On February 4th, 2015 I saw On the Town. Here is my review of the show!
On the Town: A Helluva Show
By Liz Lombardi
If you look at Broadway these days you’ll find a mix of jukebox hits, blockbusters based on books or movies, and the occasional original show. What you don’t see a lot of is a revival of a classic done in way to entice modern viewers. On the Town does just that.
The show is about how three navy officers (Gabey, Ozzie, and Chip) spend their 24-hour shore leave in New York City. Nothing goes as originally planned and their day turns into a quest to find the girl that Gabey has fallen in love with. Along the way the others find love, but you can be sure chaos ensues with every step.
First produced on Broadway back in 1944, the 1949 movie starring Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly popularized the show even though the song lists were dramatically different. This current revival is the third in 43 years, and has been the most successful revival to date.
What makes it so successful is how it incorporates the style of a classical musical with flashy props, larger than life sets, and colorful costumes to draw in a younger crowd.
The show itself has music and lyrics by Leonard Bernstein (West Side Story, Wonderful Town) and choreography by Joshua Bergasse (Smash, SYTYCD) that was based on the original Jerome Robbins (West Side Story, Gypsy) choreography. It is the movement that really moves the story along in this show.
What many young Broadway goers might not know is that many musicals of the past included ballets, usually of the dream sense, to help convey what a character is thinking in lieu of a lyrical song. They are beautiful to watch, all though if you don’t have at least somewhat of an appreciation for this style of theater you might find yourself wondering why you’re sitting there.
What On the Town did right was casting real ballet dancers in this show. Think people fresh from the American Ballet Theatre and the New York City Ballet. When the amazing choreography is executed by pros, it is very hard to loose interest in what is going on because of how amazing they are. It is nearly impossible to draw your eyes away from the clean lines and perfectly executed pirouettes.
One of the leading ladies, Megan Fairchild, is a principal with the NYCB and is the perfect fit for her character, Ivy. At five foot three she executes all of her dances with grace and ease, is just beautiful to watch, and can sing to boot! There is so much talent packed into a tiny little body.
The other two leading ladies are equally as talented in their own way. Elizabeth Stanley plays her character, Claire, in such a way that it leaves you guessing as to when she’ll switch back and forth between her prim and proper exterior and boy-crazy mind. Alysha Umprhess is a hilarious Hildy. Her voice is perfect for the role and for the time period of the show. She expertly portrays the heart that Hildy has hidden behind her forwardness. She is sure one to watch for in the future.
The three sailors are also wonderful to watch in their own ways. Tony Yazbeck’s voice is both powerful and emotional portraying lovesick Gabey. Jay Armstrong Johnson is hilarious as Chip, who just wants to see the sights of the city listed in his decades old guidebook. Clyde Alves does a great job of playing smooth Ozzie who wants to see as many women as he can in 24 hours.
This show is perfect for all ages and interests, and is great for stepping back in time to see what this great city was like 70 years ago. Head to the newly renovated Lyric Theatre to catch this show. You can even enter a ticket lottery on the app TodayTix and win $20 tickets. With all the money you saved on tickets, you can splurge on the gelato offered at the coolest concession stand on Broadway.
Photo Cred: Me