B'way's Of Mice & Men, starring James Franco, Chris O'Dowd, Leighton Meester, opens to rave reviews

The Telegraph: (4/5 stars) To its credit, in spite of its star wattage, this production doesn’t aim for fireworks: it’s an affectingly quieter, lower key affair. Reflected in Todd Rosenthal’s detail-packed set - a ranch bolted together from the discarded scraps of working life - it brings us up close to the patchwork of emotions, hopes and fears that compel Steinbeck’s characters onwards, however doomed their journey.

The Hollywood Reporter: Director Anna D. Shapiro's deeply respectful take on the 1937 play is gripping, grounded and emotionally penetrating.

Associated Press: John Steinbeck's play about friendship and humanity in rural California is smartly directed by Anna D. Shapiro, with evocative sets by Todd Rosenthal and rich lighting from Japhy Weideman.

USA Today: (3.5/4 stars) It's a credit to Shapiro and her company that, in this revival of Mice, hope comes through as powerfully as its ultimate futility.

Time Out NY: (4/5 stars) Franco and O’Dowd make a fantastic team.

NBC New York: Celebrated director Anna D. Shapiro pulls no punches in her savage take on “Of Mice and Men,” the American lit classic about migrant farmhands in Depression-era California, now open at the Longacre Theatre. It certainly helps that she has two gifted performers as her leading men, James Franco and Chris O’Dowd, both making memorable debuts.

Entertainment Weekly: (B) Even so, Steinbeck's time-tested narrative — and the power of his language — exert an inevitable pull.

AM New York: (4 stars) The new Broadway production, directed by Anna D. Shapiro ("August: Osage County") with a cast of Hollywood names (James Franco, Chris O'Dowd and Leighton Meester, all making their Broadway debuts) alongside stage regulars (Jim Norton and Ron Cephas Jones), is genuinely gripping, gritty and emotionally shattering.

The Wrap: James Franco, Chris O'Dowd bring vibrant and poignant life to Steinbeck revival

Newsday: Franco is just one fine element in this straightforward powerhouse of a revival, directed by Anna D. Shapiro with inspiring trust in the impact of classic storytelling.

Variety: Anna D. Shapiro delivers a flawless, beautifully acted revival of John Steinbeck's 1937 play.

New York Daily Mews: (4/5 stars) John Steinbeck classic on hardscrabble America shines in new staging with James Franco, Chris O'Dowd, Leighton Meester and Jim Norton

NY Mag/Vulture: Here, the director Anna D. Shapiro beautifully shapes and calibrates the tone to produce through a series of contrasts a sense of downward momentum. Her staging keeps you aware at all times of what’s going on beyond your vision: the old dog about to be shot while the laborers deal a hand of canasta, the horseshoes clanging outside the barn while the heart of the disaster unfolds. Likewise, the ensemble is drawn with vivid highlights and deep shadows.

Huffington Post: In its revival at the Longacre it remains a solid piece of work, especially in Anna D. Shapiro's solid production starring James Franco, Chris O'Dowd and Leighton Meester making their impressive Broadway debuts.

The Independent: (4/5 stars) Of Mice and Men is an excellent Broadway revival fuelled by Franco who offers a welcome illustration of what can happen when a star sheds his other more modern personas and takes to the stage to simply act.

Time: Cheers for this production, and the Hollywood star who helped make it happen, for letting a new audience rediscover it as a moving masterpiece.

Sneak peek/Highlights

Sources: reviews/reel