Today is Friday–time once again for my weekly Wall Street Journal drama-column teaser. I have fulsome things to say about two new musicals, one on Broadway (The Pajama Game) and one off (I Love You Because).
Here’s the scoop:
Broadway got what it needed last night: a bulletproof revival of a popular musical. The Roundabout Theatre Company’s production of “The Pajama Game,” starring Harry Connick Jr., is as close to ideal as the snippiest critic could hope for. The staging is a knockout. The sets and costumes are good-looking. The cast is uniformly appealing–and everybody knows how to sing. Mr. Connick even bangs out a foot-stomping piano solo on “Hernando’s Hideaway,” the burn-the-house-down second-act showstopper.
Saving Mr. Connick’s illustrious presence, the real star of the show is the woman behind the scenes. Kathleen Marshall has now officially proved herself to be a high-voltage choreographer-director in the Jerome Robbins-Bob Fosse mold. (Appropriately enough, she tips her hat to Fosse, who choreographed the original “Pajama Game” in 1954, with a slinky, derby-topped version of “Steam Heat.”) Like her 2003 revival of “Wonderful Town,” Ms. Marshall’s dance-filled production brings the whole stage of the American Airlines Theatre to pulsing, vibrant life….
If you can’t get into “The Pajama Game,” or can’t stomach Broadway’s extortionate ticket prices, allow me to direct your attention downtown, where “I Love You Because” is playing at the Village Theatre. Billed as “a modern-day musical love story,” this gender-swapping update of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” is everything an Off Broadway mini-musical (six players, one set) should be. Farah Alvin, the best young musical-comedy singer to come along in years, plays Marcy Fitzwilliams (get it?), an arty, free-spirited photographer who can’t quite bring herself to go for the buttoned-down Austin Bennet (Colin Hanlon). Stephanie d’Abruzzo, who created the role of Kate Monster in “Avenue Q,” is similarly winning as Diana, Darcy’s spunky sidekick, who has a fling with Austin’s brainless brother (David A. Austin), then falls in love in spite of herself….
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