The New York City Ballet has a glorious past — and a present that spills in many directions as it finds its way in the post-Balanchine universe. Its scouts turn up new material abroad — bringing the minimalism of England’s Wayne McGregor to Lincoln Center — and on Broadway, recruiting Susan Stroman.
Stroman just made “Frankie and Johnny … and Rose,” a companion bauble to her charming 1999 “Blossom Got Kissed,” in which a bumbling ballerina (Savannah Lowery) struggles to keep up with a line of fleet-footed show dancers. They perform in front of David Berger’s Jazz Orchestra, 13 guys playing tunes by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, joined by principal dancer Robert Fairchild as a triangle player who pops out of his chair and corrals the poor girl, partnering her in her own idiom and finally liberating her inner babe.
“Frankie” is decidedly smaller and much more annoying: Randy Amar Ramasar makes time with adorable Tiler Peck until he spots the statuesque Sara Mearns and shamelessly tosses Peck over the side of a platform bed. She emerges to fight for him. Finally, thankfully, both women blow him off, just as a third girl’s head appears from under the bed. This tedious plot provides the opportunity for some frisky dancing, but indicates just how far the ambitions of NYCB have fallen.
William Ivey Long’s flippy costumes contribute a lot to Stroman’s work, as does the dancing of Lowery, Fairchild and 13 members of the corps. You have three more chances —Thursday, Friday and Sunday — to catch Stroman’s frolic this season; it turns up next at the end of May.