At first glance, On the Town doesn't seem like something that would be such a hit in 2014. There isn't much substance to the story, the music and humor are both mostly old-fashioned, and the dancing is largely in the genre of ballet. Yet, the whole show comes together brilliantly despite showcasing an era that has come and gone.
The show is petty simple in its construct: It opens inside a Brooklyn Navy Yard where three naval officers are overjoyed by the possibility of spending one 24-hour period in the Big Apple. They've docked and they're looking for some entertainment. When the play was first staged in 1944, it was probably an accurate portrayal and display of what was happening each night in New York City. Seeing it 70 years later now, however, puts the play in a brighter light, as audience members are transferred back to a time and place that can seem familiar and foreign at once.
Leonard Bernstein's musical comes alive anew in Betty Comden and Adolph Green's version, directed by John Rando. The real stars of the show, though, are behind the scenes -- choreographer Joshua Bergasse, scenic director Beowulf Boritt, and costume designer Jess Goldstein put on a spectacle like you've never seen. On more than three or four occasions at the performance this reviewer attended, the audience applause went on and on for longer that usual at the close of a big musical number. These moments were small testaments and recognitions for all of the hard work that the cast and crew put into making sure every single detail was covered.
Whether the lead characters find one another, and much less so love, is almost secondary to the production before you. Still, the actors should be acknowledged, too, for their parts in selling this throwback session. Tony Yazbeck and Megan Fairchild dominate and command the stage in their scenes together as the leading couple Gabey and Ivy. You could watch these two dance and flirt until the morning sun comes up. it's a shame when it finally does because it means that the night's romance must, unfortunately, come to an end.