Last night I got the chance to see the New York version of Neglected Musicals. ‘Encores!’ produces old musicals that rarely get seen, but hold a special place in American Theatre history. For this production, they chose ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’. The show seems to be yet another piece to the current Marilyn Monroe renaissance that has been so successful.
In order to pack the place out for their limited run of eight performances, Megan Hilty, known by most for her role in ‘SMASH’, was cast as the leading lady, Lorelei Lee. It was an interesting portrayal. She remained quite controlled in the first act, simply delivering lines cleanly and singing the music seemingly exactly as written. Thankfully, she came alive in the second, delivering her showstopper, ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’ with a strength, freedom and flamboyance that I had wanted from the opening curtain. Nevertheless, she got a rapturous response from the completely full house at New York City Centre every time she walked onto stage. The standout of the leads was Rachel York as Dorothy Shaw, the woman charged with acting as Lorelei’s chaperone. Her performance was charming and energetic, holding a fantastic rapport with audience and players alike. She also delivered a fantastic vocal performance. The highlight of the whole show however, was a dance number in the second act at the Pre-Catelan CLub. Megan Sikora, as the wannabe rock-ette, Gloria Stark, dances a trio with two members of the ensemble. It’s an energetic, exciting and classic tap number which hits all the right buttons, capturing the era to perfection.
Overall, the show itself really isn’t all that strong, with only one truly brilliant song, ‘Diamonds.’ However, the energy of the cast and brilliant choreography throughout, along with one hell of a band, make it fun, exciting and a true trip back in time, and no one would complain about that.