Closed 2h 20m
The Boy Who Danced On Air
Midtown W
79

The Boy Who Danced On Air NYC Reviews and Tickets

79%
(59 Reviews)
Positive
86%
Mixed
9%
Negative
5%
Members say
Ambitious, Great singing, Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Intense

About the Show

Abingdon Theatre Company presents this new musical, a modern-day love story set in rural Afghanistan.

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Member Reviews (59)

78
Ambitious, Slow, Thought-provoking, Resonant, Great singing

See it if Ambitious chamber musical about culturally condoned (?) pedophilia in the Arab world. Very well sung & acted despite uncomfortable depiction

Don't see it if Overly plotted (the subplot is extraneous) & many songs hinder pacing The gay relationship between the bacha bazi dancers is underwritten

95
Absorbing, Clever, Great staging, Intelligent

See it if Great songs, great singing by all 5 male actors, fascinating (but..see below) tale. 2 great dancers.] Play needs a longer run.

Don't see it if disturbing topic of life in Afghanistan

Critic Reviews (25)

May 25th, 2017

"The ick factor here is dangerously high, a problem that the production labors hard to mitigate through aesthetics...It would be enough of an achievement to make this story palatable...But Mr. Rosser and Mr. Sohne were even more ambitious: They have two more stories to tell...Still, the music rewards the ear...What’s more, it is beautifully sung...To make a successful musical on this subject would require exquisite discretion, but discretion is exactly what the subject forbids."
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May 25th, 2017

"An unusual, profoundly affecting chamber musical...Creators Tim Rosser and Charlie Sohne amp up the drama in the second act, and push it further still in a coda. Their musical, optimally staged by Tony Speciale, taps into a universal source of pain and confusion: that phase of youthful innocence when, unable to fathom the adults who control us, we wishfully mistake them for gods."
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May 25th, 2017

"A challenging, courageous, and beautiful new musical...Rosser and Sohne employ a comfortingly familiar songwriting style to push thrillingly fresh ideas...Sohne's book efficiently places this human tragedy in the context of its society...Director Tony Speciale realizes Rosser and Sohne's vision with brilliance and thrift...A wholly original musical that is both emotionally and intellectually stirring. Anyone who cares about the future of the American musical should run out and see it now."
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May 31st, 2017

"An impressive feat of imagination, delving with remarkable sensitivity into a culture that might seem bizarre, even repugnant, to American audiences...Rosser and Sohne lay out the situation with clarity and without melodrama...The big issue in Speciale's production has to do with the casting of Paiman and Feda...The choice of older actors might be necessary, but it also adds a level of dishonesty to what is otherwise an admirably well-intentioned piece of work."
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May 25th, 2017

"To their credit, Rosser and Sohne, along with director Tony Speciale and choreographer Nejla Yatkin, have embraced the setting of 'The Boy Who Dances On Air' but don't allow it to suffocate their story in sadness or revulsion...A surprising breath of fresh air...It's not without its flaws, but blessed with a talented and committed cast, savvy direction, passionate dancing and a fearlessness to break boundaries, it has the power to open your eyes and pierce your heart."
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May 27th, 2017

“Initially intriguing but ultimately unsatisfying…Sohne’s earnest book has an abundance of stiff dialogue, repetitiveness, and a drawn-out, extraneous subplot…The show’s arresting aspects clash with the uneven book and score, and at two hours and 20 minutes, 'The Boy Who Danced on Air' is periodically dull...'The Boy Who Danced on Air' is billed as a fable, and those aesthetic qualities are imaginatively rendered. As an integrated musical, it stumbles in its form, and in presenting reality.”
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May 31st, 2017

"While the book gets a bit muddled, particularly in Act 2, I found myself moved by Paiman’s plight and interested in the moral complexity of the entire show. It’s refreshing to see a new musical grapple with multi-layered conflicts while exposing New York audiences to parts of the human experience we haven’t seen before. Another major highlight of the production is the gorgeous music...It also helps that the score is executed by such gifted singers."
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May 25th, 2017

"In this deeply moving portrayal, exquisitely told through song, we are witness to intolerable crimes and brutality against these very young boys...This is not an easy production in which to be an audience and the fact that it is somewhat lightened by melodic music and good storytelling helps. But if you are squeamish in the face of bodily harm, beware!...Tony Speciale directs this cast with extraordinary understanding and tantalizing aplomb."
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May 25th, 2017

"While the ugly practice of bacha bazi seems like a disturbing conceit for a musical, director Tony Speciale blends the offensiveness with inspiration and theatricality, and the cast sings with compelling power...The well-crafted production and gifted performers bring an intriguing, though certainly unsettling tradition to the stage with the actors' layered sensitivity and the human strength of love and spirit. With some editing, this innovative musical has staying power."
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May 30th, 2017

“I admit to being riveted by the story while wishing that the production was a little better...Clearly, the story and the setting are unique and interesting and deserve to be told…Raviv brings Jahandar brilliantly to life on the stage in a nuanced and masterful performance. I just wish that they had spent a little more effort on the character of Paiman...What did work well however, was the music and lyrics..I think with some work, this could become an important piece of theater.”
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June 6th, 2017

“This vibrant, brave work will surprise you in a way you won’t see coming, and you’ll leave feeling fulfilled as ever, with a fresh outlook on life and a reinvigorated passion for doing all that you can...With a play filled with so many different factors, and a host of dazzling visual and musical elements that toy with your emotions on every level, it’s this story of hope, determination and self-belief that really keeps you centered, focused, and enthralled.”
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May 25th, 2017

"This creation certainly soars through the air, while also stumbling at moments in its sincere treatment...There is one beautiful song after another...It’s quite an amazing casting score that this production found all of these wonderfully voiced men, who fit the characters' descriptions so perfectly...The unneeded use of the politics and the Unknown Man add little to the heartbreaking story that already has been crafted with such care."
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May 28th, 2017

"Features some terrific solo dancing and stirring song duets...Offers much stunning visual appeal. Having seen the Frontline documentary, however, I was left with many questions...How much of the real story is sacrificed to hew to the conventions of American musical theater? Sohne and Rosser do not omit the ugliness, although the musical presents it discreetly...The effect is to make 'The Boy' feel more like a homoerotic romantic musical than a sort of sober drama."
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June 1st, 2017

"A provocative, thoughtful, and moving story...It is handled with sensitivity and delicate understanding…The band fully realizes some of the most gorgeous and original tunes heard in ages...Speciale's entire cast is comprised of skillful actors who make each part distinctly their own...Rosser and Sohne sanitized the depiction of bacha bazi...Still, I commend them for exposing the subject and bravely tackling such a complicated matter with earnest humanity and heart."
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May 29th, 2017

“[A] dull, melodically uninteresting…score played offstage by a five-piece band…Speciale's earnest, physically agile production never convinces us we're not on W. 36th Street but in rural Afghanistan. Partly, this is because the dialogue and accents…sound so American…'The Boy Who Danced on Air' is to be applauded for dramatizing…bacha bazi in a way that finds tragic beauty in its victims. But provocative subject matter, even when sensitively presented, doesn't necessarily make great theatre.”
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May 26th, 2017

"The incredible cast are all wonderful in the roles they have been given...The entire cast have phenomenal vocals and strong acting abilities...Tony Speciale directs with sensitivity and some very clever tricks to showcase the age gap...The music is infectious and theatrical with threads of pop and Arabic ties blending nicely...As wonderful as this show is, and it has some amazing moments, musicals are now justifying things in society that may not have a right to be seen in such a bright light."
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May 25th, 2017

"Viewed through exotically shaped music and well-crafted lyrics, it’s exhilarating. Viewed through Sohne’s complicated book, it’s not only offbeat but also downbeat—but definitely not to its detriment...The singing—as well as the acting—is up to the standards set...Speciale creates a surreal atmosphere that lifts ‘The Boy Who Danced on Air’ into its own unique stratosphere. Along the way, he lifts the audience with him."
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May 26th, 2017

"Most of Rosser’s songs are meandering, tuneless...Lyrics tend to be less specific and evocative without some structure. Well=researched and insightful phrases pepper even less successful efforts...Sohne’s book, however, is deft, illuminating, strong, and in the end carries one past musical weakness. Characters are credible and heady....Tony Speciale’s direction and Nejla Yatkin’s integrated choreography are inspired."
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May 31st, 2017

"Uneven. The book is overworked. In addition to the two love stories, there's a distracting subplot...But Rosser's score nicely incorporates Afghan rhythms through the use of percussion and the lute-like rubab. Some of the songs are hauntingly beautiful...The Abingdon's artistic director Tony Speciale has created a lovely showcase for their work...Speciale has also assembled a cast of engaging actors with strong singing voices."
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May 25th, 2017

“It has a good production design, some strong performances and songs sporting some good melodies…The book is both overly complicated and not specific enough…The corruption story should be cut, eliminating a good half hour from the current two and a half hour show and focusing it more tightly…Raviv is by far the best here, adding immeasurably to the sensitivity and nuance of the show…Admirably ambitious. It may stumble a little, but that’s what happens when you leap forward.”
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June 8th, 2017

"This might have worked had Sohne’s book had a little more poetry in it, a bit more subtlety. But the dialogue and the emotions therein feel as though rendered with a trowel versus a paint brush...Sohne and Rossner’s songs have an authentic, idiomatic sound to them, and yet are rendered in a cozily familiar musical theater style...Iwata seems to be a young performer worth watching...The rest of the cast feels oddly stilted...Wish Sohne and Rossner could take another crack at the show."
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May 30th, 2017

"Spirited and nuanced, but lacks the caution, finesse, and heterogeneity needed to avoid joining the ranks of American musicals that have tried to absorb non-Western cultures, only to abuse and debase them...The actors perform with a liveliness befitting a much larger stage, even though each has been directed as though in his own world...No Afghans were harmed in the making of this play (at least not physically), but it doesn’t appear that many were consulted, either."
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June 7th, 2017

"Directed by Tony Speciale with great sensitivity, the story is a heart-wrenching look a boy named Paiman, played beautifully by the ethereal Troy Iwata...If Shone’s book takes unnecessary tangents, the three men at the heart of the conflict, nonetheless, head an impressive cast, and the dancing as well as the singing is top-notch in Rosser and Sohne’s touching musical."
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May 30th, 2017

“Despite the violence and troubling subject matter, the show has moments that are quite beautiful…While not great theater, the story has potential—although a side plot involving a power plant built by Americans is distracting…Despite the setbacks, director Tony Speciale manages to keep your attention…Raviv turns in a strong and steady performance…Rosser and Sohne took a risk, and they deserve credit for that—even if their hard work does not add up to a hit.”
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May 30th, 2017

"Highly ambitious...It bravely attempts to delve into subject matter that is taboo and mine it for nuance and ambiguity while making a bold statement about the USA's contradictory behavior around the world...Valiantly conceived by composer Tim Rosser and book writer/lyricist Charlie Sohne, and keenly and exquisitely directed by Tony Speciale, the production beguiles, asking difficult questions and never providing pat answers. The results are mostly impressive."
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