Mom Theater Blogger: DOCTOR ZHIVAGO: Show Review by Robin Gorman Newman

Photo credit: Matthew Murphy

Photo credit: Matthew Murphy

The new Broadway musical DOCTOR ZHIVAGO, based on Boris Pasternak’s Nobel Prize-winning 20th-century epic Russian masterpiece is a theatrical force to be reckoned with.

This sweeping musical romance, which revolves around five intertwined lovers set against a nation in upheaval, is directed by two-time Tony Award winner Des McAnuff (Jersey Boys), with a book by Academy Award nominee Michael Weller (Ragtime), music by Grammy Award winner and Tony Award nominee Lucy Simon (The Secret Garden), lyrics by Tony Award nominee Michael Korie (Grey Gardens) and Emmy Award nominee Amy Powers (Ella Enchanted), and choreography by Tony Award nominee Kelly Devine (Rocky).

DOCTOR ZHIVAGO is an epic romance staged during the final days of Czarist Russia, the First World War and the chaos of the Russian revolution. Raised as an aristocrat, Zhivago is a political idealist, physician and poet torn between a life of service on the run with his son and devoted wife, Tonia Gromeko, and his creative spirit devoted to an unattainable love, the beautiful and alluring Lara Guishar, who has also captured the affections of revolutionary Pasha Antipov who marries her and the aristocrat Viktor Komarovsky who lusts after and abuses her.

The large, impressive cast is led by Tam Mutu in the title role, Kelli Barrett as Lara, Tom Hewitt as Viktor, Paul Alexander Nolan as Pasha and Lora Lee Gayer as Tonia.  Mutu is a mighty Zhivago.  With an impressionable stage presence, his Zhivago is both strong and affecting. Barrett is fetching and has a beautiful voice.  Nolan is feisty and delivers an interesting, layered portrayal of a complex man. Hewitt is commanding and in terrific voice.  Gayer is tender and sincere.

There is an awful lot of material to cover (it’s nearly 3 hours long), and while the battle scenes are tough to take after a while, it’s the losses and passionate relationships that ultimately tug at your heartstrings.  Less blood and more romantic fire could have sparked a show with greater intimacy, though devotees of the book will no doubt embrace this production.  

I’m a huge fan of composer, Lucy Simon, and some of the music is just stunning.  Hauntingly beautiful standouts include When the Music Played, Now, It Comes as No Surprise and On the Edge of Time.

DOCTOR ZHIVAGO  features scenic design by Michael Scott-Mitchell (Wagner’s Ring Cycle), costume design by five-time Tony Award nominee Paul Tazewell (Memphis), lighting design by Tony Award winner Howell Binkley (Jersey Boys), sound design by Tony Award winner Steve Canyon Kennedy (700 Sundays), projection design by Sean Nieuwenhuis (Jesus Christ Superstar), with orchestrations by Danny Troob, music arrangements by Eric Stern and musical supervision by Ron Melrose.

DOCTOR ZHIVAGO is playing at The Broadway Theatre.  Vsit


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