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Paulanne Simmons

“Manhattan Madcaps of 1924” Is a Delicious Bite of The Big Apple

“Manhattan Madcaps of 1924”
Directed by Annette Jolles
Presented by Symphony Space
Leonard Nimoy Thalia Theatre
Opened July 13, 2006
Wed. thru Sat 8 p.m., Sat. 2 p.m., Sun. 3 p.m.
$19 (212) 864-5400 or www.symphonyspace.org
Closes July 23, 2006
Reviewed by Paulanne Simmons July 20, 2006
MANHATTAN MADCAPS OF 1924: left to right: Ivy Ausin, Michael Simon Hall, Christine Bokhour, Howard Kaye, Katie Allen, Nick Verina (front): Sydney J. Borgoyne, Staci Rudnitsky. Photo by C. Elliott.


Summer Stock on Broadway begins its first season at the Leonard Nimoy Thalia at Symphony Space with the least known work of one of America’s best known musical teams: Rodgers and Hart’s “Manhattan Madcaps of 1924.”

The musical, which was considered “lost” has been given a new libretto by Jerzy Turnpike (a.k.a. Isaiah Sheffer, artistic director and co-founder of Symphony Space) and zips into the 21st century under the able direction of Annette Jolles. It includes 17 songs from Rodgers and Hart films and shows, either adapted for this show or with their original lyrics.

The plot has a New York City theme that serves mostly as a scaffold for the songs. Casey and Cassie, Gary and Gracie, Jeanette and Johnny, and Manhattan Mamie and Stonewall Moskowitz are all couples trying to make it in The Big Apple. Each couple has its own trials and tribulations to overcome.

Gary and Gracie, who have eloped to a place “Where the Hudson River Flows,” are looking for an apartment. Johnny is trying to convince Jeanette, an aspiring actress, that she can advance her career by giving up Broadway for a theater in a Greenwich Village basement. Casey loves Cassie, who is obsessed with horses. Manhattan Mamie is the only person on staff for Stonewall Moskowitz, who comes in 11th in a mayoral primary with 12 candidates (the man who came in last wanted alternate side of the street parking).

“Manhattan Madcaps of 1924” songs flow with easy melodies and sparkle with ironic with. After his defeat Stonewall sings “Give it Back to the Indians.” Jeanette sums up her love life with “The Bad in Every Man.” But there are also tender moments, as when Gracie sings her regrets over the man she thinks she’s lost with “He Was too Good for Me.”

“Manhattan Madcaps of 1924” represents Rodgers and Hart at their best, if not their best known. Like a ripe, red apple, it is sweet, juicy and at times a bit tart. Mostly it’s just delicious.

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