Celebrating the Music of William Finn. Directed by Shakina Nayfack. Reviewed by J. Peter Bergman
"What a perfect way to spend a perfect day"
With six superb performers delivering the goods you really cannot ask for much more than some good material to sing. "Celebrating the Music of William Finn" goes one better - it delivers the goods with an A+ rating, for the goods is really the very goods. In two acts lasting nearly an hour each these six actors above, Bill Finn himself and a dynamite musical director named Josh Zecher-Ross at the piano bring onto the stage at Barrington Stage Company's Boyd-Quinson Main Stage twenty-six songs from nine shows and concepts that Mr. Finn has produced since the early 1980s.
Winner of more than one Tony Award, and a slew of other honors, Finn's tribute show is running across from a 32 year old Finn musical, "Romance in Hard Times" still being workshopped, this time at Barrington Stage Company's second theater with a new concept and book. While "Romance" has had time to work out its kinks, "Celebrating. . . " only has these two performances in total so this brief review is intended to get you motivated to make the call right away for the tickets to the second and final performance.
Here are the shows in the show: Falsettos, Elegies, A New Brain, The Royal Family of Broadway, Stars of David, In Trousers, and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Here is the concept album: Songs of Innocence and Experience.
Highlights of the show include everything. Really. There is never a let-down moment in the show including the inconclusive "Yes is a Good Word" in which Chip Zien recreates a moment of his own from the original production of "A New Brain." Anne L. Nathan is dynamite in the song "Joan Rivers Talks About Her People, the Jews." Zien delivers the actor's monologue "Stupid Things I Won't Do." Sally Wilfert overwhelms with "I'd Rather Be Sailing" and "Infinite Joy." Michael Winther is perfectly lovely singins "I Went Fishing With My Dad" and "What More Can I Say." Amanda Savan takes "I'm Breaking Down" to new heights. Michael Linden is superb with "And They're Off."
Directed and motivated nicely by Shakina Nayfack the two acts move swiftly and directly through the repertoire with no opportunity for a lagging moment. The joy of this is that the show never gets dull and the time literally flies by.
There is one more performance tonight. Try not to miss it.
Celebrating the Music of William Finn can be seen on the Boyd-Quinson Main Stage located at 30 Union Street in Pittsfield, MA tonight only. For tickets call the box office at 413-236-8888.