Anthony J. Piccione
OnStage New York Critic
Earlier this week, when I had the chance to interview some members of the cast and creative team of The Nose, a new musical that recently had a one-night performance at the Master Theater in Brooklyn, I was very intrigued by what I was hearing. When I attended the show on Thursday night – and I say this as someone who has generally become less interested in family-friendly musicals in recent years, with only a few exceptions – it proved to be a very enjoyable experience filled with lots of good laughs for everyone in the audience, and ultimately deserves to be seen by even more people in the future.
Based on the Russian fairy tale by Nikolai Gogol, this musical – adapted for the stage by Kit Goldstein Grant – tells the story of Kovalyov, a narcissistic and condescending bureaucrat obsessed with his beauty, who is humiliated when his nose comes to life and manages to not only leave his face, but seemingly gain more respect and power than Kovalyov himself. As he searches for his lost nose, Kovalyov must go through encounters with several other wacky characters, including a doctor who has an unusual treatment for “helping” his patients, to a police chief who claims excessive sugar helps him fight crime, to a 110-year old woman easily wooed by Kovalyov’s walking and talking nose, over the fact that he speaks French.
While the story itself is, indeed, very good material for a hilarious musical such as this, a large part of what makes this adaptation a strong work of musical theatre is its musical score. With a strong Russian flavor to it, the music of this show proves to be effective at setting the whimsical tone throughout the show, and at the last few seconds, it even had me quietly singing along a tiny bit. (Keep in mind, I’m not usually the kind of person to do that when I’m actually WATCHING a show!) Standout musical numbers include “Isn’t It Romantic”, featuring a dance between the elderly lady Olga and Kovalyov’s nose; “Turpentine, Lard and Soap”, featuring the Doctor and his…well, unorthodox methods; and “Boxes of Sugar”, when the Police Chief sings of his desire for sugar, as he claims that he needs it to do his job.
Directed by Michael Chase Gosselin, this production is also visually impressive, and nearly impossible to take your eyes off of, during its 90-minute runtime. From the very beginning, the stunning lighting design of Jamie Roderick catches your attention, and does a wonderful job at setting the tone of each scene, from beginning to end. I was particularly a fan of the animated bits that were projected at the beginning, to go along with the first few minutes of the show. Also adding to this visual experience are both the colorful set design of Christopher and Justin Swader, as well as the very fitting Russian costumes designed by Courtney Butt.
But what truly makes this production enjoyable, more than anything else, is its cast of characters, brought to life by an ensemble of five compelling actors. Leading this cast in the role of Kovalyov is Dakota Dutcher, who delivers a kooky and engaging performance throughout the show. Kayla Friend manages to be both sweet and humorous in the role of Kovalyov’s maid Matroyshka, while Adrian Rifat is especially hysterical in the roles of the Nose and the Doctor. Christopher Michaels delivers a highly delightful performance in the role of the comically blustering Police Chief, while Sarah Statler is very enjoyable in the role of the 110-year old Olga.
As I indicated at the beginning of the review, this show made me – as well as the many others packed into the theater – laugh on many occasions, making this a musical that I would absolutely recommend for all ages. I only wish there were more performances, so I could encourage readers to go see the show at certain times. However, based on my previous interviews with the creative team, which you can read in the “News” section here at On Stage, this show could very well return – in some form or another – to NYC or another city, in the future. So if or when it does make its potential return, I strongly urge you to go check it out. If you have kids, take them with you, and I assure you it will be a good time for all of you.
For more information on future productions of The Nose, please visit www.thenosemusical.com.
This review was written by Anthony J. Piccione: Playwright, producer, screenwriter, actor, poet, critic and essayist based in New York City.
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