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Review: On the Town, at Regent’s Park Theatre

Energy and style as Strictly finalist Danny Mac stars in Bernstein’s musical about three sailors on 24-hour shore leave

02 June, 2017 — By Howard Loxton

Danny Mac in On the Town. Photo: Jane Hobson

FORGET the image of Shakespeare in a bosky dell: designer Peter McKintosh has laid down metal sheeting, tiered steel girders and metal shutters. It’s more like a depressing metal scrapyard but there’s a girl in overalls munching an apple and the signs say it is Brooklyn Naval Dockyard.

There’s a rat-a-tat-tat on metal and someone is whistling as drab workmen come on, then Rodney Earl Clarke’s rich voice sings out I Feel I’m Not Out Of Bed Yet and the whole thing comes to life. Sailors in white uniforms spread through the auditorium and bright costumes in primary colours fill the stage as they launch into New York, New York!

Lizzy Connolly and Jacob Maynard as Hildy and Chip. Photo Jane Hobson

Bernstein’s 1944 musical, about three sailors on 24-hour shore leave trying to track down a girl one of them sees on a poster, is packed with good tunes. But director/choreographer Drew McOnie places the emphasis on spectacular dance storytelling, including a sailor’s emotion-charged gay encounter and uses movement on the multi-level structure to suggest busy street life.

Strictly finalist Danny Mac as Gabey, the guy who falls for the poster girl, Samuel Edwards as Ozzie who meets anthropologist Claire in the Natural History Museum and Jacob Maynard as Chip, who intends to see the sights but is caught by a lady cabbie, are all splendid (charismatic Maynard took over the role when injury forced Fred Haig to pull out last week).

They are matched by Siena Kelly, charming as poster girl Ivy, Lizzy Connolly as the predatory cabbie and elegant Miriam-Teak Lee as Claire.

Mark Heenehan offers a smooth cameo as Claire’s put-upon fiancée and Maggie Steed is a comic singing teacher, but it’s the energy and style of the ensemble of dancers that drive things.

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