The Roundabout has done it again. We have always liked this show better than “Fiddler,” Boch and Harnick’s bigger blockbuster, and last night’s performance confirmed that. This is now the fourth time I’ve seen it and the fifth for Rory, who saw the original with Barbara Cook. We have loved it every time but this is the best production by far. It is a full Broadway job, complete with gorgeous sets and a terrific musical ensemble. The direction by Scott Ellis is impeccable and the music direction by the renowned Paul Gemignani superb. The orchestration by Larry Hockman is perfect for this large old theater, Studio 54,
with a full set of musicians sitting in boxes next to the stage. How wonderful to hear the terrific music and lyrics served so well. The book by Joe Masteroff is still very funny and only needed a few updates.
When we reached our sky seats (warning: this theater has NO elevator), near hordes of young people,we could see and hear perfectly.
One performer was better than the next, with “Chuck” star Zachary Levi as Georg (roundabout.org) showing his pretty nice baritone and Tony-Award winner Laura Benanti her lovely soprano as Amalia. He threw himself around the stage to the audience’s delight, with the kind of comic lightness Jimmy Stewart showed in the much-beloved Ernst Lubitsch film, “The Shop Around the Corner.” This audience may well also have seen “You’ve Got Mail,” based on the same Laszlo play.
Tony-award winner Jane Krakowski and Olivier-award winner Gavin Creel sang and danced as the gullible Ilona and the crafty Kodaly with hilarious abandon.(roundabout.org)
We almost didn’t go because we had seen it so many times before but we’re so glad we did. Warning #2: the audience loved the show and gave it a standing ovation with more reason than many we have seen. It’s in previews now but I bet tickets will be hard to get after it opens. Try TDF, TixToday and other options to save some $; we did, but remember the stairs!