By Casey Curtis
Attention passengers, this is a Queens-bound E train, next station stop is 53rd Street and Lexington Avenue, where you can see “Subways Are for Sleeping” at the York Theater.
Transfer if you need the Uptown 6 train or better yet, exit the station to experience a charming musical from the early 1960’s, with book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green and music by Julie Styne.
If you look around this subway car you will see director Stuart Ross, who in 34 hours of rehearsal pulled together a show that felt fully staged, even though as part of the York’s wonderful Musicals in Mufti series, actors are reading from scripts with the occasional music stand in front of them (you don’t notice it).
Passengers on this ride include the charming Alyse Alan Louis and Eric William Morris in the lead roles. Eric and Alyse are married in real life and it showed in their chemistry onstage. Both go beyond their excellent musical theater voices and bring to the stage a kind-hearted innocence that fits the show’s time period perfectly. Equally well-cast were supporting actors Gina Milo, both sexy and comically goofy in her perpetual state of being dressed in a towel and David Josefsberg, whose comic timing is always superb. In the ensemble I was happy to see Beth Glover, who radiates positive musical theater energy in every production that she graces.
But the biggest reason to go see “Subways Are for Sleeping” — and passengers, you should be so lucky as to be delayed by track work — is to listen to the song gems in this musical. “I Just Can’t Wait,” has the character Charlie (David Josefsberg) telling towel-clad Martha Vail (Gina Milo) how he fantasizes about seeing her with all her clothes on. It is a brilliant comic reversal. “Be a Santa/Santa Dance” uses Salvation Army Santas playing bells to create a joyous carillon symphony. These are only two examples, but nearly every song is a lesson in elegant, well-crafted lyric writing.
By shows end, this seemingly corny, charmingly kooky musical proves to not be dated at all. It is deceptively deep in it’s examination of a population of homeless men who survive as best they can and aspire to help others in their situation.
Thank you to Jim Morgan, producing artistic director of the York Theater, for bringing this delightful show back to life. If all subway rides were this good, no one would ever complain about the MTA. Watch the closing doors. Ding dong.
WITH Karl Josef Co, David Engel, Beth Glover, David Josefsberg, Alyse Alan Louis, Kathryn McCreary, Gerry McIntyre, Gina Milo, Eric William Morris, and Kilty Reidy. The limited 11-performance engagement of Subways Are for Sleeping concludes Sunday, March 4, 2018 at 2:30PM at The York Theatre Company at Saint Peter’s (619 Lexington Avenue, entrance on East 54th Street, just east of Lexington Avenue). TICKETS