Championing Chaplin

Championing Chaplin

This is not a review of the new Broadway musical Chaplin. It’s just my opinion, one among thousands of opinions floating out there in cyberspace. Do with it as you see fit. There was a time when I would sift through newspaper reviews the morning after opening night, using them to determine which shows I would (or would not) see. No more. I now see shows in previews before the critics have had their say. Consequently, if I’ve either enjoyed a great experience or suffered the tortures of the damned, I’ve only myself to blame for wanting to make up my own mind. I cite Chaplin here because there’s an exception to every rule. Due to scheduling conflicts, I saw it after reviews had been posted. And, mea culpa, I weakened and slipped back into bad old habits. I peeked, and the words from the pros were less than encouraging. “Cliché.” “Leaden.” “Mediocre.” “Sentimental.” Well, call me contrary: I went anyway. AND I liked Chaplin. A lot. Its book is intelligent and engrossing; its score is hummable; its staging is imaginative. The scenes in which Chaplin, the man, discovers his Little Tramp persona and directs (manipulates) a young Jackie Coogan to a tearful performance in The Kid are especially effective. The acting is uniformly first-rate, including a star-making turn by Rob McClure in the title role and a fire-breathing dragon of a gossip columnist enacted by Jenn Colella. Christiane Noll sings beautifully, as is her wont. Smart sets. Snappy costumes. Slick all the way. And if my eyes moistened, so what? But, please, don’t go by me. This is not a review.