Brian Runbeck, Christopher Sutton, Lyn Philistine,
and Tom Gamblin in Golf: The Musical
(© Gerry Goodstein)
Brian Runbeck, Christopher Sutton, Lyn Philistine,
and Tom Gamblin in Golf: The Musical
(© Gerry Goodstein)
The opening number in Golf: The Musical, at the Midtown Theatre, questions why there is, in fact, a musical about golf. After all, the song concedes, even chess is a faster game. As it turns out, not only are the many reasons numerically -- and amusingly -- enumerated, but this cleverly written gambit sets the probable amiable tone for the revue that follows.

This revival of Michael Roberts' show features a considerable amount of new material, including a Tiger Woods number, but it's an essentially timeless piece that comfortably tackles golf widows, golf addicts, golf lessons, et al., and drops the names of famous old-time golfers like Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Fuzzy Zoeller with abandon.

In fact, the show builds its centerpiece out of the banter of two of the most famous golfers of all, actors Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, heartwarmingly played by Tom Gamblin and Brian Runbeck. In another segment, the talented Gamblin sings a seemingly sincere ballad about golf that takes a sweetly funny turn late in the performance.

Speaking of the cast, it is naturally a foursome, and the other two actors in the show bring their own colors to the production. Christopher Sutton has a sly delivery and gets the most out of a segment in which he is a "Golf Detective," along the lines of Sam Spade. It's a funny piece made all the better by his dry delivery. Lyn Philistine, the only woman in the cast, is often directed to go over the top, but she is game and has a great voice. The cast is often at its best in group numbers, such as a wonderfully funny and beautifully sung trio that uses all of the men in a number about playing golf in the summer in Florida.

The only jarring moments in the production are the occasional off-color jokes. A couple of them are truly tasteless and seem out of joint with the tone and tenor of the show. Still, more often than not, Christopher Scott directs the show with a broad sense of humor, which works to keep this musical comedy revue appropriately bright and light.