Finian’s Rainbow

11/18/9  St. James Theatre

This revival of Finian’s Rainbow is an enjoyable time, no doubt about that, and that is what many people go to Broadway theatre for.  Mostly upbeat, a bit farcical, a couple of recognizable songs:  How Are Things in Glocca Morra? and  Old Devil Moon.  The play originally opened in 1947,  has been revived before and was made into a movie in 1968.  It is poignant to reflect how a timely message in 1947 hasn’t lost its punch.  Just as in South Pacific’s racial message in 1949.  In the latter it is prejudice against Pacific Islanders and in Finian it is in the American South against blacks.  Racism does hang on doesn’t it?

In Finian’s Rainbow there is a leprechaun who is rapidly losing his magic because of his missing pot of gold which Mr. McLonergan – that’s Finian – has “borrowed.”  The leprechaun’s three wishes are accidentally put to good use, which is a good thing, but  when Og – that’s the leprechaun – loses his magic and falls in love with a human, we have to wonder if any of the rules of nature apply anymore.

A word about Cheyenne Jackson as Woody.   Mr. Jackson hits his marks, moves well, recites his lines impeccably and is matinee idol handsome.  That suited him in Broadway’s recent Xanadu, where he played a dreamer, but if he is to be believable as a local hero, even in musical comedy, there needs to be more.  I think he is a work in progress.  In this role he reminds me of Richard Beymer’s Tony in the film version of West Side Story.  Just a little too clean cut and scrubbed and guileless to be a local hero;  just as Beymer was a little too wide-eyed as Tony. Hopefully Jackson is not being typecast just for his looks.  And hopefully he has more talent than he has shown.  I would like to see him try something which actually involves acting.

Some fine performances here. Terri White as Dottie tears it up.  Supporting cast is mostly good.  Well-directed and excellently choreographed by the extremely talented Warren Carlyle.

The play will not change your life but it will likely provide a fun afternoon or evening out.