Oh we all need a little Jerry Herman right now. The York Theatre is serving up Jerry’s Girls, a joyous infectious tribute to a song catalogue, that made Broadway sing. From Dolly to Mame, Mabel Norman or those Les Cagelle’s from La Cage aux Folles, those melodies remind us of a time when theatre gave us lush ballads and uptempo’s that lasted more than the show. In other words hummable melodies. Done Mufti style Jerry’s Girls is stripped down bare with no set per say or costumes and actors on book.
The discovery of Stephanie Umoh is worth the whole show. This showstopper excels on “It Only Takes A Moment”(Hello Dolly!), “I Won’t Send Roses”(Mack and Mabel), “Showtune” and “Movies Were Movies”(Mack and Mabel). Ironically two of these songs were written for men and the keys are not really suited for women, yet Stephanie found a way to make them her own. The most riveting moment in the show was the duet on “Kiss Her Now” (another guys song from Dear World), sung in harmony with Stephanie D’Abruzzo. The powerful vocals, were mesmerizing, but it was “I Am What I Am” (La Cage aux Folles) where Stephanie claimed the show and the night, as hers.
Christine Pedi had an emotional moments with “If He Walked Into My Life” (Mame), but it was her comedic takes when she made the stage her own. Doing a Shirley Temple version of “Tap Your Troubles Away”(Mack and Mabel), Ms. Pedi was hilarious. The same could be said of “Gooch’s S0ng” from Mame and “Nelson” (Day In Hollywood a Night In the Ukraine).
D’Abruzzo used her hands to accent almost every song she sang and tapped her way through “Where Ever He Ain’t” (Mack and Mabel). Perky and bright in the choral numbers, the hands actually worked on a maddening “I Don’t Want to Know,” (Dear World).
Herman’s lovely melodies made the show easy to listen to especially, under Musical Director and pianist, Eric Svejcar. Pamela Hunts direction was well excuted for this stripped down version. Her little touches featuring fans and roaming musical stands were a nice touch. As were the projections by Justin West.
This show should move to the Westside Theatre and rotate it’s cast, for this is what audiences want to see and Jerry’s Girls is just what the doctor ordered. Bravo York, Riki Kane Larimer and James Morgan for reminding us just how good we can feel.
Jerry’s Girls: The York Theatre, 619 Lexington Ave. until August 13th.