Spring Comes to New York

Ron Cohen has all the latest On and Off-Broadway.

New York-CinderellaSpring has finally come to New York and the earliest blooms on the musical theatre scene make for a mixed but welcome bouquet. On Broadway, the initial arrival has been the lavish redo of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella (pictured left), a sometimes irritating but still highly watchable spectacle that’s even better to listen to. There’s not much spectacle in Hands On a Hard Body, which debuted on the Main Stem on March 21, but it‘s a surprisingly entertaining look at life in hard times. Meanwhile, Off-Broadway came thrillingly to life with the unveiling of the intimate but magnificent revival of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Passion, at Classic Stage Company.

Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II wrote their take on the Cinderella a tale for television way back in 1957, and the original TV production starred a youthful Julie Andrews. Since then, there have been two more revised versions done on the tube  and some mountings on stage as well, but this current production – with a new book by the comedic playwright Douglas Carter Beane and direction by Mark Brokaw – marks the work’s first time on Broadway. The show is at its best when Rodgers’ music takes over the proceedings, with a wonderfully full complement of Broadway musicians in the pit. Just to hear ‘Ten Minutes Ago’, one of Rodgers’ most lilting waltzes, providing a rhapsodic climax to a delicious overture orchestrated by Danny Troob, raises expectations to a high pitch.

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