“On the Town” Broadway Revival
A Sensational Show!
“On the Town” Broadway revival is one of the most wonderful musicals I have seen in years. It is a flat-out winner! Every aspect of the production works together seamlessly to create an evening of sheer entertainment for the enthralled audience.
Any lover of classic movie musicals will remember that “On the Town” was the third of three collaborations between Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra. Many of the audience members with whom I chatted when we saw the “On the Town” Broadway revival in its last night of previews had been attracted to the show because of their familiarity with the MGM classic film. As great as the movie was, it doesn’t prepare you for the explosive, emotive dancing and fast-paced comedy of the live theater production.
“On the Town” Broadway – Some Major Surprises
Fans of the movie were greatly surprised to find some of the films iconic tunes, including “On the Town,” missing from the Broadway revival. This is because several of the most famous songs from the MGM musical did not appear in the original Broadway production. They were written for the film. The plot remains very much the same. Three World War II sailors reach New York on leave for 24 hours, meet wonderful girls, engage in a lot of high-spirited hi-jinks, and eventually find themselves back on the ship. On the Town Broadway revival offers several fun subplots that allow the marvelous supporting caste to shine, a feature missing from the film.
Best Cast You Never Heard Of
Since the film was such a great star vehicle for Sinatra, Kelly, Vera-Ellyn and Ann Miller, many assumed the Broadway revival would be populated by big stars. The announcement of the cast was a surprise – no one was a recognizable Broadway star with the name guaranteed to create early buzz. The producers had great faith in both the source material and the talent of the largely unknown cast. They were right on both counts. The performances by all of the leads are tremendous and the original score by Comden and Green is just wonderful.
Special mention of three of the stars must be made. Megan Fairchild was a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet.
She’d never been on Broadway before. By bringing ballet to a musical theater production, she creates a special aura that is thrilling every time sweet Ivy Smith is on stage. Her dancing is simply on a different plane than almost anything you’ve ever seen on a Broadway stage. Though physically tiny, her combination of muscle, grace, and beauty is overpowering in its effect on the audience. She dances like an angel and looks like the girl next door who became a pin-up girl during World War II. Tony Yazbeck, in the Gene Kelly role, manages to project masculinity and ease even when dancing ballet with the amazing Ms. Fairchild. His movie star looks and evident charm lead me to believe that this is just the first of many starring roles for him.
Alysha Umphress, as man-crazy taxi driver Hildy, steals every scene she’s in, bringing down the house
with her phenomenal voice and comic timing. In one very poignant number, she transforms herself into a blues chanteuse that you will never forget. I predict a Tony award nomination in store for her! (Editor’s note: I was SHOCKED she was not nominated. Ask anyone who saw the show and I’d bet they’ll say the same.)
“On The Town” Broadway – Leaves The Audience Smiling
One of the great delights in the “On The Town” Broadway revival is just how funny it is. Like the revival of “You Can’t Take It with You,” the audience begins smiling during the first scene and the smiles continue well into the night after the final curtain. How does it compare with the new production of “An American in Paris,” also based on a Gene Kelly musical featuring ballet? “On The Town” is faster and funnier; a more traditional crowd-pleaser. Both are wonderful, though very different in tone. For a laugh and a surefire lift to your spirits, “On The Town” is a sure bet. Like “Something Rotten,” it knows where the laughs are and doesn’t fail to deliver them. Add to that glorious dancing and a wonderful score and you realize why audiences and critics have been raving about “On The Town”!