The York Theatre Company is presenting a charming, intimate musical, “Marry Harry,” with music by Dan Martin, amusing lyrics by Michael Biello and a cute if predictable book by Jennifer Robbins. It isn’t a show to set the world on fire, but it is appealingly acted by a winsome cast and directed and choreographed with mostly a light touch by Bill Castillino.
Lenny Wolpe as Big Harry has been running an Italian restaurant in New York’s East Village for years and expects his son Harry, played by good-looking, personable and fine singer David Spadora, who is cooking in the restaurant, to eventually take over and uphold the family tradition. Young Harry has other ideas, and has applied to get a job as a sous-chef in a well known establishment with hopes that he’ll be chosen. His father, passionately acted by stage veteran Wolpe, greets the news with anger and disappointment.
Enter a love story. Attractive Morgan Cowling, who proves to be an impressive singer, plays Sherri, who, about to be a bride, learns her husband-to-be is cheating on her. She tearfully calls the wedding off. Her overbearing mother, Francine, amusingly portrayed by Robin Sky, has a mission in life—to see her daughter wed.
When Sherri and Harry meet accidentally, they are quickly attracted to one another and presto, they become engaged, much to the surprise of their parents. Harry’s father takes to Sherri, who oozes charm, and Francine, after an initial shock, gets used to her substitute son-in-law. Harry has second thoughts—all is moving too fast—and the relationship is threatened.
One creative touch is the popping in and out of two men and a woman as a commentating chorus, with word and song and funny antics. The Village Voices, as they are called, are Ben Chavez, Jesse Manocherian and Claire Saunders. The trio provides much humor, but I do wish the men were not costumed and made up to look so scruffy. Memo to costume designer Tyler M. Holland: Change the clothes and makeup of the talented men to make them look more appealing instead of like escapees from the German nightclub in “Cabaret.”
The small York Theatre stage accommodates a colorful scenic design by James Morgan, the York’s producing/artistic director, who has peppered the backgrounds with impressionistic images to help provide an East Village ambience. Overall this is a merry “Mary Harry.” At the York Theatre Company at St. Peter’s, 619 Lexington Avenue (at 54th Street). Phone: 212-835-5820. Reviewed May 6, 2017.