|The ensemble. Photo: Carol Rosegg.|
Music and Lyrics By Bob Merrill
Book by George Abbott
Directed by Charlotte Moore
Musical Direction by John Bell
Choreography By Barry McNabb
Irish Repertory Theatre
What's it about?
It is a musical adaptation of Anna Christie, by Eugene O'Neill. Now, you might be asking, "Musical? O'Neill?" It is a little hard to put those two concepts together, but Abbott's book just touches the surface of the playwright's brooding 1922 Pulitzer-Prize-winning play. Anna (Margaret Loesser Robinson) returns to the New York waterfront and her barge captain father, Chris Christopherson (Cliff Bemis), who tries to hide his drunken state and girlfriend, Marthy (Danielle Ferland) to impress the daughter he hasn't seen in 15 years. Christopherson had sent 5-year-old Anna to live with relatives in rural Minnesota after her mother's death. Anna has a few things to hide herself, like the fact she's not the nurse her father believes her to be. Instead, she has been working as a prostitute following years of abuse at the hands of her farm relatives and is hoping to start life fresh with him in the big city. Christopherson rescues a young sailor, Matt (Patrick Cummings), and he and Anna fall in love over her father's objections. When Marthy reveals Anna's secret, everyone's happiness is threatened.
What are the highlights?
Given the often less-than-happy tale, Merrill's score is really upbeat and catchy. "Did You Close Your eyes" is quite a moving and haunting duet. McNabb does the score justice with choreography that efficiently moves the 11-member ensemble around on the small stage. James Morgan's set changes with the help of lighting (Mary Jo Dondlinger) and video (Richard DiBella, design). Loved China Lee's flapper dress design. The band is housed stage right and Moore adds the nice touch of having the saxophone player (Jeremy Clayton) join the action. All of the performances and vocals are strong. It's a nice tale of redemption, people changing and of the life-changing force of forgiveness.
What are the lowlights?
Nothing to speak of, except that if you're a big Anna Christie fan, this musical version, which originally starred Gwen Verdon, probably won't be meaty enough for you.
Performances of New Girl in Town run Off-Broadway through Sept. 9 at The Irish
Repertory Theatre, 132 West 22nd St., between 6th and 7th avenues; Wednesdays at 3 and 8 pm, Thursdays at 7 pm; Fridays at 8pm; Saturdays at 3 and 8 pm; and Sundays at 3 pm. Tickets are $55 and $65, and are available by calling 212-727-2737 or online at www.irishrep.org.
Christians might also like to know:
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