Some shows are interesting enough to keep exploring. The York Theatre Company, which twice staged versions of “Carmelina” in the past, is doing it again as the opener in a series celebrating the centennial of lyricist/librettist Alan Jay Lerner. He co-wrote the book and also did the lyrics for the musical, which has a curious history. Based on the film, “Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell,” the original production, with music by Burton Lane, was a quick flop in 1979 on Broadway but has intrigued theater buffs ever since. As for the story, the show “Mamma Mia!,” both on stage and film, has essentially the same plot as “Carmelina.”

Now, what the York Theatre is staging under the direction of Michael Leeds, with David Hancock Turner as musical director, is quite delightful. Yes, the plot may still be a stretch, but the story abetted by some very good songs offers the opportunity for performances that are amusing and also sometimes touching. The York has come through once again with an impressive cast of eight who bring the tale to life. The York provides only a week of rehearsal time before opening, necessitating a concert style staging that allows performers to have scripts in hand.

The setting is a “tiny restaurant in the village of San Forino, somewhere between Sorrento and Naples.” Andréa Burns is perfectly cast as Signora Carmelina Campbell. She nails her character precisely, whether with her acting or fine voice in interpreting her songs. Carmelina is living a lie. During World War II, when as a young girl she had sex with three American GIs, she then found herself pregnant without knowing which one was the father.

She has invented a cover-up tale that the GI father was named Campbell, who died a war hero, which made her a renowned widow in the village and in the eyes of the resulting daughter. She has also been extorting money from the three GIs, each of whom believes he is the dad. Gia (Maryjoanna Grisso), the daughter, is studying in Switzerland, until she turns up unexpectedly.

Also turning up unexpectedly are the three GIs, who visit the town for a reunion, and of course, to see the daughter they have been supporting. Carmelina has a great number, “Someone in April,” which cleverly informs her helper Rosa (Anne L. Nathan), what happened during the war.

There are various complications. Joey Sorge is steadily amusing as Vittorio Dela Marta, who has been smitten by Carmelina through the years. But she has rejected his advances, claiming that she must remain faithful to her dead husband. Vittorio is aghast when he learns the truth.

Others in the cast include Antonio Cipriano, Evan Harrington, Timothy John Smith and Jim Stanek, all of whom double in roles. Good numbers include “It’s Time for a Love Song,” “You’re a Woman,” “Love Me Tomorrow,” “I Will Kill her,” and “Sorry as I Am.” The “orchestra” consists of music director Turner at the piano and Joseph Wallace on bass, and it is quite amazing how only a musical twosome can make the score soar.

One wonders why the Broadway production, which received mixed but respectful reviews, flopped after only 17 performances, in that the cast included Georgia Brown as Carmelina and Met Opera star Cesare Siepi as Vittorio. In the wake of “Mamma Mia!” one wonders whether a revival of “Carmelina” could work on Broadway today. But it sure provides a pleasing time at the York, where it is scheduled through February 3.

The other shows in this Mufti! series are “The Day Before Spring,” with book and lyrics by Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe (February 9-17) and “Lolita, My Love,” with music by John Barry and book and lyrics by Lerner (February 23-March 3). At Theater at Saint Peter’s, 54th Street and Lexington Anenue. Phone: 212-935-5820. Reviewed January 28, 2019.

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