According to Lincoln Center's new LCT3 project at its slogan, it takes "New Audiences for New Artists." It also takes new critics, hence the establishment of Theater Talk's New Theater Corps in 2005, a way for up-and-coming theater writers and eager new theatergoers to get exposure to the ever-growing theater scene in New York City. Writers for the New Theater Corps are given the opportunity to immerse themselves in the off-off and off-Broadway theater scene, learning and giving back high-quality reviews at the same time. Driven by a passion and love of the arts, the New Theater Corps aims to identify, support, and grow the arts community, one show and one person at a time.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Most Happy Fella, by Matt Windman

Ever wonder why many of the best Broadway musical revivals are being produced by opera and concert companies?

For better or worse, due to financial realities, new Broadway productions of classic musicals like “Sweeney Todd” or “The Pajama Game” are forced to substitute stylistic alternatives for visual and musical grandeur. Lately, the only NYC companies to recreate that original splendor have been City Center Encores and now New York City Opera, as seen in its pitch-perfect revival of Frank Loesser’s heavenly musical “The Most Happy Fella.”

In 1992, a Broadway revival of “Most Happy Fella” received a minimalist treatment that reduced its orchestra to two pianos. And though it was a well-acted production, its larger-than-life quality was gone. New York City Opera, on the other hand, has painstakingly and unpretentiously recreated the musical’s original spark with a super-sized orchestra, competent cast, and old-fashioned stagecraft and dance choreography.

Paul Sorvino (“Goodfellas,” “Nixon”) gives a brave performance as Tony, an aging Italian man who impractically dreams of gaining the love of a waitress whom he has named Rosabella. And as his ingĂ©nue, Lisa Vroman gives a breakout performance as a complicated woman who, just like Tony, experiences hopes and fears.

Of course, such an attempt to recapture the original musical’s scope could be viewed as tired and hopeless by many theatergoers. Nevertheless, I prefer this production over many similar Broadway revivals.

New York State Theater, 63rd Street and Columbus. $16-120. 6500. 212-271-Check for schedule. Through March 25.

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