‘On the Town’ a frisky, energetic romp
Barrington revival captures musical’s sass, sexiness
If the Broadway original of “On the Town” was anything like the production at Barrington Stage Company, then it’s no wonder the baby boom coincided with the hit’s 1944-46 run.
Sassy, sexy, energetic and fun — it’s a hell of a musical.
The story is simple: three sailors — Ozzie, Chip and Gabey — on a 24-hour leave in 1944 New York City look for adventure — and dames. Jennifer Caprio‘s costumes evoke that midcentury vibe. Beowulf Boritt’s minimal stage set with simple changes suggest apartments, restaurants, a taxi, streets and museums.
A top-notch 10-piece orchestra nailed Leonard Bernstein‘s energetic score.
Joshua Bergasse’s joyous choreography filled the stage with vital movement that winked at Jerome Robbins (the musical is based on Robbins’ ballet “Fancy Free,” after all).
The show demands high-energy performers who can dance, act and sing. Kudos to director John Rando for pulling together a cast where everyone — all 26 people — delivers.
Tony Yazbeck stands out as Gabey, a sailor seeking “Miss Turnstile,” aka Ivy Smith (Deanna Doyle).
He commands the stage in “Lonely Town” not only with his strong voice but also his graceful dancing, which reflects his longing and creates an emotional bond with the audience.
Much of this classic musical, however, is given over to the comic side of longing.
The wiry Jay Armstrong Johnson‘s Chip is a perfect foil to the full-voiced Alysha Umphress‘ Hildy, the cabdriver. In her aggressive seduction song “Come Up to My Place,” she often pulled Chip to her ample bosom, while he threw himself over, under and around the taxicab seat, eliciting some of the biggest laughs of the night.
In the outrageous song “Carried Away,” Ozzie (Clyde Alves) and Claire (the winsome Elizabeth Stanley) delve into unrestrained lust, as she – an engaged anthropologist – seems to lose herself to her animal instincts while wrapping herself around him, while he wags his tongue and dances apelike.
Not to be outdone, Nancy Opel, as Ivy’s hard-drinking vocal teacher Madame Dilly , nearly steals the show with her drunken bobs and weaves.
Is the story merely a mid-20th-century male fantasy, a joyful and playful escape from wartime? Or can the sexual aggressiveness of Hildy and Claire be seen as a precursor to the sexual freedoms of third-wave feminism?
Whatever the case may be, be on the lookout for a Berkshire baby boom nine months from now.
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“On the Town”
When: 5 p.m. Sunday
Where: Barrington Stage Company, 30 Union St., Pittsfield, Mass.
Length: 2 hours 20 minutes with one intermission
Continues: Various times and days through July 13
Tickets: Start at $20
Info: 413-236-8888; http://www.barringtonstageco.org