Stage Review

Closer Than Ever (2012)

CLOSER THAN EVER
CLOSER THAN EVER
EW's GRADE
B+

Details Opening Date: Jul 21, 2012; Lead Performances: Jacquelyn Piro Donovan, George Dvorsky and Julia Murney; Director: Richard Maltby Jr.; Genre: Musical

Musical theater, like Hollywood, tends to be fixated on first love — or at least young love. For a refreshing burst of counterprogramming, Off Broadway's York Theatre has brought back the 1989 musical revue Closer Than Ever, an enchanting evening from the songwriting duo Richard Maltby Jr. and David Shire featuring a quartet of performers well past their ingenue years.

George Dvorsky and Sal Viviano have remained with the show since it opened in June; the two female performers are now Julia Murney and Jacquelyn Piro Donovan. The latter is a particular standout on the moving women-can't-have-it-all lament ''Life Story.''

Story songs are a particular forte of Maltby and Shire, exquisite craftsmen of songs best known for their work on the Broadway musicals Baby (1983) and Big (1996). In addition to ''Life Story,'' the show includes wonderfully witty female solos like ''Back on Base'' and ''Miss Byrd,'' about a seemingly buttoned-up office worker with a friskier side. (Jenn Colella, who was a knockout performing these numbers, has since been replaced by Murney.)

The four performers are all solid singers, and their voices blend well in harmonic ensemble numbers like ''Another Wedding Day,'' a paean to second marriages, and the frustrated love triangle number ''She Loves Me Not.'' While the second act drags a bit with overly earnest songs like ''Fathers of Fathers'' and ''One of the Good Guys,'' the production generally moves briskly under Maltby's no-frills direction. B+

(Tickets: yorktheatre.org or 212-935-5820)

Originally posted Aug 09, 2012
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