By Patricia Reaney
NEW YORK (Reuters) - "On The Town" is back on Broadway, 70 years after its debut, in a revival that critics hail as "fizzy and frisky" and a "helluva show."
The musical, with opened on Thursday complete with a 28-piece orchestra, follows three sailors looking for love and excitement during a 24-hour leave in wartime 1940's New York.
"Three footloose sailors aren't the only ones who get lucky in 'On the Town.' The audience at the Lyric Theater does, too," said the New York Daily News.
USA Today said the revival mined the original's raw poignancy without sacrificing any of its wit or romanticism.
"The result is a portrait of Town's primary subjects, New York City and young love, that will leave you both exhilarated and haunted," it added.
The revival of the 1944 musical, with book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green and music by Leonard Bernstein, stars Broadway veteran Tony Yazbeck ("Gypsy") as the naive, awkward Gabey, a role made famous by Gene Kelly in the 1949 film version.
He falls in love after seeing a subway poster of Miss Turnstiles and sets out with his two friends, the goofy Chip (Jay Armstrong Johnson) and the more knowing Ozzie (Clyde Alves), on a quest to find her.
New York City Ballet principal dancer Megan Fairchild, making her Broadway debut, is the object of Gabey's affection. The New York Times said she fit the part of the sugar-sweet girl that all-American servicemen dream of.
"When she dances, though, she's a goddess, that girl as she appears in their dreams," it added.
The New York Post was impressed by Fairchild's talent for comedy, as well as her pas de deux with Yazbeck.
"The show explodes with unfettered joy every time she's onstage," it said. "As long as she's onboard, this crew can expect smooth sailing."
The musical has more than 20 musical numbers, including "New York, New York," "Lonely Town" and "Lucky to Be Me."
"Some of its numbers, in which comic archetypes cozy up or collide, could be placed directly into the cel of an animated Looney Tunes short," said the New York Times.
"Others could slide seamlessly onto the stage of the Paris Opera," it added.
The sailors separate in their search to find Miss Turnstiles and agree to meet up later. Along the way Chip is taken for a wild ride by a gutsy lady cab driver played by Alyssa Umpires and Ozzie meets a zany anthropologist (Elizabeth Stanley) at the American Museum of Natural History.
They gather later that evening for a tour of the city's hot-spots and dives that takes them from Times Square to Coney Island.
The Hollywood Reporter praised Tony-winning director John Rando ("Urinetown") as "unapologetic in presenting the old-fashioned material at face value, playing even the silliest routines with a mostly light touch and injecting the whole dizzy narrative with an air of yearning romance."
(Reporting by Patria Reaney; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)