"It’s finally here: a musical made for brainiacs! 'Futurity,' an odd and often beguiling show written by César Alvarez with his band the Lisps, could send science geeks into the kind of swoon that befalls more traditional musical theater lovers at a great production of, oh, anything by Stephen Sondheim...how refreshing to meet a musical that has too much on its mind, rather than too little." Full Review
"Those who like their theater messy and beautiful are liable to fall in love with 'Futurity.' The show's spritely touch-and-go relationship with its themes, however, will leave many feeling unsatisfied. If an artist is going to bite into a piece of red meat, he ought to be prepared to chew. 'Futurity' has a habit of spitting its themes into a napkin and hiding them under the table." Full Review
"There’s a fatal lack of dramaturgical forward motion to the affair, which alternates increasingly same-sounding tunes with fragments of dialogue and speeches...The density of intellectual whimsy and antiwar melancholy in 'Futurity' is admirable but too ungrounded in characters or situations to make us care very much. Alvarez and his collaborators merely create a tedious, prolonged present." Full Review
"A wildly original, often stunningly staged musical theatre piece that, in its own sideways manner, confronts something very dark in human nature...Not everything works: as the show progresses and becomes more surreal, the staging, rather than the words, holds it together. Having established its sad dichotomy between the world of the mind and the world of power and bloodshed, Alvarez mostly circles around it, finding new ways to express, as opposed to extending or complicating, it." Full Review
"Ultimately 'Futurity' probably offers up too much food for thought without it adding up to a completely satisfying meal. Still, the show is worth it for the music. Most of the dozen members of the cast play their own musical instruments, which enrich the musical on many levels, including the drama; the instruments serve as symbols, and as harmonious contrast to the discord of war." Full Review
"While the score generally makes for easy listening, too many tunes eventually begin to sound like one another. And, though the subject matter is provocative, and there are interesting ideas to ponder—including the relationship between the present and the future, the possibility of a world without war, the 'animating force' responsible for human intelligence, and the impact of technology—there’s little forward dramatic movement to the events." Full Review
"'Futurity' doesn't really go anywhere. It is essentially a folk concert mixed with didactic speeches. Still, one can't help but admire its contemplative and informal nature. Plus, the performers are chummy and there's free popcorn." Full Review
"Though I admire a lot of it, I am not a fan of its score. The combination of indie pop, country twang and repetitious themes, leave me cold. I’m also not a fan of pretentious 'I’m sure you won’t get it' banter and wink, wink ad libs...What is wonderful about 'Futurity' is its direction by Sarah Benson, its set design, the compelling lyrics that are hit and miss and the amazing cast who not only acts, dances and sings, but actually plays their instruments with aplomb." Full Review
"Despite its lofty ambitions, it never talks down to its audience...An engaging event that is a delight to experience, especially if it can be enjoyed as a concert. Teetering on the edges of performance art, the inherent weirdness in the piece makes it both exciting and a little alienating for those expecting a familiar musical theatre format. But for those looking for innovation, there is much to appreciate from The Lisps and this incredibly talented team." Full Review
"Pretty amazing and heady stuff for musical theater. Equally impressive as the concept for the show is its score. The songs are filled with erudite lyrics that also brim with emotion and compel theatergoers to contemplate the contemporary relevance of the tale...'Futurity' proves to be very much like the invention at its center: forward-thinking and experimental. And though it’s not fully successful, it’s difficult to not admire the attempt." Full Review
"It does all work, and it does feel very good. Every song hits its mark, whether it’s a banjo-plucking piece of Americana or indie pop...Alvarez and Tunis make an adorable pair on stage, and their intermittent banter creates a welcome, grounding counterpoint to the story’s fantastical premise and lofty idealism...Yet as utterly charming as all of that is, the production never really dreams the future." Full Review
"Direction by Sarah Benson was nothing short of visionary...Translating Julian and Ada’s frustration about war becomes 'Futurity’s' victory. Though envisioned as a war and peace argument, 'Futurity' often wins solely on the music." Full Review
"Mr. Alvarez’s music, combined with the relentlessly appealing cast under Sarah Benson’s capable direction, makes the show and its big, intellectual ideas feel personal and intimate...'Futurity' is not without its shortcomings...That said, so excellent are most elements of the show, the performers so thoroughly charming, that they overshadow the show’s few flaws and make the experience of 'Futurity' a pleasure." Full Review
"Tricky concepts lie at the heart of 'Futurity'... 'Futurity' collapses past, present, and future into a beautifully cerebral folk-rock spectacle... There’s little plot or character development here, and the premise is mostly a vehicle for the dizzyingly intellectual songs... These larger ideas, are what take 'Futurity' from being solely entertaining to fascinating." Full Review
"'Futurity' consists mainly of beautifully rendered songs pushing forward the story of a soldier and mathematician who build a giant machine in an exploration of peace and the nature of man. What makes 'Futurity' a vital piece of American theater is what they are able to create in the way of an extraordinary marriage between gorgeous song composition, impeccable staging, and innovative performance." Full Review
"If we think of the traditional musical as one that features characters who sing out of the need to express emotion, 'Futurity' stakes out a position that is more opaque, overtly conceptual. Characters are created in order to serve the songs, and the songs themselves are packed to the brim with philosophy, science, ideas. It’s poetics, not just poetry." Full Review
for a previous production "Ambitious, high-minded, sporadically engaging, and even captivating, “Futurity’’ is ultimately unsatisfying. As a concert by the Brooklyn-based indie band the Lisps, it works pretty well. As the musical it aspires to be, though, 'Futurity' falls short, undone by stilted, mannered dialogue and too many scenes that go slack or drift into speechifying." Full Review
for a previous production "The musical numbers in 'Futurity' are much stronger and more fully formed than the book. Things drag when conversations go on for more than a short span, but the pace and interest pick up as soon as another song kicks in...The concept album deserves to be heard, but I’m not convinced by the book that it warrants staging as a musical. Like the imaginary steam brain, it looks like a good idea on paper, but the blueprint loses something in the transition from page to stage." Full Review
for a previous production "It isn't easy to put together a 90-minute musical that includes the Civil War, the birth of computer programming, indie rock, the internal dynamics of Lord Byron's family, mathematical formulas, and writing letters back and forth about an invention that will either save the world or be a precursor to the atom bomb. So give credit to the American Repertory Theater for greenlighting such an ambitious project. Unfortunately, when you add all those ingredients into 'Futurity' you have quite a bi... Full Review
for a previous production "Elated, energized, and head spinning with songs about thought, technology, history, and dreams. I left a matinee performance of 'Futurity' with the conviction that I had just seen something important...'Futurity' is a remarkably timely production...'Futurity' is, in short, a work for today." Full Review
for a previous production "While the music is pretty good and the production is visually interesting (if techno-punk is your thing), the writing and lead performances are…well, what you’d expect from a band. They’ve basically taken big themes like war and science and run them through an Instagram filter. And like so many over-processed photos of sneakers and plates of pasta, the show’s intellectual penetration of its subject matter goes about as far as the pre-song banter at a pop concert." Full Review
for a previous production "A female scientist, a poetic script, gizmos, and an intellectual romance—'Futurity' has everything a hipster intellectual could ask for...'Futurity' is a poignant tale of what it means to believe in something, logical or not. It is not just a musical for philosophers in love; its combination of fantastic music and innovative set design make it a brilliantly executed piece that stands as one of the A.R.T.’s strongest recent showings." Full Review
See it if This is the kind of special downtown show you want to see off-Broadway. It was creative and ambitious and made great use of its ensemble.
Don't see it if you don't like the ensemble playing instruments. You don't like wordy songs. You hate steampunk. You only like singers with perfect voices.
See it if you like shows that are trying new things, you are interested in Ada Lovelace or the Civil War, or want to something different.
Don't see it if you are looking for a very straightforward show.
See it if you like very repetitive indie songs with clever lyrics and masterful staging. You don't mind a confusing story w. no character development.
Don't see it if you want a balanced musical and dislike occasional fourth-wall breaking, or if you need fully developed characters.
See it if amazing music in an odd, weird, messy, wildly original musical with wonderful leads and impressive cast and production.
Don't see it if a few slower moments that are more serious and slows down the pacing of the otherwise energetic and exciting musical is enough to turn u off
See it if you want a brilliant and incredibly cohesive visual and aural experience, exemplified most by its scenic design and instrumentation.
Don't see it if you have very specific ideals about musical theater. That said I believe theater-goers of all tastes have something to gain from Futurity.
See it if you like musical theatre but are looking for something more courageous and affordable than Broadway. Also, if you like TED talks :)
Don't see it if you don't appreciate anything that does not scream "this production costed millions!"
See it if You love folk or indie rock or exuberant innovative musical theater; you want to see the John Doyle musician/singer conceit perfected
Don't see it if you need a ton of plot/story to keep you engaged
See it if you have an open mind towards experimental types of musical theatre with plots that require a lot of thought.
Don't see it if you were hoping to see something like Wicked. Soho Rep/Ars Nova is far, far from Kansas.
See it if you enjoy tales of fictional history, science, and peace; if you love music and a talented cast. Very relevant to today's troubling times.
Don't see it if you can't handle scenes of war, death, or unconventional choreography. Also if you don't like when actors cross the fourth wall.
See it if you're looking for a small, experimental musical with beautiful vocals and an original plot.
Don't see it if you're looking for something easy and transparent. It's a little hard to follow, and the attempt at profundity can get heavy-handed fast.
See it if You enjoy musical theater that is both highly entertaining and makes you think.
Don't see it if You need your theater to be obvious and spoon feed you its themes and impressions like baby-food.
See it if You want to be enraptured/moved to tears by the power of imagination to transport us from horrifying situations. I cried for 2 solid hours.
Don't see it if You hate being confused or having any questions left unanswered.
See it if you enjoy folk music, innovative set design, and ensemble driven theater with uniquely talented leads
Don't see it if you don't have an imagination or care to ask big questions
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