Mrs. Wife came into the city last night and we saw the Roundabout Theater Company revival of Pal Joey that’s in previews. I was lucky enough to see the first two Roundabout productions of the season—A Man for All Seasons and Streamers—and they were both extraordinary, so I had high hopes for Pal Joey. This is a killer ad, isn’t it?
Pal Joey is a musical based on the John O’Hara novel with songs by Rogers and Hart. This famous still of Frank Sinatra…
…is from the film adaptation of Pal Joey. With a pedigree like that, how can you go wrong?
Well, you start by having a lead with a weak singing voice. It’s a musical about a womanizing night club singer. You need someone who has a smooth voice and a sick amount of charisma. This guy ain’t no Sinatra, that’s for damn sure. Two stage veterans were in the cast; Stockard Channing, who gave a serviceable performance, and Martha Plimpton, who was fantastic. Did you know that Martha Plimpton has a beautiful singing voice? I didn’t.
The story takes place in 1930s Chicago and the dance numbers looked like routines that were rejected from Bob Fosse’s Chicago, which was a way better show. The songs were maudlin and the theater was too hot. The show is in previews and you never know, they could turn it around by opening night. I feel bad for Mrs. Wife. She gets into the city for this sort of thing so infrequently. I wish it had been a killer show for her sake. I wanted everything to be perfect for her but it wasn’t.