You already know this is a dance show(newyork.com) and that it is the best thing to hit Broadway in a long time. You may have heard how great Christopher Wheeldon’s choreography is and I’m here to tell you that in my opinion, he is the successor to Jerome Robbins. But let me go a little further. You know this show’s heart is in the right place when you see the poster with George and Ira’s names featured prominently at the top. (As the late great Bobby Short said, ” if you don’t know who George and Ira are, you’re in the wrong saloon.”) And the Gershwins’ music and lyrics and especially George’s music pervade the show. (artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.) The brilliant Rob Fisher who deconstructed, adapted, and arranged parts of George’s piano and vocal music, including the Concerto in F and his Preludes, gets the first of my Tonys. The next Tony goes to Christopher Wheeldon who learned from the best–George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins–during his tenure at the New York City Ballet, first as soloist then as choreographer in residence. His style encompasses classical ballet, (broadway.com) musical theater, jazz and tap–and he gets the dancers on and off the stage in a way very reminiscent of Balanchine while his ecstatic pas de deux remind me of Robbins. (nytimes.com) Finally, the orchestrators, Christopher Austin, Don Sebesky and Bill Elliott, get my third Tony.
The show opens quietly with music in the background, then bursts into song and dance with number after number bringing on the troupe of singing dancers and I mean, they can really sing and dance.
Most prominent are the leads, Robert Fairchild and Leanne Cope, who combine spectacular dancing ability with fine voices. This is Broadway after all and finally, we see some of the real talent around this town. Cope bears a resemblance to Leslie Caron while Fairchild and the corps recreate many of the steps Gene Kelly premiered in the much-loved film version.(broadwayshowbiz.com)
You know most of the songs but they seem new here presented in such a way that it’s almost as if we heard them for the first time. These songs cannot merely be called standards–they define the repertoire, so to hear them sound fresh is a delight. I haven’t said anything about the plot–it is very unimportant, but it serves to link the numbers. A word about the fine sets and costumes–would that the Met could work these ideas as creatively and economically as this show does.(variety.com) We paid $47 to sit in the second balcony’s first row of the cavernous and slightly worn but still beautiful Palace and we could see everything. If you are looking for three hours of the best music and dance on Broadway, this is your show. Don’t miss it.