Spanning the years from 1880 to 1927, this lyrical masterpiece concerns the lives, loves and heartbreaks of three generations of show folk on the Mississippi, in Chicago and on Broadway (and their life-long friends).
SMALL BOAT, BIG SHOW!...SHOW BOAT is a three-hour long extravaganzaâ€¦That spells big bucks, and now that Americaâ€™s financially beleaguered regional theater companies are increasingly turning to small-scale productions of surefire shows, revivals of SHOW BOAT have become fewer and farther betweenâ€¦Now Goodspeed Musicals has triumphantly solved the SHOW BOAT problem. Rob Ruggieroâ€™s heart-lifting new revival succeeds in shoehorning SHOW BOAT onto a very small stage without compromising its expansive spirit in any wayâ€¦Mr. Ruggiero has skillfully trimmed the score and streamlined the book with an eye toward making SHOW BOAT more practical to produceâ€¦[His version] deserves to be seen widelyâ€¦I hope it will encourage other companies that long to perform Americaâ€™s first great musical but are afraid of busting their budgets.Wall Street Journal
This grand, glorious and smart productionâ€¦captures the sweep of the themes while zeroing in on the storyâ€¦Director Rob Ruggiero creates a production that is all of a piece, that has both sweep and intimacy and is nothing less than a minor miracle of staging.Hartford Courant
It took the Goodspeed Opera House to prove it, but size doesnâ€™t matter! Thatâ€™s right, although it may be on a much smaller stage in a compact, jewel-box of a theater, but Goodspeed Musicalsâ€™ current adaptationâ€¦is a full-fledged sprawling revelationâ€¦Not for a minute does one feel shortchanged by this production, which makes subtle, generally unnoticeable cuts to the book and judiciously trims a few unremarkable songs and extended dance music from the overall score. Met with approval by the Hammerstein, Kern and Ferber estates, director Rob Ruggieroâ€™s delightful, rewarding and ultimately moving production is more of an accommodation to the limitations of a smaller stage rather than an overall rethinking of the musical. In fact, this production will no doubt open doors to SHOW BOAT being staged by theaters previously intimidated by the size and scope of the musical landmarkâ€¦Ruggieroâ€™s take [is] able to fit the richness of the score and epic scope of the plot into an economic model that can ensure the workâ€™s preservation for years to come.Hartford Examiner
This deservedly beloved classic has been retooled for 21st-century audiences (and budgets) with no loss of impactâ€¦The director of this SHOW BOAT, Rob Ruggiero, with the blessing of the rights holders, has slimmed it down to allow for a tighter space, a smaller ensemble, fewer sets and a shorter running time. As a result, the showâ€™s dramatic coreâ€¦comes sharply into focus.New York Times
Goodspeed Musicalâ€™s delicious revivalâ€¦proves that you can revisit and rethink a classic in a way that honors the originalâ€¦[Director Rob] Ruggieroâ€™s contributions to this production extend beyond the routine tasks of the director. He has worked closely with the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization to shrink and tighten the legendary 1927 musical to a manageable size for the tiny Goodspeed stage and length for modern audiences prone to fidgeting from cellphone withdrawal after 2-and-a-half hoursâ€¦Ruggiero wisely focuses on the intimate family drama at the heart of the spectacle and therein succeeds in creating a heartfelt and emotional SHOW BOAT.Jacques Lamarre Broadway World