Broadway’s new musical sensation, “Finian’s Rainbow,” is an unlikely hit for 2009. This 62-year-old show actually has a heart, and wonderful songs by lyricist E.Y. Harburg and Burton Lane. The songs, along with ballet dancing, magic, a gospel quartet and a handful of very timely jokes about the economy, add up to an evening that feels like, well, the old Ed Sullivan show with a plot.
Set on a tobacco plantation in the mythical state of Missitucky, “Rainbow” pokes pointed fun at political corruption and corporate greed. Radical for its time and even more radical now, the cast is racially integrated. A major plot point has nasty Sen. Rawkins transformed from white to black, which affects both the color of his skin and his attitude.
The agent of this magic is a crock of gold, transported from Ireland by charming old coot Finian McLonergan and his beautiful daughter Sharon. Following them, because it’s his crock and they’ve stolen it, is a leprechaun named Og, delightfully rendered by Christopher Fitzgerald.
The romantic leads — landowner Woody Mahoney and Irish colleen Sharon — are played by fine singers Cheyenne Jackson and Kate Baldwin, who, along with being attractive and competent, are clearly adults. Warren Carlyle directs and choreographs with a sure hand and a nod to predecessor Michael Kidd.
St. James Theatre
246 W. 44th St.