By Aubry D'Arminio
Updated September 13, 2011 at 01:30 PM EDT
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Joan Marcus

The fall’s spate of big Broadway openings began this week with the official New York City debut of the D.C. transfer of Stephen Sondheim’s Follies. Our critics saw that musical revival, plus three off-Broadway works. Here’s how they fared.

Cymbeline: The Blue-grass infused production of the Shakespeare romance returned to off-Broadway last week, and earned an A- from EW correspondent Keith Staskiewicz. “If you thought that Shakespeare and full-on foot-stamping, washboard-scratching bluegrass would go together about as well as peanut butter and motor oil,” Staskiewicz writes, “you’re wrong.”

The Select (The Sun Also Rises): Elevator Repair Service’s new off-Broadway recreation of the Hemingway classic was “certainly engaging” to EW stage editor Thom Geier, but “lacks the magic [of recent Great Gatsby adaptation] Gatz.” Geier gave the production a B, finding most of the performances unconvincing, save for Lucy Taylor’s turn as Lady Brett Ashley, who he writes gives a performance that “would make Papa proud.”

Sweet and Sad: The second in playwright Richard Nelson’s self-titled “plays of the immediate present” series about the Rhinebeck, N.Y. Apple family focuses on how they spend the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11. Writer Melissa Rose Bernardo calls the B+ off-Broadway production superior to and “less explosive, and less judgmental” than its predecessor, That Hopey Changey Thing, adding that she’s glad that she’ll “be sitting down for at least one more meal with the Apples.”

Follies: Bernardo found the A- musical revival about a reunion of former showgirls, starring Bernadette Peters and Jan Maxwell, full of perfect imperfection. “It is a really great musical…and it is unfinished,” she writes about the ever evolving Sondheim cult favorite (it’s had three New York revivals in the last 15 years), adding that “this is the best Follies I’ve ever seen.”

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