The New Yorkers, Marriott’s Lincolnshire Theatre. This is the Cole Porter musical said to be “lost” for 65 years. Boasting a cast of 100 (including Jimmy Durante) and three bands, it proved too expensive for Depression-era Broadway.
Recently re-created by Manhattan’s Musical Theater Works and now reprised in Anthony Stimac and Dyanne Earley’s plucky revival for Marriott’s Lincolnshire Theatre, it proves a dottily delightful period piece loosely inspired by Peter Arno’s New Yorker cartoons. Certainly Herbert Fields’s jaunty anything-for-a-song plot is two-dimensional, following a jaundiced socialite and her hoodlum lover through shenanigans with gangsters, bootleggers, cops, and floozies. By the second act, when the amoral gang try to spring their mobster pal from prison, it’s waxed preposterous. This isn’t Kiss Me, Kate or even Anything Goes, where a story actually fuels the score. Here the songs have to jump-start a plot that stalls every 15 minutes–and, happily, they mostly do. As the poor little rich girl, Kathryn Jaeck polishes her gems: “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” and “Just One of Those Things.” But as her racketeer, David Studwell has only one solo: the overwrought “I Happen to Like New York.”
Sadly, the lesser-known Porter selections merit neglect. The first-act finale “Rap-a-Tap on Wood” is poor man’s Gershwin, while the supposedly shocking “Say It With Gin” and “Sing, Sing for Sing-Sing” confess Porter’s occasional off days. But when Alene Robertson tears into “Love for Sale,” you’ll swear Porter still outclasses anyone writing today.