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Directed by David Lee
Paper Mill Playhouse
22 Brookside Drive, Millburn, NJ
From October 1, 2014
Wed. at 7:30pm, Thurs. at 1:30 and 7:30pm, Fri.
at 8:00pm, Sat. at 1:30 and 8:00pm, Sun. at 1:30pm and 7:00pm
Tickets: $28-$99 (973) 376-4343 or www.PaperMill.org
Closes Oct. 26, 2014
Reviewed by Paulanne Simmons Oct. 2014
Megan Sikora (Claudine) and the girls of Can-Can. Photo by Matthew Murphy.
In the realm of musicals, "Can-Can," which ran for over two years on Broadway, was a hit on London’s West End and was made into a film starring Shirley MacLaine, Frank Sinatra, Louis Jourdan and Maurice Chevalier, was a major achievement. But for Cole Porter, who also wrote the score for "Anything Goes" and "Kiss Me, Kate," it is a minor work. Nevertheless, "Can-Can" contains standards like "I Love Paris" and "C’est Magnifique" And if that’s not enough, it also has some of the finest dance numbers the musical stage has ever seen.
With all this in mind, the revival of "Can-Can" at Paper Mill Playhouse is good news. Even better news is that this revival features a stunning performance by Kate Baldwin as Pistache, the spunky and seductive owner of the Montmartre dance-hall, Bal du Paradis; a set (Rob Bissinger) and costumes (Ann Hould-Ward) that bring us gayly back to Paris during the Belle Epoque, and a tremendous ensemble that kicks its way to oblivion.
Michael Kostroff (Jean-Louis), Kate Baldwin (La Mome Pistache) and the company of Can-Can. Photo by Matthew Murphy.
Although this production keeps all the original songs, Joe Fields and David Lee have given Abe Burrows’ book something of a facelift to make it better suited to the 21st century. This, coupled with Lee’s lively direction, keep the audience laughing at the antics onstage as well as tapping their toes to Porter’s spirited and sentimental score.
Jason Danieley (Aristide Forestier) and Kate Baldwin (La Mome Pistache). Photo by Matthew Murphy.
The plot of Can-Can is a pretty standard story about keeping an establishment running despite the efforts of hypocritical moralists. This sets Pistache and her high-stepping girls (choreography by Patti Colombo) up against Judge Aristide Forestier (the outstanding Jason Danieley) a former lover who discovers he is just as much in love as ever.
There’s also a second set of lovers, Claudine (the winsome Megan Sekora) the laundress who become a dancer, and Boris Adzinidzinadz (the very funny Greg Hildreth), a cowardly and not very talented sculptor. Their romance is almost derailed when the art critic Hilaire Jussac (Michael Berresse) falls for Claudine instead of Boris’s sculpture. All is happily settled by a farcical duel.
Can-Can is headed straight for Broadway after its run at Paper Mill. A short trip out to New Jersey means you’ll beat the rush and save some bucks.
Kate Baldwin (La Mome Pistache) and the company of Can-Can. Photo by Jerry Dalia.
The company of Can-Can. Photo by Jerry Dalia.
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