This world premiere musical from Stephen Trask ('Hedwig and the Angry Inch') and Peter Yanowitz (The Wallflowers) is part rock opera, part impressionist tone poem set in the nightclubs and art world of 1979 NYC. More…
'This Ain’t No Disco' interweaves the stories of strivers, dreamers and drifters searching for their place at Studio 54 and Mudd Club, the art scene, and downtown lofts. In their uptown/downtown quest for revelry and kinship, this disparate group, in different stages of becoming and falling apart, find themselves and each other in a city on the verge of a massive cultural shift. Directed by Tony Award winner Darko Tresnjak ('A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,' 'Anastasia').
“The music is great, the dancing is perfect, the lyrics are very funny, the actors are very alive and into it...It’s a good story. We relate to it and the characterizations are solid...But these stories are totally predictable. If the performances were not so tight, the music and lyrics...not so infectious, we might not be so entertained...I predict this show will be a sensation, because the work of this ensemble on the stage is flawless. I just wish the story had been pushed to braver limits." Full Review
"The alternately wistful, thoughtful and passionate score, with the emphasis on disco anthems, carries the show along at a breakneck pace until the crazy plotlines unwind abruptly to reveal a pretty, domestic ménage, satisfactorily landing the survivors of the craziness in a micro-mutual admiration society, a bit of a cop-out, perhaps, but a relief from the preceding mayhem." Full Review
“A loud, long, and lively musical...Lyrics are occasionally discernible, and the score is comforting in a way that you would expect from its mixture of new wave and rock. While none of arias either demand...any extended displays of enthusiasm, their interpreters are generally excellent...The book offers us a bevy of seedy, oddly familiar characters...The production generally fulfills its obligation to afford us the glitter of Studio 54 as well as the grimness of wallowing in the ‘Mudd’.” Full Review
"The production may capture some of the style and pulse of NY...but deeper quirks and contradictions are either brushed over or left unexplored...The music—the show’s best feature...is unabashedly lush and quite soulful at times, injecting predictable glimmers of glam into melodies that can soar with pop and theatrical savvy. If only the characters were drawn with as much invention...Never dull, and even intermittently thrilling, it still leaves opportunities not fully realized." Full Review
“Classic example of a problematic book working mischief on an excellent score. Thankfully, ‘Disco’ is almost nonstop singing, and Trask and Yanowitz show a true gift for melody...They’re calling their new musical ‘a rock opera’. I missed the rock, but did hear some very fine ballads, patter songs, bubblegum, rap, and disco...Tresnjak’s direction fails to disguise the book’s flaws, but he keeps the story moving even when it takes one of many wrong turns.” Full Review
“There are some good songs here...But this musical ain’t no disco...Part goofy mockumentary, part serious documentary, part ‘if I can make it here, I’ll make it anywhere' story, ‘This Ain’t No Disco’ focuses on a number of oft-told stories...The direction and choreography are borderline frenetic...There are some decent songs...Maybe if you know nothing about Studio 54, you’ll find the story amusing. For me this was simply a wasted opportunity to recreate an iconic New York slice of history." Full Review
"It's hard to believe that three book writers labored to create this cadre of cartoon figures...The score has its moments...'This Ain't No Disco' moves quickly, possibly to prevent unwanted thoughts from arising about the book's general implausibility...Missing from the production is the sense of exhilaration -- of getting away with something -- that was the main allure of places like Studio 54. The young, gifted cast gives it their all...Overall, 'This Ain't No Disco' perplexes." Full Review
"For all its high-energy hedonism featuring handsome half-clad bodies, 'This Ain’t No Disco,' doesn’t elicit desire or delight or nostalgia so much as it does confusion...It’s also confusing that 'This Ain’t No Disco' doesn’t look or sound much like the 70s Studio 54 scene...All these performers are clearly talented – although the ones playing the caricatures are more fun than the earnest strivers with whom we’re supposed to identify." Full Review
"'This Ain’t No Disco' in general, is not cool or edgy in the manner that made Studio 54 iconic and memorable. It’s crass and overtly sexual without being sexy in the least, throwing unnecessary simulations of blow jobs and dirty words at is us constantly...These seasoned actors all do compelling work, but in reality, this isn’t about them, and shouldn’t be about them, but the unfocused book doesn’t seem to know that...The four stories we care about the most get lost or completely ignored." Full Review
"I'm not sure what I find most confusing about 'This Ain't No Disco,' the ambitious if hopelessly muddled rock opera now debuting: the show's title (since the action takes place at Studio 54, which was definitely a disco) or its misguided attempt to contextualize the last year of 54, remind us of the power wielded by Warhol, and tell the fictional stories of several people, none of which are ultimately all that interesting. Too often, the show has as little focus as a broken Instamatic." Full Review
"Frenziedly directed…it offers nearly sung-through disco and new wave music (little of it sounding like what it's a pastiche of) and sometimes indistinguishable lyrics…Cluttered, emotionally uninvolving book…With so much of these clubs' history easily available…(for some of us it wasn't that long ago), the reasons for its distracting blend of real and fictional personages are vague…Why not a book that accurately reflects the far more compelling drama of what really happened?" Full Review
"For all the visual richness of Tresnjak’s staging, it very rarely sounds like the Seventies. To write a rock musical about a disco palace is a little odd to begin with, but it’s stranger still to make a show that doesn’t aurally transport its audience to the era it means to evoke...The show’s book is a tangle of plot lines peopled with thinly drawn characters...If it adds up to anything, it’s a jumbled examination of greed and ambition and voracity for fame. But the glitter here is all just ... Full Review
“A hodgepodge, although a very vigorously staged and choreographed mess, with songs that only occasionally hit an emotional mark. ‘This Ain’t No Disco’ ain’t no winner, although there is plenty to ogle and all of the performers, main and supporting, work their often-shaking butts off...Misfired efforts to forge an involving drama. The total effect of the rock opera is numbing. One waits in hope that it can somehow be pulled together convincingly." Full Review
“While there’s plenty to look at, there’s seldom much of substance to hold on to. And despite a host of strongly sung performances, what’s there often feels flattened by a high-energy but unmemorable score and a storyline anchored by cliché...Struggles to get us invested in its cast...A lot of plot, but the problem is that we don’t care much about any of it...Sacrifices the potential effectiveness of small moments to a heady dependence on flashing lights and forward motion.” Full Review
“Despite the impressive pedigree of talent...’This Ain't No Disco’ seriously flounders...The show's main problem is its diffuse, unfocused book. Overstuffed with characters and subplots that we never care about...Tresnjak's staging and Brown's choreography prove more busy than exciting...A handful of terrific numbers, but most of the songs are unmemorable...Lyrics are sometimes jaw-dropping, but not in a good way...Lacks the right moves to give it future life.” Full Review
"The self-described 'rock opera' attempts to depict a community but produces only stereotypes and derivative songs...There are individual moments of excitement...But the storyline is overly familiar...Instead of insightful commentary and portraiture of a bizarre and intoxicating era, we get warmed-over tropes of innocence corrupted accompanied by pedestrian tunes and lyrics...'This Ain’t No Disco' ain’t worth your time." Full Review
"Some of 'This Ain't No Disco's' tunes are catchy but the overall score lacks cohesion...Their narrative totally fails to deliver. Its dialog, delivered in rhyming couplets, isn't nearly as clever as it wants to be. The multiple storylines are convoluted and ultimately make no sense...And the characters are so sketchy that it's hard to invest in what happens to any of them...The attempts at cinematic staging are clunky...The diverse and largely young cast is energetic but uneven." Full Review
“It’s tough to discern what story the creators aim to tell...It could be one about access and escape, fame and artistry, the primordial uptown-downtown tug-of-war...But it is rarely any one of these for long, and the result feels like a shopworn grab bag without much clutch...A new-wavey pop-rock score that lacks the boldness and tart flavor of his cult hit ‘Hedwig’...A book overstuffed with plot...Director Tresnjak struggles to differentiate uptown from downtown." Full Review
“An impressionistic jumble of songs and scenes...What we don’t get, at least with any substance or continuity, is a through-line of character or plot, as a succession of different people vie for attention and stage time. It’s impossible to get to know or care about anyone and Tresnjak’s relentless production is a visual and aural assault course, with dizzyingly blinding lighting...A succession of pulsating electronic beats from which tunes only intermittently break out.” Full Review
“The frenetic, floundering rock opera...Tresnjak directs a determined cast...At two and a half hours, ‘Disco’ makes your head spin...packing in so much it's impossible to maintain focus...As for the music, you'll be disappointed if you're hoping for disco — more like punk rock, with some country-sounding ballads thrown in. A good show may be lurking here, but right now it's all too frantic and disjointed.” Full Review
"Despite a top-notch creative team and an undeniably talented cast, viewing this musical requires a protective sheen for one’s vision. The production is too bright, too loud and too long – all of which, perhaps, are an attempt to hide the lack of substance in this story...An overambitious story of an assorted collection of cliched characters is set to song, with little emotion to inspire the audience’s investment...There are simply too many characters to keep track of, let alone care about." Full Review
“Hot mess of a musical...As manically unfocused as a club queen on a coke bender, it is at once thematically overstuffed and emotionally barren...Plenty of driving melodies that get our toes tapping for a minute or two before ceding ground to the next track. By the end of the evening, we're hard-pressed to remember any of them. The same could be said of the scattered book...In lieu of precise direction, the cast reverts to clichéd sensationalism...As edgy as a pair of safety scissors.” Full Review
“‘This Ain’t No Disco’, an original rock opera about the art, music, and dance club scenes of 1979 New York, ain’t kidding...Bland and soulless, overstuffed, overdone, and under-dramatized, with a cacophony of characters, ideas, and issues offering only a sprawling, shallow story that is neither unique, distinctly tethered to the history of the setting, or frankly, engaging. This isn’t just a flop, but a belly flop—the likes of which you rarely see on stage in New York anymore.” Full Review
“Lyrics from a song in the new musical ‘This Ain’t No Disco’...will make us yearn for the golden age of disco...This new musical is just as dumb as that dopey lyric...The costumes are imitative, the performances are caricatures, and the choreography is awful...All energy and no style...The repetitive music doesn’t lean into the changing trends, while the choreography just re-works the same old steps for tired feet...’This ain’t no disco’, to be sure.” Full Review
"Under the puzzling disjointed direction of Darko Tresnjak, it remains if the intent of the work is history or parody, comedy, tragedy, or morality play; the result is a shallow, disconnected, and unsuccessful mish-mash, with no believable characterizations, no incisive humor, and no authentic evocation of the period...Rife with clichés, stereotypes, and anachronisms...Predictable storylines...Cast tries too hard to compensate for the unsuccessful material.” Full Review
See it if you enjoy wonderful singing and acting. Also, if you want to learn a bit of disco history and be transported back to Studio 54 days.
Don't see it if the period is not your thing. Also, the singing at times overpowered the microphone and it was hard to understand the words.
See it if you like visually interesting and well sung Rock Operas. If you are interested in stories surrounding Studio 54 at it's heyday.
Don't see it if dislike rock music and complicated plots. If you don't care about the "Disco Days" of the 80's.
See it if If you want to experience or relive the raunchy era of Studio 54/Mudd Club thru it’s stars and victims with a winning and talented cast of s
Don't see it if You want pure disco music and dance
Also Singers and dancers in a great ensemble with great set design
See it if you like rock musicals filled with terrific singing, great choreography, & a truckload of talent.Book is a bit of a muddle, but show is FUN!
Don't see it if you are offended by LGBT issues, or are looking for a revival of yet another Golden Age of Musicals show.This is fun and edgy.Amazing voices
See it if you like historical epochs, like to see real figures portrayed in a fictional setting, and like New York's colorful 1970's history.
Don't see it if you don't like long musicals, don't like overstaged productions, don't like stories where many characters are interwoven.
See it if You EVER went to Studio or are wistful about those times. Female-lead a star is born! But very edgy and sexual
Don't see it if You don’t like sexy edgy musicals that deal with gender issues in your face. If you have “traditional family values”, don’t go near it
See it if you'd reconnect with the disco era and the debauchery of Studio 54. There are tender moments within the raunchiness, and wonderful singing.
Don't see it if you don't like loud or scantily dressed performers [but no nudity].
See it if Strong cast and pedigree. Atlantic Theater Company.
Don't see it if Misses the mark; the artist is the most compelling character, but only flourishes at the end. Keep mise en scène intact, rewrite book/songs
See it if you’re a fan of Trask. The music’s good; the book (especially Act 1) needs A LOT of work. Samantha Ware & Peter LaPrade are appealing leads.
Don't see it if you don’t connect with the popular trope of people desperately seeking validation through gaining admittance to Studio 54.
See it if you enjoy works about late-70s NYC. If you're a fan of Hedwig. If you know of Steve Rubel, Andy Warhol, and, I think, Sue Mengers.
Don't see it if You want a focused, easy to follow story. If you prefer family-friendly fare. If you don't find the late-70s NYC music scene interesting.
See it if You like musicals. You were alive in NY in the late 70’s and 80’s. You liked the music in Runaways.
Don't see it if You expect disco music (This ain’t no disco.). Raunchy gay scenes offend you.
See it if you are interested in re-living the disco club days where appearance was everything and nothing at the same time. It's a trip back in time.
Don't see it if you cannot relate to the disco days of Studio 54 and nightclubs in NYC during the disco era.
See it if you love 1970s Studio 54 scene, Andy Warhol, and Steve Rubell. Great singing and dancing, and a very sexy cast.
Don't see it if expecting a finished work. Needs more fine-tuning, but an enjoyable night out.
See it if You are a Rent-head. Very similar feel. You are looking for a show that explores and pays homage to Studio 54.
Don't see it if You dislike shows that deal in archetypes and stereotypes rather than fully human characters.
See it if you want to support Atlantic or are a Studio 54 fan or weren't around during those years and have always been curious what it was all about.
Don't see it if you are expecting this to be as new, edgy and fun as Hedwig, if you are expecting great disco music, or developed stories and characters.
See it if You enjoy learning about Studio 54, disco culture, 1970s NYC culture, great singing, dancing, you liked Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Don't see it if You want a simple story and uncomplicated music, you can't handle haze or smoke or loud club music, you don't like flashy shows.
See it if you want to see a show that aims to examine the Studio 54 party kids culture in a way that seems influenced by RENT/Michael Greif.
Don't see it if you take issue with content and choreography that is often highly sexualized, and scenes that represent a particular subset of drug culture.
See it if you wish to see a show about the rise and fall of Studio 54. The singing is very good and some of songs are memorable.
Don't see it if you like a well developed musical. This one needs work, especially in the first act. Fewer numbers and more character development necy.
See it if You like amazing singing, you like caricatures of people like Andy Warhol, or you like intricate set design.
Don't see it if You prefer fleshed out shows. This show doesn't really address character flaws and character background.
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