The former X Factor winner stepped into the leading role of Grizabella after Nicole Scherzinger pulled out just before rehearsals were due to begin.
The Broadway return of the record-breaking musical officially opened at the Neil Simon Theatre on Sunday.
Vulture’s Jesse Green wrote: “Leona Lewis brings to the underwritten role only a few unsubtle top notes, which she offers ritually, as if they were dead mice.
The Wrap’s Jason Clark wrote: “Although Brit songstress Leona Lewis is blessed with a divine pop belt perfect for the classic number Memory, sadly she does not have the acting chops to put across Grizabella’s tragic arc. Her Griz really needs a lot more... well, grizzle.”
Dominic Cavendish wrote in The Daily Telegraph: “Her singing voice is loud and clear, but a touch too serene, needing more of a hint of the gutter.”
The Guardian’s Emma Brockes wrote: “Lewis has a beautiful voice, but when she performed Memory, she was not Grizabella the mangy old cat, but Leona Lewis, pop star and seller of 20m records...”
The New York Times’ Charles Isherwood wrote of Lewis: “Ms Lewis has a rich, powerful voice, and invests her rendition of the show’s most famous song, the much-recorded, indisputably gorgeous Memory, with a fervent intensity.
“But when Grizabella ascends to that kitty-cat heaven, reincarnation centre or whatever it is, I couldn’t help thinking that she was really going to hijack the tyre and fly to Las Vegas to open for Britney Spears.”