Page 18 THE VILLADOM TIMES II & IV • November 25, 2009 Paper Mill’s ‘On the Town’ is exceptional presentation by Dennis Seuling “Fancy Free” was a ballet conceived by composer Leonard Bernstein and choreographer Jerome Robbins about three sailors on a 24-hour leave in New York City. In 1944, with Betty Comden and Adolph Green writing the book and lyrics, it was adapted into the Broadway musical, “On the Town.” A revival of that show is now on stage at Millburn’s Paper Mill Playhouse. The three sailor buddies are Gabey (Tyler Hanes), Chip (Brian Shepard), and Ozzie (Jeffrey Schecter). They vow to see as much of the Big Apple as they can within their limited time and, hopefully, find some women to accompany them. Riding the subway, they see a poster for the current Miss Turnstiles, Ivy Smith (Yvette Tucker). Gabey is smitten and dedicates himself to finding her. The guys arrange to meet at an appointed time at a Times Square landmark -- Nedick’s -- and go their separate ways. Chip encounters man-hungry cab driver Hildy Esterhazy (Jennifer Cody), who is more interested in inviting Chip to her place than in taking him to see the long-gone Hippodrome. Ozzie encounters budding anthropologist Claire DeLoone (Kelly Sullivan) at the Museum of Natural History. Claire finds Ozzie remarkably similar to a statue of a prehistoric man, whips out her tape measure, and starts sizing up this living “specimen.” In the process, she confesses to getting “Carried Away” when she’s around a man. Be Me,” an ebullient appreciation of being young and alive when things are going well; and “Some Other Time,” a bittersweet song of parting that Gabey sings with Hildy, Ozzie, and Chip. Other songs of note are the rousing “New York, New York,” which opens the show; “Times Square Ballet,” the Act I closer; and “I Understand,” sung by Judge Pitkin W. Bridgework (Bill Nolte), Claire’s straitlaced, aging fiancé, who comments about maintaining an air of dignity while putting up with Claire’s wandering eye. Harriet Harris is delightfully comic as Madame Maude P. Dilly, Ivy’s voice teacher. Maude carries a bottle of bourbon to get her through the day, and is less concerned about Ivy than about her ability to continue paying for voice lessons. This character, with lots of bravado and pomposity, is an amalgam of Vera Charles from “Mame” and the vocal coach from the movie “Singin’ in the Rain.” Harris neatly steals her scenes and knows when a role calls out for playing it close to the brim, if not over the top. Patti Colombo’s choreography, adapted from Jerome Robbins’, is a star in its own right. Rather than serving merely as entertaining set pieces interspersed with narrative and songs, the dances express inner feelings and emotions to Bernstein’s exquisite score. Attention must be paid to the terrific scenic design by Walt Spangler. The tendency of late, even on Broadway, is to provide sketchy suggestions of sets rather than richer configurations. The sets in “On the Town” have that old Broadway flair and capture the mood perfectly from a honky-tonk Coney Island to a series of nightclubs that feature a curiously similar blues singer (Tari Kelly) with a penchant for depressing ballads. An elaborate dinosaur skeleton in the Museum of Natural History scene gets a comic moment all to itself. The production, under the direction of Bill Berry, is exceptional. This is that great instance when all the elements fall together seamlessly into a buoyant, funny, tuneful musical that sends the audience out humming the songs with smiles on their faces. I’ve been attending the Paper Mill Playhouse’s productions for years. “On the Town” ranks among its very best. Performances, which run through Dec. 6, are Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m., Thursdays at 1:30 and 7:30 p.m., Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 1:30 and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 1:30 and 7 p.m. Tickets are $25 to $92 and are available by phone at (973) 376-4343, online at or at the Paper Mill Playhouse box office on Brookside Drive in Millburn. (Clockwise from left) Tyler Hanes, Brian Shepard, Kelly Sullivan, Jeffrey Schecter and Jennifer Cody in the Paper Mill Playhouse production of ‘On the Town.’ The plot shifts from the three gobs’ adventures and misadventures with the women they have just met, whisking the audience along with them from the Bronx to Coney Island. The casting of “On the Town” is first-rate, and though every principal is very good, there are standouts. Cody, a 4’ 11” dynamo, is a wonderful comedienne, strong singer, and agile dancer as her Hildy throws herself at Chip in a New York short on men, who are off fighting the war. Her first act solo number, “I Can Cook, Too” combines broad slapstick with double entendre, showcasing Cody’s considerable talent for physical comedy. Her inhibition-free, fullsteam-ahead performance had the opening night audience in stitches. Sullivan’s Claire DeLoone is also man-hungry, but attempts to keep her passions in check only to have them comically emerge, transforming her from a serious academic to a femme fatale. Tucker does not have comic scenes to rival those of the two other female leads, but conveys a pleasant girl-nextdoor quality that blends nicely with Gabey’s shyness. She has no songs of her own, but is featured in many of the show’s dance sequences and is wonderful at conveying, in dance and pantomime, her growing affection for Gabey. Hanes performs the show’s best songs with choral backup: “Lonely Town,” a wistful plaint that anyplace can be cold if it’s not shared with someone special; “Lucky to State Line 375 State Highway 17 North, Mahwah Open 24 Hours, 7 Days Join Us For Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner The Best Got Better! Diner - Restaurant 201-529-3353 Now Serving Cocktails, Espresso & Cappuccino $ 00 On $10.00 and over. With this coupon only. One Coupon per table. 5:00 to 9:00 pm only. Off 1 $ 00 VT On $20.00 and over. With this coupon only. One Coupon per table. 5:00 to 9:00 pm only. Off 2 VT