Sunday, April 16, 2023

NYC Theater Trip 2023: "Some Like It Hot" at the Sam S. Shubert Theatre

Show*: 4

Title: Some Like It Hot

Location: Sam S. Shubert Theatre

Written By: book by Matthew Lopez and Amber Ruffin, music by Marc Shaiman, lyrics by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman

Summary: An adaptation of the 1959 movie, set in the prohibition era, about two musicians who don drag to escape from the mob.

Highlights: I wasn't expecting to love this one as much as I did; in fact, it might be my favorite of the six shows I saw on this trip. I've never seen the movie, but my friend assures me that this musical adaptation hues very close to the original (which she also tells me is regarded as one of the best movie comedies ever), with a few additions to make it more current that feel organic to the story, not forced to make a point. After Joe becomes Josephine and Jerry becomes Daphne, they join an all-women band led by Sweet Sue (the fabulous NaTasha Yvette Williams) traveling across the country to California. Serial dater Joe (there's a joke about him not remembering any woman's name) falls in love with the lead singer with Hollywood dreams, Sugar (SIX's Adrianna Hicks in a star turn). After befriending her as Josephine, Joe dons the disguise of a German screenwriter, allowing the uber talented Christian Borle to have lots of fun playing three different roles and accents. Unlike Joe, Jerry slowly discovers that he feels more like himself as Daphne than he ever has (an authentic performance by non-binary drag performer J. Harrison Ghee who wows as both versions of the character). The bad guys eventually catch up to our merry band of musicians, culminating in a tap-dancing chase scene that is simply the best thing ever. The fact that our characters are musicians allows for many fun show-within-the-show numbers, and this jazzy score by Hairspray writers Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman is so great I immediately downloaded the cast recording. This is a show that is perfect for touring, a crowd-pleaser that's also really well written (by playwright Matthew Lopez and comedy writer/performer Amber Ruffin) and executed (director/choreographer Casey Nicholaw keeping things light and fun). It's based on a movie people love; it has an old fasioned musical comedy vibe, a fantastic score, and super fun dancing; and it's almost subversive in the way it works in issues of trans acceptance, feminism, and overcoming racism. And this is even without mentioning the gorgeous and versatile art deco set, the bright and lovely period costumes, and the awesome band - half of which is on stage for the entire show! This is movie adaption done right - a great score and book with slight tweaks to the original, making it feel current and relevant without changing what still works.

*Once again, I'm using an abbreviated Fringe-style summary for my NYC 2023 trip, since I am in the greatest city in the world with much more exciting things to do than write! Click here to see all of my Broadway-related blog posts.