How Does Catherine Zeta-Jones’s Broadway Debut Measure Up?


Catherine Zeta-Jones makes her Broadway debut in the current revival of Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s A Little Night Music, and as fans of her Oscar-winning work as Velma Kelly in Rob Marshall’s Chicago might have assumed, the critics say that she’s good, (if too young and pretty for the part). Ditto five-time Tony winner Angela Lansbury, who reprises her role from the original production from the ’70s. The reaction to show itself is rather mixed, in part because of director Trevor Nunn’s creative take on the material; get the critical rundown after the jump.

“Zeta-Jones, younger than the performers who have traditionally played the role, is captivating as Desiree… she has terrific stage presence, unlike so many movie stars who tread the boards, and she sings and moves beautifully… She also, as hardly comes as a surprise, looks absolutely gorgeous.” [via The Hollywood Reporter]

“In addition to being drop-dead gorgeous in David Farley’s wasp-waisted period dresses, Ms. Zeta-Jones brings a decent voice, a supple dancer’s body and a vulpine self-possession to her first appearance on Broadway… Her Desirée, to be honest, is much like her Velma: earthy, eager and a tad vulgar, though without the homicidal rage and jealousy. (Imagine Velma after a regimen of antidepressants.)” [via The New York Times]

“An actress radiating youthful vigor and sensuality is not a great fit for Desiree Armfeldt, the soignée Sondheim heroine whose most ravishing days are behind her… Still, you have to award Zeta-Jones showing-up points. She gives off so many effortless sparks — those T-Mobile commercials making sport of her in-person allure turn out not to be exaggerations — that you wonder if she should be credited as part of the lighting design.” [via The Washington Post]

“The character is often played by older and less robustly sensual women; Zeta-Jones brings great warmth and vitality to the role and makes it easier to see why Desiree’s old lover, Fredrik — the male lead, played with suave brio by Alexander Hanson — would vie with a blustering dragoon for her affections. Zeta-Jones is less effective, though, at suggesting Desiree’s weary, rueful edges.” [via USA Today]

The one review that doesn’t mention CZJ’s looks, and the most enthusiastic about the overall production:

ALNM is among Sondheim’s near-perfect creations, but it’s not without its challenges, over and above the complexity of the music: Maunder overmuch and the show’s a drag; shine up the comedy and it risks coming off as a yuppie you-can-have-it-all manifesto. Maintaining that balance is the job of Desiree and Frederik, and Zeta-Jones—a tremendous presence here, in great voice—mates up with Hanson perfectly: They play Desiree and Frederik as extremely magnetic, fabulously charming, utterly empty people.”

[via New York Magazine]