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On The Town


On The Town


This fall, one of America’s greatest musical comedies is docking at Broadway’s beautifully restored Lyric Theatre in the heart of Times Square! With the biggest orchestra on Broadway and a 30-member cast of New York’s most talented singers and dancers, On the Town tells the story of three wide-eyed sailors on a whirlwind musical tour of the city that never sleeps. With just 24 hours of shore leave, they’re eager to experience all that New York City has to offer… including a chance to discover love with the girl of their dreams.

Press / Reviews

Misty Copeland to Star in On the Townon
SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE Winner to Join Cast of Broadway's ON THE TOWN~article from
The new Broadway revival of On The Town will welcome “SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE” winner and “America’s Favorite Dancer” Ricky Ubeda to the…

The new Broadway revival of On The Town will welcome “SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE” winner and “America’s Favorite Dancer” Ricky Ubeda to the cast beginning February 27, 2015 for a limited engagement through April 26, 2015. Ubeda received the opportunity to join the cast as part of his prize for winning SYTYCD in September 2014. Directed by John Rando (Tony Award for Urinetown) and choreographed by Joshua Bergasse (Emmy Award winner for “Smash”) On The Town began previews on Saturday, September 20, 2014 and officially opened on Thursday, October 16, 2014 at Broadway’s Lyric Theatre (213 W 42nd St, New York, NY 10036). Tickets for the new Broadway revival of ON THE TOWN are available at Read more…

‘On the Town’ Comes Home at Last Review From The Wall Street Journal
Oct 16, 2014 When did you last see a big-budget musical that made you want to shout with joy? If you’ve been feeling anxious about…

Oct 16, 2014

When did you last see a big-budget musical that made you want to shout with joy? If you’ve been feeling anxious about the lukewarm state of American musical comedy, get ready to get hot again: The new Broadway revival of “On the Town” is everything a great show should be.

“On the Town,” in which Leonard Bernstein, Betty Comden, Adolph Green and Jerome Robbins tell the tale of three wide-eyed sailors with just 24 hours to see New York for the first time, came to Broadway in 1944 and instantaneously made stars out of its prodigious creators (their average age on opening night was 27). But MGM botched the 1949 film version by scrapping most of Bernstein’s brash, bittersweet music, and “On the Town,” in part for that reason, has never had a commercially successful Broadway revival. As a result, it isn’t nearly as well known as the other major musicals of the ’40s and ’50s, meaning that Massachusetts’ Barrington Stage Company has taken a huge risk by transferring its 2013 revival to New York. Will it buck the odds and become a hit? I’m no producer, but anyone who isn’t thrilled by this tinglingly well-staged production needs a heart transplant.

Of all the important shows from the golden age of American musical comedy, “On the Town” most successfully blended frivolous ends with sophisticated means. Bernstein himself said that “the subject matter was light, but the show was serious,” and for all the screwball silliness of its cotton-candy plot, no one who saw “On the Town” could possibly ignore the dark shadow that World War II cast across the stage: Gabey, Chip and Ozzie (Tony Yazbeck, Jay Armstrong Johnson and Clyde Alves) have only one day in which to find their true loves (Megan Fairchild, Alysha Umphress and Elizabeth Stanley) before they must sail off to war, and very possibly to their deaths. While we tend to think of Comden and Green as consummate light comedians, they were also up to the challenge of writing the heart-piercing lyrics for “Some Other Time,” in which the sailors and their girls remind one another of what each knows all too well: “When you’re in love / Time is precious stuff— / Even a lifetime isn’t enough.”

“On the Town,” in short, is far more than a piece of fancy fluff, and while John Rando, the director, is a recognized master of comic timing who could make a funeral funny, he never skimps on warmth. Neither does his cast, an appealing mixture of largely new and newish faces. Particularly noteworthy are Mr. Yazbeck, a graceful dancer who shows off his gleaming tenor voice in “Lonely Town” and “Lucky to Be Me,” and Ms. Umphress, who nails the plum part of Hildy, the lustful lady hackie who longs to boost Mr. Johnson out of her cab and into the sack. The biggest surprise, though, is Ms. Fairchild, a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet who has never before played a speaking role. Who knew that she could act and sing so charmingly?

“On the Town,” like “West Side Story,” is a dance-driven show that cannot be properly staged without first-class choreography. Would that Robbins’s own dances had survived other than in fragments, but Joshua Bergasse’s brand-new choreography is so exuberant and imaginative that even dance buffs won’t stop to think twice about what might have been: Each step pulses with passionate life. Bernstein’s rhythmically challenging score is tossed off with highflying glee by the 28-piece pit band, conducted by James Moore. (Yes, those are the original 1944 orchestrations in all their unretouched glory, and boy, do they ever swing!) As for the chorus, every member flies across the stage with an electric authority that will send you spiraling into an orbit of delight the moment Mr. Moore gives the first downbeat.

Beowulf Boritt, who had a lot more money to play with on Broadway than in Massachusetts, has designed a shiny skyline set that’s even more spectacular than the one at Barrington Stage last year. It brings to entrancing life the half-imagined city of neon dreams that is the New York of “On the Town.” As for Jess Goldstein’s period costumes, they’re riotously colorful and wholly authentic-looking.

You will note the total absence of grudging qualifications. That’s because I haven’t any: This show is that good. To be sure, “On the Town” is one of the Broadway musicals that I love best, and I’ve been hoping to see a strong New York revival ever since New Jersey’s Paper Mill Playhouse gave it the deluxe treatment in 2009. That production could have worked on Broadway, too, but Barrington Stage’s version was equally fine, and now that it’s here, I urge you to see it as soon as you possibly can.

With Broadway increasingly dominated by rubber-stamp commodity musicals, less familiar shows are a tough box-office sell, but “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” managed to ring the gong through sheer excellence last season. If there’s any justice at all, so will “On the Town.”

Broadway's new 'On the Town' a helluva revival Article From USA TODAY
Oct 16, 2014 The first character we meet in the gorgeous new Broadway revival of On the Town ( three out of four stars) is an…

Oct 16, 2014

The first character we meet in the gorgeous new Broadway revival of On the Town ( three out of four stars) is an unnamed workman in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, played by the mighty-voiced Phillip Boykin. Boykin appears in the aisles, as other performers will, leading the audience in The Star-Spangled Banner, then seguing into a vigorous but plaintive reading of the opening song, I Feel Like I’m Not Out of Bed Yet.

It’s a hint that this Town, which opened Thursday at the Lyric Theatre, may not prove as shiny a romp as the 1949 film adaptation, which featured star turns by Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra but ditched some of the more moving, sensual music that Leonard Bernstein had composed for the musical.

Instead, director John Rando, choreographer Joshua Bergasse and music director James Moore have mined the show — based on original choreographer Jerome Robbins’ Bernstein-scored ballet Fancy Free, with a book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green — for all its raw poignance, without sacrificing any of its jazzy wit or exuberant romanticism.

The result is a portrait of Town ‘s primary subjects, New York City and young love, that will leave you both exhilarated and haunted. Sailors Gabey, Ozzie and Chip kick off their 24-hour leave as giddily as ever, resolving to find “Miss Turnstiles,” the young woman whose face — plastered on a subway poster — instantly captures Gabey’s heart.

Gabey manages to locate the girl, named Ivy, but not before Chip and Ozzie land their own prospects: Hildy, a feisty, recently unemployed cab driver, and Claire, an aspiring anthropologist whose air of snobbish cool conceals — barely — a wild side.

The superb cast has great fun with the adventures in courtship. Alysha Umphress’ brassy-adorable Hildy gives Jay Armstrong Johnson’s charmingly goofy Chip an acrobatic workout in a bumpy ride through Manhattan, then secures her catch strutting through the witty double entendre of I Can Cook Too.

A more elaborate production number finds New York City Ballet principal Megan Fairchild, making a delightful Broadway debut as Ivy, and character actress/comedian Jackie Hoffman — hilarious as Ivy’s conniving singing teacher, and other assorted eccentrics — twirling together like mad schoolgirls.

Bergasse’s routines, even at their most irresistibly dizzy, reflect Robbins’ emphasis on storytelling and expression of character. This is especially crucial in the ballet sequences, showcases for Fairchild — and the hyper-talented Tony Yazbeck, who plays Gabey — that grow darker and more emotionally rich as the production spins toward its surprisingly unsettling, riveting climax and bittersweet conclusion.

Beowulf Boritt’s playful, imaginative scenic and projection design and Jason Lyons’ vivid lighting deserve mention as well. The New York they create is mythical and old-fashioned but, like the flawed, yearning characters who sometimes wander among us, strangely familiar and accessible.

Great musical theater doesn’t require total escapism, after all, any more than unconditional happy endings.

Carried Away by the Sights! Lights! Nights! Review From The New York Times
Oct 16, 2014 And now, a show about sex that you can take the whole family to: the kids, the grandparents, even your sister the…

Oct 16, 2014

And now, a show about sex that you can take the whole family to: the kids, the grandparents, even your sister the nun. That idea may sound kind of creepy, or (worse) dreary. But I assure you that the jubilant revival of “On the Town,” which opened Thursday night at the Lyric Theater, is anything but.

On the contrary, this merry mating dance of a musical feels as fresh as first sunlight as it considers the urgent quest of three sailors to find girls and get, uh, lucky before their 24-hour shore leave is over. If there’s a leer hovering over “On the Town,” a seemingly limp 1944 artifact coaxed into pulsing new life by the director John Rando and the choreographer Joshua Bergasse, it’s the leer of an angel.

The best-known song from this show — which has music by Leonard Bernstein, with book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green — describes its setting as “a helluva town.” But the town in question — “New York, New York,” if you didn’t know — feels closer to heaven here.

Designed in a spectrum of jelly-bean hues that makes vintage Technicolor look pallid, this is a parallel-universe New York in which hectic urban life acquires the pace and grace of a storybook ballet. It’s a bustling, jostling cartoon that also floats like a swan. And it feels right that the show’s central object of desire, a subway beauty queen pursued by our leading sailor (the wonderful Tony Yazbeck), is portrayed by a principal dancer from the New York City Ballet, Megan Fairchild.

New York — I mean the real New York, both back in the day and today — is also a world capital of reinvention, where what was once regarded as terminally passé can surface anew as the hottest, latest thing. “On the Town” has long been looked upon with the amused but distant fondness reserved for fading picture postcards.

Sure, it felt irresistibly young and sassy when it opened during the entertainment-hungry World War II years, with its talented team of newcomers. In addition to Comden, Green and Bernstein, there was the rising choreographer Jerome Robbins, and they were all still in their 20s when they put the show together. Few things age faster, though, than the blatantly youthful. (Try watching a Taylor Swift video in a decade or so.) And the two Broadway revivals before now, in 1971 and 1998, had short and impoverished lives. Even the fondly remembered 1949 movie version, which starred Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra, now looks winceably antiseptic.

But Mr. Rando, whose Broadway career includes “Urinetown” (yay) and “The Wedding Singer” (meh), has a loving affinity for this material that dispels the scent of mothballs. He has directed “On the Town” twice before — an Encores! concert version at City Center in 2008 and, in 2013, for the Barrington Stage Company, in Pittsfield, Mass.

I caught the Barrington production and admired how it restored the libido to “On the Town.” It was one of the highlights of my summer, a perfect warm-weather diversion in a small, bucolic theater. But the news that it would be coming to Broadway — and to the cavernous Lyric Theater, once home to a singing Spider-Man — gave me pause. Frothy charm can go flabby when it gains weight.

Yet Mr. Rando’s “On the Town” has grown up quite nicely, thank you, with much of its original cast not only intact but also improved. Every element has been heightened in just the right way, a delicate achievement when you consider the heightening that’s aspired to.

For “On the Town” traffics in two kinds of exaggerations, that of the earthy, even dirty cartoon and of the gossamer romance of poets. This reflects the bicultural nature of Robbins and Bernstein, who belonged equally to Broadway and the concert hall.

Some of its numbers, in which comic archetypes cozy up or collide, could be placed directly into the cel of an animated Looney Tunes short. Others could slide seamlessly onto the stage of the Paris Opera.

This “On the Town” makes you forget that such contrasting sensibilities could ever be considered irreconcilable, at least in the world of musical comedy. Beowulf Boritt’s simple sliding sets, Jess Goldstein’s costumes and Jason Lyons’s lighting evoke the city as a super candy store in which all manner of sweets are on offer. What’s surprising is how fluent the entire cast is in both the high and low languages they are required to speak.

Start with Mr. Yazbeck as Gabey, the most unworldly of the three shipmates who invade New York. He’s a greener-than-alfalfa farm boy, so clumsy that he can’t say hello to a stranger without muffing it.

But when he looks inward, to his lovelorn heart, he becomes a supremely eloquent dancer, a fusion of Astaire’s elegance and Kelly’s bounce. And he has a yearning voice to match, plied to swoony effect in ballads like the great “Lonely Town.”

The way Gabey dances is an idealized but very specific version of his character’s wants and needs. And so it is for his chums, Chip (Jay Armstrong Johnson), the nerdy one, and Ozzie (Clyde Alves), the macho one. In pas de trois, they all dance the same steps, yet their approaches feel as individual as fingerprints.

Throughout the show, which includes the dreamiest dream ballets I’ve seen in years, Mr. Bergasse (best known for the television show “Smash”) maintains this rare feeling of idiosyncrasy in harmony. Similarly, he’s captured the Robbins spirit, but stamped it with his own vivid signature.

Women found themselves newly in charge of the home front during World War II, so it feels appropriate that the soul mates of Chip and Ozzie should be such exuberantly take-charge gals. As Hildy, the forthright taxi driver who hijacks Chip to her place, Alysha Umphress is a red-hot mama who sings double entendres with a prurience-proof, bebop gusto.

A paradigm of refined comic exaggeration, Elizabeth Stanley is Claire de Loon, the anthropologist who finds her perfect primitive man in Ozzie. Her singing voice, which slides between operatic trills and lowdown purrs, is a breezy shorthand for the show’s double edge.

As for Ms. Fairchild, whom Gabey falls for when he sees her picture as this month’s Miss Turnstiles, she looks and talks like the sugar-sweet girl next door that all-American servicemen once dreamed of. When she dances, though, she’s a goddess, that girl as she appears in their dreams.

As for Ms. Fairchild, whom Gabey falls for when he sees her picture as this month’s Miss Turnstiles, she looks and talks like the sugar-sweet girl next door that all-American servicemen once dreamed of. When she dances, though, she’s a goddess, that girl as she appears in their dreams.

The large supporting cast embraces both virtuoso comic shtick artists — including that cutup par excellence Jackie Hoffman, along with Stephen DeRosa, Michael Rupert, Phillip Boykin and Allison Guinn — and a corps de ballet that seems to be dancing on air, even in dirty old Times Square. If the show could still use some tightening, especially of its slapstick riffs, I never checked my watch.

That’s partly because there’s always that music — ah, that music. Under the direction of James Moore, Bernstein’s score belongs equally to heaven and earth. It is by turns jazzy (“I Can Cook, Too”), parodistic (“Carried Away”) and jaunty (“Lucky to Be Me”). And then, with an uplift that takes your breath away, it flies up into an empyrean where sexual itches are transformed into great romantic love and a concrete-hard city feels as soft as a bed of clouds.