The star of Let's Face It is the show itself -- a breezy, old-fashioned musical comedy with a tuneful score of witty Cole Porter songs and salty, comic dialogue by Dorothy and Herbert Fields.
Originally produced on Broadway in 1941, the cleverly written yet amusingly silly show represents a style of entertainment for which New York theatregoers seem starved. As a diet of current Broadway fare can prove ungratifying to lovers of smartly literate musical theatre, it is no wonder the sold-out opening night of Let's Face It generated a line at the box office extending way out onto the sidewalk -- and no, not everyone was over 65; many were not even close. The event attracted a diverse audience, including the legendary performer George S. Irving; David Lahm, Dorothy Fields' son; and the actor who understudied star Danny Kaye in the show's original production.
Presented in a staged concert version by Musicals Tonight!, Let's Face It makes for a snappy evening of fun with heavy nostalgic overtones. In his preshow speech, producer Mel Miller transports us back in time, offering a plethora of engrossing facts about the history of the show and the period in which it was created.
Performing with books in hand, the cast of Let's Face It is less than first-rate. It doesn't outshine but rather underlines the stylistic conventions of the material. Under the leadership of musical director James Stenborg, the refreshingly unamplified singing deftly serves the composer's intentions. We don't miss a single one of Porter's bons mots. The comedy of the show's saucy story -- about three wives who take up with young soldiers to make their philandering husbands jealous -- is delivered in appropriately brassy, fast-talking fashion and supported by director-choreographer Thomas Mills' lively staging.
Presented by Musicals Tonight!
at the 45th Street Theatre, 354 W. 45th St., NYC.
May 9-21. Tue.-Sat., 7:30 p.m.; Wed., Sat., and Sun., 2:30 p.m.
(212) 868-4444 or www.smarttix.com.
Casting by Stephen DeAngelis.