The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings







Etcetera and
Short Term Listings


NYC Restaurants


New Jersey







Free Updates
A CurtainUp Review
Wonderful Town

Why oh why oh why oh, why did we ever leave Ohio?— Ruth and Eileen
Ruth McKenney is not exactly a widely known writer today. Although she authored ten fiction and non-fiction books, it is only My Sister Eileen, her memoir of growing up in Ohio and moving to Greenwich Village, that is still recalled, and then mostly because it is the source for Joseph A. Fields and Jerome Chodorov’s eponymous play, which was later turned into the musical Wonderful Town.

Fields and Chodorov’s book for Wonderful Town tells a pleasant enough story about sisters Eileen and Ruth Sherwood’s adventures trying to make it in the Big Apple, Eileen as an actress and Ruth as a writer. But what makes this musical so important is that it brought Leonard Bernstein back to Broadway, with lyricists Betty Comden and Adolph Green, after an 8-year absence following the closing of On the Town in 1946. The score Bernstein created in just five weeks contains ballads, jazz and dance numbers, the Latin-inflected “Conga,” and the hit song “Ohio.”

Wonderful Townopened at the Winter Garden Theatre on Feb. 25, 1953 with Rosalind Russell as Ruth Sherwood and Edith Adams as Eileen Sherwood; it won five Tony Awards, including Best Musical. It was subsequently staged in London’s West End in 1986 and revived on Broadway in 2003, with Donna Murphy as Ruth Sherwood and Jennifer Westfeldt as Eileen Sherwood; it won the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical.

The Gallery Players’ modest but lively revival, directed by Mark Harborth, may not have the star power of a Broadway show, but it has a talented cast that dances and sings its own wonderful way through Bernstein’s melodies, led by the impressive Molly Rope as Ruth Sherwood. Ruth is a perky, no-nonsense redhead, who longs for love but doesn’t yet know it. Her main liability is her good-looking sister Eileen (the excellent Laurie Sutton), who draws men to her as catnip draws cats. Before long, Eileen has a string of suitors including Frank Lippencott (Will Roland), the manager at Walgreen’s, and newspaper editor Chick Clark (Alex Pagels).

When Eileen invites Lippencott, Clark and Bob Baker (Adam Kemmerer), a magazine editor Ruth has been trying to interest in her stories, to dinner on the same night, Ruth feels the full weight of her Brand X status. It is only through a series of mishaps including a failed interview with Brazilian naval cadets who only want to dance the Conga and Eileen’s arrest when she is mistaken for a prostitute, that Ruth finds love and a career, with the help of her attractive sister.

Living in a seedy apartment in 1935 Greenwich Village, the young ladies are surrounded by odd types: their landlord, an artist named Appopolous (Mark Cajigao); Wreck (Nathan Brisby), a dimwitted former football player and his fiancee, Helen (Lindsay Sutton); the customers of Violet (Monica Bradley), the hooker whose room they are now inhabiting; and a local cabaret owner named Speedy Valenti (Brad Giovanine).

In their small theater in Brooklyn, The Gallery Players do a remarkable job with a musical that demands a large cast and many ensemble numbers. A 5-piece band conducted by Kevin Lawson and placed above on a two-tiered stage, certainly does justice to Bernstein’s magnificent score. Ballads such as “A Quiet Girl” and “It’s Love” are lovely and moving. The policemen’s rollicking “My Darlin’ Eileen” and cabaret number “Wrong Note Rag” set the stage swinging.

Manhattan may be the wonderful town Leonard Bernstein was composing songs about. But remember, Bernstein’s final resting place is Green-Wood Cemetery... in Brooklyn.

Wonderful Town
Book by Joseph A. Fields and Jerome Chodorov
Lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green
Music by Leonard Bernstein
Directed by Mark Harborth
Cast: Angela Dirksen (Tour Guide), Mark Cajigao (Mr. Appopolous), Lindsay Sutton (Helen), Nathan Brisby (Wreck), Monica Bradley (Violet), Ronn Burton (Lonigan), Brad Giovanine (Speedy Valenti), Laurie Sutton (Eileen), Molly Pope (Ruth), Adam Kemmerer (Robert Baker), Will Roland (Frank Lippencott), Alex Pagesl (Chick Clark), Angela Dirksen (Mrs. Wade)
Musical Director: Kevin Lawson
Choreographers: Elyse Daye Hart & Trey Mitchell
Costume Designer: Jevyn Nelms
Set Designer: William Davis
Lighting Designer: Scott Cally
Sound Designer: Josh Millican
Stage Manager: Becky J. Doster
Running Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes, with one intermission
The Gallery Players, 199 14th St., between 4th and 5th avenues in Brooklyn
From 4/28/12; closing 5/20/12
Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, final two Saturdays at 2 pm and Sundays at 3pm
Tickets: $18 for adults, $14 for Seniors & Children 12 and under. (212) 352-310 or
Reviewed by Paulanne Simmons May 6, 2012
Musical Numbers
Act One
Christopher Street
Conquering New York
One Hundred Easy Was to Lose a Man
What a Waste
Ruth’s Stories
A Little Bit in Love
A Little Bit in Love Reprise
Pass the Football
Conversation Piece
A Quiet Girl
Quiet Ruth
Conga Reprise

Act Two
Opening Act Two
My Darlin’ Eileen
Ohio Reprise
It’s Love
Ballet at the Village Vortex
Wrong Note Rag
It’s Love Reprise
Highlight one of the responses below and click "copy" or"CTRL+C"
  • I agree with the review of Wonderful Town
  • I disagree with the review of Wonderful Town
  • The review made me eager to see Wonderful Town
Click on the address link E-mail:
Paste the highlighted text into the subject line (CTRL+ V):

Feel free to add detailed comments in the body of the email. . .also the names and emails of any friends to whom you'd like us to forward a copy of this review.

Visit Curtainup's Blog Annex
For a feed to reviews and features as they are posted add to your reader
Curtainup at Facebook . . . Curtainup at Twitter
Subscribe to our FREE email updates: E-mail:
put SUBSCRIBE CURTAINUP EMAIL UPDATE in the subject line and your full name and email address in the body of the message. If you can spare a minute, tell us how you came to CurtainUp and from what part of the country.
Slings & Arrows  cover of  new Blu-Ray cover
Slings & Arrows- view 1st episode free

Anything Goes Cast Recording Anything Goes Cast Recording
Our review of the show

Book Of Mormon MP4 Book of Mormon -CD
Our review of the show

©Copyright 2012, Elyse Sommer.
Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from