Leonard Bernstein’s 1953 musical gets a classy revival in this Manchester Royal Exchange production, first seen at The Lowry in Salford.
This is Broadway hocus of the highest order. Two sisters leave hicksville Ohio to find success in New York. Eileen is beautiful, uncomplicated and talented while Ruth is wisecracking, complicated and talented. Will New York spit them out or fulfil their dreams? Well, the clue is in the title.
As Ruth, Connie Fisher leads a faultless cast. She gets the best out of the dialogue and the witty lyrics of some fine character songs. Lucy van Gasse as Eileen and Michael Xavier as Bob, the love interest for both the girls, have the most powerful voices. Bernstein’s music is direct, rhythmic and lyrical, always hinting at the creative energy which within four years would produce ‘West Side Story’.
One of the strengths of the show is a dynamic supporting ensemble, vocally strong and endlessly energetic as dancers. The men in particular keep the comic momentum going as Greenwich Village lowlife, Brazilian sailors and Irish cops.
A big band, striking sets and costumes and some brilliant choreography all help to make this little gem into a great night out.