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'On the Town' Dances Back to Broadway for 70th Anniversary

By Jon Sobel j.sobel@classicalite.com on May 09, 2014 05:21 PM EDT

Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly and Ann Miller lit up the movie version of On the Town in 1949. A different kind of all-star creative team is bringing to Broadway a revival of the original Leonard Bernstein/Jerome Robbins/Betty Comden/Adolph Green musical this October.

Tony winner John Rando (Urinetown) will direct and Tony winner Jess Goldstein will design the costumes. The creative team also includes musical director James Moore (Ragtime, Follies, South Pacific) and Tony nominees Beowulf Boritt (scenic design) and Kai Harada (sound design). Although it will be the Broadway debut of choreographer Joshua Bergasse, he was bound for fake-Broadway when he created the dances for the fake musical about Marilyn Monroe in the TV flop Smash, whose fake-Broadway songs and production numbers were by far its best elements.

Leonard Bernstein's score will be performed in the original orchestrations by 28 musicians in what's being billed as the largest orchestra on Broadway. Songs include "Lonely Town," "I Can Cook Too" and "New York, New York" ("The Bronx is up but the Battery's down," not "If I can make it there…").

Casting hasn't been announced, but a workshop production last year at the Barrington Stage Company in Massachusetts featured a batch of Broadway veterans including Alysha Umphress (Bring It On: The Musical), Tony Yazbeck (A Chorus Line, Gypsy) and Elizabeth Stanley (Cry-Baby, Million Dollar Quartet). Ben Brantley in The New York Times called it "one of those rare revivals that remind us what a hit show from long ago was originally all about."

On the Town had its roots in the 1944 Jerome Robbins ballet Fancy Free with music by Leonard Bernstein. Directed by George Abbott, the musical theater adaption with book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green opened on Broadway at the end of 1944 and ran for over a year. Its story of three sailors on shore leave in New York City struck audiences' funnybones during wartime, but a couple of Broadway revivals died quick deaths in spite of casts that included Bernadette Peters, Donna McKechnie, Phyllis Newman and Lea DeLaria. Producers Howard and Janet Kagan are aiming for a better result.

Previews are set to begin Sept. 20 at the Lyric Theatre (formerly the Foxwoods) in advance of an Oct. 16 opening.

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TagsOn the Town, Leonard Bernstein, Jerome Robbins, Betty Comden, Adolph Green, broadway, Broadway Musical, musical theater