New York | 1h 30m | Already closed

The First Noel

From 8 critic and 7 member reviews
Members say: Great singing, Entertaining, Delightful, Absorbing, Emotional

About the show

After its 2015 premiere, the Classical Theatre of Harlem brings back its original holiday musical, which tells a universal story of love in a variety of song styles. More…

'The First Noel' follows three generations of a family affected by the tragic loss of a loved one. Time is slow to heal their wounds until an unexpected visit from Grandma reveals some long-absent Christmas joy. This story is about how a community is healed, one family at a time, as everyday people do extraordinary things to help one another receive the gift of love during the holiday season. 

1h 30m | Already closed | Apollo Theatre (Harlem)

Stage Buddy

"Each and every actor was simply fabulous…though there were moments between scenes of the different generations of the family that didn’t quite transition smoothly every time...There are many joyous moments with a good sprinklings of jokes, but the show's most powerful, hair-on-the-back-of-your-neck-raising moments come when the talented performers are belting out magnificent songs…Engaging, thoughtful, and powerful, 'The First Noel' is sure to fill your heart with seasonal joy." Full Review


"‘The First Noel’ does a wonderful job of reminding us about the true meaning of Christmas…And if the story wasn’t powerful enough, it has all the bells and whistles a top musical should have. From an eclectic score to flawless dance sequences and melodious voices—there wasn’t a single moment that wasn’t fully charged and entertaining. This cast and production make a strong case that 'The First Noel' should be on the boards for many Christmases to come." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"The symbolism, like the plot itself, is more than a little heavy-handed…But if you can get past this, and the rather hokey framing device, ‘The First Noel’ is a powerful story that's anything but hackneyed. The writers don't shy from addressing genuine anguish that comes from a believable place…So compelling is all this drama that the score itself becomes, if not superfluous, then at least secondary…The lead cast members are all superb." Full Review

Plays to See

"The plot is formulaically sweet, if a little predictable. But it’s not necessarily the story that draws you in…Throughout the show, the ensemble buoys the performance with choreography and musical numbers that can range from pop to gospel to Christmas carols...The ensemble helps make this show visually captivating…With a brilliant cast and a rousing repertoire, it’s a show that invites audience members of all ages to sing, dance, clap, and celebrate Harlem and the spirit of Christmas." Full Review

The New York Times

"The good news is that the vocalists and the band are still terrific. But the show has also retained the flaws it had the first time around, and gained some new ones in the larger space...The score, a pop-gospel-jazz mix of original and classic songs, is the pulse of the piece. But when the music stops, the show feels like a 1980s sitcom crossed with an after-school special. Dream sequences are not as lucid as they were last year, and genuinely comic elements don’t pop the way they did." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

for a previous production "'The First Noel' is a story of healing and welcoming the hopeful message of the holiday season. The two outstanding features of this production are Broadnax’s innovative staging and the marvelous voices of this cast…'The First Noel' gives audiences a fine way to celebrate Christmas. By the end of the show, you may very well want to jump onstage to take part in all that hugging and kissing." Full Review

American Theater Web

for a previous production "Christmas memories don’t get much more tuneful or joyously poignant than those found in the new musical 'The First Noel'…Beyond just being tuneful joys, the numbers sound terrific in the intimate space thanks to powerhouse vocals from both the principals and the ensemble…The show unfolds seemingly all around theatergoers, which makes it nearly impossible to not get pulled into the tale and its redemptive and happy ending." Full Review

The New York Times

for a previous production "This good-looking, high-energy show is packed with vocal talent and propelled by a terrific five-piece band...It’s a memory play with music: pop, gospel and holiday...Calibrated to appeal to multigenerational family audiences, 'The First Noel' errs on the side of saccharine. But when the band plays and the singers sing, you’ll let the music move you anyway." Full Review

Funny, Great singing, Relevant, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if I loved everything about this play - story, singing, audience reaction. Left theater happy and with love in my heart

Don't see it if the location is not good for you. can't find other reasons

Great singing, Great staging, Thought-provoking, Touching, Creative

See it if you want to see a new twist on dealing with grief

Don't see it if you are too close to losing a child or sister

Also I saw the matinee on Dec 14, 2016 and enjoyed it very much. I found th... Read more Read less

Entertaining, Great singing, Delightful, Absorbing, Emotional

See it if you appreciate family drama, like Harlem/NYC stories, holiday music, and stories that mix past and present.

Don't see it if you dislike holiday musicals, gospel music, or drama involving personal tragedy.

Delightful, Great singing, Resonant, Refreshing, Emotional

See it if you can overlook the plot heavy-handedness to enjoy the thoroughly earnest, terrifically performed Harlem Christmas tale that will move you.

Don't see it if you don't want to hear a team of incredibly talented vocalists that surpass most any you'll ever hear, especially Soara-Joye Ross.

Absorbing, Enchanting, Great singing, Great staging, Profound

See it if You want to see a profound show with great vocals at the famous Apollo. Wonderful holiday show leaves you feeling warm.

Don't see it if If you a downtown snob who won't travel uptown, don't like holiday shows or are a Scrooge.

Entertaining, Great acting, Great singing, Brings out all if your emotions!

See it if This story has a little of everything, so if you like to trigger all of your emotions while being entertained, this one will work for you.

Don't see it if Tired of a sad story that ends happily, skip this. I enjoyed it, but I'm a sap for happy endings. Brought tears to my eyes.

Family dysfunction in a harlem brownstone

See it if The vocal talent & musicians are impressive but story is not engaging-- too many elements just underdeveloped & the characters uninteresting

Don't see it if Heavy handed on the gospel, which is pretty impressively executed, but if that's not your thing--don't bother

Also It's a memory piece, where the main female lead is getting ready to se... Read more Read less