Atomic. Acorn Theatre (see Off Broadway). Book and lyrics by Danny Ginges and Gregory Bonsignore. Music and lyrics by Philip Foxman. Directed by Damien Gray. With ensemble cast. Running time: 2hr 20mins. One intermission.
Atomic: In brief
Nuclear scientist and Manhattan Project linchpin Leo Szilard is the unlikely subject of a new musical by Danny Ginges, Gregory Bonsignore and Philip Foxman. The cast of nine, directed by Damien Gray, includes Jeremy Kushnier, Euan Morton, Sara Gettelfinger, Randy Harrison and Jonathan Hammond.
Atomic: Theater review by Diep Tran
Millions dead. Bombs shattering lives. A hero in a race against time to save the world. It’s all the ingredients of your typical summer blockbuster. Add in some pop-rock tunes from the team of Danny Ginges, Gregory Bonsignore and Philip Foxman, and you have Atomic, a melodramatic new musical about the “prodigal son” of the atomic bomb, Leo Szilard. In real life, Szilard (played with heroic conviction by Jeremy Kushnier) pioneered the nuclear reactor while working on the Manhattan Project. There’s the usual Rolodex of character types: concerned yet devoted wife Trude (a supportive Sara Gettelfinger); memorable side characters (including Jonathan Hammond hamming it up as Italian physicist Enrico Fermi); and military-brained foil Arthur Compton (an authoritative David Abeles).
Despite some solid if not particularly memorable anthems, it’s the quiet moments that stand out, the ones that question whether the end (preventing another world war) really justifies the means (killing hundreds of thousands of civilians). While Atomic doesn’t reach explosive levels of grandeur, it is enjoyable and more introspective than your typical summer offering.—Theater review by Diep Tran
THE BOTTOM LINE It doesn’t bomb, but the detonation is relatively minor.