1970's

THE KING & I (1972, Off-Broadway -- Jones Beach)

With all due respect to Gertrude Lawrence and Yul Brynner, Miss Towers and Mr. Cullum give vivid, intelligent key portrayals that stand firmly on their own. The stars also sing rings around the two original charmers." Howard Thompson, NY Times, 6/30/72

1776 (1972, Feature Film)

"The most interesting replacement of all is John Cullum, repeating his stage role as the formidable Southerner Edward Rutledge (who sings "Molasses to Rum"). But Cullum was not the first Rutledge. That was Clifford David. Nor was he even the second. That was David Cryer. Cullum was, astonishingly, the third Rutledge in New York. But the deep South authenticity he brought with him was so perfect and unassailable, and so redefined the role, that it was he who got the screen assignment." - David Spencer, AisleSay New York, (in afterward to his review of the 1997 Broadway revival)

"The other major opponent [to independence] is South Carolina's Edward Rutledge (John Cullum), a refined Southern gentleman concerned mostly with his business interest.  In one of the story's most compelling moments, he provides a passionate argument for the continuation of slavery in the colonies." - Dan Heaton, digitallyOBSESSED! DVD Reviews, 8/1/02


SHENANDOAH
(1974 Goodspeed, 1975 Boston, 1975-77 Broadway; Original Cast Album)

As things stand, Mr. Cullum has the singing role of his life... Although 'Shenandoah' looks like a stereotype, it feels like life. I trust the feeling." (Review of original production at the Goodspeed Opera House) Walter Kerr, NY Times, 9/8/74

"Cullum is very impressive. He looks like Rod McKuen, but he sounds like Howard Keel - so it's okay." Kevin Sanders, WABC-TV, 1/7/75

"John Cullum plays the sexless stud at center stage - it is hard to remember him moving - but his singing voice is one of the most beautiful in the theater." Martin Gottfried, NY Post, 1/8/75

"John Cullum has had many Broadway chances, including the starring role in 'On A Clear Day You Can See Forever,' but no role has extended him so well and to such splendid advantage. He is an actor - singer of the quality of Richard Kiley, and 'Shenandoah' shows it all." Clive Barnes, NY Times, 1/8/75

"John Cullum as the father brings a strong stage presence and a rich dramatic voice to basically insipid material. It is sad to think how few opportunities Broadway has made for genuine talent like Cullum in the last few years..." Howard Kissel, Women's Wear Daily, 1/9/75

"Cullum plays the part in a strong, straightforward manner, but more important, he has the most magnificent baritone on Broadway. It is marvelous to see a singer plant his feet firmly on stage and hear his voice fill the theater." Wall Street Journal, 1/9/75

"Let Mr. Cullum's controlled power build to a forgiving crescendo and then, let him come to a whisper with the last lingering phrase..." Walter Kerr's Stage View, NY Times, 1/19/75

"The cast projects a true and touching sincerity, resonant with many layers of feeling ... especially John Cullum, who has the eagle look of a D.W. Griffith hero and probably the best singing voice on the American musical stage." Jack Kroll, Newsweek, 1/20/75

"Reviews were mixed...On the other hand, most theatergoers liked the moments of tenderness such as the scenes in which Charlie Anderson talks to his dead wife. It was readily apparent that a number of people in the audience were crying during several of the emotional scenes. Critics and audiences almost unanimously agreed that John Cullum was excellent in the leading role. In a period when actors rather than singers were playing leads in musicals and talking rather than singing the lyrics, it was refreshing to hear Cullum who, with his robust voice, could handle the rhythmic numbers and make the sentimental songs sound convincing rather than maudlin." Abe Laube, Broadway's Greatest Musicals, 1977

THE TRIP BACK DOWN (1977, Broadway)

It is the best performance by an American actor in recent memory. Electrifying and carefully modulated at the same time, Mr. Cullum in one scene will sit quietly holding his beer, staring vacantly into the emptiness surrounding him and in the next scene will let his frustration erupt in a flurry of fists." Edwin Wilson, Wall Street Journal, 1/12/77

ON THE TWENTIETH CENTURY (1978-79, Broadway)

There is only one dazzling performance...The dazzle comes from John Cullum, who is slitheringly wax-moustache-black-patent-leather-hair perfect as the raging Oscar Jaffee. Cullum captures his man in a walk that seems to begin with a permanent slouch at his knees, a variation on Grouch Marx but with great subtlety, and he is endearingly manic and very, very funny. And when he comes to sing, notably in 'The Legacy' but elsewhere as well, I see a Tony shining in his future." Kevin Kelly, Boston Globe, 1/13/78

"'The Legacy'...a showstopper for John Cullum or, more aptly, which Cullum's performance defines as a showstopper..." Kevin Kelly, Boston Globe, 1/22/78

"John Cullum, as Jaffee, is seedy, manic and totally winning. He looks remarkably like John Barrymore, who played the role in the movie, but with more vitality and humor. His first real entrance, when we see him with his face pressed against the window of the moving train trying to get in, launches a momentum that never stops. I say "first real entrance" because he has been seen previously hiding in a suit of armor, but he has managed to make even this comically expressive." Richard Eder, NY Times, 2/20/78

"Cullum as a derelict John Barrymore set to music is superb. His voice and his heroics we knew about, but his sense of the ridiculous is a discovery. As the romantically decaying Broadway producer he reveals a completely new dimension to his performing self." Clive Barnes, NY Post, 1/20/78

"John Cullum, as a maniacal Broadway producer, slithers across the stage in a way that reminded me of Disney's Captain Hook -- it is especially funny to see Cullum moving like a cartoon character, without discernable joints, since his last few Broadway assignments have called for ramrod stolidity." Howard Kissel, Women's Wear Daily, 2/21/78

"John Cullum's award-winning performance in 'Shenandoah' is pale by comparison with the razzle-dazzle he displays as Oscar." WNYC-TV, 2/22/78

"Cullum and [Madeline] Kahn are those increasing rarities - actors who can really sing...There's nothing withdrawn about Cullum. He's obviously studied Barrymore with profit, taking his hambone hieroglyphics to nearly balletic heights, and he manages to be funny, hammy, manly and musical simultaneously." Jack Kroll, Newsweek, 3/6/78


DEATHTRAP (1979-81, Broadway)

"John Cullum is now playing the role of the desperate playwright...Mr. Cullum's performance is more comic than Mr. Wood's and - to use a perfectly dreadful word but with only the kindest intention - more hammy...He is trading off menace for comedy, and he is making Deathtrap a funnier play. In a curious way, Mr. Cullum is also making it more of an ensemble play. Opposite Mr. Wood, Marian Seldes, as the playwright's wife, was burdened with expressions of either ruefulness or chagrin. Now her nervous giggle is funny; her questioning glances mean something. With Mr. Cullum, she has a partner. Meanwhile, the higher Mr. Cullum climbs, the funnier his performance becomes. And, in a nifty touch, he suggests, just hints, that the character is possibly an old aunt or, more precisely, an old queen. Mr. Cullum builds and builds, and if there is now less terror in Deathtrap, there is certainly more fun. It is an acceptable change." John Corry, NY Times [undated clipping, 1979-1980]

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