New Girl in Town: Review Roundup

Patrick Cummings and Margaret Loesser Robinson

The Off-Broadway revival of New Girl in Town, the 1957 musical based on Eugene O’Neill’s Anna Christie that hasn’t had a professional outing in New York for 50 years, opened last night at Irish Rep to positive reviews. For the record, the creative team includes George Abbott (book), Bob Merrill (lyrics, music), Charlotte Moore (direction), John Bell (music direction), Barry McNabb (choreography), James Morgan (set), China Lee (costumes), Mary Jo Dondlinger (lights), Zachary Williamson (sound), Robert-Charles Vallance (hair & wigs), and Rich Murray (props). The cast includes Cliff Bemis (Chris), Patrick Cummings (Matt), Danielle Ferland (Marthy), and Margaret Loesser Robinson (Anna).

Joe Dziemianowicz (N.Y. Daily News): “The sunshine girl has raindrops in her eyes.” That lyric, with its potent imagery, has run through my brain since seeing Irish Rep’s revival. … In the title role, Margaret Loesser Robinson brings steeliness and a soft heart as the ex-prostitute looking to start a new life. She brings out all the spiky irony in the song “On the Farm,” in which Anna recalls abuse by men. Patrick Cummings’ sturdy presence and voice serve well as Matt, the sailor who loves and rejects Anna. Cliff Bemis and Into the Woods alum Danielle Ferland lend fine support as Anna’s dad and his friend. With the exception of using a sax soloist throughout the show, a device with diminishing returns, Charlotte Moore’s production is sharp and atmospheric. 3 stars.

Jennifer Farrar (AP): New Girl in Town is enjoying a sprightly Off-Broadway revival at the Irish Repertory Theatre. … Charlotte Moore also finds the bright notes with her smart staging, which includes high-spirited choreography by Barry McNabb and a tuneful four-piece orchestra led by John Bell on piano. The cast includes a talented ensemble of seven actors. … Two of the more serious standouts are the lovers’ duet ‘‘Did You Close Your Eyes,’’ on which Cummings and Robinson harmonize richly, and ‘‘Sunshine Girl,’’ easily the most memorable song in this well-done, satisfying show.

David Finkle (Theater Mania): Hotfoot it over to the Irish Repertory Theatre for the current revival. … One of this outing’s best numbers is the barroom mock-weeper “Sunshine Girl” … and not only does Barry McNabb stage it snappily (as he usually does when handed an Irish Rep musical), but it features a stylish turn by Stephen Zinnato, who also plays sax during multiple scene-changing crossovers. … Whereas the adored Verdon always had some Charity Hope Valentine in her characterizations, Robinson does the part with unflinching realism, which is all to the good.

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