October 29, 2016
Worn down from a peripatetic actor’s life, Jim Hardy (the impressive Bryce Pinkham) proposes marriage to his feisty co-star Lila Dixon (Megan Sikora) and then buys a house in Connecticut. Only, Lila’s unwilling to hang up her dance shoes while he’s determined to go rural.
Best known because of the popular 1942 musical film version directed by Mark Sandrich and starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire, Holiday Inn is powered by Irving Berlin’s singable score.
The Broadway version at Studio 54 directed by Gordon Greenberg features a seriously talented Pinkham, Corbin Bleu, Laura Lee Gayer, Megan Sikora. Additional cast members fill in the ranks with winning performances including a very funny Jenifer Foote who replaced Megan Lawrence as the upbeat Louise.
There are some clever tap and soft shoe sequences but the show's highlight materializes when the cast joins wash buckets to clean up the ramshackled house and convert it into a holiday performance inn. A rambling ruins, wayward pigs race through the living room and heads droop over the year’s failed crops. Then along come the friends to the rescue.
In the spirit of a “house raising” the theatrical ensemble puts “all hands on deck” and to the audience’s delight, buckets stuck on feet shuffle across the floor, girls flip over guys and there’s no end to the inventiveness of the partnering lifts. Suddenly, the dancing typhoon levitates the production to giddy heights.
Despite the heroic attempts of the cast, this peak is not sustained. Did the director; Mr. Greenberg, restricts choreographer Denis Jones’s input to the designated show tunes? Because it’s possible sharper choreography throughout the evening would have benefited the production’s pacing. That’s not to say audiences didn’t enjoy themselves. Many hummed the Berlin songs along with the cast, mouthing the catchy melodies. And in these days of election paranoia, disappearing inside a harmless musical offers a comforting two hours.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis