Home & + | Search
Featured Categories: Special Focus | Performance Reviews | Previews | DanceSpots | Arts and Education | Press Releases
Join ExploreDance.com's email list | Mission Statement | Copyright notice | The Store | Calendar | User survey | Advertise
Click here to take the ExploreDance.com user survey.
Your anonymous feedback will help us continue to bring you coverage of more dance.
ExploreDance.com (Magazine)
Other Search Options
John Fink
Performance Reviews
Country Western
United States
New York City
New York
New York, NY

Urban Cowboy - the Broadway musical

by John Fink
April 7, 2003
New York, NY

Urban Cowboy - the Broadway musical

Review by John Fink
April 7, 2003

The honky-tonk musical Urban Cowboy, bringing a largely unknown cast to an adaptation of the 1980 movie that starred Debra Winger and John Travolta, made it through another night at the Broadhurst Theatre.

Between mixed to bad reviews, the musician strike, weak economy discouraging tourists and the war in Iraq, the possibility that this $4.5 million Broadway musical surviving looks very bleak. The show still faces steep odds of ever recouping its investment; recent preview performances had been less than half full. Removing all of the what ifs and what could bes about the musical, this production should not have been moved to Broadway until all of the structural problems had been worked to what could have been a well oiled show.

The cast had no known, bankable stars that could draw crowds - which is not necessarily a hindrance in all cases, but it could have helped greatly to soften the almost painful dialog written between the musical numbers. The continuity was about as smooth as a gravel road. The musical numbers for the most part were good songs done badly with the exceptions of a handful in the second half of the production, specifically T-R-O-U-B-L-E and Something That We Do. Sally Mayes, Aunt Corene, and Leo Burmester, Uncle Bob, who illustrated more depth to their characters than the rest of the cast, sang the latter of the two. And where as Jenn Colella, Sissy, displayed a strong sense of her character, unfortunately, her co-star (Matt Cavenaugh, Bud) was more of a greenhorn than counterpart. There needs to be more character interaction and depth displayed not only with the co-stars but the ensemble.

The choreography for the opening was a strong in-your-face, denim bootie-grabbing, T&A, washboard abs ensemble piece. A little something for everyone. There were a couple creatively well-choreographed numbers (the wedding photo piece was particularly good) in the middle of the second act. Fun as it all was with eye candy for everyone, it was like being on a dinner date, realizing that it was going to be a long night and you're only on the appetizers. The audience did seem to enjoy the production, feeling part of the ensemble's spirited, Stetson wearin', high kickin' fun. It was sort of like watching the Dukes of Hazard without the control of the remote.

Despite the brand name that people know from the movie, this is not a production that should be considering a national touring company until the poorly written dialog, structural problems, and weak ensemble chorus numbers are cleaned up.

So whether the cast and creative team sit nervously like a long tailed polecat in a roomful of rocking chairs, Urban Cowboy has gotta do somethin' fast because the sun may set before one vote is even placed for the accolades of the June 2003 Tony awards.

Urban Cowboy was choreographed by Melinda Roy, directed by Lonny Price and produced by Chase Mishkin, Leonard Soloway, and Barbara and Peter Fodor. The book was by Aaron Latham and Phillip Oesterman. The cast features Matt Cavenaugh, Jenn Colella, Leo Burmester, Marcus Chait, Sally Mayes, Rozz Morehead, Jodi Stevens, Michael Balderrama, Mark Bove, Gerrard Carter, Nicole Foret, Lisa Gajda, Justin Greer, Michelle Kittrell, Brian Letendre, Barrett Martin, Kimberly Dawn Neumann, Tera-lee Pollin, Chad L. Schiro, Kelleia Sheerin and Paula Wise. Set by James Noone, Costumes by Ellis Tillman, Lighting by Natasha Katz, and Sound by Peter Fitzgerald.

Urban Cowboy is playing at the Broadhurst Theatre at 235 West 44th Street. For more information, go to www.urbancowboythemusical.com.

Matt Cavenaugh in Urban Cowboy
Photo courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Matt Cavenaugh and Jenn Colella in Urban Cowboy
Photo courtesy of Paul Kolnik

The cast of Urban Cowboy
Photo courtesy of Paul Kolnik

The review of Urban Cowboy was a collaborative effort with WestieMonkey.com. See Robert Abrams' review.

Search for articles by
Performance Reviews, Places to Dance, Fashion, Photography, Auditions, Politics, Health