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John Patrick Shanley's 'Romantic Poetry'

October 29, 2008 | 11:13 am

'Romantic Poetry'

Oscar, Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright-director John Patrick Shanley has been getting a lot of good buzz lately surrounding his upcoming play-to-film "Doubt." The film, starring Meryl Streep, opens the AFI festival in Los Angeles this week.

Last night, Shanley's first musical, "Romantic Poetry," opened off-Broadway at Manhattan Theatre Club. For once, the New York critics were largely in agreement with their assessments.

"Only people who can make a meal out of marshmallows and marzipan are likely to find 'Romantic Poetry' digestible," says Ben Brantley of the New York Times.

Steven Suskin of Variety says:  "The new John Patrick Shanley-Henry Krieger musical comedy 'Romantic Poetry' is neither romantic nor poetic; there's lots of music -- 25 songs, no less -- but the comedy is mostly in the mind of author-director Shanley."

"There's little chance of being moonstruck by 'Romantic Poetry,'" Frank Scheck of the New York Post, says, referencing Shanley's Oscar-winning "Moonstruck."

Joe Dziemianowicz of the New York Daily News says: "This musical misfire about modern love and roller-coaster relationships ...  finds Shanley at his most tryingly self-indulgent since 1990's 'Joe Versus the Volcano.'"

"There really is no kind way to describe 'Romantic Poetry.' It's off the rails," writes Alexis Greene of the Hollywood Reporter

Linda Winer of Newsday bluntly reports: "'Romantic Poetry' ... is a terrible show -- incoherent, forced and jauntily oblivious to the depths of its awfulness."

John Simon of Bloomberg says: "John Patrick Shanley, author of the spellbinding 'Doubt,'' and Henry Krieger, composer of the captivating 'Dreamgirls,' have banded together to concoct one of the most incongruous, foolish and pretentious musicals ever inflicted on an audience."

We at Culture Monster usually prefer to end things on a happier note, so we'd like to let you know that Shanley's film "Doubt," which also stars Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams, is scheduled to open wide on Dec. 12. Here's the theatrical trailer.

-- Lisa Fung 

Photo: The cast of "Romantic Poetry," from left: Patina Renea Miller, Jerry Dixon, Emily Swallow, Mark Linn-Baker, Jeb Brown and Ivan Hernandez. Credit: Joan Marcus

UPDATE: An earlier version of this post incorrectly said the musical is on Broadway rather than off-Broadway.

Comments () | Archives (3)

Yikes - I'm riding home from just sitting through this painful musical. I should've Googled it first. Luckily, I bought my tickets through tdf so they were only $21 each. I can't believe it's been running this long! The rest of the audience was in agreement, by the way. And so it seemed, was the cast. By the end of the second act, they were breaking character, stifiling their own laughs at the audacious awfulness as each song was more horrible and rediculous than the last. The crowd that stayed through it ran for the doors when the last bow was taken.

"This musical misfire about modern love and roller-coaster relationships ... finds Shanley at his most tryingly self-indulgent since 1990's 'Joe Versus the Volcano.'"

This actually makes me want to see the musical. Joe Versus the Volcano is a masterpiece. It was savaged by critics (admittedly not as badly as this musical has been savaged by them), but today it's got a legion of devoted fans, the vast majority of whom have (otherwise?) impeccable taste in film. The point being, Shanley was ahead of his time, or, more likely, often writes things that most people won't get, but that those who do, will take to their hearts. Of course it's also possible he just wrote a really crummy musical. But the shot at JVTV was clueless.

I really liked it. Actually, I loved it. Sure, it wasn't perfect, but how great to see something ORIGINAL for a change, and not some staged warmed-over remake of a sitcom, a B-movie, or a musical based on cheesy pop songs. I left the theatre feeling great, having experienced something fresh, highly entertaining, and NEW for a change.


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