters played by actors wearing the same garments for each…Fast-paced but monotonous…The wind is blowing at the CSC but down has come baby, 'The Cradle Will Rock' and all."
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Times Square Chronicles
April 4th, 2019

"Classic Stage Company’s stripped-down revival of Marc Blitzstein’s 1937 'The Cradle Will Rock' seems right on the money and yet it lacks oomph...Sadly Tony Yazbeck does not dance much and his two roles seem the same. I especially liked the performances of Benjamin Eakeley who clearly made both of his roles his own. Unfortunately Doyle did not bring out the nuances of this piece or really make it his own and this version made me long for The Acting Company’s version."
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Gotham Playgoer
April 4th, 2019

"Doyle has assembled an excellent cast...Even though the story, very much a product of its time, comes across as dated, the underlying themes remain all too relevant today. For me the weakest link was Blitzstein’s music which sounded like Weill on an off day. If you want to see an historic period piece, you may well enjoy it."
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The Wrap
April 4th, 2019

“Blitzstein isn’t subtle and neither is Doyle...Doyle always seems to capture one truly memorable performance...’Cradle’ doesn’t provide such a star turn, but Pulver mesmerizes...Her scenes with Yazbeck and Eakeley emit a palpable heat. Eakeley and the triple-cast Cooper display great singing voices, and it’s a treat to hear them unamplified. Another effective touch are the four actors who rotate playing the piano.”
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T
April 3rd, 2019

"John Doyle’s intimate staging adds a spark of spontaneity but does not deepen the thin characters or repetitive plot...Laura Pulver and Rema Webb provide pathos in emotional renditions of 'Nickel Under the Foot' and 'Joe Worker,' but this 'Cradle' is mostly an interesting curio rather than a gripping human musical."
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Stage Left
April 17th, 2019

"Yazbek is a standout, as always, but this production ends up being too minimalist for its maximalist ideas, and too one-note in delivery. The result is highly legible but lacks in heart and gut. Then again, 'The Cradle Will Rock' is a difficult piece to love for it shines an uncompromising light on the darker truths of the American experience and is the product of an uncompromising artist."
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New York Theatre Guide
April 4th, 2019

"Doyle has assembled a small but talented cast who all manage to nimbly navigate their multiple roles. The spare set using metal barrels moved around in different configurations in tandem with the Brechtian announcements of scene are enough to establish place. The costumes turn out to be the only problem here. "
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C
April 4th, 2019

"This is a fine production thanks to these talented actors...Doyle’s direction/staging/design is spot-on...The lyrics to the songs are gems. The voices of the actors, the gemcutters...At times, the gemcutters in the production, were imprecise; the song lyrics were garbled. When the cutters were precision sharp and clear, the songs soared and thrilled. This is a potentially stunning production which fell a bit short for that reason and that alone."
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M
April 5th, 2019

"Could be seen as a relic of Great Depression-era agitprop: recurringly relevant, but still a product of times gone by...However, this Off-Broadway revival...is triumphantly alive, with its 10-member ensemble bringing passion, immediacy and theatrical acuity to the script’s thesis, its music and sardonic, bitter humour...What Doyle and company succeed in doing is making it thrillingly relevant."
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Off Off Online
April 4th, 2019

“Badly cast, badly sung, badly designed, and badly staged...The casting is flat-out strange...With the original company of 36 whittled down to 10, it’s inevitable that some cast members will be in over their heads...It’s a darn shame, because...‘Cradle’ is appallingly current...'Cradle Will Rock' has survived dreadful stagings; it will survive this one, and astute observers may even recognize its genius in this rendering, despite Doyle’s hackery. But it’s a much better show than this.”
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Off Script with Dan Dwyer
April 12th, 2019

“Disappointing...Doyle, whose streamlined, inventive staging has illuminated anew versions of ‘Company’ and ‘Sweeney Todd,’ seems adrift here. Blitzstein's score is played solely on...piano. The effect is monotonous...Blitzstein's score, while mostly operatic, includes popular song idioms, but the arrangements are so thin, there’s only a vague trace of them here...Oddly, too, Blitzsteins’ apparent satire is played as farce. Even if this ‘Cradle’ is playing for laughs, it’s not funny.”
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Show Showdown
April 4th, 2019

"There is no doubt that it is an important work. It is also dull. John Doyle's direction uses cutesy devices to try to liven up the evening, but he can't fight the reality that 90 minutes of in-your-face lecturing set to non-melodious music is a slog...The cast is excellent. It is a treat to hear their beautiful unmiked voices."
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Broad Street Review
April 4th, 2019

"The results can be crude and obvious—and so can certain elements of Doyle’s staging...The talented cast offer a handful of finely wrought performances that smooth some of the material’s rougher edges...Doyle’s strong production of 'Cradle' makes its audience wise to the unheralded legacy of Marc Blitzstein."
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TheaterScene.com
April 11th, 2019

“Doyle’s hard working company of actors does not project the fire-in-the-belly fervor that propelled Welles’s original company...Without that inner conviction and turmoil, Blitzstein’s stereotypical caricatures lose their power...Further, Doyle’s piano does not sing...We admire what is going on but remain at a cool Brechtian remove. If that is in Doyle’s design, it is a miscalculation. We want to, we need to be fired up...It’s all very college theatre.”
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StageBiz.com
April 3rd, 2019

"A great musical whose messages still resonate...Blitzstein's ideas and sound work convincingly well together...John Doyle avoids the excess messaging that marred 'The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui' earlier this season...The director’s signature actor-singer as musician fits this show perfectly."
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Reclining Standards
April 4th, 2019

"Essentially, Blitzstein makes the same point over and over again...I haven’t had much patience for Doyle’s style in the past, but it’s an excellent fit for 'Cradle,' which, as presented here, in a lean 90 minutes with an ensemble of ten performers who stay in stage throughout, is also optimally suited for the Classic Stage Company space...If there are moments when Doyle pushes too hard—as in unnecessarily literal use of money thrown around the stage—well, it goes with territory."
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Third Coast Review
April 4th, 2019

"A few of the performers are excellent singers and the score is melodic and lively—better than the often-cheesy lyrics. As much fun as the left-wing romp is, 'The Cradle Will Rock' shows its age beyond salvation."
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