If the real-life political drama of the last week has become just too much for you to handle and if you can’t snag a ticket to Hello, Dolly! (money well spent) or don’t have the funds for another one of Broadway’s sweet confections (perhaps not so well spent), York Theatre Company’s Marry Harry, may satisfy your hankering.
With a book by Jennifer Robbins, music by Dan Martin, and lyrics by Michael Biello, Marry Harry follows the shotgun romance of Little Harry (David Spadora) and Sherri (Morgan Cowling), who meet in an East Village alley after each has had a riff with his or her parent. Little Harry is looking to break away from the family’s Italian restaurant, overseen by his father, Big Harry (Lenny Wolpe). Sherri has just broken off her engagement after learning of her fiancé’s affair and now has to deal with her overbearing mother, Francine (Robin Skye). Framing the story are three “Village Voices,” (Ben Chavez, Jesse Manocherian, and Claire Saunders) who act as a Greek chorus but are invisible to the onstage characters.
There’s not much memorable from Robbins’ book, which crams in more plot points than ingredients in your mother’s lasagna. The score, too, while occasionally catchy, won’t leave you with ditties to hum out of the theatre. But what is worth seeing are the two charming performances by Wolpe and Spadora as father and son. Together, as well as individually, they’re able to bring an endearing sense of humanity to the overloaded script. Even in scenes with their more presentational female counterparts (please, somebody teach an acting class in how to have an onstage phone call), the men shine through.
The joyful trio also offers some fun bits of staging, choreography and prop handling as directed/choreographed by Bill Castellino. Though their costumes (by Tyler M. Holland) look like they belong in Chicago rather than set against James Morgan’s Madeline-inspired backdrop, they keep the action light and frothy, like a cappuccino from Harry’s Cudicini Café.
Here’s what the other critics had to say…
This good-natured new show at the Theater at St. Peter’s also name-checks Vera Wang, the Ritz Hotel in Paris and 900 Park Avenue (a condo at 79th Street), but the practice doesn’t reflect character or action. The plot is one-note: Boy meets girl in alley. Boy and girl get drunk and sleep together. Promises are made and meet with strong reactions. A subplot about biscotti comes and goes. The New York Times
Director-choreographer Bill Castellino (Cagney) works hard to turn this TV dinner into a gourmet meal, but his swift and inventive staging can only do so much; James Morgan’s whimsically drawn cardboard set is a good deal more colorful than the characters and plot. Marry Harry? You won’t even want to swipe right. TimeOutNY
Thanks to an able cast and Bill Castellino’s (Cagney) nimble direction and choreography, Marry Harry is a lightweight, edible, 80-minute pasta fazool that makes the most of its high-calorie ingredients. Just don’t confuse it with brainfood. Theatre’s Leiter Side
York Theatre Company
619 Lexington Avenue, NYC
Through May 21
Matthew Wexler is The Broadway Blog’s editor. Follow him on social media at @roodeloo.