Iron Curtain

Book by Susan DiLallo. Lyrics by Peter Mills. Music by Stephen Weiner. Dir. Cara Reichel. With Jeff Edgerton, Marcus Neville, Gordon Stanley, Larry Brustofski. West End Theater (see Off Broadway).

CAPTIVE AUDIENCE Stanley, center, shanghais a pair of Broadway tunesmiths.

CAPTIVE AUDIENCE Stanley, center, shanghais a pair of Broadway tunesmiths.

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>0/5

Iron Curtain mixes the exuberant dances and unmiked vocal styles of classic Broadway musicals with a cockeyed take on their 1950s heyday to create a charming mix of homage and satire. The production posits that the Soviets weren’t only interested in U.S. military and nuclear secrets—they also wanted our theatrical blueprints. To that end, the Minister of Musical Persuasion (Stanley) and his leather-coated sidekick (Brustofski) kidnap the hapless Broadway hack songwriters Murray and Howard (Edgerton and Neville). Howard’s “fiance-to-be” Shirley (Maria Couch) doggedly follows them by air and ground.

Fizzy show tunes, dizzy shenanigans and amorous subplots ensue, culminating in a dramatic escape from East Berlin through a tunnel that’s opened by tweaking the nose on a statue of Lenin. The cast of triple threats is uniformly terrific. Stanley particularly stands out for his ability to winkingly play the Soviet stooge and yet make his big number, “If Not for Musicals,” utterly heartfelt. A ten-piece orchestra, led by Daniel Feyer, ably complements the voices.

Everyone behind the scenes is equally talented. Director Cara Reichel maintains a snappy pace and Nick Francione’s set makes the most of a small space—he uses the same pieces to suggest skyscrapers and doorways, by shifting perspective. Most impressively, Christine O’Grady’s choreography is energetic, precise and funny (it’s a toss-up whether Stanley and Brustofski’s tango or the dance of the farm maidens is her best). This is one curtain not to miss.—Josselyn Simpson