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'Promises, Promises' on Broadway: What did the critics think?

April 26, 2010 |  1:11 pm

Promises "Promises, Promises" -- a very '60s tale of office sex and politics -- has not appeared on Broadway since its premiere more than 40 years ago.

So many were curious to see how director Rob Ashford's new production would fare when it opened Sunday at the Broadway Theatre with Sean Hayes in his Broadway debut as Chuck, a junior executive facing a moral dilemma, and Kristin Chenoweth, playing a darker, more fragile character than her familiar comic fireballs

According to the opening-night reviews, Hayes held his own and Chenoweth got mixed marks, as did the show itself. (Katie Finneran drew near universal raves as a barfly.)

The Los Angeles Times' Charles McNulty said the "fashionably retro" show, which features "a giggly book by Neil Simon and a groovy score by Burt Bacharach and Hal David that has been supplemented with a couple of the duo’s better-known hits, is hamstrung by some dodgy casting, but its stylish mix of nostalgia and parody will likely make you thirsty for a Tom Collins."

The New York Times' Ben Brantley said "even that singing sparkplug Kristin Chenoweth, who stars opposite a charming Sean Hayes in his Broadway debut, seems to feel the prevailing lassitude." He added that the production "comes fully to life only briefly, at the beginning of its second act, when a comic volcano named Katie Finneran erupts into molten hilarity. Otherwise the white-hot charms this musical is said to have once possessed are left sleeping."

Michael Kuchwara of the Associated Press called this an "agreeable if not altogether transporting revival on Broadway" that "for much of the time coasts amiably on the considerable appeal of its leading man, Sean Hayes, who is making an impressive Broadway debut."

 Joe Dziemianowicz of the New York Daily News said Ashford's production is "stylish and handsome, but only occasionally memorable. Aside from the pop gems, catchy as ever (try to shake the brassy title number and "I'll Never Fall in Love Again"), the dancing is dynamic and Katie Finneran is side-splitting as a boozy bar crawler. Otherwise, it's a so-so mixed bag. Blame the show itself and the new redo."

-- Karen Wada

Photo: Kristin Chenoweth, Dick Latessa and Sean Hayes in the Broadway revival of "Promises, Promises." Credit: Joan Marcus, via Associated Press


Kristin Chenoweth's dark turn