Tuesday, May 14, 2013

QUICK TAKE REVIEW New York State of Mind By Beverly Creasey

ON THE TOWN (at Lyric Stage through June 8th) is essentially the familiar MGM movie musical which showcased stars Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra as sailors out to conquer New York City in just twenty four hours. (MGM smartly financed the Broadway musical in return for the movie rights. Both the show and the film were hits—and their creators, Leonard Bernstein, Jerome Robbins and the songwriters, Comden and Green became Broadway royalty.)

It’s an impossible task to duplicate the exuberance of the movie but the Lyric Stage production has its moments, namely when the women in the story are on the hunt. Back in the ‘40s and ‘50s, ladies (so they say) would swoon over “a man in uniform.” These women not only swoon, they swoop in on their targets with military precision. Poor Phil Tayler (in the Sinatra role) doesn’t stand a chance when Michele A. DeLuca (as the cab driving dynamo) wages a no holds barred romantic assault. She’s a force of nature. She’s delightful and she “Can Cook Too!”

Aimee Doherty, as well, gets “Carried Away” with Zachary Eisenstat in her sights. Director Spiro Veloudos knows how to stage a romp so when the third sailor (John Ambrosino) decides to track down the gorgeous girl (Lauren Gemelli) on a subway poster, they all join in on the naval exercise. Along the way they meet Sara deLima, who specializes in “dilly” roles (and this one has the name on it!) and J.T. Turner as Doherty’s extremely (but not always) patient fiancĂ©. Ilyse Robbins does double duty as DeLuca’s dowdy roommate and as choreographer (not an easy task on a stage as small as Lyric’s).

Jonathan Goldberg’s orchestra swings and Seaghan McKay’s New York projections do the trick to get us in a ‘40s mood but it’s the subway sounds and moving train “lights” (Scott Clyve, lighting designer) which impressed me the most. A simple rapid passage of rectangular blocks of light and you’re instantly transported to the “hole in the ground.” I never tire of theatrical magic.