Tickets from $48  Buy Tickets


Photo: Julieta Cervantes Review
“Art isn’t easy/Every minor detail/is a major decision/Have to keep things in scale/have to keep to your vision.”

Unsurprisingly, the late, great Stephen Sondheim summed up in mere seconds what David Adjmi takes over three hours to say in “Stereophonic,” now at the Golden Theatre. Still, there’s no denying this overlong but compelling new play about a mid-1970s pop band (clearly based on Fleetwood Mac) struggling to complete their newest album – and not lose their hearts and minds in the process – is its own work of art.

By sticking surprisingly close to what happened to the members of Fleetwood Mac -- Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, Mick Fleetwood, and John and Christine McVie – the play can feel a bit predictable to those who know the band’s history. Conversely, those who know nothing about these people, and especially, the torturous making of the group’s landmark album “Rumours,” may actually miss some of the nuances in the play.

Either way, however, Daniel Aukin’s production of the work could not be more immaculate – from David Zinn’s unbelievable re-creation of a California recording studio (aided by the superb sound design by Ryan Rumery) to the stunningly authentic costumes by Enver Charkatash (flares, flares, everywhere), to the deeply-felt performances by a mostly little-known, seven-person cast.

Even the few musical numbers composed by Will Butler, formerly of the Grammy-winning band “Arcade Fire,” seemingly aspire to the Fleetwod Mac’s signature sound. The best example is “Bright -- the stunning 6 ½-minute song written by lead singer Diana (a strong-voiced, heart-wrenching Sarah Pidgeon, beautifully embodying the struggle of a woman to be taken seriously in the male-dominated music world). The song’s length leads to several fights with Diana’s controlling, seemingly egomaniacal boyfriend Peter (a superb Tim Pecinka), who ends up taking over the role of record producer.

While the ever-evolving Diana-Peter relationship gets the most attention here, Adjmi does build up solid-enough stories for his other characters; the mercurial bassist Reg (an unrecognizable Will Brill) who transforms from a drug-addicted, alcoholic mess to a health-obsessed vegetarian (who still drinks now and then); his deeply shy, but sometimes strong-willed wife Holly (a very fine Juliana Canfield), the group’s keyboardist; and the flamboyant, often exasperated drummer Simon (a magnetic Chris Stack.

Moreover, all five musicians are natural perfectionists who are forced to make personal and professional compromises – big and small – just to get the project finished. And as obnoxious as they can be, we do feel for their plight, especially as Adjmi leaves no doubt that the pressure to put out an album so full of expectations is overwhelming.

Still, the quarreling quartet doesn’t always engender our sympathies. As a result, viewer interest often drifts to the show’s “minor” characters, Grover (a wonderful Eli Gelb), the nerdy engineer who has embellished his resume to get this gig and, at least initially, ends up way over his head, and his more experienced and even dorkier colleague, Charlie (Andrew R. Butler, essentially serving as the work’s comic relief).

Bit by bit, though, these seven folks do eventually put their record together (not that we hear the finished product) enduring personal and professional triumphs and downfalls along the way. Indeed, as Adjmi implies, true “artists” may really have no choice but to pursue such a tricky path.

By Brian Scott Lipton

Visit the Site

Open/Close Dates
Opening 4/19/2024
Closing 8/18/2024

Theatre Info
Golden Theatre
252 W 45th St
Neighborhood: West 40s
New York, NY 10036