ADVERTISING AT CURTAINUP
Short Term Listings
BOOKS and CDs
LETTERS TO EDITOR
A CurtainUp Review
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.
Slings & Arrows- view 1st episode free
Anything Goes Cast Recording
Our review of the show
Book of Mormon -CD
Our review of the show