June 28, 2017 - July 15, 2017
at The Gateway Playhouse
Three sailors on 24-hour leave in Manhattan exit the Brooklyn Navy Yard and leap on stage radiating youthful enthusiasm. Hailing from sleepy towns, they can’t wait to tackle this big city. It’s 6 a.m., and a brand new day with a dawning skyline in the backdrop.
If you don’t feel a happy-go- lucky surge after the beginning “New York, New York” number with its cacophony of optimistic, soaring dancing and singing including the ensemble New Yorkers striding to work, well, you must be in the great beyond. Because it’s a helluva beginning that doesn’t stop.
Sailors Gabey, Ozzie and Chip are looking for women and the hot spots to romance them in. But Gabey is the first one smitten when he sees a poster of Miss Turnstiles on the subway, that would be Ivy. He’s got to find her and his two buddies make a pact to help, searching from Coney Island to the Museum of Natural History. P.S. The women they eventually connect with are hilarious scene stealers. Lexi Lyric as Hildy the cabdriver who picks up Chip, a sweetly naïve Daniel Switzer, is determined to woo him and has us laughing with each vehicle gear shift, careening through New York against a projection of streets and bridges as a backdrop, eventually landing at her place. Her voice is full throttle hunk of woman, whether it’s in her apartment seducing Chip (“You’re for me,” she says. “I love your face. There’s nothing in it!”) or in a nightclub grabbing the mic from the lead singer in an effort to cheer up Gabey. Amanda Higgins as Claire de Loone is the deceivingly buttoned up anthropologist who bumps up against randy Ozzie (Sean Ewing) in the Museum of Natural History looking over dinosaur bones. She loves sex but keeps it under wraps with her fiancé, an understanding judge who encourages her to research a paper to help tame her impulses. The comedic operatic tango “Carried Away” with Ozzie as they come together like Crazy Glue has them stepping on and off benches, prancing with lust. Just when you think the scene is over, cave men and women jump in. Uh oh, the dinosaur bone is knocked out and it collapses. And it’s only 3:45 p.m.
The scene between Gabey, matinee idol pitch perfect Nick Adams and Ivy, sinuous , high kicking dance pro Virginia Preston during the “Coney Island Ballet,” a fantasy sequence with the cyclone ride in the background is incredible. There’s struggle, release, ecstacy communication with their bodies and movements riveting in conveyance and performance.
While there’s plenty of madcap humor, the men don’t really know if they’ll make it back home and the poignancy of that message is subtly reminded through this musical, not as a sledgehammer, but as a reality. The song, “Some Other Time,” between Claire and Ozzie, Chip and Hildy is a gentle, tender heartbreaker. These young people are in love for these 24 hours and realize there may not be a future for them. And Gabey, who finally meets Ivy and after a bit of bantering, agrees to meet him later, channels the personna of a small town boy in a simpler time thrilled to meet his dream girl in his lovely take of “Happy to Be Me.”
Mychal Phillips as Lucy Schmeeler, Hildy’s hapless roommate with a cold targeted as a blind date for Gabey when it looks like Ivy is a no show, perfects a nasal, shy woman with a canny knack for men after all. Andy Redeker as Judge Pitkin, Claire’s understanding suitor finally gets it up to here when he belts out his “I Understand” anthem and Mary Stout as Madame Dilly is the funny soused voice teacher who complicates the plot. There’s some action in the aisles as the actors run up and down a couple of times in their aims to get to someone or away from someone.
The sets, including Manhattan skyline, subway, Coney Island, Hildy’s cab ride, apartment sets are are imaginative and attractive and the costumes are pretty and colorful fashions of the times.
Leonard Bernstein wrote the music, Green and Comden, the lyrics and book that projected a happy day in three World War II soldiers’ lives where they find love and fun even if it was for a brief time.
The man to my right commented, “this cast is good,” while the one to my left sat forward, not commenting but mesmerized. They both were right. Starting with the “Star Spangled Banner,” this is a happy show all around.
Smash hit On the Town has sailed into the Gateway Playhouse. Originally opening on Broadway in 1944, this popular musical is also quite well known for its 1949 film version starring Gene Kelly, and Frank Sinatra. With music by Leonard Bernstein and book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, On the Town is directed and choreographed here by Scott Thompson.
It’s New York City, 1944, in the heart of World War II. Three sailors, Gabey (Nick Adams), Ozzie (Sean Ewing) and Chip (Daniel Switzer), are on a twenty-four hour shore leave looking for love and adventure. The trio has barely begun when Gabey falls head-over-heels in love with a picture of Miss Turnstiles, Ivy Smith (Virginia Preston) in the subway. He decides he must meet her and insists on searching for her. With the help of his buddies, they set off to turn Manhattan upside down. When they pick up some unexpected help and distractions along the way it appears as if Gabey might not be the only one with love on the brain. As the eclectic group cavorts their way through the city their fun and escapades are sure to entertain the entire family.
At times comical, and at others intense and emotional, On the Town is a multi-layered production. This cast navigates these varying depths exceedingly well. Nick Adams’ fantastic voice and enviable dance skills are on prominent display throughout the show, straight from his opening number of “New York, New York”. Virginia Preston’s gorgeous dancing and sweet voice suit her character perfectly. They both transition beautifully from high-energy to languid control, especially in the numerous ballet drama/interpretive dance sequences throughout the production.
Sean Ewing is wonderful as the loyal Ozzie. He and Amanda Higgins, as Claire De Loone, play off one another brilliantly. Their hilarious duet “Carried Away” showcases their many skills and Higgins’ breathtaking soprano.
Daniel Switzer is charming as the adorable and touristy Chip. It is guaranteed fun to watch him get shanghaied by lonely and desperate cab driver, Hildy, played with uproarious glee by Lexi Lyric. Their amusing number “Come Up to My Place” is sure to leave a smile on your face.
Added to their numbers are the very funny Andy Redeker as the understanding Judge Pitkin, and the entertaining antics of Mychal Phillips as Lucy Schmeeler. Not to be left out are the talented Mary Stout as the lurid lush Madame Dilly, and the entire marvelous ensemble.
Excellent lighting by designer Marcia Madeira sets every mood on the nicely designed set by Michael Boyer. Accurate historical costuming provided by Costume World Theatrical assists in transporting the audience back to a past decade. Superb execution of this classic score emanates from the entire orchestra under direction from Jeffrey Buchsbaum.
Scott Thompson provides the diverse choreography this show demands. Ranging from episodes of manic comedy, to lengthy dramatic dance arrangements, On The Town is an intriguing dichotomy of style. With a little something for everyone, whether it be comedy, romance or drama, don’t be surprised if you get ‘carried away’ with On the Town.
Despite its fabulous pedigree, the 1944 musical “On the Town” had become such a relic as to be considered unrevivable in a millennial world. But then it was revived, again, on Broadway in 2014. Paul Allan, executive artistic director of The Gateway, where “On the Town” now returns, had so given up on the show that he discarded a set his company stored for 10 years. No one in that time rented it. Not once.
But then the dance musical became hip again. Now Gateway has built a new set (retro design by Michael Boyer). Still, “On the Town” remains, at times, something of a relic.
The musical grew out of a Jerome Robbins ballet, “Fancy Free,” set to music by Leonard Bernstein. Adolph Green and Betty Comden, the songwriting/libretto team behind musicals ranging from “Peter Pan” to “The Will Rogers Follies,” transformed the ballet into a musical, which was then adapted into a 1949 movie.
The incongruity of juxtaposing high art and low humor brings to mind Warner Bros.’ classic cartoon “What’s Opera, Doc?” spoofing Wagner’s “Ring” cycle. Only not as funny.
The song-and-dance show packs a lot of shenanigans into its simple plot. You’d never know there’s a world war going on as three sailors go girl crazy on their 24-hour leave in New York City. (Yes, we believe them when the trio sings “New York, New York, it’s a helluva town.”) Spotting a subway poster bearing a photo of Miss Turnstiles, Gabey (nimble and full-throated Nick Adams) devotes his leave time to getting a date with the blond beauty. His two buddies fan out across Manhattan to help find her, encountering unlikely romance along the way. Chip, played with guileless charm by Daniel Switzer, is accosted by a taxi driver (indefatigable Lexi Lyric, who implores him to “Come Up to My Place”). Ozzie, gullibly played by Sean Ewing, is mistaken for a Neanderthal by an anthropologist — Amanda Higgins, with a voice that could break glass. She finds him irresistible.
Meanwhile, Gabey pursues Miss Turnstiles (lithe ballerina/actress Virginia Preston) even as time is running out on the 24-hour leave. The couple’s dreamy Coney Island pas de deux choreographed by director Scott Thompson (accompanied by Jeffrey Buchsbaum’s 10-piece orchestra) is top-notch ballet theater. But overbroad spoken humor, especially drunk scenes involving Mary Stout as a vocal coach, doesn’t strike me as laughable anymore. Fortunately, her character doesn’t drive.
The classic musical On The Town is probably the perfect theatrical offering - thanks to Bellport's Gateway Theatre - during the Fourth Of July festivities. Instead of an overture, the band plays the Star Spangled Banner and the story centers on three sailors from the US Navy on a one day shore leave. We follow the sailors as they quickly meet three women who show them around New York City on their day off.
The Gateway's showing, running through July 15th, is excellently directed by Scott Thompson with Broadway super talent Nick Adams leading as Gabey, Gene Kelly's role from the famed 1949 movie incarnation. Gabey is looking for a famous glamor girl to hang out with on his day off and finds one - or so he thinks - in the lovely Ivy Smith stunningly portrayed by Virginia Preston. Mr. Adams is absolutely top notch in the role with his soaring voice and wonderful dancing. He and Ms. Preston are a perfect team particularly on the dazzling "Coney Island Ballet" performance.
Ozzie, Jules Munshin's role from the movie, is portrayed superbly by Sean Ewing. He goes around town with Claire portrayed cleverly by Amanda Higgins. And Chip, Frank Sinatra's role from the movie, is excellently portrayed by Daniel Switzer. He meets cab driver Hildy, hilariously portrayed by Lexi Lyric. Indeed an audience favorite is Ms. Lyric's energetic rendition of "I Can Cook, Too".
I really could go on and on about the large, extraordinary cast; each member is truly brilliant as is Mr. Thompson's creative team. Michael Boyer's retro set is stunningly enhanced by Mr. Thompson's terrific choreography. And the ten piece orchestra, headed up by Jeffrey Buchsbaum, is thrilling. Indeed you will be bopping in your seat to the upbeat numbers like the iconic "New York, New York."
And so, On The Town is, per usual, another hit for the beautiful Gateway Theatre of Bellport, Long Island. A Broadway caliber cast and the American spirit make it one helluva show!
Gateway’s rowdy musical production of On the Town is romantic, raucous and wildly funny. Under the direction of Scott Thompson, we are taken through the events of one night in the lives of three American sailors in wartime 1944. Docked in New York for 24 hours, these young bucks are looking for adventure and—of course—a pretty girl or two.
The iconic “New York, New York” has our cast proclaiming the city one “helluva town,” and the ensuing dance number is loud, fast and full of jaw dropping tricks and outstanding choreography.
Nick Adams as the lovesick Gabey never misses a beat, and his mates Ozzie and Chip, played by Sean Ewing and Daniel Switzer, make a dazzling trio of men in uniform. The camaraderie between the actors is fun to watch, as they immerse themselves in the unfolding story. Adams has impeccable timing, with graceful and powerful movements. In some of the extended dance scenes, Adams showcases his ballet skill, which is a treat to watch alongside the talented Virginia Preston as Ivy Smith, the poster girl whom Gabey has fallen in love with at first sight. Ozzie and Chip vow to help Gabey search throughout New York for Ivy Smith in the racy, tongue-in-cheek number, “Gabey’s Coming.”
The three break up to cover more ground in their search. Chip meets Hildy, a rough-around-the-edges, recently unemployed taxi cab driver who falls head over heels for Chip. The hilarious scene in Hildy’s cab, “Come Up to My Place,” will have you wiping away tears of laughter. Lexi Lyric plays the flirty Hildy, and she’s a fireball you can’t look away from. With a set of pipes seemingly designed to bring down the house, Lyric commands the stage with her powerful voice. The way she can finesse her vocals to match the flighty character of Hildy is admirable and completely hilarious.
Ozzie also meets his own girl along the way—Claire De Loone, a socialite and budding anthropologist. The two have instant chemistry and although Claire is engaged to Judge Pitken—who seems to be quite a pushover at first—the two can’t seem to keep their hands off each other and they get “Carried Away.”
Gabey happens upon his poster girl, Ivy Smith, while she’s at her vocal lesson with Madame Dilly. Played by veteran Mary Stout, Madame Dilly is a fraud, a drunk and appallingly crass—all of which makes for highly entertaining theater. Ivy agrees to meet Gabey for a date, but Madame Dilly intervenes and forbids Ivy to miss a night at her job as a “cooch girl” in Coney Island.
When Ivy doesn’t show, and his pals Ozzie and Chip show up with dames on their arms, Gabey can’t help but feel depressed. The group tries to cheer him up, taking him from club to club and singing, “Ya Got Me.”
Gabey discovers Ivy is on Coney Island, and takes off in search of her. The “Coney Island Ballet” is one of the largest dance numbers in the production, and the talent of the performers is evident as they are all on their marks, don’t miss a beat and perform their hearts out. The supporting ensemble cast members are a delight to watch. Mychal Phillips as Lucy Schmeeler is hysterical, and Brian Ray Norris—who plays a variety of characters—is equally excellent.
On the Town is high-energy fun with plenty of romance and comedy, all adding up to a great night at the theater in Bellport. Another smash hit for Gateway this summer, On the Town cannot be missed!