Members say: Great singing, Absorbing, Intense, Ambitious, Edgy

About the show

Ars Nova presents indie-music duo The Bengsons ('Hundred Days') spinning a memory-tale of teenaged passion, ideals lived to the limits, family shattered and faith lost — all in hope of finding a way home again.

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Through soulful electro-folk songs, this driving, semi-autobiographical story grabs joy and grief with the same hand and holds them tightly, in a radical affirmation of being alive.


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See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

75
Theatermania

"There's an intoxicating quality to the Bengsons' music...The entire cast gives passionate performances...It is possible to appreciate the virtuosity on display even if you don't really buy the Bengsons' consistently on-brand folksy fabulism (which I didn't)...Stripped of its soul-stirring music and mystical staging, 'The Lucky Ones' would look a lot like an after-school special...Yet the tale of a young man whose delusions of grandeur drive him to violence feels especially relevant in 2018." Full Review

60
The New York Times

"The songwriting, though feelingful, does not yet seem complex enough structurally to handle the size and depth of the action it must portray...The music has a pleasantly droning quality that forestalls harmonic development. The ruminative, repetitive lyrics similarly stunt the drama...Kauffman’s astute staging does what it can to jury-rig a feeling of depth...The storytelling is as yet too impulsive, and at times too self-indulgent, to be corralled...A gawky, powerful work in progress." Full Review

75
Lighting & Sound America

"The Bengsons have once again supplied a brace of distinctive indie-folk tunes matched with probing lyrics that illuminate the family's oddball, self-invented way of life...If 'Hundred Days' came across as an evasive, even self-indulgent work, 'The Lucky Ones' is an almost foolhardy act of bravery. We may not be getting the full story, but, nevertheless, she has put these deeply personal materials to work in asking probing questions about happiness, fidelity, and one's place in the world." Full Review

85
Time Out New York

"Scratch any family history, and you’re bound to draw some blood. Abigail Bengson's childhood experience has more than most...Harrowing...A teen bacchanal, thrillingly choreographed by Sonya Tayeh, culminates in a cozy romance-but not for long...Tragedy that ensues, but nothing in this story is that simple...'The lucky ones,' the show suggests, are those who, born into damage, can still 'open up.' Bengson, with her extraordinarily expressive musical and authorial voice, does so magnificently." Full Review

60
Theatre's Leiter Side

"Very little action moves the narrative forward, creating a sense of stasis. What we witness is mainly offered in the form of memories and comments on the memories…Just because the memories are expressed in articulate language doesn't make them as fascinating to an audience of strangers as they must be to The Bengsons…An unnecessarily long two hours…Kauffman…has failed to shape…the material in a compelling way, allowing its incipient sense of self-indulgence to eventually overshadow everything." Full Review

82
Front Mezz Junkies

"It is thrillingly awesome, assembling a large diverse cast of talented creatures to create a tale on a much bigger canvas...The cast is uniformly excellent, chanting us into the history of this story from all sides like a primal pack of ancients...Feels like a rocking athletic roller coaster ride, through pain and trauma, hoping to come out at the end shaken and wind-blown, but feeling the gasp and the grabbing hold of survival." Full Review

82
Front Row Center

"Sonya Tayeh’s choreography, paired with the spot-on costuming by Asta Bennie Hostetter, perfectly captured the spirit of freedom and abandon that exemplified the hippie, vibe that may not have been a parenting panacea. And Abigail Bengson is a captivating presence on stage. It’s nearly impossible to look anywhere else when she is singing...Unfortunately, 'The Lucky Ones' kind of fizzles out at the end." Full Review

70
Broadway & Me

"Weaned more on indie rock...The Bengsons create hard-charging shows hewn from their own life stories...Playwright Sarah Gancher helps shape the memories into the musical's book...But the narrative remains loose-limbed. It's more tell than actual show...'The Lucky Ones' has a lot of things going for it, particularly for adventurous theatergoers. And while its parts may not add up to a convincing whole, I still feel lucky to have seen it." Full Review

50
TheaterScene.net

"Adding to the confusion are Abigail's many family members, including her sisters--one of whom is named Emily (Ashley Pérez Flanagan), not to be confused with her new friend Emma--her parents, her aunt (the stalwart Maryann Plunkett) and her cousins. Another part of the problem is that there are simply too many people to be contained on the small stage of the Connelly Theater, which may be why the majority of them begin the show in the balcony in the rear of the auditorium." Full Review

95
Stage Buddy

"The whole show is so beautifully crafted, it's less a musical and more a seamless experience that grabs you tight at the outset and never lets go until the final dimming of the lights. That's due in some part to a gorgeous script, but also in large measure to Tayeh's groundbreaking choreography, Bengson's warm stage presence, and a score that represents the best indie-folk/rock has to offer...Seamless, deep, and artistically inspiring, 'The Lucky Ones' is theatre at its very best." Full Review

90
Stage Left

"Abundantly surprising, deeply intimate, and simply gorgeous...It is raw, honest, and human. While scripted and certainly fictionalized at times, it feels anything but, due to the intensity of Abigail’s performance and the strength of Kauffman’s guiding hand...The show is expertly calibrated, energetically and passionately performed, and very moving. I must admit, I am smitten by The Bengsons and am eager to hear and see more of their unique voice and vision." Full Review

60
Exeunt Magazine

"By scripting former anguish and forcing themselves to relive the past for the length of an off-Broadway run, it turns the truth into something manufactured. Theatre is, by nature, false. Actors, playwrights, and directors are encouraged to be honest in their creations, but that’s not the same thing as being truthful...Abigail returns nightly to a brutal event from her youth...It’s either a brilliant performance or the memory is still so alive in her that the musical is functioning as therapy." Full Review

90
Fordham Observer

"A heartrending deep-dive into the vessels of childhood, the roots of adolescence that grow deep within us and those intensely human experiences of family from which we may never unbind ourselves...This show is rapture. It is a daring examination of the limits of memory and trauma. It is chaos spoken in poetry, and it is the type of well-made, deeply personal theater that could be delivered only by a company with as much commitment to story and radical form." Full Review

90
The Theatre Times

"Unbound and unapologetic...Presented with confidence and thoughtfulness...The music is utterly electrifying...Kauffman's direction brings a 'just right' aesthetic giving it all the craftsmanship and polish of a Broadway smash with the grit and candor of downtown theater...An easily world-class ensemble...'The Lucky Ones' is unusual and necessary. It doesn’t announce itself, and won’t justify itself for anyone. It IS; and as such invites you to experience its truest and most authentic self." Full Review

90
Theatre is Easy

"Heartbreakingly human, semi-autobiographical tales...Anne Kauffman's direction and Sonya Tayeh's choreography work impeccably well with the music...A testament to Kauffman and Tayeh’s leadership, the show’s entire cast, tops to toes, gives an inspiring performance...It is viscerally evident that every facet has been considered in creating one united, yet nuanced, message. I laughed, I cried, I jammed. I witnessed storytelling of intense emotional depth, and ultimately, the joy of storytelling." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

89
Dizzying, Majestic, Meditative, Hipster nirvana

See it if you enjoyed Hundred Days and/or like folk rock musical theatre.

Don't see it if you like very traditional narrative structure.

Also If you were to blend Urban Outfitters and pour it into a musical theat... Read more Read less

65
Ambitious, Disappointing, Great singing, Disjointed, Minor

See it if you love the Bengsons, are a fan of documentary style theatre, want to see an ambitious, not fully successful, musical experiment.

Don't see it if you want a consistent storytelling format, or are looking for something with depth beyond minor personal tragedy.

Also This story is clearly deeply personal to the artists, but it lacks uni... Read more Read less

78
Absorbing, Ambitious, Clever, Moving, Entertaining

See it if you liked Hundred Days; very similar structure and semi-autobiographical setup. Engaging storyline and solid vocals.

Don't see it if you cannot embrace the tagline "Everything in this story is true. Even the parts that didn't happen." That murky area is the crux of it.

80
Moving

See it if I love abagail

Don't see it if I didn't love the whole bonfire sequence

85
Sad, Moving, Great music, Heartbreaking, Tragic

See it if Autobiographical musical about an extended family that suffers a tragedy. Beautifully performed songs with intense feeling. Sad but real.

Don't see it if You want a more uplifting experience. This is a 2 1/2 hour show that drags in the second half. It's at its best during the songs.

83
Great singing, Engaging, Heartfelt

See it if Wonderful singing, moving story of the disintegration of a loving oddball family. Humorous and sad, sometimes love is not enough.

Don't see it if No sets to speak of, fourth wall comes and goes, definitely indie, off-off broadway fare.

Also The semi-autobiographical "none of it happened and all of it's true" s... Read more Read less

80
Edgy, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if you're interested in non-traditional musicals that are based on indie-folk music and real life stories

Don't see it if you're looking for a light or classic musical

76
Entertaining, Great singing, Emotional rollercoaster, A story to music more than a musical

See it if You enjoy strong folksy female vocalists, if you are comfortable with ups, downs & painful consequences, if you want to consider redemption

Don't see it if You are looking for something feel good or light - this has light / fun moments but ultimately it's a sad family story

Also The plot centers an event from Abigail Bengson's own family & the cons... Read more Read less

72
Ambitious, Clever, Relevant, Indulgent, Great singing

See it if you like the Bengsons, indy music and a fascinating story that is based on reality.

Don't see it if you can't sit through a long show (over 2.5 hours) that becomes repetitive and could use a lot of editing. This play could have been great.

88
Great acting, Intense, Profound, Great singing, Raw

See it if You're interested in a soul-baring musical show accompanied by great choreography & a riveting story. This may be the most honest show ever.

Don't see it if You are looking for a traditional play - this is not that. But it would be hard not to be swept away by its emotion and intensity.

85
Absorbing, Intense, Great singing

See it if You like downtown theater focusing on autobiographical storylines and great live music in a cool space.

Don't see it if You want something like a classic musical or don’t want to feel passionate intimate performances by great artists

65
Indulgent, Cliched, Insipid, Overrated, Great singing

See it if you love the Bengsons, Sonya Tayeh, and great choral arrangements (the choral work was wonderful).

Don't see it if you find autobiographical therapy sessions to be self-indulgent or if you mind a musical turning into a cabaret act after intermission.

83
Great music, Bengsons hone the theatre-concert form, Still unfocused & overlong, Wonderful ensemble--all 18!

See it if you're a Bengsons fan (this is more successful than Hundred Days at NYTW); you're interested in new music theatre forms or electro-folk

Don't see it if you expect all rough edges smoothed out (still has workshop feel to it, & some elements are more successful than others; some need pruning)

Also “This is a true story, even the parts that never happened,” Shaun Beng... Read more Read less

75
Ambitious, Intense, Indulgent, Great singing, Great staging

See it if you like folk music, gorgeous dancing, insane vocalists, and aren't put off by the fact that the show takes itself very, very seriously.

Don't see it if you're looking for something light or simple. It's a dark story and doesn't do much to cut that darkness for 2.5 hours.

84
Intense, Refreshing, Great singing

See it if you enjoy non-traditional theatre, multi-genre scores, and raw, honest storytelling performed by a terrific ensemble

Don't see it if you are only a fan of traditional theatre or prefer standard showtunes to folk-rock

Also You truly are one of the lucky ones to get to experience this story. T... Read more Read less

85
Ambitious, Enchanting, Resonant, Great singing

See it if you're interested in a touching autobio concert-musical that combines elements of folk, rock & electronic music by two exciting talents.

Don't see it if you prefer a more classic structure or sound to your musical theater.

80
Ambitious, Quirky, Relevant, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if This is not your traditional musical -- see it if you want something new. Wonderful signing and music.

Don't see it if you want a traditional musical.

80
Absorbing, Ambitious, Dizzying, Edgy, Riveting

See it if You love very modern, edgy musicals with great choreography, incredible vocal arrangements and captivating storytelling elements.

Don't see it if You can’t deal with a work in progress. The second act needs work and doesn’t live up to the energy of act one.

90
Dark, Exquisite, Intense, Great singing, Authentic

See it if you love folksy story-telling with great music and voices. You enjoy powerful stories about family and appreciate less traditional musicals.

Don't see it if you don't like breaking the 4th wall, or would hate by a story of how mental illness tore a family apart, told on stage as therapy.

74
Ambitious, Edgy, Intense, Indulgent, Disappointing

See it if if you like the Bengsons, complex music and a complex story that's a fascinating tell-all.

Don't see it if you are looking for an uplifting experience.

Also The show starts out great with wonderful characterizations, scenes and... Read more Read less

83
Ambitious, Profound, Resonant, Great singing

See it if you like the bengson’s music/you liked a hundred days. you like exciting music or semi autobiographical shows.

Don't see it if you don’t care for loud music, non traditional storytelling, non traditional dance, or a shift in narrative and style.

95
Riveting, Riveting, great music & acting, astonishing must see

See it if You love live music, incredibly connected performers, astonishing staging and dancing, moving theater that gets to the very core of life

Don't see it if You don't like folky, rock music, don't want to be surrounded by amazing performers, not interested in vital, moving theater

Also The Bengsons are theatrical treasures who mine their lives to create a... Read more Read less

95
Absorbing, Epic, Must see, Riveting

See it if you love original takes on the musical form. I was absolutely mesmerized. Amazing songs. Heartwrenching performances

Don't see it if You need light song & dance spectacles. This is heavy but so so worth it. Wow.

90
Absorbing, Masterful, Resonant, Great singing, Great staging

See it if you like non-traditional musicals that touch on the human spirit.

Don't see it if you need an old-time classic Broadway musical.

Also At the heart of this show are The Bengsons music and Sonya Teyeh's cho... Read more Read less

90
Absorbing, Ambitious, Riveting, Great singing, Great staging

See it if you like new work, intimate spaces, eclectic music, pseudo-documentarian style quirky choreography.

Don't see it if you don't like indie folk style music or direct address or if you like traditional storytelling.


Cast & Creatives (26)