by Otto Coelho
“On The Town” is a time-tested chestnut of classic musical theatre that is, more often than not, a crowd pleaser, if a bit dated. With music by Leonard Bernstein, book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, and from an original idea by Jerome Robbins, it tells the story of three sailors on 24 hours of shore leave in New York City. It originally opened at the tail end of World War II, and the country was aching for laughter, love, and happy endings. While we are hopefully in the tail end of our battle with Covid, I think we are still looking for those things, and South Bay Musical Theatre makes a valiant attempt to deliver.
Although the opening number, “I Feel Like I’m Not Out Of Bed Yet” does not work as well as it might, things get going and the energy lifts when Gabey (Lysander Abadia), Ozzie (David J. Krautz) and Chip (Michael Saenz) practically fly down the gangplank for their 24 hours of liberty to deliver the classic song, “New York, New York.”
As the trio take off to discover New York, Catherine Traceski takes to the stage as cab driver Hildy Esterhazy, a ten million watt powerhouse. Energy and singing and acting talent fairly pour out of this young lady who steals the show with her presence and vocal power. She is the shining jewel of this production.
Francesca Cipponeri is also adequate as Ivy “Miss Turnstiles” Smith, and Marie Finch as Clare De Loon has a strong and lovely voice.
As Judge Pitkin W. Bridgework, Mark P. Robinson works himself up to an hilarious dither, and Natalie To and Jessica Elithorpe are also hilarious as the two gossips, Flossie and Glossie, who can never get quite finish a story.
Musical director Catherine Snider leads an excellent orchestra.
Alas, this production is hampered by a shallow stage, and many of the actors did not know how to adjust, often playing scenes in profile instead of opening out to the audience. The actors also had difficulty with the dance sequences which sometimes seemed more of a chore than a joy as they grunted their way towards whatever would follow.
On the whole, this “On The Town” is an uneven production with some hilarious highlights. It’s the kind of show that, going in, you’ll have to expect to put up with some parts that are “not so great” to enjoy some other parts that are terrific.
“On The Town” continues at the South Bay Musical Theatre through June 4th. For further information click here.
Rating: ** (For an explanation of TheatreStorm’s rating scale, click here.)
“On The Town.” Based on an idea of Jerome Robbins. Book & Lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green. Music by Leonard Bernstein. Produced by South Bay Musical Theatre. Director: Janie Scott. Musical & Vocal Director: Catherine Snider. Co-Choreographers: Zendrex Llado, Janie Scott. Set Designer: Heather Kenyon. Lighting Designer: Ben Hemmen. Costume Co-Designers: Patricia Bilello, Sarah Cloward. Hair and Makeup Designer: Christine Ormseth. Sound Designer: Dan Singletary
Gabey: Lysander Abadia. Ozzie: David J. Kautz. Chip: Michael Saenz. Ivy Smith: Francesca Cipponeri. Claire de Loone: Marie Finch. Hildy Esterhazy: Catherine Traceski. Judge Pitkin W. Bridgework: Mark P. Robinson. Madame Dilly, Diana Dream, Dolores Dolores: Kayvon Kordestani. Lucy Schmeeler: Rhona McFadyen. Flossie: Natalie To. Glossie: Jessica Ellithorpe. Workman Soloist: Kyle Arrouzet. Workman Quartet: Edward Im, David Mister, Jackson Paddock, David Truong. Waldo Figment, Turnstiles Poster: Tim Huang. Mr. S. Uperman: Ethan Glasman. Master of Ceremonies, Turnstiles Announcer: David Mister. “So Long, Baby” Soloist: Gabriela Crolla. Rajah Bimmy: Anthony Howard-Erevia. “Lonely Town” Pas de Deux: Jackson Paddock, Chloe Diepenbrock, Anthony Howard-Erevia, Jennifer Yuan. New Sailors: Jackson Paddock, Braden Taylor, David Truong.
Various other roles are played by: Kyle Arrouzet, Emery Ronan Bacon, Christine Baker, Peter Bullen, Gabriela Crolla, Chloe-Erevia, Glenn HowardDiepenbrock, Lindsey Duran, Jessica Ellithorpe, Ethan Glasman, Ruth Godbey, Megan Griffin, Anthony Howard-Erevia, Glenn Howard-Erevia, Tim Huang, Edward Im, Kayvon Kordestani, Kate Matheson, Rhona McFadyen, David Mister, Jackson Paddock, Braden Taylor, Natalie To, David Truong, and Jennifer Yuan.