Still Sort of Grandish, Finian's Rainbow Extends to July 11 in NYC; O'Malley Joins May 12

News   Still Sort of Grandish, Finian's Rainbow Extends to July 11 in NYC; O'Malley Joins May 12 How are things in Glocca Morra? Things are so sunny, in fact, that Irish Repertory Theatre is extending its new concert version of Finian's Rainbow, the musical comedy fantasy that begat such tunes as "Old Devil Moon," "Look to the Rainbow" and "How Are Things in Glocca Morra?"
Melissa Errico and Malcolm Gets in Finian's Rainbow
Melissa Errico and Malcolm Gets in Finian's Rainbow Photo by Carol Rosegg

Performances were to run to May 30, but audience interest in the classic by Yip Harburg, Fred Saidy and Burton Lane prompted an extension, to July 11. Melissa Errico, who has played Sharon since previews began April 6, leaves the cast May 9 to be replaced by Kerry O'Malley (recently of Goodspeed Musicals' A Tree Grows in Brooklyn) on May 12.

The rest of the company, including Malcolm Gets as a randy leprechaun and Jonathan Freeman as Finian, continues in the revised concert staging, at Irish Rep's home on West 22nd Street.

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Finian's Rainbow, as unlikely a musical hit as ever there was, opened April 15. Given the musical fantasy's left-leaning plot that includes songs about the haves and the have-nots, April 15 — the deadline for income tax filing — seemed appropriate. "On that great come-and-get-it day," sing the poor folks, "won't it be fun when worry is done and money is hay?"

Irish Rep artistic director Charlotte Moore adapted the 1947 Yip Harburg-Fred Saidy-Burton Lane musical satire for a benefit concert in 2003, and a version of that script is heard in this run, also directed by Moore. The lovers in Broadway's Amour, Melissa Errico and Malcolm Gets, reunite for the Irish Rep adaptation run of Finian's Rainbow. The pair aren't romantic, though. Errico plays Sharon, who has left Ireland with her father, Finian (42nd Street's Jonathan Freeman), to settle in the mythical Southern state of Missitucky. Finian has stolen a leprechaun's pot of gold, and the angry sprite, named Og, has followed the thief to America, where they encounter romance, but also bigotry, economic disparity and social injustice.

Gets ("Caroline in the City") plays the randy, salty Og, who struggles with post-Ireland human feelings (including only a brief crush on Sharon).

Max Von Essen (Dance of the Vampires) plays Sharon's love interest, Woody, who espouses socialism and sings "Old Devil Moon," one the score's hits.

The company also includes David Staller as the Narrator, Mark Aldrich, Jonathan Hadley, Eric Jackson, Jayne Lynch, Kimberly Dawn Neumann, John Sloman (as Sen. Rawkins), Joacquin Stevens and Terri White (Barnum).

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The score is spiked with such popular show tunes as "How Are Things in Glocca Morra?" and "Look to the Rainbow," plus spicy comic and satiric songs such as "When I'm Not Near the Girl I Love," "The Begat," "Necessity" and "When the Idle Poor Become the Idle Rich."

In the years since it was first presented, the well-meaning liberal-leaning book by Harburg and Saidy has not aged well. For example, a racist senator is turned black when Sharon wishes a different race on him while she unknowingly sits on the leprechaun's pot of gold. The intention is to make him see and feel the hatred he has encouraged, but the mixed message is that being black is the ultimate punishment.

The late librettist Peter Stone revised the script for a Broadway-bound touring production several years ago, but the show never came to town. Denis O'Hare (Take Me Out, Assassins) was the leprechaun Og in that version. He also appeared in the Irish Rep concert in 2003, along with John Cullum as Finian, Sharon's greedy and lovable Irish papa.

Errico appeared in the Irish Rep's The Importance of Being Earnest, and wowed audiences in One Touch of Venus for Encores! before appearing in Broadway's High Society and Amour. Her recent Off-Broadway gig was Wallace Shawn's Aunt Dan and Lemon. She also played Eliza in the tour and Broadway run of My Fair Lady, opposite Richard Chamberlain.

Designers include James Morgan (set), Mary Jo Dondlinger (lighting) and David Toser (costume).

Tickets for Finian's Rainbow are $40-$45. Performances play Wednesday-Sunday at Irish Rep, 132 W. 22nd Street (between Sixth and Seventh avenue).

For more information, call (212) 727-2737 visit www.irishrep.org.

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