“The Apple Tree”

Studio 54, New York • 2 December 2006 • 8pm (preview)

Music: Jerry Bock. Lyrics: Sheldon Harnick. Book: J. Bock & S. Harnick.
Directed by Gary Griffin. Musical Director: Rob Fisher. With Kristin Chenoweth, Brian d’Arcy James, Marc Kudisch…

Funny how this trip to New York has allowed me to see three of my all-time favourite shows: A Chorus Line, Company and The Apple Tree, a show I thought I’d never see in a major production. (I did see a very good production of it at the tiny Landor Theatre in London.)

Of course, The Apple Tree needs a strong leading lady, somebody who is at the same time a first-rate comedian and a first-rate singer… and certainly Kristin Chenoweth fits the bill magnificently. She is the perfect choice to step in Barbara Harris’s shoes. Chenoweth would be a star if we still had stars. She had already played the three parts of the show in the Encores! production, which I’d been unable to attend, much to my sorrow.

Thank God the Roundabout decided to produce the show at Studio 54, one of the most charming venues in New York. I can hardly describe my joy at being able to see what is in my book one of the most charming shows ever written. The staging is cute and respectful; Jonathan Tunick’s orchestrations are wonderful; and there are not enough superlatives to describe Kristin Chenoweth’s performance. Her co-stars, Brian d’Arcy James and Marc Kudisch, also deliver strong performances. (I’m not a big fan of Mr. Kudisch… but I have to admit he’s fine in the show.)

The next show at Studio 54 will be another dream come true: 110 in the Shade, starring the incomparable Audra McDonald. Now if somebody would please revive The Rothschilds, I would be a happy man…

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