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'I Married an Angel' review: New York City Ballet's Sara Mearns shines in Rodgers and Hart musical

The principal dancer makes her theatrical debut under the direction of husband Joshua Bergasse.

New York City Ballet principal dancer Sara Mearns

New York City Ballet principal dancer Sara Mearns stars in "I Married an Angel." Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

'I Married an Angel' runs through Sunday at City Center, 131 W. 55th St., nycitycenter.org.

City Center's current Encores! season of rarely seen musicals in concert continues with "I Married an Angel," a fanciful, dance-infused 1938 musical comedy by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. It's little-known even to musical theater fans, apart from a handful of performances of its songs over the years by the likes of Barbra Streisand, Sammy Davis Jr. and Kristin Chenoweth. 

As the title suggests, a European banker marries a beautiful and innocent angel, who is played here by New York City Ballet principal dancer Sara Mearns. The plot is flimsy and meandering, and the score is not exactly on par with the best of Rodgers and Hart (e.g.“Pal Joey,” “Babes in Arms,” “The Boys from Syracuse”).

Nevertheless, the production (directed and choreographed by Joshua Bergasse, who is married to Mearns) is an elegant affair, with extensive balletic and jazzy dance choreography and conducting by Rob Fisher (the founding music director of Encores!).

One hopes the production will receive a cast recording, which will at least preserve the score (which contains some lovely ballads and a lush overture) in its entirety for future generations of musical theater geeks. Personally speaking, I also hope that Encores! will consider revisiting “Pal Joey,” “Babes in Arms” and “The Boys from Syracuse," even though it already presented them in the early days of the series.

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