By Thom Geier
Updated October 06, 2012 at 01:00 PM EDT
Grace Stage Review 2
Credit: Joan Marcus
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The theater season has just begun, but it’s already claimed its first Broadway casualty. Producers scuttled plans for a musical version of the Daphne du Maurier novel Rebecca, which was to open this fall, but failed to secure all of its $12 million budget amid reports of phantom investors, sabotage, and fateful producer inexperience. Not all of the drama was backstage, however, with several high-profile productions making their debuts with (mostly) mixed critical response:

Grace: Despite some terrific performances by Broadway newbies Michael Shannon and Kate Arrington, I found Craig Wright’s dramedy to be “glibly funny and flawed” in its riffs on the search for faith and meaning in 21st-century America. In the central role of an evangelical Christian who becomes unhinged, Paul Rudd (above, center, with Arrington and Shannon) is a “mostly likable jabbermouth.” EW grade: B–

Marry Me a Little: In an evening of castaway songs from various Stephen Sondheim productions, Melissa Rose Bernardo writes that Jason Tam is “likable but oddly generic” while Lauren Molina “makes up… in charm and presence” what she lacks in vocal range. EW grade: B

An Enemy of the People: Henrik Ibsen’s drama about two brothers pitted against each other over small-town hypocrisy gets a “handsome, classical” Broadway revival at the Manhattan Theatre Club, writes Adam Markovitz. But the cast, led by Boyd Gaines and Richard Thomas, “yell through half their lines so that [the] intellectual war ends up being waged with decibels as much as ideals.” EW grade: B

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Off Broadway

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