CLOSER THAN EVER Send This Review to a Friend
First shown in 1989, the smart review “Closer Than Ever” (music by David Shire, lyrics by Richard Maltby, Jr.) is being brought back by the York Theater, with Maltby directing. The cast consisting of two men and two women impressively interprets a variety of songs dealing with the theme of relationships as viewed from various vantage points, with an emphasis on wisdom acquired from experience.
As with virtually all reviews, some numbers are better than others, but overall cleverness and the winsome cast make the material seem fresh even though it was written in another period. Relationship problems are still very much with us.
There are six doors on stage and the cast members introduce themselves by popping out of them in an opening song appropriately called “Doors,” symbolizing the doors to experience and life to be opened. It is performed by the company consisting of Jenn Colella, George Dvorsky, Christiane Noll and Sal Viviano. The joint intro is followed by a very clever song involving Noll, Dvorsky and Viviano. Titled “She Loves Me Not,” the song has a man and woman singing across stage in hope of romance, when along comes a man whose singing is aimed at the other man.
One number traces friendship from adoring days, to problem days to final dislike, wittily portrayed with hefty doses of sarcasm. Another amusing song depicts everyone becoming physical wrecks by exercising.
Each of the performers has strong attributes. Dvorsky and Viviano are good looking, each in is own way, and have strong voices. Dvorsky is especially effective when singing as a man of experience. Jenn Colella is surely an original. She has mastered the art of matching odd expressions to a lyric and she can be marvelously funny in a restrained way. In a number called “Miss Byrd,” for example, she sits at a desk and contemplates life as she would like it to be. Christiane Noll has a particularly fine voice and excels when she hits the high notes. She has a musical theater leading lady aura.
One suggestion. The men’s voices are strong without mikes, but when the women in the show deviate from their clear upper register voices and try to project intimacy they need to summon more strength, as some of the lyrics are then hard to hear. It would help if the pianist played a bit softer in such passages.
The title song “Closer Than Ever” summarizes the feeling of people bonding. Certainly the quality of this show should make it easy for new audiences to bond with it after so many years. The York Theatre Company and its associate producers (Edward Negley, Neil Berg and Adam Friedson) are to be commended for bringing it back. At the York Theater at Saint Peter’s, 54th Street and Lexington Avenue, $67.50. Phone: 212-935-5820. Reviewed June 22, 2012.