Photo by Don Kellogg

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

On The Town

It may be just what Broadway needs right now - a lavish, classic, good-'ol song and dance show on the great white way.  Betty Comden and Adolph Green's classic with music by the incomparable Leonard Bernstein has been made fresh again for a new generation of theater-goers.  And by all accounts, this revisal will delight audiences far and wide.  An orchestra of epic proportions plucks, strums, and toots with wild abandon to the gorgeous and lush musical score by Leonard Bernstein while the actors sing and dance - (do they ever) - to the highest of heights.

The über dreamy Tony Yazbeck helms the cast of over 40 characters as Gabey along with the deliciously sexy Jay Armstrong Johnson (Chip) and Clyde Alves (Ozzie) - 3 sailors let loose on New York City in 1944 on a 24 hour leave with the hopes of each finding a dame.  It's fun, fresh, wholesome, and naughty all at the same time.  The hilarious Jackie Hoffman takes on the role of Maude Dilly (and a little old lady, and several nightclub stars) with brilliant comedic genius.  I am pretty sure much of the revisal work was done in her sketch comedy-like scenes to wild success.  Megan Fairchild (Ivy, Miss Turnstiles), Alysha Umphress (Hildy, the taxi driver), and Elizabeth Stanley (Claire DeLoone) each portray one of the dames - each different, each perfectly cast.  This was Ms. Fairchild's Broadway debut as she is normally a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet.  Ms Umphress is a Broadway veteran but this just may be her break-out role as she knocks Hildy out of the park.

Brilliant scenic design (Beowulf Borritt) and lit (Jason Lyons)  - it is a near perfect picture of the boys in brilliant white sailor suits surrounded by a pastiche of technicolor city dwellers.  Projections are getting near indeterminable from actual scenery and the result is simply marvelous.   This show is significantly stilted toward a ballet and none better than Mr. Yazbeck and Ms Fairchild to execute each jump and lift with effortless aplomb.  I'm pretty sure Jerome Robbins (original idea and choreography) would be pleased with the outcome over 70 years later.  Most likely Comden and Green would also be pleased with Robert Cary's and Jonathan Tolins' book freshening updates.

The theater itself previously housed quite possibly the most different type of show (Spiderman) prior to this - so much so that one could speculate it required a name change back to its original - The Lyric.

Classic material in an old fashioned Broadway house with deliciously fresh talent - it certainly makes for one helluva show!