DEAD ACCOUNTS, the new comedy by Pulitzer Prize finalist Theresa Rebeck, directed by three-time Tony Award winner Jack O'Brien, stars two-time Tony Award winner Norbert Leo Butz and Katie Holmes. Dead Accounts also stars Judy Greer, Josh Hamilton, and two-time Tony Award nominee Jayne Houdyshell. The limited engagement of Dead Accounts opens tonight, November 29, at Broadway's Music Box Theatre.
The creative team for the production features five-time Tony nominee David Rockwell (scenic design), five-time Tony winner Catherine Zuber (costume design), David Weiner (lighting design), Mark Bennett (sound design, original music), and Tom Watson (hair design).
Rebeck's new comedy tackles the timely issues of corporate greed, small town values, and whether or not your family will always welcome you back…with no questions asked.
Let's see what the critics had to say...
Ben Brantley, The New York Times: This comedy about a prodigal son, returned from the wilds of New York City to his family in Cincinnati, seems to float out of memory even as you're watching it. Ms. Rebeck, the author of"Seminar" and "Mauritius," keeps throwing out weighty subjects - from the ethics of Wall Street to the existence of God - but never cultivates them into anything approaching a solid existence. They all blur into a single jet stream of semisnappy dialogue before changing course a few times and evaporating…For at least its first 15 minutes "Dead Accounts" does manage to command your attention. That's because its first scene is essentially a sustained aria of nervous energy for Mr. Butz...Ms. Rebeck doesn't seem to have settled on a tone or, for that matter, a subject. "Dead Accounts" is, I think, meant to be about the inflation of the superficial in a materialistic society, and the attendant, unsatisfied craving for belief...But the play never follows through convincingly on any of its ideas.
Mark Kennedy, The Associated Press: [Holmes] mostly tries hard to keep up with stage veterans Norbert Leo Butz and Jayne Houdyshell in Rebeck's oddly thin new play...Director Jack O'Brien struggles to both get the five-person cast to really jibe and the rhythm of the plot to get going. Holmes relies too much on a whiny teenage angst and a guilelessness that worked on TV but lacks nuance onstage...Rebeck, who created the first season of NBC's "Smash" and several well-received plays including "Seminar" and "Mauritius," has stumbled a bit with "Dead Accounts," a love letter to the hardworking, plainspoken Midwest, but one that lacks the sharpness and depth of her previous work...The heavy lifting is done by Butz...Butz at first seems to be overcompensating for the smallness of Holmes, but the anguish and heart of his character are revealed beautifully...But "Dead Accounts" doesn't really resolve anything or really end. It just sort of peters out, its momentum lost and none of its issues resolved.
Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times: [Holmes is] charming, natural and, yes, about as fresh-faced as a moisturizer model. But there's only so much that can be done with a Rebeck play that has more topical urgency (greed, ethics and banking funny business) than dramatic finesse. Sharing the stage with Holmes is two-time Tony winner Norbert Leo Butz, who pulls out all the stops in the play's leading role…he delivers a performance of frenetic gusto as Jack...Butz practically ricochets off the walls of the simple Midwestern kitchen that's the setting for "Dead Accounts," but not even he can transcend the contrived nature of a character who is really nothing more than a collection of manic playwriting impulses...director Jack O'Brien...isn't able to sort out the problem through his staging. His production draws out the sharpest colors in the cast, magnifying the characters' most salient qualities in an amped-up TV sitcom manner.
Erik Haagensen, Backstage: Prolific playwright Theresa Rebeck is on a downward spiral with her Broadway offerings. The problematic but interesting "Mauritius" was followed by the flashy but empty "Seminar," and now there's "Dead Accounts," the lazy and predictable comedy at the Music Box Theatre that wouldn't even pass muster as a Lifetime movie. Indeed, its presence on the Great White Way would be inexplicable without film star Katie Holmes in the cast, in an undemanding role that any number of actors could have played...Under Jack O'Brien's just-go-for-it direction, Norbert Leo Butz works feverishly to make something out of Jack, employing his spectacular gift for physical comedy while infusing Jack's rants with musicality and as much conviction as he can summon. Unfortunately, there's no there there, and this talented actor's work is reduced to a bag of tricks...Rebeck was once a promising, obviously talented writer. In her quest for Broadway success, I fear that she may have locked her soul away in its own dead account.