Sailor Boys: On the Town Still Swings


Somewhere inside every jaded New Yorker, there’s an awestruck, aw-shucks sailor, still besotted by the city and crying for some shore leave. So indulge your inner rube and take in the new revival of On the Town, an evergreen entertainment whose brash charms have not faded with time.

We all know the scenario: Three sailors get a day pass from naval tedium to try their luck ashore in America’s
greatest city. But the seadogs’ resolve to sample the sights quickly melts as they encounter a succession of lusty landlubbers. Hijinks ensue. (Check out what happens at the
Museum of Natural History!) Gabey, the group’s idealist,
avidly pursues Ms. Right, but Chip and Ozzie, eyeing the clock, embrace Ms. Right Now. From this paper-thin premise, the original collaborators spun loopy magic.

And director John Rando’s new production delivers the goods: This On the Town has the gushing effervescence of just-uncorked Champagne. Leonard Bernstein’s music still swings, the jokes still crackle with knowing irony, and Joshua Bergasse’s update of Jerome Robbins’s roistering choreography renders the swag of America on the make. The whole shebang throbs with the hormonal intensity of a country getting back to the good things after too long at war. It’s a confection, but a delightful one. They don’t make musicals like this anymore, and you’ll leave wishing that they did.