Long-running shows

We catch up with a few shows that fell through the cracks.



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Danny and Sylvia: The Danny Kaye Musical

It's five o'clock on a Saturday, and the elderly crowd shuffling in to St. Luke's Theatre seems primed for a nostalgia trip. The two-person Danny and Sylvia, alas, is far from transporting. The show tracks the ascent of the great entertainer Danny Kaye (Brian Childers) from borscht belt tummler to international star, with help from his sharp-witted wife and songwriter, Sylvia Fine (the able Kimberly Faye Greenberg). But while Kaye was special, this enervating biomusical is not. The inclusion of a few of Kaye's real-life vocal vehicles—notably "Tchaikovsky" and "Minnie the Moocher"—only makes the show's original score, by Robert McElwaine and Bob Bain, seem pedestrian by contrast. Childers has been playing Kaye onstage for years, and has even won awards for it, so one imagines that at some point his carefully worked-out impersonation had some spark of Kaye's warmth and spontaneity. In its current form, however, the clowning has hardened into waxen freneticism; the more ornate his gesticulation, the more desperately Childers seems to be going through the motions.—Adam Feldman


John Tartaglia got his big break in Avenue Q, as one of the performers operating his puppets in full view of the audience, creating a neat double effect. For his undersea family musical ImaginOcean (which has been running since March), Tartaglia takes the opposite tack: Dressing puppeteers in ebony and bathing the theater in black light, he creates the cool illusion that fish are swimming around, untethered, in the air. His toddler-friendly story line involves three sea-dwellers who discover a treasure map and set off to find the booty (don't ask me what fish would do with gold doubloons). Along the way our finned protagonists learn about courage, loyalty and, yes, using their imagination. William Wade's bouncy pop show tunes are pretty catchy, and Tartaglia's piscatory punnery is absolutely shameless. But it's a cute show for the minnows, so who am I to carp?—David Cote

My Big Gay Italian Wedding

Anthony J. Wilkinson's noisy comedy is warmhearted, well-intentioned, energetically performed piffle. First presented Off Broadway in 2003, the show has been updated to reflect the latest developments on the gay-nuptial front; last week, there was already a line about Prop 8 getting overturned. If only the rest of the writing were anywhere near as fresh. The plot is wildly contrived; the time line is nonsensical. Stale cultural catchphrases—"I just threw up a little in my mouth," "Marcia Brady just called; she wants her jeans back," etc.—are what pass for jokes. And the stock characters are all heavily seasoned with clich: the overbearing ethnic family (think My Big Fat Greek Wedding), the outrageous wedding coordinator of indeterminate European lineage (think Father of the Bride), the drag queen posing as the mother of the groom (think La Cage Aux Folles), the wedding-cake-groom of a boyfriend (don't think). That My Big Gay Italian Wedding is a crowd-pleaser says less about the pleasures afforded by the show than it does about the madness of crowds. Familiarity, apparently, breeds content.—AF

Gazillion Bubble Show

I didn't get an exact count of all the iridescent globules created during Fan Yang's blissfully disarming Gazillion Bubble Show, but I'll take his word for it. The Vietnamese-born, self-described "bubble scientist" has been blowing the jiggly, rainbow-hued spheroids at New World Stages since the show opened in early 2007, and he will soon hand the reins over to his son, Deni. The act consists mainly of generating a dazzling succession of bubbles in mind-blowing configurations, filling them with smoke or linking them into long chains. Lasers and flashing color lights add to the trippy visuals. Go alone or (if you've spawned) get stoned and take the kids!—DC

Le Scandal

After two kiddie attractions at New World Stages, I was ready for a cocktail and something more adult. Bonnie Dunn is happy to oblige. The MC-chanteuse-impresario behind burlesque-circuit stalwart Le Scandal presides over a lively mix of stand-up, magic and, naturally, high-concept strip. You may be treated—as I was one recent Saturday night—to the joint-crushing moves of reed-thin contortionist Ravi the Scorpion Mystic, the geek-hipster card tricks of Matthew Holtzclaw and the sexy muscularity of mock-Russian acrobat Miss Ekaterina. For the city's longest-running girlie revue (nearly a decade now), Le Scandal is still looking young, hot and ready to party.—DC

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