Closed 1h 30m
Unexpected Joy
Midtown E
81

Unexpected Joy NYC Reviews and Tickets

81%
(140 Reviews)
Positive
92%
Mixed
6%
Negative
2%
Members say
Great singing, Entertaining, Delightful, Funny, Relevant

About the Show

The York Theatre Company's world premiere musical centers around three generations of female singers, long-held family tensions, and a week together where change is in the air. 

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Member Reviews (140)

77
Entertaining, Great music, Good story, Great singing

See it if You like women's stories, great music & singing. The music is more polished than most off-Broadway shows.

Don't see it if Parts of the plot are not believable. Needs a bit of work. A slow song needs to be cut or a few of those shortened. Drags the pace down. Read more

76
Entertaining, Funny, Good music, Relevant

See it if You enjoy comedic family dramas where differences of opinion cause tension. Good music and performances by cast.

Don't see it if At times the show verges on "cheesy" (The characters a band where named 'Jump & Joy') however overall it is a sweet show

Critic Reviews (19)

May 3rd, 2018

"The show had its premiere on Cape Cod two summers ago with a different director and cast. Revised since then, it retains both its primary strengths — Hood’s music and Russell’s lyrics, though their title song is still underwhelming — and its fatal weaknesses: Russell’s strained plot and sitcom-shallow dialogue, and a central character so self-absorbed that you have to wonder what Lou, who is a catch, sees in her. Mason’s performance...is the least assured in an otherwise strong cast."
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May 3rd, 2018

"The end result is like what you'd imagine would come from a Netflix version of 'The Brady Bunch' — it has some leeway for edgier content but doesn't exactly know how to use it...The show seems to lose sight of the fact that it is preaching to the converted, not relaying new or revelatory information. The book's weaknesses become even more frustrating when compared to some of the truly lovely songs...Don't expect anything unexpected in this musical."
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May 8th, 2018

“Sweet, funny and very entertaining new musical...Sure, the plot can be a little contrived, but Russell's words are filled with wit and sincerity and Hood's music, played by music director Beth Falcone's four-person band, is a catchy blend of pop styles. Directed by Amy Anders Corcoran, the York Theatre Company's production is swift and light, but the show blasts into high gear when the four talented cast members raise their voices in rousing harmonies.”
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May 7th, 2018

"'Unexpected Joy' lives or dies on the audience caring whether this fractious little family holds together. But all the characters do is restate their positions, repeatedly, rendering the question unimportant and uninvolving...Admittedly, 'Unexpected Joy' goes down easily, thanks to some genuinely funny wisecracks, a passel of tuneful songs, and a quartet of performances that make everything seem better than it is."
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May 3rd, 2018

"A cheerful, rousing celebration that also boasts surprising complexity in its characters and their warped relationships...Credit composer Hood and especially librettist-lyricist Russell, who really, really knows how to write women...What may catch you unexpectedly is how equitably Russell has dished out the good and bad human traits among these four...Corcoran's direction is unfussy, and she allows pauses and silences where they're warranted, a rarity among directors of musicals."
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May 3rd, 2018

"It does give credulity quite a stretch, but it doesn’t test it to the absolute breaking point...Many 'Unexpected Joy' audiences will forgive its unexpected story line because the Bill Russell score, which has solos for all as well as duets and trios and quartets, is so pop-music-gospel-music strong...One of the unexpected joys of this production is the glorious singing on every song."
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May 3rd, 2018

"Well-intentioned but wan...The show’s setup—and its hazy framing device—is a memorial performance for Jump. A little predictable, but convenient, as it gives Joy, Rachel, Tamara, and Joy’s friend Lou (Allyson Kaye Daniel) an excuse to stand around and sing a bunch of songs, concert-style...Getting from song to song—that pesky libretto!—is the problem. Russell has a knack for one-liners, but not for plotlines."
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May 10th, 2018

"The accomplished score and vivid performances transcend the clichés making the predictability seem fresh...Russell’s appealing book expertly charts everyone’s backstory, sets up topical debates and resolves personal battles with an optimum amount of sentiment that doesn’t become cloying. The natural flowing dialogue contains much wit...Corcoran’s work with the cast is superlative...'Unexpected Joy' isn’t groundbreaking but is good-natured entertainment that’s affectively presented."
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May 3rd, 2018

"The talented cast (Allyson Kaye Daniel is a stand out both as an actress and a vocalist) delivers mostly generic songs with energy and sincerity. Appealing arrangements appreciably raise the level of material. Direction (Amy Anders Corcoran) is yeoman-like."
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May 3rd, 2018

"Features strong-voiced singers and a thoroughly professional presentation that works without a lot of lavish scenery or technical wizardry...The performers are all excellent, but this is hardly groundbreaking or extraordinarily fresh...That said, it's light-hearted fun, with likeable characters that takes a well-meaning look at the issues that divide modern American families."
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May 5th, 2018

“Filled with some pretty good pop/folk/blues-tinged songs sung by a talented cast of singers, but there are a few problems...How unexpected this story line is, and how full to the brim of conflicts to address. It’s a multi-layered wedding cake, tottering on a wobbly table, threatening to fall crashing to the ground...The resulting songs, as directed by Corcoran, are like a watered-down punch, trying too hard to satisfy two different parties...They taste fine, but rarely delicious."
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May 10th, 2018

"'Unexpected Joy’s' greatest attribute is that of its throwback score, which nods to Laura Nero, Joni Mitchell, and some bluesy references a la Tom Waits and Bob Dylan. Bringing those songs to life is a musically exceptional cast led by Mason...Director Corcoran and music director Falcone navigate the material with a watchful eye, though Russell’s script feels a bit belabored and occasionally like an unwanted houseguest when you’d rather just listen to these ladies sing."
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May 3rd, 2018

"If 'Unexpected Joy' were able to embody its narrative core and catchy songs within an imaginative framework unburdened by a superficial script, it might have a chance. But as it is now, it has a split personality…A few strong laughs help carry the essentially sitcom plot and dialogue, stereotypical characters, and feel-good ending…Many of the songs are actually very entertaining, if derivative…The vocally gifted, charismatic ensemble gives excellent performances in their paper-thin roles."
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May 4th, 2018

"Has a message that we all need to find the 'Common Ground.' In a country so torn apart by its convictions, this message could not come at a better time...Russell does better on the lyrics, than the book, which seems to want to make stereotypes out of each of these characters...So overstuffed with issues, that it becomes cliche. Hood's melodic score...Is catchy, but stuck in one time zone...Corcoran keeps things light, but it almost is too light for the weight of the material."
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May 4th, 2018

“Everything clicks, with a believable plot, a cast of four who can really sing as well as act and a four-musician band that gives the show further oomph...Charmingly staged, and as the plot unfolds, it is laced with catchy musical numbers defining the characters...When Tamara, looking and acting so innocent, bursts into her...song with its sexy moves and lyrics, she is a show-stopper...There is considerable cleverness in the lyrics and the music in varied styles is consistently appealing.”
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May 14th, 2018

“A groovy, folk rock score, an intriguing original story mining contemporary themes, and a quartet of strong female vocal performances; and some unfortunate faults: a script and direction lacking dynamism, stereotypical characters and sitcom-deep dialogue, and a pat ending. The whole show feels dated and unrealistic, with an 'agree to disagree' closing message about LGBT equality that I found troubling.”
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May 3rd, 2018

"Directed with an oh-so-light-and-pleasant touch by Amy Anders Corcoran...Has little of the fervent drama or cogent insight that would seem to be inherent in the subject. What joy it does offer comes in the form of a cast of talented vocalists and musicians...Despite the dramatic potential of the plot points, Russell’s characters are drawn as all-too-familiar stereotypes...The thinly-conceived story is tied together with entertaining numbers that support the musical conceit."
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May 3rd, 2018

"Pulses with energy, love, humor, and compassion...Lacks chorus, dances, and big numbers yet is completely full and satisfying...Russell and Hood are extremely well-served by Corcoran, who directs with clarity and rhythm...Amazing cast...All four women have beautiful voices, and their different personalities and styles mesh perfectly...While the band...is small, its sound is big...They truly rock...Deserves a nice long run."
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May 3rd, 2018

“Not a typical family musical...The plot is engaging and definitely not predictable. The acting is good. The way the cast relates to each other...makes you really feel like these people are a family...Full of lovely heartfelt songs...The cast's voices blend beautifully together...When all four women sing together the songs are especially delightful...Not a show for young children...And anyone who is extremely conservative...A nice show with terrific songs.”
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