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Honeymoon in Vegas

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I am going to be vilified for this, but I found this new show playing at the Nederlander Theater on 41st St. to be a fun, almost old-fashioned musical.


Based on the 1992 movie of the same name, which starred Nicolas Cage, Sarah Jessica Parker and James Caan, this silly story of a man whose deathbed promise to his mother never to marry makes him unable to commit, is terrific fodder for musicalization.


The score by Jason Robert Brown, displays his versatility...after powerful works like Parade and Bridges of Madison County, Honeymoon in Vegas (with the unfortunate initials HiV,) is a lark. There are some clever numbers and some tuneful pieces and some brassy melodies all of which nicely convey Brooklyn, Vegas, and Hawaii.


The cast, led by Rob McClure, Brynn O'Malley and Tony Danza is pretty terrific. McClure doesn't have the crazed intensity of Nicolas Cage, and his rubber-faced, physical performance is great fun. Ms. O'Malley has the tough job of playing a pretty two-dimensional dame...and does it nicely, and Tony Danza is well-cast as the sleazy (but charming) gambler. He has a fun surprise for the audience in act two.


This is not to say that I don't think the show has some problems...while the direction is clean, the choreography is pretty bland...there isn't a showstopper at all...and the sections set in Sin City cry out for a knock-you-off-your-feet, boffo number! Sets and costumes are fine...(but is that a word anyone wants in a review?). They certainly don't steal focus from the show. And I have to say, while Danza is great...he's not a real singer and he has seven major numbers. Granted, none of them are stretches, and at no point did I think "ouch", but I still thought that hanging this much music on Mr. Danza was unnecessary.


I got my ticket for $45 on TDF, and ended up with an amazing seat on the side aisle of the ninth row. Many of the folks around me were other theater-regulars who love to tear things apart (especially in previews), and were doing just that. But the couple right behind me were loving it. They were very much a tourist pair...who came to see the show for Mr. Danza, who did not disappoint. (She audibly expressed disbelief when my theater companion and I didn't stand for Tony's bow.)


With some tweaks and tightening, I think this show could really find an audience in theater groups from all over with two fairly major caveats: if the critics judge it for what it is, and don't stick their noses up at it, and if the producers don't overcharge...this should not be more than $120 tops. There's no sophisticated ballet breaks like On the Town, mumbling youngsters like Matilda, tricks like Pippin, or over the top offensive humor like Book of Mormon. And thank GOD, it's not a jukebox musical.


(And don't get me wrong...I LOVED Pippin, On the Town and Book of Mormon...and even some jukebox musicals. LOL)


It's got a more classic feel. A nice story with a happy ending...and some great, accessible songs, performed by a cast wonderfully suited to the task.

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