William Stevenson
March 31, 2000 AT 05:00 AM EST

We gave it a B+

With dynamic songs by Andrew Lippa, sexy choreography by Mark Dendy, and inventive staging by Gabriel Barre, Manhattan Theatre Club’s raucous Party is anything but a bore. Like Broadway’s musical of the same name starring Eartha Kitt, this production is an adaptation of Joseph Moncure March’s 1928 poem about a bash that becomes a tad too spirited. As the warring hosts, Julia Murney and Brian d’Arcy James set off sparks and sing beautifully. Even more compelling are their guests: Idina Menzel, who belts with torchy flair, and Taye Diggs, whose smooth crooning complements his smoothly muscled physique. Unfortunately, despite a couple of steamy numbers, the increasingly sleazy second act doesn’t sustain the exuberance of the first. But at its best, Lippa’s propulsive music captures the jazzy verve of the 1920s. B+

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