You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Connecticut Theater Review: ‘The Most Beautiful Room in New York’ by Adam Gopnik, David Shire

Anastasia Barzee, Matt Bogart, Constantine Maroulis, Mark Nelson, Tyler Jones, Krystina Alabado, Darlesia Cearcy, Danielle Ferland, Anne Horak, Sawyer Niehaus, Allan Washington, Ryan Duncan.

Running a nice little family restaurant in New York isn’t what it used to be, what with spiking rent prices, competition with hipster eateries and ever-changing food tastes. These and more are the issues facing the owners of Table, the homey establishment at the heart of the Long Wharf Theater’s world premiere of “The Most Beautiful Room in New York,” a pleasant but overstuffed, not-yet-satisfying musical by New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik and Broadway musical vet David Shire. There’s certainly plenty to chew on here — including an abundance of food-as-life metaphors — but sometimes less of a full plate is advisable for a show with a straightforward, family-first theme.

The idea of trying to find a middle ground in a rapidly changing world of tech, commerce and ever-shifting identities remains relevant and relatable, but first you need compelling characters to care about. Here there’s the generically nice family of chef David (Matt Bogart, a late-in-rehearsal replacement), his wife and front-of-house-manager Claire (Anastasia Barzee), their teenage son Bix (Tyler Jones) and young daughter Phoebe (Sawyer Niehaus).

Things are enlivened when David, in desperate financial straits because of a soaring rent increase, asks help from former business partner Sergio (Constantine Maroulis, delicious as he is devilish). Sergio now heads a food empire and could use the street cred of David’s respected position in the Union Square market community. Complicating matters: Sergio (“I may be a bad boy, but I’m not a bad guy”) had a long-ago fling with Claire. Their connection gets reheated when he returns to turn the Table in more ways than one.

Providing contrasting food/life philosophy is Carlo (Mark Nelson in endearing comic-sage mode), who runs Anarchist Pizza in Bensonhurst, where David grew up. Carlo’s daughter Anna (Krystina Alabado) meets Bix, who shows up during a cheese delivery, and next-gen romance blooms in its own quirky way.

The theme-setting opener “Something’s Growing” gets the show off to a bland start, and a few tunes (“What Do We Do Now?” “Lucky”) do little but add to a lengthy running time. There’s more zip in the second act, which opens with the clever “There’s Always a Wait for Your Table” (led by a nicely icy Anne Horak as the new reservation czarina). But it takes quite a long while to resolve issues and arrive at the show’s warmhearted conclusion.

Shire’s tunes have a confident, cosmopolitan glide that eases from jazz to blues to ballads, and Gopnik’s lyrics have a deft, playful touch. Jonathan Tunick’s orchestrations are sublime in their understatement, making the most out of the fine seven-piece band led by music director John McDaniel.

But in this premiere production, staged by Gordon Edelstein, the strongest numbers are given to secondary characters. Darlesia Cearcy, as cheese-vender Phoebe, lets loose as she warns David of the inevitable in “Market Forces”; Carlo’s pizza-centric advice to David in “Slice of Life” is a highlight, as is Sergio’s seductive “And Then I’ll Go.” The teens are charming in the sweetly awkward “So, Like Maybe,” and the father-daughter duet “It’s Never Raining In Seattle” proves powerful emotions are best delivered quietly.

In its current form, “The Most Beautiful Room in New York” needs more vividness in its leads and some significant editing if it hopes to move forward. Right now, it’s a musical meal that, despite some tasty bits, still leaves you hungry.

Connecticut Theater Review: 'The Most Beautiful Room in New York' by Adam Gopnik, David Shire

Long Wharf Theater, New Haven, Conn.; 408 seats; $91 top. Opened, reviewed May 10, 2017. Runs through May 28. Running time: 2 HOURS, 40 MINS.

Production: A Long Wharf Theater presentation of a musical in two acts with a book by Adam Gopnik, music by David Shire and lyrics by Gopnik.

Creative: Directed by Gordon Edelstein. Choreographed by John Carrafa. Sets, Michael Yeargan; costumes, Jess Goldstein; lighting, Christopher Akerlind; sound, Keith Caggiano; music director and supervisor, John McDaniel; orchestrations, Jonathan Tunick; production stage manager, Linda Marvel.

Cast: Anastasia Barzee, Matt Bogart, Constantine Maroulis, Mark Nelson, Tyler Jones, Krystina Alabado, Darlesia Cearcy, Danielle Ferland, Anne Horak, Sawyer Niehaus, Allan Washington, Ryan Duncan.

More Legit

  • The American Clock review

    London Theater Review: 'The American Clock'

    Time is money. Money is time. Both come unstuck in “The American Clock.” Arthur Miller’s kaleidoscopic account of the Great Depression, part autobiography, part social history, crawls through the decade after the Wall Street crash, dishing up snapshots of daily life. In the Old Vic’s classy revival, director Rachel Chavkin (“Hadestown”) tunes into the play’s [...]

  • Jake Gyllenhaal

    Off Broadway Review: Jake Gyllenhaal in 'Sea Wall/A Life'

    Comfy? Okay, let’s talk Death: sudden death, painful death, lingering death, accidental death, and whatever other kinds of death happen to come into the receptive minds of playwrights Simon Stephens (“Sea Wall”) and Nick Payne (“A Life”). The writing in these separate monologues — playing together on a double bill at the Public Theater — [...]

  • Michael Jackson Estate Cancels Musical Test-Run

    Michael Jackson Estate Cancels Musical Test-Run

    With an HBO documentary that places strong allegations of abuse against Michael Jackson premiering in two weeks, the late singer’s estate announced Thursday that it’s canceling a scheduled Chicago test run of a jukebox musical about him. The estate and its producing partner in the musical, Columbia Live Stage, said that they’re setting their sights on going [...]

  • All About Eve review

    West End Review: Gillian Anderson and Lily James in 'All About Eve'

    To adapt a crass old adage: it’s “All About Eve,” not “All About Steve.” Stripping Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s sharp-witted screenplay about a waning theater star of its period trappings, Ivo van Hove’s stage adaptation fine-tunes its feminism for our own sexist age — image-obsessed, anti-aging, the time of Time’s Up. Rather than blaming Lily James’ [...]

  • Adam Shankman

    Listen: Why Adam Shankman Directs Every Movie Like It's a Musical

    Director Adam Shankman’s latest movie, the Taraji P. Henson comedy “What Men Want,” isn’t a musical. But as one of Hollywood’s top director-choreographers of musicals and musical sequences, he approaches even non-musicals with a sense of tempo. Listen to this week’s podcast below: Related Connecticut Theater Review: Steve Martin's ‘Meteor Shower’ “When I read a [...]

  • Matthew Bourne's 'Cinderella' Review

    L.A. Theater Review: Matthew Bourne's 'Cinderella'

    How much can you change “Cinderella” before it is no longer “Cinderella”? In the case of choreography maestro Matthew Bourne — who, it should be said, first unveiled his spin on the classic folk tale some 22 years ago — the music is most certainly “Cinderella” (Prokofiev’s 1945 score, to be exact), but the plot [...]

  • 'Pinter Seven' Review: Martin Freeman Stars

    West End Review: 'Pinter Seven' Starring Martin Freeman

    “Pinter at the Pinter” has been an education — a crash course in Britain’s greatest post-war playwright. Director-producer Jamie Lloyd’s star-studded, six-month sprint through Harold Pinter’s short plays and sketches has been exquisitely curated and consistently revelatory. Not only has Lloyd tuned audiences into the writer’s technique, his unconventional groupings have exposed a load of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content