| go to index of reviews | go to entry page | | go to other departments |


Paulanne Simmons

“The Streets of New York” Is a Marvelous Musical Melodrama

The Streets of New York
Directed by Charlotte Moore
Irish Repertory Theatre
132 West 22 Street
Opened Dec. 4, 2021
Wednesdays at 3pm & 8pm, Thursday at 7pm, Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 3pm & 8 pm, Sunday at 3pm Tickets: start at $75, 212.727.2737
Closes Jan. 30, 2022
Reviewed by Paulanne Simmons Dec. 30, 2021

Photo by Carol Rosegg

If there is any melodramatic element Dion Boucicault did not put into The Streets of New York, this reviewer is at a loss to find it. There’s an evil banker, the righteous poor, self-sacrificing lovers, a widowed mother, a vicious vamp, hidden evidence, an unexpected fire, attempted suicides… The play was written in 1857 and is set in New York City in 1837 and 1857, when the rich were very, very rich; and the poor were very, very poor. Sound familiar?

Charlotte Moore, displaying new talents, has very successfully turned this chestnut into a musical, with a score that’s filled with melodious ballads (“We Must Never Say Goodbye,” “Poor Wounded Heart”) and a few tongue-in-cheek, playful tunes (“Oh How I Love Being Rich,” “Villains”). And, as director, she has quite brilliantly balanced tears with laughter in a production that in less capable hands could have descended into the realm of bathos or the hopelessly outdated.

What’s more, set designer Hugh Landwehr has used simple flats to create both palace and hovel. And Linda Fisher’s evocative costumes produce a perfect contrast between rags and riches that would have made Dickens proud.

The plot is complicated and delicious: Minutes after entrusting all his money to the bankrupt and fleeing villain, Gideon Bloodgood (David Hess), sea captain Patrick Fairweather (Daniel J. Maldonado) dies of apoplexy, leaving his wife, Susan (Amy Bodnar) and their two children, Paul (Ryan Vona) and Lucy (DeLaney Westfall), penniless. His crime might have gone undetected had it not been witnessed by his clerk, Badger (Justin Keyes), who preserves the evidence for what he hopes will be lucrative blackmail.

Twenty years later, the Fairweathers are living with the poor but kindly Puffy family, Dermot (Richard Henry), Dolly (Polly McKie) and Dixie (Jordan Tyson), tenants of Bloodgood, who has now become one of the most powerful men in New York. Paul has just lost his job. And Lucy, who works in a millinery shop, is being courted by an impoverished aristocrat, Mark Livingston (Ben Jacoby). But Bloodgood’s daughter, Alida (Amanda Jane Cooper), has her eye on Paul, whom she thinks will give her entrée into the society of New York’s bluebloods.

Reuniting the true lovers, punishing the evildoers and rewarding the good takes considerable effort on the part of the playwright Boucicault.

The cast of The Streets of New York has wholeheartedly embraced the sincerity and irony of the show, with wink/wink asides and hands clasped in passionate anguish. We can almost see the tell-tale twirling of mustaches. Cooper is particularly juicy as Alida. And Keyes makes Badger a lovable scamp.

The Streets of New York is warm, wonderful and wistful for times gone by. Its ending, the triumph of good over evil, is just what we need to begin the new year.

| home | reviews | cue-to-cue | discounts | welcome | | museums |
| recordings | coupons | publications | classified |