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Reviews from our World Premiere

Ford's Theatre, Washington, D.C.

Washington Post

A promising American musical isn't born every minute. Heck, whole years go by without anything approximating the arrival of a melodious blessed event… Treated to a slick, skillful staging by Eric Schaeffer, [Meet John Doe] is a rewarding platform for a pair of talented young songwriters and a knockout of a leading lady named Heidi Blickenstaff…

Composer Andrew Gerle and lyricist Eddie Sugarman, who also collaborated on the show's book, conjure in this populist musical fable a Depression-era America as desperate for a decent public man as it is for a buck… the score, ably served by Jonathan Tunick's orchestrations — a 10-piece band sits on a bridge over the stage — is filled with clever lyrics and bright and supple melodies…

On the nervy shoulders of Ann, the plot must be carried, and Blickenstaff is more than up to it. She's a dynamite successor to the movie's Barbara Stanwyck: It's a star performance, in fact. There's an effortless kind of kick to Blickenstaff's readings of Ann's sharp-elbowed lines. And she can sing, to boot…

Ford's, too, deserves applause for taking a chance on this material. Some other major companies in town seem content these days to feast on well-cooked chestnuts. Theatergoers can only hope that this historic theater and its ambitious management will set off on another adventure of this magnitude soon. [more...]
Peter Marks

Baltimore Sun

Politics, passion and populism ignite the stage in the tuneful musical Meet John Doe, making its world premiere at Ford's Theatre in Washington… There are more than enough elements — romance, political intrigue and that old favorite, good versus evil — to craft this compelling musical. And Gerle and Sugarman's version even has a credible ending… The movie wound up with a final scene in the sugarcoated, "Capra-corn" mode. But the musical concludes in a manner at once dark and hopeful, a combination that feels truer to the plot and the characters…

More than six decades after Capra's movie made its debut, it would be refreshing to think that the standards of journalism and politics have risen sufficiently to make Meet John Doe seem dated. Regrettably, both institutions continue to have enough cracks in their foundations to keep the message of this impressive new musical timely, and eminently worth singing. [more...]
J. Wynnn Rousuck

Out of the darkest days of the Great Depression, Andrew Gerle and Eddie Sugarman have crafted Meet John Doe, a musical based on the classic 1941 film by Frank Capra. Under the steady hand of director Eric Schaeffer, and with the help of legendary music arranger Jonathon Tunick, Meet John Doe is finally getting its "world premiere" at Washington D.C.'s Ford's Theatre, and the result is a smart and feisty show wrapped in a big Broadway sound. [more...]
Michael Toscano

The Examiner

Ford's is presenting the premiere of a smashing musical adaptation of Capra's most ambitious and controversial film, his 1941 Christ allegory, "Meet John Doe,"… The score by newcomers Andrew Gerle (music) and Eddie Sugarman (lyrics), who also wrote the book, is wonderfully catchy and, for the most part, faithful to the period… Eric Schaeffer's inventive and visually impressive direction keeps the show moving at a fast clip. All of the actors do fine work, especially Blickenstaff, who possesses a gorgeous singing voice and commanding stage presence. Kudos also to Derek McLane's set and Karma Camp's musical staging… Hopefully, Ford's production of "Meet John Doe" will do well enough for the show to move on to New York, because this is one of the best new musicals in years and definitely deserves a wider audience. [more...]
Doug Krentzlin

DC Theatre Scene

As Ann Mitchell, the heart and soul of the story, Heidi Blickenstaff is brilliantly cast… we're talking "marvelous." From the insistent, save-my-job song (I'm Your Man) to the wistful prayer (I Hope You Can See This) to her late father, to the heartfelt, romantic song (He Threw Me), we are talking "stop the presses" musical theatre moments. [more...]
Gary McMillan

The DC Traveler

The new musical production and world premiere of Meet John Doe currently running at historic Ford's Theatre tells a great story about watching out for your fellow man that relates to the original time period as well as to today. It incorporates big Broadway-style tunes — original jazz and lyrics, that make you feel as if it's 1931…

The lead character, sassy reporter Ann Mitchell, is played by Heidi Blickenstaff; who in my opinion could easily take the lead in any Broadway musical and delight her audience. Her on-stage presence and energy makes her instantly credible and likable and her powerful voice rivals ANY you will hear on Broadway today. Her singing alone is worth the price of admission. [more...]
Jon Rochetti

Talkin' Broadway

The stage musical version of Frank Capra's 1940 movie Meet John Doe now receiving its world premiere at Ford's Theatre in Washington has many things going for it, especially leading lady Heidi Blickenstaff and the clever black-and-white production design…

Most of the score by Gerle and Sugarman is character-driven, such as "I'm Your Man," as Ann desperately tries to talk her editor (crusty Guy Paul) out of firing her; "Be More," Norton's credo to Ann; and the second-act duet between Ann and John. But the single most affecting moment is the a cappella chorus "Thank You," when a crowd of ordinary folks in a roadside diner tell John what he has meant to them. [more...]
Susan Berlin

Potomac Stages

Gerle's melodies are clean, clear and effective within a wide range of rhythmic styles and Sugarman's lyrics are often evocative, calling visual imagery to mind and playing skillfully with words. [more...]
Brad Hathaway

The DCist

A new "old musical" may sound like a contradiction in terms, but that's exactly what Meet John Doe, now playing at Ford's Theater, is. At first, one might wonder if we need a show that takes us back to the days of classics like Kiss Me Kate and Sweet Charity, but with such intelligent lyrics and such a satisfying blend of hope and cynicism, John Doe is more than a nostalgia trip, and doesn't have to break new ground in order to be considered fine entertainment… This is aided by a wonderful score from Eddie Sugarman and Andrew Gerle — the lyrics are smart and funny, the rhymes are unexpected, and there is a refreshing lack of cliché… In short, John Doe has something for both the cynic and the idealist in all of us. [more...]
Missy Frederick

Read reviews from older productions.