Clear as a bell I remember being taken to the Rivoli, a first-run movie palace on Broadway, to see the film Oklahoma! starring Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones. Her freshness and lovely soprano was transporting. Seeing her so many years later onstage at the intimate, elegant Café Carlyle conjures the same thrill, her warmth and elegance filling the room. She began her show with a short video of her career, from musical theater ingénue to Academy Award winning prostitute to beloved sitcom mom.
Forget about life being like a box of chocolates! It’s the indefatigable Scott Siegel’s Broadway by the Year franchise that is full of tasty bonbons: classic Broadway numbers performed by extraordinary singers and dancers. Rather than focusing on just one year as usual, Siegel is presenting four programs covering 100 years of musical theater history, a marathon of songs given amazing interpretations by leading ladies and men. The first program took us from 1915 to 1939, heady years in the history of musical theater.
Although Bronx Bombers, about a particularly stressful period in the team’s history, isn’t an impeccably constructed comedy/drama, the show unapologetically hits the sentimental underpinnings that preoccupy macho sports guys and yet still shows that unalloyed machismo that is their public face.
The cliché of stiff-upper-lip Britons who rarely show emotion is beautifully discredited in the Roundabout Theatre Company’s new production of Terence Rattigan’s The Winslow Boy in association with The Old Vic, directed by Lindsay Posner. Rattigan, a pillar of British theatre in the mid-twentieth century, managed to find the heartbeat under the calm continence of his characters. Rattigan’s case is helped by the stellar cast of this revival who give life to the Winslow family’s problems and feelings, sustained by Peter McKintosh’s sumptuously upper middle class set and costumes that tell as much about the characters as the writing and the acting.
Jon Fosse’s "A Summer Day" is an enigmatic play, weighty, with repetitive dialogue and portentous glances. It is like a live Bergman film, a grim Scandinavian drama with mysterious overtones written to be purposely vague. Fortunately, Mr. Fosse, a Norwegian, has been translated and directed by Sarah Cameron Sunde and acted by six talented actors, led by Karen Allen making a remarkable return to the New York stage.
With “It’s Magic: Nine Decades of Songs from Warner Bros.,” the 92Y Lyrics & Lyricists closed its 2011-2012 season in great form. Guided by a dapper and knowledgeable Rex Reed, this was one of the most satisfying of the series. Joining Reed were Christine Andreas, Polly Bergen, Jason Graae, Sue Raney and Tom Wopat, all experienced and polished singing actors.