Tag Archives: Andrea Martin

On The Town (Broadway) – Review

On The Town

A town’s a lonely town, when you pass through and there is no one waiting there for you, then it’s a lonely town.

A surefire (at least temporary) cure for that loneliness is to head over to the Lyric Theatre for the most recent (nearly perfect) revival of On The Town. Leonard Bernstein’s moving and joyful score (conducted by John Miller) and Jerome Robbins’ inspired dance would be enough to lift one’s spirit and believe that New York is in fact a helluva town. But the execution of Betty Comden and Adolph Green’s Book & Lyrics are what make this production soar. Much attention is paid to the dance and that’s the way it should be. On The Town is first and foremost a dance show (originating from by Mr. Robbins’ ballet, Fancy Free.)

Director John Rando understands and allows the dance and general movement to tell much of the story. He choreographs additional movement having the actors move through the house several times (to varying effect.) This device works best during Lonely Town as Ensemble members sing plaintively to the house. This might not work with every cast but this Ensemble is flawless and inspiring. There seems to be nothing they can’t do. Much of the principals are equally up to the task. Tony Yazbeck is a poignant Gabey, and I wished for more stage time for him. His sailor brothers, Jay Armstrong Johnson (Chip) and Clyde Alves (Ozzie) are no less wonderful but saddled with much more distraction than Gabey. The purest moments happen when Gabey is on stage.

That purity (otherwise known as relying on the brilliance of the material) is widely in place. The orchestra (Yes, and actual in-house orchestra!) is stupendous and spot on. The sets are clean (Beowulf Boritt) yet evocative and only add to the experience. Much of the casting generates the same effect. Megan Fairchild (Ivy) is a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet and makes her acting debut  with On The Town. She holds her own up there and is a brilliant dancer. It’s never quite clear what the attraction is between she and Gabey however. Alysha Umphress is a very entertaining Hildy, and while my heart still belongs to Leslie Kritzer (in the NY City Center Encores! 2008 production) Ms. Umphress was very good. Elizabeth Stanley plays Claire, who is obsessed with the primitive man, or any man for that matter. She has a lot of personality but might not be best suited to the role. Not a dancer and by nature a booming singer, her performance was a bit too burlesque for that of Claire (originated by Betty Comden.) The characterization made for very little difference between Hildy and Claire. Mention must be made of Philip Boykin who opened the show with I Feel Like I’m Not Out of Bed Yet. He enlivened and deepened every character he played and was an absolute joy to behold. The audience’s favorite however was Jackie Hoffman. Playing the Little Old Lady, Maude P. Dilly and others; she is on stage an awful lot. This role was played by Andrea Martin in the 2008 Encores! production. Ms. Martin was funny and lovely and pitch perfect. I longed for her. Ms. Hoffman’s portrayal (of everyone) was cartoonish and the audience loved it. But nothing, not even the thickest slice of ham can spoil this New York specialty. Yes the costumes (Jess Goldstein) were more suited to the Guys & Dolls gangsters and gals. The addition of overt sexuality and discomforting homosexual stereotypes was distracting and in very bad taste. And yes it was a bit odd to have the show stopped to sing Happy Birthday to & discuss the career aspirations of (presumably) a child of one of the (THIRTY) producers. But the truth of the matter is that three hours flew by and there was never a dull moment. And sitting with all those wonderful people in the dark, soaking in one of the great American Musical was the panacea for a lonely town.


Posted by on October 14, 2014 in Uncategorized


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Exit The King – Review

I went to see Exit The King this weekend, with just a tad of reservation.  Well, more “dark foreboding” than a “tad of reservation.”  I was almost certain that Eugene Ionesco and I would never understand each other.  I discovered that I was right, and also that I don’t need to understand someone to enjoy them.  Take the French for example.

I found myself completely absorbed for two and a half hours.  This 1963 revival was directed by Neil Armfield (hailing from Australia) and performed at the stunning Ethel Barrymore Theatre.  The small cast is headed by Geoffrey Rush, Lauren Ambrose, Andrea Martin and Susan Sarandon.  The strong, often absurd characters work in perfect concert with each other and the set design.  It is a credit to Mr. Armfield that the small cast, top heavy with powerhouses, works as a synchronized ensemble.
The storyline and references of Exit The King are shockingly modern.  Yes, 1963 was not that long ago, but the political references are so current, as to be somewhat depressing.  What have we been doing for the last 45 years?  It’s probably more a testament to Ionesco than a critique of our current culture, which makes this play feel so modern.

The king and the natural resources are all dying, but Andrea Martin will make us all forget it.  She is a gem, and I am delighted that she has been on the New York stage at least three times in the past year (On The Town, Young Frankenstein.)  Lauren Ambrose (Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet) is ethereal and stunning and will rule the Broadway stage at some point.  Geoffrey Rush is incredibly physical throughout this play.  He is a dynamo and very very funny.  The doctor (William Sadler) and the guard (Brian Hutchinson) were both quite good, although I must confess to picturing Tim Conway in the guard.  Mr. Hutchinson’s mannerisms were either lifted from the “Old Man” character, or I just watched far too much television as a child.  Ms. Sarandon spent most of the play in profile, and seated as I was in the fourth row, I was mesmerized by her two tone make-up (neck brown, and face white to give definition to the jaw line.)  I was also quite taken with her (very large) tattoos and thumb ring.  I’m guessing Mr. Armfield lost that round.  Her performance was not terribly interesting.  The body accouterments plus the Playbill biography (omitting all acting credits, and simply citing “motherhood and activism” as her accomplishments) scream “star.”  I much prefer watching an actress than a star.

My only hesitation in recommending this production is that I had incredible seats.  I’m not sure if I would have enjoyed it as much in the balcony.  Seated front and center, I truly felt swept up.

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Posted by on August 19, 2011 in Uncategorized


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