Then, there’s the new cast member, Misty Copeland, the newly minted American Ballet Theatre principal ballerina, who has taken over the role of Ivy Smith, the catalyst for the daffy, warm-hearted plot of the show. Formerly inhabited with sweetness and steely technique by another ballet star, Megan Fairchild, the role of Ivy Smith fits Ms. Copeland perfectly. She makes it her own the moment she’s murmurs “Who, me?” in “Presentation of Miss Turnstiles,” the witty send-up of beauty competitions.
On the Town is about three naïve sailors on a 24-hour pass in 1940’s NYC. When one, Gabey (Tony Yazbeck, still in extraordinary form) falls for the girl in the Miss Turnstiles poster he spies on a subway ride, he enlists his two buddies, Ozzie (Clyde Alves, goofy, yet delightfully macho) and Chip (Jay Armstrong Johnson, sweetly naïve, but somehow sexy), to find her. Their adventures looking for dates make up the plot. Ozzie finds a ditzy, sex-starved anthropologist, Claire (Elizabeth Stanley, in great voice and willing to make a complete fool of herself). Chip falls into the clutches—literally—of an equally sex-starved female taxi driver Hildy (Alysha Umphress, a large, agile lady with a voice to match). Of course, Gabey does find Ivy, but plot complications separate them until a very happy ending.
The songs of Adolph Green & Betty Comden (witty lyrics, plus the libretto) and Leonard Bernstein (ravishing, evocative urban music) are the backbone of the muscial directed by John Rando who made this madcap show move with jaw-dropping speed. He clearly was on the same wavelength as his brilliant choreographer Joshua Bergasse whose dances keep the plot—as well as the audience’s blood—flowing. Jerome Robbins’ original choreography is mostly lost, but it is difficult to imagine better work than Bergasse’s.
Even though Ms. Copeland is the focus of attention right now, the four secondary leads still hold the show together. Michael Rupert as Pitkin, Claire’s much put-upon “fiancé” knows exactly how and when to blow his top to best effect. Allison Guinn as Hildy’s clueless roommate Lucy never overplays her social awkwardness. When she finds romance at the end the show, the glow in her face is almost worth the price of admission. The two hardest workers are Jackie Hoffman and Stephen DeRosa who play numerous parts so deftly and with such commitment to detail that they leave the audience gasping with laughter at their over-the-top scenery chewing.
But, it is Miss Copeland who is the obvious draw right now and she doesn’t disappoint. She has attracted some young blood to the audience who greeted her every move with cheers and ovations usually reserved for rock stars or sports heroes. Her full-bodied sensuality and down-to-earth quality give new colors to this under-written role.
She’s the cherry on the sundae of a confection that shouldn’t be missed during its last few days on Broadway.
On the Town (through September 6, 2015)
Lyric Theatre, 213 West 42nd Street, in Manhattan
For tickets call 877-250-2929, 800-982-2787 or visit http://www.ticketmaster.com
For more Information visit http://www.OnTheTownBroadway.com
Running time: two hours and 40 minutes including one intermission