Review: ‘On the Town’ at Gateway Playhouse

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Smash hit On the Town has sailed into the Gateway Playhouse. Originally opening on Broadway in 1944, this popular musical is also quite well known for its 1949 film version starring Gene Kelly, and Frank Sinatra. With music by Leonard Bernstein and book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, On the Town is directed and choreographed here by Scott Thompson.

Sean Ewing, Nick Adams, and Daniel Switzer in On the Town. Photo by Jeff Bellante.

It’s New York City, 1944, in the heart of World War II. Three sailors, Gabey (Nick Adams), Ozzie (Sean Ewing) and Chip (Daniel Switzer), are on a twenty-four hour shore leave looking for love and adventure. The trio has barely begun when Gabey falls head-over-heels in love with a picture of Miss Turnstiles, Ivy Smith (Virginia Preston) in the subway. He decides he must meet her and insists on searching for her. With the help of his buddies, they set off to turn Manhattan upside down. When they pick up some unexpected help and distractions along the way it appears as if Gabey might not be the only one with love on the brain. As the eclectic group cavorts their way through the city their fun and escapades are sure to entertain the entire family.

At times comical, and at others intense and emotional, On the Town is a multi-layered production. This cast navigates these varying depths exceedingly well. Nick Adams’ fantastic voice and enviable dance skills are on prominent display throughout the show, straight from his opening number of “New York, New York”. Virginia Preston’s gorgeous dancing and sweet voice suit her character perfectly. They both transition beautifully from high-energy to languid control, especially in the numerous ballet drama/interpretive dance sequences throughout the production.

Sean Ewing is wonderful as the loyal Ozzie. He and Amanda Higgins, as Claire De Loone, play off one another brilliantly. Their hilarious duet “Carried Away” showcases their many skills and Higgins’ breathtaking soprano.
Daniel Switzer is charming as the adorable and touristy Chip. It is guaranteed fun to watch him get shanghaied by lonely and desperate cab driver, Hildy, played with uproarious glee by Lexi Lyric. Their amusing number “Come Up to My Place” is sure to leave a smile on your face.

Added to their numbers are the very funny Andy Redeker as the understanding Judge Pitkin, and the entertaining antics of Mychal Phillips as Lucy Schmeeler. Not to be left out are the talented Mary Stout as the lurid lush Madame Dilly, and the entire marvelous ensemble.

Daniel Switzer and Lexi Lyric as Chip and Hildy. Photo by Jeff Bellante.

Excellent lighting by designer Marcia Madeira sets every mood on the nicely designed set by Michael Boyer. Accurate historical costuming provided by Costume World Theatrical assists in transporting the audience back to a past decade. Superb execution of this classic score emanates from the entire orchestra under direction from Jeffrey Buchsbaum.

Scott Thompson provides the diverse choreography this show demands. Ranging from episodes of manic comedy, to lengthy dramatic dance arrangements, On The Town is an intriguing dichotomy of style. With a little something for everyone, whether it be comedy, romance or drama, don’t be surprised if you get ‘carried away’ with On the Town.

Running Time: 2 and a half hours including one 15-minute intermission.

On the Town is playing through July 15, 2017, at The Gateway Playhouse – 215 South Country Road Bellport, in NY. For tickets call the box office at (631) 286-1133 or purchase them online.