What would happen if you combined Bob Dylan’s greatest hits with the choreography of Twyla Tharp? It turns out that you get something truly awful, an alchemical concotion that is both surreal and boring. Here’s Ben Brantley:
And now for the latest heart-rending episode in Broadway’s own reality soap opera, “When Bad Shows Happen to Great Songwriters.”
If you happen to be among the masochists who make a habit of attending the entertainments called jukebox musicals, in which pop hits are beaten up by singing robots, you may think you’ve seen it all: the neutering of Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys in “Good Vibrations,” the canonizing (and shrinking) of John Lennon as a misunderstood angel-child in “Lennon,” and the forcible transformation of Johnny Cash from Man in Black to Sunshine Cowboy in “Ring of Fire.”
But even these spectacles of torture with a smile, frightening though they may be, are but bagatelles compared with the systematic steamrolling of Bob Dylan that occurs in “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” which opened last night at the Brooks Atkinson Theater.
It’s a shame, because I was actually looking forward to the Dylan/Tharp collaboration. Being a genuine Dylan-freak, I’ll probably still end up seeing this mess of a musical, if only to watch Captain Ahab, Cinderella and Dr. Filth from “Desolation Row” all inhabit the same stage.
PS. Lest you think that Ben Brantley was just being a snob, here’s Jody Rosen:
The truth is, Bob Dylan on Broadway is just as awkward in practice as it sounds on paper–an aesthetic car crash.