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Des McAnuff’s Doctor Zhivago

Des McAnuff’s “Doctor Zhivago” is on Broadway at The Broadway theatre.

On McAnuff, the two-time Tony Award–winning director, and former artistic director of the Stratford Festival is quoted as saying:

“It has been 50 years since David Lean made his film, “Doctor Zhivago,” and it has been 70 years since Boris Pasternak started the novel….A few weeks after that, we started work on the musical.”

In a recent story on McAnuff remarked:

“While “Doctor Zhivago” takes place across vast distances of time and space and portrays the lives of hundreds of people, it is essentially about five characters: three men in love with one woman, and two women in love with one man.”

It would be theoretically possible to tell the story of “Doctor Zhivago” intimately in one room with only five actors.”

Despite that, his Broadway production of “Doctor Zhivago” is epic.

La Jolla Review

Reviewing the 2006 production at La Jolla Playhouse, Los Angeles Times theater critic Charles McNulty wrote that “the musical’s grand scale makes it difficult to connect to what lies at its sentimental heart.”

New York Reviews
Charles Isherwood – NY Times

Isherwood admitted he’s not a fan of the book or the film, describes the production as “a turgid throwback to the British invasion of Broadway in the 1980s, and more specifically to the epic-romantic style of the Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil shows “Les Misérables” and “Miss Saigon.”
He writes that the songs include a hefty measure of love ballads, melodic and skillful but they tend “to become indistinguishable.”

Chris JonesChicago Tribune

“The stylistic problem, the lack of any femininity in the visual proceedings, flows in so small measure from a design, by Michael Scott Mitchell, that is so dominated by gas jets, projections and mechanics, it brings to mind not so much romance as one of those sexy ice bars you find in Las Vegas.

“Doctor Zhivago” is one of those shows that needed to cut through the icy clutter and find the optimism of love and the sacrifices it spawns. Alas, the poetic leanings of the title character are never fully explored.”

Terry Teachout – The Wall Street Journal
Never one to pull a punch Terry starts off with this line describing the show as a “slow-paced commodity musical suitable only for consumption by tone-deaf tweenagers.

“Mr. McAnuff’s reputation on Broadway, such as it is, arises from his stagings of “Jersey Boys” and “Jesus Christ Superstar.” Taste is not his strong suit…I spent two hours and 45 minutes sitting through “Doctor Zhivago.” Unless you’re getting paid to do so, don’t make the same mistake.”

Alexis Soloski – The Guardian
“I’m pretty sure a threat like “I may have to visit your student friend and tell him how you cry out with pleasure when we make love” was supposed to bring a shiver to the spine rather than a giggle to the lips, but there is unintentional comedy sprinkled throughout. I still haven’t recovered from the Russian breakdancing bit – or the vomit that followed.”

Perez Hilton – When did he become a theatre critic?
“Des McAnuff has loaded the show with so many guns going off continually. It’s incredibly loud and distracting!

Kelly Barrett as Zhivago’s love interest is a revelation in this role and absolutely spectacular! And Paul Alexander Nolan, whom we’ve seen in previous productions, delivers the best performance we’ve ever seen him give in Doctor Zhivago.”

Isherwood on The Acting:
Mr. Mutu sings strongly and with commitment and does a decent job of communicating the divided loyalties that tear at the heart of Zhivago. But over all there’s a generic quality to the characters, as written, that is probably beyond the scope of an actor to correct.

Mr. Nolan, who played the title role in Mr. McAnuff’s revival of “Jesus Christ Superstar,” effectively imbues the young Antipov with a brash recklessness and fierce dedication to the Red cause; he’s less persuasive, however, when Antipov has mutated into the brutal partisan leader Strelnikov (long story), who oversees the forced conscription of Zhivago into the rebel ranks.

Check out these photos from the Broadway show.
Tam Mutu as Doctor Zhivago

Des McAnuf, Doctor Zhivago, Broadway, tam mutu

Photo Matthew Murphy

Sophia Gennusa as Young Katarina and Kelli Barrett as Lara Guishar

Sophia Gennusa as Young Katarina,  Kelli Barrett , Des McAnuf, Doctor Zhivago, Broadway,

Photo by Matthew Murphy

Kelli Barret and Tam Mutu
Barrett, who has appeared on Broadway in “Wicked,” ”The Royal Family” and “Baby It’s You!” plays Lara Guishar, the role made famous by Julie Christie in the 1965 film.

Kelli Barrett, des Mcanuff,  Doctor Zhivago

Photo by Matthew Murphy

Paul Alexander Nolan as Pasha Antipov

Des McAnuf, Doctor Zhivago, Broadway,Paul Alexander Nolan

Photo by Matthew Murphy

McAnuff’s Touch
Stratford Festival regulars will recognize McAnuff’s touch in this scene.

Photo by Matthew Murphy

Photo by Matthew Murphy

Julius Sermonia Video

Another Stratford Festival favourite, Julius Sermonia is in the show.

Julius is the dance captain, and a member of the ensemble.

He’s featured in this video, shot backstage on the first night of previews.

It’s a wonderful video that truly captures the underlying tension of the first performance before a live audience.

As reported in the Toronto Star the “Doctor Zhivago” cast & crew includes several Canadians with Paul Alexander Nolan, Kira Guloien, Julius Sermonia, Ericka Hunter and Denis Lambert onstage, while Sean Nieuwenhuis, Guy Kwan and former Director of Music with the Stratford Festival Rick Fox behind the scenes.

Other Canadian performers include Ottawa’s Ericka Hunter and Calgary’s Denis Lambert.

Visit Doctor Zhivago for more

by Keith Tomasek
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Des McAnuff’s Doctor Zhivago

Keith Tomasek
21 April 2015
News and Rumors

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