The Boys from Syracuse originally opened in 1938 and has since been revived numerous times. This version resets the musical, which has one of the best scores ever with gems including Falling in Love with Love, Sing for Your Supper and This Can’t Be Love, in a gay, campy world with an almost all-male cast plus one, lone woman.
The idea is original and mostly effective. The tiny stage at the Lion Theater is crammed with Joshua Warner’s set including the obligatory Greek columns, shrinking the space the cast works in. And work they do, as Boys is a very busy show played here like classic farce with characters running on and offstage, pratfalls, honking horns and lots of physical comedy.
Josh Walden gives his all as Antipholus of Syracuse and impressed me more than did Matt Dengler as Antipholus of Ephesus who has the more dominant role. Luce, the household servant played by Adam B. Shapiro, sings well, mugs better and even managed to haul an audience member onstage cheerfully. Kudos to Darrell Morris, Jr. whose graceful Luciana is one of the better performances. Overall, the voices could be stronger although the two Dromios, Ian and Matthew Fairlee, (real life twins), are charming enough to overcome any vocal deficits. The whole ensemble dances with enthusiasm.
I’m not sure why director Jonathan Cerullo chose to cast a woman, (Madeline Hamlet), to triple in several minor parts since this show is sufficiently madcap so that the pink pussy hat could have been worn regardless of gender. Otherwise, Cerullo has directed the action with verve and energy, wisely deciding to let the marvelous score with music by Richard Rogers and lyrics by Lorenz Hart, shine. The music is ably played by Cupid & the Arrows Band perched high over the stage. The libretto is by Broadway legend and master, George Abbott, based on Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors, itself loosely drawn from a play by Plautus.
Since 1998, Musicals Tonight! has revived 90 classic musicals, earning an OBIE in 2004. The organization deserves credit for reviving otherwise ignored works, giving audiences the opportunity to see and enjoy them.