THE HANGOVER REPORT – HEY, LOOK ME OVER!, via Encores!, is mandatory viewing for “men in their chairs”

Vanessa Williams in Encores! "Hey, Look Me Over!" at New York City Center.

Vanessa Williams in Encores! “Hey, Look Me Over!” at New York City Center.

Tonight, I caught Encores! production of Hey, Look Me Over! Haven’t heard of the musical? That’s because the show, which only runs through February 11th, is a revue comprised of musicals that have been shunned – sometimes rightfully so, but sometimes not – as second tier shows. But not tonight; these forgotten, under-appreciated musicals took center stage, as befits the Encores! series’ mandate.

From this evening’s viewing, the revue was a smashing success, especially in this limited run format. Indeed, for musical theater aficionados like myself, it’s mandatory viewing. Hey, Look Me Over! includes excerpts from shows like Wildcat (by Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh), All American (by Charles Strouse and Lee Adams), Jamaica (by Harold Alden and E.Y. Harburg), Milk and Honey (by Jerry Herman), Mack & Mabel (also by Jerry Herman), Greenwillow (by Frank Loesser), Sail Away (by Noël Coward)and George M! (by, surprise, George M. Cohan).

Director Marc Bruni does well to keep the evening moving along at a decent clip, but not without each of the chosen musicals a chance to prove their metal. Admittedly, some segments worked better than others, but I applaud the gusto with which the company mined material. Indeed, I got teary eyed time and time again to see these neglected shows gloriously revisited. The cast was to die fore: Clyde Alves, Reed Birney, Carolee Carmello, Marc Kudisch, Judy Kuhn, Bob Marin (as the evening’s “Man in Chair” emcee!), Tam Mutu, Bebe Neuwirth, Nancy Opel, Douglas Sills, Alexandra Socha, and (last but not least) Vanessa Williams all subordinated themselves in service of the underlying material, which was moving to see and hear. Rob Berman, leading orchestra, once again proved to be the ideal purveyor of the classic Broadway sound.

Hey, Look Me Over! is a fitting way to commence Encores! 25th Anniversary season. Over the years, the series has proven to be indispensable, particularly for musical theater lovers. Here’s to many more ecstatic years to come.



Off-Broadway, Musical
Encores! at New York City Center
2 hours, 30 minutes (with one intermission)
Through February 11


Categories: Off-Broadway, Theater

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