Theater Review: ‘On the Town’ at Gateway Playhouse

Theater Review: ‘On the Town’ at Gateway Playhouse

Gateway’s rowdy musical production of On the Town is romantic, raucous and wildly funny. Under the direction of Scott Thompson, we are taken through the events of one night in the lives of three American sailors in wartime 1944. Docked in New York for 24 hours, these young bucks are looking for adventure and—of course—a pretty girl or two.

The iconic “New York, New York” has our cast proclaiming the city one “helluva town,” and the ensuing dance number is loud, fast and full of jaw dropping tricks and outstanding choreography.

Nick Adams as the lovesick Gabey never misses a beat, and his mates Ozzie and Chip, played by Sean Ewing and Daniel Switzer, make a dazzling trio of men in uniform. The camaraderie between the actors is fun to watch, as they immerse themselves in the unfolding story. Adams has impeccable timing, with graceful and powerful movements. In some of the extended dance scenes, Adams showcases his ballet skill, which is a treat to watch alongside the talented Virginia Preston as Ivy Smith, the poster girl whom Gabey has fallen in love with at first sight. Ozzie and Chip vow to help Gabey search throughout New York for Ivy Smith in the racy, tongue-in-cheek number, “Gabey’s Coming.”

The three break up to cover more ground in their search. Chip meets Hildy, a rough-around-the-edges, recently unemployed taxi cab driver who falls head over heels for Chip. The hilarious scene in Hildy’s cab, “Come Up to My Place,” will have you wiping away tears of laughter. Lexi Lyric plays the flirty Hildy, and she’s a fireball you can’t look away from. With a set of pipes seemingly designed to bring down the house, Lyric commands the stage with her powerful voice. The way she can finesse her vocals to match the flighty character of Hildy is admirable and completely hilarious.

Ozzie also meets his own girl along the way—Claire De Loone, a socialite and budding anthropologist. The two have instant chemistry and although Claire is engaged to Judge Pitken—who seems to be quite a pushover at first—the two can’t seem to keep their hands off each other and they get “Carried Away.”

Gabey happens upon his poster girl, Ivy Smith, while she’s at her vocal lesson with Madame Dilly. Played by veteran Mary Stout, Madame Dilly is a fraud, a drunk and appallingly crass—all of which makes for highly entertaining theater. Ivy agrees to meet Gabey for a date, but Madame Dilly intervenes and forbids Ivy to miss a night at her job as a “cooch girl” in Coney Island.

When Ivy doesn’t show, and his pals Ozzie and Chip show up with dames on their arms, Gabey can’t help but feel depressed. The group tries to cheer him up, taking him from club to club and singing, “Ya Got Me.”

Gabey discovers Ivy is on Coney Island, and takes off in search of her. The “Coney Island Ballet” is one of the largest dance numbers in the production, and the talent of the performers is evident as they are all on their marks, don’t miss a beat and perform their hearts out. The supporting ensemble cast members are a delight to watch. Mychal Phillips as Lucy Schmeeler is hysterical, and Brian Ray Norris—who plays a variety of characters—is equally excellent.

On the Town is high-energy fun with plenty of romance and comedy, all adding up to a great night at the theater in Bellport. Another smash hit for Gateway this summer, On the Town cannot be missed!

Playing now through July 15 at the Gateway Playhouse in Bellport. For tickets and information visit gatewayplayhouse.org.

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