On the Town and Carnegie Deli

On the Town has music by Leonard Bernstein and a book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green. You've probably seen the 1949 MGM movie filmed on location. Sailors on a 24-hr shore leave must see the whole city and find a date. The Manhattan women they meet are not a bit shy and include a taxi driver, an anthropologist, and a dancer. These sailors could not possibly get more lucky. If anything dates the tale, it's perhaps how gosh golly happy they feel, and that happiness is contagious.

Bernstein's music performed by a full orchestra is so fresh that the songs feel new. Written several years before his West Side Story, On the Town might be the sparkier of the two, you think, after seeing this stellar production. Dancing choreographed by Joshua Bergasse is spectacular. The pas de deux with Megan Fairchild and Tony Yazbeck in Act II made us forget the Gene Kelly version. Alysha Umphress, the taxi driver Hildy, is a hoot in "Come Up to My Place" and the careening ride around town with her new love interest, Jay Armstrong Johnson. The scene in the Natural History Museum, Elizabeth Stanley's "Carried Away" with her new supplicant, Clyde Alves, is the coolest version of this female empowerment number that we may ever see, and "Lonely Town" was never more haunting. Jackie Hoffman in her many hats, who this reviewer met during her Second City days, was perfectly silly.

Could have done without the American flag curtain and "Star Spangled Banner," but maybe that's just us. On the Town is playing in the massive Lyric. Thin menus attached to the seats offer seat service at intermission for drinks and snacks. We'll have two Brooklyn lagers, a large Brooklyn Popcorn, a bag of North Fork Chips, and Tate's chocolate chip cookies, please.

Not much of an appetite after dinner, a mile-high pastrami sandwich at the non-kosher Carnegie Deli. You might know this tourist hotspot, which opened in 1937. It never fails to be a warm and friendly slice of Manhattan, around the corner from Carnegie Hall. (The joke goes, out-of-towner asks, "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?" The answer: "Practice.") There are wheeler dealers here and also just simple folks like us, who come to share a sandwich, complimentary pickles, coleslaw, and sterling conversation with native New Yorkers. It's relatively expensive, but you can have lunch for an entire week on sandwiches and salads made from ample leftovers. Carnegie Deli's mustard is particularly good, and they deliver, so ask for extra mustard and pickles.

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