Tuesday, June 7, 2016

And I'm Back on Broadway...

After a year's hiatus due to an inflamed liver, a stuck gall stone, and a fractured kneecap, I have triumphantly returned to a Broadway show.   And it feels so good.   Even if the climb up to the front mezzanine of the Studio 54 Theater requires a sherpa and a hiking stick.

Now, these days, if you're in New York and craving a musical, you are probably clamoring for tickets to "Hamilton."   That's the place to be.   But, if you are not planning your NY excursion five years ahead of time, you are shit out of luck trying to see what is expected to sweep all the Tony Awards next Sunday.   Oh, I will get around to seeing it.   Probably several years down the road or when the national tour shows up in Los Angeles.   At that point, I am guessing that Alexander Hamilton will be played by none other than TV's "Webster," Emmanuel Lewis.

Of course, there's still plenty of other stuff to see on Broadway.   For instance, "She Loves Me," a thoroughly charming and delightful revival of the 1963 hit.   Indeed, this show has more reincarnations than Shirley MacLaine.

Let's see, the original source material is the movie "The Shop Around the Corner" starring Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullivan.   This became an MGM musical starring Judy Garland and Van Johnson called "In the Good Old Summertime."

Then, it was turned into a Broadway musical in the early 1960s.  And that was first revived in the early 90s.   But, wait, the original non-musical plot was recycled for Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in the movie "You've Got Mail."  Wow.   You would think they couldn't wring more out of this rather simple plot.   But, with this revival, a re-staging and re-invention is successful one more time.   And it's like a warm, comfortable sweater that is handed down from one generation to the next.

So what's the fascinating story that is done over and over and over again?   Well, we're in a 1934 Budapest perfumery and two of the clerks are having a secret correspondence and falling in love with each other without knowing it.   Yep, that's it.   Indeed, all the fun is in getting there.   And this production of "She Loves Me" works it all perfectly.  

The casting here is perfection.   Zachary Levi from TV's "Chuck" (or so the Playbill tells me) elicits whoops from girls in the audience on his first entrance, so he's already ahead of the game.   He's got a stage presence reminiscent of Jerry Orbach's younger days and has quite the musical future ahead of him.   Plus he's totally willing to have selfies taken by adoring fans at the stage door as I witnessed.

Meanwhile, the female lead is essayed by Broadway veteran Laura Benanti whose voice is beautiful.   Yet, through this vocal elegance, she still has the capacity to do some great broad comedy on stage.    Indeed, the rest of the cast is totally spot-on, including supporting player Jane Krakowski (TV's "30 Rock") who has the ditzy second banana act down to a science.   She has one acting business model but she does it well.   All three are nominated for musical Tony Awards and are sadly already practicing their loser faces because...well...they're not in "Hamilton."   But, still, their performances should be duly noted because they provided a thoroughly delightful evening in the theater.

Most of the songs in "She Loves Me' are ones you won't recognize.  But there is the title song which is done to perfection by Levi.   You will know it because it's been done by every lounge singer who's ever appeared at the Latin Quarter or the Copacabana during the 60s and the 70s.   It's joyous and totally a Broadway show stopper.

"She Loves Me" is a Roundabout Theater production, which means it's not on Broadway for a long time.   It runs till July 10 and I highly recommend it.   Especially if you can't get into that other thing several blocks away.  For my personal return to the Great White Way, "She Loves Me" was an ideal choice.

Dinner last night:  Had a big lunch so just a small salad.

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