Saturday, January 16, 2010

A QNY Theater Review: Finian's Rainbow

Posted by Brooklyn Bill

Joyce and I went to see Finian's Rainbow on Thursday. We both found it to be a lot of fun.

Neither Joyce nor I was that familiar with the story. I knew it involved people in the mythical Southern state of Missitucky, including a racist white senator who gets turned black. I'd also heard that the songs were great, and I was aware that dreamy Cheyenne Jackson played the romantic lead, who, it turns out, is named Woody. How appropriate. ;-)

The songs were pretty consistently catchy. My favorite number—and the showstoppingest by far—was "The Begat," which is about, you know, reproducing in the biblical manner. It's performed by the Gospeleers (Bernard Dotson, James Stovall, and Devin Richards) and Bill Rawkins (Chuck Cooper), the black incarnation of Senator Rawkins. Any song that includes the lyrics "When the begat got to gettin' under par / They begat the daughters of the D.A.R. / They begat the babbitts of the bourgeoisie / They begat the misbegotten GOP" is bound to get big cheers from a New York theater audience, but these four guys really knocked it out of the park.

All of the actors were great, including the leading lady, Kate Baldwin, who spoke in a strong Irish brogue for the role of Sharon McLonergan, the title character's daughter, and Christopher Fitzgerald, who played a leprechaun named Og. As the show progresses and Og gets more and more human, the shorts Fitzgerald wears get shorter and shorter. I'm betting that's an homage to Jackson's role in Xanadu, for which he wore cutoff jean shorts and then even shorter black nylon shorts. Nice legs, CF!

The only thing that sucked about the show itself was the ugly-ass set. But it also sucks that FR is closing tomorrow after only 92 performances. The production was critically acclaimed, and the script's themes of institutionalized racism, senatorial opportunism, and predatory, uh, banksterism are incredibly relevant now even though the show was first staged back in 1947. It's a shame FR didn't find a larger audience.

1 comment:

  1. I saw Finian's Rainbow when it was at City Center Encores last summer. I thought it was light frothy entertainment. You'd never think such an absurd story would work but it does! As per Encores the set was minimal but the cast fully made up for it. Though I was surprised when I heard they weren't going to make many changes to the set and staging when it was transferred to Broadway. Well it is a good way to keep the cost low...