New York City Center
March 16, 2023
Photo courtesy of
New York City Center Encores!
Donna Murphy shines in the New York City Center Encores! production of Dear World. Based on Jean Giraudoux’s The Madwoman of Chaillot, this is a rarely seen Jerry Herman gem. The book by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee is whimsical and charming. First presented on Broadway in 1969, Dear World ran for 132 performances and 45 previews. Angela Lansbury won a Tony Award for her performance as the lead character.
It is another rainy day in Paris, yet Countess Aurelia (played by Donna Murphy), also known as the Madwoman of Chaillot, requests to be served outdoors at her favorite sidewalk café. Everyone quickly follows her lead, and begins to see the world a little brighter. Meanwhile, the President (played by Brooks Ashmanskas) receives information from the Prospector (played by Stanley Wayne Mathis) that there is oil beneath the streets of Paris, particularly under Countess Aurelia’s favorite outdoor café. He orders his assistant, Julian (played by Philip Johnson Richardson) to blow up the café so it will be worthless to anyone but him. He will then mine the oil for his personal gain. Julian is unable to carry out the orders, and attempts to kill himself. A Policemen (played by Eddie Korbich) takes Julian to the café to revive him from his suicide attempt. When he awakens, Julian looks into the eyes of Nina (played by Samantha Williams). They instantly fall in love. Julian tells Countess Aurelia of the President’s plan to take over Paris. She consults with her close friends Constance (played by Andréa Burns) and Gabrielle (played by Ann Harada), both of whom are also madwomen, to come up with a plan. They bring in the Sewerman (played by Christopher Fitzgerald) to help carry it out. Can the plan of three madwomen conquer the greed of the rich? Will Julian be able to turn his back on his ruthless boss and choose love?
|Photo courtesy of |
New York City Center Encores!
Dear World was originally conceived as a chamber musical. Despite the expansive size of City Center, this production captures the intimacy of the piece. The scene in Act II between Countess Aurelia (Donne Murphy), Constance (Andréa Burns) and Gabrielle (Ann Harada) is enchanting. The songs “Memory, “ “Pearls,” “Dickie,” “Voices,” and “Thoughts” culminates in “Tea Party Trio,” bonding these three character in their unique view of the world. These three actors are stunning together. Their timing is in total sync, and their voices blend beautifully. This is followed by “Have a Little Pity on the Rich,” sung by Christopher Fitzgerald as Sewerman. He is funny, sarcastic, and dark. He sells the song for all its worth.
|Donna Murphy as Countess Aurelia|
Photo courtesy of New York City Center Encores!
The Encores! Orchestra, under the direction of Mary-Mitchell Campbell brings Jerry Herman’s score beautifully to life. The title song sends a strong message that is still relevant in today’s climate. Director/Choreographer Josh Rhodes unites this skillful cast in finding the charm and passion deep within this clandestine treasure.
Dear World is playing at City Center through March 19.