Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay


New Girl in Town
42nd Street Moon
Review by Richard Connema | Season Schedule

Also see Richard's reviews of Paradise Found, Christine Andreas: BeMused, The Baltimore Waltz, Noises Off, The Last Five Years and Hamilton


Lauren Meyer, Elise Youssef, Ashley Garlick,
and Judith Miller

Photo by Ben Krantz Studio
42nd Street Moon is presenting a re-constructed version of Bob Merrill and George Abbott's New Girl in Town based on Eugene O'Neill's Anna Christie. I saw the two-act version starring Gwen Verdon and Thelma Ritter, and choreographed by Bob Fosse, during the summer of 1957 at the 46th Street Theatre on Broadway.

Daren A.C. Carollo beautifully directs this 90-minute one-act production with an excellent cast of singers and actors. The storyline follows O'Neill's heavy drama with a different ending. The original musical did not follow O'Neill's brooding writing; they made every attempt to make O'Neill lite.

This New Girl in Town cast has just 10 actors and six of them are playing many roles; only four play the main character roles. Bob Merrill wrote the lovely music and dramatic lyrics for this show, and the book is by George Abbott.

New Girl in Town is not your typical glitzy Broadway spectacular, but it is well produced and cleverly directed here. The plot revolves around Anna (Allison F. Rich), a former prostitute who arrives in New York to see her father Chris (Chris Vettel) whom she hasn't seen since her childhood. He is a tug boat captain living on a dock, and he has a bias toward sailors. Anna has a romantic encounter with a shipwrecked Irish seaman named Matt (Joshua Marx), causing great concern by her father. Anna and Matt's love at first sight is complicated as the story disentangles to reveal Anna's abusive past.

Allison F. Rich is outstanding as Anna. She fills the role with anguish, and her wonderful vocal cords project torment in "It's Good to Be Alive" and "On the Farm." Recent New York actor Joshua Marx is a handsome fellow with a subtle Irish accent and a rich voice. He has powerful chops when singing "Look at 'Er" and in the duet with Anna "Did You Close Your Eyes?." A standout of the evening is Chris Vettel as Chris, the Swedish father. He commands the stage with his acting and singing, especially on "Anna Lilla" and "Ven I Valse." Rounding out the major characters is Judith Miller as Chris' good friend Marthy. She gives a splendid performance with a terrific voice when singing "Yer My Friend, Aintcha?" with Chris.

The supporting cast consisting of Michael Birr, Mark J. Enea, Ashley Garlick, Lauren Meyer, John-Elliott Kirk (who has seven costume changes), and Elise Youssef give strong support in various roles.

Mark Mendelson has designed the fabulous realistic set of a dock area with a wooden cabin that houses Chris and Anna. Bethany Deal's costumes are in line with the 1920s feel, and the lighting design by Ryan Weible is wonderfully moody. Kelly Cooper's choreography is lively, particularly for the opening number "Roll Yer Socks Up" and fro "There Ain't No Flies on Me."

Bottom Line: New Girl in Town is enjoyable to say the least.

New Girl in Town plays through April 16, 2017, at Eureka Theatre, 210 Jackson Street, San Francisco. For information and tickets, call 415-255-8207 or visit 42ndstmoon.org. Coming up next is the fundraising cabaret party for 42nd Street Moon, Broadway Flipped, on April 21 and 22.


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