The York Theatre Company is presenting “The Day Before Spring” as part of its Musicals in Mufti! celebration of Alan Jay Lerner’s centennial. Lerner wrote the book and lyrics, and Frederick Loewe wrote the music. A previous excavation of the 1945 Broadway musical was done by the York in 2007, and now, with the discovery of the missing full score, Marc Acito has adapted and directed the current production (February 9-17).
It is easy to see how the musical as originally staged might have been moderately enjoyable but not a smash hit. However, it is quite charming in this intimate 90-minute intermission-less concert-style version in one act. The York has assembled an excellent cast capable of coming through effectively after a week’s rehearsal. The performers manage to eclipse the thinness of the plot that makes this a very minor Lerner-Loewe collaboration.
For some reason the show is now set in June, 1958. The story is the same, involving a campus 10-year reunion at the imaginary Harvardale University in New England and a married woman still carrying a torch for a boyfriend in her collage romance that didn’t work out. Katherine (Madison Claire Parks) is married to Peter (Will Reynolds), but fears the result of a new encounter with her old love, Alex (Jesse Manocherian), now an author of the romantic novel “The Day Before Spring,” part of which is clearly based on the aborted relationship with Katherine.
That’s a wispy basis for a musical, but it provides the occasion for the delightful singing by the attractive Parks as the emotion-torn Katherine, exemplified by her title number solo and also her duets, “You Haven’t Changed at All” and a reprise of the title song with the impressive Manocherian as Alex.
The supporting cast is amiable, and there is Katherine’s imaginary number in which Voltaire, Plato and Freud provide advice on whether to stay with or leave her husband Peter for Alex. There are many songs within the reunion ploy, although one can’t say that, while pleasantly listenable and often amusing, they are first-rate Lerner and Loewe. But the York’s purpose of rediscovery is enjoyably filled with this staging.
The fine supporting cast includes Jonathan Christopher, Michelle Liu Coughlin, Nicolas Dromard, Judith Ingber, Kent M. Lewis, Alyse Alan Louis, Ian Lowe and Brittany Santos with Santos also the dance captain.
Musical direction and new arrangements are by David Hancock Turner, who also is at the piano, with George Farmer on double bass and Buddy Williams on drums. At the Theater at Saint Peter’s, 54th Street and Lexington Avenue. Phone: 212-935-5820. Reviewed February 11, 2019.