There is a candy store in the lobby of the Lyric Theatre. It serves beautifully displayed and wrapped sweets. This is exactly what you should expect inside the Lyric Theater as well when you see “On The Town.” The whole show is a feast for the eyes and ears, a beautifully wrapped sweet. Eventually the sugar rush leads to a bit of a crash as the plot is thin as cellophane, but nonetheless this is a high quality confection.
Three sailors are on shore leave and have 24 hours to see New York City.
“New York, New York, a helluva town
the Bronx is up and the Battery’s down
and people ride in a hole in the ground
New York, New York, it’s a helluva town.”
One of the sailors falls in love with the image and description of Miss Turnstiles, whose comely visage is plastered on a poster in the subway. The sailors search for her and all find brief relationships or flings of one sort or another. There, that’s the whole plot. The show is really more of a song and dance revue.
Comden and Green’s marvelous lyrics were unfortunately difficult to discern at times in the too-large theater, but when heard, fabulous. Leonard Bernstein’s music is a symphonic joy-ride. Director John Rando impressively finds comedy at every turn. Beowulf Borritt’s use of backdrops and video in the set, especially in a taxicab ride, are delightful. The brightest light of all in this show is the dancing. Choreographer Joshua Bergasse stages one superb dance number after another – from full chorus shindigs to energetic trios to a breathtakingly beautiful ballet pas de deux.
The visual feast sustained throughout the show — although on the downside, the revue-like songs did start to wear thin in the second act. And for those who don’t wish to shell out Broadway dollars, there is an alternative — a 1949 movie version with Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra.
Candy is not nutritious, but there is a reason we love it – it makes us feel good. “On the Town” will make you laugh and bring delight with it’s assortment of talented actors, singers, dancers, it’s legendary composer/lyricist team, and above all, superlative choreography.
New York, New York is a helluva town and this is a helluva show.
On the Town
Music by Leonard Bernstein; book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, based on an idea by Jerome Robbins; directed by John Rando; choreography by Joshua Bergasse; music direction by James Moore; sets and projections by Beowulf Boritt; costumes by Jess Goldstein; lighting by Jason Lyons; sound by Kai Harada; hair design by Leah Loukas; makeup design by Joe Dulude II; associate choreographer, Greg Graham; production stage manager, Bonnie L. Becker; additional material by Robert Cary and Jonathan Tolins; music coordinator, John Miller; company manager, Carol Oune; associate producer, Daniel Rakowski; technical supervisor, Juniper Street Productions; general manager, Foresight Theatrical. Presented by Howard & Janet Kagan, Severn Partners Entertainment, Bruce Robert Harris and Jack W. Batman, Paula Marie Black, Nigel Lythgoe, Michael J. Moritz Jr., Michael A. Alden/Dale Badway/Ken Mahoney, Ambassador Theater Group, Margie and Bryan Weingarten, Kim Schall, Michael Rubenstein, Terry/Louise/Chris Lingner, Corey Brunish and Brisa Trinchero, Stephanie Rosenberg, Dominick Laruffa Jr. and Rob Hinderliter, Neal Rubinstein/Jeremy Handelman, Lizbeth Bintz, Riki Kane Larimer, Allan and Adam Gordon, Matt Ross/Ben Feldman/Pamela Cooper and Barrington Stage Company. At the Lyric Theater, 213 West 42nd Street, Manhattan, 800-982-2787, ticketmaster.com. Running time: 2 hours 35 minutes.
WITH: Tony Yazbeck (Gabey), Jay Armstrong Johnson (Chip), Clyde Alves (Ozzie), Megan Fairchild (Ivy), Alysha Umphress (Hildy), Elizabeth Stanley (Claire), Michael Rupert (Pitkin), Allison Guinn (Nun/Singer/Lucy Schmeeler), Phillip Boykin (Workman/Miss Turnstiles’ Announcer/Dream Coney Island Master of Ceremonies/Bimmy), Stephen DeRosa (3rd Workman/Bill Poster/Figment/Actor/Nedick’s Attendant/Diamond Eddie’s Master of Ceremonies/Conga Cabana Master of Ceremonies/Conductor) and Jackie Hoffman (Little Old Lady/Maude P. Dilly/Diana Dream/Dolores Dolores).