SOFT POWER

Critics

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Reviews: 10

Audience

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Reviews: 0

A contemporary comedy explodes into a musical fantasia in the first collaboration between two of America's great theatre artists: Tony Award® winners David Henry Hwang (M. ButterflyFlower Drum Song) and Jeanine Tesori (Fun Home). Soft Powerrewinds our recent political history and plays it back through a Chinese lens: a future, beloved East-meets-West musical. A Chinese executive visiting America finds himself falling in love with a good-hearted US leader—Hillary Clinton—as the power balance between their two countries shifts following the 2016 election. As original as it is topical, Soft Power overflows with the romance, laughter, and cultural confusions of the golden age of Broadway. Hwang and Tesori have created one of the most eagerly anticipated new works of the year.

soft pow·er (noun)
a persuasive approach to international relations, typically involving the use of cultural influence.

Produced in association with East West Players and the Curran.

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Reviews

"This "play with a musical" directed by Leigh Silverman is a fantasia of socio-political insights packaged as a vision quest. And with its trippy cinematic homages and some kick-ass musical staging by Silverman and choreographer Sam Pinkleton Soft Power is also a real kick."

sweet - Evan Henerson - Curtain Up - ...read full review


Tin Pan L.A.
"To commemorate Center Theatre Group's 50th anniversary season, Artistic Director Michael Ritchie commissioned playwright David Henry Hwang (M. Butterfly) to write a piece of theatre, that piece is Soft Power [soft pow·er (noun)a persuasive approach to international relations, typically involving the use of cultural influence]. What originally began as a play has morphed into what it is now a “play with a musical”, complete with a 22-piece orchestra and music by Tony Award winning composer Jeanine Tesori (Fun Home)."

sweet-sour - Tin Pan L.A. - ...read full review


"David Henry Hwang's Soft Power is a bold triumph in a unique form that blends the social issues of race relations, international relations, and American and Chinese politics in an up-to-the minute sensibility that includes the American gun tragedy and the world's wonder at the convoluted situation of an electoral college rooted in a past that insured the continuation of slavery. Soft Power is a heavyweight work of art that is as thought provoking as it is entertaining. It fully deserved the opening night audience's instantaneous standing ovation that continued in power as the large cast took their well deserved bows. If you love theatre, if you love drama, if you love comedy, if you love musical theatre, this is your show. Soft Power is a powerhouse. See it!"

sweet - Paul Myrvold - Theatre Notes - ...read full review


Travis Michael Holder
"After LA and San Francisco (where I'm going to see it again later this month), when this visionary effort hits New York, there'll surely be many comparisons made to "Hamilton," another rule-defying, groundbreaking musical that dazzles the senses yet clearly slips in its political morality message while telling its story in the most entertaining way imaginable. Those comparisons will be valid and, like its namesake musical within the play, Hwang and Tesori's masterwork is destined to become a classic."

sweet - Travis Michael Holder - TicketHolders LA - ...read full review


Rob Stevens
""I am not sure what kind of a future awaits this creation—there is so much that is relevant to the here and now and the most recent past that I'm not sure it will hold up in ten or even five years. But it is an enjoyable piece of thinking man's fluff as is. Good political satire is very difficult to pull off and usually has a very quick sell by date. Leigh Silverman has directed with energy and the cast of 14 are plucky and lively.""

sweet-sour - Rob Stevens - Haines His Way - ...read full review


Ellen Dostal
"What happens during that first 20 minutes is pretty dense storytelling so be prepared to dive in and go with it rather than try to figure out how all the pieces are going to fit together. They do, but if you spend your time analyzing it against traditional musical theatre construction as it unfolds, instead of experiencing it for its own unique structure, you risk discounting its innovation without cause. From this point on, the writers and their ingenious director Leigh Silverman, begin to send up love and romance, politics, the United States' opinion of itself, how our country is seen by others around the world, and a whole list of well-known musical theatre-isms those familiar with the genre will particularly enjoy."

sweet - Ellen Dostal - BroadwayWorld Los Angeles - ...read full review


Michael Van Duzer
"Soft Power is a satirical one-act play. And it's a musicalized dream. It's also a futuristic panel discussion where the subtext is far more interesting than the commentary. And, finally, it is all those elements refracted through a funhouse mirror and reinvented as a full-scale musical romance and political cris de coeur."

sweet - Michael Van Duzer - ShowMag - ...read full review


Eric A Gordon
"Ms. Clinton—now there's a woman Xue Xing can admire as someone who “stuck with her mistake”—is the female star, all razzmatazz in her Wonder Woman outfit belting out a brassy Jennifer Hudson Dreamgirls-like gospel number as she tap dances her way toward practically humping a McDonald's Big Mac. But it's all show. As she delivers her wonky, boring speech about how great gradualist democracy is, the crowd thins down to no one but her campaign manager (Maria-Christina Oliveras). As she and Xue Xing start falling in love, he has a Sound of Music-like “Do-Re-Mi” song in which he tries to teach Clinton about the four tones of the Chinese language, which she needs to understand if, for one thing, she is to correctly pronounce his name. She screws it up like an obtusely dense Westerner. In other words, she's tone deaf—one of the consistent criticisms of her candidacy—and more than Russian interference, more than the electoral college, more than gerrymandering, why she lost."

sweet - Eric A Gordon - ...read full review


"With “Soft Power,” Playwright David Henry Hwang has birthed a dizzyingly madcap political opus accented by an existential preoccupation with the nature of identity; an opus that is by turns dazzlingly insightful, frustrating, convoluted, inspiring, thoroughly entertaining and undeniably brilliant."

sweet - Ernest Kearney - www.thetvolution.com - ...read full review


Don Grigware
"Although complex in plot and cultural differences, this play/musical has more than enough brilliance to entertain and enlighten. Those who will find it in any way offensive are either Republicans or those not willing to compromise."

sweet - Don Grigware - BroadwayWorld.com - ...read full review


"This "play with a musical" directed by Leigh Silverman is a fantasia of socio-political insights packaged as a vision quest. And with its trippy cinematic homages and some kick-ass musical staging by Silverman and choreographer Sam Pinkleton Soft Power is also a real kick."

sweet - Evan Henerson - Curtain Up - ...read full review


Tin Pan L.A.
"To commemorate Center Theatre Group's 50th anniversary season, Artistic Director Michael Ritchie commissioned playwright David Henry Hwang (M. Butterfly) to write a piece of theatre, that piece is Soft Power [soft pow·er (noun)a persuasive approach to international relations, typically involving the use of cultural influence]. What originally began as a play has morphed into what it is now a “play with a musical”, complete with a 22-piece orchestra and music by Tony Award winning composer Jeanine Tesori (Fun Home)."

sweet-sour - Tin Pan L.A. - ...read full review


"David Henry Hwang's Soft Power is a bold triumph in a unique form that blends the social issues of race relations, international relations, and American and Chinese politics in an up-to-the minute sensibility that includes the American gun tragedy and the world's wonder at the convoluted situation of an electoral college rooted in a past that insured the continuation of slavery. Soft Power is a heavyweight work of art that is as thought provoking as it is entertaining. It fully deserved the opening night audience's instantaneous standing ovation that continued in power as the large cast took their well deserved bows. If you love theatre, if you love drama, if you love comedy, if you love musical theatre, this is your show. Soft Power is a powerhouse. See it!"

sweet - Paul Myrvold - Theatre Notes - ...read full review


Travis Michael Holder
"After LA and San Francisco (where I'm going to see it again later this month), when this visionary effort hits New York, there'll surely be many comparisons made to "Hamilton," another rule-defying, groundbreaking musical that dazzles the senses yet clearly slips in its political morality message while telling its story in the most entertaining way imaginable. Those comparisons will be valid and, like its namesake musical within the play, Hwang and Tesori's masterwork is destined to become a classic."

sweet - Travis Michael Holder - TicketHolders LA - ...read full review


Rob Stevens
""I am not sure what kind of a future awaits this creation—there is so much that is relevant to the here and now and the most recent past that I'm not sure it will hold up in ten or even five years. But it is an enjoyable piece of thinking man's fluff as is. Good political satire is very difficult to pull off and usually has a very quick sell by date. Leigh Silverman has directed with energy and the cast of 14 are plucky and lively.""

sweet-sour - Rob Stevens - Haines His Way - ...read full review


Ellen Dostal
"What happens during that first 20 minutes is pretty dense storytelling so be prepared to dive in and go with it rather than try to figure out how all the pieces are going to fit together. They do, but if you spend your time analyzing it against traditional musical theatre construction as it unfolds, instead of experiencing it for its own unique structure, you risk discounting its innovation without cause. From this point on, the writers and their ingenious director Leigh Silverman, begin to send up love and romance, politics, the United States' opinion of itself, how our country is seen by others around the world, and a whole list of well-known musical theatre-isms those familiar with the genre will particularly enjoy."

sweet - Ellen Dostal - BroadwayWorld Los Angeles - ...read full review


Michael Van Duzer
"Soft Power is a satirical one-act play. And it's a musicalized dream. It's also a futuristic panel discussion where the subtext is far more interesting than the commentary. And, finally, it is all those elements refracted through a funhouse mirror and reinvented as a full-scale musical romance and political cris de coeur."

sweet - Michael Van Duzer - ShowMag - ...read full review


Eric A Gordon
"Ms. Clinton—now there's a woman Xue Xing can admire as someone who “stuck with her mistake”—is the female star, all razzmatazz in her Wonder Woman outfit belting out a brassy Jennifer Hudson Dreamgirls-like gospel number as she tap dances her way toward practically humping a McDonald's Big Mac. But it's all show. As she delivers her wonky, boring speech about how great gradualist democracy is, the crowd thins down to no one but her campaign manager (Maria-Christina Oliveras). As she and Xue Xing start falling in love, he has a Sound of Music-like “Do-Re-Mi” song in which he tries to teach Clinton about the four tones of the Chinese language, which she needs to understand if, for one thing, she is to correctly pronounce his name. She screws it up like an obtusely dense Westerner. In other words, she's tone deaf—one of the consistent criticisms of her candidacy—and more than Russian interference, more than the electoral college, more than gerrymandering, why she lost."

sweet - Eric A Gordon - ...read full review


"With “Soft Power,” Playwright David Henry Hwang has birthed a dizzyingly madcap political opus accented by an existential preoccupation with the nature of identity; an opus that is by turns dazzlingly insightful, frustrating, convoluted, inspiring, thoroughly entertaining and undeniably brilliant."

sweet - Ernest Kearney - www.thetvolution.com - ...read full review


Don Grigware
"Although complex in plot and cultural differences, this play/musical has more than enough brilliance to entertain and enlighten. Those who will find it in any way offensive are either Republicans or those not willing to compromise."

sweet - Don Grigware - BroadwayWorld.com - ...read full review