"My One and Only"
Goodspeed Musicals, East Haddam
This season gets under way with Goodspeed Musicals’ show, the veteran “My One and Only.” Surely a pleasant way to greet the summer—with a countryside jaunt, cool riverside beverages, and an inundation of Gershwin melodies!
Granted that this particular production never rises above the level of mere competency. Yet its many tap dance numbers pulse with energy. And the design team deserves high praise. James Youmans’ delightful stage sets meet the challenge of Goodspeed’s small stage, and Robin L. McGee’s glitzy costumes enhance the show’s sense of the ‘20s.
But above all, we are treated to such memorable pieces as “Strike Up the Band,” “S’Wonderful,” “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” and “Funny Face.” It’s amazing how the Gershwin songs (George—music, Ira—lyrics) have survived despite the show’s many incarnations over the years. “My One and Only” has had a long, rocky history with totally different stories and titles. Originally a 1927 Broadway musical called “Funny Face” (with Fred and Adele Astaire), it would become a 1957 film of the same name (with Astaire and Audrey Hepburn). A 1957 interpretation appeared on Broadway, retitled “My One and Only” which starred Tommy Tune and Twiggy. And now we have the latest offering at the Goodspeed. The story itself hardly bears mentioning—though it tries hard to recall the historic era of the 1920s in this country. A young aviator (determined to out Lindbergh Lindbergh) falls for a girl, an English Channel swimmer. Many problems challenge the young lovers, but songs—and tap dance routines—ultimately conquer all.
As to the players, two performances stand out—that of the endearing Tony Yazbeck as the aviator, and the comedienne Kirsten Wyatt as his side-kick. Yazbeck sings pleasantly and displays strong dancing skills. (Not surprising, as Yazbeck continues his career. He had burst upon the Broadway scene several years ago, garnering recognition as Tulsa in “Gypsy.”) Wyatt adds a solid comic routine to the proceedings. And Alde Lewis, Jr., whose dancing has a special elegance and skill, does a delightful soft-shoe number with Yazbeck.
So much for the redeeming moments of “My One and Only.” New York City may be offering better musicals this summer, but those urban venues sadly lack the durable charm and inimitable setting of this castle-by-the-river.
May 19, 2011