Considering the extremely high caliber of its cast, creative team and source material, “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown” was supposed to be the hit musical of the fall. Instead, it has turned out to be a hot mess of the highest pedigree.
Based on Pedro Almodóvar’s celebrated 1988 Spanish film, the screwball comedy follows middle-aged actress Pepa (Sherie Rene Scott) as she desperately tries to track down her former lover Ivan (Brian Stokes Mitchell) throughout the colorful landscape of 1980s Madrid.
Meanwhile, Ivan’s insane ex-wife, Lucia (Patti LuPone), is also trying to track him down, and Pepa’s friend Candela (Laura Benanti) is in hysterics because she unknowingly aided terrorists. Luckily, a mambo-loving taxi driver (Danny Burstein) is always there to transport Pepa around town.
Director Bartlett Sher (“South Pacific”) awkwardly copies the film’s complicated plot rather than reinvent it for the stage.
Scott looks lost in the lead role and overwhelmed by her surroundings.
LuPone has some fine comedic moments, but suffers from poor material. Benanti comes off funniest, especially in a marvelous comedic solo in which she leaves Pepa numerous phone messages.
Mitchell, returning to Broadway after a long absence, receives the worst songs. Nevertheless, his golden voice and matinee idol presence remain intact.