FINIAN'S RAINBOW -- Grandish but not perfect
By Bob and Karen Isaacs
BOB: We saw a terrific production of Finian's Rainbow at the Irish Rep in New York City a few years ago, and then we saw it again at Westport Country Playhouse. Now Ivoryton Playhouse is doing this particular version of Finian's Rainbow.
KAREN: It's written by Yip Harburg and Burton Lane. It's part fantasy and part political. What makes this production version different from the original is that they cut down the size of the cast somewhat and use narrators to set the scenes. It works wonderfully on a small stage such as Ivoryton's.
BOB: It does work on the stage.
KAREN: We have to applaud many of the cast. It is the story of an Irishman who arrives with his daughter in the fictional state of Missatucky. He's stolen a leprechaun's pot of gold so, of course, the leprechaun shows up as well. The townspeople have had a problems with a racist politician. This is set around 1950. It has great songs -- "Look to the Rainbow," "How are things in Glocca Morra?" "Old Devil Moon," "If This Isn't Love" -- and many more.
BOB: Julia Kiley who directed this should be applauded for doing a very good job.
KAREN: Several of the leads are great. Kathleen Mulready plays the daughter Sharon
BOB: She has a beautiful voice
KAREN: and does a fine acting job. R. Bruce Connelly plays Finian - and he's excellent as well. John Rochette plays the romantic lead, Woody. He's got a great voice but he could be more expressive.
BOB: You will really like Tessa Grunwald who plays Susan the Silent -- she doesn't speak, she dances.
KAREN: Unfortunately there is one glitch in the production. Almost the entire cast is excellent BUT there is one who isn't. I have to blame Julia Kiley the director at least partly for the problem.
BOB: For allowing this to go on.
KAREN: The problem is Michael Nathanson who plays the leprechaun Og. I will admit the audience loved him
BOB: They laughed and applauded
KAREN: But the problem for us was
BOB: it was really inappropriate.
KAREN: It was too much comic shtick that wasn't in keeping with the rest of the show. He did bumps and grinds, an Elvis impersonation, leers -- he chewing the scenery.
BOB: It was much too much.
KAREN: a little of it might have been OK but he just went wild.
BOB: It's a very interesting role because Og is becoming human because he is separated from his pot of gold.
KAREN: You only have to remember that in the original cast, the role was played by David Wayne. The emphasis should be on whimsy not burlesque.
BOB: Otherwise this is a delightful production -- very melodic and great for kids.
KAREN: This is running through Sept. 5 at Ivoryton Playhouse -- we recommend you go see it.
This review appeared on WHNU-fm 88.7 and www.wnhu.net