Wednesday, August 27, 2008

On the Town

The entertainment in Portland is pretty thin, but there is this nice video of Bernstein's On the Town with Michael Tilson Thomas and the London Symphony Orchestra video taped at the Barbican in 1992.

Betty Comden and Adolph Green, creators of the book and lyrics, appear as members of the cast, speaking narration, occasionally singing and playing minor characters. The show is semi-staged behind the orchestra. Only the dancing is missing. Since the movie with Gene Kelly is mostly dancing, this is a bit hard to imagine. It starts off "New York, New York, a hell of a town," something that does not translate to a Gene Kelly movie.

The cast is a bit rag tag. Opera singers Frederica von Stade, Thomas Hampson, Samuel Ramey and Evelyn Lear play Claire de Lune, Gabey, Claire's fiance Pitkin and Madame Dilly respectively. The other characters are played by Broadway types Kurt Ollmann, David Garrison and the fabulous Tyne Daly as Chip, Ozzie and Hildy the cab driver. I watched it to see Tyne Daly sing, and she was perfect, especially in "Come up to my place."

Bernstein's music is good, as usual, but the story is a bit tenuous, an excuse for dancing. It was fun and made me wish for more of Tyne Daly.

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