“I try hard to keep detached,But I get carried away”
On The Town is an undoubtedly frivolous show, a plot as light as gossamer, but seeing it recently at the Open Air Theatre reminded me just how tuneful a musical it is, Leonard Bernstein’s 1944 score full not just of classic songs but gorgeous instrumental passages too, to allow the many dance sequences to really pop. This recording comes from the 2014 Broadway revival which received good notices but barely lasted a year altogether.
Who knows why it didn’t last. It has a strong trio of men as its sailors on 24-hour ship leave in New York – Tony Yazbeck, Clyde Alves, and Jay Armstrong Johnson – and some women who steal the show from them, most notably Elizabeth Stanley’s Claire de Loone, and Jackie Hoffman too for good measure. Stanley’s portrayal in particular really shines through, matching a strong soprano with serious comic skills and making her someone I want to find out more about.
From the swooping refrain of ‘Carried Away’ delivered with great élan by Stanley and Alves, to Yazbeck’s genial warmth on tracks like ‘Lucky To Be Me’, to the pure joy of the full company numbers like ‘New York, New York’, the enthusiasm here is just infectious. And the score sounds glorious under James Moore’s baton, the dance music proving almost as irresistible as the songs, making this a cast recording very much worth investigating.