* * *
Turning a perfect movie into a stage musical is almost always a fool’s game. The only way the results are guaranteed to work is if you add a perfect score, as Stephen Sondheim did with “A Little Night Music” and David Yazbek did with “The Band’s Visit.” Otherwise, the resulting show rarely makes an impression sufficiently strong enough to be memorable in its own right.
“The Visitor,” the Public Theater’s new stage version of Tom McCarthy’s poignant 2007 film about a depressed widower whose parched soul is refreshed by an unexpected encounter with three illegal immigrants, doesn’t quite fill the bill: The score, by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey, is no better than fair. But the show works anyway, both because the book, by Mr. Yorkey and Kwame Kwei-Armah, is so faithful to Mr. McCarthy’s original screenplay and because the production, directed by Daniel Sullivan and starring David Hyde Pierce, is superlative. Everything good about the film is reproduced on stage so precisely that the comparative weakness of the score largely ceases to be an issue….
* * *Read the whole thing here.