Saturday, October 11, 2014

On the Town ****

Would that there were talents like Leonard Bernstein, Betty Comden and Adolph Green writing for the Broadway stage today! To see their 1994 love letter to New York in this wonderful revival, originally developed for Barrington Stage, is sheer pleasure. What the cast lacks in name recognition it more than makes up for in talent. Tony Yazbeck, Jay Armstrong Johnson and Clyde Alvez are superb as Gabey, Chip and Ozzie, three sailors out to make their most of a 24-hour leave in New York City. Alysha Umphress is a hoot as Hildy, the taxi driver who virtually kidnaps Chip. NYCB principal Megan Fairchild makes an auspicious Broadway debut as Ivy Smith, the Miss Turnstiles for June that Gabey is determined to meet. Elizabeth Stanley is just OK as Claire, the anthropologist who gets carried away with Ozzie. Audience favorite Jackie Hoffman is a barrel of laughs in her four roles. Phillip Boykin is wonderful too in multiple roles. Beowulf Boritt’s scenic and production design relies heavily on sophisticated projections and translucent panels, to fine effect, especially as lit by Jason Lyons. Jess Goldstein’s costumes are wonderfully over the top. Joshua Bergasse had a touch act to follow after Jerome Robbins’s original choreography, but he handles the task well. It has been a while since a Broadway show has taken the time for extended pure dance sequences. The orchestra under James Moore does full justice to Bernstein's score. John Rando’s direction is uncluttered and assured. The audience was large and enthusiastic. This show’s 1971 and 1998 revivals barely lasted two months. This production deserves to fare better. Running time: 2 hours 40 minutes including intermission.

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