Production, choreography get high marks

Producers of “Robin and the 7 Hoods” (Old Globe Theater, San Diego), the new tuner incorporating familiar tunes by Sammy Cahn and James Van Heusen, have made no secret of its Broadway intentions. With a book by Rupert Holmes (based on the Rat Pack pic of the same name) and direction and choreography by Casey Nicholaw (“The Drowsy Chaperone”), the show’s world preem at San Diego’s Old Globe Theater has always been considered the first step on the road to Broadway.

The Verdict looks at critical reaction to key productions opening Off Broadway, regionally and abroad that appear likely candidates for further life on Broadway and/or elsewhere.

The production — with a cast that includes Eric Schneider, Will Chase, Kelly Sullivan and Amy Spanger — came away from its recent opening at the Old Globe with a mixed bag of reviews.

Here’s what the critics said:

• In the San Diego Union-Tribune, James Hebert gave the musical a thumbs-up, calling it “a canny, stylish new show that’s a ton of frothy fun, if (no surprise) a little stingy on the intellectual riches.” He also gives high marks to the cast and the production elements, but he’s hoping the “crowdpleaser” can find a little more heft on its way to New York.

• Charles McNulty in the Los Angeles Times argued “Robin” doesn’t yet know what it wants to be. He wasn’t a fan of the book, but acknowledged the songs are “criminally entertaining,” singling out the band and the orchestrations for praise. He wrote of the overall production, “The paint job on this one is certainly snazzy, but the engineering reveals major flaws — the biggest being the attempt to thread disparate songs into a consistent narrative.”

• Longtime area critic Welton Jones, writing for Sandiego.com, was largely mixed on the entire endeavor. He enjoyed the songs and orchestrations but said of the leads that charisma “is in short supply.” Still, he appreciated other elements of the production, noting that “Nicholaw is almost as heroic an ingredient” as the orchestrations.

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