ON THE TOWNWith music by Leonard Bernstein
Book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green,
Book based on an idea of Jerome Robbins
Stolen Shakespeare Guild
Directors – Lauren and Jason Morgan
Music Director – Lauren Morgan
Stage Manager – Jennifer Stewart
Choreographer – Karen Matheny
Asstistant Choreographer/Dance Captain – Jessica Taylor
Set Design – Jason Morgan
Lighting Design – Bryan Douglas
Costume Design – Lauren Morgan
Sound Design – Lauren Morgan & Jennifer Stewart
Props Design – Jennifer Stewart
Dance Coach for Ms. Grimes – Alexandra Cassens
OZZIE – Dakota James
CHIP – Lance McDougall
GABEY – Jonah Munroe
JUDGE PITKIN W. BRIDGEWORK – Christian Teague
CLAIRE DE LOONE – Jessica Taylor
HILDY ESTERHAZY – Olivia Cartwright
IVY SMITH – Madelyn Grimes
MADAME DILLY – Delynda Johnson Moravec
DIANNA – Rachel Sobol
DELORES – Mindamora Rocha
LUCY SCHMEELER – Jessica Peterson
MR. UPPERMAN – Kelley Garland
MISS TURNSTILES ANNOUNCER – Preston Isham
ENSEMBLE – Kyle Sapienza, Ryan Caviola, Lauren Messemer, Megan Marissa Mock, Kelsey Jordan Ward, Canali Miller, Gareth Forsberg
Reviewed Performance: 7/15/2017
Reviewed by Richard P. Buswold, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
On the Town was first produced on Broadway in 1944, made into a film in 1949, had a very short West End run in 1963 and has been revived on Broadway three times. The most recent in 2014 earning 4 Tony nominations. The movie version starring Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra replaced all but three of the original Broadway songs with Hollywood-written substitutes. That being the case, I was not as familiar with this show as I thought I was. Being a Jerome Robbins musical, there is a lot of dance integrated into its storytelling. There are a number of extended dance sequences for the show, including the "Imaginary Coney Island" ballet.
A quick side note – the "Imaginary Coney Island" ballet is definitely the most sensual and maybe even somewhat erotic dance sequence in the show. During the scene, the young lady sitting next to me in the theatre remarked in a sexy voice to nobody in particular, "That is a beautiful man," referring to Jonah Munroe as Gabey. I could not think of any valid argument.
Mr. Munroe is the leading man in this show but this is such an ensemble production that it's a little hard to really classify him as such. There are six principle roles; the three sailors, Gabey (Munroe), Ozzie (Dakota James) and Chip (Lance McDougall) and their respective dates du jour, Ivy (Madelyn Grimes), Claire (Jessica Taylor) and Hildy (Olivia Cartwright).
Munroe and Grimes make a beautiful pair when they are dancing and their pining for one another is expertly played. Subtle, subdued and believable. These are really the only characters who delve into deep emotions and they do it so well that it is a refreshing turn from the comedy that is the rest of the show. Kind of role reversal if you will. Instead of the comic relief being the welcome respite, the tender moments are.
Yes, the rest of the show is comedy. At every turn, one or more of the sailors are getting into trouble and end up being chased by a beat cop throughout the show.
Jessica Taylor plays the engaged, well let's use the phrase 'overly amorous', Claire DeLoone with great abandon and her constant apologizing to her betrothed just gets silly by the end of the second act.
Dakota James as Ozzie plays right along with her and they make a really good comic duo. As delightful as it is to watch James and Taylor (there's a joke in there somewhere), McDougall and Cartwright are just hysterical.
Hildy is a slightly older woman and Chip is the youngest of the sailors. Truly, he looks like might have lied to the recruiter about his age so he could join the Navy. Thus turning this duo into slightly a cougar-type. Hildy's not quite that much older than Chip but she is definitely more mature. All she wants is for him to "Come Up to My Place" while he just wants to help Gabey find Ivy. Once she convinces him to join her for dinner, she also convinces him that he has made every reasonable effort to find Ivy Smith and the snogging begins but is quickly and repeatedly interrupted by Hildy's sick roommate, Lucy Schmeeler very well played by Jessica Peterson. Once she finally dispatches Lucy, Hildy tells Chip "I Can Cook, Too" with a song that is so filled with double entendre that it should be a gut splitter. But it's not. Too much of the innuendo is just sung through without enough side glance and wink-wink-nudge-nudge attitude that it is just lost. Too bad, in this reviewer's opinion, because that could and maybe should be the standout comedy song of the entire show.
Christian Teague as the judge has a booming baritone voice that overpowered the other actors and the small performance space of the black box. His voice could fill the Bass Hall, without a mic, and his repetitive song, "I Understand" just gets annoying in the second act. Not really his fault, because that is the way the show is written, but still.
The choreography by Karen Matheny is wonderfully on point and true to the 1940s Broadway style that this show comes from. She fills the stage with beautiful and exciting movement for "New York, New York" while portraying deep emotion in the ballets that tell the story as much if not more than any of the music. This is the main reason to see this show. It's a Jerome Robbins musical and that means a LOT of brilliant dancing. This cast takes her choreography and executes it flawlessly for two solid hours. The songs are great, the bits are funny but the dancing is what the show is about and I couldn't ask for a better time at the theatre.
Fri & Sat @ 8: PM and Sat & Sun @ 2: PM
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