BWW Reviews: 42nd St Moon is PAINTING THE CLOUDS WITH SUNSHINE
42nd Street Moon's Greg MacKellan and Mark D. Kaufmann wrote "Painting the Clouds with Sunshine" as a tribute to musical films of the depression era, but their end result may very well have been a successful film of that time.
The world premiere musical follows a young woman with Hollywood stars in her eyes and a romance on the side, while the production's musical score is made up entirely of songs from famous film musical composers like Oscar Hammerstein II, Lorenz Hart, Richard Rodgers, Frank Loesser and more. The show's Hollywood stars, Iris Langston and Russell James (Allison F. Rich and Ryan Drummond), regularly pop out of a miniature movie theater screen to bring their comedic films to life while others watch and dream during the Depression. The short interludes provide some of the best moments of the production, providing a revue of sorts within an extremely well-written full book musical. Rich and Drummond have hilarious chemistry and vast celebrity quality.
The remaining cast is just as stellar. Galen Murphy-Hoffman plays Alice's love interest, George Fenton, a newspaper man with a painful past and a strong concern for the less fortunate. Fenton slowly lightens up after meeting Alice, the fluorescent and lively Kari Yancy. The characters gather around a diner owned by fun and sassy Willa Brennan (Cami Thompson). There, Hollywood producer Gil (the swoon-worthy John Elliott Kirk) incognito discovers Alice's talent and sunny disposition. Meanwhile, George and Alice's supportive best friends Jake (Justin Gillman) and Joyce (Nicole Frydman) provide additional humor.
Whether audiences like where the plot and songs lead the loveable characters will depend on their point of view. In at least one way, the new musical veers away from its inspiration. A fitting, but somewhat heartbreaking finale leaves viewers wondering where these characters will go now that their lives have changed and whether their lives have changed for the better. But the poignant ending also leaves audiences considering their own lives and their own need for a more positive outlook. The musical never fails to live up to its name, always "Painting the Clouds with Sunshine."