This visit to the gambling world of 1950’s Manhattan is a trip down memory lane for most audiences. But thanks to director Matt Raftery, who puts his original touch on this production of “the perfect musical,” it’s a brand new voyage. Superb casting, a great script with wonderful music, coupled with Raftery’s unique staging and bright, energetic choreography make this delightful Tony Award-winning musical from Broadway’s Golden Era seem fresh again.
Times Square atmosphere twinkles thanks to Thomas M. Ryan’s suspended neon-lit theatre marquees and Nancy Missimi’s vibrant, period-perfect costumes. Ryan T. Nelson jump-starts this familiar score making songs like “If I Were a Bell” and “Luck Be a Lady” sound contemporary. Raftery’s skill as a talented choreographer shines in numbers like the “Runyonland” prologue, the sultry “Take Back Your Mink” and especially in the show stopping “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat,” featuring a brilliant George Andrew Wolff and the entire company.
But if that weren’t enough, a few star turns make this musical their own. Jessie Mueller must be who Abe Burrows and Jo Swerling envisioned when creating the character of Miss Adelaide. Stylish and sexy, ditzy, yet smart in all the right ways, and blessed with a voice able to effortlessly belt out Frank Loesser’s songs, Miss Mueller is absolute perfection. Matched by Rod Thomas’ comedic, Jimmy Stewart-like Nathan Detroit, with his droll line-readings, mellow vocals and perfect timing, you get nothing short of brilliance. Wolff, Bernie Yvon and George Keating complement one another as Runyonesque gamblers always looking for the next crap game. So “Follow the Fold” to Lincolnshire where the 1950’s looks and sounds brand new again.