You will be redirected back to your article in seconds


This London bombshell is both a dazzling piece of entertainment and a gripping cautionary tale.

Jeffrey Skilling - Norbert Leo Butz Kenneth Lay - Gregory Itzin Claudia Roe - Marin Mazzie Andy Fastow - Stephen Kunken

Industry doomsayers were all wet about “Enron.” This London bombshell is both a dazzling piece of entertainment and a gripping cautionary tale about the criminal chicanery that eviscerated the most respected corporate body in America. Still, it cost a bundle (a reputed $5 million) to haul this hi-tech show into town, and everyone’s wondering if starstruck musical junkies will part with their coin for a straight play. What’s clear is that the sensational stage effects deliver the same blood-pumping thrills of a musical, wrapped around a play, by Lucy Prebble, with more brains in its head than any tuner since “Assassins.”

So it cost $5 million. So big deal. The theatrical effects alone — a dizzying funhouse of flashing saber lights, full-face and head masks, snarky puppets, cowboy line dancing, hypnotic split-screen projections, a drill-team chorus of marching financial traders, and a gigantic Big Board that never stops its flashing and whirling — are worth every drachma. If we were still living in the disposable play-money Age of Enron, Rupert Goold (who won both the Olivier and the Evening Standard Award for best director) and his inventive creative team would be pulling in sweet bonuses.

Besides, if this extravaganza ever does go on to become the full-blown musical it stylistically aspires to, show’s sensational star, the indefatigable and unstoppable Norbert Leo Butz (“Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” “Wicked”), has solid chops and copious cred in musical-theater land.

In order to compress, explicate, and make us shudder over the hugely complicated boondoggle that was at the heart of the Houston-based energy company’s fabulous fortunes, Prebble has wisely narrowed her storytelling focus to the personal trajectories of four of the principal scoundrels — Enron’s infamous CEO Jeffrey Skilling (Butz), currently in prison but clamoring to get out; sexy thorn-in-his-side Claudia Roe (Marin Mazzie, reveling in her bitch moment); that Teflon guy Kenneth Lay (Gregory Itzin); and the nerdy accountant who gamed the funny numbers, chief financial officer Andy Fastow (Stephen Kunken). But Skilling is the crazy man with the cockamamie plan and Butz has precisely that edge of comic insanity that gives him entree into the minds and so-called hearts of brilliant egomaniacs like Enron’s golden boy.

The Expressionistic storytelling techniques devised by Prebble and artfully conceptualized by helmer Goold clarify the complexity of all the crooked high finance while holding it up to raucous ridicule. And here’s where the stagecraft comes in.

Those bogus “shadow companies” Fastow dreamed up to hide Enron’s mountainous debt are rendered by masked and fearsomely hungry “raptors” hidden away in the bowels of company headquarters. Lehman Brothers shows up as two greedy guys trussed into a single coat. Arthur Andersen defends his shoddy accounting practices with the help of a ventriloquist’s dummy. And Three Blind Mice in huge head masks let us know that nobody in the Bush government is paying the slightest attention — and is indeed abetting — this corporate chicanery.

Some of this spectacle is genuinely daring. There’s a jarring moment at the top of the show when the entire cast comes out marching to “The Star Spangled Banner.” Had this been the company from the show that originated at London’s Headlong Theater and is still playing on the West End, they might, indeed, have had their English heads handed to them. But this American-cast company raises the stakes for the show and actually helps Prebble to get her larger point across — that this is about more than the implosion of one high-flying company. It’s about the manic greed that fueled the Zeitgeist of the exuberant 90s.

Will the show make it? It all depends on how pissed-off people are at the kind of cynical manipulation that goes on in the Enron-inspired companies still thriving in America’s scandalously unregulated corporate universe. If all the victims of Bernie Madoff’s schemes and all the investors sold a bill of goods by Goldman Sachs would just line up for tickets, “Enron” could run forever on the fumes of their rage.


Broadhurst Theater; 1172 seats; $121.50 top

Production: Enron
A Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel, Matthew Byam Shaw, ACT Prods., Neal Street, Beverly Bartner & Norman Tulchin, Lee Menzies, Bob Boyett, Scott M. Delman, Infinity Stages, JK Prods., the Araca Group, Jamie deRoy, Mallory Factor, Michael Filerman, Ian Flooks, Ronald Frankel, James Fuld, Jr., Dena Hammerstein, Jam Theatricals, Rodger H. Hess, Sharon Karmazin, Cheryl Lachowicz, Ostar Parnassus Enterprise, Jon B. Platt, Judith Resnick, Daryl Roth, Stein and Gunderson Co., Anita Waxman, the Weinstein Co., Barry & Carole Kaye, Stewart F. Lane & Bonnie Comley, Fran & Barry Weissler and the Shubert Organization presentation of a Headlong Theater, Chichester Festival Theater and Royal Court Theater production of a play in two acts by Lucy Prebble. Directed by Rupert Goold.

Creative: Sets and costumes, Anthony Ward; lighting, Mark Henderson; composition and sound, video and projections, Jon Driscoll; choreography, Scott Ambler; production stage manager, Barclay Stiff. Reviewed April 26, 2010. Opened April 27. Running time: 2 HOURS, 20 MIN.

Cast: Jeffrey Skilling - Norbert Leo Butz Kenneth Lay - Gregory Itzin Claudia Roe - Marin Mazzie Andy Fastow - Stephen KunkenWith: Jordan Ballard, Brandon J. Dirden, Rightor Doyle, Anthony Holds, Ty Jones, Ian Kahn, January LaVoy, Tom Nelis, Jeff Skowron, Lusia Strus, Noah Weisberg, Madisyn Shipman, Mary Stewart Sullivan.

More Legit

  • Ley Line Unveils Brian Wilson Documentary,

    Ley Line Unveils Brian Wilson Documentary, 'Hugo Cabret' Musical

    Producers Tim Headington and Theresa Steele Page have unveiled Ley Line Entertainment with a Brian Wilson documentary and a “Hugo Cabret” musical in the works. Ley Line said it’s a content development, production, and financing company with projects spanning film, television, stage, and music. Headington financed and produced “The Young Victoria,” “Argo,” “Hugo,” and “World [...]

  • Daniel Radcliffe

    Listen: How Broadway Made Daniel Radcliffe a Better Actor

    Acting onstage has been a regular part of Daniel Radcliffe’s career for more than a decade — and the “Harry Potter” star says there’s a good reason for that: It’s made him better. “It gives me a lot of confidence as an actor, which is not always something that I’ve felt,” Radcliffe said on the [...]

  • The Jungle review

    Off Broadway Review: 'The Jungle'

    With the rumbling of semis careening by and the sound of Middle Eastern music in the distance, “The Jungle” aims to vividly immerse audiences into the world of the real-life migrant and refugee camp of the same name. By telling the story of the Jungle’s creation in Calais, France, in 2015, and its eventual destruction [...]

  • Hillary Clinton'Network' play opening night, New

    Hillary Clinton Attends Opening of Broadway's 'Network'

    A 1976 film might not be expected to translate seamlessly to Broadway in 2018, but for the cast and creative team behind “Network,” which premiered Thursday night with Hillary Clinton in the audience, the story still feels uncomfortably close to home. “It was a satire then, and now it’s documentary realism,” said Lee Hall, who [...]

  • 'Network' Review: Bryan Cranston Stars on

    Broadway Review: 'Network' With Bryan Cranston

    The 1976 film “Network” won four Academy Awards, including best original screenplay for writer Paddy Chayefsky, for its blistering portrayal of an American society fueled by greed and bloated on corruption. A haggard Peter Finch took the best actor trophy for his harrowing performance as Howard Beale, a TV newsman who is so disgusted by [...]

  • Faye DunawayVanity Fair Oscar Party, Arrivals,

    Faye Dunaway to Play Katharine Hepburn on Broadway

    Faye Dunaway will return to Broadway to play another acting diva. The Oscar-winner is set to portray Katharine Hepburn in “Tea at Five,” a one-woman play that charts the movie legend’s career over the course of a winding monologue. Dunaway last appeared on Broadway in 1982’s “The Curse of the Aching Heart.” In the 1990s, [...]

  • Philip Bosco'The Savages' film after party,

    Tony Award Winner Philip Bosco Dies at 88

    Veteran character actor Philip Bosco, who won a Tony Award in 1989 for “Lend Me a Tenor” as an opera impresario and was nominated five other times, died Monday, according to his grandson, Luke Bosco. He was 88. Bosco received his first Tony nomination for “Rape of the Belt” in 1960. His other nominations were [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content