[caption id="attachment_4244" align="alignright" width="200" caption="Jim Norton in Finian\'s Rainbow photo by Joan Marcus"][/caption]
Jim Norton, the feisty Finian McLonergan of Broadway's critically cheered but under-attended revival of Finian's Rainbow, dabbed his eyes rather authentically Jan. 17 with the hankie handed him by Kate Baldwin as she delivered Burton Lane and Yip Harburg's lovely lament to a land they will never see again.
Tears flowed freely throughout the show during its 92nd and last performance at the St. James — and then, of course, there was the deluge at the end, but Baldwin mustered a commendably stiff upper lip most of the way. Said hubby-actor Graham Rowat, "Last night the conductor [Rob Berman] said, 'How are we not going to be crying during ['Glocca Morra']?' And she's, like, 'No tears till the end.' She was prepared."
Prolonged applause greeted the known showstoppers — "If This Isn't Love," "Old Devil Moon," "Something Sort of Grandish," "Necessity," "The Begat," "When I'm Not Near the Girl I Love," "That Great Come and Get It Day" — as if the audience was reluctant to let them go. Indeed, there were tears on both sides of the footlights.
Last hugs and goodbyes for the cast took place next door to the St. James at Angus McIndoe, and the third-floor bar was packed to the gills with sorrowful sardines.
Tony winner Norton, a spry 71 who has a sparky persona that belies that age, said that his immediate plans were "to lie down for awhile. I hurt my back in the show so I need to have some treatment for that." The injury didn't slow or lessen his performance. "It's all based on fear," he figured. "If I don't do it, somebody else will."
It felt more like an opening than a closing to Terri White "because the people were with us from beginning to end" (and quite a few jumped to their feet after her "Necessity" number). "This show means so much to me and has since I was eight years old. It was the first show I did at community theatre, and this is my seventh time doing it. This show makes everybody love each other on the stage. You see it."
Producer Kevin Spirtas, recently seen Off-Broadway as an actor in Loaded, planned to be on the next plane to the West Coast: "I'll do my one-man show, Night and Days, about my nights on Broadway and my days on 'Days of Our Lives,' at Long Beach's Carpenter Center and Santa Clarita's College for the Canyons."
Another producer said if Finian's Rainbow is well-remembered by the Tony nominators, that might bode well for future production. "I think there's a chance for the road and London," admitted lead producer Jack Viertel. "There's a lot of work to do between here and there — but, yeah, we're talking to various people about it."
— Harry Haun