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Death may be taking a holiday over at the Roundabout’s Laura Pels Theatre, but laryngitis isn’t; it affected the male lead (above), who dropped out and was replaced by his understudy.
The ailing star didn’t dodge a bullet, but he definitely averted a yawnfest.
The new star and his castmates (including some Broadway stalwarts with really good pedigree) work hard to buoy this adaptation of the old play about Death assuming the persona of a Russian prince to hang out at a duke’s house and find out why people fear him.
But creative death, alas, doesn’t take a holiday at all.
The whole thing tends to sag, with long songs (by Maury Yeston) that stop the show cold with their unimaginativeness, and blah staging to match.
It generally feels like an assignment rather than an inspiration, coming off as an example of the genre critics used to call “floperetta” while making you fantasize about what Sondheim could have done with the material.
In fact, the show alternately seems likes it would love to be Steve’s A Little Night Music crossed with Grand Hotel, a musical with far more interesting Yeston work.
But it isn’t. It’s meh.
Everyone involved will probably do better work in the future.
You should probably play dead for a while and wait for it.