The concert revival of the 1949 musical Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, best known in its 1953 film adaptation, opened last night Off-Broadway as part of City Center’s Encores! series. The reviews have been very positive, particularly for leading actress Megan Hilty. The creative team is Anita Loos and Joseph Fields (book), David Ives (book adaptation), Leo Robin (lyrics), Jule Styne (music), John Rando (direction), Randy Skinner (choreography), John Lee Beatty (sets), Peter Kaczorowski (lights), David Woolard (costumes), and Scott Lehrer (sound). The cast includes Stephen R. Buntrock (Josephus Gage), Megan Hilty (Lorelei Lee), Aaron Lazar (Henry Spofford), Deborah Rush (Mrs. Spofford), and Rachel York (Dorothy Shaw).
Brendan Lemon (Financial Times): A chief challenge facing Megan Hilty, the ripe, gifted performer playing Lorelei at City Center, is how to give us the character even as she, inescapably, cannot banish Monroe. This would be the case even if Hilty were not currently starring in the television backstage drama Smash, in which she plays a chorus girl vying for the leading part in a Broadway show about Marilyn. It’s enough to give one a migraine of meta. But Hilty’s freshness banishes the pain. Her characterization is more confidently brash than Monroe’s, and she possesses a powerful singing voice the likes of which her predecessor, who was partially dubbed, could only dream.
Brian Scott Lipton (Theater Mania): The champagne flows freely onstage at New York City Center during Encores! Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, but it’s the audience that will feel heady. … Even if they’re sitting in the gallery, they can’t help but feel the incandescence of Megan Hilty as the diamond-loving, diamond-wearing Lorelei Lee, the not-so-dumb blonde who knows how to get what she wants (diamonds and men – not necessarily in that order). If Hilty wasn’t already a star (now courtesy of TV’s Smash), her singular take on Lorelei – a blend of calculatedly exaggerated comic line readings and powerhouse vocals – would make her one. Now, she’s a supernova. … While this production shines more brightly than some of Broadway’s current fare, this Diamonds is not forever. Catch it while you can.