The lavish Broadway revival of the 1944 musical comedy “On the Town” may be closing this weekend, but it’s going out with a bang thanks to the late addition of Misty Copeland (who recently became the first African-American woman to be named a principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre) to the cast for just 12 performances.
Copeland plays Ivy Smith, the girl-next-door/aspiring performer whose pinup poster on the subway (proclaiming her “Miss Turnstiles” for the month) wins the attention of the earnest sailor Gabey (Tony Yazbeck), who is in the city on 24-hour leave with his navy pals Chip (Jay Armstrong Johnson) and Ozzie (Clyde Alves).
Ivy sings a bit and has some lines, but it is essentially a dance role marked by two extensive ballet sequences, including a spectacular one where ballroom dancing turns into a hot-blooded pas de deux.
With a statuesque presence, Copeland soars whenever she moves, but her acting could use some work. Compared to Megan Fairchild, the New York City Ballet principal who originated the part in this production and stressed Ivy’s fragility and vulnerability, Copeland just looks excited to be on Broadway.
Compared with many other critics who went wild for John Rando’s production, I felt that the musical’s gentle charms got lost in the oversized Lyric Theatre — though I appreciate the large orchestra playing Bernstein’s symphonic score, the sexed-up performances from leading ladies Alysha Umphress and Elizabeth Stanley and the comedic turns from Jackie Hoffman and Michael Rupert.
The revival may not have been a hit, but it ran just under a year (far longer than the two prior Broadway revivals of “On the Town,” which were quick flops), and a superb two-disc cast album has been released.
If you go: “On the Town” plays at the Lyric Theatre through Sun. 213 W. 42nd St., OnTheTownBroadway.com.