Total Rating: 
August 5, 2017
August 13, 2017
New York
New York
York Theater Company
Theater Type: 
York Theater at St. Peter's Church
Theater Address: 
619 Lexington Avenue
Running Time: 
2 hrs
Musical Revue
Songs: Jerry Herman; Conceived: Larry Alford, Wayne Cilento, Jerry Herman
Pamela Hunt

"Strike the band up/ It's today!" -- and through August 13, it's Jerry's Girls at the York Theatre with the outstanding piano accompaniment of Eric Svejcar, a one-man band himself, and Stephanie D'Abruzzo, Christine Pedi, and Stephanie Umoh singing the songs of Jerry Herman.

The second in this summer's Musicals in Mufti series, the music and lyrics of Jerry Herman offers a sure-fire refreshment for an August day, even when performed script-in-hand with costumes limited to different versions of Dolly Levi's hats. There is no narrative, just each singer stepping forward to deliver the songs that defined Dolly Levi (Hello, Dolly!), dazzling Mame Dennis (Mame), ethereal Countess Aurelia (Dear World), actress Mabel Normand (Mack and Mabel), and ZaZa, the extravagant drag star in La Cage Aux Folles.

With little rehearsal time and few production values aside from Justin West's video projections, the songs are the show. Directed by Pamela Hunt, too often the singers in this performance, all theater pros, are overly dependent on the scripts. The versatile Pedi (Forbidden Broadway), sounds indecisive with, "Just Leave Everything to Me", but she nails the emotional, "If He Walked Into My Life." At her best, however, she leans on her comedic talent, as in "Take It All Off" and "The Man in the Moon," both in the Vaudeville Medley.

One must appreciate the total immersion in her songs by D'Abruzzo (Avenue Q), although some renditions, like "I Don't Want to Know," inch toward exaggeration. Notable is a heart-wrenching delivery of "Time Heals Everything," and she joins the third singer, Stephanie Umoh (Ragtime) in the witty nastiness of "Bosom Buddies." It is Umoh, with a secure, warm soprano, who is the standout performer of the production with nuanced interpretations in, "It Only Takes a Moment" and a stunning, balanced "I Won't Send Roses." The determined passion of her rendition of "I Am What I Am" is outstanding. She is a performer to follow.

Musical director/pianist Eric Svejcar gins up the energy with vibrant pianissimo and, behind the ballads, proves a sensitive accompanist without undue theatricality.

Jerry's Girls has been performed since 1985, on Broadway and in cabaret. The venerable York Theatre brings in a truckload of terrific songs with experienced performers who could enlighten any bare space even without the bells and whistles of costumes and sets. What would help was a bit more time to clinch the lyrics and rehearse together for this celebration of Jerry Herman's musical theater virtuosity, his genius in music and lyrics, and those dazzling dames.

Stephanie Umoh, Stephanie D’Abruzzo, Christine Pedi
Set & Lighting: Paarker Conzone; Projection Design: Justin West; Scenic Consultant: James Morgan; Production Manager: Kevin Maloof.
This review first appeared in, 8/17
Elizabeth Ahlfors
Date Reviewed: 
August 2017