The Citiblog

Review: Is Back to the Future: The Musical a Good Time?
August 3, 2023, 10:17.24 pm ET


Photos: M. Murphy/E. Zimmerman

By Brian Scott Lipton

The theatrical equivalent of a BOGO (buy one, get one free) sale, “Back to the Future: The Musical,” the screen-to-stage adaptation of the popular 1985 film now at the Winter Garden Theatre, seems specifically designed to satisfy anyone who wants to visit a theme park attraction and watch a traditional Broadway musical at the same time. And if that’s your aim, the show satisfies as a value proposition – especially if it’s your way of introducing children or teens to musical theater.

Conversely, audience members with more sophisticated tastes – in either arena – will likely wish for something with more craft on both sides of the equation. As a musical, it’s both a bit undercooked (with an instantly forgettable and overloaded score by Alan Silvestri and Glen Ballard) and overblown (with way too many ensemble dances with by-the-numbers choreography by Chris Bailey). As a director, the estimable John Rando is often delegated to simply being little more than a traffic cop.

Admittedly, I haven’t been to Disney World or Universal in many decades, so the LED lighting that surrounds the proscenium (designed by Tony winners Tim Lutkin and Hugh Vanstone) may, in fact, be state-of-the-art, but it often seemed more distracting than illuminating. Meanwhile, Finn Ross’ video designs, Gareth Owen’s lighting and Chris Fisher’s illusions are admittedly impressive, but don’t really justify the ticket price. Continue reading...