Oscar E Moore

From the rear mezzanine theatre, movies and moore

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New York, New York – a beautifully cobbled together newish musical

May 2nd, 2023 by Oscar E Moore

Thank you Susan Stroman!  Thank you for keeping alive the musical theater traditions so dear to many.  For your dedication and artistic vision.  Your creativity.  For your honesty and for doing your homework in digging deep to find the truth and heart of all you conceive.  Your creative mind is working at full blast with NEW YORK, NEW YORK.

As director and choreographer you have managed to bring together a melting pot of fellow creative forces to bring to life the melting pot of New York City circa 1946 thru 1947.

Beowulf Boritt (scenic design) Donna Zakowska (costume design) Ken Billington (lighting design) Christopher Ash/Beowulf Boritt (projection design) and writers David Thompson, Sharon Washington and Lin-Manuel Miranda.  What a team!  What a wonderfully entertaining show!  And of course those songs from Kander & Ebb with a side order of salsa sauce from Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Let’s start at the end.  The finale.  Your penultimate and breathtaking creation.  Your piece de resistance so to speak.  As the orchestra rises from the pit of the St. James Theatre – creating goose bumps throughout – we hear the all too familiar vamp for one of the most popular and loved songs – “New York, New York” by John Kander and Fred Ebb sounding as fresh and invigorating as ever.  Terrific.  Instantly becoming one of the best classic finales ever, featuring Francine Evans (Anna Uzele) who has finally made the big time along with the mismatched love interest of a husband Jimmy Doyle.

This by no means is meant to belittle what has come before.  The production is sumptuous and must have cost a pretty penny.  Lots of pretty pennies considering the vast list of producers listed in the Playbill.

Next up – your show stopping, construction worker tap concoction high up in the sky.  Totally brilliant with our hero Jimmy Doyle (a soon to be full-fledged star Colton Ryan) a bit dizzy (perhaps from a hangover) looking for work musician as he joyously taps to the tune of “Wine and Peaches” an old trunk song along with his best buddy Tommy (Clyde Alves) a stupendous dancer.

How cleverly you combined the most well-known songs with their lesser-known counterparts.  “Let’s Hear It for Me” “But the World Goes Round” and “Quiet Thing” – exquisitely sung by Jimmy with his crystal clear falsetto along with his surprising full powered voice.

“Light” a new number gets a full choral treatment that brought to mind that moving number from Candide – “Make Our Garden Grow” – so many magical musical and visual moments.

And before I forget.  Emily Skinner (Madame Veltri) as the music teacher with her Polish protégé Gordon (Oliver Prose) with his violin and desire to be accepted at Juilliard share some of the most touching moments in this production.

Just part of the patchwork of human stories – the girl who wants to sing opera, the cook Jesse (John Clay III) who wants to play trumpet, the gay Cuban boy Mateo Diaz (Angel Sigala) who wants to be in a band with his bongos.

They all strive for a better life and a happy ending and Susan Stroman and Company deliver the goods for one and all.

Special mention for upright bass player Jim Borstelmann who with one look and a strong attitude garners immediate attention and Allison Blackwell who wows with her operatic aria.  Thank you.

There are some so-so moments that pass by quickly with the aid of cinematic dances covering transitions.  Nothing is perfect.  But all in all Susan Stroman’s powers are in full bloom.  Like an Ivory soap vintage ad used to say 99 44/100% pure – NEW YORK, NEW YORK is 99 44/100% pure delight.

Inspired by the Martin Scorsese 1977 film, starring Robert De Niro and Liza Minelli

St. James Theater 246 West 44 Street 2 hr 45 min including Intermission

Please wear masks


Photos:  Paul Kolnik

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