Rating: 2.5/5 stars
Ok, so I wanted to give 3/5...but I just couldn't do it. I didn't hate it, but the problem is there really wasn't anything I loved either. So do I think people should go out and buy a ticket? No, not really, but if you get a ticket or this show interests you, then go for it. I attended Doctor Zhivago this past Wednesday night because it's a new musical and I heard it was a pretty good love story. There is also a book and movie based on the same story which I've also heard is good, but I can't comment on how close it stays to either.
Doctor Zhivago is currently still in previews and opens tomorrow, which means it hasn't been officially reviewed yet. What is strange is that this musical is basically getting ignored in the theatre community. I don't know many people who have seen it or plan on seeing it. No one is mentioning it for the Tony nominations. No one cares about who's in it. We'll see how it gets reviewed, but I can't imagine anything stellar. I feel a little bad for this musical because I think it will come in and out of Broadway fairly quickly and won't get a chance to find an audience. But so goes the theatre.
Alright, so this plot is a bit detailed. It certainly is epic and interesting, but because so much happens so quickly, you get a little lost and then can't really connect to the characters. There were several times where someone died or someone recognized someone and I was like "who is that??? should I be upset or shocked???" To sum it up, but I really can't because it would take me like 30 minutes, we're in Russia watching a girl and boy grow up separately. She gets into an abusive relationship with her caretaker, he becomes a doctor and gets married to his childhood sweetie. Then there's a revolution and they both get sent to war (him as a doctor, her as a volunteer nurse). They fall in love, then separate after the war because he's married. Then he moves his family to a rural part of Russia to run away from the war/politics but ends up moving near her and they have an affair. Then he gets pulled into war again and his wife and child move to Paris where it's safer. He finally comes back and she's still there. They have a final hurrah, he tricks her into leaving him for safety, and then he dies at some point. Oh and she's pregnant with their love child. Moral of the story, he's a terrible father. But actually, I'm not sure what the moral is.
So I get that it's supposed to be a dramatic love story, but there were literally no upbeat moments. I didn't smile or laugh once. They were "in love" but it was the most depressing love I've ever seen. Sure, it's tragic, they can't be together but are together anyways, but at least look happy about it at some point. The show was a mix between Les Mis and Phantom but without epic music or characters you loved. The acting was good and the singing was really great, however. Kelli Barrett (Lara) was beautiful and had a lovely voice. Tam Mutu (where did he come from and where has he been all my life) was the hunky and sensitive doctor with a voice like butter. And his Broadway debut! It may not be with this show, but I really hope he sticks around Broadway.
So the set and the music were a bit underwhelming. I mean, we're in Russia and the whole time it just looked like an old ballroom! Where's the beautiful mountainous landscape? Where's the gritty war scene? Wow my eyes if you can't wow my ears. The music was completely forgettable but went along with the depressing story. I think everything sounded sad but I don't really remember any songs. And it's a shame because their voices could do wonders with something more grand.
To me it was a book, music, and directing problem. Which I know, is a lot. But the story is there and the acting/singing is there. It was just poorly handled. And unfortunately I think this will be a forgotten show that in a few years no one will remember existed.
Who should see this show:
- Probably if you liked the book and/or movie
- If you're a die-hard Les Mis or Phantom fan
How to get tickets:
- $45 on tdf.org
- $42.50 Rear mezz: https://www.telecharge.com/Broadway/Doctor-Zhivago/
- $35 youth rush tickets on day of performance at the box office (for people 30 and under)