STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - A musical about the life of Hollywood mystery woman Greta Garbo drew unenthusiastic reviews from critics in her native Sweden on Thursday, a day after opening night for the production which aims to succeed abroad. The producers of "Garbo the Musical" hope the saga of the enigmatic screen goddess, who spent more of her life in seclusion than making films, will lure people decades after her career ended. The musical follows Garbo's life from her modest youth in Sweden through the glamorous Hollywood years to the late 1980s at breakneck pace.
But critics said it was too sterile and failed to solve any of the mystery around the woman who said famously she "wanted to be alone." "Very professional, but predictable and not exciting," said Per Feltzin, music critic at Swedish public service SR radio. The script is written by Britain's Warner Brown, known for his earlier musicals "Flickers" and "Scandal."
The score is composed by Michael Reed and Jim Steinman, who has worked with rock artist Meat Loaf, singer Bonnie Tyler and boy band Boyzone. Many critics liked the music, varying from ragtime variations to contemporary rock, but they said only a few rose above mediocre. Marcus Boldeman, critic at Sweden's biggest daily Dagens Nyheter, told Reuters the musical was conventional and had some dramaturgical problems. The musical's producers hope to take their production abroad in spring 2004, aiming to find audiences in London's West End and on Broadway in New York.
But critics were skeptical about global success. "I would be surprised if it goes on for a long time even here. But that might happen if the interest in Garbo is bigger than the demand for good musicals," said Tony Lundman, music critic at daily Svenska Dagbladet. Garbo, born Greta Gustafsson in Stockholm in 1905, moved to Hollywood at the age of 20 and rose to instant fame, becoming one of the greatest screen actresses of the 1930s and early 40s. The icy beauty, who avoided the media, starred in 10 silent and 14 sound films, including "Anna Karenina," "Ninotchka," "Grand Hotel" and "Mata Hari." Garbo stunned Hollywood in 1941 when she turned her back on the film business at the height of her career and moved to New York where she shunned publicity until her death in 1990.