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Paulanne Simmons


The Ill-fated Richard Cory

Richard Cory

“Richard Cory”
Directed by James Brennan
Presented by Dennis Grimaldi Productions & Nick Cavarra
as part of the New York Musical Theatre Festival
Lion Theatre
410 West 42nd St.
Opened Sept. 14, closes Sept. 24
Schedule varies
$15 (212) 352-3101 or www.theatermania.com
Reviewed by Paulanne Simmons Sept. 19, 2005

Ever since Edward Arlington Robinson penned his famous poem “Richard Cory” back in 1897, people have been wondering exactly why that august gentleman whom everyone so admired “one calm summer night went home and put a bullet through his head.”

In Ed Dixon’s eponymous musical adapted from A.R. Gurney’s 1976 play, the explanation is given in song and speech. Herndon Lackey plays Mr. Cory as an all-American man suffering from midlife crisis. He speaks his lines in an off-hand, hesitant style and is answered in song by the other characters.

These other characters include the employees at his law firm, his doctor, his minister, his wife, his son and the various people he meets in restaurants, in his health club, at the haberdashery and other places where he tries to work out his problems.

But what are his problems? Neither Dixon nor Gurney nor director James Brennan is able to make that clear. Certainly Cory seems distracted and preoccupied. He is unhappy in his marriage, bored at work and seems to have some vague idealistic impression that the world may not be what it should be. He appears to stumble into suicide almost by accident.

And then there’s the music. There are plenty of notes here but not too much melody and nothing very memorable for anyone who likes to leave the theatre humming a tune. This is a shame, because the voices in the musical are all excellent, as is the accompanist at the piano, musical director Lawrence Yurman.

Richard Cory is a show with a formidable concept, a top-notch cast and capable direction. But its bland musical treatment and lack of depth made this reviewer feel like putting a bullet through her head.

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