Sunday, November 30, 2014

Allegro **

For Rodgers and Hammerstein, the third time was not a charm. Their 1947 attempt to do something a bit experimental, with a Greek chorus, ballet sequences and a plot that could be described as Thornton Wilder with a touch of Brecht, was a letdown after Oklahoma! and Carousel. It ran nine months, had a brief national tour and was thereafter largely neglected. Now Classic Stage Company has revived it. Sort of. One could argue whether reducing the cast from 67 to 12, throwing out the DeMille ballets, simplifying the plot to fit into 90 minutes and subjecting Allegro to the John Doyle treatment with actors doubling as musicians leaves enough of the original to even be called a revival. There are still a handful of good songs including “A Fellow Needs a Girl.” “ So Far” and “The Gentleman Is a Dope,” but the moralistic plot about the virtues of small-town life and the evils of the big bad city is embarrassingly simplistic. Claiborne Elder is fine as Joseph Taylor Jr. as are Malcolm Gets and Jessica Tyler Wright as his parents and Alma Cuervo as his grandmother. Elizabeth A. Davis is strong as Jenny. Megan Loomis and Jane Pfitsch each do well with their respective songs. The other members of the hardworking cast are praiseworthy too. Ann Hould-Ward's costumes are evocative of the period. Theater history buffs will want to see the show, but for others it is not a “must-see.” 

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