Craig Lucas wrote a new book for the the musical inspired by the film An American in Paris. He should not have. The film won the Oscar for Best Picture in 1951, starring the immortal Gene Kelly, and introduced the enchanting Leslie Caron. Now, on Broadway, An American in Paris, music and lyrics by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin, at the Palace Theatre, we have another tepid version of a magnificent musical film. Gigi, this season, is the other. Robert Fairchild, from the New York City Ballet, is a talented dancer, and looks good on the Broadway stage, and sings remarkably well. Leanne Cope of the Royal Ballet is a fine dancer, and sings and acts also remarkably well. The two brighten the dull book. When they dance together, it is delightful. Add Brandon Uranowitz (he is witty) and Max von Essen (he has the best Broadway singing voice) as supporting cast members, and there are entertaining moments. Christopher Wheeldon choreographed and directed the show. The dancing is fine. The drama is not.
David Hyde Pierce, in his Broadway debut as director, can be proud. He has offered Broadway an entertaining, original musical. It Shoulda Been You, book and lyrics by Brian Hargrove, music and concept by Barbara Anselmi, at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre. It will send you home with a smile on your face. In 100 minutes of pleasant music, funny, intelligent lyrics, comic scenes, by a brilliant thirteen member cast, headed by the always marvelous Tyne Daly, you will realize why Broadway can give you the most enjoyable time of your life, and is the reason why New York is the center of the theatrical world. This is the most chaotic wedding you will ever attend, and you will laugh from beginning to end. Among the many star performers, I must mention Harriet Harris, Edward Hibbert, Lisa Howard (outstanding) and a scene stealing Josh Grisetti. And do not forget to add the beautiful costume design of William Ivey Long to the expert direction of David Hyde Pierce. The opening night party took place at the Edison Ballroom with guests like Cherry Jones, Neil Patrick Harris and Patricia Clarkson.
There are no better musicals than those of Rodgers and Hammerstein. If you do not believe me, hurry to Lincoln Center Theater at the Vivian Beaumont, where the revival of The King and I is receiving an opulent production, equal to anything one can see around the world. Every thing on the stage is perfect. The cast, directed brilliantly by Bartlett Sher, and choreographed marvelously by Christopher Gattelli, sings, dances and acts perfectly. The sets by Michael Yeargan evoke the magic of the palace, the costumes by Catherine Zuber are colorful and gorgeous, the book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II are intelligent and lovely, and the music by Richard Rodgers is divine. You will never spend a more delightful, almost three hours, in the theatre. Kelli O'Hara gives a Tony winning performance as the teacher, who arrives in Siam, in the nineteenth century to teach the most adorable children one will ever see on any stage. I want to adopt all of them. The rest of the cast is superb, especially Ken Watanabe as the King, Ruthie Ann Miles as his First Lady, Ashley Park as his gift from Burma (he has a large harem) and Jon Viktor Corpuz as his heir. It is a memorable theatrical experience.
Living on Love, by Joe Pietro, at the Longacre Theatre, opens on April 20. My comments will appear in my next column.
Something Rotten!, book by Karey Kirkpatrick and John O'Farrell, music and lyrics by Wayne Kirkpatrick and Karey Kirkpatrick, at the St. James Theatre, opens on April 22. My comments will appear in my next column.
Airline Highway, by Lisa D'Amour, at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, opens on April 23. My comments will appear in the next column.
Off-Broadway, a revival of 39 Steps, adapted by Patrick Barlow, from the famous 1935 film of the same title, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, at the Union Square Theatre, was a massive success on Broadway in 2008. This revival, starring Robert Petkoff in a four member cast, directed by Maria Aitken, is just as marvelous. It is an ingenious production. Do not miss it! It is one of the most hilarious plays this season. The opening night party was held at W New York Union Square, 201 Park Avenue South, with guests, Jefferson Mays, John Bolton and Martin Charnin.
Nathan Lane was honored by the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center with the 15th Annual Monte Cristo Award at the Edison Ballroom. Many celebrities attended to honor the brilliant actor, including Susan Stroman, Matthew Broderick and Brian Dennehy.
I attended a lovely cocktail reception for the New York Center for Children 20th Spring Anniversary Celebration at the Bar at Clement in the Peninsula Hotel, 700 Fifth Avenue. Among the guests, was the esteemed actress Kathleen Turner, a long time supporter of the organization. Exquisite wines and delicious hors d'oeuvres were served.