BWW Review: Gerard Alessandrini Directs ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN IN THE THEATER: THE MUSICAL WORLD OF MAURY YESTON
A world-famous director can suffer a creative block during a midlife crisis, an unsinkable ship can go under on its initial voyage and death can even take a holiday. These are just three examples of how, when penned by composer/lyricist Maury Yeston, ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN IN THE THEATER.
And that's that title of director Gerard Alessandrini and choreographer Gerry McIntyre's bright and snappy revue sampling the Yeston songbook, now mounted for the York Theatre after an initial cabaret engagement at The Triad.
With music director Greg Jarrett stationed center stage at piano, a cast of five talented performers are spotlighted in a 75-minute parade that primarily focuses on character-driven solos. Though selections from GRAND HOTEL dominate the early proceedings, and we're never too far away from a great moment from NINE, representation is also granted to his much-admired Off-Broadway musical DEATH TAKES A HOLIDAY, Yeston and Arthur Kopit's Gaston Leroux adaptation titled PHANTOM (performed all over the world, but never in New York), lesser-known works DECEMBER SONG, IN THE BEGINNING and THE QUEEN OF BASIN STREET, as well as non-theatre songs and numbers from incomplete projects.
Two Broadway vets are granted the most popular material, with Benjamin Eakeley's dashing presence and dramatic tenor gushing all the romance from "Love Can't Happen," as well as hitting the neurotic comic tone for "Guido's Song," a introspective lament for an artistic genius overextending himself. In a gentler mode, he's very touching with the father/son discovery lesson, "New Words."
Mamie Parris is similarly showcased, seductively purring her way through "A Call From The Vatican" (one of two songs about phone sex staged on Broadway by Tommy Tune), bubbling with showgirl brio in a combo of "I Want To Go To Hollywood" and "Shimmy Like They Do In Paree" and rendering a beautifully soulful "Unusual Way."
Justin Keyes nails the laughs in a double entendre basted culinary number "Salt n' Pepper", Alex Getlin is compelling in the country-tinged torcher "Danglin'", as is Jovan E'Sean with the bluesy "Mississippi Moon."
The above trio livens things up with "I Don't Want To Rock 'n' Roll," proclaiming a preference for the classics ("I'm gonna boycott all the radio stations / That won't play the Goldberg Variations.") and Getlin and Parris belt out "No Women In The Bible," about the secondary status female biblical characters.
The only moment from Yeston's third Broadway hit, TITANIC, is the beautiful choral anthem, "Godspeed, Titanic", which ends the show. Perhaps it's an odd choice for a finale, but after more than an hour of sincerity you might expect Alessandrini's arch sense of humor to show up eventually.