Theater review by Raven Snook
Those unfamiliar with how the master builder Robert Moses reshaped New York City in the 20th century—from bridges and parkways to playgrounds and projects—will be confounded by Bulldozer, a factually vague journey through the urban planner’s controversial career. This earnest and disappointing musical biography flattens its fascinating subject.
Constantine Maroulis wails impressively through Peter Galperin’s musically interchangeable and lyrically repetitive rock songs, but his performance in the title role is otherwise one-note. As Moses evolves from idealistic visionary to political power broker to arrogant (and racist) bully, Galperin and Daniel Scot Kadin’s book wastes a lot of time on his bland romance with a composite character named Vera (Kacie Sheik). Much more compelling is a truncated take on his reputation-destroying conflict with Greenwich Village activist Jane Jacobs (show stealer Molly Pope).
Moses’s career lends itself well to a satirical approach, as Adam Scully and future Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson auteur Alex Timbers proved in 2005’s Boozy: The Life, Death, and Subsequent Vilification of Le Corbusier and, More Importantly, Robert Moses. But Bulldozer’s portrait of the ruthless roadmaker is stubbornly pedestrian.
Theater at St. Clement’s (Off Broadway). Music and lyrics by Peter Galperin. Book by Galperin and Daniel Scot Kadin. Directed by Karen Carpenter. With ensemble cast. Running time: 1hr 45mins. No intermission. Through Jan 7.