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My One and Only

Also see Sharon's reviews of Fences and Nighthawks

My One and Only
Michael Gruber and Rachel York
If you're going to do a jukebox musical, you could do a lot worse than to have the Gershwins in your jukebox. When My One and Only opened on Broadway in 1983, it had about 15 Gershwin songs, accompanied by some spirited (and Tony-winning) choreography by Tommy Tune and Thommie Walsh. It also had a goofy little story about a Texas aviator (played by Tune) and an English channel swimmer (Twiggy). It worked, based on the charm of its leads and a heck of a lot of jaw-droppingly good tap.

The Reprise! revival starts with a major strike against it. No matter how energetic Dan Mojica's choreography, it is just impossible to recreate the impact of the original's choreography with a scaled down ensemble and the limited rehearsal period provided by Reprise! And Reprise! also finds itself stuck with a script that catered to the particular talents of the show's original stars. So, we find Michael Gruber saddled with a Texas accent and Rachel York with a British one, because they're trying to do what came naturally to Tune and Twiggy.

York turns out to be Reprise!'s biggest asset in this production, as she gives the role of Edythe considerably more than the mere outline that the script provides. York puts a well-developed character in there - her Edythe is smart and strong when talking to the press, less sure of herself when in the presence of the show's villain (watch how her upper class British accent falters into lower class when she's thrown off-balance), and simply delightful when she allows herself to fall in love. But more than that, she's a solid tapper and a powerful singer. Her "How Long Has This Been Going On?" is downright incandescent.

As her Billy, Michael Gruber puts on an earnest, goofy personality. He has a sweet voice, and actual dimples appear when he sings happily. At times, though, the tap requirements of the role seemed beyond his comfort range. Although he hits all the steps, and never lets the smile leave his face, the smile seems plastered on above gritted teeth, and his non-blinking eyes looked to be filled with worry, if not terror. He isn't helped by dancing beside a member of the ensemble who is striking the poses with more natural grace, and occasionally seems to be actively upstaging him.

Betty Garrett plays Madam Magix (a gender-revision from the original Mr. Magix, Charles "Honi" Coles). Garrett is brought on stage riding a barber chair and, in her first act number, she never leaves it, making for some awkward staging. All is forgiven in act two, however, when a frustrated Madam Magix finally says, "This boy's gonna make me get outta my chair" - and the 87-year-old hoofer shows Billy a thing or two. Indeed, she has a bit of business in the number which brings the house down.

And, in its way, this is why Reprise!'s My One and Only succeeds. The production doesn't have the same exact elements that made the original a hit, but it has the same sense of fun. It captures a sense of frivolity that matches the era in which the show is set, and while it never falls into outright farce, it doesn't take itself too seriously either. It's just a fast-moving, meaningless romp through a delightful score.

My One and Only runs through September 17. For more information, visit www.reprise.org.

Reprise! Broadway's Best -- Jim Gardia, Producing Director -- presents My One and Only Music and Lyrics by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin; Book by Peter Stone & Timothy S. Mayer. Scenic Design Bradley Kaye; Costume Design Heather Carleton; Lighting Design Tom Ruzika; Sound Design Philip G. Allen; Orchestrations by Michael Gibson; Associate Music Director Darryl Archibald; Music Coordinator Joe Soldo; Technical Director Brian Staubach; Casting Director Julia Flores; Production Stage Manager Jill Gold; Press Representative David Elzer/Demand PR; Director of Marketing and Communications Kelly Estrella; General Manager Danny Feldman. Music Direction by Gerald Sternbach; Directed and Choreographed by Dan Mojica.

Cast:
Edythe Herbert - Rachel York
Captain Billy Buck Chandler - Michael Gruber
Prince Erraclyovitch Tchatchavadze - Richard Israel
Mickey - Vicki Lewis
Reverend J.D. Montgomery - Clinton Derricks-Carroll
Madam Magix - Betty Garrett
Chorus - Megan Bayha, Bradley Benjamin, Richard Bulda, Suzanne Carlton, Venny Carranza, Sascha Childers, Steven Donahue, Wilkie Ferguson, Craig M. Lucas, Amber Owens, Aaron Pomeroy, Erin Stoddard

Photo by Michael Lamont


- Sharon Perlmutter






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