What do a cab driver, an anthropologist, and a poster girl have in common? They’re the love interests of three sailors let loose in New York for 24 hours in Betty Comden and Adolph Green’s "On the Town." And they were just three of the many delights in Wootton High School’s production of this classic musical.
The play, which opened on Broadway in 1944, was later turned into an MGM film starring Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra. It is known for its lively comic dialogue and Leonard Bernstein’s memorable music.
Wootton’s production was anchored by vibrant voices. The cast, led by a number of outstanding star performers, worked together to deliver an evening of terrific entertainment.
Chip, Ozzie, and Gabey, the three sojourning sailors, were magnificently portrayed by Jared Albert, Justin Sun, and Matt Mooney. With songs like “New York, New York” and “Gabey’s Coming,” they carried the show without getting “Carried Away.” Mooney’s clear, lyrical voice juxtaposed with Sun and Albert’s comic actions made them a truly tremendous trio.
Their charming love interests, Claire, Ivy, and Hildy, were played by Samantha Tempchin, Nellie Darling, and Meghan Keane, whose strong soprano voices and bright ballet movements made it easy to see why the sailors were so captivated by them. Ozzie, Claire, Chip, and Hildy combined in a carefree quartet on songs like “Ya Got Me” and the romantic, wistful “Some Other Time.”
Other performances well worth noting were delivered by Alex Marston as Pitkin, Claire’s sadly neglected fiancé, and Nevie Brooks as Lucy Schmeeler, Hildy’s incessantly sniffly roommate. Their comic reactions helped keep the play moving and the audience entertained.
Every musical needs the strong underpinning of a great orchestral accompaniment. Wootton’s pit orchestra provided a big, bright sound perfectly suited to the jazzy feel of the show.
The production’s visual elements worked to bring World War II-era New York to life. The city skyline, subway car, and night clubs, combined with clever period costumes, painted a captivating picture of the Big Apple in the 1940s. Despite a few glitches with the microphones, the sound designed by Cristina DeRisi underscored the actor’s voices and brought out the nearly perfect tones of the orchestra. Jeanie McAlpine’s lighting design helped emphasize the characters’ chemistry.
On the whole, Wootton’s energetic, joyful production left the audience smiling and echoing Gabey’s feeling that it’s “Lucky to Be Me.”
Cappies, the Critics and Awards Program for High School Theater, trains high school theater and journalism students as theater critics. They attend shows at each others’ schools, after which they write reviews of those shows under the guidance of teacher-mentors. See www.cappies.com/nca.