Cry-Baby: Partial Arts

Cry-Baby loves the 1950s, Honor loves samurai flicks, Paris loves Cole Porter

The writers make one big miscalculation, substituting a string of battle scenes for Shakespeare's sneakily funny deus-ex-machina ending. This prolongs the tale just when it's reached its natural end, and misses, ironically, the point that Shakespeare has most strongly in common with Japanese theater tradition: Nothing could fit more snugly in Buddhist culture than Duke Frederick's religious conversion. It's particularly maddening because several of the work's musical high points—big, sweepingly lovely ensemble numbers—catch this shared spiritual element perfectly, while others snag Shakespeare's low-comedy sense in a way that's pure kyogen. The cast's as erratic in quality as Reichel's directorial ideas, but both of the young female leads, Diane Veronica Phelan and Ali Ewoldt (Hana and Kiku, a/k/a Rosalind and Celia), are delightful, while Jaygee Macapugay and Romney Piamonte make excellent drollery in roles that merge Phebe and Silvius with Audrey and William. While falling short of its lofty goals, Honor reaches a surprisingly large number of gratifyingly high peaks.


A samurai As You Like It: Vincent Rodriguez III and Diane Veronica Phelan in Honor
Richard Termine
A samurai As You Like It: Vincent Rodriguez III and Diane Veronica Phelan in Honor

Details

Cry-Baby
By Mark O'Donnell, Thomas Meehan, David Javerbaum, and Adam Schlesinger
Marquis Theatre
211 West 45 Street
212-307-4100

Honor
By Peter Mills and Cara Reichel
Hudson Guild Theatre
441 West 26th Street
212-352-3101

Paris
By Martin Brown and Cole Porter
McGinn-Cazale Theatre
(closed)

Paris (1928) was Cole Porter's first Broadway hit—except that so many of his songs were cut before the opening and replaced by interpolations that you could hardly call the result his. Enterprisingly, Musicals Tonight has excavated the pre-opening script and restored all the songs Porter wrote for it. Irritatingly, they've also felt the need to fiddle with the script and augment the score with numbers Porter wrote for other shows around the same time. Too much of a good thing, say I. But the songs are all wonderful to hear, and Jennifer Evans sings with appealing vivacity as the heroine Vivienne—this is the one about the French actress who thinks she wants to marry a stuffy Boston Brahmin. You know.

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