Review: ‘Marry Harry’ Will Have You Dancing Down the Aisle
By Miles Harter, Contributing Writer, May 5, 2017
Marry Harry is a joyful and optimistic paean to New York City, family, love, and dreams. This cheerful new musical, brimming with good songs and great laughs, covers loads of territory in its fast-moving 80 minutes.
The sensational and funny book by Jennifer Robbins is set in the East Village at the intersection of Avenue A and 5th Street. Most of the action takes place in the Italian restaurant owned by Big Harry, who intends to pass the business on to his son, Little Harry. Early on we see tensions between father and son, and then later between their counterparts: mother, Francine, and daughter, Sherri. Conflicts continue between the East Village Boy and the Uptown Girl, but the story takes lively and unpredictable turns from there. And, this being the charming musical that it is, everyone has a dream.
Big Harry loves NYC and delivers some of the best lines with gusto; one favorite in particular: “New York! What a city! The whole world in a few blocks!” He has various schemes to increase profits, such as different ethnic nights at the restaurant, finally deciding on an enlightened approach—a vegan restaurant—allowing him to avoid purchasing expensive meat: “It’s what everybody wants these days.”
The music and lyrics are wonderful—alternately wistful, humorous, and always tuneful. One of the catchiest songs is the buoyant “A New Day,” an inspiring treat reprised at three fitting times during the show.
The cast of seven is tremendous, all with fine acting chops and wonderful singing voices; they are excellent in carefully enunciating the lyrics that move along the story. Lenny Wolpe is the ideal lovable, loving, and beloved Italian father. Robin Skye is exemplary as the beautiful but controlling uptown mother who wants the best for her daughter. Gleaming in a poignant and piquant song directed to Sherri called “Thirty,” she sings about turning 30 at a time when the “eggs are almost fried.” Boyishly handsome David Spadora as Little Harry shines in a song called “Broken.” Morgan Cowling is resplendent and lovely as Sherri with a gorgeous voice, sparkling when she sings “More than Make Believe.”
Additionally, there is a dazzling trio that contributes considerably to the production. Appropriately monikered in the program “The Village Voices,” Jesse Manocherian, Claire Saunders, and Ben Chavez, provide a kind of “Greek chorus,” but taking part in the action throughout as well.
The set representing the East Village is colorful and impressive, including the ubiquitous sign for “pizza — $1 a slice.” The costumes are wonderful, especially Sherri’s various ensembles, as well as the international flags on the aprons of the Village Voices when they become the servers in Big Harry’s dream for different ethnic restaurants.
Marry Harry, presented by the York Theatre Company at the Theatre at Saint Peter’s, 619 Lexington Avenue. Running through Sunday, May 21, 2017. Book by Jennifer Robbins; music by Dan Martin; lyrics by Michael Biello. Directed and choreographed by Bill Castellino; music direction by Eric Svejcar; scenic design by James Morgan; costume design by Tyler M. Holland; lighting design by Paul Miller; sound design by Julian Evans. Cast: Ben Chavez, Morgan Cowling, Jesse Manocherian, Claire Saunders, Robin Skye, David Spadora, and Lenny Wolpe.
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Cover: (l. to r.) Jesse Manocherian, Claire Saunders, Ben Chavez, and Robin Skye in ‘Marry Harry;’ photo: Carol Rosegg.