54 Sings Foxy

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54 Sings Foxy

Feinstein’s/54 Below, NYC, April 9, 2019

Reviewed By Marilyn Lester for Cabaret Scenes

The question remains why producer-director Robert W. Schneider sought to resurrect the 1964 Broadway flop Foxy from the grave. In this case of over-reach, the show’s peaceful rest should have remained undisturbed, no matter how well intentioned. Foxy, based on Ben Johnson’s 1606 farce, Volpone, reset in the gold rush of 1898, ran for just 72 performances. It was written as a vehicle for the hugely talented comic actor Bert Lahr, whose ability to ad lib through the show won him the Tony Award for his performance.

Lahr aside, the book by Ian McClellan Hunter and Ring Lardner, Jr.

was as forgettable as the tepid music by Robert Emmett Dolan, which failed to produce a single hit. The sustaining star of the show continues to be the genius of Johnny Mercer. One cannot say too much about the intelligence, humor, and inspired creation of his lyrics in what was otherwise fool’s gold.

In this humorless iteration of Foxy, the complications of farce simply didn’t translate, nor were the revisions by Jon Maas apparent. Narration by Schneider failed to bring clarity to the goings on.

Eight original songs were included in this production, plus one new number shared from Mel Miller’s 2002 production for Musicals Tonight. Miller also introduced two other new songs in addition to the ones in the original score.

This production offered most of the original score with five cut songs and tunes that “never left Johnny Mercer’s living room.” Unfortunately, none of this was adequately explained.

Jim Brochu as Jim “Foxy” Fox turned in his usual competent performance. The rest of the cast: Kelli Barrett, Rob Bartlett, Carl Danielsen, Adam Green, AJ Holmes, Brian J. Krinsky, Madison Claire Parks, Michael Riedel, David Staller, and Chip Zien gamely tried to breathe life into the undead.

Marilyn Lester

Marilyn Lester left journalism and commercial writing behind nearly two decades ago to write plays. That branch in the road led to screenwriting, script-doctoring, dramaturgy and producing for the stage. Marilyn has also co-authored, as well as edited, books. It seemed the only world of words she hadn’t conquered was criticism, an opportunity that presented itself via Theater Pizzazz. Marilyn has since sought to widen her scope in this form of writing she especially relishes. Marilyn is a member of the Authors Guild, Dramatists Guild, Women in the Arts and Media and The League of Professional Theater Women.