The exemplary template of Stephen Sondheim’s Company hangs like a sword of Damocles over such sardonic goy-meets-girl shows with a twist of cynicism. The especial interest in the no-expense-spared production at the always welcoming Landor is the casting of Daniel Boys as Austin, a greeting card writer who, like Shakespeare’s Romeo, ditches an old girlfriend as he’s swept away by a new one.
Boys will be Boys, an ever chirpy, cheerful contestant on the television search for Joseph, Any Dream Will Do. He has since sung Anthony in the Festival Hall concert performance of Sweeney Todd with Bryn Terfel and Maria Friedman, and appeared as a guest soloist on a BBC Radio 2 Concert. He’s immensely likeable but not over-endowed with either a killer touch of personality or real vocal distinction.
The musical, sharply directed by Robert McWhir, throws two new couples together – Austin and Marcy (Jodie Jacobs reminds me a lot of Marti Webb; that’s a compliment), a snappy snapper with a boyfriend problem (like, she can’t find anyone good enough, huh!); and Austin’s laddish bachelor brother (Richard Frame) and Marcy’s friend Diana, an actuary who is actually very nice.
One of the two best reasons for seeing this show is Debbie Kurup as Diana. She’s brilliant: black, sexy and hot, with a great voice and great moves. The other best reason is Andy Edwards’ detailed set of Manhattan street signs, coffee shops, bedrooms and cityscapes. I felt I’d saved the air fare.
There’s a third best reason, too, in the quick-change multi-role performances of Lucy Williamson and Mark Goldthorp as NYC Woman and NYC Man, ie waiters, shop assistants and anyone else needed to swell a scene with goofy acting and smart-ass brush-offs. Williamson, in particular, looks like she’s ready to explode each time she appears, while Goldthorp will put you on hold indefinitely with a prissy stare.
Boys probably needs a good grilling from the Joseph judges to pull the show together. Ryan Cunningham’s book and lyrics, sharp and edgy on an intermittent basis in the style of the late Wendy Wasserstein, show evidence of talent, while Joshua Salzman’s jaunty metropolitan music sounds like lots of other jaunty metropolitan music, but is worth a listen. The three-piece band in the loft have fun playing it.
- Michael Coveney