On the Town at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre always makes for an exciting alternative to standard venues, and when the show in question is a musical, the entertainment factor is doubled. This summer, the outdoor stage hosts On the Town, the memorable musical made famous by the 1949 film of the same name starring Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly and Jules Munshin. An award-winning score is an excellent foundation for young director Drew McOnie, who choreographs the show after a series of successful productions and an Olivier Award won last year.
Starring Strictly Come Dancing celebrity Danny Mac in the lead role of Gabey, the musical relates the adventures of three sailors on a 24-hour shore leave in New York City. Gabey immediately falls for a girl whose picture he sees on a subway advertisement, and he resolves to find her that day. The trio of friends get caught up in plenty of amusing scenarios as they search for the girl, getting distracted time and time again.
A touch of comedy in every scene, mixed with plenty of visual stimuli, means that the rhythm never slackens. A colourful range of period outfits have an undeniable engaging power, and the set design is also impressive. Seemingly basic metal frames on the right-hand side make up empty compartments, and these are filled with new backgrounds and props each time to represent different places, and then slid onto the centre of the stage.
The highly efficient set and swift costume changes make the whole harmonious, but while every technical detail is curated with great care and the cast showcase some fine skills, the element of magic is missing from the performance. The orchestra is hidden behind the action and is barely visible, and although the space itself creates a special atmosphere even before the action begins, the piece still lacks soul.
Filled with sweet humour and high energy, On the Town is perfect for a lighthearted night out. After overcoming an early disruption due to an injury, the show has found its flow and will undoubtedly delight many musical lovers this summer.
Photos: Johan Persson / Jane Hobson
On the Town is at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre from 19th May until 1st July 2017. Book your tickets here.