Reviewed by Victor Gluck
Presented by Musicals Tonight! at the Mainstage at the 14th Street Y, 344 E. 14th Street, NYC, Dec. 6-17.
Musicals Tonight! brought back the 1964 musical, "Foxy," in a concert semi-staging, and the results were decidedly mixed. As a musical that cries out for large choruses, lavish sets and costumes, and big dance numbers, the staged reading isn't suitable for this material.
"Foxy" 's pedigree is impeccable. The book by Ian McLellan Hunter and Oscar-winning screenwriter, the late Ring Lardner, Jr., was based on Ben Jonson's classic comedy, "Volpone." The score was the second Broadway collaboration of famed Hollywood music arranger Robert Emmett Dolan and celebrated lyricist Johnny Mercer. Bert Lahr won a Tony for Best Actor in a Musical.
In this story of greed and con-artistry in 1896 Yukon Territory, Foxy attempts to outwit his scheming pals Shortcut, Buzzard, and Bedrock by pretending to be dying and offering to make each of them his heir. Thomas Mills' direction and choreography weren't fast enough paced for the show's burlesque quality. In the role written around Lahr's special talents, Rudy Roberson seemed neither old enough nor inventive enough to make Foxy the lovable old codger he is intended to be. As his sidekick "Doc," Rob Lorey seemed too young and innocent to be the rascal behind the scam. Jessica Frankel's saloon keeper never convinced that she was the floozy the script intended.
Nevertheless, the rarely heard score (the show has never been recorded) held many gems. "Talk to Me Baby," sung by George Pellegrino and Natasha Harper, was an utterly lovely ballad. The Gilbert and Sullivan style patter song, "The Letter of the Law" (cut from the original Broadway production) was wittily sung by Michael Mendiola as Canadian Mounted Police Inspector Stirling. "Many Ways to Skin a Cat," "The Honeymoon Is Over," and "I'm Way Ahead of the Game" offered top draw Mercer lyrics. The trouble was the songs did not seem to be written for the same western score.