Jule Styne’s Subways Are for Sleeping, has a delightful score, an interesting book and lyrics by Betty Comdem and Adolph Green and a talented cast that makes you fall in love with them.
Subways Are for Sleeping is one of the few shows I knew basically little about, so I couldn’t wait to catch this 1961 show in Mufti at The York Theatre.
Based on Edmund G. Love’s book the show tells the tale of a group of well-dressed homeless people sleeping in the subways of New York. These individuals live by their own rules and appreciate life. Angie (Alyse Alan Louis, Amélie), is a young reporter curious on how this society manages and goes undercover to learn how the other half lives. In meeting the ring leader Tom (Eric William Morris, Mamma Mia), a one-man employment agency who finds other drifters odd jobs and sleeping quarters, Angie begins to see there might be another way to experience the world.
In the meantime ex-rich boy Charlie (David Josefsberg, Honeymoon in Vegas), meets the adorable drifter Martha (Gina Milo, Les Misérables) and falls head over heals. Thier songs “I Was a Shoo-In”, “Strange Duet”and “I Just Can’t Wait” are some of the best songs lyrically in the show. You can see that Jules Styne definitely had an influence over Sondheim’s patter songs.
As identities are revealed, conflict ensues, love wins the day and the gorgeous “How Can You Describe a Face”, “Comes Once In A Lifetime” and the up-lifting “What Is This Feeling In The Air” finish the show leaving the audience feeling restored.
Eric William Morris is a find. He truly makes us fall in love with him and we pray for something good to come into his life. With his powerful vocals, winning charm and boyish good looks, I hope to see more of Mr. Morris. Alyse Alan has chemistry with Mr. Morris and when you read the playbill, you understand why. Happily married these two are adorable together. Ms. Alan comes alive in the second act to a winning finish. Louis, David Josefsberg almost gets a standing ovation on his number, as does the comedic Gina Milo, whose song is the hardest in the show. With vocal gymnastics and acting tour de force piece, it is easy to see why Phyllis Newman won the Tony over Barbra Streisand.
Karl Josef Co (York’s Berlin to Broadway with Kurt Weill: A Musical Voyage), David Engel (La Cage aux Folles), Beth Glover (Take Me Along) as Myra Blake/Ensemble, Kathryn McCreary (The Phantom of the Opera), Gerry McIntyre (Once On This Island) and Kilty Reidy (The Drowsy Chaperone) round off the this wonderful ensemble. David Hancock Turner has made them all sound fabulous under his musical direction.
Stuart Ross (Enter Laughing) directs this piece like a subway train, perfectly tuned, comedically well paced, to a winning finish. I loved the projection design by Lacey Erb, that was well lit by Graham Kindred.
Jule Styne’s music shows blue notes, that drift off into satisfying musical endings. I would love to see this piece fully staged.
In a season where shows leave you feeling more than slightly depressed, head to The York Theatre and catch this really well done gem.
Subways Are for Sleeping: The York Theatre, 619 Lexington Ave, until February 18th.