Another show based on an incredibly dark Nineteenth-Century novel, this show was considerably bleaker and less enjoyable than Jane Eyre. There were several reasons for this, but the biggest issue was its utterly dismal score, one of the dreariest of the decade.
Written by standards singer Harry Connick, Jr., the show sounds like an empty, lifeless attempt to mimic the sounds of the material he usually sings, but as fine a singer and pianist as Connick is, he clearly does not have the talent to effectively imitate the classic songwriters. The score’s dearth of energy and melody is compounded by its near-total lack of integration, with about 80% of the score consisting of stand-alone specialty numbers that have nothing to do with the show’s story, which is a problem in an ultra-serious show like this.
Susan Stroman’s choreography was definitely the best thing about the show, and future star Norbert Leo Butz (who gets the show’s only decent song, the impishly sardonic “Oh! Ain’t That Sweet”) and reliable supporting player Debra Monk do their best in the supporting roles, but even they can only do so much with the material, and the two actual leads are much weaker. Used to much more conventional theatrical fare (leading man Craig Bierko was the Robert Preston impressionist in the 2000 Music Man revival), they are completely at sea with this heavy and complex material, and their central romance is laughably devoid of chemistry.
The novel Therese Raquin, on which this show was based, actually had musical possibilities in spite of its dark subject matter, but none of them are fulfilled here. Connick would later make a second recording of the score featuring himself and Kelli O’Hara and bundle it with his wildly popular Pajama Game revival cast album, in a desperate attempt to browbeat history into vindicating him, but the attempt did nothing but elicit universal complaints from purchasers. This show sucked when it came out, it sucks now, and it will continue to suck, and Connick would do well to simply learn from his mistake and stop trying to shove it down Broadway audiences’ collective throats.