Well, the reviews are in, and the Coterie Theatre’s production of “Lucky Duck,” which runs through this weekend at the New Victory Theater in New York, earned a mix of kudos and slams from the New York theater press.
The snottiest assessment was registered by freelancer Eric Grode for the New York Times.
“Too sophisticated for its intended audience and too shrill for the grown-ups in tow, ‘Lucky Duck’ is a rare miscalculation for the New Victory Theater,” Grode wrote. “This raucous reboot of ‘The Ugly Duckling’ fable ends up nestling uneasily between bratty and brainy. It’s neither fish nor waterfowl.”
Grode liked the songs by Henry Krieger and Bill Russell but found fault with Jeffrey Hatcher’s “scattershot” book. He complained about the cast’s “mugging galore” but also singled out actress Jennie Greenberry for her “pure voice.”
Frank Scheck of the New York Post managed to write a positive review without mentioning a single performer or anyone else on the creative team.
“Listen, I get it. You want to see a show called ‘Lucky Duck’ as much as you want a root canal,” Scheck wrote. “But here’s the deal — it’s actually a lot of fun, and it’s even got a Broadway pedigree. Henry Krieger (‘Dreamgirls’) and Bill Russell (‘Side Show’) collaborated on the songs for this children’s musical from Kansas City’s acclaimed Coterie Theatre, and playwright Jeffrey Hatcher (‘Three Viewings’) co-wrote the book.
“It’s recommended for ages 4 to 7, but your 3-year-old is clearly above average, so why not? Did I mention that it’s only 75 minutes? Or that tickets cost about a quarter of the price of ‘Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark’ next door? And just down the block, Dave and Buster’s has a full bar?”
The most positive — and thorough — review was filed by Andy Propst of theatermania.com, the nationally known theater blog. Propst declared the show “delightful.” Probst praised “the winning and powerhouse vocalist Jennie Greenberry” and singled out actor Seth Golay for imbuing the character of the Prince with “considerable charm.” And Tim Scott, who plays the Wolf, registers “a likeably oily turn.”
“The show’s score is joyful and toe-tappingly tuneful, with co-book writer Russell’s lyrics ably fitting Henry Krieger’s richly diverse melodies, which draw upon Broadway traditions, gospel, early rock ’n’ roll, and R&B, and have been carefully orchestrated for a four-piece band by Harold Wheeler,” Propst wrote.
So, considering New York critics’ reputation for lacerating shows that have the audacity to originate somewhere other than New York, “Lucky Duck” received velvet-glove treatment. One critic even mentioned the words “Kansas City.” What more could you ask for?