Review Roundup: Gore Vidal's THE BEST MAN is Back on Broadway - All the Reviews!
Howard Shapiro, The Philadelphia Inquirer: This big-star cast worth a wide shelf of past Tony and Emmy Awards deserves a worthwhile play - and they have one. Vidal's smart, tightly plotted story of political intrigue is not just entertaining, it's refreshing; it focuses on a decent presidential candidate who challenges the idea of ad-hominem attacks on an opponent.
Michael Musto, The Village Voice: A couple of legends, some TV stars, a few Broadway types, and Giuliani's ex wife--all together in the original outing play. It's as mixed a bag as it sounds. It's the new production of The Best Man, which is as timely as ever, seeing as it's set at a convention where corruption and dirty politics hang over every word.
Jonathan Mandell, The Faster Times
: The most prominent graphic element on the new Best Man poster is the list of names of the stars of the show. There is a general rule of thumb about movies that if the ad features numerous boxes with pictures of each star and the caption “[star] as [role]” that the movie is likely to be a dog. That is not the case here. Nearly every role is cast with thespian royalty, including Michael McKean as an aide and Jefferson Mays as a character who has dirt on one of the candidates. Even Donna Hanover, the former first lady of New York, has a small role as a reporter in her Broadway debut. Most of the actors deliver. The exceptions, though, undermine the production: Eric McCormack as the slick candidate and Kerry Butler as his catty Southern belle wife. They are not just wrong-headed but whiny-voiced and annoying. This is not comic caricature, or at least not successful caricture. They just seem the result of inadequate stage craft. That this is so is both disappointing and completely baffling.
Joe Dziemianowicz, NY Daily News
: The play, like a lot of speeches, is witty but long-winded. At times it’s implausible. At others it’s prescient. ...
As blustery ex-President Arthur Hockstader, whose support could sway the tight race, James Earl Jones is as persuasive and captivating as a bullhorn. Just as great is Angela Lansbury in her irresistibly tart and smart turn as Sue-Ellen Gamadge, chairwoman of the women’s division. Don’t let Sue’s ruffles fool you, she’s a shrewd operator. ... The most fascinating thing about “Best Man” is that the author seemingly depicts a surprise development as noble, when it’s anything but. The turn is incredibly cynical.
Elisabeth Vincentelli, New York Post: Despite smaller parts and stiff competition — this show is starrier than a cloudless mountain sky — Angela Lansbury, Candice Bergen and Kerry Butler shine brightest. The one scene this trio shares is a rare moment when Michael Wilson’s overly decorous production chomps with the right satirical bite. ... As fine as Larroquette and McCormack are, there doesn’t seem to be any heartfelt anger in their battle — and this sucks out a lot of the play’s energy.
Thom Geier, Entertainment Weekly: The play's twists, which include a then-scandalous gay rumor, may seem less surprising to audiences grown jaded by Fox News, MSNBC, and the 24/7 political spin cycle. But Vidal's play remains remarkably well-constructed (and the cast will doubtless improve the pacing, which moseys occasionally, as they grow into their roles). ... And there's 86-year-old Angela Lansbury, sharp as a tack even if she needs a cane now to command the stage, as the Southern grand dame who chairs the party's women's division and sways the crucial women's vote.
Robert Feldberg, NorthJersey.com: The stage is filled with stars, but the one who makes the evening go is John Larroquette, playing candidate William Russell, a former secretary of state who knows he should keep his quirky, intellectual style under wraps, but can't help himself from doing things such as quoting Martin Luther. ... "The Best Man" provides a look back at what presidential campaigns used to be like before candidates became the straightforward, honorable individuals they are today.
Jeremy Gerard, Bloomberg: Two powerful party elders dog the efforts of both would-be candidates. Sue-Ellen Gamadge, chairman of the “Women’s Division” is played with jolly antiquity by Angela Lansbury. Former President Arthur Hockstader, whose illness has not dampened his raffish charm, is played commandingly by James Earl Jones.
That both of these great stars are somewhat miscast (and Jones was doing battle with some of his lines at a critics’ preview) mattered little to the demonstrative audience (or to me). Jefferson Mays makes a late appearance as a shadow from Cantwell’s past and just about steals the show.
Eric Haagensen, Backstage
: The terrific physical production puts us on the convention floor, thanks to Derek McLane's immersive set. ... Vidal's insights resonate today, from Tea Party true-believer pressure to birth control controversies, to the point of being scary. There aren't many plays at which the audience regularly applauds the dialogue. You'll likely applaud much more than that in Wilson's grandly satisfying revival.
KINKY BOOTS vs. MATILDA for Best Musical and More...
Past Articles by This Author:
Check out BroadwayWorld.com's Review Roundups featuring ALL the reviews from Broadway, Off-Broadway, National Tours, the West End and Beyond! |
More Articles by This Author...