Fig Leaves Review Roundup

Natalie Venetia Belcon and Jonathan Rayson

Unsung Musicals has received mixed reviews for its Off-Broadway revival of the short-lived 1969 musical The Fig Leaves Are Falling. This revised version features a scaled-down cast of eight actors, three new songs, and previously discarded dialogue and lyrics in a one-act production. The creative team includes Allan Sherman (book, lyrics), Albert Hague (music), Ben West (revisions, direction), Richard J. Hinds (choreography), Andrew Graham (music arrangements), Benet Braun (music direction), Joe Hodge (lights), and Janine Marie McCabe (costumes). The cast includes Natalie Venetia Belcon, Karen Hyland, Nathan Keen, Antuan Raimone, Jonathan Rayson, Morgan Rose, Matt Walton, and Morgan Weed.

Daniel M. Gold (N.Y. Times): Unsung Musicals Co. has revived – or more accurately, revised – the show. … Whether this tinkering helps is hard to determine. … There’s some exceptional singing by the cast of eight; smart, smooth choreography; and costuming that serves as markers of that era. But in the end the songs and their chronicle of temptation disappoint. There is little of the snap or crackle of Sherman’s best lyrics, and Hague’s music is forgettable. The high-quality production values and cast, especially Mr. Rayson, provide satisfying moments, but sometimes it’s best to keep a curio in the cabinet.

Michael Musto (Village Voice): The 1969 George Abbott-directed production was such a flop that in Act Two they raffled off a barbecued chicken. … This version has been worked on and reimagined, and it’s got a talented cast, nifty choreography, and a few good songs (“All of My Laughter” is a standout). The problem with the material is that it starts spoofy, then tries to make you care about the relationships, which are too thinly drawn (even now, when more focus has been put on them than in ’69). … I’m glad director/adapter Ben West goes to forbidden places, and with obvious affection. And without that chicken, it’s probably way less of a turkey.

Rachel Sklar (Theater Mania): Director Ben West, who revised, adapted and streamlined the musical from the original and earlier versions, cleaned it up, but Sherman’s mawkish bones never really get fleshed out. So why is this production worth reviving? … Shows like The Fig Leaves Are Falling were more about how the hard it can be to move on when you’re still stuck in boxes of the present. That was the paradox for Harry within the show, and for Allan Sherman, talent though he was, in creating it. But still. … It is some very good work from a guy who knew his way around a lyric, if not really a story. It’s enough. Let the fig leaves fall where they may.

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