Monday, April 26, 2010

On the Town

It's a very busy season in the Seattle theatre scene.  Of particular note right now is the Seattle Celebrates Bernstein Festival, which includes the current run of On the Town at the 5th Avenue Theatre.  

On the Town, from the golden age of American musical theatre, hit Broadway in 1944 during the height of World War II, is a humorous look at three wartime Navy sailors spending 24-hours on shore leave in New York City.  But really, that's just a simple plot to string the music and comedy together.  Perhaps that's too critical of the plot, however, because oddly I wasn't disappointed.  The plot was more than sufficient to provide a solid canvas for the fantastic Leonard Bernstein musical score and Jerome Robbins choreography.  

In fact, On the Town was Bernstein's very first musical theatre composition, a full decade before his most popular musical score for West Side Story.  But you can already see the Bernstein and Robbins touch coming together in On the Town.  

The music was understandably fantastic, and well-performed.  The dance, while lacking at times, was adequate, though I could do without the classic 8-minute dance numbers that seem to go on forever.   

But really where this show shines is the script.  It's rare to see so many non-stop laughs in a Broadway musical.  No doubt owing to the time in which it was written, people needed something to laugh about.  And this musical gave it to them in abundance.  

New York, New York, it's a hell of a town.  

And as for my rating:

Script:  4 stars - Plot was simple, yet effective.  With enough comedy to make anyone enjoy it.
Music:  4 stars - It's no West Side Story, and only a couple of songs could I really find myself singing spontaneously.  
Cast:  4 stars - The three leads were fantastic, with an even more outstanding chorus.  Dance choreography wasn't quite up to the perfection you'd expect from a top-notch Broadway production though.  
Technical:  4 stars - It always impresses me how the 5th Ave can produce such amazing productions.  A credit to an amazing local stage staff.  
Overall:  4 stars - Definitely worth seeing!  

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