It’s not in the premiere league of musicals; maybe not even the championship, but Wonderful Town still offers a thoroughly enjoyable (if not quite wonderful) evening in the theatre.
It hasn’t got the famous big tunes that you sit there waiting for, and the plot is the thinnest its creators could possibly get away with.
But Connie Fisher, late of The Sound of Music, and the rest of the cast fill it with life –- the tale of two young Ohio sisters trying to make it in the Big Apple during the Depression.
Along the way, aspiring writer Ruth (Fisher) and her sister Eileen (Lucy Van Gasse), a girl with rather more earthy concerns, run into all manner of colourful characters, from the slightly-stiff editor to the dodgy artist via the Portuguese navy and a police station full of cops.
At times, it probably doesn’t quite hang together. All the way home we tried to work out just why Eileen was slung in jail -– except for the fact that she has a great time there, rapidly reducing the officers to the status of her domestics.
But some of the songs are terrific, particularly Ohio which sees the sisters lamenting their home town and A Little Bit In Love, maybe the night’s highlight which sees Eileen transferring her affections with worrying speed.
Conversation Piece beautifully evokes the most awkward of dinner parties before Conga! closes the first half with the biggest of smiles.
There’s rarely any great sense that this is a musical going anywhere particularly quickly, but the choreography is superb, the dancing equally so and the ending certain to send you out happy.
Fisher really is a dazzling performer –- and with Van Gasse constantly threatening to outdazzle her, there’s plenty to savour.