Julianne Boyd's minimalist and somewhat miscast staging of the classic Rodgers & Hammerstein musical simply doesn't do the work justice.
Moreover, even in this era of John Doylesque cost-cutting, the orchestration for just two pianos -- plus for a brief, engaging moment, a fiddler (Edmund Bagnell) to enliven a homespun hoedown -- simply can't do justice to the richness of the score. And Robert Mark Morgan's over-literal set -- a pier with some pilings, a jib, suggestions of weather-shingled cottages -- augurs some of the limitations in store for audiences.
Nor are the leading players ideal. At first, Patricia Noonan conveys all the dewy innocence one could ask of a young Julie Jordan, as she's tempered with just enough self-assertiveness. But later in the play, a kind of shrill hysteria takes over. Moreover, her rapport with carnival barker Billy Bigelow (Aaron Ramey, who summons more churlishness than charm) never fully convinces. As Julie's Aunt Nettie, one needs an earthier, more-robust sounding actress than Broadway veteran Teri Ralston.
The supporting cast fares far better. As the ambitious fisherman Mr. Snow, Todd Buonopane has vocal chops and stage presence to beat the band, even if a career counselor would probably advise showbiz over cod. He's well-matched by Sara Jean Ford as Carrie Pipperidge, the future Mrs. Snow, who makes the most of every comic opportunity, whether singing splendidly or reporting for best-friend duty. Other standouts include Leslie Becker as the louche carnival proprietress Mrs. Mullin and Christopher Innvar (silver-toothed to camouflage his leading man looks) as the criminally inclined Jigger Craigin. In fact, their set-tos have the most genuine feel of any encounter in the play.