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George Farmer

Subways Are For Sleeping – Charming


The third and last in Musicals In Mufti’s Jule Styne series is 1961/62 Subways Are For Sleeping. Handicapped by initially negative reviews and the MTA’s unwillingness to post ads, producer David Merrick famously secured and printed laudatory quotes from ordinary people with the same names as New York critics. Though the stunt was discovered, publicity helped box office. Lyricist Adolph Green’s wife, Phyllis Newman, won the Tony Award that year for Best Supporting Actress. It’s easy to imagine her comic abilities in the role of kooky Martha Vail. I find it curious Subways hasn’t been revived before now. It has charm and more than a few worthy songs.

Eric William Morris and Alyse Alan Louis

Young magazine journalist Angie McKay (Alyse Alan Lewis) pitches an article to her editor Myra (Beth Glover) about an underground populous who dress like businessmen but are, in fact, homeless and without employment. The men gather daily at Grand Central Station where nominal leader, Tom Bailey (Eric William Morris), dispenses information on places to safely sleep and short term jobs. Bailey gets these tips from doormen and superintendents to whom he altruistically delivers coffee. Somehow the homeless eat and keep their suits clean, narrowly escaping vagrancy laws. They seem a fairly accepting lot – no drama here. Survival methodology is part cleverness, part fairytale.

David Josefsberg and Gina Milo

Angie and Tom naturally fall in love. Meanwhile, once wealthy underground denizen, Charlie (David Josefsberg), and sweet, dumb blonde, ex-pageant contestant Martha Vail (Gina Milo) – who spends almost the entire show in a towel (just shrug it off) – also become a couple. Angie gets a conscience, Charlie acquires ambition. It all works out in a way that helps street people as far as imagination reaches.

Alyse Alan Louis (Angie) has a lovely voice, but performs with so little expression we literally observe nothing but a smile at the end. Surely the character feels something else over the course of the story.

In contrast, Eric William Morris (Tom) is appealingly animated throughout. Immediately credible, we feel more sympathetic towards his character than the leading lady, not, I think what the show’s authors intended. Morris has a fine voice and moves with spirit.

Karl Joseph Co, Beth Glover, Kilty Reidy, David Engel, Kathryn McCreary,  Gerry McIntrye, Alyse Alan Louis, Eric William Morris

Gina Milo plays Martha as if the part were written for her. She’s an excellent comedienne replete with southern accent, habitually flirty demeanor, smarter-than-she-seems innocence, and below-the-surface tenderness.

David Josefberg is adorable as the uber-sincere, completely smitten Charlie. His number “I Just Can’t Wait” (to see you with clothes on) is a comic highlight. An actor of multi-faceted talent.

The assembled cast is vivacious. Direction by Stuart Ross is zippy and evocative despite the minimalism of Mufti. Lacey Erb’s Projection Design splendidly substitutes for scenery. Many photos are so specific, they appear to have been shot for the piece.

Also featuring: David Engel, Kilty Reidy, Karl Josef Co, Gerry McIntyre, Beth Glover,  Kathryn McCreary, Beth Glover

Photos by Ben Strothmann

Opening: Top row (left to right): Beth Glover, Kilty Reidy, Karl Joseph Co, Gerry McIntrye, David Engel, Kathryn McCreary. Seated (left to right): Eric William Morris, Alyse Alan Louis, Gina Milo, David Josefsberg

Listen to Alix Cohen talk about reviewing theater on WAT-CAST.

The York Theatre Company presents Musicals in Mufti
Subways Are For Sleeping
Book and Lyrics-Betty Comden and Adolph Green
Suggested by the book by Edmund G. Love
Music – Jule Styne
Directed by Stuart Ross
Music Direction/Piano-David Hancock Turner; George Farmer- Bass
The York Theatre
619 Lexington Ave. in St. Peter’s Church
Through March 4, 2018
NEXT: The Musical of Musicals -The Musical April 9, 2018