Keith Roberts and Karine Plantadit in Come Fly Away. Photo by Joan Marcus.
BOTTOM LINE: A wonderful song and dance extravaganza paying homage to Frank Sinatra with amazing choreography by Twyla Tharp.
For some time now, Theasy has been listing Come Fly Away as a “Best Bet: Take Your Parents” musical, noting that “Twyla Tharp’s choreography and Frank Sinatra’s tunes make this sophisticated dance show a safe option for adults and seniors.” Having just seen the show myself, and as a member of that “seniors” generation who can still recall bobbysoxers swooning over Frank Sinatra at the Paramount Theatre in the 1940s, I wholeheartedly agree. I loved this show (as did my wife, who is also a member of the “seniors” generation but who, in her heart and certainly to me, is still a bobbysoxer). I only regret that my kids didn’t think to “take their parents” to this show even earlier in its run.
But I would go even further. I wouldn’t just urge you to take your parents (although I hope you do) but also to take your uncles and aunts, your significant others, your neighbors and friends, for this is a production that simply should not be missed. It is truly terrific. Twyla Tharp’s choreography is incredible, requiring of the show’s dancers a level of balletic grace, athleticism and gymnastic skill seemingly beyond normal human ability to execute – and yet, without exception, every member of the troupe is up to the task. If I had to single out any members of the cast for special praise, it would be the comic couple Laura Mead (Betsy) and Charlie Neshyba-Hodges (Marty) and the sexy Laurie Kanyok (Kate) who filled in for Karine Plantadit on the evening we saw the show. (Amazingly, Ms. Kanyok usually dances an entirely different role, that of Babe, in matinee performances.) Please note, however, that singling out these dancers is not meant to disparage any of the other performances, all of which are absolutely first-rate.
The show consists of more than thirty musical numbers, all set in a 1940s style bar-nightclub and danced to the recorded music of many of Frank Sinatra’s classic songs including “Body and Soul,” “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” “Witchcraft,” “Makin’ Whoopee,” “Just Friends,” “One For My Baby,” and dozens more, culminating, as you might have guessed, with “My Way” and “New York, New York.” Sinatra’s recorded vocals are also supplemented by wonderful live musical renditions of some of his tunes by Hilary Gardner, the evening’s featured vocalist, sometimes as solos and sometimes as duets with Sinatra. Tharp’s genius is reflected in the manner in which she seamlessly marries Sinatra’s recorded music and Gardner’s live renditions, and then integrates those vocals equally seamlessly with her dances.
The Come Fly Away band, conducted by Russ Kassoff, is also deserving of considerable praise. Several of the brass soloists were truly outstanding.
One caveat: despite everything I’ve said, not everyone will be as enthusiastic about this show as I am. The show has no plot, no real structure and no dialogue and those who insist that a Broadway musical must have those attributes may be disappointed and feel shortchanged. But if you go to this show not expecting a traditional Broadway musical, but rather an exciting musical event and a great song and dance entertainment, then I think you’ll agree that this is simply one fine show. And that goes for everyone, “seniors” and “juniors” alike - although if you are of an age to recall “Ol’ Blue Eyes,” you will probably enjoy the experience even more.
(Come Fly Away plays at the Marquis Theatre, 1535 Broadway, through September 5, 2010. Performances are Tuesdays at 7pm, Wednesdays at 2pm and 8pm, Thursdays through Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 3pm. Tickets range from $65 to $126.50. Discount Tickets to Orchestra and Mezzanine performances are available for $69.50 with Discount Code BOXDISC95. Student Tickets are available at the box office on the day of the performance for $30. Tickets are available at www.ticketmaster.com or by calling 877.250.2929.)