Shakina Nayfack Manuel Versus the Statue of Liberty david davila noemi de la puente
Shakina Nayfack as the Statue of Liberty

“The Statue of Liberty should always be played by a transgender woman in a sea-foam-green cape and boxing trunks.” –-The New York Times

“Manuel vs. The Statue of Liberty is an essential piece of musical theater that captures lightning in a bottle.” —

“Brave and ambitious in both form and content, this winner of NYMF’s 2014 Developmental Reading Series is as entertaining as it is enlightening. Nayfack plays Liberty like she’s auditioning to be the next Fox News blonde, full of sass and right-wing talking points. Perez-Abraham is soulful and sympathetic. His Dominican dork look, complete with finely combed hair and a white polo shirt (costumes by Lux Haac), is a nice touch. Staged like an extended boxing match, director José Zayas’ production floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee. The highly energetic ensemble supports almost every number. Davila and de la Puente use an idiosyncratic mix of pop, rock, Latin, and hip-hop to tell their story in a manner reminiscent of Lin-Manuel Miranda (In the Heights, Hamilton). But where Miranda uses rap to elucidate American history in Hamilton, de la Puente and Davila use that form’s lyrical density to highlight our byzantine immigration law.”

“Manuel vs. the Statue of Liberty feels a bit like an educational musical that decided to go off the rails…I have to give points to the show for putting up a specific yet dynamic portrait of a side of America that the American musical doesn’t usually touch. The show is full of spirit, often charming, and has an underdog kind of humor and a playful sense of musicality. And the ensemble lands some great skit-style comedic moments and soulful points where you can see how much a bureaucratic system can affect a family. Thank God for a musical with something brave it wants to talk about. Sidney Erik Wright’s choreography is creative, playful, and highly stylized. And it uses the whole ensemble well-it feels like they’re having a lot of fun when in background choreography mode. The story is enough to get us to cheer Manuel on, but the real fun is the abundance of zingers and sketch-style comedy. And every now and then, it sneaks in an emotional sucker punch to the gut.” –-NYMF Unauthorized

“There is promise in “Manuel vs. The Statue of Liberty”…Like the Statue, give it time to settle into beauty.” — Theater in the Now

“The resulting show has a lot going for it, mostly heart, heart, heart, and some fine performances.” — Cabaret Exchange

“Despite the requisite happy ending for musical theatre (not all but most), “Manuel versus the Statue of Liberty” remains a scorching critique of immigration policies in the United States and a resounding celebration of the human spirit, the confirmation that “nothing good comes easily,” and the importance of fighting for the values upon which the United States was founded.” — Theatre Reviews Limited

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