New York | 2h 25m | Already closed

Bastard Jones

From 16 critic and 61 member reviews
Members say: Entertaining, Great singing, Clever, Funny, Great staging

About the show

The Cell presents a new rock musical based on Henry Fielding’s bawdy 18th-century novel "The History of Tom Jones." A rollicking adventure of deception, misunderstanding, and bed-hopping. More…

‘Bastard Jones’ centers on Tom Jones, a bastard-born charmer with a heart of gold and a knack for trouble, looking for love in all the wrong places. Tom gets banished from the only home he knows simply for expressing his true self, leading him to conscription in the army, a half-naked romp at a country inn, and a stint as the boy toy to an aristocrat.

2h 25m | Already closed | The Cell (Chelsea)

Stage Buddy

“If I could fill this review with synonyms for ‘brilliant’ it still wouldn’t be enough, or do justice to just how good 'Bastard Jones' is…A rock musical extravaganza that stays true to the picaresque novel it is based on…A most joyous and innovative production…There is brilliant comedic timing by every single actor, catchy and powerful songs, and outstanding physical comedy…Run now, before you have to go on a wait list to see it on Broadway where it will surely find a deserving, long-term home.” Full Review

Reviews Off Broadway

“I was blown away by this amazing cast, witty script, good songs and one of the most fun evenings I have had in the theater in a long time. It is the story of Tom Jones - a bastard raised in the home of a country squire. Written as a response to the hypocritical puritans of King George the III's time, it can be considered quite bawdy or extremely raunchy, depending on your puritanical moral compass. Staged in a tiny theater, with minimal props, it is an unexpected surprise (if a bit long).” Full Review


"'Bastard Jones' is surprisingly accessible for a contemporary musical based on a long and episodic 18th century novel. Sophisticated and off-color, naughty but nice, it proves to be a sharp and irreverent entertainment. With a terrific cast and a star making performance by Evan Ruggiero, witty and clever, 'Bastard Jones' is both a delightful 18th century and 21st century evening in the theater." Full Review


"An incredibly clever, zany, sexy, and raucous show that is as funny as it is profound...This is just the sort of guilty fun that everyone is looking for and, for a little over two hours, will bring such joy to your heart and a 'tingle' to everywhere else...With a score that is heart-pumping, contemplative and altogether wonderful, and a plot that is given a dose of modernity to make it comical, 'Bastard Jones' will become one of your favorite shows you hope to see on a Broadway stage one day." Full Review

Theatre Reviews Limited

"There are numerous reasons to see 'Bastard Jones,' but topping the list is to purely enjoy an evening of raucous fun...Acito has deftly directed his motley cast with a distinct madcap style, never losing sight of the underlying affirmative message of human rights...The entire cast each stands on their own and embraces the word ensemble...Do not miss this limited engagement, which certainly deserves a continued life in the vibrant New York theater scene." Full Review

Applause! Applause!

"This rock musical comedy started out with a bang and ended with an earth shaking finale. The play told the oft-comedic tale of Tom Jones, a 1749 story of a bastard ward to an English squire named Allworthy. Marc Acito, the writer of Allegiance, did a superb job of weaving amusing action between entertaining songs setting the stage for gripping reveals. He and lyricist Amy Engelhardt were aided by an energetic cast with strong vocal talent that provided us ample opportunity to bask in awe." Full Review

The Reviews Hub

“Acito does a great job of bringing every cast member’s uniqueness forward. Wang delivers a flawless vocal performance as the childhood friend that has captured Tom’s heart…Engelhardt’s music is tastefully varied, making bold choices even in comedic numbers. The lyrics seem to inject adrenaline into the satire of yesteryear, adding a little modern obscenity to keep things fresh...This adaptation highlights the joy of sexuality, and leads by example with a talented, diverse cast." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

“Musical comedy is actually far too tame a way to describe what goes way beyond even musical farce in its rowdy, hellzapoppin approach, throwing realism to the winds and—although there's no nudity per se—letting it all hang out…A carefully calibrated cacophony of door slamming, head banging, and otherwise free-swinging mayhem, supplemented by…vibrantly energetic choreography…The show's biggest drawback is its sophomoric humor.” Full Review

Time Out New York

"'Bastard Jones' is randy yet ingenuous; it’s like a very bawdy Disney movie, with hummable pop music to match. Staged with few frills, it relies mainly on the talents of its diverse and impressive cast of nine...If this smartly plotted and irrepressible musical moves beyond the Cell, there is work to be done in beefing up the characters and polishing the jokes. But the show has legitimate potential." Full Review

Broadway Blog

"The Cell feels like an R-rated living room...The townhouse can seat a few dozen, and the action jumps between floors, plenty of phallic references, and innovative staging by Acito...In the title role, Ruggiero is a charmer, with a wide-eyed disposition and piercing voice...'Bastard Jones' could use some trimming in its running time, and some minor tightening of its bits, but these are minor considerations." Full Review

Theatre is Easy

"'Bastard Jones' is a heck of a good time...Not all of the show's songs are equal. Don't get me wrong, the singers are fantastic, but not every number can be a winner. Luckily this talented group knows how to act through their singing, which was a nice surprise...If you are an adult and like entertaining songs, talented actors, a decent love story, funny jokes, and some plot twists, this is a wonderful way to spend an evening." Full Review

The New York Times

"Mr. Acito mostly succeeds in turning the Cell company’s limited resources into an aesthetic choice...Harder to overcome are the venue’s trying acoustics, which make it difficult to fully appreciate the score by Engelhardt...But you can still tell that catchy songs, reminiscent of Lloyd Webber’s pop-rock catalog, are lurking in there...'Bastard Jones' goes through clunky patches, but its nonjudgmental approach to sex and disability, and its brash desire to entertain, are winning." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

“The shaggy and generally endearing new rock musical comedy captures the raucous spirit of the original novel while gently targeting 21st century issues…Ruggiero carries the musical with ease, and he is charming, sexy, and innocently goofy in equal measure…Acito has done an outstanding job synthesizing the expansive plot and episodes of the original source material…Acito's lyrics are rather less distinctive...Similarly, Engelhardt's music is often pleasant but not memorable.” Full Review

Secco Recit

"All the same, there is much fun to be had. Most of the comedy, for me at least, came in the form of the puns, quips, and one-liners delivered primarily by Partridge, but also many of the other characters. (As an example, one particularly groan-worthy joke, uttered in a ball scene, I must echo here: ‘What are you doing here?’ ‘The minuet!’) There was also a good deal of slapstick, but never to the point that it felt overdone." Full Review

Off Off Online

"A vibrant 21st-century creation, utilizing rock, ballads, and the occasional reverb...Ruggiero displays indomitable athleticism...The cast works tirelessly to keep the story going, and the inn at Upton approximates the door-slamming farce in the film...Overall, though, high comedy has lost to low on several fronts...What 'Bastard Jones' needs is the class-conscious, tongue-in-cheekiness of 'A Gentlemen’s Guide to Love and Murder.' Too often what was playfully bawdy is now merely vulgar." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"Dispiritingly, the dialogue is loaded with the kind of gags not heard since Minsky's Burlesque was shuttered forever...Suffice to say that a full evening of these smirkers is enough to induce vows of chastity in audience members looking for some semblance of adult wit. The songs don't provide much relief, a few appealing melodies aside...Given the general poverty of the humor, it's striking how well the cast, under Acito's direction, maintains its sense of high spirits." Full Review

Funny, Great singing, Great acting, Great writing, Great staging

See it if You love clever, fast-moving entertainment , well-written and perfectly pitched performances.

Don't see it if You seek realistic representational theater- or don't have a sense of humor! Or don't like rock and roll...

Masterful, Hilarious, Great singing, Delightful, Entertaining

See it if You want to see a great small musical that could become a big one with a fantastic cast especially male lead.

Don't see it if You can't appreciate a diamond in the rough.

Clever, Great singing, Entertaining

See it if you want to see a raucous, rocking, re-telling of a classic tale told by a sexy/funny/talented cast in a unique style with a ton of heart.

Don't see it if you don't like pop rock musicals or you think you need to know the source material (which you don't!)

Also See it before it inevitably heads uptown. This piece has serious talen... Read more Read less

Great staging, Raunchy, Hilarious, Delightful, Must see

See it if you like light farcical comedy, close-up view of some tremendous performing talent, innovative use of tiny space & minor props, diverse cast

Don't see it if raunchy humor does not appeal to you; you have an issue with small space and not very comfortable seating (such as bar stools)

Also GO SEE THIS SHOW! you'll enjoy it even if you don't like musicals: it'... Read more Read less

Entertaining, Creative staging, Talented cast

See it if you like a crazy funny musical w/ a lot of simulated sex on stage for art's sake! It reminds me of sexy fun of Avenue Q but w/o the puppets!

Don't see it if you feel prudish about sex on stage & in music ...but if you'll keep an open mind, ears & eyes, you will not regret any second of this show!

Absorbing, Delightful, Entertaining, Funny, Hilarious

See it if You love absurd musical comedies that have great singing, dancing, and farce. Incredibly funny and dirty, you'll really enjoy yourself!

Don't see it if You're looking for a nice; wholesome family show. Or if you don't like inappropriate humor and situations.

Funny, Great acting, Entertaining, Gorgeous lights, Baudy!

See it if I loved it. Well directed and baudy fun. Great cast. Stage the size of a postage stamp and yet everything fit and worked.

Don't see it if you're offended by sexual references. I found it delightful.

Clever, Entertaining, Funny, Great staging, Resonant

See it if Some standout numbers satisfy you with this unique new take of an old tale

Don't see it if You expect a standard literary treatment of JONES.

Witty, Raunchy, Great cast, Entertaining, Inventively staged

See it if you appreciate endlessly resourceful staging and an irreverent, contemporary approach that is in keeping with the novel's social satire

Don't see it if bawdy humor isn't your thing or can't relinquish your memory of Finney in the Tom Jones film--which was great in an entirely different way

Also Space is tiny, arrive early for best seats. Acoustics are not great: s... Read more Read less

Great singing, Great staging, Bawdy, Very silly, Entertaining

See it if you'd like Rocky Horror to marry Anything Goes and go back to the 18th century in a tiny off-Bway theater

Don't see it if you hate silliness, bad jokes, a lot of simulated sex, and Shakespearean-comedy-level misunderstandings

Also With a little work, this play is going to a bigger theater and a lot o... Read more Read less

Quirky, Entertaining, Funny, Great singing, Slow

See it if you enjoy quirky staging and clever choreography highlighted by a few excellent performances.

Don't see it if you prefer a more polished final product.

Clever, Entertaining, Hilarious, Raunchy, Edgy

See it if You love Ave Q edgy style musicals , just more hard edge

Don't see it if Dramatic shows are what you are looking for that night.

Clever, Entertaining, Great singing, Great staging

See it if you enjoy a musical based on the novel Tom Jones. Witty lyrics, catchy songs and a very talented cast. Great staging in small theater.

Don't see it if you like serious drama or dignified musicals. This has plenty of risqué humor but it's all in fun.

Also I would like to see this musical in a larger theater to do more justic... Read more Read less

Clever, Great singing, Great staging, Edgy

See it if See a show that could have a further life staged in a very intimate space

Don't see it if Want big flashy musicals

Ambitious, Confusing, Entertaining, Slow, Well acted & sung

See it if Boisterous musical adapt of Fielding's epic novel Small ensemble play multiple parts causing confusion Ruggiero's exuberant Tom carries show

Don't see it if Far too many songs drag show's momentum & cause fatigue Sightlines often hindered by tight stage but directed w/ vigor by lyricist Acito

Clever, Ambitious, Relevant, Fun, Smart

See it if You like social relevance in the style of Peter And The Starcatcher. Also, 50 seats in Chelsea in a classy environment!

Don't see it if You don't like a few actors playing many parts.

Ambitious, Entertaining, Quirky

See it if you want to feel like your friends are putting on a silly show in their living room; an admirable effort at acting, directing and composing.

Don't see it if you want a fully developed show in a traditional setting, you are in the mood for serious theater.

Fluffy, Hilarious

See it if You want a fun and silly show

Don't see it if You prefer a more sophisticated or serious show

Clever, Quirky, Irreverent, Well & cleverly staged, Great singing ranges

See it if A spirited, fun, well-intentioned if obvious musical farce appeals, its fully committed cast largely fine with amazing vocal ranges.

Don't see it if You're disturbed by farce, a mostly unmemorable score or watching the lead actor literally screw on his actual prosthetic peg leg.

Also A lot of inventive staging manages to circumvent the extreme limitatio... Read more Read less

Funny, Great singing, Quirky, Clever

See it if You want to see a diverse cast, with diverse staging, rock out to some great music. Remember that it's a comedy!

Don't see it if You're not into more intimate experiences, and if you are opposed to some adult content.

Entertaining, Bawdy, Raucous, Great staging, Indulgent

See it if Energetic, silly, vulgar. Likable cast & musicians, captured the story, cleverly staged, likable score. Lots of talent.

Don't see it if Runs out of steam, exhausting over-the-top-campy performances, endless dirty jokes, songs go on forever. Lose an hour.

Cute, Great singing, Raunchy, Bawdy farce, Catchy upbeat songs

See it if You like seeing very talented diverse actors in a small, scrappy, less polished/designed show. If you don't mind raunchy, vulgar sex humor.

Don't see it if You like things to be conservative and classy. If you only like big produced musicals! If you don't like tiny theaters w/only 40 seats!

Zany, Dizzying, High energy, A little slow, Amusing

See it if you want madcap, raucous fun and bawdy humor - with clever staging. Impressive disability-inclusive casting and witty writing.

Don't see it if you're not prepared for a high energy (and, at times, exhausting) romp. A bit long, but enjoyably (if sometimes frenetically) funny.

Entertaining, Confusing, Great singing, Dizzying

See it if You want to see a truly amazing performance by a young man named Evan Ruggiero, who lost a leg to cancer. He is a real inspiration.

Don't see it if More contemporary musicals are your thing. This is a take off on Tom Jones. If you're not a fan of the story, you may not enjoy this.

Also The actors do a great job, although the multiple parts played by them ... Read more Read less

Raunchy, Quirky, Great singing

See it if You like crazy weird sloppy theater

Don't see it if You expect high production values

Cast & Creatives (19)