Marriott's 'On the Town' celebrates life in the Big Apple
Anyone longing for New York City of yesteryear, as showcased by song, dance and comedy on stage as a musical classic, you need go no further than Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire for "On the Town," playing until Oct. 12.
It's a stage story not so often produced, which includes the song favorite "New York, New York," as part of the score by Leonard Bernstein with book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green.
First on Broadway in 1944, it starred Comden and Green in lead roles, along with Nancy Walker, John Battles, Cris Alexander and Sono Osato in this hilarious and entertaining story of three American sailors on a whirlwind 24-hour leave in New York City. The 1949 MGM film version starred Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Ann Miller, Betty Garrett, Jules Munshin, Vera-Ellen and Bea Benaderet.
This wonderful new Marriott production is directed by 11 time Jeff Award winner David H. Bell with dazzling choreography by Alex Sanchez and music direction by Ryan T. Nelson.
For this two-hour, one intermission telling of the 1944 story, sailors Gabey, played by Max Clayton, Ozzie, the head-turning talented Jeff Smith, and Chip, funny and vocal force Seth Danner, come face-to-face with the dames of their dreams. While Clayton is the romantic lead, acrobatic Smith and bespectacled Danner wage a talent tug-of-war in every scene with their natural sense of comfortable stage personalities, which certainly propels this story.
The women leads also give the gents plenty to compete with. Johanna McKenzie Miller, as Claire, has gifted comedic timing, only matched by the zany wit and dizzy glances from Marya Grandy, as taxi driving Hildy (the Nancy Walker role from the Broadway original run). Alison Jantzie is graceful and vocally equipped as the lady lead Ivy.
It's so rare on today's stages to find solid female comedic talent and character actors and actresses whose abilities to bemuse demand to be noticed. In this show, not only do we get Grandy at her best, but also the bonus of Brandi Wooten, who is pure joy to watch as Lucy, Hildy's sneezing, drip of roommate, nailing her every scene with fantastically funny nuances. Her comedy counterparts are Alex Goodrich as a stuffy, put-upon fiance and Barbara Robertson as a boozy vocal coach.
Just to hear the songs "New York, New York," "I Can Cook Too," and "Ya Got Me" paired with such fantastic choreography (in such a small theater-in-the-round space) makes this musical a must-see.
The costume design by Nancy Missimi fit the era and there's some fun properties design by Sally Weiss, along with fine scene setting sounds by Robert E. Gilmartin.