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Reviews from our 2004 NYMF Concert Production

starring Donna Lynne Champlin and Michael Halling

Talkin' Broadway

They should be handing out martinis and cigarettes over at The Theatre at St. Clements where Meet John Doe, the new lush and jazzy 1930s-era musical is playing. Based on the 1941 Frank Capra film of the same name, Meet John Doe is far from perfect, but given a festival that has presented its fair share of satiric and parodic shows, how refreshing it is to see a work that is decidedly smart and serious. Finally, a sophisticated musical for adults that doesn't talk down to the audience!
Hands down, the best part of Meet John Doe is its snazzy score. Composer Andrew Gerle and lyricist Eddie Sugarman (who collaborated together on the book) have written songs that are both tunefully melodic and richly complex. Gerle has a particular talent for choral numbers that reveal subtle harmonies while Sugarman's insightful lyrics provide the large ensemble with a sense of character often absent in big musicals. [more...]

Show Business Weekly

With music by Andrew Gerle, lyrics by Eddie Sugarman and a book by both men, I previously raved about this adaptation of one of Frank Capra's greatest films after hearing a few songs at Merkin Hall's Bound for Broadway series a few months ago. It was great to hear the rest of score and realize what I heard wasn't a fluke. Gerle is a genuinely gifted composer with soaring melodies, a gift for the unexpected chord and a real feel for writing music that sounds both "period" and "contemporary" at the same time. Sugarman's lyrics are uniformly smart, tart and concise; utilizing a vernacular that's both referential to the 1930s as well as accessible to today's audiences.
Meet John Doe is a timeless story of American ideals, cynicism, political corruption and the value of honesty that's as relevant today as it's ever been. [more...]


The creative juices that went into transforming director Frank Capra's 1941 film "Meet John Doe" into musical theatre are impressive... The creators have a knack for seamlessly blending dialogue into musical numbers, propelling the plot forward... The well-crafted book by Gerle and Sugarman, with additional story by Matt August, who directed, respects the idealism of Capra's movie... The script refreshingly avoids the smart-aleck irony that pervades many contemporary musicals.


Andrew Gerle and Eddie Sugarman's Meet John Doe is the kind of show that puts a big fat smile on my face and makes me think "Yeah, that's why I love musicals." You'll find nothing new or innovative in their adaptation of the same-named 1941 Frank Capra-directed flick, just a solid use of the standard formula of a well-crafted musical featuring crackling dialogue and lyrics and a score infused with enough cool jazz to have the gang at Birdland bobbing their heads for weeks.
It would be easy to envision Meet John Doe on Broadway, except for the fact that there's no place in the story for hydraulics, flying or any other sort of spectacle. No, the authors were too busy creating an uplifting morality fairy tale with characters you can care about, colorful language and a score you can feel like the beats of the city. [more...]