Friday, May 18, 2007

It’s no drag
By Christopher Murray
for The Brooklyn Paper
May 18, 2007

Victor/Victoria,” the Blake Edwards film that starred Julie Andrews, Robert Preston and James Gardner, remains beloved for its cross-pollination of zany hijinks and charming songs charged with contemporary sexual politics and gender bending.

The musical version of the film is being presented with panache by the stalwart Gallery Players in its first New York revival since the original Broadway run ended almost exactly 10 years ago. Ostensibly about the complexities of love, the current production reveals the show more as a celebration of friendship. The juice, abundantly provided here by a cast with ample energy and style, comes from the connection and conflict between pals.

Victoria Grant — an unemployed chanteuse down and out in Paris — is transformed by her new best buddy, Toddy (a gay song-and-dance man), whose brainstorm — presenting Victoria as Victor, a Polish count slumming as a fabulous drag performer — takes the cabaret world by storm. John Blaylock’s droll manner and lived-in face as Toddy provides a perfect foil to Christine Paterson’s dulcet voice and sincere enthusiasm as Victoria.

The real star in this production, though, is the company of actors and dancers that plays supporting roles as various Parisian types and moves with agility and zest while doing the can-can and the Charleston or taking swings and dodging chairs in the slapstick fight scenes. Each actor’s eyes are alive with enjoyment and a sense of fun caroming around Michael Kerns’s versatile set in charming costumes by Samantha Fromm.

Choreographer Stacy Moscotti Smith and director Matt Schicker should get the credit for the style and zing of this production, and for keeping the cast grounded in the reality of the relationships while providing endless invention in comedy bits and telling pieces of behavior. Standouts in this regard are Allison Guinn as a dippy gangster’s moll and Patrick Field as a deadpan bodyguard. They are the yin and yang of this production, creating comedy together and confirming the signature line from the song “Trust Me”: “All you have to do for the dream to come true is go out there and be what you are, and we’ll make you a world famous star!”

“Victor/Victoria,” will run at the Gallery Players (199 14th St., between Fourth and Fifth avenues) through May 27. Tickets are $18, $14 for seniors and children under 12. For information, visit

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