Theatre Critic: FINIAN’S RAINBOW: Show Review by Robin Gorman Newman

(Photo credit; Carol Rosegg)

(Photo credit: Carol Rosegg)

The luminous and ageless Melissa Errico turns in a lustrous and lusty performance in this enchanting, trimmed-down, revival production of the timeless classic FINIAN’S RAINBOW.

Staged at Irish Rep, the two hour musical projects a warmth and intimacy in a space well-suited to the charms of the romantic fable that packs a surprising bit of a social commentary punch.

The 1947 musical FINIAN’S RAINBOW follows an Irishman (Finian) who steals a powerful pot of gold from Og the leprechaun and escapes from Glocca Morra, Ireland with his radiant daughter, Sharon, to Missitucky, a mythical region in the United States that is part of the Jim Crow South where poor sharecroppers yearn to turn the tide on their luck.  The owner of the pot of gold is granted three magical wishes, leading to an avid hunt for the stash.

Sharon falls in love with union organizer Woody Mahoney (an appealing Ryan Silverman), and Og (the wonderful, lanky Mark Evans) falls for Susan the Silent (the wide-eyed, nimble-footed and voiced Lyrica Woodruff).  The show is a romantic, fairytale-like gem with an undertone reflecting on bigotry, economic disparity and cultural injustice, as the Senator gets a much-needed lesson in racial tolerance when some old black magic renders him black.

Also in the talented cast is William Bellamy as a Gospeleer, Kimberly Doreen Burns (Grease National Tour) as Lilly Mae, Dewey Caddell (This Life) as Senator, Peyton Crim (“A Crime to Remember”) as Sheriff, Matt Gibson (Gypsy) as Buzz Collins, Angela Grovey (Leap of Faith) as Sallyann, Ken Jennings (Sweeney Todd) as Finian, Ramone Owens (Motown the Musical) as a Gospeleer and Kyle Taylor Parker (Kinky Boots) as a Gospeleer.

The lush score has many song beauties including my personal favorites, How Are Things in Glocca Morra? and Look to the Rainbow. Angela Grovey is a real standout when she belts “Necessity,” and Lyrica Woodruff turns in a sweet balletic solo in Act II.  Errico and Silverman are well-matched, both in looks and voice, and have some truly lovely duets.

FINIAN’S RAINBOW is ably directed by Charlotte Moore (Da) and choreographed by Barry McNabb (Transport, Finian’s Rainbow). FINIAN’S RAINBOW features scenic design by James Morgan (Cagney), costume design by David Toser (Natural Affection), and lighting design by Mary Jo Dondlinger (New Girl in Town at Irish Rep). John Bell (Fiddler on the Roof) will serve as music supervisor, with Stephen Gabis (Heisenberg) as dialect coach.

Tickets are on sale through Irish Rep’s box office by calling 212-727-2737, or online at  Given the escapist nature of the show, and the breathe of fresh air it offers in today’s climate, it’s no great surprise that FINIAN’S RAINBOW has been extended through 12/31.  This show might find itself the shamrock that many would readily welcome with open arms.