Do musicals’ books have to make sense? Not necessarily. Do they need a good love story? You bet. Can this story be stretched to two hours? Preferably, but good songs and enthusiastic acting and dancing can make up for nearly everything.
In this theater image released by Helene Davis Public Relations, Will Chase, left, and Laura Osnes are shown during a performance of Encores! presentation of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Pipe Dream" at New York City Center in New York. >>>
Such is the case of “Pipe Dream,” the stepchild among Rodgers & Hammerstein musicals, revived by City Center’s Encores! series. Looking for fun this weekend? Nothing better than catching “Pipe Dream” during its all too brief scheduling.
Based on two John Steinbeck novels, loosely or Hammersteinishly, it concerns a Steinbeck whore softened into an R&H drifter, hungry enough to smash a store window for food, and adopted by a whoremistress, yet not a prostitute herself. But verisimilitude be damned where there is solid entertainment.
<<< In this theater image released by Helene Davis Public Relations, Leslie Uggams, center, and the cast are shown during a performance of Encores! presentation of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Pipe Dream" at New York City Center in New York.
The marine biology Ph.D. and researcher Doc, marriage-shy hero of the show, is superbly enacted by Will Chase. Suzy, the vagrant heroine, is the lovely and gifted Laura Osnes, who can transcend and elevate anything. And ageless Leslie Uggams is matchless as Fauna, the—what? She runs a bevy of women who are not labeled prostitutes, but are clearly not a young ladies’ finishing school either. No matter; she is admirable, and so is the supporting cast, headed by the dependable Tom Wopat.
The score is full of winning songs, the cast is topnotch, the orchestra under Rob Berman is terrific, and the proceedings, ably choreographed by Kelli Barclay and smartly directed by Marc Bruni, are just fine. And so will you be, as you watch.
New York City Center Main Stage, 131 West 55th Street (between 6th & 7th), New York, NY 10019. CityTix® 212.581.1212. Performances from now to April 1, 2012.
Photos by and courtesy of Ari Mintz / AP.
John Simon has written for over 50 years on theatre, film, literature, music and fine arts for the Hudson Review, New Leader, New Criterion, National Review,New York Magazine, Opera News, Weekly Standard, Broadway.com and Bloomberg News. Mr. Simon holds a PhD from Harvard University in Comparative Literature and has taught at MIT, Harvard University, Bard College and Marymount Manhattan College.
To learn more, visit the JohnSimon-Uncensored.com