Thursday, January 19, 2017

Off-Broadway Theater Review: Finian's Rainbow

Ryan Silverman, the original Woody, and Melissa Errico. Photo: Carol Rosegg 
Finian's Rainbow
Music by Burton Lane
Book by E.Y. Harburg and Fred Saidy
Lyrics by E.Y. Harburg
Adapted and Directed by Charlotte Moore
Irish Repertory
Extended through Jan. 29

By Lauren Yarger
What's It All About?
A sweet revival of the Burton Lane musical adapted and directed by Irish Rep's Artistic Director Charlotte Moore starring Melissa Errico as Sharon, a young girl who in 1947, travels to Rainbow Valley, somewhere in the south named Missatucky. Her father, Finian McLonergan (a delightful Ken Jennings) wants a brand new life for his daughter and he thinks the stolen pot of gold he has brought with him from Ireland will make that happens. The pot's rightful owner, leprechaun Og (Max Sheldon) isn't happy about that, however, and follows Finian and Sharon to the USA. He finds love with Susan the Silent (Lyrica Woodruff, who performs Barry McNabb's ballet choreography gracefully in the small stage), sister of Woody Mahoney (Jeremiah James), who finds love with Sharon.

There are some racial messages in the relationships with local sharecroppers and law enforcement officials and the pot of gold wreaks some havoc by granting unexpected wishes.

The book by E.Y. Harburg and Fred Saidy is kind of a reach as far as the plot goes, but the racial undertones still are relevant. The musical gives us some classics, however, with lyrics for the Lane classic tunes penned by Harburg. They include “Old Devil Moon,” “How Are Things in Glocca Morra?” and “Look to the Rainbow.” 

Filling out the cast are William Bellamy as a Gospeleer, Alex May as Lilly Mae, Dewey Caddell as Senator Rawkins, Peyton Crim as Sheriff, Matt Gibson as Buzz Collins, Angela Grovey  as Sallyann and Din Griffin, Kyle Taylor Parker,  as Gospeleers. 

What Are the Highlights?
Errico is an enchanting Sharon and James is a handsome, dreamy voiced counterpart. Jennings is delightful as Finian, who seems almost a leprechaun himself. Set design James Morgan creates a lovely locale with columns, draping tree foliage and musical notes cascading across the backdrop. The four piece band is housed at the rear of the stage.

What are the Lowlights?
The band on stage -- the pianist, who is very animated and obviously loves the score she is playing, mouths the words to the songs and is distracting.
Sheldon is miscast and looks and acts nothing like a leprechaun, and the rather silly costume provided by Designer David Toser' doesn't solve the problem.

More Information:
Finian's Rainbow has been extended through Jan. 29 at Irish Repertory Theatre, 132 West 22nd St., NYC. Most performances are sold out. Performances are Thursday at 7 pm; Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at 8 pm; Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at 3 pm. Tickets: 212-727-2737;

Additional credits:
Lighting Design by Mary Jo Dondlinger; Music Supervision by John Bell; Dialect Coaching by Stephen Gabis.

-- God's name taken in vain
-- A spell is cast

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists. Her play concept, "From Reel to Real: The Jennifer O'Neill Story" was presented as part of the League of professional Theatre Women's Julia's reading Room Series in New York. Shifting from reviewing to producing, Yarger owns Gracewell Productions, which produced the Table Reading Series at the Palace Theater in Waterbury, CT. She trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Intensive and other training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run. She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She wrote reviews of Broadway and Off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (, an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She was a contributing editor for She previously served as theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer, Connecticut theater editor for and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

She is a Co-Founder of the Connecticut Chapter of the League of Professional Theatre Women. She is a former vice president and voting member of The Drama Desk.

She is a freelance writer and playwright (member Dramatists Guild of America). She is a member if the The Outer Critics Circle (producer of the annual awards ceremony) and a member of The League of Professional Theatre Women, serving as Co-Founder of the Connecticut Chapter. Yarger was a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.


All material is copyright 2008- 2024 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact


Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women or people of a certain race are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide, or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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