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JRB's THE CONNECTOR at MCC will star Scott Bakula, Jessica Molaskey, Ben Levi Ross, & more

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JRB's THE CONNECTOR at MCC will star Scott Bakula, Jessica Molaskey, Ben Levi Ross, & more

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ErmengardeStopSniveling
#1JRB's THE CONNECTOR at MCC will star Scott Bakula, Jessica Molaskey, Ben Levi Ross, & more
Posted: 10/5/23 at 12:15pm

MCC Theater will present the World Premiere of The Connector, a new musical with music and lyrics by Tony Award® winner Jason Robert Brown (Parade), a book by Jonathan Marc Sherman (Clive), conceived and directed by Daisy Prince (The Last Five Years), and choreographed by Karla Puno Garcia (Days of Wine and Roses). The Connector will begin performances on January 12, 2024 with an opening night set for February 6 and a limited engagement through February 18, 2024 at MCC Theater’s Newman Mills Theater (511 W 52nd Street, New York, NY 10019).

The cast of The Connector will include Scott Bakula (“Quantum Leap;” “NCIS: New Orleans), Joanna Carpenter (Sweeney Todd), Max Crumm (Millennials Are Killing Musicals), Hannah Cruz (MCC’s Only Gold), George Dvorsky (Closer Than Ever), Ashley Pérez Flanagan (Oratorio For Living Things), Danielle Lee Greaves (Parade), Mylinda Hull (Mr. Saturday Night), Daniel Jenkins (Oslo), Cedric Lamar (King Lear), Jessica Molaskey (Songs for a New World), Fergie Philippe (Hamilton), Eliseo Román (In the Heights), Ben Levi Ross (Dear Evan Hansen), Ann Sanders (The Music Man), Kyle Sherman (Ordinary Days) and Michael Winther (Fun Home).

The Connector will feature scenic design by Beowulf Boritt (New York, New York), costume design by Márion Tálan de la Rosa (Oratorio For Living Things), lighting design by Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew (Kimberly Akimbo), sound design by Jon Weston (Parade), and orchestrations and arrangements by Jason Robert Brown. Tom Murray is the Music Director and Kristy Norter is the Music Coordinator. Erin Gioia Albrecht is the Production Stage Manager and casting is by The Telsey Office / Patrick Goodwin, CSA.

https://www.broadwayworld.com/article/Scott-Bakula-to-Star-in-World-Premiere-of-THE-CONNECTOR-Featuring-Music-and-Lyrics-by-Jason-Robert-Brown-20231005

Updated On: 10/5/23 at 12:15 PM

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Jordan Catalano
#2JRB's THE CONNECTOR at MCC will star Scott Bakula, Jessica Molaskey, Ben Levi Ross, & more
Posted: 10/5/23 at 12:30pm

Bakula back onstage is AMAZING. The must-see show of the year for me, now. 

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ErmengardeStopSniveling
#3JRB's THE CONNECTOR at MCC will star Scott Bakula, Jessica Molaskey, Ben Levi Ross, & more
Posted: 10/5/23 at 12:41pm

Thrilled to see George Dvorskey starring in something other than Danny Burstein's insta posts.

(Their friendship delights me to no end.)

JasonC3
#4JRB's THE CONNECTOR at MCC will star Scott Bakula, Jessica Molaskey, Ben Levi Ross, & more
Posted: 10/5/23 at 12:54pm

Bakula is a fave of mine, but the BWW photo of him looks like it is 20+ years old.  The guy is almost 70 now, but he wears his wrinkles well.

Updated On: 10/5/23 at 12:54 PM

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TaffyDavenport
#5JRB's THE CONNECTOR at MCC will star Scott Bakula, Jessica Molaskey, Ben Levi Ross, & more
Posted: 10/5/23 at 12:59pm

Pic on the MCC site is much more current:

JRB's THE CONNECTOR at MCC will star Scott Bakula, Jessica Molaskey, Ben Levi Ross, & more

 

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Jesse St. James
#6JRB's THE CONNECTOR at MCC will star Scott Bakula, Jessica Molaskey, Ben Levi Ross, & more
Posted: 10/5/23 at 1:50pm

How likely is this to sell out? Will it be hard to get tickets without a subscription?

JasonC3
#7JRB's THE CONNECTOR at MCC will star Scott Bakula, Jessica Molaskey, Ben Levi Ross, & more
Posted: 11/16/23 at 7:52pm

I've been so stunned by some ticket prices as of late that this was a pleasant surprise:

  • $114 (app. 30-40% of the house)
  • $84 (app. 40-50% of he house
  • $54 (entire front row)

Given the theater size, I imagine just about any seat would be OK.

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TaffyDavenport
#8JRB's THE CONNECTOR at MCC will star Scott Bakula, Jessica Molaskey, Ben Levi Ross, & more
Posted: 11/16/23 at 9:31pm

And all seats $54 for the first 4 previews.

yyys
#9JRB's THE CONNECTOR at MCC will star Scott Bakula, Jessica Molaskey, Ben Levi Ross, & more
Posted: 1/10/24 at 11:03pm

any idea of length of this show?  it starts this Friday and can't find it anywhere.

ilw
#10JRB's THE CONNECTOR at MCC will star Scott Bakula, Jessica Molaskey, Ben Levi Ross, & more
Posted: 1/11/24 at 12:46pm

1 hour and 45 minutes, with no intermission.

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Jordan Catalano
#11JRB's THE CONNECTOR at MCC will star Scott Bakula, Jessica Molaskey, Ben Levi Ross, & more
Posted: 1/12/24 at 9:21pm

I really REALLY enjoyed that tonight. For me, as a whole, it was Jason Robert Brown’s strongest score in years and a story I found really fascinating. I’ll be recommending this one to everyone I know. 

Dan6
#12JRB's THE CONNECTOR at MCC will star Scott Bakula, Jessica Molaskey, Ben Levi Ross, & more
Posted: 1/12/24 at 10:41pm

I was lucky enough to be at the first preview tonight and agree with Jordan that it’s JRB’s strongest score in years…much more “Last Five Years” than “Mr. Saturday Night,” with everything from bossa nova to hip-hop. Ben Levi Ross is excellent; Bakula’s performance felt a bit flat to me but will presumably fill out with time. Max Crumm and Fergie Philippe shine in their respective numbers, and Mylinda Hull is hilarious in a small role. But for me the show belongs to Hannah Cruz, in a real star-making performance. The book could use some tightening and clarification; not sure if I missed something or there were some dropped lines, but a pivotal event midway through was unclear and took a bit too much piecing together. And the story is one that’s been told before (can’t really say where without spoilers), so I’m not sure there’s anything new being said here. But the production was extremely tight for a first preview, the set design is effective, the score is  wonderful (save for a couple of less memorable exceptions), and overall this is highly recommended. 

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Miss10036
#13JRB's THE CONNECTOR at MCC will star Scott Bakula, Jessica Molaskey, Ben Levi Ross, & more
Posted: 1/13/24 at 2:50am

I was at the first preview as well!  I’m still processing how I felt about the show and have some mixed feelings, but I enjoyed it on the whole and feel it has a lot of promise.  The clearest inspiration for the premise seemed to be, major spoiler:

 
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Janet Cooke, who won a Pulitzer for a fabricated story about a little kid who was addicted to heroin, and then got caught and returned her Pulitzer.

The score’s strong, as other posters have noted, with some songs being more compelling than others.  I’m looking forward to hearing it again and paying more attention to the lyrics.  The cast is terrific across the board, with Hannah Cruz being the standout for me.  Most of my quibbles were with the book and its characterizations of some of the characters.

I wasn’t totally satisfied with the writing for Cruz’s character (Robin).  Although she’s definitely a lead in this, Ben Levi Ross’s character (Ethan) is more the central character in the sense that his actions drive much of the plot.  I felt like a lot of Robin’s characterization came through her reacting to what’s going on around her—to what Ethan’s up to, to sexism in the industry, etc.  Cruz’s performance elevated it, but I want more in the book about what makes her tick.

I also wish the book fleshed out the supporting characters and their relationships more.  Many of the characters at the magazine felt more like types than full characters.  Additionally, since you don’t see them interact much with each other and without Ethan, it feels odd when (major spoiler)

 
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Muriel (Jessica Molaskey) the diligent fact checker hands information to Robin about Ethan’s falsehoods.  It makes sense why Muriel would want to do that based on her values, but I don’t think we ever see two interact, outside of maybe a group conversation, at any other point in the show.

The book could connect the dots more and clarify.  Tonally, another thing I felt was missing was a sense of context of what it’s like working in a newsroom, and at a time when print news was facing new challenges. For example,

 
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the magazine gets bought out by a company during the opening number and there’s at least one reference to circulation being down, but I didn’t really feel that impacting the plot or work environment.  Yet pressure on the magazine to keep circulation up by publishing higher-profile articles, and pushing Ethan to publish more often, are absolutely forces that would push Ethan and others at the magazine to loosen up on the facts.  With that context less baked into the show’s tone, it feels more reduced to a story an ambitious liar making bad choices, with the assist from a boys’ club culture, instead of a story that deals with more systemic issues than that.

Some design thoughts: The set’s effective, and it did something nifty at one point that I won’t spoil, but absolutely loved.  I wish there was more going on costume-wise; I found it distracting when the characters working at the magazine would appear in the backgrounds of scenes outside of the office wearing their full office suits.  There were times when the band drowned out the cast, mainly in the opening number, though that improved as the show went on.

Audience chatter sounded very positive on the way out, which is encouraging!  I realize this is a long-winded post with a bunch of critiques (sorry, I love to nitpick), but there’s so much potential here and I want to see it get somewhere great.  Eager to see how they develop this and hear others’ takes on here.

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RippedMan
#14JRB's THE CONNECTOR at MCC will star Scott Bakula, Jessica Molaskey, Ben Levi Ross, & more
Posted: 1/13/24 at 8:33am

The story sounds fascinating to me. Glad to hear positive things! 

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HeyMrMusic
#15JRB's THE CONNECTOR at MCC will star Scott Bakula, Jessica Molaskey, Ben Levi Ross, & more
Posted: 1/13/24 at 8:39am

Another inspiration is:

 
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Stephen Glass, who inspired a book and movie about his fabrications. He apparently even gave the phone number of his brother when asked for a source.

 

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Jordan Catalano
#16JRB's THE CONNECTOR at MCC will star Scott Bakula, Jessica Molaskey, Ben Levi Ross, & more
Posted: 1/13/24 at 9:56am

“Some design thoughts: The set’s effective, and it did something nifty at one point that I won’t spoil, but absolutely loved.  I wish there was more going on costume-wise; I found it distracting when the characters working at the magazine would appear in the backgrounds of scenes outside of the office wearing their full office suits.  There were times when the band drowned out the cast, mainly in the opening number, though that improved as the show went on.”

 

Yes, there was an audible gasp when the set “did the thing” and I thought it was an extremely effective moment. I also agree about the sound but thought the drowning out lasted a bit longer than you did. But that’s something I just chalked that up to being a first preview. 

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RippedMan
MemorableUserName
#18JRB's THE CONNECTOR at MCC will star Scott Bakula, Jessica Molaskey, Ben Levi Ross, & more
Posted: 1/14/24 at 12:47pm

I saw this last night at the second preview. The cast is good and the staging is well-done (aside from the weird ensemble dancing in the background of some of the numbers), but the material itself is so misconceived the show seemed pointless.

We're told in the opening song that the last issue of the magazine was published in 1997. We then start in 1996 with the arrival of this slick, smooth-talking young Princeton graduate. It's obvious what's going to happen, and would have been interesting if something else had.

 
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HeyMrMusic is correct; this is clearly the story of Stephen Glass--the time period, the magazine setting rather than a newspaper, the use of the brother's phone number, etc.

But no, the obvious unfolds, with the show treating it as a mystery when it's not. I spent most of the first half wondering, "What is the point of this?" The story is predictable. The songs are offering too little/barely any psychological insight into the character. If the show was fully presented from the POV of that character showing him as he's doing the things he does and offering more psychological insight into why he does them, then there would have been a reason for the show to exist. Instead, in the end Bakula's character tells him something like, "I'm looking at you trying to understand why you did this." I just sat through two hours of singing (and weird dancing) about this and I don't fully know why he did it either.

The show is mostly told from the POV of a young copyeditor played by Hannah Cruz, seemingly as an article she's written telling this story (she's the one who sings the opening song and closing reprise), and so it can offer the most superficial lines about sexism and racism. But she's the least interesting of the main characters and least active one in the show. If it had been about her actually realizing something's wrong with the guy and investigating him, then the show might have had momentum, and a point. But she doesn't. She's mostly there to pout about the unfairness of how easy everything is for him, to be his sort-of-but-not-really girlfriend, and have him say mean things to her. (One woman a few seats down from me kept hissing and oooo-ing at every line he had in the second half, which was just low-hanging fruit.). And then she writes this story, which she didn't have to do anything for--two other women literally hand it to her.

Late in the show, Muriel the magazine's factchecker, played by Jessica Molaskey, suddenly steps forward and has a solo song where she sings about the importance of truth to her and her work. And I immediately thought, "THAT'S who the show should have been about." If it had been centered more on her and her concerns, it, again, would have had more momentum throughout and a point. At the end of her song, she literally hands over proof to the younger woman so she can reveal it, which makes it seem like the younger woman is doing something. But she didn't. Molaskey's and another woman seen in bits throughout handed it to her. THEY are the interesting ones. Center the show on them! Or actually show the Cruz character doing the work on this story throughout and not just being given it without doing anything.

(It also would have been interesting to get more insight into Bakula's character and why he's willing to support the young writer beyond the fact that he's a young white guy. Maybe that really is just it, but it's not very interesting. A late song for him prior to the factchecker's finally gives some character insight I'd been hungry for. The show could use more.)

It's still early previews, so maybe they can reframe it. They need to. As it currently exists I thought it was a waste of time. This is what "Evita" would have been like if they didn't reveal anything Eva Peron was up to until the end of the show and Che was really boring.

Updated On: 1/14/24 at 12:47 PM

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Miss10036
#19JRB's THE CONNECTOR at MCC will star Scott Bakula, Jessica Molaskey, Ben Levi Ross, & more
Posted: 1/14/24 at 1:39pm

I can’t help but feel that there’s either a more interesting two-act musical in there, which explores the supporting characters and the show’s themes more in-depth, or a better, more propulsive one-act musical that’s framed as an investigation.  The one-act structure felt more like a limit than something the material demands.

PipingHotPiccolo
#20JRB's THE CONNECTOR at MCC will star Scott Bakula, Jessica Molaskey, Ben Levi Ross, & more
Posted: 1/14/24 at 4:55pm

this checked every box for me.

it isnt just JRB's best score in a while, its his best score period- and i cant think of the last time I saw a new musical with this many engaging, interesting, well-sung numbers. i went in totally unfamiliar with this story, and walked out desperate to learn how much of it was true. its somewhat predictable at its core but i was never bored, and the way this production unfolded was never for a second boring at all. i saw Days of Wine and Roses and this was the opposite of that story in the best way: there was always something compelling and unexpected happening on stage.

And by unexpected i just mean "an interesting way to convey the material." So many shows fail to surprise us but here we have Max Crumm knocking this wacky uber-specific number out the park. And then Fergie Phillipe comes along an hour later and delivers another banger, but this one is a totally different genre, about a totally different subject--while also being part/parcel of the main storyline. And then Jessica Molaskey does the same thing towards the end of the show. (Scott Bakula is good, and sings well!, but his songs were the least interesting to me, except for Now What towards the end). 

The show is the story of Ben Levi Ross' character as told by Hannah Cruz's. Both are STELLAR and sings the ever-loving crap out of their songs. I dont think I had ever seen either perform before, and both of their voices were like pleasant bombs going off. Ross has the much trickier role and nails it; his character is an asshole and he isnt given a redemption arc or even the opportunity to explain himself, but his performance is fragile and mild enough to make us care. He and Cruz are in incredible sync for a 4th preview-- i actually dont quite understand why she seems to show him so much grace, or is so moved at the end of the piece. In the moment though, they had me so caught up, I didnt care, and found myself emotional (a rarity for me). That haunting Western Wall number sure helped.

I also liked the set--the main piece and the mounds of paper along the sides (put to use quite brilliantly). Someone mentioned a set piece getting applause but the only set movement I noticed happened at the very end of the show, so the applause was for the play, not the set? Maybe they're making changes. What they did today, it worked.

The audience was a bit tepid, or maybe the pacing/staging doesnt really allow for the right bursts of applause yet? I hope this gets a longer life, but I hope they don't rush this to a bigger stage too quickly. Let it marinate. I'll be back.

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Melissa25
#21JRB's THE CONNECTOR at MCC will star Scott Bakula, Jessica Molaskey, Ben Levi Ross, & more
Posted: 1/14/24 at 9:23pm

I enjoyed this especially the Cassandra and Wailing Wall numbers.  I would like to hear again. Love the paper shredding sounds.  Molaskey’s fact checker character needs to do more in the show. Give her another song and clarify the importance of her character more.  Ethan needs more clarity too.

 
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Is he just a coked up 90’s journalist striving for success who abandons his journalistic integrity or is he mentally challenged (possibly due to drugs-his brother says what are you on?) and spiraling into a breakdown (Wailing Wall)?


 

 

 

RUkiddingme
#22JRB's THE CONNECTOR at MCC will star Scott Bakula, Jessica Molaskey, Ben Levi Ross, & more
Posted: 1/14/24 at 10:34pm

just buy a ticket!  That's all I can say!

JSquared2
#23JRB's THE CONNECTOR at MCC will star Scott Bakula, Jessica Molaskey, Ben Levi Ross, & more
Posted: 1/15/24 at 10:53am

This one was a MAJOR snoozefest for me.  Didn't care a whit about any of the characters, and the music was just meh.  It seemed like an odd choice to have Ben Levi Ross'  big "11 o-clock"  self-realization number sound like a watered down rip off of Even Hansen's "Words Fail" !  Actors were fine.  Scott Bakula was wasted in a nothing role.

 

2
#24JRB's THE CONNECTOR at MCC will star Scott Bakula, Jessica Molaskey, Ben Levi Ross, & more
Posted: 1/16/24 at 9:56pm

Agreed, this is a misfire and boring boring boring. It's too similar in story to Dear Evan Hansen but has none of the elements that made Evan Hansen work on stage. It doesn't do a great job managing the "young white man who lies to people" premise with no accountability, resolution, or personal consequences in sight for the character. This musical wouldn't pass a Dramaturgy 101 class, the plot points are glaringly obvious from several scenes away.

Even with a weak story, I was disappointed in the music. The score has some nice harmonies for the ensemble but the only really enjoyable song for me was the fact checker's number. A huge letdown.

Ben Ross is unlikable in an unlikable role (is that a win?), but his froggy voice does sound eerily like JRB. The most interesting character is named Mona Bland.

 
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I still don't understand the inclusion of a lyric in the finale about the Holocaust. I understand the character is decrying all the things that people perceive as "truths" but it feels wildly out of left field after the rest of the fictional musical with no real grounding in a political context, especially not that of Holocaust deniers or any historical revisionism in journalism. Maybe if they had, the musical would have had some stakes.

Updated On: 1/16/24 at 09:56 PM

alexidarling15
#25JRB's THE CONNECTOR at MCC will star Scott Bakula, Jessica Molaskey, Ben Levi Ross, & more
Posted: 1/18/24 at 10:34am

I liked it but didn't love it. Agree with Bakula being the weak link, Ben Levi Ross, Hannah Cruz and Fergie Phillippe being fantastic, Mona Bland being the best character in the whole show, and visually it's stunning. I liked a lot of the music. It's worth discount pricing. But I can't see it going farther than this run unless they make major changes.


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