On the Town
Encores! presents a polished staging of the just-about-perfect 1944 musical.
Rando and Carlyle -- reproducing the Robbins choreography for some numbers and on his fancy-free own for others -- have done no wrong. Nor has the cast assembled faltered while having great pleasure reproducing the innocent and hopeful attitude of a period when the country was fighting a supposed good war.
The show concerns Gabey (Tony Yazbeck), Chip (Justin Bohon), and Ozzie (Christian Borle) on a 24-hour shore leave during which they find love with, respectively, Ivy Smith (Jessica Lee Goldyn), Hildy Esterhazy (Leslie Kritzer), and Claire de Loone (Jennifer Laura Thompson). There isn't much more story than this, but there is hilarious compensation by eccentric characters like boozehound dance teacher Madame Maude P. Dilly (Andrea Martin), understanding upper-class fiancé: Judge Pitkin W. Bridgework (Michael Cumpsty), sneeze-a-minute Lucy Shmeeler (Julyana Soelistyo), and a parade of awful night-club singers (Rachel Coloff, repeatedly funny).
Let's give huzzahs for Yazbeck's multi-talented Gabey, the energetic good cheer of Borle and Bohon, Kritzer's brass-section Hildy, Goldyn's sweet and talented Ivy, Thompson's melted socialite Claire, Cumpsty's good-hearted commitment to Bridgework, Soelistyo's mousy but juicy Lucy, and, most of all, Martin's master class in how to make a small part huge.
Not a one of them could shine, however, were it not for the score that remains as mint-fresh today as it was when Bernstein and Comden and Green (who played Claire and Ozzie) first minted it. There's plenty of the Bernstein music, too, orchestrated by the composer himself with the great Hershey Kay, Don Walker, Elliot Jacoby and Ted Royal. The airy, fiery sequences Carlyle has set to all the instrumental pieces is worthy of them.