Claire Allfree of Metro says: Their Simon Cowell-style Svengali is Zach (EastEnder's John Partridge), a slippery bully of near God like properties - for much of the audition you don't see him, you just hear his voice barking commands. 'Back to the line! Head up!' What you do see is the distinctly unglamorous desperation to make it in showbiz that wafts off these wannabes like sweat as their numbers are whittled down to an eventual eight.
Libby Purves of The Times says: Michael Bennett's show about show-dancers, in its blank mirrored space, lifts and quickens the dullest heart and triumphantly outlasts its gloomy era. The music (by Marvin Hamlisch) certainly does, but so do its people: Bob Avian, one of the original choreographers, directs; Baayork Lee from the original cast restaged the choreography; lighting and costumes from the original are credited... Dance itself is hymned in Ed Kleban's marvellous lyrics: sigh at the memory of a childhood ballet class. "Up a steep and narrow stairway, to a voice like a metronome. It wasn't paradise, but it was home!". What makes the show shine, though, is empathy. The memories and sorrows of a disparate group melt into universal human experience. Two hours straight, at headlong pace: the beautiful, racehorse effort so shines that the first-night audience, in sheer physical sympathy, rose to its feet.
Henry Hitchings of the Evening Standard says: This is an ensemble piece if ever there was one. Yet it honours the feverish dreams of the theatre world's less treasured individuals, and every character has a turn in the spotlight. Some are more crowd-pleasing than others. Leigh Zimmerman's Sheila gets a lot of the funniest and sassiest lines, and Victoria Hamilton-Barritt aces the big ballad. Scarlett Strallen's Cassie is an intriguing blend of high-kicking exhibitionism and confessional despair, and John Partridge, until recently Christian Clarke in EastEnders, makes a suitably imperious Zach.