'Doctor Zhivago' is bombastically silly.

AuthorKennedy, Mark

Byline: Mark Kennedy

NEW YORK -- The folks behind the new Broadway musical "Doctor Zhivago'' promise it is "sure to steal your heart.'' They apparently hope to do so by bludgeoning you into unconsciousness and then cutting you open with a scimitar.

Visually beautiful but one-dimensional, the show that opened Tuesday at the Broadway Theatre is breathless and bombastic to the point of silly, undercutting not only the novel by Boris Pasternak but also some really wonderful actors in Tam Mutu and Kelli Barrett, and what could have been a memorable score by Lucy Simon.

Director Des McAnuff is apparently of the belief that all his actors need to constantly sprint, slide or go full-out insane to really illustrate PASSION. The stage is tilted at an insane angle to showcase his use of fire and snow and ice and blood. Nearby, in another theater, "Les Miserables,'' another flag-waving tale of revolution, looks absolutely subtle in comparison.

"Doctor Zhivago'' is the tale of five intertwined lovers set during final days of Czarist Russia and the 1917 Revolution. It is epic, indeed, but here the epic nature seems just an excuse for adding flashy elements.

Will someone kindly tell the projection designer that it's not necessary to project a massive photo of Lara when she's ALREADY onstage? And will someone please tell the prop guy in charge of weapons that the rifle discharges are so loud that they're triggering snowfall that's supposed to fall from the rafters later in the show? Oh, and one actress' attempted decapitation may have been a touch unnecessary on top of the several executions, group hangings and spilled guts.

Book writer Michael Weller thinks the audience need to be spoon-fed history in huge chunks, and so has used a shovel. And his characters are...

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