It’s a slick and fast production

Connie Fisher and friends in a scene from Wonderful Town
Connie Fisher and friends in a scene from Wonderful Town

BIG numbers from jazz to ballad and high-paced dancing earn Wonderful Town (Theatre Royal, Nottingham, until Saturday, May 19) the classic description of an all-singing, all-dancing show.

But while it comes from the golden age of Broadway and the West End and has been neglected for too long, it is not difficult to see why Leonard Bernstein’s musical is a step away from the top category of such offerings, which continue their revivals through decade after decade.

Despite being packed with quality and witty numbers with sharp lyrics from Betty Comden and Adolph Green, it lacks the readily-recognisable songs associated with its peers from the 1950s.

And if you discount My Sister Eileen, the play from which it was derived, it never made it to the silver screen, hence the absence of cinema audiences in its heyday or numerous repeats on modern television.

That disposes of the negatives. Set against these are a slick, fast-moving wow of a production from a highly professional and polished cast.

It follows the story of Ruth, a gawky young journalist, beautifully played by Connie Fisher, and her blonde, popular actress twin Eileen (a triumph for Lucy van Gasse with her operatic background) who arrive in 1930s New York from Columbus, Ohio, full of ambition and dreams.

They lodge in a grotty Greenwich Village basement, regularly disturbed by blasting from work on the Sixth Avenue subway and here the fun starts.

There are as many dodgy characters here as you will find in Damon Runyon’s Big Apple and the choreography is slick and highly polished as one number follows another in a delight of dance steps.

Ruth’s attempt to interview conga-keen Brazilian sailors about their views on America while being tossed around and Eileen’s scene with a group of Irish policemen who launch into a Riverdance jig are highlights. So, too, is the beautiful voice of Michael Xavier, particularly in the ballad It’s Love.

Nic Greenshields, as a giant footballer who enjoys ironing, is also a delight and with a superb orchestra conducted by James Burton letting rip, this is a highly entertaining show superbly produced and one which thoroughly deserves its revival.