Lyric Stage’s ‘On the Town’ hits notes both high and low

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The Lyric Stage Company’s annual spring musical, this year “On The Town,” is an old-fashioned, 1940s-era musical filled with singing, dancing, and corny shtick about ‘dame-chasing’ guys and the dolls who love them.

Though intermittently sweet and enjoyable, the production at times feels a bit tired and dated. Part of the problem, perhaps, is that material that might have read as slightly suggestive and racy in the time the play is set now feels off-color for all the wrong reasons.

It is a flaw that cannot be helped. Today’s audiences are far savvier than those who filled the play’s seats seven decades ago. The glut of dance shows on television has raised the bar for choreographic expectations and, while Ilyse Robbins’ original choreography certainly measures up, its execution frequently falls short. If you’re watching from the back of the house, even the straight lines are all over the place.

Local favorite Aimee Doherty (Claire) hits all the right notes and demonstrates fine comic sensibility in an impeccable performance. She also proves to be one of the few cast members who can vocally fill the room.

Among that small number is veteran actress Sarah deLima, who could give lessons on projection in her delightfully riotous turn as daffy, booze-swilling singing teacher Maude P. Dilly. John Ambrosino, too, shines in his turn as Gabey.

Maurice Parent’s wry turn as a museum curator gets big laughs and his graceful dance moves are equally impressive. J.T. Turner’s Pitkin earns the audience support when he finally stands up to nymphomaniac fiancé Claire.

Michele DeLuca does hit some funny marks as Hildy, but she barely, breathlessly gets through what should be one of the show’s biggest numbers, “I Can Cook Too.”

A mixed performance garners mixed reviews and it must be said that “On The Town” will likely leave audiences stranded on the fence.

If You Go

“On The Town”
Through June 8
Lyric Stage
140 Clarendon St., Boston
$25-$62, 617-585-5678
lyricstage.com


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