THE NOTEBOOK Opening Night Critics’ Reviews

THE NOTEBOOK Opening Night Critics’ Reviews

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#1THE NOTEBOOK Opening Night Critics’ Reviews
Posted: 3/13/24 at 4:26pm

The musical adaptation of the Nicholas Sparks novel and hit 2004 film opens tomorrow night, March 14, at the Schoenfeld Theatre. 

New B-Roll: https://www.instagram.com/reel/C4d7HzGP3YY/?igsh=NXcwaHZveWxtczQ4

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#2THE NOTEBOOK Opening Night Critics’ Reviews
Posted: 3/13/24 at 4:47pm

I’m glad I finally got to hear the final 30 seconds of the show in that clip without all the applause drowning it out. 

Oh look, a bibu!

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#3THE NOTEBOOK Opening Night Critics’ Reviews
Posted: 3/13/24 at 5:17pm

Saw the matinee. Extremely forgettable music, with most songs finishing “Waving Through a Window”-style. Maryann Plunkett is a treasure, and she and Dorian Harewood carry the show, with the couples getting progressively less interesting as they get younger. Ended on a high note, though, and, by that point, I was choked up, and gave in to the schmaltz.

Updated On: 3/13/24 at 05:17 PM

#4THE NOTEBOOK Opening Night Critics’ Reviews
Posted: 3/13/24 at 7:46pm

I was at the matinee. I've never read the book or seen the movie, but was familiar enough with what the story was. I started out strongly disliking the show, and early on (during the young characters' getting to know you section) was thinking, "Is anything ever going to happen?" But at some point in the first act I started crying and never really stopped. The music all sounded the same and I couldn't point out a single memorable song, but it worked in the moment. I think the show plays best as a mood piece (or something of a tone poem?). As it gets going it builds up all the romantic longing and the sadness of the present-day storyline and bittersweetness of memory and time, and all these emotions are going on simultaneously and churning together... I was sitting there and the emotions of it all started washing over me and the tears started and never stopped. I can't imagine ever wanting to listen to this score on its own, but in context and as performed by this cast (all of whom I thought were very good), it was very effective in creating a mood that delivered the emotions.

I don't know if I'd say the show is "good" in the conventional sense or recommend it for everyone. The characters and story are stock, not deep or interesting or well-developed, very much going through expected motions. If romantic melodrama isn't one's thing, this is unlikely to change their mind. But for me it was effective at what I think it was trying to be.

Updated On: 3/13/24 at 07:46 PM

#5THE NOTEBOOK Opening Night Critics’ Reviews
Posted: 3/14/24 at 9:37am

I'm expect across the board reviews - hoping the one that matters - NYT - is gentle. But fear, it won't be. 

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#6THE NOTEBOOK Opening Night Critics’ Reviews
Posted: 3/14/24 at 11:35am

BETTY22 said: "I'm expect across the board reviews - hoping the one that matters - NYT - is gentle. But fear, it won't be."

My sentiments, exactly.

#7THE NOTEBOOK Opening Night Critics’ Reviews
Posted: 3/14/24 at 8:26pm

NY Daily News/Chicago Tribune is positive:

BROADWAY REVIEW: ‘The Notebook’ is an unexpectedly sophisticated tearjerker


"There are two main reasons why this show works. Most important is the songwriter Ingrid Michaelson, who might be a Broadway newcomer, but whose lyrics eschew the mawkish pitfalls in favor of simple, direct communication of intense but familiar emotions through melody and song.

It’s never easy to define freshness in songwriting but it feels as if Michaelson just decided to watch the movie, or read the 1996 novel, and then write music about the way each stage of this central couple’s journey makes her feel. It’s unstuffy and unpretentious, which is good. But most crucially, Michaelson does not condescend."


"The other reason? The director Michael Greif, who co-directs with Schele Williams. Years ago with “Rent,” astute observers noted, the dry-eyed Greif was the ideal foil for Jonathan Larson’s emotional wetness. So it goes here. If you’re familiar with the Greif oeuvre, you can see how he cuts away the treacle, focused on how life does not end as well as it starts (for most of us), and how he and his co-director clearly figured out that the antagonist here is time. That’s what kills every lasting love affair. Mistakes and third parties are benign by comparison.

Bekah Brunstetter’s effective book uses young, middle and older versions of Allie and Noah, beginning with Jordan Tyson and John Cardoza, moving through Ryan Vasquez and Joy Woods and culminating in beautiful performances from Dorian Harewood and Maryann Plunkett, as set in a retirement home. The senior couple truly are moving, but then so are the actors playing their youngest selves. In the more formulaic middle stretch, Vasquez sings out Michaelson’s music the best of all, even if the connection between he and Woods is not all one might hope."

#8THE NOTEBOOK Opening Night Critics’ Reviews
Posted: 3/14/24 at 8:36pm

New York Theatre:


Verdict: Intelligent weepie rarely soars, but is well-cast, cleverly structured, pleasantly scored

#9THE NOTEBOOK Opening Night Critics’ Reviews
Posted: 3/14/24 at 8:57pm

Two three-star reviews from NY Stage Review


By Roma Torre

★★★☆☆ After a successful run on page and screen, the popular love story looks to score on Broadway




By Steven Suskin

★★★☆☆ Six actors play the two leading characters in this atmospheric musical based on the popular Nicholas Sparks novel


#10THE NOTEBOOK Opening Night Critics’ Reviews
Posted: 3/14/24 at 9:01pm

Green in NYT is negative

‘The Notebook’ Review: A Musical Tear-Jerker or Just All Wet?

The 2004 weepie comes to Broadway with songs by Ingrid Michaelson and a $5 box of tissues.


#11THE NOTEBOOK Opening Night Critics’ Reviews
Posted: 3/14/24 at 9:04pm

Deadline is mostly negative (though with praise for the actors):

‘The Notebook’ Broadway Review: Romantic Saga Takes Another Step In Sentimental Journey


"Of all the show’s disappointments planted like so many wild flowers ready for plucking, none stings quite so much as Michaelson’s score. Not that it’s bad – it isn’t, far from it – but in more than 2 hours of music you’d be hard-pressed to find two minutes and 17 seconds as melodically lovely or as lyrically clever as the singer-songwriter’s charming 2007 indie pop hit “The Way I Am,” with its sweet pledge of young love “I’ll buy you Rogaine/when you start losing all your/sew on patches/to all you tear.” An early duet between the Younger Ally and Younger Noah – “Carry You Home” – comes close, though, thanks to its lighthearted spirit."


"(The aged versions are played by Maryann Plunkett and Dorian Harewood, very nearly worth the price of admission all on their own)."

#12THE NOTEBOOK Opening Night Critics’ Reviews
Posted: 3/14/24 at 9:05pm

A- from Entertainment Weekly

The Notebook review: Nicholas Sparks' novel leaps off the page and onto the stage in emotional new musical

Noah and Allie's love story still isn't over! The pair's whirlwind romance is brought to life once again — this time on the stage — in its finest adaptation yet.


#13THE NOTEBOOK Opening Night Critics’ Reviews
Posted: 3/14/24 at 9:07pm

Three stars from The Guardian

The Notebook review – hit romance lands on Broadway a little underwritten

Schoenfeld Theatre, New York

The much-loved romantic drama, made into a hit movie in 2004, reaches Broadway with some parts intact but with others sorely missing



the musical misses an opportunity to capture her inner thoughts. Young and middle Allie each dig into their desires via music; Woods, in particular, gives a stirring solo about making the most of her life – claiming Noah fiercely. “I want to live a life / Where I’m allowed to say / I’m proud of the way / That I spent my days,” Wood bellows. But Plunkett is given the least amount of room to emote. Her recollections are stored in the other Allies (in the song I Wanna Go Back). The use of past and present to deliver subtext is gripping, but leaves questions about her current state.

Dementia is a horrifically flattening illness. But it is difficult to sustain the show’s over two hour runtime on the question of reconciliation. The musical’s use of interracial casting is also frustrating. Younger and middle Allie are both Black, while older Allie is white. The Noahs are cast in a similar fashion. The issues with casting isn’t a problem of believability, but consistency. It’s strange why the racial unity in casting is interrupted, especially with no discernible dramatic choice.

Sympathizers will waive off the choice as negligible, a side effect of race-blind casting. But race isn’t a minor detail, especially with swaths of the play taking place right before and after the Vietnam war – well into the civil rights era.

The Notebook musical hasn’t lost its romantic magic, by any means. But without the equally touching music and a fleshing out of its core courtship, it’s a story that remains underwritten."

#14THE NOTEBOOK Opening Night Critics’ Reviews
Posted: 3/14/24 at 9:09pm

Two and a half stars from NYP:

‘The Notebook’ review: Broadway musical doesn’t match the film’s sweep



While the actors tap in and out, Michaelson’s score is static — a scented candle fusion of “Dear Evan Hansen” and “Pachelbel’s Cannon.” Sweet and stringy, like brisket. Woods belts an enlivening 11 o’clock number called “My Days” that wakes us up and knocks us out with vocal pyrotechnics, if not entrancing melody.

Because the only persons we’ve embraced over two acts are Harewood and Plunkett, the famous final moment hits home. It’s still, as Post critic Lou Lumenick said in his review of the film, “a four-hankie climax that only a stone-hearted cynic could resist.”

It’s a high note to end on, in a book with few others."

#15THE NOTEBOOK Opening Night Critics’ Reviews
Posted: 3/14/24 at 9:09pm

"What makes you sigh and weep may leave the person next to you bored and stony. At The Notebook, I was the person next to you."

Damn Jesse

Dom P
#16THE NOTEBOOK Opening Night Critics’ Reviews
Posted: 3/14/24 at 9:11pm

MemorableUserName said: "Green in NYT is negative

‘The Notebook’ Review: A Musical Tear-Jerker or Just All Wet?

The 2004 weepie comes to Broadway with songs by Ingrid Michaelson and a $5 box of tissues.



#17THE NOTEBOOK Opening Night Critics’ Reviews
Posted: 3/14/24 at 9:11pm

WSJ is mixed to negative:

‘The Notebook’ Review: A Melodrama Becomes a Musical

The Nicholas Sparks tear-jerker, already the source of a hit movie, is reincarnated on Broadway in a show with a score by Ingrid Michaelson.


"As a woman suffering the cruelties of what appears to be Alzheimer’s disease, desperately trying to recall the lost memories of her life’s great love, the veteran stage actor Maryann Plunkett gives a performance of such breathtaking delicacy and truth that she elevates the new musical “The Notebook” simply by her presence—even if much of the show takes place in the past, which has eluded her character’s faltering mind."



These details tended to nag because the musical, while staged with a clean simplicity by Michael Greif and Schele Williams, is so abundantly stuffed with love songs—hopeful, ecstatic, elegiac, rueful, sensual—that they gradually blur together. Although Ms. Michaelson is a gifted composer and lyricist, and the gentle sonorities of the score—orchestrated for just 10 musicians—make for a restful contrast with the overmiked, overpowering style that larger-scale Broadway musicals favor, the stream of similar songs threatens to drench the audience in a waterfall of similar emotion. (That said, a few, such as “Carry You Home” and “If This Is Love,” might easily find their way to the pop charts.)

For this viewer the musical’s distinction, as noted, lies in its depiction of the piteous suffering of Ms. Plunkett’s Allie, and the determined devotion of Mr. Harewood’s Noah. And yet, affecting and realistically detailed as most of the scenes between them are, even their travails are airbrushed into a sentimentally tinged ending. Few may complain, as they take out their handkerchiefs, but “The Notebook” cannot resist putting a filter of softening gauze over even the most tragic human circumstances."

#18THE NOTEBOOK Opening Night Critics’ Reviews
Posted: 3/14/24 at 9:13pm

Theatermania is mixed

Review: The Notebook Is Broadway’s Guaranteed Tearjerker

The new musical adaptation of the Nicholas Sparks novel lands on Broadway.


"My detachment may have been prompted by Ingrid Michaelson’s score, a parade of confessional power ballads that are pretty in the moment, but evaporated from my memory by the time I stepped out onto 45th Street. They’re the kind of generic musical-theater songs beloved by drama students for the way they show off both an actor’s emotional and vocal range, with the biggest numbers ending in a glory note that the audience instinctively drowns with applause.

No one in the cast interprets this material better than Joy Woods, who plays the adult version of Allie opposite Ryan Vasquez’s grown-up Noah. I don’t remember much about the song “Forever,” but I will never forget the image of Woods caressing Noah’s kitchen table “which I bet he built himself” (Michaelson’s lyrics are considerably better than her music, as this clever shout-out to the Hallmark movie genre proves).  Woods breathes life and personality into each verse, so we become invested in Allie’s love story.

As the elderly versions of Allie and Noah, Plunkett and Harewood also tug at our heart strings. Allie’s distress is apparent from the moment we first spot her furrowed brow. She seems to be attempting to work out an impossible algebra equation with ever more variables. She wraps herself in the armor of a long blue cardigan, prepared to do battle with an increasingly alien world. Harewood is the only actor who successfully did leave me a little misty with his portrayal of a man near the end of life, determined to spend what little time he has left with the woman he loves. As in the film, it’s the older couple that leaves you destroyed."

#19THE NOTEBOOK Opening Night Critics’ Reviews
Posted: 3/14/24 at 9:16pm

The Wrap is mostly negative

‘The Notebook’ Broadway Review: Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams Are Sorely Missed

This new musical featuring songs by Ingrid Michaelson is merely lukewarm when it needs to boil over with body heat


"On stage, Maryann Plunkett delivers an Allie who’s a very confused and troubled senior living out her last days in a nursing home, and her uncompromising performance is supported immeasurably by Dorian Harewood’s sympathetic Noah. When these two veteran actors are on stage together, “The Notebook” is the moving, unabashed, heartfelt tearjerker it’s needs to be.

The four actors playing Allie and Noah’s younger selves are another story. Book writer Bekah Brunstetter — or perhaps it was directors Michael Greif and Schele Williams? — has decided to use two couples to play the roles that McAdams and Gosling handled all alone. On stage, we get the younger Allie and Noah (Jordan Tyson and John Cardoza) and the middle Allie and Noah (Joy Woods and Ryan Vasquez), with Plunkett and Harewood being the older Allie and Noah.

If that’s not confusing enough, imagine how you’ll feel when the middle Noah first shows up to sing a song about renovating the dream house for the middle Allie. I had no idea who this guy was, and had to wonder if maybe the younger Noah had hired an enterprising realtor to do the house makeover for him.

Playing the two youngish Noahs, Cardoza and Vasquez share the same reserved style of lovemaking. Needless to say, unlike Gosling, neither of them is going to make People’s sexiest man alive cover. But at least they’re operating on the same chaste page.

Regarding the two youngish Allies, it’s difficult to believe Tyson and Woods were ever in the same rehearsal room together. Tyson exhibits a spunky tomboy spirit. Woods appears to be auditioning for the next “Bachelorette.” When the middle Allie and Noah reconnect after a decade apart, their love scene in the renovated house plays like a fantasy suite episode gone completely awry. Neither of them deserves the rose."

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#20THE NOTEBOOK Opening Night Critics’ Reviews
Posted: 3/14/24 at 9:17pm

Mediocre reviews for a mediocre show.

Listen, I don't take my clothes off for anyone, even if it is "artistic". - JANICE

#21THE NOTEBOOK Opening Night Critics’ Reviews
Posted: 3/14/24 at 9:19pm

Slant is mixed:


The Notebook Review: On Stage, a Nicholas Sparks Adaptation Held Captive by Its Clichés

This show never transcends the clichés that it conflictingly both seeks to challenge and embrace.



That’s in large part because of a score that showcases Michaelson’s gifts for creating sweet, folkish atmospheres but reveals the irreconcilable gap between her lovely, if static, tunes and the musical storytelling required to build character or intertwine song with dramatic urgency. Surely Allie and Noah could summon greater specificity than quatrains like, “It’s low and then it’s high/It’s good inside the bad/It’s loving when it’s hard to love/And laughing when it’s sad.”

Because writing for character means writing in distinct voices, there’s a thin line in musical theater songwriting between the simple and the simplistic: Unlike her gratifyingly accessible pop music, Michaelson’s score here falls on the wrong side too much of the time. That’s a shame, because, in revisiting the story, Michaelson and book writer Bekah Brunstetter have laid out the structure for a thoughtful adaptation that improves upon both the book and the film adaptation."


"Even better than the rain, though, are the six actors embodying Allie and Noah in triplicate, with Plunkett (a Tony-winning ingénue in the 1980s but more recently a stalwart of off-Broadway dramas) and Woods as particular standouts. (All the Noahs sing gorgeously, even if only Harewood has any real complexity to play.) Plunkett, ever a warmly wise performer, provides a gently calibrated depiction of dementia with heartbreaking glimmers of lucidity.

It’s Woods, though, who emerges as The Notebook’s anchor as if from a better show, as she seems to know a whole lot more about Allie than the book and score tell us. And she infuses Michaelson’s melodies with a more pragmatic, precise musical theater interpretation that grounds the airy music in Allie’s reality. Woods gives The Notebook the kick in the pants it sorely needs and the dramatic momentum it otherwise seldom earns.

In a bit of astute casting, Allie and Noah are each played by actors of diverse racial identities. (Allie is played by two Black actors and a white actor, Noah the reverse.) That’s a creative, clear gesture of invitation to all audiences to see themselves in the story. But when we turn back to gaze on our own memories, may we all recall lives more richly drawn than Allie’s and Noah’s."

#22THE NOTEBOOK Opening Night Critics’ Reviews
Posted: 3/14/24 at 9:19pm

Indiewire is positive:

‘The Notebook’ on Broadway Is a Smart Model for How to Adapt a Beloved Movie

Movies to stage shows are a dime a dozen. The new "Notebook" musical shows the best way forward.


#23THE NOTEBOOK Opening Night Critics’ Reviews
Posted: 3/14/24 at 9:21pm

Theatrely is mostly positive:

THE NOTEBOOK Brings Heartfelt Passion To Broadway — Review


"The middle pairing, which makes up most of the second act, feels both rushed yet stodgy at points, though Woods’ nervous doe energy and Vasquez’ resolve nicely set up their elders’ characterizations. Plunkett’s poignant performance evokes tears at every turn, and Harewood’s wise, warming presence creates a veteran atmosphere of sturdy storytelling. "

#24THE NOTEBOOK Opening Night Critics’ Reviews
Posted: 3/14/24 at 9:25pm

Washington Post is mixed

‘The Notebook’ musical might make you cry, but that’s about it

The new Broadway show casts six performers to play the main couple, which erases any specificity


"The familiar broad-strokes theme — love overcoming the passage of time — is spelled out upfront: “Time, time, time, time; it never was mine, mine, mine, mine,” sings a gentle and genial Harewood in the characteristically on-the-nose opening lyrics. (Plunkett is a standout as an audience surrogate, skeptical until she is lulled into a misty stupor.) All six iterations of the lovers are onstage, though it may take the audience a moment to catch on.

The directors Michael Greif and Schele Williams have assembled a talented array of performers to embody Allie and Noah. The fact that they are of various racial backgrounds allows audiences a welcome opportunity to stretch their imaginations. But the scrupulously colorblind casting also hamstrings the show from making many other narrative choices, to the detriment of its own logic and appeal.

Race might have been a dynamic tool to enrich an otherwise vanilla plot. Teenage Allie and Noah meet-cute on the heels of the civil rights movement, when even in the coastal Mid-Atlantic, their interracial sparks could have partly helped explain why Allie’s mother (Andréa Burns) disapproves. (The shift in setting from the novel’s 1940s North Carolina at least saves us from a loss-of-White-innocence scene on the floor of a crumbling plantation house.)"

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#25THE NOTEBOOK Opening Night Critics’ Reviews
Posted: 3/14/24 at 9:25pm

Maryann Plunkett is getting some of the best reviews of any actress in a musical this season. Meanwhile, the show itself is getting some of the worst.

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