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Marry Harry

Greenwich Village musical has two 29-year-olds meet cute while a trio of “Village Voices” comment on the action as they reappear in many different  guises.

David Spadora and Morgan Cowling in a scene from “Marry Harry” (Photo credit: Carol Rosegg)

Victor Gluck, Editor-in-Chief

Victor Gluck, Editor-in-Chief

For many years, musicals have used the device of a chorus commenting on the action. From The Boys from Syracuse to Allegro, through Candide, Company, and They’re Playing Our Song, to Cats and Zorba, this has been standard fare for a certain kind of musical which wants the point of view of the common man or the ordinary bystander.  Marry Harry goes one step further: the Village Voices made up of Ben Chavez, Jesse Manocherian and Claire Saunders appear in 13 out of 18 songs playing all of the characters other than the four leads: cooks, brides, waiters, Italian grandmothers, angels, etc. While this is at first amusing, it eventually becomes tiresome.

Directed and choreographed by Bill Castrellino, Marry Harry is a musical in which two people approaching 30 and still living at home with their single parents meet cute: Little Harry, a downtown boy, who has always worked as a short order cook for his father in the family restaurant, Cudicini’s at Fifth Street and Avenue A has just had a big blow up with Big Harry when he tells him that he has applied to chef Lidia Bastianich to be a sous-chef at the Upper East Side restaurant Felidia.

David Spadora and Lenny Wolpe in a scene from “Marry Harry” (Photo credit: Carol Rosegg

Sherri, a rich uptown girl who works for her mother’s real estate office, has been trying on her bridal gown next door at Zoya for Brides when she discovers by cell phone that her fiancé Brandon is cheating on her and she calls off the wedding. Both end up in the alleyway between the two buildings and are attracted to each other immediately. After a night of passion, they become engaged but have to face their possessive, interfering parents. Is knowing someone one day enough to build a relationship?

And that is about it for plot except for the device of having the Village Voices appear in almost every scene in different costumes designed by Tyler M. Holland. The lyrics by Michael Biello are either list songs (foods, spices) or exposition forwarding the plot. The orchestrations for Dan Martin’s music have an insistent, heavy piano played by music director Eric Svejcar. The book by Jennifer Robbins seems overly familiar even to the restaurant and bridal shop setting, and reveals little about its characters. They aren’t stereotypes exactly but they are definitely one dimensional. The most charming aspect of the production is the watercolor, pen and ink unit set by James Morgan which as lit by Paul Miller stands in for all of the necessary East Village locations.

Jesse Manocherian, Claire Saunders, Ben Chavez and Robin Skye in a scene from “Marry Harry” (Photo credit: Carol Rosegg)

The two leads David Spadora and Morgan Cowling are charming but that isn’t really enough to carry the show. The script isn’t too kind to their parents. As Big Harry, Lenny Wolpe is overbearing and possessive and as Sherri’s mom Francine, Robin Skye is controlling and possessive. Both are quite convincing and unpleasant – just as the script wants them to be. As the Village Voices, Chavez, Manocherian and Saunders demonstrate tremendous versatility playing all sorts of roles and are excellent singers.

Marry Harry which basically gives up its plot in its title wants to be the latest wrinkle in romantic musicals. Unfortunately, its plot and its characters are a little too thin to sustain an entire show. It also uses one gimmick to death. On the other hand, it offers a good argument for proving that young people should not work for their parents and that when it is time to move out, they should work to change their lives.

Marry Harry (through May 21, 2017)

The York Theater Company

The Theater at Saint Peter’s, 619 Lexington Avenue, at 54th Street, in Manhattan

For tickets, call 212-935-5820 or visit http://www.yorktheatre.org

Running time: 90 minutes without an intermission

Victor Gluck, Editor-in-Chief
About Victor Gluck, Editor-in-Chief (397 Articles)
Victor Gluck was a drama critic and arts journalist with Back Stage from 1980 – 2006. He started reviewing for TheaterScene.net in 2006, where he was also Associate Editor from 2011-2013, and has been Editor-in-Chief since 2014. He is a voting member of The Drama Desk, the Outer Critics Circle, the American Theatre Critics Association, and the Dramatists Guild of America. His plays have been performed at the Quaigh Theatre, Ryan Repertory Company, St. Clements Church, Nuyorican Poets Café and The Gene Frankel Playwrights/Directors Lab.

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