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"On the Town", with Tony Yazbeck and Megan Fairchild, is Revived at the Lyric Theatre
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"On the Town", with Tony Yazbeck and Megan Fairchild, is Revived at the Lyric Theatre

- Backstage with the Playwrights


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Howard and Janet Kagan
et al.
and Barrington Stage Company
Present:

On the Town
www.onthetownbroadway.com
Music by Leonard Bernstein
Book and Lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green
Based on an Idea by Jerome Robbins

Starring:
Tony Yazbeck, Jay Armstrong Johnson, Clyde Alves,
Megan Fairchild, Alysha Umphress, Elizabeth Stanley,
Michael Rupert, Allison Guinn, Phillip Boykin,
Stephen DeRosa, Jackie Hoffman

And an ensemble of actors/singers/dancers

At the
Lyric Theatre
213 West 42nd Street
NY, NY
877.250.2929

Direction by John Rando
Choreography by Joshua Bergasse
Music Direction by James Moore

Scenic & Projection Design: Beowulf Boritt
Costume Design: Jess Goldstein
Lighting Design: Jason Lyons
Sound Design: Kai Harada
Hair Design: Leah Loukas
Makeup Design: Joe Dulude II
Assoc. Choreographer: Greg Graham
Production Stage Manager: Bonnie L. Becker
Additional Material: Robert Cary & Jonathan Tolins
Music Coordinator: John Miller
Casting Director: Duncan Stewart, CSA
Benton Whitley, CSA/Pat McCorkle CSA
Company Manager: Carol Oune
Marketing Manager: Carol Chiavetta
Advertising: SPOTCO
Press Representative: Matt Ross Public Relations
Assoc. Producer: Daniel Rakowski
Technical Supervisor: Juniper Street Productions
General Management: Foresight Theatrical


Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
October 21, 2014


What an astounding evening at the newly refurbished Lyric Theatre. When I last left this space (then called Foxwoods Theatre), Spiderman and its offstage drama were on my mind, but, tonight, when I left the Lyric, with its plush, redecorated and sparkling interior, I was wishing I could see this show all over again. As a ballet critic and aficionado, it was thrilling to see Jerome Robbins-based choreography redesigned by the young, talented Joshua Bergasse, who knows how to showcase a sailor’s night on the town and a ballerina’s poised fouettés. In fact, Megan Fairchild, this show’s Miss Turnstiles, Ivy, has been highly featured on these pages. Her chemistry with Tony Yazbeck, Gabey, was thick, as each silently and mutually yearned with comic and poignant expressiveness. James Moore, Music Director, kept the orchestra buoyant, with the iconic “New York, New York”, it’s a helluva town…, “Lucky To Be Me”, and “Ya Got Me”. This cast works as a true artistic ensemble, with each character wildly entertaining. A high point, Jackie Hoffman, plys an old lady in the street chasing policemen, turning cartwheels, and a boozy, jealous voice coach at Carnegie Hall studios. It’s 1944, and the town is jumping.

Three sailors have twenty-four hours in New York, and Ozzie (Clyde Alves) and Chip (Jay Armstrong Johnson) decide to help Gabey find some love, when they see the poster of Miss Turnstiles in the subway. Each takes a different route, using old maps and touristy logic. Gabey does find his gal, but their date takes numerous twists, including an enchanting, balletic dream sequence, giving Ms. Fairchild her bravura spotlight. The audience was mesmerized and vocally enamored of Ms. Fairchild’s inherent talent and ingénue persona. You could tell everyone was rooting for Gabey and Ivy to have that one big kiss. Chip finds a red hot, lady cab driver, Hildy (Alysha Humphress), who sings a roaring, “Come Up To My Place”, as she races her cab all over town. Beowulf Boritt designed scenery and projections that bring the audience into the dizzying, winding ride. His brilliant yellow piano and giant, Natural History moving dinosaur are also outstanding, as are the adorable taxi, Hildy’s cute apartment, and its side-by-side sleeker pad of Ozzie’s New York gal, Claire de Loon (Elizabeth Stanley). Claire morphs from bespectacled anthropology researcher to Ozzie’s explosive lover, with Ms. Stanley and Ms. Umphress bathing in their own audience accolades. But, it’s the three sailors, in their catapulting cartwheels, high jumps, vivacious vocals, and engaging personalities that, time and again, with and without ensemble backup, charge the scenes.

Other notable characters, a workman (Philip Boykin), the first to be seen, as he awakes early, singing in rich bass-baritone vocals, Pitkin (Michael Rupert), Claire’s wealthy and vulnerable fiancé, Lucy Schmeeler, Hildy’s sneezing roommate (Allison Guinn), and a variety of roles, like Diamond Eddie’s Master of Ceremonies (Stephen DeRosa), are all performed in finely tuned rhythm. In fact, each scene unfolds with subliminal and tonal rhythms, building momentum toward the big numbers. “Times Square Ballet”, the Act I finale, brought the house down. John Rando has a hit, as this show should run for years. Children and adults were laughing loudly at each comic caper, oohing and aahing, and it wasn’t even a matinee. Leonard Bernstein’s music, with Betty Comden and Adolph Green’s book and lyrics, are the strength of this show’s success. But, Mr. Rando’s tight timing and Joshua Bergasse’s luscious, dynamic choreography give this production energy and edge. Jess Goldstein’s bright, red-blue, cabbie outfit for Ms. Umphress and scintillating dresses for Ms. Fairchild add camp here and elegance there. Broadway meets ballet, the wonderful legacy of Bernstein and Robbins. In fact, it was the earlier, 1944 ballet, Fancy Free, the one-act, Robbins-Bernstein collaboration, that was the catalyst for their full-length, On the Town. Jason Lyons’ lighting and Kai Harada’s sound both enhance warmth and resonance. Leah Loukas’ hair design and Joe Dulude II’s makeup design are also noteworthy to the rapid pace and individual personas of the quickly changing ensemble. Kudos to all.



The cast of Broadway's "ON THE TOWN"
Courtesy of Joan Marcus




Tony Yazbeck, Megan Fairchild, and
the cast of Broadway's "ON THE TOWN"
Courtesy of Joan Marcus




Jay Armstrong Johnson and Alysha Umphress
in Broadway's "ON THE TOWN"
Courtesy of Joan Marcus




Clyde Alves and Elizabeth Stanley
in Broadway's "ON THE TOWN"
Courtesy of Joan Marcus


For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net