Thursday, March 26, 2015

Review of "Honeymoon in Vegas"

The new musical, Honeymoon in Vegas, is a polished, likeable production.  Likeability is the optimum word, especially with the cast.  Their likeability quotient is a ten.  They include Brynn O’Malley as the beautiful, faithful girlfriend, Betsy Nolan; Rob McClure, as Jack Singer, her mild-mannered boyfriend with a paralyzing mother complex; and Tony Danza, as Tommy Korman, a smooth, suave gambler you don’t want to cross.

Based on the movie of the same name the plot centers on Jack’s inability to commit to the long suffering Betsy because of his mother’s dying wish for him not to get married—“How could you love someone else?”  However, Betsy’s ultimatum for Jack’s devotion leads to a spur of the moment trip to Vegas to get hitched.  Unfortunately, before the nuptials take place Jack loses big in a poker game organized by Tommy Korman.  Magnanimously, the cardsharp says he’ll forget the debt if his girlfriend, a dead ringer for his late wife, will spend the weekend with him.  From there the fun ensues as Tommy tries to woo Betsy while Jack works desperately to win her back before the weekend’s end.

What makes Honeymoon in Vegas work is the fine cast.  Tony Danza is one cool operator.  He is clearly enjoying himself and having a good time.  His enthusiasm is embraced by the audience.  He is fit and trim, looks good, has an admirable singing voice, and isn’t bad in the tap dancing department either.  Rob McClure, last seen on Broadway as the lead in the musical Chaplin, is good-natured and sufficiently manic as he pursues every angle to win back his love.  Brynn O’Malley is lovely, possess a fine singing voice, and is game for whatever book writer, Andrew Bergman, throws at her character.  In regards to Bergman, who based the book of the show on his own screenplay, the story is good-natured and sweet-tempered, leading to a predictable, but satisfying conclusion.

The music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown are breezy and tuneful.  There’s no individual song that stands out, just a charming and enjoyable score that are augmented by having the pit band on stage many times during the production.

Director Gary Griffin keeps the energy flowing in the production.  Whether a madcap scene or a warm and tender moment or some playful silliness, Griffin is adept at meeting the challenges for each.  His staging of the last 15 minutes of the show, the highlight of the show, are comically enjoyable.

Honeymoon in Vegas, an entertaining and lighthearted musical.

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