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NY1 Theater Review: 'On The Town'

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The classic American dance musical "On The Town" is back on Broadway at The Lyric Theater. NY1's Roma Torre filed the following review.

There's so much to love in "On The Town" it's easy to overlook its flaws, such things as plotting, characterization, logic. But I choose to view the show as a gloriously messy love letter to New York, gushing with gorgeous tunes, endearingly nutty characters and some of the loveliest dancing on Broadway.

If it were just a concert, you'd still get your money's worth. Leonard Bernstein's magnificent score is richly enhanced with a 28-piece orchestra. And once that trio of hyped up sailors takes off on their 24-hour leave, New York does truly become “one helluva town.”

They're also on the make. Comden and Green's wacky libretto has them traveling the city in a frantic search for female company. Tony Yazbeck is the romantic lead as Gabey, obsessing over the elusive Miss Turnstiles. Clyde Alves's Ozzie hooks up with Elizabeth Stanley’s loony anthropologist in the Natural History Museum and Jay Armstrong Johnson as Chip meets more than his match in the man-hungry taxi driver Hildy, and they’re all triple threats.

The show is best appreciated as a series of loosely connected sketches, some funny, some poignant. And director John Rando has some wonderful surprises up his sleeve. The comedic scenes are staged somewhat breathlessly with mixed results. He gets the most consistent laughs from the pairing of Johnson and Alysha Umphress. Jackie Hoffman, in multiple comedic roles, is alternatingly hysterical and flat.

There's a lot of dancing and Joshua Bergasse, with a nod to Jerome Robbins, choreographs both modern and ballet sequences with gusto. The pas de deux featuring Yazbeck and NYC Ballet’s Megan Fairchild is particularly enchanting.

New York, as they say, is a state of mind, a grand idea that can transcend the city's daily annoyances. “On The Town” captures that notion. It's an exuberant joyride and as long as you don't stop to look too closely, you too will be smitten.

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