The songs are scored for an onstage five-piece rock combo, with the musicians stepping downstage to play subsidiary acting roles. Suitable for a 299-seater, this doesn't quite fill the 2,250 seat City Center. Goldsberry, however, makes up for the imbalance; the best moment of the show, in fact, is her rendition of Cryer and Ford's superb "Old Friend," which is performed with a piano-only accompaniment. (Musical director Chris Fenwick, who did a superb job two weeks ago with Off-Center's The Cradle Will Rock, is at the piano here.)
Other effective spots include "Dear Tom," "In a Simple Way I Love You" (from Rabinowitz), "Put in a Package and Sold" and "Lonely Lady" (which Goldsberry delivers a cappella). Also scoring is "Strong Woman Number," led by Sajous, who was a standout in a similarly small role in last winter's Forever Dusty.
Director/choreographer Marshall (Anything Goes, Nice Work If You Can Get It), who served as artistic director of Encores! for five seasons, seems to have relished the chance to do a full staging for the series. (Unlike other Encores! offerings, this one has a full set — albeit Off-Broadway style — by Derek McLane.) Marshall's work, and Goldsberry's performance, serve as a memorable cap to Encores! Off-Center's first season.
During the opening night curtain call, Cryer and Ford — the first female composer/lyricist team to achieve a sustained career in American musical theatre — climbed onstage and received a strong, and fitting, ovation.
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