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"Hey Look Me Over" (Encores!)


WilliamM
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"To kick off Encores! at 25, we’ve created Hey, Look Me Over!—a new musical about Broadway gems that have yet to be revived on the Encores! stage.

 

Bob Martin, as his beloved Man in Chair character from The Drowsy Chaperone, plays an opinionated Encores! subscriber who leads the audience on a guided (and sometimes mis-guided) tour of his favorite scenes and songs from musicals he’s always wanted to see at City Center: All American, George M!, Greenwillow, Jamaica, Mack & Mabel, Milk and Honey, Sail Away, and Wildcat.

 

A cavalcade of stars—including Clyde Alves, Reed Birney, Carolee Carmello, Britney Coleman, Clifton Duncan, Marc Kudisch, Judy Kuhn, Tam Mutu, Bebe Neuwirth, Nancy Opel, Douglas Sills, Alexandra Socha, and Vanessa Williams—join Martin for overtures, musical scenes, a first act finale, a grand finale, and maybe more.

 

Nothing quite like it has ever been attempted before"

 

 

My comment: Lucille Ball sang "Hey Look Me Over" on The Ed Sullivan Show (available on YouTube). In the previews that song and the others are far less effective when someone else sings them.

Edited by WilliamM
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Your right Ben, it's a fine price, however, many cannot sit in the balcony. First it's a long haul to get up there and those of us with foot, hip and leg issues just cannot do it. Waitrin for the City Center elevator is a major chore. Secondly, if you have eyesight or hearing problems, well, its another reason. I just won't do it and prefer to splurge on a orch seat (but that's just the royalty within me!). Just my opinion.

 

NYTimes reviewed this production this morning:

 

Review: An Anthology of B-List Broadway in ‘Hey, Look Me Over!’

ENCORES! � HEY, LOOK ME OVER!

 

By JESSE GREENFEB. 8, 2018

09LOOKMEOVER1-superJumbo.jpg

 

 

And that’s the way “Hey, Look Me Over!” — shaggily directed by Marc Bruni — proceeds. Though Mr. Martin’s interstitial jokes are often funny, they are not substantive enough to make the selections seem anything more than convenient.

 

He is oddly unopinionated about the actual material. From “All American,” the second show extracted, we thus get three numbers by Charles Strouse and Lee Adams, all charming (especially when sung by Judy Kuhn) but only obscurely related to one another and begging for tart commentary. Surely we deserve to know from Mr. Man in Chair why we are not being offered the musical’s campy showstopper, an astonishingly homoerotic beefcake parade called “Physical Fitness” that would have made more sense with the evening’s concept.

 

But the concept is not exactly ironclad. When, in the next excerpt, Vanessa Williams swans on to sing two comic Harold Arlen-E. Y. Harburg songs from “Jamaica,” a 1957 Lena Horne vehicle, she seems to have interloped from a different idea entirely, perhaps a gloss on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” Her numbers — “

” and “Push De Button,” both calypso pastiches — are too alike in tone and style, and too unmoored to any sense of story, to make a sufficient impression.

 

That’s a shame because a substantive selection from a show that focuses on black characters would have helped support the theme that gradually emerges from “Hey, Look Me Over!” Leaving aside (for the moment) the selections from “Milk and Honey,” in which American widows looking for husbands tour Israel in 1961, the rest of the evening seems to be wrestling, albeit at several removes, with the transformation of American identity that was and remains the key subject of musicals from midcentury on.

 

“Wildcat” is about frontier spirit, “All American” about immigration; in the second act, “Greenwillow” (with a strange and haunting score by Frank Loesser) is about wanderlust, and “Sail Away,” though it’s by Noël Coward, is about the emerging American booboisie.

 

Photo

merlin_133415379_f0955c18-1b92-4b9a-833f-f26c188a2a1f-master675.jpg

Bebe Neuwirth performing a song from “Sail Away,” originally made famous by Elaine Stritch, in “Hey, Look Me Over!”

CreditEmon Hassan for The New York Times

There are remarkable performances along the way, especially from Clifton Duncan singing the rangy arias of “Greenwillow” and Bebe Neuwirth snarling Elaine Stritch’s songs from “Sail Away.” But it is perhaps no surprise that the most trenchant comment on American character comes from the best show of the lot, that perpetual coulda-been-a-contender “Mack & Mabel.”

 

In just two of its Jerry Herman numbers — “Movies Were Movies,” blisteringly delivered by Douglas Sills, and

vividly sung by Alexandra Socha — everything you’d want a show to say about reality and representation, identity and transformation, is said in a few hummable, well-rhymed stanzas.

 

The best musicals are solid-state, everywhere dense with their core ideas. They are excerptable. Lesser shows may produce a song or two that can kill in the cabaret — or are even worth a full staging at Encores! — but they fall apart when sliced into wedges as they are here. Despite references to current politics (there’s a nice surprise after the curtain call, so stick around), the lack of thematic unity turns out to be more damaging than the Encores! team evidently imagined. Attempts to repair that with contemporary commentary are undercut by scenes like the ones from “Milk and Honey,” which for obvious reasons ignore politics entirely.

 

At least there’s a hora (choreographed by Denis Jones) in “Milk and Honey”; this production is otherwise too light on dance. In the final number — inevitably “Give My Regards to Broadway” from “George M!” — we finally get a thrilling taste of what tapping can do to tighten loose material. (We also get another little surprise, which I won’t spoil.) But for the most part “Hey, Look Me Over!” has little new to say about its old sources. It will be of interest to historians, if not to history.

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I saw "Encores" on Saturday afternoon, and loved every minute of it. I think the review in the NY Times was totally nuts. Some of these critics must decide to find faults before they enter the theater.

 

I usually don't go to "Encores," because it's almost impossible to get a good seat, as the subscribers have taken all of them. I bought a PERFECT seat (10th row center!) about a month ago at the box office. Yesterday I was chatting with the man next to me, who told me he and his friend have subscriptions, and his friend had to be out of town yesterday, so he turned his ticket in for resale -- and I was the lucky one!

 

I stayed for the panel discussion after the show, and learned that "Gypsy" is considered to have the best overture of any Broadway musical, hands down. Did not know that!

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I stayed for the panel discussion after the show, and learned that "Gypsy" is considered to have the best overture of any Broadway musical, hands down. Did not know that!

 

It helped to have Ethel Merman walking down the center aisle from the back of the theater yelling out "Sing Out Louise" soon after the overture ends. Even without Merman in 1959 I agree that "Gypsy" has one of the best overtures ever.

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"Musicals Tonight" was called "the poor man's Encores" by Ben Brantley some time ago. They do bare-bones, but highly professional, revivals of musicals. They've been doing 4 a year since 1998. Yesterday I saw "The Boys From Syracuse" (1938), probably my favorite Rodgers & Hart show, along with "Pal Joey." FANTASTIC score! Although the book is by George Abbott, and it's based on "Comedy of Errors," the farcical story is insipid, but the musical numbers are first-rate. They are performed at The Acorn on West 42nd st. Check it out. I think they're at musicalstonight.com

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