Monday, June 15, 2009

Musicals in Mufti

With the spring 2009 edition, the York Theatre's Musicals in Mufti series continues to delight and amaze. The Muftis are five-performance staged readings of forgotten and/or neglected musicals. In the tiny York Theatre, with no scenery, minimal costumes, one piano (occasionally two), wonderful unmiked voices (occasional exceptions), and superb casts somewhere between on-book and off-book, the Muftis are intimate adventures in raw talent. Past highlights include 70 Girls, 70 (with Jane Powell, Helen Gallagher, Mimi Hines, George S. Irving, and Charlotte Rae!), Cyrano, Enter Laughing, Lucky Stiff, and my particular favorite, Carmen Jones. This season started with The Grand Tour, Jerry Herman's stab at a serious musical, in which life-threatening events are bizarrely alternated with the usual, generic, cheery Jerry Herman songs. Jason Graae's wonderful performance made it well worth seeing, and hearing James Barbour sing unmiked in a small theatre was a treat. The second show, High Spirits, was a total delight, with Howard McGillan, Veanne Cox, Carol Kane, Kristen Wyatt, and, in particular, Janine LaManna as good a cast as one could ask for. Coming up is Knickerbocker Holiday.

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